Atmosphere is important in gaming. Those little hints, whether physical, verbal, or even musical can set the stage for a good gamemaster like nothing else in the world. But with only a few exceptions, it’s rare to find a book for a roleplaying game, whether a rulebook, setting, or supplement, that does the same thing.
Wolfgang Baur and the design crew from Open Design have done it again with Courts of the Shadow Fey. Billed as “A 4th Edition Adventure for Levels 12 to 15,” I think it should be used as a template for any book seeking to describe not just a setting but a campaign leading a party of powerful adventures into realms unknown. From the beautiful cover from Stephanie Law and the poetic quote from Lord Byron’s “So We’ll go No More A-Roving” on the first page inside, I was in the mood for some fey magic… And as with all trips into faerie realms, I did not come back the same as I entered.
Without a doubt, there’s always been something magical about the world of faerie. Baur and his kobold helpers managed to take the light and dark of the faerie courts and twist them to make a different statement. This is the Realm of Shadows, a place of halfways and no absolutes. The two courts of Winter and Summer make nobles in the mortal realms seem pale in comparison, seeking stability in their immortality in an unstable place. When you add in the fickle nature of mortals’ brief time upon the stage, there is much there to enrage the immortal courts… The Moonlit King of the Winter Court does not take kindly to agreements broken in some petty revolt for rule of the Free City of Zobeck. When the fey come to claim what the King believes is theirs, things start to go off the rails.
Of course, the party gets drawn right into the middle of it as the battle begins between the fey and the mortal realms…
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[5 of 5 Stars!]