If you’ve read this blog or the Rolemaster Forums regularly, it’s no secret that my focus is primarily on Shadow World and Rolemaster. It’s been a long time since I’ve played other games, and I’ve always felt that I would get more “bang for my buck” writing material, mastering game material and rules for a single system. So, like many of you, I’m pondering what I.C.E. and specifically Shadow World looks like in the future.
The last decade has seen many founders, artists and writers of early and Golden Age RPG’s pass away. Many have only recently been acknowledged or appreciated for their impact on the industry, as TTRPGs has matured, expanded and become a cultural touchpoint. Certainly the deaths of Gygax, Arneson and now Terry, has caused a profound sense of loss; not only for the loss of their creative output, but for the impact they had on our childhoods.
Few game settings have had such a delineation in “Canon” and “Non-Canon” content that Terry’s Shadow World. Many game settings are created by multiple writers and artists, over years, and often with changing styles. Shadow World was somewhat unique for the quantify and quality of output generated by Terry over 35+ years. For purists, the early SW modules were of varying quality, tone and usability, and only Terry’s material was considered Canon not only because of his founder status, but due to the quality of his writing. Terry was very protective of the world he created, and barring a “collaboration” for the Shadow World Players Guide, there hasn’t been any SW material published by anyone other than Terry for decades.
Where does that leave Shadow World now? There are two drivers for the future of Shadow World: Terry’s estate and I.C.E. itself. A few thoughts:
- Will or can SW continue with new material and new contributors?
- Should SW continue after Terry’s death, or should his work stand unaltered for posterity? (There is certainly enough current material for any gaming campaign).
- Could ICE just reprint SW material for RMU, d20 or other open systems rather than pursue new content?
- What new material is possible? What would users and fans want to see? Detailed regional books that expand “Canon” or adventures or smaller works that fill in gaps without tipping the applecart?
- Could SW be sold/licensed to a larger gaming company that has the inhouse resources to scale up the material?
- If new material is created, how is it’s quality and appropriateness arbitrated? Can new material come close to or match Terry’s style and intent?
- Is ICE already “all-in” with SW as it’s quasi-official setting? How can it pivot to a new setting given it’s publishing pace?
I’m sure the management of I.C.E. are already contemplating these issues, but I’m also curious what the fans and users of SW and Rolemaster think, want or find acceptable for the future of Shadow World.