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Anauroch: The Empire of Shade 10.10.2008
Saving Throw's review of Anauroch: The Empire of Shade.

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Anauroch: The Empire of Shade
published by Wizards of the Coast reviewed by Martin Drury
160 pages, 2007, $29.95
Story 4.5
Enjoyability 3
Adaptability 3
Intelligibility 3.5
Overall
3.5
Good
Review Scoring

   Set just shortly after the end of the Shadowdale: Scouring of the Land, Anauroch: The Empire of Shade is the last major adventure published by Wizards of the Coast for the 3.5 Edition game rules. If that was not enough pressure, it is also the final chapter of a well-written and well-received adventure campaign trilogy. Unfortunately, it just does not live up to expectations.

The adventure begins in Myth Drannor and quickly throws the player characters into a potentially difficult encounter. From that point, the encounters only get more sinster. Likewise, puzzles and traps seem to trend toward the tough side, to the point of occasionally being showstoppers. Once the player characters discover the danger the world is in during a visit to the Windsong Tower, the adventure swings into full gear.

The majority of the campaign is spent in and around the Anauroch, a vast desert of unbearable heat and dead magic. Finding allies in this land of death will prove invaluable, but even with the most powerful of allies available, surviving will still be a matter of luck.

Success in this adventure is a double-edged sword. Completing the mission will avert one disaster, only to free long-bound phaerimms to wreck havoc on the world. Finishing this adventure will be bittersweet for players at best.

As with the previous large scale adventures published by Wizards of the Coast, Anauroch: The Empire of Shade also includes appendices to make running the adventure easier. The information provided on the Anauroch desert will prove to be the most valuable of the two. The second provides information on magic items and monsters encountered in the adventure.

Despite a few bright spots, Anauroch: The Empire of Shade falls short of sending Wizards of the Coast's 3.5 Edition publishing days out with a bang. Game Masters and players who participated in the first two adventures of the trilogy will probably want to play through it out of necessity, but anyone looking for a stand-alone adventure would be best served looking elsewhere.



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