Book of Ebon Tides has launched! We have the inside look at the new book with its designers, Celeste Conowitch and Wolfgang Baur!
So, Book of Ebon Tides. What’s the 10,000-foot view of this book? Not just the blurb from the sales copy . . . why is it great?
Celeste: The Book of Ebon Tides gives you all the tools you need to immerse characters in dark, otherworldly realms, completely unlike the typical fantasy settings they are used to! Plus, it’s one of the few tools on the market that helps GMs run fey as they would *never* be seen in a child’s storybook.
Wolfgang: People kept asking us about the “rest of the book” from Courts of the Shadow Fey—by which they meant, the plane and setting that adventure takes place in. It’s great because it takes a small world of one fey court and follows up on all the lore, depth, and characters of an entire fey kingdom and its neighbors.
What’s in this for hardcore Kobold Press fans to get excited about? And what’s in it for completely new people who are intrigued by the Shadow Realm?
Celeste: Hundreds of intriguing details and hooks are baked into the Shadow Realms setting, and fans will be thrilled to see some of the juiciest secrets brought to the light—pun intended—in this tome. In particular, I know EVERYONE—not just me–was dying to know more about the network of magical shadow roads that crisscross Midgard, and this book delivers some seriously cool explanations!
Wolfgang: What Celeste said about the shadow roads, which go from Midgard into the Shadow Realm, but which have always been mysterious. In addition, the wider culture of the shadow fey and the culture of the shadow realm gnomes gets a lot of attention in their various towns, rulers, and player options.
New people may also find the new spells, new monsters, and new fey magical items extremely portable to any wild fey realm or shadow plane.
What really sparked for you as you wrote? What’s your favorite part? What sort of themes in the Shadow Realm resonate with you as a writer?
Celeste: Stories about the fey’s twisted, entirely un-human nature have always set my imagination on fire, so taking a deep dive into their world was a highlight for me. Everything about the fey—and the Shadow Realm at large—is “other,” so writing about them is a fascinating exercise in examining, then subverting, our normal habits and fears.
Wolfgang: For me, it’s always the people, their customs, and the way they organize their societies and kingdoms. Plus the fey magic spells, especially ones that don’t do anything practical, like the Blossom cantrip, were a delight to spin up. And the bearfolk finally get a town of their own, seasonal customs, and some insight into their druids and groves.
If you were going to write a spin-off or companion piece about the Shadow Realm, what would you put in?
Celeste: I would LOVE to dive deeper into some of the fascinating settlements that stand as islands of safety in such a gloom-ridden landscape. Creating a gazetteer stacked with adventure hooks, encounters, mysteries, NPCs, for the Court of One Million Stars, the Moonlit Glades, or Soriglass the City of Shades would be a dream.
Wolfgang: I’d be delighted to spend more time with the bearfolk, or revisiting the Court of a Million Stars.
What surprised you as you wrote? What did you know about the setting afterward that you didn’t know before?
Celeste: Ghouls are everywhere! Which is terrifying. The fact that ghoulish legions have even crept into the shadow realms—and learning about the nefarious business they are getting up to while there—was a fun bit of setting lore to discover. Also, researching the bearfolk and hearing about their never-ending fight against the forces of shadow made me love them even more than I already did.
Wolfgang: I was pleased to discover that the shades and the river Styx are part of the Shadow Realm, and have their own customs and stranger powers, not to mention shades as PCs. Not to mention, there are connections to the Southlands that got drawn out in much more detail here, like the worship of Kupkoresh, the lord of light.
How long did it take you to write? Did it flow or did you have to clean the kitchen a lot?
Celeste: There were—definitely a few hours of long brainstorming showers that went into this one. I wrote a ton of the mechanics-heavy sections of this book, including all the new subclasses. So I faced the challenge of making a bunch of shadow-themed options that felt distinct from each other—and unlike anything else on the market! Scrapping convention to push the creative envelope was an ongoing hurdle in this project, but it was so worth it. In fact, I think this book includes some of the best design work I’ve ever done!
Wolfgang: I first wrote some of this as notes for various home games, and bits were cut from Courts of the Shadow Fey, so in one sense I’ve been writing it for years. I wrote the whole pantheon, most of the kingdoms, and a massive chunk of the spells and magic items, and it was probably seven months work honing and refining. I’m so happy with the themes, tone, and mechanics in this book!
As a GM, what’s the thing I can put into my campaign right away?
Celeste: UGH—this is hard because there really are so many tools in here that can help you create spooky locations in whatever campaign setting you are currently playing in. The character options, spells, monsters, etc., could fit easily into any campaign. Sections about the fey can enrich encounters with faerie creatures in any setting. All the juicy environmental hazards and mechanics in the Nature of Shadow chapter could glow up any corrupted magical location in your games. AND—if that weren’t enough—there is a huge section of desperately fun random tables to satisfy all your needs, from fey-themed items to goblin pranks.
Wolfgang: I think the immediately useful things are the shadow roads (if you want players to have a short-but-memorable visit in the shadow realm), the magic items and spells, and the monsters. But the tables are fun and will make any fey encounter more entertaining, and the player options are terrific for anyone fascinated by the fey elves, gnomes, shades, bearfolk, or shadow goblins! Lots of expansions here that would work in wild, fey, or shadow-themed areas of anyone’s homebrew—these elements were designed to be portable!
Visit the Kobold store to get your copy of Book of Ebon Tides or ask for it as your local retailer!