The Shadowfell is a dark reflection of the natural world, a haunting plane where fear and death rule. Yet, within the gloom are countless lures for adventurers seeking fortune, glory, and more. Just don’t get caught alone at night!
This set is for Dungeon Masters interested in taking their heroes on excursions to the Shadowfell, as well as Dungeon Masters looking for a sinister setting in which to run thrilling urban adventures. A 128-page book presents the fully detailed city of Gloomwrought, complete with location descriptions, maps, quests, and game statistics for monsters and villains. It also includes provides information on other locations heroes are likely to visit beyond the city’s dark walls.
In addition, the set contains a 32-page book of encounters set in Gloomwrought and beyond, two sheets of monster and villain tokens, a foldout battle map, and a deck of 30 cards that DMs can use to add suspense to any Shadowfell-based adventure.
The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond (2011), by Andy Clautice, Erik Scott de Bie, and Matt Goetz, is a planar Campaign Guide for D&D 4e. It was published in May 2011.
Continuing with the Shadows. In 2010, Wizards of the Coast totally revamped their 4e product line. They'd cancelled all their existing series for Essentials (2010) … but now Essentials had theoretically run its 10-book course.
Fortunately, Wizards had plans for a new sequence of books in early 2011: a set of books all talking about the shadows. It started with Heroes of Shadow (2011), continued with The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond (2011), and thereafter ran through Encounters' "Dark Legacy of Evard" (2011) and Free RPG Day's "Domain of Dread: Histaven" (2011).
The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond, which is a DM's Campaign Guide for the Shadowfell, was also a nice complement to the earlier planar manuals: Manual of the Planes (2008), The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (2009), and The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea (2010), leaving only a book on the Feywild to fill out the World Axis. Within the Points of Light world, Shadowfell would have been a nice companion to "Gazetteer: The Nentir Vale", but unfortunately that book had disappeared from Wizards' schedule late in 2010.
Components: Thinking Inside the Box. Shadowfell was something new for the mainstream 4e line: a boxed set. This was probably a result of the changing landscape brought about by Essentials. Of the 10 releases in the Essentials line, 6 of them were boxes, while before that you had to go back to 4e's D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set (2008) to find a box. Madness at Gardmore Abbey (2011) would also appear in a box later that year, while two other 2011 books would be slipcased.
With all that said, most fans felt the Shadowfell box was pretty flimsy, nothing like the sturdier Essentials boxes of 2010. It included a 128-page Campaign Guide, a 32-page Encounter book, a poster map of Gloomwrought, monster counters, and a 30-card deck of Despair cards.
Components: A Token Effort. Monster tokens were another idea that had originated in Essentials — appearing in the Dungeon Master's Kit (2010), Monster Vault (2010), and the Starter Set (2010). This was their first appearance outside of the Essentials line proper.
Components: In the Cards./i> Chris Perkins requested a Shadowfell deck of cards, something to add a "fun, random element" to the game. Greg Bisland came up with the Fear Deck, modeled after Ravenloft's Tarokka Deck, which first appearing in Forbidden Lore (1992). It eventually became Shadowfell's Despair Deck.
The deck cleverly mixes the themes of the Shadowfell with the mechanics of 4e to produce a vivid roleplaying aid. Players draw cards while in the Shadowfell, leading to apathy, fear, and madness. However, players can overcome these negative emotions when they achieve milestones, and turn them into benefits. An extended rest wipes out all of the Despair cards in play — good or bad.
Card decks were being pushed hard by Wizards at the time. It started with the mutation cards of the newest Gamma World (2010), which led to D&D's Fortune Cards (2011) in February. However, unlike the other two sorts of cards, the Despair Deck was not collectible, nor was it available separately from Shadowfell>
The Essentials Facts. Several months into 2011, fans were still asking whether Essentials was continuing past its original 10-book sequence, or whether books that supported the old core were returning. Shadowfell didn't really do much for the argument. Its back cover claimed that it was for use with Essentials products, but it didn't have an Essentials logo.
Expanding the World Axis. The Shadowfell had been important ever since 4e debuted in H1: "Keep on the Shadowfell" (2008). In fact, it remained important throughout the "HPE" adventure series (2008-2009). However to date its main description had appeared in Manual of the Planes (2008), which dedicated 14 pages to the Shadowfell, including 2 pages on Gloomwrought. In addition, the Ravenloft-y parts of the Shadowfell had been appearing in Dragon'sDragon #368 (October 2008).
Shadowfell provides more detail than ever on the plane. Gloomwrought got most of the attention, appearing as a dark city that some described as a "Dark Sigil". However many other places within the Shadowfell are detailed as well, including: the Oblivion Bog, Thyrin Gol, Dead Man’s Cross and the House of Black Lanterns, the Darkreach Mountains, and Letherna.
Future History. Dungeon #190 (May 2011) talked about "Movers and Shakers of Gloomwrought", then Dungeon #191 (June 2011) presented a Gloomwrought adventure called "Reign of Despair".
About the Creators. Of the three authors working on Shadowfell, de Bie was the only author experienced at Wizards — though most of his previous work was fiction. He also wrote "Domain of Dread: Histaven" (2011) and was one of the coauthors for Neverwinter Campaign Setting (2011). This was the only work that Clautice and Goetz did for Wizards. Goetz has since moved on to do a bit of work for Pathfinder.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.