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Early Dark Role-Playing Game


The Early Dark Role-Playing Game features a powerful d10 mechanic that relies on both open-ended creativity and systematic strategy. It's a unique game set in a gritty, realistic world. Your characters are cultural heroes in the making who must perform bold, noble actions while at the same time paying their dues to the local communities from which they come. Gain fame and build a reputation with the people who care about you while at the same time saving the world! If they don't write myths about you, you aren't doing it right! 

This Early Dark corebook has everything needed to play, design encounters, setup campaigns, and buff up your heroes long into the campaign. Start playing today! 


We worked hard to build a system that includes both creative role-playing and mastering a system. Humans, animals, vegetation and viruses are all measured by the same eight stats, resulting in a truly universal set of "aptitudes" that makes rolls within combat the same as rolls within arguments, skill-checks, and puzzle-solving: Cunning, Fight, Thrive, Touch, Relate, Guile, Move, Labor. Abstract at first, but soon perfect for the flow of dangerous adventuring. 

  • Be creative on each turn to secure your target number, which will vary based on the arts and aptitudes you include in the qualitative declaration of your hero's action. Balanced subjective and objective factors on every turn! 
  • Roll a pool of ten-sided dice, and arrange them in secret into groups that add up to sums beneath the target number. One big attack? Two smaller hits? A bluff? Lots of small debuffs instead of an attack? It's up to you! 
  • Stare down your GM, read his face like a poker player, be nasty, then both players reveal their groups of dice at the same time. Like-sized groups cancel, while unique sizes on either side hit. Did you both make one big hit? Strike, Parry! Both are safe. Did he go low and you high? Slice, Chop! Both of you land blows and deal damage.
  • Did you swing middle and try to toss an off-hand weapon, while he offered a flurry of blows and attempted to disarm? The groups of dice are on the table (tactile and tangible) so it takes only seconds to see what happened. He hits once, you miss but land the off-hand attack, he fails to disarm! It's easy to visualize each action and resolve even a complex turn clearly. 
  • "Level-up" by first unlocking heroic achievements tied to new titles and epithets (Eater of Bears, Warrior Princess, Keeper of the Flame) and then purchasing the upgrades tied to those achievements with "pages" earned by gathering followers, fans, and fame.  
  • Two forms of magick with two easy-to-learn systems: One draws from the underside of the world's tapestry, the Fray; the other follows the natural rhythms that make up this side of the world, the Loom. Those more invested in systems are more affected by the them. Open your souls to the Fray at your own risk!  

Early Dark is a world of magick, yes, but not a world of high fantasy. Our goal in designing the societies of the Hara Sea was to invoke a world populated with realistic human minds and ecologies. Each culture began as a respectful and researched mash-up of two real-world mythic traditions before growing into cultures truly unique and fantastic:

  • The Vayok: The raiding culture of the vikings mixed with the nomadic hunting of the Inuit? Excellent! Braid your hair with beads and shells, lead your sled-dogs against rival tribes, carve walruses onto your longboats, fight the giants of the tundra! 
  • The Edish: A people-group similar to the Native American tribes of the Great Plains sacked Rome instead of the Goths? Maintain your system of totems while adapting to urban life. Forge new orders, new magicks, new trade without losing touch with your roots. 
  • The Anu: Han dynasty China in a South American climate with ziggurats and vengeful gods? Rock it with castes of sword and honor, balance the natural spirits to avoid awakening great Tyrants, manage the resources of your House and estate, smuggle the hallucinogenic Flower into other parts of the world. 
  • The Neferatha: Classical Vedic South Asia in a fertile valley befitting the Egyptian pharaohs? Four rigid castes that vie for power, an empire vast and diverse, new cults and magicks at every turn, old cultures merging and contesting. 
  • The Alagoths: The two great enemies of the Greco-Roman lineage, Celts and Persians. These nomadic, tribal shepherds come to find a lush forest and found a new religion. Earn wives and horses, consult the druids, raid the Edish and Neferatha cities to found great encampments of your own, learn the bow and philosophy in equal measure, paint your faces blue and wear the skin of lions! 

Become your culture's next mythic hero or demigod! Every hero has a home, a life, a heritage. The lives of heroes are both mythic and mundane, and Early Dark hopes to capture both the cosmic and the common sides of a world where morning fog lingers late, and dark falls early.

Over 200 pages of dark, gritty, robust setting material for your next campaign, itself worth the cost of the download!

Take up sword or spear! Join the Early Dark community and play today! 

NOTE: Purchasing this PDF counts as a Rebate Coupon for the gorgeous Hardcover Edition of Early Dark! Details in the confirmation note after purchase.

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Reviews (2)
Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
Benjamin D October 24, 2020 1:40 pm UTC
Are there any suppliments on the horizon? The book indicates possible future releases. I would love to have an expansion that gives a little closer look at some regions that have practically no coverage (Far Wilds, etc) and expands the bestiary with some of the creatures that are an important aspect of the story, but aren’t included such as walrus, mammoths, etc. Some additional info on ships, would also be great since sea travel and battles are a big part of the backstory.
Customer avatar
Logan H April 18, 2017 11:33 pm UTC
I didn't see any notes about the Rebate Coupon after purchasing. What exactly does the Rebate Coupon entail?
Customer avatar
Calvin J April 19, 2017 12:06 am UTC
It should be in the "thank you" email that comes automatically after purchase. Maybe it won't come through if you have "receive emails and notifications from publishers" turned off in your account settings.

Simply, if you send us an email with your customer number and order number, we'll send you a discount coupon to buy the offset print version of the hardcover so it equates to getting the PDF free with the hardcover purchase.
Customer avatar
Gareth L July 24, 2016 10:16 pm UTC
Any chance of seeing this on POD here?

IPR is great, but the postage to Europe is 60 dollars on top of the cost of the book!
Customer avatar
Calvin J April 19, 2017 12:09 am UTC
Hey, Gareth. We've recently started graphic design on a POD version, though we always suggest hitting up the Anthropos Games website to check out our high-quality, offset-print hardcover too. We have a couple small shops carrying Early Dark in the U.K., and sometimes we can hook you up to order from them. <br>
But, yeah, we're getting POD in place now. Thank you for the question, and several apologies it slipped by me for so long. Maybe that's worth a shipping discount from our Austin warehouse ;)
Customer avatar
Alex P July 23, 2017 2:02 am UTC
Hi Calvin, I'd love if you could hook me up with one of the UK shops carrying the book!
Customer avatar
Calvin J July 24, 2017 4:42 pm UTC
For sure. I'll contact our distributor and see where the copies ended up and if they are still available. Could you send an email through contact (splat) anthroposgames (ditto) com to hook up details?
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This title was added to our catalog on July 10, 2011.