This is an unbelievably awesome introduction to the Shadowfell, a brilliantly different take on the building block of the Phandelver (Shadow Remix) & a great through line absolutely packed with flavour, elements, locations & notable folx. I'm running it now & having a ball!
I'll be posting a full in depth review in the next few weeks.
There isn't a better time than now to pick up this key to the Plane of Shadow, whether you want a brief sojourn in the darkness, start a campaign there or expand Ravenloft & beyond!
Lost in Shadow Interview
Valentine was kind enough to agree to a short interview about Lost in Shadow, which it is my honour and pleasure to share with you.
CoS: First of all, I wanted to say just how clever and brave endeavour, taking something so well known and loved as The Lost Mines of Phandelver and flipping on its head. Where did the inspiration for this idea come from?
CV: I had been reading a lot about the Feywild and Shadowfell and how they overlap areas of the prime material plane. They could have the same things, or altered timelines and be missing things. Or they could have new things altogether. Thinking what that might look like, I took a familiar setting (LMOP) and used those as a base. Some ruins might not be ruins. Some prosperous areas may be blighted. Some things may look exactly the same but be wholly different due to their inhabitants or uses. I took that and ran with it.
CoS: You clearly know your stuff when it comes to the Shadowfell. What is your history with the Plane of Shadows and what made you want to create a starter campaign chucking folx in the dark end?
CV: I am a lover of horror and dark settings. Shows like the Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. Both focused on the “what if” line of thinking. So, I drew from that and asked myself a lot of questions. I also read a lot of 4e and 3.5e material so I could see what had been done and what to draw off of. Gloomwrought had kind of done the same thing to a few places so I could see what one interpretation was like. One big inspiration was Cragmaw Castle, in ruins. What did it look like in its hay day? I was bound to find out.
CoS: There is something truly wonderful about seeing a player’s face light up or the studios confused look as they study the Castle Duskmourne map, suddenly realising they recognise this place! How did you go about using these well-known locations, building the story and placing Easter eggs?
CV: I wanted to add to the LMOP story. We see how that plays out but things are not as simple as we are led to believe. I like to think each plane influences the other. I wanted to see how each location might tie into its counterpart and how those ties manifest on the other side. This is exceptionally prevalent when we got to how the Forge of Spells works and where that magic energy originates. For Easter eggs, not only did I scan the LMOP book but all the hardcovers for a few as well. I wanted everything to fit within the continuity of the Forgotten Realms without any hiccups. A big obstacle was the D&D Essentials kit came out just as I was nearing completion. It added many new locations to the area so I wanted to take them into account too. I was very determined to make the story complimentary to the official releases.
CoS: Speaking of Easter eggs and extra goodies, there is just so much within the campaign starter itself, but so many references and options for further reading and exploration and fun. It really feels like you wanted to give a true taste of the many grim things the Shadowfell has to offer, and many more jumping off points for further adventures (and succeed). What was it like writing in threads to be pulled? Was it hard to resist the temptation to pull them yourself and do you have any plans for further adventures, perhaps exploring the machinations of Shar alluded to in the cellar of Duskmourne Castle?
CV: I DM a lot of adventures for friends and Adventurers League. A consistent bit of information I hear is that other DMs want to be able to build on the branches of the publication. They want to create new branches and bear their own fruit. I was just trying to setup the right trunk for them to manicure in a manner that fits their own garden. I very much plan to keep going with the story. If we’ve seen how the Shadowfell effects the prime material plane, we need to take a look at how the opposite yet equal pull of the Feywild is doing as well. I really like developing the stories so as long as people want to hear where they go or how deep we can reveal, I’ll be trying to comply.
CoS: I understand you are going to be writing adventures in the brighter reflection, the Feywild. How different is it working in this technicolour world after so much darkness, and is there anything you would like to share about this project?
CV: The Shadowfell is the dark reflection, the withered, the lethargic, and the apathetic. The opposite is true in the Feywild, we have an overgrowth of primordial energy and overzealous entities. As much as the Shadowfell let’s things decay, the Feywild over develops them. If we can imagine a realm where too much of a good thing is the norm, and passion is uninhibited even the simplest of things. The story will be focusing on the origins of the interplanar characters in Lost in Shadows, and some of the more important locations in the three planes. At the end we will ask ourselves, why is this location so prevalent in every plane and what does that mean? I’m trying not to give away too much but I will go much deeper with the story and make sure all planes are shown to influence the other. There will be more character interactions, as the Feywild has much livelier citizens. The adventure will be for tier 2 characters so that both supplements can be run back to back.
CoS: The adventure is clearly a labour of love and littered with Easter eggs. Are there any you would particularly like to share, Long with your hopes for what prospective DMs will do with them? Personally, I’m going to be running with Zahir and their Yuan-Ti cult stalking the party after taking their treasure at Watcher by the Water, ultimately culminating in a big snake temple. So thank you ever so much for the inspiration!
CV: So, this was actually my first adventure ever written, even though it was not my first to be released. I had put it on pause for a bit as I got a few smaller ventures under my belt, then I went back to it. In it I try to leave as many hooks for ongoing adventures as possible. This was twofold. One, to give DMs the ability to take their own campaigns anywhere they wished. Two, to give myself hooks to keep writing more material. A an easter egg I’m particularly fond of is all the wine located in the wine cellar. If one pays particular attention to where they all originated, you can see the breadth of the Necromaster’s travels.