Another KS, another $1. :) Seriously, KS continues to provide great RPG by great RPG, even when viewed by a discerning eye. The latest offering that has caught my attention is "Shadow of the Demon Lord" by Rob Schwalb - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/432417423/shadow-of-the-demon-lord
Over the last few year, the RPGs that I have been interested in seem to fall in two camps:
1. "Traditional style" RPGs that are great for campaign play; and
2. "Indie style" RPGs that are great for one-off or short term play.
There have been very little "Traditional style" RPGs that are for one-shot or short term play. Which is a shame as many of my best one-shot games at Kapcon and the like have be in a traditional style. Generally, the only way to make it work is to hack the system to bits. In fact, most "traditional style" RPGs that are for one-shot or short term play try and achieve this by making the rules as simple as possible, which I find to be unsatisfactory.
Shadow of the Demon Lord is a traditional style RPG that is great for one-off or short term play. Rob Schwalb is an RPG designer that I highly respect. His work on D&D5e, WFRP2e, Star Wars Saga and Song of Ice of Fire shows a high awareness of works well at the table and not just on the page, and he avoids mechanics that don't work well due to overlap, being unnecessary or undercooked, or being just plain kooky.
Shadow of the Demon Lord clearly launches itself off of the back of D&D5e, which exhibits amazing yet subtle mechanical design with a fun system that retains and even celebrates a traditional style RPG. The other RPG that features strongly is a personal favourite of mine, being WFRP 2e. This RPG features in a number of ways, especially the setting which is dark and horrifying. In particular:
1. the PCs start off as 0-level PCs, potentially with details randomly generated, thrust into a world of horror and adventure;
2. the PCs advance through "paths" which seem like a combination of D&D class and WFRP careers;
3. magic is bound into paths, including a variety of black magic; and
4. the PCs can suffer insanity and corruption.
Though WFRP2e and D&D5e by themselves aren't too bad for use in a one-shot play (and I have run both), Shadow of the Demon Lord takes things much further, with a fast playing and easy to understand set of rules. There are ideas from other RPGs that feature, such as using dice for modifiers from FFG's WFRP3e and Star Wars RPGs. I love this as a GM as it abstracts out the numbers and reduces the amount of information exchange required.
To further help support one-shot or short term play, Rob Schwalb expects to support the RPG with loads of "mini" adventures, each spanning only 3 or 4 pages. The KS alone is looking at producing some 20-30 such from an amazing pool of RPG writers. These can be run in one session or strung together into 11 sessions to complete a level 0 to level 10 campaign. These sound like they will be a lot like Dungeon World's Starters, but without all the player directed questions and new terminology.
Finally, amidst the darkness and excellent mechanics, Rob Schwalb has ensured that there is an excellent humorous tone underlying a lot of it. The kind of humour that RPGers will bring to the table regardless of what the RPG tries to achieve. The setting, madness, corruption and magic system are simply delightful and filled with subtle bits of awesome that make me smile with glee.
Hopefully, the final product proves all the above to be true and I will finally have a traditional RPG that is purpose built to be run at the likes of Kapcon and other cons.