On Monday July 21, 2017, Green Ronin opened up their preorder for Matthew Mercer’s Tal’dorei Campaign Setting book for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. The night of the 20th, they announced that they would have to be putting a hold on preorders to make sure that they had enough for their game store orders and would be looking into a possible second printing. The Critical Role DM has definitely broken new ground as his Homebrew Setting is setting records for sales. The preorder offered three options. One was to have the book shipped to you on its release date of August 17, one was to preorder and pick up at GenCon on the release day, and the third was to just order a PDF file. Both hard copy options were packaged with an optional download of the PDF immediately as well. Having received that PDF, I wanted to give my preliminary thoughts on the publication after taking some time to flip through it in the off chance that there is anyone still on the fence.
Tal’dorei is the main continent of Exandria, the world created by DM Matthew Mercer for the show Critical Role on Geek & Sundry. If none of that makes any sense to you, stop reading this and immediately go here to start your addiction. Now that you’ve finished a month’s long binge, continue with this article.
Mercer has created this world through many years of campaigning and it shows as the level of detail is amazing. He starts with an introduction the History of Tal’dorei going deep into the creation of the world and races of Exandria and the eras that followed and shaped the setting we know from Critical Role. This lore continues with the factions of Tal’dorei including Keyleth’s Ashari and The Houses of Kraghammer as well as going in depth into all of the deities that are heavily involved in the happenings of the world. Later in the book he again goes into the monsters of the world as well as the alliances between the locales and factions. This section of the book is almost worth the cost alone just as a companion to the show.
Continuing on, the book goes into the world itself with an explaination of the calendar and how the passage of time works. It continues on to describe all of the different areas on the map that many Critters will recognize. It’s great to be able to read into the history and character of these locations and feel them really come alive. This is assisted by a beautiful map included in the PDF files that was created by cartographer Andy Law. This map is beautiful and I full plan on getting this framed and displayed in my home as soon as I can.
Critical Role is filled with options and classes that you won’t find in any of the D&D Corebooks. In Chapter 3, Mercer has included a few class options and archetypes as well as backgrounds and feats that can be used in your game. He also delves into a few of his house rules such as his rulings on returning from the grave and how this changes as a character brushes with death more often. As a DM, this may have been my favorite section as I couldn’t help but wonder why these death house rules weren’t the published rules of the corebooks.
I did find it a little upsetting to see that Vasselheim was missing from this book but I did then realize that this is the Tal’dorei setting and Vasselheim is actually a separate continent so I’m sure we may see this in the future considering the massive success of this publication already. I also found it strange to see some deities listed with more generic names such as “The Platinum Dragon.” I’m sure this has to do with copyright issues and I don’t fault the setting on it but it does look off. Where I do wish we would have received a little more content is in the Player Character options section. I would have loved to have seen the Gunslinger archetype as well as the Blood Hunter class. It seems that with those having already been published, it would have been easy to add them in to add more to this section.
Overall, the Tal’dorei Campaign Setting is easily worth the price of admission at $34.95. While I personally took issue with a couple of items in here, I don’t think it actually diminishes the overall product and this is a great companion to anyone running a game in the world of Critical Role or even in their own universe. If you still can, I highly recommend preordering this as it looks like the second printing is imminent and may take time as Green Ronin may put it on hold until the original printing is finished with distribution.
What do you think? Have you delved into Matthew Mercer’s world yet? Please add any questions or comments below! If you still need to order your copy you can find the links here!