Shadow Realm is a fantasy role-playing game. You become an adventurer who is transported to a realm of magic, treasure, dragons, combat, and puzzles to solve a great quest. The more you play, the stronger you become. You will learn new and amazing spells, discover items of incredible power, and become the champion whose coming is foretold in legend. This is a classic role-playing game in the style of the original The Bard's Tale, but you won't be tied up with dice rolls or stats. The character you play is yourself (you can name yourself at any time), and you are caught up in a grand adventure from the moment you start playing.

Linking your account gives you access to a page to view your character(s) and manage saved games. An all-access upgrade to the game is available as an in-skill purchase, which provides access to the second half of the game, an in-game hint system, and the ability to create multiple characters and saved games. Completing this adventure promises well over 30 hours of entertainment for you and your family. (This is a family-friendly adventure.)

Various items to assist you in gameplay are available as an in-skill purchase. Just ask "What products can I buy?" within the game.

You can download a PDF with a list of all the commands for the game by clicking here.

This new version of the skill adds more than just in-skill purchasing; the number of verbs processed by the engine has been expanded, the hint system has been improved, the overall game logic has been enhanced, visuals were added for devices that have screens, and numerous additional sound effects have been added.


I was a video game designer in the 1980s and created a fantasy role-playing game called The Bard's Tale which went on to inspire a new generation of MMORPGs. With Alexa and the advance of voice-first technology, I was able to create a game in the style of my original that is accessible to the sight-impaired — including people who never had a chance to play my original dungeon-delving adventure. In-skill purchases allow players to make their way through battles and puzzles more easily.

What it does

I built a game engine to support a full and complex fantasy role-playing adventure, with a verbose, turn-based combat system that includes the capability to handle multiple opponents as well as allies (non-player characters that you meet in the game) who fight on your side. The game uses open-ended sentences to permit flexibility in how you explore the world of Shadow Realm. For example,

  • Open the north door with the iron key
  • Tie the rope to the branch
  • Give gold to the beggar
  • Search the hollow tree
  • Cast "Flowers of Evil" at the second goblin

In other words, this is not a menu-based adventure. Players answer riddles and solve puzzles using simple sentences to advance in the game.

The game saves progress incrementally as you play, and has the capacity to handle tens of thousands of players and hundreds of thousands of characters.

How I built it

The game engine itself is a proprietary web service that has the flexibility to handle a wide range of game features. I created a web-based interface that permits me to manage (in graphical format) the hundreds of rooms, items, agents (non-player characters that interact with you), spells, and interaction-logic (e.g., "If the player drops the anvil on the bridge and the lever was pulled in the caverns, then the bridge will break and the player will slide into the wyvern's lair"). The web interface permitted me to set up a truly massive and grand adventure revolving around a fantasy storyline that cuts across various regions (see pictures above).

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I hired voice-over actors from more than a dozen countries to give the game a rich, international feel.

What I learned

It really is possible to make a fantasy world in the style of The Bard's Tale come alive as a voice-interactive experience. Now you can battle dragons and solve cryptic riddles on your morning commute.

What's next for Shadow Realm

A sequel is in the works...

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