When I first started writing and blogging, there several individuals that I began conversing with and over time developed a deep admiration for them. Andrew Cawood from Cawood Publishing has given me great insight and discussions with roleplaying elements, especially with Dungeons & Dragons. This review has been one long overdue, I backed their Kickstarter for their campaign setting and Dungeon Master’s Handbook in 2016, and I’ve personally bought some of their product from DriveThruRPG & the DMsGuild. Because of the many products and offerings available, I did not feel that a single review was appropriate. Instead, this will be a two-part review.
You can find all of their products along with their West of the Wind podcast on their website The World of Myrr.
Part 1 – Between Dungeons Handbook & World of Myrr Campaign Setting
Part 2 – Adventure Modules set in the World of Myrr (A-series) and the Forgotten Realms (B-series)
Between Dungeons Handbook – Things happen between adventures!
Within the 97 page handbook are a plethora of tables and tips covering a wide variety of aspects for your roleplaying games. Sometimes the moments between dungeons and major story arcs are just as important as the adventures themselves. Whether it be a homebrew campaign or a published adventure, a good story has breaks between major segments. Breaks of this nature are great for the players to digest the events of significant moments while allowing the DMs to prepare for their next plot point. These narrative gaps often serve as opportune times to do character development or perform downtime activities.
One of my favorite parts from the PDF for the Between Dungeons Handbook has to be the Tips for the Game Master page. It’s simple tips and reminders that help any new GM but serve as an excellent tool for veterans still. Things like “Flawed NPCs are interesting NPCS,” or “Listening to your players is helpful.” You can easily print it have it as either next to your books, hung on your DM screen, or framed somewhere not far from the gaming table.
There are tables covering everything from land vehicles, random events, festivals, different stores, taverns (which is actually useful), and even a compliment/insult table (which is probably my favorite part).
The Travel tables are very insightful, especially the table for activities while traveling. Sometimes, the overland passage is skipped by many Game Masters as there are often few options or opportunities to incorporate such events into the narrative. Sometimes you also have a GM who only wants to move to the next story beat without pause. That sort of decision depends on your playgroup and their expectation of the gameplay. But having options readily available when you want to add some filler or enhance these moments, they are a good way to add a backdrop against a sometimes tense plot. The Horse table is a great chart for randomly determining the type and demeanor of the player’s horses, which can serve as something crucial like a chase scenario or even add some layer to their travel.
The Random Events table is an attractive piece to add, it helps add context to the world while granting possible adventure hooks for another adventure. It’s great when you’re stuck on how to incorporate the next portion of the plot with the party, something that may seem unrelated could have vital importance, or it could serve as a pause while the GM finds a better opportunity to develop the party into the next stage of the plot.
I like the idea of the Landmark and Festivals table, especially for small villages or towns between destinations. A festival is always a good idea, helps bring some life into a campaign setting but also a mild distraction for the party before they continue forward with their important task. The Carousing table has to be the most hilarious table, easily used for the one character that constant drinks, or even better when the soberest character drinks alcohol for the first time. The Compliments & Insults table can be something a GM can use while in the midst of a social encounter or anywhere for that matter.
The NPC tables provide not only race, class, and stats but you can find ones with personality traits too. It’s beneficial, especially when you need an NPC on the fly. Races honestly can be fluid, but having generalized stats and class grants some idea on their capabilities when interacting with the party.
The Stores section within the handbook takes up nearly half of the pages. Ranging from weapon & armor to gems and art supplies. Each store has a unique name, a brief description of the store itself, a table of sellable wares, a list of their staff, spoken languages, their clientele, average gold reserve based on treasure hoard challenge ratings. Lots of detail that aesthetically fits within a single page.
The Tavern & Inns pages offer extensive details from innkeepers/barkeepers, the size of the staff, meals prepared, drinks, the quality of the environment & its ambiance. Of course, they include prices for rooms and boarding, which is also useful. To use these tables, it’s better to choose one that fits within your design rather than try to roll for them. It’s definitely encouraged that the GM write down the general location of the tavern or inn, to be referenced later. Some of these taverns may become important meeting places for the party members and potential recruiters/businessmen. A tavern is also a good place to develop a rapport with the people in a town or a city as well, there are plenty of usefulness with these tables.
Final Impressions: The Between Dungeons Handbook offers tables that can help add context between major plot and adventure points. The tables can easily be printed as they fit within a single page across the handbook. The multiplicity and variety of implementation keep the tables useful even if you end up reusing aspects of them. This, like many other supplements, are designed to give a GM more options and help alleviate some of the stress that comes when trying to determine what happens next within a home game for example. Cawood Publishing has other handbooks that provide tables and tips for helping out GMs on a variety of topics, themes, and scenarios.
World of Myrr Campaign Setting – Hello, World!
This is my first review on a campaign setting, which is something I’ve personally done. A review of this nature will cover aesthetics that caught my eye, the narrative as a whole, and ease of integration. A creator’s campaign setting is the dedication of years of work, worldbuilding, revisions, imagination, and often times long nights. I respect any author who has taken the steps and time to craft such a tome, for it is not an easy process, but a pinnacle of achievement that should be recognized.
Summary: Myrr is actually one of nine continents that take place within Andrew Cawood’s world. In the History of Myrr, Cawood describes the first arrival of the Oswald Myrr, a powerful wizard who was the leader of a large adventuring group that would later be referred to as the Originals. These settlers formed a peaceful continent, away from the continent of Zogg, where they hailed from. Over time, other races settled on the mainland of Myrr, which included elves, dwarves, and halflings. The mighty wizard eventually vanishes, leaving many to believed he died of old age. War broke out between the orcs and the other races, ultimately, the orcs won against the dwarves, and things only continued to grow bleak as Vampirism began to infect in the western kingdoms of Myrr. Devils and evil forces plagued the land of the Myrr during a period called the Dark Times. Twelve powerful heroes, consisting of four humans, four elves, and four dwarves, drove back the darkness and turned the tide. Years later, unease continues to develop within the region. Foul political plots, marauding pirates, bandit lords, and uncertainty drive the stories and adventures to be the next legends within the World of Myrr.
The campaign book contains extensive details from the calendar, wide range of deities, archfey, and even great old ones, to aspects like city descriptions. What I really appreciated was the amount of detail placed upon the lore of the world. The deities even had class levels as a point of reference for their capabilities. The inclusion of Myrr’s own Archfeys and Great Old Ones made this setting stand apart from many settings that just incorporate established bits of lore from the 5th Edition ruleset.
Descriptions for cities bits of history and/or lore, featuring markets and notes on their economy. Such details emphasize Cawood’s care and thought – a world truly unique in its own right. Not just a setting that incorporates the ruleset, but one that uses 5th Edition as a shell to tell a compelling story in Myrr.
What surprised me the most was the near 50 pages of every tavern and inn in the continent of Myrr. We sometimes underappreciate the “meet at the tavern” trope when it comes to starting a campaign or story. It’s still one of the most popular ways for a party to meet for the first time and continually meet allies or clients. There are even tavern menus included in the handbook. I appreciate the usefulness of this section, as many of the details and stats can just be transplanted to any other setting. The best part of a campaign setting is when you can use resources within it in different worlds and simply from the home system. In other words, I appreciate when resources within a setting can be setting-agnostic and allow others to use them in their own worlds and games.
There are nearly fifty pages of random encounters in different environments across the land of Myrr. Even if you do not roll for these encounters randomly, they offer insight on the sort of denizens expected to inhabit within these ecosystems. There are an array of new monsters that Cawood also wrote for the World of Myrr, most found through random encounters across the continent. From there, each of the environments within Myrr has tables for the various monsters arranged by challenge rating which again serves as a useful tool when the GM does not wish to use random encounters to craft their own. There are plenty of maps to help draw reference from the campaign setting, but not only that, but there are also adventure hooks provided based on geographical regions.
Several pages are dedicated to magic items with brief mechanical descriptions, so do not expect the Dungeon Master’s Guide level of a layout. It’s simple and to the point. There are some great phrases to get ingrained in the Myrran lifestyle at the end of the book that I felt should’ve gone somewhere closer to the locations only because it’s very setting specific. That was probably the only aesthetically odd placement that I noticed but otherwise, it’s nothing dire that needs attention.
Final Impressions: The World of Myrr campaign setting is a testament to hard work, dedication, and love. The continent of Myrr is detailed, every city has a unique personality and atmosphere, the races of Myrr have a story and purpose for being on the island continent. There are great history and lore within the setting, the narrative for it has many open doors for a GM to expand in their own World of Myrr games. Many of the tools, tables, even lore can be transplanted into other worlds and systems which grant a sense of utility and highlights the captivating universe that Cawood has crafted. The intent of this product actually functions as an actual supplement along with the three core 5th Edition books (the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual), allowing an incumbent GM to only add another book to their repertoire. The book helps these new incumbent GMs to reduce preparation time while still giving insightful lore and information for the textures of Myrr’s inhabitants. I cannot wait for information about the other continents, there are snippets of lore granted, but honestly, I want to know more. Andrew already released the Ma Zaan campaign setting – another continent within the World of Myrr – and I can only continue to be excited as more of this world is revealed.
I’ve been a fan of Cawood Publishing and their supplement material, as it greatly helps the GM/DM with some measure of preparation and even on occasion, improvisation. Besides their wonderful campaign setting, Cawood wants to a great quality material to help GMs excel in their craft. Don’t believe me? Several of Andrew’s supplements are Silver & Copper tier bestsellers on DriveThruRPG and the DMsGuild, if that isn’t a testament to his quality, I don’t know what else to tell you.
I would like to thank Andrew Cawood for the opportunity to do this long overdue review.
Please make sure to read the Adventures of Myrr modules & the B-series of adventures for the Forgotten Realms review here.
Don’t forget, we will have another review for the Adventure Modules soon.
Follow Andrew and learn more about the World of Myrr on the following social media:
Don’t forget you can also visit World of Myrr to purchase additional products & supplements.
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