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    Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition $15.95
    Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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    Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition
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    Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition
    Publisher: Alternate Realities Publications
    by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/29/2017 08:02:58

    Let's start with stating that this book (4:th edition) is poorly structured and directly confusing at parts from a GM perspective. The heading "Shadows of Midnight", for starters, features on the top of every page in a font very similar to a headline, which from an art direction constitutes an eye-sore. Fact is, the fonts of all sections are lesss than clear as to whether one is looking at a new chapter headline or a subheader for a section part of the same chapter. As an editor, I would have required the layout to be much clearer so that each locale was provided its specific chapter and headline (with GPS coordinates within parenthesis), and that the various "scenarios" / plot hooks at the end of each chapter should be graphically kept aside from the authentic descriptive texts of the chapter (perhaps by employing a black border or putting the plot hooks writing in italics?).

    The product would also have benefitted from devoting the first and bigger part of every chapter to the description of existing facts and non-debunked rumours. This is the background a GM will use, after all. Then at the end of the chapter, presumably in a box clearly marked "Debunked stuff", a short listing of other rumours and on what grounds (using what methods) the author has been able to eliminate these as fake. Don't devote time and space in a background book to describe things in detail that you'll in the end write off anyway. This separation of credible rumours and outright misconceptions would make the chapters more clear and relevant.

    To further illustrate this need to be relevant, on pages 46-54 there is a totally redundant section on historical serial killers in the greater area. There are no supernatural explanations to these, and the killers are already behind bars/ executed/ dead from old age. So I can't see what help they would serve a horror GM? In a similarly ill thought through section, on pages 59-61 there is a text on a film producer who adopted a couple of tigers from a closed down animal park and took these to Maryland. What does that film producer have to do with West Milford, New Jersey? That pointless chronicle about the tigers just created an unmotivated break in the rather interesting text between the first two animal attacks and the final mauling that closed down the animal park. It's poor use of text disposition, and neither historical serial killers nor tigers transported to Maryland in the 70's offer a modern day horror GM anything useful. For a 5:th edition, these asides should be deleted (and so should the wikipedia like listing of historical celebrities who stayed at a resort hotel).

    The author should also be able to do better with the "scenarios" / plot hooks. For instance, what caused that Navy jet to crash when it flew past the cemetary... maybe a ghost? Is there a taped conversation with the two Navy pilots moments before the crash? And what happened to the two Navy pilots after the accident... were they escorted off the crash site by MP:s, never to be seen again and officially reported as transferred to the Vietnam and KIA after leaving typed military stationary letters to their families (letters obviously written on the same typewriter)? And the so called scenario "Environmental damage" (page 70) is just a copy-paste of the section "Xtreme Habitat" (page 67) without any hook at all.

    Finally, there isn't a proper overview map of the West Milford area (something that should probably be found on the inside front cover). The maps / photos at the end (pages 139-144) are quite insufficient in getting the whereabouth and the proximities between the different locales. And speaking of these locales, they're sometimes obscured under a creatively named headline. In all we're talking about the following 18 places in West Milford; 1) the razed foundations of the radon houses of Demon's Alley, 2) the druid-y Iron Furnace, 3) the Clinton Falls Bridge with its penny throwing ghost, 4) The flooded Village of Clinton periodically rising from the lake during Indian summers, 5) the Nudist Colony, 6) the demolished Cross Castle with rumours of feral albino cannibals, 7) the Boat Ramp with disappearing motorists, 8) the Deadman's Curve with a crouching ghost, 9) the helpful ranger ghost infested Terrace Pond, 10) the bitter, pregnant rock throwing ghost infested Buckabear Pond, 11) the closed Jungle Habitat (incl Rape Hill) with reported surviving and cross breeding exotic animals, 12) the eerie Steely Grove monument, 13) the Navy Jet crash site by the old cemetary in the bog, 14) the abandoned once ice transporting Macopin railway coaches, 15) the old Idylease hotel resort, 16) the wiccan camp site Stone Living Room, 17) the delapidated fairground Fairy Tale Forest slowly being converted into a storage unit, and 18) the old Long Pond Ironworks.

    Of course, the meticulous research is a redeeming feature of this product.

    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Mr. Gerdås, There is this thing called Google Maps, perhaps you have heard of it? Okay, okay, I apologize for being snippy with that. Honestly, there really is no decent way to include a reasonable map of West Milford. For starters, it is one of the largest municipalities in New Jersey. There would literally be no useful detail on an 8x10 map. Maybe the inclusion of GPS coordinates would be useful?
    Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition
    Publisher: Alternate Realities Publications
    by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/16/2010 21:46:06

    This is a great book. It is filled with stories of mystery and the macabre. The best part is that I have heard many of the stories in the book. Not only does Jorgensen go into detail about strange happenings, but also provides locations and tips on visiting for the brave adventurers willing to check them out. Obviously, those places that are off limits are pointed out explicitly, so you don't have to worry about the authorities and men in black.

    Another great aspect of the book is that the author also debunks several of the stories including Demon Alley, where the townspeople mysteriously vanished leaving dinner on the table and the rest of their worldly possessions. From cults and demon dogs to UFOs and just plain creepy folks, this book is guaranteed to put a chill down your spine.

    Now it's on an RPG website, so what's in it for us gamers? Well, it doesn't take much work to get tons of hooks for a horror or mystery game. For the uninspired, it even lays out a mini-campaign with pick and choose menus of locations and events that you string together. Combine that with a modern d20 conversion section with monster stats, NPCs, PC classes, and a number of other resources.

    If you like horror games, Weird New Jersey, or just reading interesting folk lore, check this out.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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