Shadow World: Master Atlas 3rd Ed. and Master Atlas 4th Ed.

It’s quite often that I see an online comment from a new Shadow World player about what books to buy. More specifically what Master Atlas might be appropriate putting aside the availability of each edition.

When I’m working on new material and always keep both the 3rd Ed. and 4th Ed. opened up as reference. For the most part, they are identical, barring the inclusion of “Character Creation” and “Bay of Izar” material in the 4th Edition. Generally I prefer the layout, typeset and organization in the 3rd Ed.

One small detail that strikes me the most is the interior title of the book. In the 3rd Ed. we see this:


I believe this is the first time we see the term “Encylopedia” to describe the volume. I wonder if Terry wanted to differentiate between “Atlas” material that covers maps and places and the broader information that’s best described as “Encyclopedia”. By the 4th Edition, however, it’s back to this inner title:

Master Atlas 4th Edition

I’ve always been a proponent of expanding the Atlas substantially, and 3rd Ed. seemed like a start to that. Assuming people have access to multiple editions, what is your preference, 3rd or 4th Ed. and why??

One Reply to “Shadow World: Master Atlas 3rd Ed. and Master Atlas 4th Ed.”

  1. I keep all 4 editions on hand physically and have 3rd and 4th in PDF form as well.

    I prefer 3rd edition for the layout and artwork. The physical copy’s maps are washed out and hard to read but fortunately the PDF doesn’t suffer those problems. (And the fact that my physical copy was made and shipped to me directly by Terry himself is a great bonus as I now treasure every everything that he touched more than ever before.)

    The 4th edition’s Bay of Izar material was a nice addition but I thought the character creation section was a waste of paper. I really dislike the inch-wide stripe of “dark-space” on each page which makes everything seem crowded into a little box where the white-space of typical layout gives a sense of openness. That extra graphic element is even more annoying in the PDF version where the useful portion of the page keeps shifting left and right as I move from page to page.

    If there are future products I’m hoping that the things that should or could be known by all players are added to an updated Player Guide. An updated Powers book can focus on individuals and groups and be filled with mostly GM specific information and timeline information known only to a few. And then a Master Atlas/Encyclopedia that falls in between with more details than fit reasonably in a Player Guide but also things that players could research at major libraries or experience just by traveling around the world.

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