Friday, June 16, 2017

Jack Shear's Ulverland: An Overview

I mentioned Jack Shear's Ulverland a little while back, so I'd like to take a moment to discuss it. Ulverland is, at its heart, a Gothic fantasy version of Victorian Britain - BUT - it's more a skeleton for you to build on than a tome of canon carved into stone. Which, for me, is a huge, HUGE selling point.

As a GM, I like to take a setting and make it my own. I absolutely HATE being locked into canon (especially if it's culled from secondary sources such as novels). It's one of the reasons that, when I run Forgotten Realms fantasy, I stick to the original FR box set released by TSR and ignore EVERYTHING else published after that as I see fit (I do admittedly sneak in some of the FR series of modules because, well, they're really good).

Ulverland caters toward this particular foible of mine by providing a 'big picture' overview of the setting and small details that can be built upon as I see fit, rather than saddling me with excruciating detail presented as mandatory that I feel compelled to adhere to (or that exacting players feel that I should be compelled to adhere to). If you like the same kind of approach to world building that I do, you'll probably like Ulverland. If you don't you won't.

As to Ulverland's subject matter, it's a darkly reimagined fantasy Britain, with everything that entails. Mostly, there's a lot of focus on Victorian technology, customs, and traditions viewed through a fantasy lense. Similarly, there's discussion of government and religion in that context. The artwork is all public domain period artwork, with the exception of the maps (which are poorly rendered, but serve their purpose). That said, the real value of Ulverland is the text.

Ulverland is available for free in PDF format (see the link below) or as a paperback book for just under $11 over at Lulu (I picked up a copy when Lulu was running one of their frequent sales). You can check out the free version below and make your own judgement on its worth: