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SHADIS review


Death's Edge Games

RPG System

Reviewed by Dirk Dejong

After all this time, you'd think I'd have grown used to the stream of new and unusual ideas coming out of the nooks and crannies of the gaming industry, spurred on by the small, one-product upstarts that seem to flourish on the fringes of gaming. Thankfully, I've not reached that point, and hope I never do, for it would wreck the magic I feel when a new, unique product does cross my path.

Recently, at a con I was helping staff, I was introduced to some new faces one the scene who were going by the name Death's Edge Games, and their hope for the future, Inferno. After being given a copy, and saying, "Oh, joy! Another Call of Cthulhu tm or Vampire tm rip-off," to myself, I locked myself in my hotel room with a meal, some water, and Inferno. Two hours later, I was stuffed and a convert.

Inferno isn't the most innovative game on the market as far as systems go, being the equivalent to any number of games like Call of Cthulhu tm by having a number of standard stats such as Strength, Intelligence, Toughness, etc. and a list of skills ranging the gamut of combat, magic, and miscellaneous skill. What does set it apart are two things: (1) it setting and (2) its focus. First, this is the only game I've run across where the setting is Hell. And second, this game, unlike a growing number of others, doesn't concentrate on the evil and twisted things your characters might do, but on the potential for good they have within them.

When creating a character, you've a number of choices of what to become, from a priest hunting through Hell for souls wrongly imprisoned to a vile necromancer to a Hellspawn. Each starts out with an alignment, which is more a reflection of which side you're rooting for than how evil you are. A note should be made that Faithful characters (those backing God) have advantages, but are constrained in their choice of actions and magic. Those who are Infernal (guess who they back) have a wider choice of magic and actions, but don't have any protection when something bigger and nastier than they are comes along. And trust me, something will. Hellspawn and Necromancers start off as more powerful than Faithful characters, but have a bad habit of becoming outclassed unless they convert, which can be very difficult. (What does a seven foot tall, horned demon- wannabe tell a priest, "I've decided to become a monk."?)

If you haven't figured out what my opinion is of Inferno by this time, I give it two claws up. It's new, it's funny, it has the capacity to scare the pants off of you, and it gives the good guys a good name once more (as well as giving players a reason to be good). While the game's just reached the market, you horror fans should be able to convince your local dealer to round up a copy or two. With a $13.00 price tag, many of you who'd just stare at the store's copy can afford it. Just don't play it in the dark, and remember to leave your nightlight on.

This article is excerpted from "Closer Look" from Shadis The Independent Games Magazine, Issue #17, Vol. III, No. 5, January/February 1995. This material is copyrighted © 1994 by Alderac Entertainment Group.