Game: Talislanta: Midnight Realm
Publisher: Shooting Iron
Review Dated: 10th, December 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10 [ Something special ]
Total Score: 19
Average Score: 6.33
Wonderful artwork has always been a staple within the Talislantan milieu, and it continues. Adam Black, Richard Wallace, Ron Spencer, Ed Hiel, Anson Maddocks, P.D. Breeding-Black, Mark Tedin, and Rick Emond are listed as the interior illustrators, with Adam Black also doing the cover work.
Of course, with those people doing the artwork, I would have been very surprised if it was not wonderful.
A few of the illustrations are repeated in the beastiary and in the archetypes section, which isn’t bad, but I feel it should be mentioned.
The artwork of Talislanta is what sold me on the game in the first place, and the quality of the work has always impressed me, its nice to open up a book and say, “WOW!” and at first glance Midnight Realm does that.
The layout is nice, and easy to read two column with page border format. Text is not to small, and not to big, which tells us that page count was not something Shooting Iron was after, nor do they wish us to strain our eyes.
Pages are white, with no background.
Flavor text is in the same gray scroll-look boxes that are used in Talislanta 4th Edition, the layout is almost identical (the page border is different), nice to have the consistancy.
Overall, a wonderful supplement to Talislanta, and other RPG’s, that has a wealth of information and ideas pertaining to some of the greater mysteries of Talislanta and the Lower Planes.
Chapter 1: A Travelers Guide to the Midnight Realm
The Midnight Realm is a place located “at a crossroads between the lower planes.”
An Historic Overview
A brief section on the original inhabitants of the Midnight Realm, what happened to them, and where they are now. Also gives some detail on the Great Cataclysm, and theories as to what may have been the cause…
The writers for Talislanta have always maintained that if you are running the game, it is your baby, and in Midnight Realm Sechi and crew give many ideas to draw from without any fear of stepping on metaplot, leaving plenty of room for campaign development.
Cyclopedia Of the Midnight Realm
This section starts off with a beautiful map, with the locations clearly marked.
Following the Full-Page map are the descriptions of the locations, and in true Talislantan fashion, enough is left open to interpretation to let the GM do what he wants, but enough is told so that everyone is on the same page.
Places of Note include:
* The Cauldron – a neutral meeting place between Tarterans
* Inferno – a large volcano that spews forth molten iron in a great river
* Mount Ziggurat – a tiered mountain that is shrouded in mystery
* The Threshold – an interdimensional portal that leads to other planes of existence
and many, many more…
Denizens of the Midnight Realm
* Tarterans – The most prolific inhabitants of the Midnight Realm. Half-Devils with horns and wings that strive on Social Status.
* Black Savants – Seven foot tall beings from the land of Talislanta, searching for thier lost brethren, much more information is given on them, but I won’t spoil the surprises.
* Brood – Hunters, slavers and soul-eaters that hail from the Dark Dimension, a vile species with living weapons and a grim outlook. Brings an interesting twist on the five senses. An completely alien race unrelated to Devils and Demons.
* Ebonites – Spectral beings from the Underworld that can become substantial at will.
* Sepharans – An ancient race of cultists from the Nether Realm, Sepharans have a 3rd eye with special powers and are covered in magical calligraphs.
* Zoab – Repellent, half-larval beings hailing from a distant dimension.
* Devils – More detailed information on the different types of Greater and Lesser Devils.
* Appraise (Souls) – determining the value of a soul
* Astromancy – covers the creation of levitationals and astromantic globes
* Bloodstoning – the skill of implanting soulstones to create permanent supernatural bond.
* Construct Clockwork
* Cult Rituals (Sephar) – knowledge of the Sepharans cult rituals
* Demon Lore
* Runefist – Martial Art form practiced by the Sepharen Monks, moves trace calligraphs in thier patterns.
* Shadowstep – a skill requiring precise control of corporeality, used by Ebonite Shadowarriors
* Soul-Binding – the practice of creating soulstones by binding a soul to a black diamond
* Soul-Trapping – The skill of detecting and trapping souls for use in Soul-Binding, utilizing various means.
* Tarteran Biomancy – having this skill allows the PC/NPC to create new lifeforms from old lifeforms, dangerous, grisly, and unpredictable.
New Magical Orders
* Demon Eye (Sepharan) – rules covering the usage of the Sepharans third eye.
* Symbology (Sepharan) – the art of creating magical Calligraphs, known only to the Sepharan Cultists.
Midnight Realm Character Archetypes
Tarteran Demon Hunter, Sepharan Cultist, Zoab Enforcer, Night Demon Mercenary and a more can be found in this section, although dominated by the numerous Tarteran archetypes, all of the other races are covered thoroughly.
The archetypes are laid out identical to the way they appear in the Talislanta 4th Edition rulebook, with one minor change…certain archetypes are presented with the basics, and notes are provided for variations on the archetype, for example, the Sepharan Cultist archetype has the attributes and skills listed normally, and a seperate area that lists the modifications for Monks, Fanatics and Symbolators.
This is a wonderful improvement, and I hope that Shooting Iron continues this trend for Talislanta.
Chapter 2: Midnight Realm Bestiary
As would be expected, a wealth of information on Demons and Devils can be found in this section, including the different types and origins of each.
Also in this section, Flora and Fauna that can be found in the Midnight Realm and other places in the lower planes are detailed, with a few of the older monsters repeated here for completeness.
Each entry gives us a detailed look that explains what it is, and in some cases, why it is and how it came to be.
Chapter 3: Gamemasters Section
A seperate section for the GM, I like this, this should be standard practice in the industry.
* an overview of the Omniverse which details many of the planes of existance (lower, elemental, material, etc).
* A section detailing what happens to souls when someone dies, which comes in very handy when players start taking Soul-Trapping and Soul-Binding.
* Various ways to play the different races – the anti-hero, the avenger, the sycophant, etc
* Details on crossover campaigns utilising the Talislanta Continent…and other RPG’s – very nice, and very well-done.
* Also gives explanations for types of scenarios that can be created for the Midnight Realm…plus a few actual adventure seeds.
* Lastly, a timeline of the Midnight realm is provided.
Chapter 4: Appendix
* Equipment Details the unique equipment and items that can be found in the Midnight Realm, including the currencies used in trade.
Soulstones and Soulmarks stand out as one is a black diamond bound with a soul, and the other is currency that was buried with the dead, and as such, became incorporeal and stayed with the soul of the deceased.
Tarteran Blades, Demonwards and Ancient artifacts are mentioned and described wonderfully in this section.
* Pronunciation Guide
A nice touch. With all of the various new races and names, this is very nice.
Another nice touch, I believe that all games need an index.