Shadowland (for short) is a 56-page perfect bound d20 fantasy adventure module for 3rd Edition. Keeping a similar style
and feel from the first in the series, border size is excellent, text density is outstanding and interior B&W artwork
is consistently styled and ranges from good to very good. Cartography is done over a series of four full-color pages that
are easy to read and provide excellent detail (which is why there is a scale bar but no grid, something some DM's like myself
still miss). Page layout is standard, at times it feels a bit busy but acts and individual sections are easy to locate. A
basic table of contents leads you to the various sections. About four pages total is taken up with game licenses and advertisements
for their own stuff. The accompanying CD, like their last one, installed in a snap, proved very robust, quick, and beautiful
to view and explore. Controls thereon to control props, weather and sound effects were intuitive and simple to use.
We start off with a simple background introduction and bit more wordy historyagain filled with detail, although you
get the feeling this was tightened up from the last adventure and more pertinent to the tale at hand. Then we dive in! In
this adventure, the characters are already assumed to have played through the first adventure. There is woefully little help
for DM's who didn't play that adventure, but it's enough to scrape by. If you played the first one then the story here, naturally,
takes on a much more respected stance. A terrible creature kept imprisoned for many years was set free on the remote island
of Guardian. To right the wrongs, the players must travel into the shadowland, an ethereal-like demiplane of the dead that
elves must cross through on the way to their final rest in the outer planes (thanks to some tricky theology described fully
in the background). While this doesn't fit too neatly into everybody's campaign, it's easy to introduce and certainly intriguing.
The trip into this shadowland begins rather abruptly, which is great. Nothing like dropping the PC's right in the middle
of the action! They must survive a perilous ocean of dread, an island cloaked in mystery where too many things are not what
they appear, and follow a dark path across a twisted landscape all the while searching for clues to destroy or imprison that
dread creature back on their own world. Undead hoardlings plague their journey; fantastic landmarks (with appropriate eye
candy) will track their journey and provide wonderful ambiance. There's even roleplaying to be had with a mysterious helper
in the beginning, a trapped soul with the possible clues to help the PC's in their quest, and ancient prophecies that need
unraveling through cooperative PC input. At last the PC's have the ammo they need to tackle their charge, and in a cool open
style it may be approached any number of ways! While not an open ending (as the different variations are discussed) but creative
players are sure to write dozens of different exact endings to this tale though many different game group's of play.
A DM's Map of the journey is very good for organization purposes.
There's a player handout, and aforementioned full color maps, encounter charts for the shadow version of the sea
and island, the NPC cast (good, evil, monstrous and mundane) lovingly crafted and represented with very nice artwork, and
accurate stat work. A few new magical items round out the package as well as a glossary of terms to help the DM fit the milieu
of this story into his own campaign background.