As of today, 1-24, RMU is back to the #2 position at DrivethruRPG and is at Platinum level seller. That’s great news, and while there is much debate on the stickiness of buyers, the adoption of the rules in gaming etc., there is no doubt that RMU has swung the spotlight on Rolemaster and ICE to some degree. That’s a good thing!
Given that my focus is on adventure material, specifically Shadow World, I wonder if SW will benefit from the RMU “halo effect”. Will Shadow World get a bump as new RM users look at ancillary ICE products? I’d be curious to know if SW products are also getting a sales bump.
Despite it’s reputation as a “kitchen sink” setting, mostly due to the inconsistent tone set by third party authors, I’ve always thought Shadow World had a unique feel driven by Terry’s artistic sensibility. I’ve written about the Many Flavors of Shadow World before and I’ve always appreciated the blends of genres: fantasy, sci-fi, anime and even goth and horror. Despite my own lack of interest in standard fantasy tropes, I acknowledge that there is still huge interest in the “Dark Lord/Dark Master” trope in roleplaying and pop culture.
Luckily, Terry has included this trope in many parts of Shadow World! Putting aside Lorgalis and other “Dark Lord” NPC’s in his fleshed out works of Emer and Jaiman, the Master Atlas outlines some other parts of Kulthea that might be readily adaptable for a traditional “Against the Darkmaster” style campaign.
Where might one look? Wrangôr
Per the Master Atlas:
Wrangôr: This is a realm of Lugrôki (Orcs), and Lugrôk-hybrids, the result of centuries of captured slaves being interbred with the Lugrôk population. This has created a race smaller than the true “High Lugrôki” but able to function during the day as well as at night. They are no less ugly, however. This program has been under the Dark Master, a shadowy dictator who, with his War Troll guard, resides in a citadel outside the port city of Vashtak. The “Dark Master” of this realm is a Dyar Elf, a powerful Mystic who rules through terror and brute force—concepts which the Lugrôki understand all too well.
This is the only substantive reference to Wrangôr in any of the books, typical of the short summaries found in the Master Atlas. Wrangor is located on the eastern part of Thuul, the continent west of Emer that is begging to be fleshed out! It’s proximity to Emer’s southern reaches makes it accessible to adventures based out of EMER book III.
In short, if you enjoy the straightfoward nature of an evil Kingdom and a mysterious Dark Master, Shadow World has that too!
I’ve been reviewing my conversations with Terry Amthor as part of my interview and found a few pieces of unpublished items. None of them are inappropriate, but don’t seem relevant. Now however, I appreciate every interaction I had with him! Without editing or commentary I would offer the following, although it was only a few excerpts….
(Answers below, but first a question: is this mainly about SW or me and ICE in general? I’m answering below assuming the latter.)
Terry, this is fantastic! First, this is Brian, (Matt is my younger brother.) My intent is more a focus on you and your journey, creative process and perception of the industry rather than ICE itself.
Oops, sorry Brian, I knew it was you, but for some reason typed Matt!
Non Published Side Bar (And oh yes the Court of Ardor. I once sold one of my few copies on Ebay for $425! I think later on that Pete was less than thrilled about it, because it was not very ‘Middle-earth.’ He once referred to it in an interview as a ‘Rogue module.’ It’s a real pity that his campaign in eastern Middle-earth will never be published. It wasn’t all that ‘Middle-earth’ either, but it was fantastic and so imaginative. And oh, yes, ‘Spy in Isengard!’ The story of our ‘choose your own adventure books at ICE was a tragedy that almost banrkrupted us, because our licensor got in a fight with the Tolkien estate over whether they were ‘books’ or ‘games’)
(fyi. The Parking Lot Movie is a documentary about the Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville. I think it’s available on netflix DVD)
Really! Well, I have been familiar with parking on the Corner since 1976… sounds interesting!
It’s not much, I wanted to include almost everything Terry had to say. The take away, is that everyone confuses Matt and I, and Charlottesville is a great place (I’ve been visiting there since 1987 and wandered into Pete and Terry’s office!!!
I’ve written dozens of blog posts about my thoughts on the future of Shadow World and now with Terry’s passing, it’s unclear if there is even a future for the setting. Of course, there are many RM users that have no interest in Shadow World and there are other settings that might not fit quite neatly into the world. But that’s true for any setting; I have no interest in the Forgotten Realms or Tekumel (although that setting is intriguing for it’s “alienness”!
But now we are at a crossroads. RMU is being rolled out without any supporting setting or adventures; Terry won’t be writing anymore material; and yet, TTRPG’s are more popular than ever AND building a new world setting for any game system has a high barrier to entry for anyone.
Look at the cover art for EMER. Wow. Look at the material Terry has written over 30 years. Again
How might Shadow World survive or even prosper now?
An aggressive re-statting for RMU.
A d20 version.
A flexible game license for writers to place their adventures in the Shadow World setting.
An editorial schedule of micro-adventures, modules and regional books over a 5 year horizon.
While some resources would need to be deployed (art, page layout and editing) much of this framework is already in place. I wrote about this HERE in early 2021….
I’m not a big believer in “production by committee”, but we already have a core group of productive resources that could be deployed. Rolemasterblog has proven consistent material for over 8 years, over 70 adventure hooks and multiple publications. I’ve written extensively about Shadow World and have posted up quite a bit of SW material here and on the RMForums. My brother Matt (Vroomfogle) is the Shadow World moderator at the RMForums, was the architect and project manager for the SW Players Guide, was the early primary author for RMU Core, ran the Nomikos library, and was a participant in many RM products in the 2000s.
There is a roadmap of ideas, products, role-out and support–what do you think?
Hi. You can now download some of the maps of Shadow World for free. OBS: They are NOT behind any pay wall. This is my way of honor the crator for all wonderful years he gave us all. You can get to the files in 2 different ways.
go to my FB page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2198307846888743
Go to the patron page and search for “shadow world” https://www.patreon.com/user?u=31775885
I will update info on the maps on my facebookpage, so be sure to check in on that from time to time. i probably have a 10-15 maps so far. Not all is up yet.
I thought I would put a quick post in an effort to stir some discussion on support products for RMU. We’ve blogged and talked quite a bit about Shadow World and there has been some discussions on a RMU.
Following the RMU threads on discord, RPGNet and others there seems to be some interest in game support material. No one expects that to happen quickly, Spell and Creature Law still need to to be published, errata corrected and POD’s rolled out etc.
It’s been stated that rule books generate more $ than supplements and modules. I think that’s hard to quantify given that virtually every game system can rely on older settings for support, and old modules can be converted or pillaged for material. So perhaps RMU can rest on the laurels of RM SW, Cyradon and MERP modules.
There does seem to be some interest in new material, and I can’t help but think that gaming material written specifically for RMU rules, races (species?), professions and creatures would be beneficial to system adoption. Of the varied comments:
Generic setting adventures. This could quickly fill the gap and it sounds like there are a number of people that could submit material.
A new setting. A new setting could really embrace the specifics of RMU, would not rely on Terry’s unique setting and could draw talented writers to participate.
Revision. It would seem that revising older RM material to RMU stats might be the easiest solution?
It appears that interest in RMU is peaking, with new members at the RMForums and perhaps new readers here at the RMBlog. This is an excellent chance to engage to RM players and invite them to participate in the community!
Welcome to my recurring blog series: “Race or Monster”. In these posts I try to uncover whether a particular humanoid or creature is best left as a “monster” or used as a race suitable for a player character. Of course, the individual GM is the final arbiter in their campaign, so I also want to examine whether a particular creature is even Shadow World “canon”. (see my most recent Race or Monster discussing the Droloi). Today I wanted to dive into the Saurkur.
So, unlike the Droloi which appeared much later in the Rolemaster supplement “Races & Cultures”, the Saurkur first appeared in “Island of the Oracles“, the 11th SW product printed in 1990. Like many non-canon modules, one gets the impression that IotOs was material that was retrofitted into the SW series. I had a copy at one point, but remember little about the book. I did think that the archipelago setting was very Shadow World, given the geography of many small land masses and island chains separated by the Flow of Essence.
From Terry’s comments on the development of Shadow World, there was certainly an internal tension between Terry’s creative vision and others at ICE that wanted SW to be a more generic setting that would appeal to a larger customer base. The inclusion of standard fantasy tropes was common in many of the SW non-canon books. But should the Saurkur be considered canon? Here is the few mentions (excluding the racial charts where they are classified as an “Alien Race”
General Info: 5’8″-7′ tall, 250-350 lbs, no professional limitations
Description: tall, thin, bipedal lizards. dark green to brown in color, hands have four digits, posses an uncanny strength for their build, and move very quickly, have long, thin tails
MASTER ATLAS III The Saurkur are a race of warm-blooded reptilian people that make up the bulk of the population of the Abarquan Islands (about 700 miles south of Kelestia). Loremasters believe them to be the descendants of a space-faring race that came to Kulthea on a colony ship which crash landed on the islands.
The K’ta’viiri begin experimenting……Masters of genetics, the Lords of Essænce alter plants, animals,and races to suit their whim. These unusual races include the Krylites, the Saurkur, and the Kuluku
.Abarquan Islands: [Tropical/Humid] Saurkur (Mixed economies/Oligarchy/TL:4). Home of the Lizard-men described in the ICE SW module Islands of the Oracle.
That’s not much to go on, so unless you have Islands of the Oracle you may not have ever used or encountered the Saurkur in SW. As humanoid creatures, they may either be descendants of a seafaring race or a Ka’ta’viir experiment, but they are at least Tech lvl 4, have a organized culture and no professional limitations. There doesn’t seem to be any issues around breathing air, keeping their skin wet or any limitation on adventuring. In fact, they have unusual strength (+20 str bonus!!) and speed (although no Qu bonus) that should make solid warriors/tanks. They appear to be “Medium” size so they don’t have issues that might arise by playing a Troll or similar larger race. Of course there would be cultural issues assimilating into a human or Elvish community, but Shadow World does have alien-like canon races (Hirazi).
What are your thoughts? Are Saurkur Shadow World “Canon”? Have you had a PC play one?