The signs have come. Shadows flicker and stir in the Hollows. A chill has settled in those ancient ruins and expedition pack animals refuse to enter the underworld realm. There are new sightings of large beasts roaming the countryside and strange unnatural calls fill the night air. Hunters have gone missing without a trace and it is no longer safe to explore very far into the woods.
My sisters wake from the same nightmares. A skeletal hand, pale and white as snow, grasping out from darkness. Thousands of red-eyed crows flying over a field of dead. A bloody maw gaping open with rows of gleaming teeth the size of daggers. I see these images in my own dreams and I fear for what is coming.
An Immersive Story, a Shared Experience
Explore a magical world that will lead players on a journey from the underworld ruins of a long-dead people to the heart of untamed forests where otherworldly creatures dwell. Of Dreams & Shadows is a cooperative board game for up to six players who take on the role of Champions embarking on a quest to save their realm. As they direct the actions of their Champions on the game board, players will also participate in a collaborative story. Scenarios introduce encounters and conflict, which are resolved through passing a test or making a choice. The consequences advance the storyline and drive a unique experience as part of the story changes based on each outcome. Failing a test could have dire results such as receiving one of several types of debilitating Afflictions. Many Scenarios will also present players with a moral dilemma where a decision could aid their cause, but not without sacrifice.
Choose Your Champion
Across the human kingdoms are eight available Champions from which to choose. Each Champion has a set of traits with different strengths and weaknesses along with special abilities. A select few can even commune with the many spirits that inhabit the world and call upon them to invoke powerful spells.
I will always remember that night many years ago. A noise woke me from sleep. Restless and curious, I lit a lantern before leaving my room to investigate. Noises that sounded like scraping and scratching against wood could be heard down the hall. I thought it was my father returned late from the city so I called out to him, but there was no reply. When I opened my parents' bedroom door, I saw it then. Its face looked like my father's, but was contorted and twisted. It held my mom tightly in its arms, as if in an embrace, and I could hear it feeding. Her eyes were staring blankly and her feet were dangling above the floor where a pool of blood welled. I stood there frozen, unable to comprehend what I was witnessing. My eyes slowly tore away and focused across the room to where my little sister was supposed to be sleeping. She lay crumpled and unmoving on her bed, drenched in her own blood.
A sudden cold rage filled me and I threw my lantern at it. The monster howled and lashed out at me as the lantern broke open and bathed it in oil and fire. Out of instinct, I leapt away and slammed the door shut. I ran back to my room and barred the entrance before grabbing my hunting knife. It was a gift from him.
“A pretty girl can never be too careful”, he had once said. It was with a gruff and stern voice, ruined by eyes full of fondness and love. I had always kept it by my bedside.
I could hear it right outside screeching and pounding heavily against the door, but the oaken wood held firm. Smoke began to waft in and the smell of burned flesh nearly made me retch. I snatched what possessions I could carry before climbing out the bedside window like I often did as a child.
Once outside I waited with knife in hand, trembling in the dark, but it never came for me. It seemed to take only a few moments before my home went up in flame. For a long time I just stood there and wept as the whole of it sunk in. Dawn eventually broke sometime later. I searched the ruin of my home and found my mother and sister. I made sure to give them a proper burial and prayed for their souls. There was no sign of the monster that wears my father's face. To believe such a thing was consumed in the fire would be wishful thinking. No, it is still out there somewhere and that knowledge haunts my dreams to this day.
Twilight settled over the landscape as the last rays of sunlight disappeared behind the distant mountains. The town seemed peaceful and calm as lamps illuminated the area in a soft glow. Shops and taverns stood along the main road that led to the sole inn at the town’s heart. Smaller paths branched out from the inn like a spider web to dozens of quaint and idyllic houses, all made of stone and wood from the local forest. There was a slower pace to life here for those that called it home. Everything seemed more relaxed and peaceful, at least on the surface. The sound of distant hoof beats echoed down the valley. Riders were approaching.
Cautious and worried eyes watched them from behind curtained windows as they rode towards the inn. There were six of them in all. Five of them wore plate mail, trimmed in blue and gold. The shiny metal glittered against the light from lantern posts that were evenly paced along the main road. They bore the knightly crests of men and women charged with keeping the peace in these surrounding lands. At another time they would be welcomed by the townsfolk with waves and smiles, but the sixth rider that accompanied them confirmed darker tidings. He wore a black cloak over leathers with the symbol of an eye inscribed on each of his shoulders, marking him as a Watcher. Agents in service to the four kingdoms, they investigated the worst of all crimes. Something dark and terrible must have happened for him to come to this small town far away in the countryside.
Tamlin turned from the inn and set his horse down one of the winding paths. They continued for nearly an hour more until they reached the farm house. It stood behind two large willow trees with long, leafy branches that swayed gently in the night.
Dismounting, Tamlin reached into his cloak and casually pulled out an unlit torch. He whispered a simple note that seemed to carry in the night. A moment later, sparks flickered and the torch-head burst into flame. Similar bursts of light appeared behind him as the others held up their lit torches.
“Stay close and don't touch anything without asking me first”, he cautioned the others as he strode up to the home. The wooden steps creaked as he ascended the front porch and he carefully placed a hand on the main door's handle. The door was slightly ajar, having been torn off one of its hinges. It creaked loudly as Tamlin slowly opened it and peered inside.
“Be alert, Watcher.” The knight was off to the side of the entrance and had already drawn his sword. The blade shined brightly under the torchlight.
“No need,” responded Tamlin. “I don't sense anything nearby.”
The knight shrugged, but kept his sword out. The others had their weapons at the ready too. A cautious lot, Tamlin noted. They have all heard the stories.
Steeling himself, Tamlin entered an empty living area. He slowly scanned around and took note of everything. His torch bathed the room in a dim light that played shadows across the walls. A damp earthy smell hung in the air. Across the room, a strange symbol was painted on the floor with some kind of dark ichor. In the middle of it stood an odd little stick figure.
“It is the same kind of sign as the others. The same ritual,” he murmured as the knights fanned out behind him. He knew they wouldn’t find the family that once lived here nor any other clue to what might have happened to them. They were gone.
A Face in the Shadows
At the beginning of each game, players select one of three Villains to oppose. Beings of myth and legend, each Villain has their own host of deadly servants and quest objectives. Successfully completing them will greatly aid the Champions during the final confrontation. However, players must balance attempting perilous quests with acquiring Resource cards and fighting back against the growing shadows that are creeping across the realm.
Rhaler sat cross-legged upon the cold stone, occasionally shifting to keep his muscles from cramping. He was positioned on one of several large rocks that were placed in a rough circle and partially covered in thick moss. Several rays of pale moonlight pierced through the dense forest canopy, giving a faint glow to the mist that blanketed the ground.
He had been sitting there for hours now, waiting patiently for his friends to arrive. Wrapping his hooded cloak tightly around him for warmth, Rhaler reflected upon the chain of events that brought him to this place. Ever since the Change took him, the life he used to know was gone forever. He could never go back to his family and friends after what happened. If he did they would try to kill him or, more likely, flee in terror. That thought partly struck a chord of sadness in him. The part that was still human.
His stomach started to rumble. An aching, gnawing feeling began to spread from the pit of his belly. Rhaler tried to ignore it and focused on the usual sounds he would expect from this place; the chirping of insects, the call of an owl, the rustling of leaves as other nocturnal denizens prowled through the nighttime darkness. All the noise seemed dampened in this corner of the woods.
He glanced around at his immediate surroundings with a contemplative look, then turned to a neighboring rock and studied the faded runes traced upon its smooth surface. The stones were actually all part of an ancient structure that was hidden beneath the moss, leaves and earth. It was a remnant of a forgotten age. Rhaler found it somewhat amusing to think that it must have stood there for countless years, unnoticed by villagers and farmers who only lived perhaps a day’s ride away. Though there was good cause for why very few would ever enter these forbidding woods. In the past there were those who bravely or foolishly entered. Some never returned. None ever witnessed it, but people whispered that this place was haunted by vengeful spirits or beastly monsters.
He smiled appreciatively at the large stone with a warmness that didn’t quite reach his golden eyes, but eventually lost interest and turned his attention elsewhere. As time wore on, it became more difficult to ignore the hunger building up. He began to idly play with one of the many long-bladed knives that covered his leather-clad torso. Rhaler hummed a soft tune that he recalled hearing as a child; the gentle, haunting notes barely carrying to his own ears. He cut off abruptly as movement from below caught his attention.
Wolves emerged from the nearby brush. They were far larger than any normal ones; their size more closely matching that of large bears. Silently, they loped up to where he sat and circled him. Golden eyes peered up towards him expectantly.
Rhaler slowly grinned at them. “Yes, I know....I'm hungry too.” He slipped out of his clothes and leapt from the rock. The form that landed on the soft ground was that of a gigantic wolf, twice as large as any of the others present. It was covered in jet-black fur and its fangs gleamed ivory in the night as it emitted a low growl. “It's time to hunt.”
Stand Together or Fall Apart
Players will face a large cast of Foes in combat and many of them have their own special abilities. Resource cards can be used in various ways for players to team up and defeat their enemies. Developing tactics and cooperation among players will be crucial, especially when fighting against the more dangerous Epic Foes and Villain. You must band together with your friends if you hope to survive.
About The Creators
Gordon Alford has been an avid gamer since the ‘90s and loves roleplaying, card and board games. His favourites are Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Legend of the Five Rings. He also plays massively multiplayer online games with a heavy focus on realm vs. realm, under the call-sign “Kiamar”.
Of Dreams & Shadows is a fully self-funded project that has been in development since early 2014. Gordon’s goal is to create a cooperative board game with an interactive story and strong roleplaying experience. He has recruited the artistic talents of Matt Forsyth and Steven Preisman to bring his game world to life.
You can reach Gordon via email.
Get The Game
Of Dreams & Shadows is now being co-published by Greenbrier Games and is available through game retailers, including the following: