New threats and storylines emerge

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Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is a robust Dungeons & Dragons book that serves as a sort of sequel to Critical roles first campaign. The new 280-page rulebook published by critical role Darrington Press imprint is full of everything from new monsters and subclasses to a robust geographic directory that explains what happened to the continent of Tal’Dorei following the adventures of Vox Machina. The book strikes a good balance between drawing on nostalgia and past campaigns and presenting new ideas that could fit into any campaign, even those not set in the world of Exandria.

Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is a revised version of Tal’Dorei Campaign Settings book published in 2017 by Green Ronin Press. This book came out in the middle of Critical roles first campaign featuring Vox Machina and served to highlight the place in which the campaign was set and provide fans with a definitive version of Tal’Dorei’s vast lore and history. The book was essential for critical role fans but suffered from what critical role DM and book co-author Matthew Mercer described it as an “arduous journey” and short production schedule and there were parts of the book that felt less polished than others. New Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn serves as a course correction of sorts, retaining much of the quality of the original and strengthening the weaker parts of the books. Mercer and co-author James Haeck return for the new book, along with Hannah Rose (an industry veteran who’s worked on multiple Wizards of the Coast D&D books, including serving as a writer for Wildemount Explorer’s Guide) joins the team as co-lead designer.

Before digging into the contents of The Tal’Dorei campaign setting is reborn, I will note that the physical book is a real beauty. Not only are the cover and interior art fantastic, but the physical production quality of the tome itself is perhaps the best I’ve seen of any recent non-premium roleplaying book. The book is slightly larger than standard size rulebooks and the colors are especially bright and vibrant. The review copy provided to ComicBook.com was free of any visible production defects and it just looks…nicer than other rulebooks. critical role has a history of high production quality in all of its products and I’m happy to say that trend continues with their first in-house release.

(Photo: Darrington Press/ADRIÁN IBARRA LUGO)

For the critical role fan, this book is simply a must. Not only Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn reveal the fate of Vox Machina and their allies 25 years after the end of the first campaign, it also references events and characters from the Mighty Nein campaign and Exandria Unlimited also. More impressively, the book doesn’t just rest on Vox Machina’s laurels or place the group too much at the center of politics and the fates of various other factions and groups. Tal’Dorei is a continent full of adventures and new factions, threats and mysteries have appeared that have nothing to do with Vox Machina, their enemies or allies. Other factions have taken advantage of the chaos and destabilization left in the wake of Vox Machina’s adventures, with the so-called League of Miracles emerging as a mysterious force through their magically accelerated reconstruction of Emon and other cities destroyed by the Chroma Conclave. There is a lot of critical role lore to dig into, enough to provide die-hard fans with plenty of material to theorize about for months to come.

Even those who haven’t watched an episode of critical role should find enough D&D content to justify buying the book. Large swaths of Tal’Dorei can be imported into any other campaign setting without too much retooling. Alternatively, the book explains all of the relevant details needed to get started in Tal’Dorei so players can enjoy a campaign set in the world without first looking at the 400+ hours of the Vox Machina campaign. There are also many player options that can be used outside of a Tal’Dorei campaign, including several subclasses that play with hemocraft (or blood magic) concepts. While the book is obviously aimed at those who want to build a campaign set in the world of Critical role, there’s plenty of value and inspiration for any D&D (or fantasy TTRPG) game master. Still, the book is dedicated to showing how a Tal’Dorei campaign would work and it works best for players and DMs who engage in a campaign set within that specific campaign setting.

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(Photo: Darrington Press/ADRIÁN IBARRA LUGO)

One of the big D&D debates of the past few months has been about the balance between lore and universal game mechanics. While Wizards of the Coast has taken steps to make its character options more universal across all campaigns and less dependent on one setting’s story, the Darrington Press team has doubled down and found ways creatives to show how a Tal’Dorei campaign can provide unique storytelling. options that allow players to feel more connected to the world. Although a DM can reuse the Way of the Cobalt Soul monk or Moon Domain Cleric subclass for another campaign setting, these are options built around a specific faction or the mythology surrounding the two moons of Exandria. Similarly, Vestiges of Divergence are magic items that can be reused elsewhere, but they have a specific connection to the history of Exandria and its pantheon and therefore feel more intrinsically tied to the setting. It’s an elegant solution that shows how lore can improve gameplay options instead of hurting them, and shows a viable alternative to having to run every character option for every setting. Sure, Darrington Press benefits from only needing to support one specific campaign setting that fans are already familiar with, but building excitement around a campaign setting and then offering options on how to play in this one seems to work well for critical role and his new The Tal’Dorei campaign setting is reborn.

Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn threads the needle well, presenting a book that showcases the world of critical role without necessarily tying too closely to the show itself. fans of critical role will love this book, but so will D&D players who appreciate good worldbuilding or mythology or are simply looking for a template to build their own world around. This is a fantastic debut TTRPG book for Darrington Press and is going viral Critical Role ahead of his upcoming animated series and collaboration with Wizards of the Coast over the next few months.

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