Esteren Tour - Dragonmeet London

We will be at Dragonmeet! Hope to see you there :D

Since the beginning in 2010, the tour has accumulated more than 170 dates all over the world. The tour will continue in 2017 and enter a new dimension, more news in January.


On Focuses, narrative arcs, and asides in the kitchen

Dearg introduces several additional rules, including the system of narrative arcs and that of the Focuses. These elements make this campaign a one-of-a-kind gaming experience, but they may also surprise the Players. Before we get into the bit about asides in the kitchen, here is how we define narrative arcs and Focuses:

- Narrative arc. A narrative arc is a story that focuses on one Character in particular, while remaining part of the overall plot. In addition to detailing a series of events that will form a great tableau, Dearg develops several narrative arcs. One of them embodies one of the campaign's major themes: Love. You can learn more here.

- Focus. Dearg introduces a new type of scenario: Focuses. Although the PCs are all involved in the same quest (the main story of Dearg), each member of the party has their own history and motivations. The Focuses explore each PC's intimate story. These particular scenarios follow a pattern different from a regular session: only one Player plays their Character, while the other Players play as important people in the PC's life, helping the Game Leader steer the story.

In Dearg volume 1, the birth of this system is described thus:

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By convention, tabletop role-playing depicts the actions of a party of PCs, with the existence of each individual PC being less important than that of the group as a whole. This is because there is (usually) only one Game Leader: should the GL detail each PC's actions one after the other, the other Players would get bored and the story would move at a snail's pace. This is why the game focuses on the resolution of a scenario where all the PCs are involved at the same time, setting aside the PCs' personal stories. However, it is a fact that role-players love their Characters, and sometimes go as far as to write a thorough backstory, going over the PC's personal history, dreams, ambitions, wounds, etc. And of course, a Player loves nothing more than to see said backstory come up during the game.

Sometimes, during a game, a Player may ask to speak with the Leader alone to explain their Character's specific actions or to develop their story... which may have nothing to do with the current scenario. Who has not experienced something of the sort? The Leader takes the Player aside to answer their request in another room; typically, the kitchen. They are both aware that they must keep things short, as the other Players are waiting. These particular moments can be very exciting for the Player: after all, this is about their PC, and the story they have designed for them! It is understandable that they are at least as interested in this as in the ongoing scenario, which may be entirely unrelated to the PC's backstory. Unfortunately, the classic tabletop role-playing style does not lend itself to such moments, which have to be handled quickly... when they are handled at all.

Such experiences have given birth to this system of narrative arcs and Focuses. The idea is simple: what if we could turn these rushed asides-in-the-kitchen into the focus of an entire session? That way, each Player could, in turn, develop a story of their own, in fitting conditions, without it turning into a drag for the other participants. Meanwhile, the other Players could experience a new gaming style, halfway between improvisational theater and acting as co-Game Leaders. For a time, the focus would be on one member of the party rather than on the group as a whole, in order to explore the Character's inner world and personal story more deeply.

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For more information about Dearg, please check out our Kickstarter page:

Narrative arcs: Making a Character the focus of the story

Dearg introduces a major component of Shadows of Esteren's gaming system: narrative arcs. Most of this article is quoted from the first volume of the campaign book, to give you a clearer idea of what this new mechanic consists of.

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A narrative arc is a story that focuses on one character in particular, while remaining part of the overall plot. In addition to detailing a series of events that will form a great tableau, Dearg develops several narrative arcs. One of them embodies one of the campaign's major themes: Love.

The first volume of Dearg includes everything needed for the Leader to create their own narrative arcs, as well as game aids to play Dearg with pre-existing characters. This official campaign has been designed to make the PCs personally involved in the story, and to smooth out the Leader's part.

Main arcs and secondary arcs

Dearg introduces a total of eight narrative arcs, four of which are main arcs. To follow the plot of the official campaign, it is important that these four main arcs are distributed among the Players, the major one being Love.

The four secondary arcs are less deeply woven into the framework of the central story than the main arcs, but they still have a lot of dramatic potential for the Players who choose them. They will possibly be detailed as spin-off adventures in upcoming releases.

Finally, it is possible that a Player is not interested in any of the established arcs. The chapter “Creating New Narrative Arcs” deals with this possibility and provides the Leader with tools to help find a solution.

Distributing the narrative arcs

This choice can be made by agreement between the Players, or randomly. The first solution is preferable, so that each Player can pick the arc that inspires them the most. However, some groups may enjoy the challenge of having to roll with a story they have not selected, similar to using pregenerated Characters. In this case, randomization can be a good idea. The Leader will start with the main arcs and, number of Players permitting, follow up with the secondary arcs.

Main narrative arcs

Love, Ethics, Adoption, and Guilt are the four main arcs of Dearg, inspired by classic iconography. Of note:

- Each main narrative arc is connected by default to a pregenerated Character from Book 1 – Universe. If a Player creates a brand new Character, they should feel free to draw from the relevant profile to design their own Character.

- Some arcs are related to a particular faction by default. However, the Player is free to pick another faction for their PC if they wish so.

- The theme gives a general idea of the narrative arc’s stakes.

- Each arc involves several narrative constraints, detailed in the “Prerequisites” section, which the Player will have to incorporate into their PC’s background.

By way of example, here is the entry for the arc of Love:

Narrative arc of Love

This narrative arc is the central one of Dearg and should take priority during distribution. The card shows Eoghan holding a gold ring and Céliane sitting next to a basket with two turtledoves. These symbols represent the hope of mutual love and a happy future.

- Profile: Eoghan (see Book 1 – Universe, p. 184).

- Faction: Any.

- Theme: This narrative arc is built around the universal theme of love. It depicts a tumultuous story between the PC and Céliane, a young Dàmàthair from Fearìl. The arc also portrays the relation between the PC and Mael Mac Govrian, tinged with friendship and romantic rivalry.

- Prerequisites: The PC has powerful feelings for Céliane, a young Dàmàthair from Fearìl. His relationship with Mael Mac Govrian is ambiguous, mixing friendship and rivalry. The PC can also be the son of Dearg’s Ansailéir, Maorn, though this is optional.

When the narrative arc goes beyond the Character

The second part of this article covers an eventuality that can occur in any role-playing campaign: the death of one of the PCs. In Dearg's case, due to the use of narrative arcs, such an event can have unusual consequences. Here is some food for thought and tips on the subject.

Making a Character the focus of the story

Making a Character the focus of the story–that’s a challenge for any role-playing game campaign! There is nothing like the intensity of a scene where the PCs are directly involved in what they are experiencing. However, such a commitment requires some thought, as well as unambiguous agreement between the Players and the Leader before starting the game.

Shadows of Esteren features a harsh world, where death can occur at any time. This is a problem for the Leader: considering that the campaign rests on the PCs’ narrative arcs, what happens if they abruptly die?

To overcome this issue, Players starting a Shadows of Esteren campaign should keep in mind that choosing a narrative arc goes beyond their current Character. In fact, they choose this arc for the entire duration of the campaign, and what is at stake is not the survival of their Character—which is subject to chance—as much as the final resolution of the chosen narrative arc.

For example, if a Player chooses the narrative arc of Love, they will be tied to Céliane. Should the PC created at the start of the campaign die before the resolution of the narrative arc, the new Character that the Player would then create would inherit the deceased Character’s arc. This new Character will not necessarily be in love with Céliane, but they will have a strong connection with her; powerful enough to carry the narrative arc of Love through to its conclusion. The Character could thus be someone close to Céliane, a relative, a friend, etc.

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For more information about Dearg, please check out our Kickstarter page:

Shadows of Esteren: Dearg is Live on Kickstarter

We are very happy to announce the launch of our new Kickstarter campaign!

The main purpose is to finance the release in English and in a deluxe edition of the Book 3 Dearg, the campaign book for Shadows of Esteren.

Below you will find the complete press release with a lot of information about this new project.

Dark Fantasy RPG Gets New Rulebook with Innovative New Game Mechanics and Concepts Designed to Put Players Face To Face With Their Inner Demons

PARIS, FRANCE (October 27, 2016) – Agate RPG, publisher of the award-winning Shadows of Esteren, announces today plans for Shadows of Esteren: Dearg, the third rulebook for the fan-favorite medieval horror roleplaying game and the launch of the Kickstarter to fund the publishing of this new must-have tome. The Dearg Kickstarter is now live and runs through November, 17th, 2016.

Shadows of Esteren: Dearg puts players at the heart of the game’s narrative in a 500-page, hardcover essential rulebook to be published in two volumes and introduces three new innovative concepts to the world of Shadows of Esteren; Narrative Arcs, Focuses and Modular Scenarios.

 Players will define a narrative arc for their character centered on the main themes of Love, Ethics, Guilt and Adoption. Through 21 scenarios, Player Characters are at the heart of the narrative, their own personal stories becoming critical components of the game’s dramatic tension. While the PCs are involved in the same quest, each member of the party has their own history and motivations. Among the campaign’s 21 scenarios, six are Focuses that will explore each PC’s intimate story, ultimately affecting the direction of the game. Modular Scenarios are comprised of several modules exploring various facets of a theme or character and offer the Game Leader several ways the scenario can evolve. Each module is symbolized by a tarot card drawn from Dearg’s tarot and by connecting the modules the Game Leader can create a story of their own.

Dearg is the result of nearly 10 years of development,” says Agate RPG Creative Director Nelyhann. “Shadows of Esteren players will experience a story that will change their vision of the world of Esteren and bring them ever-closer to its dark secrets and to their own inner demons.”

The Shadows of Esteren: Dearg Kickstarter campaign offers several pledge levels, including one designed specifically for newcomers to Shadows of Esteren and one for veteran players of the game, as well as a slew of limited edition bonuses, stretch goals and add-ons. Dearg accessories include a complete soundtrack recorded by the Budapest Symphonic Orchestra, the Shadows Tarot Deck and game aids such as art prints, maps and scenario synopses.

Since first launching on Kickstarter in 2012, Shadows of Esteren has received more than a dozen awards for its art, production value and cartography, earned a silver ENnie Award for Product of the Year and has thousands of devoted players worldwide.

Shadows of Esteren is a medieval roleplaying game with horrific and gothic overtones in a dark, low fantasy setting. Drawing inspiration from Celtic myths, this universe has a subtle fantastic side hidden under a bleak, realistic surface. The Shadows of Esteren world is populated by men and women trudging through daily lives whiles also struggling with supernatural threats lurking in the dark. With the focus of its adventures being investigation and survival, Shadows of Esteren favors immersion and interaction among the players.

For more information, visit the Shadows of Eseren: Dearg Kickstarter.

Esteren Tour - Essen Spiel

We will be in Essen next week for THE the big game convention in Europe.

On this occasion, if you speak English or German, we invite you to accompany us on the tour. We can help to cover your travel cost and will pay for your accommodation. You will be with us on the stand to present Shadows of Esteren to the public.

Interested? A question ? Send us a message here.

Back from Gen Con... and a New Award for Esteren!

Intense, magical, thrilling... once more, Gen Con proved true to its reputation! This year, we were glad to receive another award for Esteren: a gold ENnie in the “Best Cartography” category. You can guess how ecstatic we were!

Our new award! This is Esteren's fourth ENnie, which makes it the French RPG with the most awards under its belt :D 

Chris, Nel, and Clovis, right after receiving the award! 

Every year, Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (ENnies for short) are granted in many categories. In 2013, we had earned three awards, and it was with pride and emotion that we received this fourth reward! We would like to thank all the community members who took the time to vote and support us: many thanks to every one of you!

A sample from one of the 5 maps

The Cartography of Tri-Kazel project was initiated in 2013, in the course of a subscription campaign. Bringing it to completion took two years of hard work involving every member of the team at some point or another. Therefore, this award comes as a reward for the efforts of the whole team, particularly Akae's, who drew the initial layer in black and white by hand.

Gen Con overall was very successful for Esteren. Four hectic days we would not have survived without the staunch help of our tremendously generous volunteers: Michael, Travis, Skyler, Benjamin, Shawn, Robert, Raine, Cynthia, Daniel, Richard, Taylor, and James. An exemplary team, with whom we shared many memorable moments!

With one of the authors of Baby Bestiary! 

You can find more pictures on our Facebook and Instagram.

And that's it!

Until next year!

Meet us at Gencon Indy!

For the fifth year in a row, we will come to Gen Con Indy from France to show our creation, the role-playing game Shadows of Esteren. Three members of the team will be there to meet you and sign your books. See you all at booth 2029! 

We have also prepared more than thirty demo sessions spanning all four days of Gen Con; a great opportunity to discover the game's universe and system through short adventures (lasting 2 to 4 hours). You can register through the Gencon website. Check the Event titles starting with S at the bottom of the page, there are still some tickets available.

You can follow our journey at GenCon on facebook

See you there!