The Gaming Shelf Ventures Into the Shadowdark

Zine Month 2023 is over, but we're back with even more games, releases, and an exclusive adventure.

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Whew, what a Zine Month, huh? While we’re back to the usual Gaming Shelf reporting, we’ve got no lack of great games to play right now and some incredible RPGs that are still crowdfunding. We’ve also got a stellar exclusive for Gaming Shelf readers from the highly anticipated and blockbuster funded Shadowdark RPG!

Featured Game: Shadowdark

Currently crowdfunding, but already smashing through all stretch goals and already fully written, the Shadowdark RPG is old-school roleplaying; it’s a grimdark fantasy nightmare that’s built to tear down your characters as they trudge through muck and mire. With stark black and white illustrations that add wonder to the foreboding, Shadowdark is the kind of game that will emulate the feel of classic dungeon crawlers while providing a sleek chassis for gameplay.

Author Kelsey Dionne is a fantastic, renowned RPG writer. She founded the Arcane Library in 2017, and one of her creations, The Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse, is the highest-rated adventure of all time on DMs Guild—the third party 5e marketplace. Shadowdark is a completely unique, standalone system full of tables, spells, and stat blocks that makes it easy for people to pick up and play with minimal prep.


You can download the free quickstart here, and, exclusively for the Gaming Shelf readers, you can download an adventure for Shadowdark RPG: “The Cursed Scroll of the Red Sands.” It’s a mini hexcrawl that takes place in a shifting, dangerous desert full of fragile oases, mountain bandits, and howling sandstorms.

New Releases: IKHON, Carbon Grey


IKHON is a mystery box for rk Borg. A gaol is keeping four almost-forgotten folk gods at bay: the Bilkherd, the Becklure, the Old Dead, and the dreaded Silkfiend. Those who dare commune with them are promised great rewards. But life and death go hand in hand and too small a sacrifice could be perceived as an insult. This gift could very well be a curse.”


In Carbon Grey, you take on the role of heroes struggling against a seemingly unstoppable empire with world-conquering aspirations. Survive the grimness of trench warfare. Dare to soar the deadly skies. Master the art of espionage to uncover the secrets of your enemies. Navigate the social hierarchy and underhanded dealings of both the nobility and the underworld. Learn to manipulate the strange powers that affect the very reality of the world around you.”

Crowdfunding: Lampblack, You’re in Space and Everything’s Fucked, A Cool Name RPG, Action 12 Cinema, Old Gods Sepulchre

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Image: Lampblack

In Lampblack, you are an artist beset with the dangerous resolution to create an inkblot—a creature made of ink. Whether you will succeed in creating and taming such a creature (or end up as its lunch) depends on the strength and volatility of your ambitions, and the ink itself. With pen and journal in hand, you will follow prompts that guide you through your story. You will discover what drives you to create an inkblot and what happens on your journey to collect the ingredients for your ink.”


You’re in Space and Everything’s Fucked is a terrifying tribute to sci-fi survival horror and gore-filled splatter films. It’s a game for 2-5 players, with one taking on the role of an isolated, hostile space station while the others embody survivors, emergency aid, or some other unlucky individuals that are probably going to die horribly.”


Cool Name RPG is a new fantasy roleplaying game system created with an extensive team of RPG designers that will be released for free.


Action 12 Cinema is a GM-less, zero-prep, collaborative roleplaying game for telling B-level action movie stories with handfuls of 12-sided dice.”


Old Gods Sepulchre is a series of 28 isometric dungeon maps bringing delvers into a vast network of caves, chasms, tunnels, and chambers that have taken on the fantastical form of nine ancient deities. As gods, these beings have ceased to exist; however, their essences linger on. Shadows, flickers, and whispers of what they once were bounce and echo around the underworld.”

In Other News:

  • Free League Publishing announced Tales From the Lone-Lands, the second expansion for the multiple award-winning second edition of The One Ring Roleplaying Game, based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Maestro Media is currently crowdfunding Sally Face: Strange Nightmares, a tabletop board game based on Steve Gabry’s award-winning video game, Sally Face.
  • World of Darkness announced the winners of its Vampire Jam.
  • Allplay released a Wordle-inspired literary board game titled Fiction.
  • Paizo has announced a return to Tian Xia, written by a diverse and talented group of writers.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.