Sunday, February 16, 2014

Land of Mithgarthr: A quick review.

(Full-disclosure: I received a free copy of The Lands of Mithgarthr in return for a review and being put into a drawing for the print edition.)

The Lands of Mithgarthr is a 22 page pdf by Matt Evans of Mithgarthr Entertainment that retails for $1.99 at RPGNow. This is the first in a series of supplements for Labyrinth Lord (though there is little statistical information given in the book so that it can be easily use with any OSR game, or most any Fantasy RPG in general) detailing the Mithgarthr campaign setting. This book gives an overview on the setting with focus on the Kingdom of Karak. The author's stated purpose for this series is to offer up a setting with enough detail to form a solid foundation for a campaign, but not with so much detail that it stifles the creativity of the GM.

First up is a timeline for the lands of Mithgarthr covering important points in history over a 1525 year period. Also offered is the Mithgarthr calendar and the names for the days of the week and the months.

Next up is information on the people of Mithgarthr. The standard fantasy races are all present and accounted for (dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and two races of humans, Karakians and Nords). There are also rules for what characters are and are not allowed in a Mithgarthr campaign for both standard LL games and for those using the AEC rules. Players wanting to play an elf, will be disappointed since elves are firmly in the NPC category due to the setting backstory.

The Gods of Mithgarthr are detailed next. There are five chief gods each with full detail including special bonuses for Clerics of each faith (things like what kind of weapons are kosher for them to use or special spells or powers). There is also a space for demon and devils, which all fall under the term of "Chaos" with Orcus, the Demon Prince of the Undead, being the chief malefic entity.

The Monsters of Mithgarthr section details the common monster threats in the lands, focusing primarily on humanoid tribes (orcs, goblins, ogres and the like) and dragons. There is one new monster presented here, the Ratten, a race of humanoid rats with a disease transmitting bite.

The final section of the book consists of details on the Kingdom of Karak. Short details are given for the royal city and the surrounding cities in the kingdom as well as details on the churches, holidays, and laws of the land. There is also a hex map of the kingdom.

So, how is the book? Well, I do think the author succeeded in building a setting that won't really hinder a GM's creativity, which I like, however, I do think that more details and possible adventure hooks would serve the book well. As it stands, a GM running this setting will find he can pretty much do as he pleases, but he/she'll also find that there will be more "heavy lifting" to be done to get ready for game night since there aren't many hooks here. That's not to say that there aren't any possible hooks here, just that they are generally a line or two in the history and Kingdoms of Karak town details.

I rather like the backstory, it's nothing earthshatteringly new or original, but it gives the GM something to work toward that is interesting. Plus, the dealings with the Elves will like play a big role as a party branches out from the Kingdom of Karak.

The book as a whole has the feel of the classic GAZ series for BECMI D&D. I assume that each book in the Mithgarthr series will cover a new area of the world replete with it's own rules and nuances to make playing in that new part of the world feel different that other parts. I just wish there was a bit more meat to the book.

So, do I think the book is worth the $1.99 price of admission? Sure. If what you're looking for is a new area as a base for a new campaign or to flesh out an area in an already largely fleshed out hex crawl, you can do far worse that The Lands of Mithgarthr; especially if you like setting books that pretty much stay out of the GM's way so they can do as they please. However, if you want more detail from your campaign setting books, you may want to give this one a pass. For me, I look forward to future titles in the line and hope that Mr. Evans will beef up the content a bit more in future releases.

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