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Shadows Over Sol is a science fiction horror roleplaying game. A good horror story is all about the tension. It’s about the impending doom, the oncoming desperation, the inevitable moment of shock and terror. Then—once the moment of violence arrives—it’s swift, it’s brutal and it’s a game-changer. Frequently characters in horror stories spend more of their time trying desperately to subvert, trick or improvise against the subject of their horror than they do confronting it directly.

The combat system in Shadows Over Sol is designed to model this sort of tense, desperate conflict. Plans can go awry, bones can break, improvisations can be made or characters can be left to bleed out in the cold.

Every character in Shadows Over Sol has a wound threshold. Once the total severity of their wounds passes this threshold, they are in desperate need of medical attention. Rather than simply incapacitating the character, someone wounded to this extent may continue to act, but in doing so they gain the Bleeding consequence. This consequence causes them to take further wounds should they act, thereby risking death and feeding into the sense of tension. If they take too many more, they will die.

The order of the phases in the Shadows Over Sol combat round is also intended to emphasize the sense of tension and threat. Impending attacks are declared in the first phase of the round and executed in later phases, giving players time to worry and sweat about the upcoming devastation. GMs may want to declare enemy attacks near the end of the round, giving players an opportunity for improvisation and desperate actions to prevent the impending doom—but only if they gamble and go “all in” the first phase. This sort of round-to-round dynamic draws out the tension and increases the desperation, playing up the element of horror.

Finally, a well placed hit can be devastating. When a player in Shadows Over Sol scores a critical hit, they have the ability to choose a powerful critical effect that comes with the usual damage. Critical effects can range from crippled limbs to shattered weapons, or from a moment of stun to being pinned down.

Shadows Over Sol is our upcoming science fiction horror RPG. Its Kickstarter is scheduled to begin September 1st. In the meantime, you can download the free Quick-Start, or sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter is ready.