||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
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[5 of 5 Stars!]