A downloadable game

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A lightweight fantasy tabletop RPG with a few distinctive twists.


Shadows & Shapes explores a distinctive way of representing combat in tabletop RPGs. Can combat be designed in a way that is much more puzzle-like, and that imagines combat as a realm of constraint and necessity, rather than a realm of freedom and imagination?


All conflicts in Shadows & Shapes are resolved with playing cards. The combat mechanics are based around a trick-taking card game, so if you've ever played Bridge, Hearts, or Oh Hell, you'll have no trouble picking up Shadows & Shapes.

The combat system has an unusual feel, since the players' decisions are highly constrained. Although strategy is important, there is often a single optimum strategy. Collaboration is at the heart of Shadows & Shapes. If you set a foot wrong, it might be somebody else who pays the price.

Two Sets of Rules

The rules are only a few pages long, and suited for one-shot games.

The Basic rules feature just four Classes, two spells, no race-based abilities, and no movement rules. Combat moves are restricted to the acronym SHAPE:

  • Special Move (Attack, Protect, or Enchant, depending on Class) 
  • Hold 
  • Attack 
  • Protect 
  • Enchant 

The Advanced rules add a few more layers and options. The Advanced rules are still pretty simple though!

The Vale 

The overall tone here is of an old school dungeoncrawl, with a few fresh touches. Shadows & Shapes includes ideas for a setting, 'The Vale.' If you like those ideas, you might want to check out The ShrikeDungeons & Drapers, or Skycrawl.

After Alpha

Any further development would depend on interest. So if you're intrigued, or you enjoy playing it, or have suggestions, drop me a line!


If you are so done with dungeons, the rules are easily adaptable to different genres, settings, and stories.


Buy Now$1.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $1 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Shadows & Shapes Alpha 2.X (letter size).pdf 1,000 kB
Shadows & Shapes Character Sheet (letter size).pdf 617 kB

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