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Belfor Vittanis

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I haven't been this excited about a campaign setting in a loooong time

*****

I am not generally one to write online reviews, I usually feel like what needs to be said has been said already by others, but this book makes me excited enough that I can't help myself.

In short---Wow. This is a fantastic campaign setting. I love the old-world European feel combined with a sort of folksy, phantasmagoric mashup of sooo many wonderful things: Lovecraftian elements, viking mythology, faerie (the weird and creepy kind that smacks of Lord Dunsany and the Grimm tales), dark and forested Transylvanian hills... I could go on. This book is oozing with adventure ideas and campaign arcs, and the crazy thing is it all seems to fit and work well together. Instead of listing a bunch of things, I'll just break down my favorite things about the Midgard Campaign Setting.

Zobeck and the Crossroads Region
To be honest, I've been looking forward to the Midgard Campaign Setting ever since I got my hands on the Zobeck Gazetteer and the adventure anthology Streets of Zobeck almost a year ago. My group and I have thoroughly enjoyed the dark, gritty, Bohemian feel of the city with it's twisted politics, infernal gangs, and corrupt law officers. It has a really nice old-world European feel that reminds me of Budapest (where I'm from), and I've been looking forward to more material like it ever since. This book does not disappoint, and in fact makes the city of Zobeck and the region surrounding it the "heart" of the entire realm. I have the same feelings about adventuring here as when I first cracked the AD&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting grey box and discovered the Dalelands and Candlekeep. It stokes the fires of imagination and makes me excited to write adventures.

Elves, Dwarves, Kobolds, and Gnomes
The take on race in the setting is also great. The elves are very classicly Tolkien-esque (once a great civilization and the rulers of all Midgard, now very uncommon having mostly moved on from the world). The Cantonal Dwarves are neat, very recognizably dwarves, yet with a unique and interesting culture. The Kobolds and Gnomes take the cake though. The kobold as a player race is super fun, and I have to say I'm totally enamored with the concept of infernal, devil-worshiping gnomes.

Gods and Religion
Religion and gods are usually my single biggest beef with any campaign setting. I'm hard to please in this since I almost always find the take on gods (and their inevitable petty wars and silly manipulations) to be cheesy. I'm super happy with Wolfgang's gods of Midgard. He seems to have tread that fine line between giving the gods "personality" and making them silly caricatures and I really appreciate the setting for this. I also like that the different regions of the world have different gods, some of which are likely just different "masks" of the same god, or so the learned clerics say. I'm not personally blown away by the reliance on Egyptian mythology for the Southern Gods, but I'm guessing a lot of people will really dig this. Also, *finally* someone added a Ninkasi analogue to their realm. The Goddess of Beer? Check. A Beer Domain for clerics? Check. Thank you Wolfgang!

Magic
Midgard adds two schools of magic to the Pathfinder system, Clockwork Magic, and Illumination Magic (or stars and shadows magic). They're both quite cool, but I am especially pleased with Clockwork Magic which lends a sort of very light-handed steampunk touch to the setting. Clockwork magic allows for the creation of clockwork construct bodies that your PCs can be reincarnated into, thus adding another entire PC race to the Pathfinder game is well. It feels well thought-out, and I'm hoping one of my players decides to try it out soon. Also, the concept of Ley Lines is very cool (allowing your casters to tap into external sources of magic tied to particular places or dates/times to boost their arcane power) and the shadow roads are neat as well, allowing for quick travel across very large distances by taking roads that cross through the Plane of Shadow. The roads were originally created by the elves in ancient times, but since corrupted, so they don't always work in the ways they were originally meant to.

Artwork, Maps, and Layout
It's been said before, but I'll say it again. The art in this book is gorgeous. It's not nearly as cartoonish as the typical Paizo publication (which is a good thing for me), and feels more folksy and at times downright creepy (page 73 anyone?). The layout and printing is gorgeous as well, and I'm really happy I sprung for the hardcover version. My only beef is that the table references in my hardcover version are not filled in (they all reference "$$" instead of the actual table number in the text). This is not a problem with the PDF version, and I imagine the 2nd printing will fix it as well. And the maps! Oh man. I knew they were going to be good since Jonathan Roberts did them (the cartographer for George R.R. Martin), but they still blew my mind. These are the nicest maps I've ever seen in a campaign setting, and I hope that Kobold Press is going to release a poster-sized map of the entire realm. I want to frame it and put it on my wall.

Honestly, I could go on. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The optional status rules are cool and I'm going to work them into my campaign, the new spells and incantations are great, the regional feats are fun (I just wish there were more Crossroads feats!). The book is also full of interesting NPCs. If you are looking to rekindle your love of world-building, or just on the hunt for campaign ideas, this is a fantastic reference. And if you're like me and looking for a campaign setting to call home, you cannot go wrong with Midgard. In my opinion, it's the best out there.



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