In 2017, critical role released the Tal’dorei Campaign Setting through Green Ronin Publishing to give its vast network of fans and fellow gamers the opportunity to explore Matthew Mercer’s Exandria. At the time, the book covered the basics, providing a look at the world setting, the landscape, the cultures, and the people and monsters that populated it.
In the time since its release, however, critical role completed a second campaign set in the same world, a mini-campaign in Exandria Unlimited and started a third. critical role also skyrocketed in popularity, becoming its own corporation, complete with a publishing company called Darrington Press. Because of this, the creators of the original sourcebook, including Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, decided to revamp and expand the setting with Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn —and there is plenty to love about the new book.
With the old version of the guide no longer in print, Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is a worthy investment for gamers new to d&d and critical role. Still, those who already have the original will find plenty of new content to make the book worth the purchase. Not only has the page count almost doubled, but the upgraded version goes much further to make the continent of Tal’dorei fully immersive and easy to launch a campaign in.
The first three chapters span half the book, diving deep into the lore of the continent, including its history and outstanding myths. It explores the different factions and allies Vox Machina and the Mighty Nein encountered in-depth, breaking down the landscape. An 80 page chunk of the first three chapters pays homage to the regions of Tal’dorei with such depth that it’s easy to see each small village, thriving city and bustling port as real places, even if the show didn’t spend a lot of time in them.
In addition to a vast look at each of the predominant character races encountered in Tal’dorei, including an introduction to the Goblinkin race, there are also nine subclasses that can be easily integrated into any Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition setting. The original version offered four new subclass options, but Reborn you introduce five more: the Bardic College of Tragedy, the Moon Domain for Clerics, the Drudic Circle of the Blighted, the Blood Magic Arcane Tradition and the Paladin’s Oath of the Open Sea.
Reborn also expands background options to include members of Whitestone Rifle Corp, an elite organization of protectors of Whitestone trained in firearms. The feats section was also revised, doing away with some of the original feats (like Dual Focused, Gambler, Mending Affinity and Rapid Drinker) while adding two new ones. Vital Sacrifice allows the player to draw from their own vitality to improve their ability to hit a target, deal out additional necrotic damage and reduce a creature’s Dexterity and Constitution Saving throws. Remarkable Recovery increases the players CON score by +1 and allows them to regain hit points equal to their CON modifier once they are stabilized. They also gain additional hit points equal to their CON modifier whenever they are healed with a spell, potion or other class feature.
Another welcome change is the more extensive Game Master’s Toolkit chapter, which explores adventure creation and the numerous treasures and magic items to be found across Tal’dorei. This includes the powerful Vestiges of the Divergence, which have factored into the game since Vox Machina went on the hunt against Thordak and the Chroma Conclave and continue to play heavily into later campaigns.
The final chapter explores the many allies and adversaries that have made major impacts on the world since the launch of the first campaign, including an extensive look at Vox Machina and what happened to each of them after the first campaign’s epilogue. There are plenty of stat blocks for monsters and adversaries in chapter six, including max level stat blocks for all the Vox Machina members, meaning they can easily be worked into a game as allies or even bizarre world enemies in a Tal’dorei gone wrong.
With Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, it feels like the original vision is finally complete. While there was certainly nothing wrong with what was published five years ago, Reborn dives so much deeper in the vast world of critical role, which will definitely make playing a campaign in Tal’dorei more immersive than ever before. It also feels like it is much more carefully honed, less rushed and possessing the immaculate attention to intricate detail Matthew Mercer is known for delivering.
It also goes without saying that the dedication to the artwork, which has always been a major part of critical role, is glorious and immersive, bringing the world, its history and its people to life in ways that will serve to entice players old and new. Whether familiar with critical role or not, this guide is a must have for 5e players searching for adventure in an exciting, dangerous and beautiful world waiting eagerly to be explored.
Published by Darrington Press, Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is available now. A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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