Fury of Shadow is part of the Midnight line, a campaign setting detailing a war-torn land where evil has won, and the dark god Izrador reigns supreme. The forces of Izrador have crushed the land of man, where pockets of resistance still exist, and are now waging war on two main fronts: the Kaladrun Mountains to the east, home of the dwarves; and the great forest of Erethor that occupies nearly half of the western side of the continent, home to the elves.
Erethor and the elves is the focus of Fury of Shadow.
The box contains the following: a big map of Eredane, character sheets, DM screen, map booklet, and 160 pages soft cover campaign book (the meat of the box).
The map is a very high-quality image which you can zoom in to with very little distortion (to a point) and I can just imagine cropping small areas of the map, pass it trough some image manipulation tool (photoshop, paint.net, etc.) and hand them over to my PCs as prize.
The character sheet is just like the standard D&D character sheet but with a Midnight logo on top and a place to write your character’s Heroic Path, the magic area still has ‘Spells per day’ boxes where Midnight uses spell points, and Knowledge (planes) and Knowledge (religion) which are removed from Midnight are still there. And the DM screen, while it has nice paintings on it, has the usual information one would expect on a DM screen such as AC modifiers, actions, movement, and even a Turn Undead table, something not available normally to PCs; and a very small amount of stuff significant for a Midnight game: languages available, time to learn new spells, and the Sahi calendar. All these three things could have been much better.
The most important part of the box is of course the campaign book. This book is a must for any DM who plans to run a campaign in Erethor, or who just wants to expand his/her knowledge of the elves and what they are facing. The file comes with bookmarks to head of chapters.
I’ll break down the chapters for you:
Chapters 1 to 3 describe the various regions of the elven forest Erethor that are directly affected by the war with the Shadow (Izrador): the Caraheen (central), Veradeen (north) and the Arrun jungle and Druid’s Swamp (south). The Caraheen receive the most attention with a page count that almost equals both the south and northern area, which is a shame. The relatively quite coastal area of western Erethor, the Miraleen, does not receives it’s own chapter, and while it get several other mentions in other areas of the books, I think that some more information on this area of Erendane would have been welcomed. Even though, all three chapters a choke full of great locations and interesting personalities with enough quirks and twists that a cunning DM could have his players constantly on edge and asking themselves whether they should truly trust that elf. that particular person (and in my opinion, one of the most important parts of a Midnight campaign)
Chapter 4 goes into a little more detail about the various elven societies (all four), their strength and how they fight the Shadow, what could happen should the Shadow succeed in corrupting or defeating some of them, as well as some adventure hooks. The chapter also provides on some other groups that help/hinder the elves in their fight such as the Cult of the Witch, Roland’s Raiders, and the Pirate Princes.
Chapter 5 provides an excellent recounting of the war on Erethor for the past 99 years, an Arc by Arc (months in Midnight) description of the Shadows “final” and greatest offensive against the elves, and some of the Witch Queen plans to counter such an offensive. It is important to know, and the authors keep reminding us, that this chapter is a possibility of things to happen to provide adventure seed andor a backdrop to the party’s adventure in the elven forest.
Chapter 6 describes the Shadow’s forces besieging Erethor, the location and difficulties these forces have, their plans of conquest, the personalities and ambitions of the various captains (with all the conflicts between them), giving us a better understanding of how they might react; and as well as the elven forces and how they try to counter the Shadow’s minions. This is another excellent part of the book with plenty of ideas.
Chapter 7 provides general adventure ideas in Erethor for both good or evil parties, and three short encounters taking advantage of the various areas described in the book. Chapter 8 gives us the new monsters and several important NPCs complete with their personalities and quirks. Chapter 9 is the shortest and gives us a handful of feats and one Prestige Class, the Erunsil Blood.
The book on the whole is very well written. Short stories (several paragraphs at most) dot the chapters and give readers a more in-depth look at what the elves and orcs fighting in this warfront feel. You cannot read a page of this book without an adventures idea, if not a whole campaign, jumping out at you (in fact, I recommend reading this book with a notebook and pen on the side. Just in case).
There are no meta-plots in this book. The authors keep reminding the reader that everything written down are suggestions and ideas, a possibility of things to come, nothing more. They leave enough gray area for the DM to run around in and fit and mold into his/her own campaign.
The book in black and white (as all Midnight books are) and I like this because I believe it very fitting for this dark setting. While I do not like the cover art of the book, I do like the interior art. The map booklet is also black and white, and I have no problem with that either; I do not think it detracts from them, and still believe they are very good.
For people not playing Midnight, Fury of Shadow offers little. There are several mechanics strewn throughout the book for forest travel with haunted trees, braving rapids, dealing with thin ice, and more, but there are plenty of books out there offering such mechanics. Fury was made for Midnight and fits into the setting perfectly.
I bought the original box set when it was firs published (The original box set cost $50, and I do think it was a little too much for what the box offered. I’m sure a little shopping around will produce a better price. ); Read it and loved it; and over the next several years flipped through it from time to time. Recently, I have re-read the book and have fallen in love with it again.
With this new offer of Midnight PDFs and only a $7 tag price, this should be a no brainer. If you are a Midnight DM and plan to run an Erethor campaign, then this is it.