Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn Review

The cover of the new Tal’dorei book.

Maybe you’ve been a critter for a long time, like me. Maybe you’ve just found D&D through Critical Role or through the first season of the spin-off cartoon The Legends of Vox Machina. Maybe, like millions, you have fallen in love with Exandria, the world created by Matt Mercer.

The new Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn book might be for you.

This book is, as the name might suggest, an update to a previous book, published during campaign 1, but before the final arc.

The original cover.

How much has changed? Well— there’s almost DOUBLE the content:

Almost double the content. And: I love the ribbon bookmark.

Most of the book is laid out in a familiar way, with familiar material. The history of Exandria, the allegiances and gazetteer of Tal’dorei are still here, though now expanded with information from the end of campaign 1, as well as some effects from the other campaigns. When I compare the two texts, there is similar information, but it’s often been rewritten and updated.

The list of classes and backgrounds.

Player Options

Not only are there new subclass options, but those of the old book have seen an update as well. It never ceases to amaze me how well designed the CR stuff is. Even the bard subclass of tragedy, the one I was least interested in when I first read it was coming, uses it’s mechanics based around natural 1s. It is actually one I’m excited to use!

The backgrounds I find helpful for filling in some specific gaps I see in, especially having a background more focused on a druidic tribe.

Hemocraft: blood magic

Two of the subclasses use blood magic, a concept which may not work for every group, but I could easily see adapted for settings like Ravenloft.

Some feats return in this book with a facelift.

There are even new feats in this book which players can take with their DMs permission. Generally, my table’s favorite is the spellslinger— the ability to throw two spells in one round makes a caster feel amazing, even if it burns through spell slots fast!

Session Zero

DM Tools

Among the DM tools on offer is a good walkthrough of how to run a session zero. While I have some of the first page above, there are a lot of good questions to mull over before you even start. Some are definitely up to you as the DM, as always, but there are plenty of questions to discuss between you and your players.

Help your players build characters for the world during session zero.

There are even some hints on creating characters which fit into the world. Almost as valid as background in general, your players should know of any important factions or faiths that might be available to them; this will also provide great methods for you as the DM to hook them into stories.

And speaking of stories, the gazette has some suggested quests which can be easily adapted to other settings (even if you don’t want to play in Tal’dorei directly). They are rated from Beginner to Legendary, depending on where your player characters should be by the time they take on the mission.

There are remarkable artifacts in Exandria…

Another table-favorite to add in are the vestiges of divergence! If you don’t know what these are, they are powerful artifacts that are intended to start off weaker and grow as the attuned player completes heroic tasks and faces their greatest fears. They make for great story-driven quests and offer a boon which grows more valuable as the campaign goes on. These (or items inspired by them) can appear in any setting. While I normally play in Eberron, I have vestiges from the last book associated with the gods and houses there.

The optional rules here also make playing a blast. No longer is bringing back a dead character a mere act of spending some diamonds and a spell slot— now it is a matter of begging the soul and/or the gods to come into the world to commit a miracle. This is also where I get the “rapid quaffing” rule for players to be able to use a bonus action to down a potion, while it’s still a full action to feed it to someone else.

Grog: the very best barbarian.

No setting book would be complete without some useful creature stat blocks— and this section has a particular treat: Vox Machina! Now all of your burning questions of what happened to them post-campaign 1 can be answered AND you can use them to fight your players— I mean, to fight ALONGSIDE your players…

Verdict

Overall: if you have any love for the Tal’dorei continent in Exandria, this is a definite buy. It has enough lore to satisfy any interest and even more than the last— while I won’t get rid of my old copy (because of nostalgia), I’m even glad I updated.

Even if you don’t love Exandria, players have great options, as long as their DM is alright with their additions, and DMs get to see how a Master crafts material for his table— with plenty of room to steal some ideas for their own.

None of this even mentions one of my favorite aspects: buying a physical copy also came with digital downloads— something I’m hoping becomes industry standard.

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