Bruce Heard, one of the minds behind the original D&D world of Mystara is brings us back to the good old days with his brand new fantasy world Calidar. In Dragon Magazine, and a later boxed set for D&D, Bruce wrote about the adventures of the wondrous skyship Princess Ark, and used it to describe new lands rich for adventure. In "In Stranger Skies", the skyship The Star Phoenix picks up the torch, being sucked into Calidar's universe to explore the adventures of this curious world, its inhabited moons and sister planets.
The first part of the book is a work of fiction, describing the first part of the journey of The Star Phoenix and its crew. It is a very compelling introduction to the setting, reading as the first few chapters of a novel I'm aching for the rest of.
The second part of the book is an outline of the Calidar setting, zooming in from an overview of the Solar system called the Soltan Ephemeris, to a closer look at the World of Calidar, an even closer look at the area called The Great Caldera, then to a description of the nation of Meryath in the style of the Gazetteers we know and love from Mystara and going into even more detail on its capital city of Glorathon. Also included are descriptions of gods, people and monsters in the universe as well as descriptions with deck plans of different types of skyships present in the setting.
The RPG setting part of the book is written without referring to a specific game system, although the setting, characters and style are clearly influenced by the D&D family of systems. It would work rather well with any edition of that game line, and should easily be adapted to other generic fantasy systems. Included in the book is an appendix with suggested stats for characters and monsters for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG.
The book is very well written, looks great and gives a very interesting first look into this wondrous new world. I would recommend any fan of the good old days of D&D to rediscover the feeling of exploring a new RPG world for the first time the way this book lets you do it. The layout and artwork, including the beautiful map work of Thorfinn Tait makes shelling out for the premium hard cover version well worth the money.
[5 of 5 Stars!]