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Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary $19.99
Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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Shadowspawn\'s Guide to Sanctuary
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Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2006 00:00:00
Shadowspawns Guide to Sanctuary

It is always good times when I find myself back in the place that is Thieves World. I grew up reading the books and playing in the setting using the old box set. I was overjoyed when Green Ronin announced the release of this product line in 2004 and was thrilled to get the Thieves? World Players Manual at Gen Con in 2005. This is the third book in the series and it continues to give excellent information for the setting. The city continues to get great definition and the world around it comes into great view.

Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is the third in the Thieves? World line of books from Green Ronin. The book is designed by Aaron Rosenberg and Robert J Schwalb. The book is in PDF format as well as available in print. The PDF version is full book marked and both have really good art and layouts. This is a good sized book being two hundred and fifty six pages long.

The book covers in really good detail the city and its inhabitants. One great thing the book does is cover both major time periods from the short stories: the Rankan and Irrune times. The book starts with a good introduction explaining the city and its constants. This is good enough to bring people not familiar with the city into an understanding of what the city of Sanctuary is. The book then goes into background and history of the city. This is mostly new information that at times was hinted at in the novels and short stories but never really explained in such detail.

The second chapter though is were things really start to get good. This chapter really goes into some of the day to grind of the city. I really like how it emphases legitimate businesses. It does a great job of showing that not everything in the city is corrupt and illegal. I think it is an idea that can easily be forgotten in the evil that goes on here. It also covers the illegal activity like the drugs, slavery, and gangs. The chapter deals with the politics, the laws, guards and other figures of authority, and the many different organizations that appear throughout the books. I really like that it takes care to inform the reader which of the two eras that things happen in. Much is actually fitting for both setting but there are specific items that only go on for one of the times.

The city is not completely fleshed out. One day a thriving shop can be abandoned or changed into something else the next week. There is a very nice set of tables in the third chapter to fill out the buildings and to randomly determine what is where. The city then gets rather will fleshed out. The more well known locales are defined and explained in the book and each section of the city is also written about. It does a very complete job of covering the city.

The book also contains the many NPCs from the books. This includes people from both time periods and it stats them up very well in d20 system presented in the Thieves? World Players Manual. This is the first place that stat blocks and game mechanics really come into play. The book can be used as a guide to play in this setting using other rule systems. There are a lot of NPCs of specific people nicely detailed and stated. The book also goes into good detail about adventuring in Sanctuary. It is one thing to present a setting but at times it might be tough for one to envision how adventures work. There are some good rule variants here like action points, and round robin DMing, and character clusters. Some of these options like the Round Robin and Character Clusters can really be used well to make the games feel a bit more like the short stories penned by different authors and with many different characters being focused on.

The book finishes up with more character options. There are prestige classes, backgrounds, cultures, and feats. This is good information but it is obviously not what the book is built around. I like how it feels that the stuff is there but the information on the city is the primary focus. The book also has new magical rules in the form of Ur Words. These are nice option to use magic but I think a little more explanation would be useful. They feel a little tacked on.

The book continues in the strong line of Thieves World books. It gives one the city of Sanctuary with its entire people. I really like how this book lets the city come alive and gives a DM all the tools one needs to really get the setting going. When the book is combined with the Thieves? World Players Manual it really allows one to play campaigns in the treacherous city of Sanctuary.






LIKED: Very complete bringing the city to life

DISLIKED: Ur Words just needed a little something extra

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00
Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a 252 page PDF (257 with Full color cover, OGL/Credits page, & 3 pages of ads) city guide for D20/D&D 3.5, It features an overview of the infamous city at the center of the Thieves? World novels, Sanctuary. The guide is made up of 8 chapters and an introduction. Chapter one provides a timeline and history of Sanctuary from it?s founding by Ilsigi tribesmen, through it?s subjugation by the Rankan Empire, the occupation of the Beysib, onto current times and the rule of the nomadic Irrune. Chapter two provides an overview of life in the city of Sanctuary. Chapter three provides an overview of the city of Sanctuary, its districts and notable locations, outlying areas and the surrounding region, during both the Rankan era, and the current Irrune era. Chapter four provides listings for major characters, as featured in the books, from the Rankan era, while chapter five provides listings of major characters, as featured in the books, from the Irrune Era. Chapter six covers adventuring in Sanctuary. Chapter seven offers write-ups of several common character?s to be found in Sanctuary, saving the GM the trouble of generating them himself. Finally, chapter 8 is the player?s expansion, adding additional cultures, backgrounds, feats, and prestige classes, and a section on Ur-Words.

The introduction provides an overview of Sanctuary as a gaming setting, discussing the types of campaign that fit within it?s Eras, and the nature and tone of the games staged in the setting, ending with an encouragement to fill in the ?undiscovered country? of the setting with your own ideas and character?s, just as the writer?s of the anthologies worked alongside and in-between the other writers in the setting. Or to change major features of the setting to reflect developments you have instituted.

Chapter one provides an informative overview of Sanctuary?s history with an emphasis on the Rankan and Irrune eras, as featured in the Thieves? World anthologies. This is especially useful for old fans, like me, who may not be familiar with the new stories set in the Irrune era.

Chapter two gives you a street, or gutter, level overview of life in Sanctuary, in both the Rankan and Irrune eras, with notes about economics & industry, religion, drugs & the drug trade (always a major theme in the original anthologies, and a major part of the grim & gritty tone of the stories.), food, entertainment, and of course crime, and for those who get caught, punishment. The chapter then goes on to cover the politics of the city, and its police & military forces. The chapter ends with information on other power groups and organizations within the city, such as the Blue Star Adepts, which featured in the original anthology.

Chapter three provides an overview of the geography and layout of Sanctuary, providing descriptions of its major districts and notable locations, such as the Vulgar Unicorn tavern in the Maze, or the location of Prince Kadakithis? palace, which was destroyed during the Irrune era. Tables providing random building types are provided as well as maps of Sanctuary during the Rankan and Irrune eras. Each map features keyed entries listing the various described locations. There is also a map provided for the infamous Vulgar Unicorn, whose write-up includes a listing of drink prices and other bits of setting detail.

Chapter four and five include write-ups, with description, personality, stat-blocks and notes, for major characters from the Thieves? World anthologies, both from the original series? Rankan Era, and the new series? Irrune Era. All of the notables are included, such as the wizard Enas Yorl, Hanse called Shadowspawn, your titular guide to Sanctuary, the former gladiator turned crime lord Jubal, Lastel ?One-Thumb? the owner of the Vulgar Unicorn, Lythande, the Blue Star Adept, the stepson Nikodamus, and nigh-immortal Tempus, godsworn of Vashanka.

Chapter six covers adventuring in sanctuary, including rules for adapting the basic classes and D&Ds magic system to feel more like magic in the Thieves? World setting. Some optional rules variants, including Action Points, as present in D20 Modern, and a class defense bonus, to reflect that armor is rarely worn in thieves? world setting. Another interesting variant offered for the campaign structure is the use of Round-Robin GMing, or character clusters. These variants are meant to reflect the differences of voice and style, and tone, to a certain degree, present in the anthologies, due to the different authors writing the individual stories. The chapter is rounded out by a short section on bringing across a city atmosphere, and the dirty, squalid place that is Sanctuary, in particular. Finally, a table of 100 adventure seeds, and an expansive collection of Rankan Era adventure outlines is provided.

Chapter seven provides a convenient selection of NPC write-ups for common character types to be encountered in Sanctuary, saving the GM the trouble of statting them up himself.

Finally, chapter eight provides an additional selection of crunchy player options. This includes additional minor cultures a character may be from, most of which are common to the Rankan era. Next is a selection of additional backgrounds, providing more Sanctuary specific ?life-paths? a character might have followed. A selection of new feats are provided, most of which are based on the Ur-word ?magic? system also detailed in this chapter. Finally eight new prestige classes are included, some of the more interesting ones being Harka Bey Assassin and Nisibisi Spy.

The PDF itself is a very attractive affair, done in black & white with grayscale artwork. It is laid out in two columns with plenty of white-space. It features an appealing decorative font for section headings, and a clear readable font for body text. However, many section headings are done as a white text on a solid black bar, another ink waster, while others use a thick rule or thin double rule. The header and footer use a dark text color on a solid textured graphic, which was presumably colored in the print version, which is going to kill your ink and mortally wound your toner if you print the PDF. The color is a nice full-color piece featuring Shadowspawn in some kind of action pose in an alleyway. Pretty, but another terrible ink sucker. The artwork is of decent to good quality, done by a number of artists, ranging from simple line art to ?painted? grayscale pieces.

Overall, this is an excellent product, packed with lots of good details on Sanctuary, its history, peoples, politics, and customs. The city is laid bare for your adventuring pleasure with lots of description and adventure hooks gracing the chapters, and interesting color quips from Shadowspawn here and there. So, if you are playing a D20 Thieves? World game, buy it, if you want to run a Thieves World game in another system, it is still worth the money, and it is even a worthwhile purchase for a plain old Thieves? World fanboy. Unfortunately, as PDFs go, it is a masochistic purchase if you want a print-out of it. So only print out bits you need, or get it printed a print-shop, your ink/toner cartridge will appreciate your mercy, not to mention your wallet.





LIKED: Maps, history, color quotes by Shadowspawn, story pulls, and extra culture write-ups

DISLIKED: The print version of a PDF (and with a busy "print" design like this, there should be a print version) should not be the PDF converted from the dead-tree version of the product, but the PDF with the ink-wasting decorative elements and fancy backgrounds removed, thank you, drive through. Oh, what?s up with the 3 pages, of dark background ads at the back, you got stock in a printer company or something?

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Anthony R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2005 00:00:00
Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a big 257-page PDF with color cover and black & white interior. It has a table of contents, index and is fully bookmarked. The layout is up to Green Ronin?s usual high standards and the book is heavily (and excellently) illustrated. Like the Player?s Guide, it has the dark bands at the top and bottom of each page, but they have been lightened somewhat to cut down on printer ink suck. I tried to find out if there was an update available that omitted the bands, but I could not get that information at the time of this review.

The Guide is divided into eight chapters and in many ways is actually two books in one! By that I mean information is provided throughout the book for both the classic Rankan era and the current Irrune era. Both eras get roughly equivalent coverage and so fans of the old books should be as happy as fans of the new series.

The book kicks off with an overview of the history of Sanctuary, all the way through the time of troubles and into the new era. This was great for me because I am much more familiar with the old books than with the new. The next chapter provides an overview of life in Sanctuary with details on the various power groups, the justice system, rulers and industries, both legitimate and illegitimate. The next chapter covers the various districts and points of interest in those districts, including maps and descriptions for the infamous Vulgar Unicorn. Two-page maps are also included of Sanctuary in both the Rankan and Irrune eras. I really like the maps of Sanctuary. The tread the line between being functional and being nice to look at. The numbered keys are also easy to pick out, which is an issue with some maps.

Two chapters cover Sanctuary?s significant NPCs. Each NPC gets about half a page of coverage, which includes sections on description, personality and the obligatory stat block. You get details for all the characters you would expect, including Enas Yorl, Shadowspawn and One Thumb in the Rankan Era and Elisar, G?han the Wanderer and Lone in the Irrune era. About seventy-five NPCs are detailed in total between the two eras.

A chapter on adventuring in Sanctuary gives the GM some sample adventure ideas for both eras, including a table listing ?One Hundred Thieves? World Adventure Ideas?, which I thought was pretty neat. There is a smorgasbord of other information, including an optional action point system, Thieves? World diseases and more. The next chapter lists various ?common characters? for the GM to use. This is a GREAT idea. Churning out stat blocks for minor NPCs like guards, beggars, priests, etc. is a real chore in the d20 system and this chapter lists stat blocks for well over a dozen common NPC types. Thank you Green Ronin.

If the Thieves? World Player?s Manual didn?t provide you with enough options, a Player?s Expansion piles on additional cultures, backgrounds, feats and eight new prestige classes. There is also additional information about Ur-Words and tables of Ur-Words in their various scarcities.

Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a very nice companion to the Player?s Manual. With the two books, a GM has everything he needs to run a campaign in Sanctuary. I confess that with a book this big, I really want a physical copy of the book, rather than the PDF, but an electronic copy does make it easy to print out things like NPC stat blocks for use at the game table and it is also a nice searchable reference. If you are interested in gaming in the Thieves? World universe, this is an excellent resource.


LIKED: It is an exellent companion to the Player's Manual. Stat blocks for common NPCs is a real time saver for GMs.

DISLIKED: I would have liked to see some maps included for common locations like shops, houses, etc.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Josh B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2005 00:00:00
The Thieves' World stories give rise to such notables as Cappen Varra, Enas Yorl and One Thumb to name but a few. Just as important as any of these figures is the city of Sanctuary itself. It provides the backdrop, shaping (and just as offing) taking the lives of the players on its decrepit stage. It is fitting then that Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary provides more information on both the city, and some of the more notable figures to walk the streets. Most of the information in this product is devoted to the Rankan & Irrune eras as presented in the stories.

We learn the history of Sanctuary, and have a chance to walk the streets of its distrincts ? seeing the sights and learnings its secrets. More than just a guide to the streets and alleys, information about life in the wretched hive of scum and villainy is provided; from what you eat, to who controls the drug supply, and what the proper Sanctan punishment should be applied to your PCs when they get caught being naughty.

Details for some of the important players from both the Rankan and Irrune eras is provided, as is information about some of the unique and magical items carried by these notables. Though they may be less recognizable, the everyday people that fill the city are more important than the (in)famous, and receive a chapter all their own.

For characters there are new cultures, backgrounds, feats, and prestige classes such as the Harka Bey assassin, or the coveted title of Freelancer.

Supplemental material, new and variant rules are laced throughout the book; covering such things as converting other material to your Thieves' World game, a quick reference rule for knowing how likely a PC is to be spotted while doing something he shouldn't be, or the much sought power of the Ur-Words.

If you play Thieves' World this is a must have, and if you're looking to bring Sanctuary and its characters into your games, there's plenty of information you're likely to find useful.


LIKED: More information on groups like the Beysib, and the mysterious Shapeshifters.

Details that help bring the city of Sanctuary to life.

DISLIKED: Despite being well bookmarked, I miss the hyperlinked table of contents of the Player's Guide.

Ur-Words struck me as being less the language that was used to speak the universe into being, and more like a complex alternate way to cast spells.

I would've liked at least a few more quips and quotes from Shadowspawn.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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