Supplement Review: Midgard Campaign Setting by Wolfgang Baur and the Open Design team, Part 2

Slowly I’m working my way through my review pile… But one book I started recently is going to require a few trips before I’m done. (For part 1 of the review, check here.) The Midgard Campaign Setting is not just a lengthy tome detailing the various corners of a flat world populated by myths and legends. It is also a gateway to another world that offers a ton of crunch and juicy tidbits you can use in your own games. So, as I explore the book a bit at a time, I’m going to post piecemeal reviews of what I’ve found along the way…

Though I know that the Midgard Campaign Setting book is the 10,000-foot view of Midgard, Chapter 2 – Heroes of Midgard, offers just a taste of the world’s many inhabitants. It left me wanting to know more about many of these lands and people. Who are the “elf-marked” exactly? Who are the “demon-marked”? What are the broader differences between teh Caalmarans and the Doring folk? There are subtle distinctions between them, but this chapter zips through them all so fast I was left with a bit of whiplash. 🙂

I suspect that we’ll be learning more about the many people and races of Midgard in the other supplements like Northlands and Journeys to the West, but even so I’d like to see more visual cues of all the folk. Perhaps each race, tribe or nation deserves their own image and detailed description that a GM could hand to a player to help them develop a sense of community or a history of the place they come from. More of a flyer or pamphlet they could have and keep in their folders for character creation and beyond. That said, there’s a racial diversity in Midgard that’s very impressive. To think that you could encounter any or all of these people in your characters’ travels is fantastic and really brings the “crossroads” feel to the world.

Beyond the racial descriptions in the book, there are several key additions that really build the world into the characters created for it. Some of those additions stand alone, like the idea of “Status” for a character. A hero will be looked upon differently than a slave; a king differently than a commoner. As PCs grow in power and reputation, their “status” will improve and some may be above or beneath them. But as a GM it offers a great way to measure that social aspect throughout a campaign. Status is also something that isn’t limited to D&D or Pathfinder. It’s something that could find its way into any rules system easily.

Another addition I like is associating certain traits with key languages. There’s a list of 26 languages, some common, some not so much. Some of those uncommon tongues include benefits such as gaining “read magic” once a day (if you speak Ankeshelian) or a bit of a bonus when talking to scaly races (+2 to Diplomacy with scaly creatures once a day if you know to speak Draconic or Mharoti)… This is another cool mechanic that could easily be brought into other games, whether you use the Midgard setting or not.

Where things really get interesting is with the feats and traits that characters can gain simply being from one place or another. Live in the Northlands? Perhaps you have a “Skraeling Heritage” that grants you the ability to use the spark cantrip once a day. Are you a follower of Ceres? Perhaps you are a member of “Ceres’ Blades” and gain a bonus to damage with sickles. If you’re from the Rothenian Planes, perhaps you’ve taken the “Galloping Shot” combat feat that allows you to make damaging bow attacks on horseback… There are six pages of feats and traits to choose from, each of which really drives home the country of origin a character may be from and offers plenty of storytelling abilities.

The Midgard Campaign Setting has plenty to offer gamers, whether you’re looking for inspiration for characters, plots, or settings. And I’m only on chapter 2!!

Stay tuned as we move on to the other chapters soon…

In the meantime, check out the following sources for details about Midgard or the Midgard Campaign Setting

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