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The Darkest Age

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“Men make different sounds when they die. The sound of a man dying of a gut wound is different than a man burning alive or dying of plague. The sound a man makes when being eaten alive, you won’t soon forget.”

In 1355, the Black Plague killed sixty-percent of Europe’s population. Then, the dead rose and devoured those who were left.

The Black Plague has decimated Europe and brought with it a new sort of terror, a new sort of plague. As the sickness spreads, the Plague’s final symptom becomes apparent: the dead rise to hunt the living.

The Darkest Age is a Horror RPG set in a grim, alternate history. Enter the gritty and dangerous world of Europe in 1350, as an unusual strain of the bubonic plague ravages the countryside and those afflicted don’t just die. Faced with extinction, the people of Europe are forced to survive in any way they can. Characters face death, disease and the myriad undead, as well as cannibals, xenophobic city-states, and religious strife in an unending battle for the resources that mean survival.

Between waves of fear and a strange, uneasy compulsion to start playing The Darkest Age right now, you’re wondering what makes this game special? You’ve played a hundred d20 OGL games, but nothing like this one. The Darkest Age explores social and cultural conventions, as well as medieval role-playing tropes and turns them upside down. If you're looking for a true role playing experience, this is it.


  • Downloadable PDF: Take your role-playing materials everywhere.
  • Available in Softcover, PDF or Bundle (both)!
  • A multitude of unique classes, including Skald, Midwife, Apothecary, Viking, Mercenary, Merchant as well as the classics, like Thief.
  • Prestige classes as well as classes for advanced role-players. 
  • Detailed skills, some familiar and some new to this dark world.
  • New feats for characters as they struggle to survive.
  • Numerous locations, a history of undead-plagued Europe.

The Darkest Age is a complete d20 OGL role-playing game, written by veteran game designer Rob Gee and science fiction and fantasy author Eric Staggs, with creative collaboration from Julia Gengenbach. Cover art by Jeff Dewitt. Interior art by Rob Gee and Mark A. Nelson.

“In the hands of the right GM, this game will give you nightmares.” 

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (9)
Customer avatar
Patrick V April 18, 2022 2:13 pm UTC
Filling in my character sheet to learn about the mechanics of this promising looking game. Though coming to the point of learning languages I can't find any information of which classes are literate by nature or how spending skill points to become literate is working.
Any information on where to find this in the core rulebook for this matter?
Customer avatar
Karl R November 28, 2019 3:23 pm UTC
How does the setting compare to Ultima Forsan which also has the Plague-Zombie thing happen in the 14th century with humanity trying to rebuild.
Customer avatar
Phillip B January 30, 2018 6:23 pm UTC
So, I'm considering running this game. However, I'm running into one issue: I'm having trouble deciphering the DCs of the special abilities of the undead. The basic formula is 10 + 1/2 HD + "relevant ability modifier", so standard DC formula for D20 games. However, the book then never specifies what the relevant abilities are. For instance, the most common ability, Fear (Ex), never explains which ability score the ability is based on. I assume Cha which, for a standard zombie, would only give a DC of 6 (10 + (-4 for a 2 Cha)).

Any idea where I can find clarifications or errata?
Customer avatar
Andrew M July 01, 2014 11:21 pm UTC
Can the publishers give any feedback on whether a bookmarked version of the PDF will be available? I did buy this product, but have a definite problem with an unprintable, unbookmarked PDF for fifteen dollars, and asked for a refund. Spectacle has the right to establish any legal business model they like; this one is pretty indefensible for the price though, in my opinion. A PDF you can't print, with no bookmarks, and no Kindle version means it's close to useless. Add in shipping of a print copy that adds no less than ten dollars (to Canada, anyway), I'm paying $46.00 US plus tax for an item that I have no option of buying in a physical store. The whole of the model is tilted to the publisher and away from the consumer.

Great item; not so great model.
Customer avatar
Guy R August 03, 2014 6:18 am UTC
Wow, thanks Andrew. I was thinking about buying this, but with the ability to print being purposefully removed and no bookmarks within the PDF to boot, I'll pass.
Customer avatar
Ken B August 08, 2014 2:53 am UTC
Is that why it's $1 more for the PDF/book combo as opposed to just the book? Kind of a way to make you want the book as well?
Customer avatar
Eric S November 07, 2014 2:25 am UTC
Made it printable! Thanks guys!
Customer avatar
Andrew M March 22, 2015 3:03 pm UTC
Thanks, Eric. You guys gave me my refund so I no longer have the product to comment on, but I'd like to note that what I did read was great. Writing very concise, layout and art was good, top notch work. Adding printable was a great move by you guys, and I might repurchase because of that. Thanks again.
Customer avatar
Andrew M June 27, 2014 3:40 am UTC
Customer avatar
October 21, 2013 3:39 pm UTC
Loved this game. Great setting, well thought out. D20 based so my players already knew how to play. The additional rules are awesome, especially the plague rules. Awesome artwork. Really unique character classes. Rich with role playing opportunities. Great purchase. PS: I have read EAT and DISTURBING from this publisher and enjoyed both. A new company with fresh new writers is just what we need! Thanks Spectacle! ddonahue
Customer avatar
Derek A October 08, 2013 4:32 am UTC
As far as unique selling points go, I'd definitely give it to the story department. True, you could simply make a campaign about the plague with standard DnD rules, but this game is built for more pacing then fantastic adventures. The idea of gender roles only really come up for one class, so it doesn't really seem shoehorned, however if you're not interested in roleplaying a woman, pick another class.
The group of people playing should really make the group at the same time, making sure to cover multiple bases by picking skill sets. The game does a pretty decent job of the infamous, "My class sucks at combat" dilemma. True, the pacing can feel a bit slow at times, but that's the point. The game wants to truly be afraid to attack a group of bandits without a plan. It wants you to run from zombies. The game wants to make you feel like you're always moments away from death and one wrong move and BOOM! Plague host.
I honestly encourage to branch out and give it a try if you're...See more
Customer avatar
Dennis B September 21, 2013 5:17 pm UTC
W.A., you say you're curious how it stands out from the crowd but then dismiss the part about it being women inclusive?

And since every trad fantasy game ever comes across as "men are more important in our setting!", that this game states it wants to be inclusive of wommen in the world-building is an awesome thing. Why hope some GM does this rather than hard-code it into the setting? And here's a crazy idea -- building the importance of women in the setting assures that they are important in the setting EVEN WHEN female gamers aren't playing. You shouldn't assume the fiction has no use for women even if there aren't women at your gaming table.

Your post speaks towards assumed male privilege -- you're simply not recognizing it. Shame.
Customer avatar
W. A September 18, 2013 9:52 pm UTC
"whole orders of knights have been founded by women sworn to rebuild society. The Midwife’s Guild commands respect on par with the Church."

Honestly, this feels gimmicky and a way to say, "look at us, we make women important in our setting!"; whereas women can be important in any setting so long as the GM wishes it. (and if there are women in the gaming group I should hope the GM is keeping this in mind)

I'm curious how this stands out in the crowd when compared to wonderfully atmospheric and compelling games like "Unhallowed Metropolis"?
Customer avatar
Eric S September 18, 2013 10:50 pm UTC
Hey, W. A. - give it a try first! ;)
Customer avatar
Allen H September 22, 2013 6:32 pm UTC
I have no dog in this race, but I tend to agree with the "gimmicky" thing. I would love to see a real review and not just a five star, no content review from a "purchaser." Mind you, I'm not saying you, Eric S put up the five star review (because even if I believed someone might do that, the implication would be incredibly rude on my part), I just have an innate distrust of people trying to sell stuff. Sorry. Buyer beware and all that.

I am more than willing to shell out money as long as the product is good and has plenty of ideas, or simply has ideas I can steal from. The problem is, other than zombies and woman inclusiveness, I really don't know anything about this game (well, d20, which doesn't mean much anymore). Put some more meat on the product description bone.

Cuz, I like zombies, I like the plague stuff, and I am ambivalent about gender issues in my games. What I want to know: What iteration of d20? What, if anything is unique about the system? Magic?...See more
Customer avatar
Derek A October 08, 2013 4:48 am UTC
As far as magic goes, it really doesn't exist in the game. Priests have "rites" and the like to keep it more reasonable in game, but you're characters aren't firing magic missiles from their faces. As far as grit, dark ages Europe is about goth as it gets. Magic aside, it almost feels, to a GREATLY toned down feel, much like the Diablo setting. Things like cults and disease and futility of life are its bread and butter.
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