Cyclops Vale (1989)

I swear, this was meant to be the week I finally cracked into Shadow World and I just wound up gravitating toward the old Loremaster books. However, there are only four of them, so you get a little bit of Shadow Wolrd after all! This is Cyclops Vale (1989) and it is very strange.

Shadow World was born (or, I guess, rebranded) out of the Loremaster books. Different line names, same world, though it wasn’t called Kulthea until the Shadow World branded products came out. Shadow World got a ton of support, with two macro level box sets each detailing a continent, several city source books and many regional splatbooks and adventures. All this was helmed by Iron Crown co-founder Terry Amthor. The world is rich and odd, a high fantasy world with a science fiction substrate.

Cyclops Vale is a good example of the line in general (though I promise I will dig into it in detail at some point). That weird ass cover by Tony Roberts sets the mood. Interior art by Jennell Jaquays maintains it – that obelisk in particular is striking. That the obelisk is the end of the Ascent of Doom and contains the Eternal Triangle gives some further sense of the surreal, almost cosmic quality a lot of Shadow World takes on.

There’s a brief overview of the region, but most of the book is devoted to adventuring sites, like the obelisk, the titular vale, a strange city, some mines, the usual sort of stuff. It is short, sweet, has lots of hours of play packed into it and gives just enough detail for you to weave a tale without forcing your players on a railroad. Its good stuff and part of an under-appreciated line.

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