Tabletop RPG Review: Sholari Magazine Vol. 2, Number 1

Sholari cover

Where to begin?  My journey as a tabletop role-playing gamer is pretty odd for a lot of reasons.  Because of that, I’ve always had an affinity for odd games, games that pushed the boundaries and stretched genre.  One of the first games I became enamored of was Skyrealms of Jorune (what is this D&D you speak of?!), but I’ve never played or run a single session of it.  In fact, I don’t think anyone in any of my circles of gaming friends ever did, either.  I used to see ads for it in gaming magazines, and stare at it on the shelf of a local game store, but that was it.  That is, until I picked up a copy of apparently flawed 3rd edition. I owned it! And, like so many games I bought during the 90s, while I worked in a game store, it went on the shelf for occasional skims and little else.

Then the internet came along, and I started to see that some games had various followings of true believers.  And Jorune was one of them. Great. Turns out, Joseph Kessler Adams and some other devotees have been keeping the flame burning for these many years, even after the creators moved on to other projects (including video game design and Hollywood movie making).  And now, Adams has produced a new issue of a magazine devoted to the mostly obscure, but beloved game. This is definitely intended for those planning to run games, as opposed to players. Sholari is the term used for the ‘game master,’ ‘referee,’ ‘storyteller,’ ‘dungeon master,’ or whatever term you might prefer.  

It’s very helpful to have some material designed specifically for those wishing to run the game, because, though I’ve certainly found the world compelling, I really had NO idea how I might run a game.  This issue of Sholari Magazine provides not only a short story and an adventure, but some general advice for running the game, which I found most helpful.

I can’t say I’m ready to hop to and run a game of Skyrealms of Jorune right now.  I’m not. But I don’t feel as lost as I did before.  I need to sit down and do a serious, careful read-through of the game, one of these days.  

My only complaint about this issue is a technical one.  You can’t get around that it clearly needed a final, careful editing pass.  It’s rife with mistakes, from wrong or missing words, to repeated sentences.  I see it in my own work a lot, and it’s the kind of thing that takes fresh eyes to really spot.  A few places had very confusing layout, where I had no idea what part I was supposed to read next, or that a sentence might continue a page or so later…somewhere.  More than once I sat there, looking at the pages, thinking, “wait, what?”

Getting past the technical problems, I think this is an excellent resource for those interested in running (being the Sholari for) a game of Skyrealms of Jorune.  It’s made me much more interested in running it, and frankly in playing it.  The world is marvelous, and was one of the early influences on my own Conquest of the Sphere setting.


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