Shiver: Roleplaying in the
Strange and Unknown
Designer: Charlie Menzies & Barney Menzies
Artist: Ben Alexander
Publisher: Parable Games
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 2 or more
Playing Time: 3-4 hours per session
Main mechanic / Theme: Role Playing Game, Horror, Mystery
Roleplay and Scream your Socks Off!
Find more info on the official website: https://shiverrpg.com
Find more info on Kickstarter HERE.
Ever wondered how it is to be in a horror movie where you are forced to work with complete strangers trying to escape from the clutches of a creepy antagonist with a chainsaw? Shiver RPG offers that exact experience of suspense, fear, and panic.
Gameplay and mechanics:
Shiver is a tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) wherein one player takes the role of a “Director” who then takes the rest of the players into a thrilling and dread-filled story. Dice are rolled to generate random effects. The quick start guide does a good job in describing and guiding players even those who are new to RPGs.
The character sheet is just one page. One page! This tells you that character creation and progression will not eat a lot of your time, thus allowing you and your friends to have more time to enjoy the storytelling experience.
Like most RPGs, characters have main stats that they get to use throughout the game. For Shiver, the six main stats are Grit, Wit, Smarts, Heart, Luck, and Strange.
- GRIT pertains to the brute physical prowess of the character such as lifting objects, running, and punching.
- WIT refers to the character’s ability to perform physical abilities that require dexterity or some quick mental acuity such as lock-picking or sleight of hand.
- SMARTS indicate the character’s intellectual capability which includes investigations and using technology.
- HEART is pure charisma or the character’s talent in charming, persuading, or deceiving other characters (or enemies).
- LUCK denotes the character’s innate fortune to avoid negative outcomes or be favored of positive effects.
- STRANGE is the character’s unusual talent which can be attributed to magic, psychic abilities, or even mutations.
Once characters are created, the Director can now guide player characters into the scenario. The Director can opt to create their own story, perhaps inspired by a Horror cult classic movie or TV series, or he/she can use the pre-made adventures like the one-shot adventure “Corporate Risers” contained in the quick start guide.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout (optional)
The layout of the manual is simple and easy-to-follow. The artwork reminds me of the Mike Mignola Hellboy comic book covers, and it is pretty consistent throughout the rulebook.
Again, the single-page character sheet makes it easy to jump into a game. At least players don’t have to flip through multiple pages during a gaming session. I also particularly like how the hit points (or “Lifeline”) depict different stages of physical trauma.
Shiver RPG offers a different experience than the usual RPG. In most RPG systems, player characters are poised to be stronger than their opponents and victory is nearly inevitable. Shiver RPG feels like the party will be almost helpless against odds and challenges. If the one-shot contained in the quick start guide is a sample of what Shiver RPG games will be then fans of Horror movies will have a blast.
In addition, I particularly like these game mechanics and features:
- Archetypes; In a story, players choose one of the seven (7) character archetypes: Warrior, Maverick, Scholar, Socialite, Fool, Weird, and Survivor. The first six clearly show archetypes that favor one of the 6 stats mentioned above. The “Survivor” archetype is essentially the “jack of all trades”.
- Difficulty Levels; Your friends can decide to play Shiver in two modes --- Survivor or Nightmare. Essentially, Survivor mode is the normal mode giving each player 16 hit points. Nightmare, on the other hand, is the harder version as when a character loses a quarter of their hit points then they receive a negative effect that can make survival even harder. If you ask me, there is no other way to play Shiver but using the Nightmare mode.
- Doom Clock; As if the difficulty mode is not enough, Shiver RPG also has the Doom Clock system wherein certain dice rolls trigger an imaginary analog clock. When the clock reaches a particular “time”, more bad stuff will happen to the player characters.
- Dice System; You can get a set of unique Shiver RPG dice. Normally, I frown upon proprietary dice in games as it is hard to replace them when you accidentally lose one of them. However, the creators of Shiver RPG seem to understand this dilemma so they gave instructions on how to use regular six-sided dice and eight-sided dice in the game. Furthermore, they have a web-based dice roller app on their official website.
The closest RPG system I can compare to Shiver RPG is Call of Cthulhu where terror and dread are the main appeal. However, character creation in Call of Cthulhu is far more complex and I feel appeals mostly to die-hard Lovecraftians. Shiver RPG, on the other hand, seems like a quick and easy version as you can be done with character creation in around 10 minutes or so.
I can’t wait to see more pre-made adventures from the Shiver RPG design team.