A downloadable game

Get this game and 1 more for $5.00 USD
View bundle
Buy Now
On Sale!
50% Off
$10.00 $5.00 USD or more

Shepherds is a tabletop RPG about young members of a League of professional do-gooders, as you strive to protect the peace and safety of ordinary people.  The young Shepherds will forge bonds of trust with each other, grow and mature as people, and possibly foil some evil plots along the way.

Shepherds is an adaptation of the popular “Powered by the Apocalypse” design framework, and retains many familiar components for those who have played other PbtA games, as well as introducing a few things that won’t be so familiar.  It takes its inspiration from “hopeful fantasy” JRPGs -- most particularly the Trails/Kiseki games by Falcom, and the Tales Of series by Bandai Namco.

The game is 72 pages (counting cover and title pages) fully laid out (by me), with hyperlinks, table of contents, PDF bookmarks, and a scattering of art.  It is complete and fully playable, though it may receive small updates in the future.  Also included in the book is one starting community (Adventure), with another available for purchase here: Fregena on the River (It's also available in a discounted bundle with the game here.)

There's now a Google Sheets character keeper template for online play HERE. It contains all the same information that is available in the Play Materials download, so should hopefully be the only reference players need for online play.

Purchases at or above list price will unlock more community copies. All proceeds so far have been donated to Direct Relief (See the dev log for more info) and once there's more to send over, it will happen again. Thank you everyone!

Updated 27 days ago
CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(19 total ratings)
GenreAdventure, Role Playing
Tagsepub, Fantasy, JRPG, PbtA, Tabletop, Tabletop role-playing game
Average sessionA few hours
MultiplayerLocal multiplayer


Get this game and 1 more for $5.00 USD
View bundle
Buy Now
On Sale!
50% Off
$10.00 $5.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $5 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Rules Reference.pdf 122 kB
Shepherds Version 1.10.2 Single Pages.pdf 20 MB
Shepherds Version 1.10.2 Spreads.pdf 20 MB
Shepherds.epub 8 MB
Shepherds All Files.zip 83 MB
Story Sheets.pdf 891 kB

Community Copies

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copies!

If you're struggling right now, and need a copy of the game, we've got you covered.  Feel free to claim a complimentary copy.

These are limited by the number of people who actually buy the game though, so please don't just grab them because you can. Or rather, if you do grab one, please try to use it! 

All copies claimed? Leave a comment and we can work something out.

Download demo

Google Sheets Character Keeper for Online Play
Shepherds Play Materials.zip 949 kB

Development log

View all posts


Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.


Hi! This is a very cool-looking game, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

I do have a question, though. If a player decides to become a Mentor to the whole team, how does the Trust work? Does the Mentor character have +1 Trust with the whole party (in either direction) or is it just for one specific other character? Also (more generally) is this Trust in addition to the +1/-1 Trust from normal character creation?



I am glad to hear you are excited! 

I hadn't considered mentoring the whole team - I think it's probably best to pick one character with whom they have a special relationship to add the extra Trust with. Giving it to everyone seems a little strong. But if you want, you could give them 2 moments with each party member instead. 

And yes, the bonus Trust from being a mentor is in addition to the usual +1/-1 that everyone gets. 


Looking at this (and the Fregena adventure), and the thing that jumps out at me is how the missions are structured like quests in a video game. While it seems obvious in retrospect, I've never seen it done this clearly before. I think it's a good idea, especially for new GMs who are still figuring out how adventures fit together. Stealing this idea for future projects.


I was 100% trying to emulate the feel of chapters in the Trails games, but overall I think it's a pretty decent way to do prep -- though as you say, more for a newer GM than for a more experienced one, who probably won't need so much structure.  As long as you don't get too rigidly locked in, it's a pretty good way to think about "Okay, here's something this person wants, and why it's something they can't just do themselves." ;)

Thanks for your kind words, and hope you are enjoying the game!


Just purchased this! I am planning to host a Crossbell RPG with this system, do you have any advice you would like to share for that? Thank you!

That's awesome! 

Since Crossbell is relatively small, you may have to worry a little more about the players choosing to return to a previous area in the middle of an Assignment, so it might be cool to prepare a couple of Tasks that can be dropped into areas they've previously visited.  Also, lean in extra hard on re-integrating existing people -- don't create a new NPC for something if an existing one will do!

If you run into any problems, let me know here, I'll do my best to respond promptly, and I'd love to hear how your game goes!


i will be propably hosting this game in few weeks and system looks awesome! I wil write my feedback about system when i finished playing. Do you have any advice when running Shepards?


I hope that all my advice made it into the book!  But mostly I think it comes down to to usual sorts of things:

  • Make sure everyone is on board with playing JRPG-style good guys.  It's fine if some folks want to be outwardly prickly, but a heart of gold is pretty essential.
  • Make sure everyone knows about and understands Share a Moment -- it's really the key to making a lot of things work.
  • On a related note, use the "Ask them how they feel" GM move a lot. It can spark a lot of good roleplaying.
  • When possible, try to tie things back to the backgrounds of the PCs -- this is a little tricky if you're running a pre-written scenario without pregens, but anytime you can find somewhere to re-use something someone created during their character creation instead of introducing a "new" element, it's usually a good idea.

Are you planning to use one of the Assignments I've provided as a start, or are you making your own?

Oh, and also, if you are playing online, I created a Google Sheets character keeper here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1O4F7S531piD-gboNIqFZIyKID0iT7psFVyLWgZnt...

You'll want to make a copy for your own use.


Thanks for all the advice. :) they are all great. I will remember and use them all. I plan to do my own task and setting, but I will use all the rules and advice. Thanks so much for google sheat we actually want to play online so it will be a great help.


Great! Let me know if you have any questions, or any ideas for improvement to the sheet.  I look forward to your feedback on the game.

Also, one thing that I'm putting in the next revision, and the only thing from that list that I think is important enough to merit a mention is a change to the question list for the Child of Heroes.

Replace "What about them do you most want to emulate?" with "Who wishes them ill, and might try to use you to do it?"  -- This gives the Child of Heroes a bit more worldbuilding agency and the GM a little bit more useful material to work into play without really sacrificing much.

My RPG is starting a campaign in this, is there a fillable version?

Since I never heard back from the last person to ask, I didn't work on that. How quickly do you need it?  And do you prefer form-fillable PDFs, or a 'character keeper' Google Sheet template?

Maybe the next few weeks and a google sheet would be amazing. Also I have a few other questions, could I give some kind of contact info to my DM? feel free to PM this account inbox with info instead of publicly posting?

I think I sent you an email, because I can't find any kind of DM functionality here on itch.


Oh heck yes a kiseki game! I love it already.

I hope it suits your needs!


I've been waiting for a game like this since I first read a Let's Play of Trails in the Sky! The best PbtA games are ones that go all-in on emulating a specific genre, and Shepherds uses the framework to make a game that perfectly captures the Trails experience, whether that's having a separate advancement track for growing into a mentor, "defeating" most recurring villains by eventually talking them down, or earning a title that will be used every time you walk into a room. It's also the first PbtA game I've seen that doesn't use playbooks at all, giving everyone the same moves and using character archetypes purely for storytelling purposes, which is really interesting.

Thank you very much! I will freely admit that this game started as my love letter to Trails in the Sky, but I hope it does the job for people looking for that kind of story.

I should be producing a draft of a scenario for it in the next few days, which will be free with the game, or purchasable separately.

I've been looking for a Tales Of-inspired RPG since forever so thank you for this!

I hope it suits you! Let me know if I can help at all.

Having now looked through it more thoroughly I found myself liking it more and more with each page, I especially like including a system for limit breaks/mystic artes

I'm glad!  The only thing I think I'd really want to do if I wanted to go "Full Tales-of" would be to expand on the magic system a little bit -- maybe with some advances that add specific new things you could do.

I may work on some optional modifications/playsets once I get the scenario I'm working on finished up.


Is there any fillable PDFs of the story sheets?

I haven't made any, but I might be able to figure it out if you find it valuable.  I've also been considering a Google Sheets character keeper for online play.


This looks really promissing!


Please let me know if you have any feedback!  I have a lot of ideas still rolling around in my head, but I am hoping to get some more input before I decide which to work on!


The only thing i really want is more elements, but not necessarily feedback, since i haven't played. But i'll let you know if i have one!