Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/201-
Back in the days of Second Edition, before I was old enough to vote (and at one point drive), FASA released a book called Tir Tairngire, a 158 page guide to the elven nation of the same name. Now Catalyst Game Labs has revived the topic with The Land of Promise. Unfortunately this guide is nowhere as long, deep, or informative. It does clock in at only twenty-four pages after all, nineteen of which are all fiction rather than things for a Gamemaster to outright use. The price point of $5.95 isn’t bad considering this is in full colour and it’s fun to read, but for only two dollars more you can get the 2050s book on the same topic with far more content. Sure, it’s outdated, but for those just looking for a more in-depth look at the locale, it might be a better investment.
So what are you getting for your six dollars? Well, as I said, it’s mostly fiction. You get a four page fiction story about a beat cop and his encounter with some of the Tir princes. Then it’s JackPoint regulars talking about the movers and shakers within the Tir. This is done in a pretty amusing fashion through the use of a Tir Tairngire marketing piece complete with “Grimmy the Grimoire” who reminds me a lot of the old paperclip with Microsoft Word that we all knew and despised. This JackPoint section goes on for thirteen pages and it mostly goes into the various princes and the main city of Portland/Cara’Sir. I really enjoyed the bit on the princes, but as always with a purely JackPoint article, it’s impossible to separate the in-game facts from the rumours and outright misinformation. As such, Gamemasters need to pick and choose what they want to take from this section. I like this as it lets you decide what’s “real” for your campaign, at least until CGL comes out with another supplement or adventure that confirms what is the truth in the meta-game. I will say that my one problem with this section is that it doesn’t feel like it was written by anyone who has actually lived (or even visited?) Portland. As an ex-resident of Portland, I found the bits on the actual city to read more like names were pulled from a Google search or Wikipedia which were then inserted haphazardly as opposed to any real research of the city. I had the same problem with the section on DeeCee (where I currently live) in Conspiracy Theories. I guess whenever I read a supplement or sourcebook on a location I want things to live up to the quality of White Wolf’s “By Night” books from Second Edition Vampire: The Masquerade. Still, if you’re a fan of Sixth World fiction, this is a really fun read.
The last five pages of the book are stats and mechanics for your Shadowrun campaign. If you’re not into the meta-game fiction, than that means you’re paying six bucks for four pages of content that you’ll actually use. Which is, suffice to say, not worth the asking price. I, however, really enjoy the fiction CGL puts out (sometimes more so than the actual crunch!), so I’m just happy to have both here! There’s a page of plot hooks, but it’s primarily a plug for Elven Blood, a series of five adventures that isn’t even out yet unless you went to PAX or GenCon. Personally I would have put the fiction in this supplement with the adventures of that con exclusive PDF to make a bigger book, but that’s just me. I do feel the plug for Elven Blood feels a bit odd, but at least they give you eleven plot hooks, even if they aren’t the best ones. From there we get three pages of NPC stats for easy use and then a third of a page on a magical society known as “The Moonlight Thorns.”
So all, in all, you’re not getting a lot for your six dollars. If you’re not a big fan of Shadowrun fiction, you can easily pass on this supplement. Fans of the Tir though may want to pick it up just to read the JackPoint bits and see if there is anything that they can glean out of it for their own campaign or even just a single adventure. It’s well written and you do get hints of things to come like the 2075 election and even a cameo by Harlequin. However, I can’t help being a bit disappointed considering Second Edition’s look at the same region and the fact this probably should have been bundled with Eleven Blood to make a larger, more useful sourcebook. Let’s call it a thumb’s in the middle. The Land of Promise is entertaining and a wonderful read if nothing else.
[3 of 5 Stars!]