The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41136.
Emer Atlas III is a Shadow World sourcebook for Rolemaster, detailing the southeastern areas of the Emer continent. It contains a very in-depth look at the regions history (including a very detailed timeline), geographical features, flora, fauna, cultures, climates, weather, NPCs, adventure hooks, and the kitchen sink. It’s presented in an extremely straight-forward, easy-to-read manner and flows quite nicely from beginning to end. The majority of the book is dedicated to pure source material that can be translated to any fantasy system desired and then supported by Rolemaster/Rolemaster Classic/Rolemaster Fantasy/every Rolemaster version currently supported. These mechanics are presented in a supportive manner, completely disconnected (physically, as in layout) from the source content, preventing them from getting in the way. Thus, you can casually read through all the source material and then come around it again at the end through the use of the mechanics.
Calling Emer Atlas III a sourcebook is simply not enough. It is THE sourcebook detailing the southeast of Emer. In other words, this isn’t your standard sourcebook; it sets quite an amazing benchmark. Let’s start at the beginning with the region’s history. Author Terry Kevin Amthor chose not to simply provide the readers with the basic historical look at the region. Instead, he got down to the absolute nitty-gritty, bringing you all the way back to the very first intelligent roots that arose in the region. He then takes you through this entire history leading up to present day (this spans 200,000 years). I will admit that I often became confused by the fantasy-lingo used during this timeline, but the more I read, the more I understood.
From here, the book moves into an extremely detailed look at the region’s climate, geography, flora, fauna, and inhabitants. Funny enough, I could have sworn this section was written by a climatologist and geographer, or a general scholar of those items. I was floored by the amount of information, but better yet, how plausible, believable, and realistic it seemed. I know those are basically the same thing, but that’s how I felt. Best of all, it was written in a way that can be easily referenced at a later time. This is mainly due to how they formatted the headers by including the climate zones in the headers of each applicable item (such as a particular poisonous plant).
After this highly-detailed information, the book moves on to what I would consider a more typical sourcebook format. It reviews the major areas within the southeast region, detailing the cultures, inhabitants, NPCs, and cities (with maps). There is a bit of a background story relating to the waxing and waning powers within the region and their source; a short chapter is given over to detailing this further and outside of the other content that its typically dropped into. Finally, Emer Atlas III takes everything you’ve already learned and gives it meaning by providing eight adventures and adventure hooks (the really short ones I would consider adventure hooks). What I would consider an appendix provides maps of the region and a chart of applicable fantasy weapons.
All in all, Emer Atlas III is an amazing book. If you are a Shadow World fan, this is a definite must have to expand your world in such a detailed manner. If you are just a Rolemaster fan, then you’ll be provided with a vast quantity of adventuring ideas, NPCs, weapons, and cultures to drop into your game.