Shadow World Master Atlas
Reviewed by Jay Howell, Copyright ©2001
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
"It's Here! Woo-Hoo! Yippee!" I chant whilst all die-hard Shadow World fans dance around their computer chairs in fits of ecstatic joy. If any of you try to tell me you didn't do your own dance of joy, it's okay; your secret is safe with me. *grins*
It's finished, it's printed, and it's being shipped as we speak: The Shadow World Master Atlas 3rd Edition. Terry promised all his fans that it would contain lots of new information on Kulthea, the Shadow World, and he delivered. First off, Terry gave the fans lotsa lotsa new info. There's enough new information to make GMs and PCs alike salivate, drool, and warm up their dice.
Let's do a quick run down of the "old stuff". We start out the Atlas with the general system information: Introduction, The Heavens (Kulthean System, Moons, and Celestial Events), and Weather& Climate. Next we move on to: Creatures, The Undead, Artificial Beings, and Demons (of the Essaence and the Void). These parts of the Atlas are familiar to those GMs that have been with Rolemaster and Shadow World since the beginning. There is a slight update in the Demons section, however. Terry has given us some additional detail on the indigenous beings within each respective Pale. PCs beware: the GMs are now armed and ready for those 'accidental' trips to other planes.
The following sections are pretty much the same as previously published: Peoples, Gods, Good & Evil, Order & Chaos, Essaence & Spells, and Powers of Note. Terry was forced, due to page limitations, to remove some information we've become accustomed to seeing in these sections. The Stats for each God of Kulthea (Both Orhan and Charon) have been removed. Terry did give the Gods of Charon 'titles', which was interesting. How many of you were stunned to see 'Andaras, God of Wisdom'? Was it just me that missed this portrait of Andaras? Or was I just too busy surfing the Essaence Flows?
Speaking on the subject of portraits - The 'Powers of Note' does indeed have one of a very popular young singer. (Shameless plug for Terry's favorite Boy Band.) Tsk tsk! Terry, I would expect to see this picture associated with one of 'The Five', since that was the characterization you assigned. *grins*
Now for the Newer/Updated stuff. The history timeline has been updated to include events of note occurring on all the newly included continents. It seemed very jumbled when I read it, but perhaps it was just information overload. All the new events in the timeline made this reader feel confused, or missing pieces of history that I remembered from before. (Not that I'm calling myself Andraax, or saying that I was born in the first era.)
Also in the 'New/Updated' category are Minerals, Gems, and Metals, as well as Plantlife sections of the Atlas. Terry includes what must have been exhaustive geological research in the Minerals, Gems, and Metals information. Good reading, and excellent information for the Players/GMs that wish to have a specific item created for their use. The Plantlife is new because Terry added extra information for the dangerous flora of Kulthea. GMs will like this since it will make it easier to *ahem* pollinate the PCs with encounters of the deadlier flora, like the Dartspore.
All right, I've told you about the 'Old, The Updated, and the Revised', now it's time to get into the 'Completely new'. The Lands now include information regarding the (heretofore) more obscure continents of the Western Hemisphere. In addition, Terry provides Overviews of the continents, Maps with locations of hidden strongholds, secret installations, and ruins of ancient civilizations. (Yes kids, Terry shows us where the 'Lost' continent of Tarania used to be.) Better yet, Terry gives a brief outline of each continent's governing political powers. Hmm, off the top of my head: the The Alliance, The Vashaan Domain, Empire (for lack of a better term) of the Raven Queen, and The Empire of a Thousand Dawns. The 'new' continents (never previously developed/populated) include: Mulira, Mythenis, Iyxia, Falias, Kelestia, Gaalt, Murlis, Palia, and the North & South Polar Regions. Best of all is a small portion within the 'Lands' section: The Eastern Hemisphere. Terry gives a very brief run-down of the 'Evil' waiting break free when the eyes fail.
With all the newly published material in this Atlas, GMs (Both 'Evil' and 'Benevolent') will be able to enhance the gaming experience their players will have when adventuring in Kulthea, The Shadow World. There are now plenty of areas for GMs (of all alignments) to get their parties into some interesting adventures of varying degrees of excitement and danger.
Reviewers note: Once again Terry produces a must-have resource book for Shadow World. Every GM should purchase this Atlas, unless (s)he prefers to make more work for themselves. I've already privately saluted Terry on his good work, so here's a public accolade. 'Excellence once again, Terry! Thanks for all the hard work you've put into this book.'
Personal note: When I proofed the Atlas, I saw some VERY interesting topics (Hint: They have to do with Para-psychology and Divination). I sincerely want to see these further developed. When will they be published? Which book, and how long will it take??? (I can hear Terry sighing now. His fans are never satisfied, and they are always 'asking' for more!)
The Shadow World Master Atlas Third
Edition is published by Eidolon
Studios who can be reached at http://members.aol.com/~terbob.