Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a big 257-page PDF with color cover and black & white interior. It has a table of contents, index and is fully bookmarked. The layout is up to Green Ronin?s usual high standards and the book is heavily (and excellently) illustrated. Like the Player?s Guide, it has the dark bands at the top and bottom of each page, but they have been lightened somewhat to cut down on printer ink suck. I tried to find out if there was an update available that omitted the bands, but I could not get that information at the time of this review.
The Guide is divided into eight chapters and in many ways is actually two books in one! By that I mean information is provided throughout the book for both the classic Rankan era and the current Irrune era. Both eras get roughly equivalent coverage and so fans of the old books should be as happy as fans of the new series.
The book kicks off with an overview of the history of Sanctuary, all the way through the time of troubles and into the new era. This was great for me because I am much more familiar with the old books than with the new. The next chapter provides an overview of life in Sanctuary with details on the various power groups, the justice system, rulers and industries, both legitimate and illegitimate. The next chapter covers the various districts and points of interest in those districts, including maps and descriptions for the infamous Vulgar Unicorn. Two-page maps are also included of Sanctuary in both the Rankan and Irrune eras. I really like the maps of Sanctuary. The tread the line between being functional and being nice to look at. The numbered keys are also easy to pick out, which is an issue with some maps.
Two chapters cover Sanctuary?s significant NPCs. Each NPC gets about half a page of coverage, which includes sections on description, personality and the obligatory stat block. You get details for all the characters you would expect, including Enas Yorl, Shadowspawn and One Thumb in the Rankan Era and Elisar, G?han the Wanderer and Lone in the Irrune era. About seventy-five NPCs are detailed in total between the two eras.
A chapter on adventuring in Sanctuary gives the GM some sample adventure ideas for both eras, including a table listing ?One Hundred Thieves? World Adventure Ideas?, which I thought was pretty neat. There is a smorgasbord of other information, including an optional action point system, Thieves? World diseases and more. The next chapter lists various ?common characters? for the GM to use. This is a GREAT idea. Churning out stat blocks for minor NPCs like guards, beggars, priests, etc. is a real chore in the d20 system and this chapter lists stat blocks for well over a dozen common NPC types. Thank you Green Ronin.
If the Thieves? World Player?s Manual didn?t provide you with enough options, a Player?s Expansion piles on additional cultures, backgrounds, feats and eight new prestige classes. There is also additional information about Ur-Words and tables of Ur-Words in their various scarcities.
Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a very nice companion to the Player?s Manual. With the two books, a GM has everything he needs to run a campaign in Sanctuary. I confess that with a book this big, I really want a physical copy of the book, rather than the PDF, but an electronic copy does make it easy to print out things like NPC stat blocks for use at the game table and it is also a nice searchable reference. If you are interested in gaming in the Thieves? World universe, this is an excellent resource.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: It is an exellent companion to the Player's Manual. Stat blocks for common NPCs is a real time saver for GMs.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I would have liked to see some maps included for common locations like shops, houses, etc.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>
[5 of 5 Stars!]