As a campaign setting, Midgard is a little awkward. It’s not quite thematic and distinct enough to completely different from other kitchen sink fantasy worlds. But neither is it generic enough for published adventures to be dropped in without modification or used without explanation. It’s a dark setting, but not so dark as to be bleak & morally grey enough to appeal to fans of grim-and-gritty worlds. It almost feels like a stepping stone between a generic heroic fantasy setting and other more distant worlds.


However, a middle ground world could have some strong appeal for people looking to move away from the Realms or Greyhawk (or even Golarion) but not ready to go “full Dark Sun” or entirely abandon the conventions of D&D. It’s not a world that only reluctantly uses the tropes of D&D, or remakes the game. In this regard, the setting is just right (like bear-made oatmeal); Midgard is a large world with room for many, many different campaigns, each with a distinct tone. It easily matches the Realms in baseline scope and variety, and far surpasses the Tal’dorei Campaign Setting in pretty much every metric. It’s also a solid world that feels internally consistent without random additions that feel tacked-on or even illogical placement of nations, cities, rivers, and the like.


In terms of presentation, the Midgard Worldbook falls a little short of the highest bar set by previous campaign settings. It’s not going to dislodge Ptolus from its long-held spot at the top of the ranking. And while it’s easier to navigate than the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, it lacks that book’s inclusion of key NPCs. But, in exchange, it’s more comprehensive and detailed than the FRCS and much less cookie-cutter. And there’s more than enough lore to run a campaign in every nation in the book. While you sometimes long for more, that’s a common complaint that would be hard to avoid even for a book twice the size of this one. The largest problem is the book itself: there’s so much information, reading through the book and parsing all its details is a daunting task.


Having looked through quite a few campaign settings over the years, Midgard holds up fairly well in comparison. It’s a deep and engaging world that should more than satisfy Dungeon Masters looking for a campaign setting to make their own. It has enough generic regions that most published adventures can fit in the world with minimal modification. Meanwhile, a few hundred miles away, there are other lands wholly different in tone. A DM that gets bored with their current campaign can send their party to the north or south, dramatically changing the feel of the story without having to restart with new characters.


Anyone complaining about the absence of published campaign settings from Wizards of the Coast should look no further than this book. As should anyone who thinks WotC should publish a brand new setting. If either of the previous statements describes you, then this is the product you’ve been asking for.



Read my my full review here: http://www.5mwd.com/archives/4765