Every campaign setting, regardless of whether it’s official publication or homebrew, ever world a Dungeon Master invites and paints for their players will forever set the tone of your games and stories. If you’re a big fan of Skyrim and like adventuring in lands of the “North,” then I recommend you check out The North Seat, presented by Encounter Roleplay and designed by Ethan Hudgens. Set in the world of the Axius nestled in the town of Hostadd, players will explore a land “isolated far in the northern seas,” with a slew of new races alongside your old favorites.
All of the North Seat content are Pay What You Want (PWYW) and be found through the following links:
North Seat Player Primer
North Seat Campaign Guide – Book One
Roll20 All-in-One Module (click here)
New Faces and Changes in the Player Primer
There are several changes showcased in the player primer that automatically informs you that this is a setting quite unique, we have ratfolk, the ancient safar, the destined titans, the normans (or men of the north), the genetically created maratayns, the insectoid dromants. You can still play as your iconic D&D races like dragonborn, halflings, and tieflings but they’re quite rare in these parts of the world as divine abnormalities.
You may notice that dwarves and elves are not featured here, that’s mostly because we have new analogs presented through the new races but I’m sure can include these other iconic fantasy races into this setting if you wished. The ratfolk are exiled inventors from a kingdom of animal folk, which already has some great potential hooks I want to explore. The Safar are descendants of displaced entities from a realm called the Nothing from burning Skyships. There various story and lore hooks that any storyteller would be excited to explore, especially with a setting that’s practically a blank slate at this point. The mystique of the Titans offers excellent roleplay potential, especially most are exiled to perform a great task worthy enough to be “shouted up at the sky to ward off those who threaten the world.” Even the thri-kreen inspired Dromants seem to have a unique narrative angle to impart for your games.
On top of the new races, we have unique backgrounds as well. I’m pleased to see more professions you would expect in a land near the sea like fisher, farmer, and hunter. The Apprentice background is a great one to possess for the party, especially when you really want a project done in a timely fashion. The Tinker background is quite a game-changer, as it makes any spellcasting class become Intelligence based on their features as an analog for the character using pseudo-science and quasi-magical means to achieve the same desired effects. I can easily see a Sorcerer repurposed into some sprawling hedge wizard instead or even for the druid too. The Whispered background is a great one for a DM to feed story hooks to the group without having to exhaust the idea of quest-givers and the like. The Seeker background makes Safar Paladins and Bards into Academists which are seekers of lost knowledge. I actually enjoy these ability score changing backgrounds as it turns the traditional class tropes and reimagines them into something else without interfering directly with the gameplay itself. The Witch and Keeper backgrounds are a great pair to give to players wishing to have a shared backstory.
There’s a page dedicated to the town of Hostadd with a list of important NPCs that players may stumble upon wherever they travel within the small fishing village of 700. The story starts two weeks after the disappearance of the Temple of the Waves with over two-hundred men gone missing from the yearly raid. The lore Axium consists of short legends of the creation of the world from the Nothing and a great tragedy within the pantheon itself. Overall, the primer is an excellent introduction for players and DMs to run this unique and quaint world that clearly has more to explore in later releases.
Playing in Hostadd, the First Book
The first campaign book is a collection of adventures and encounters tailored for 1st and 2nd level characters. We have boar hunts, skill challenges (or montages as they are written), and an ancient ruin. The adventures and encounters set a precedence that Hostadd is the party’s home and is their only home they’ll ever know, one that accepts them. Once established, you need a threat to this way of life, and thankfully this booklet delivers. Through the first adventure at 2nd-level, the players should have met a good portion of the town and built a rapport with them, this will be quite roleplaying intensive for the Dungeon Master and will require some reading ahead. I would suggest printing out all the sections of the adventure and keep them separate for ease of access. The players will investigate the cave and ruins from earlier before contending with horrifying creatures like hooked horrors. By the book’s conclusion, the party will have reached 3rd-level, and beyond that, the world is an open sandbox, at least until the second supplement is released.
You will find magical items grouped together in self-contained text boxes, which are great to be printed and cut out as handouts for your players. It’s almost suggested. Some of the random encounter tables present some great encounter ideas that do not necessarily have to be random. Not to mention, the encounters are not all creatures either but setbacks and condition changes that equally useful.
Ethan Hudgens presents a flavorful nordic themed setting in the North Seat with plenty of room for exploration and expansion. The races and the lore are vivid and offer a plethora of roleplaying opportunities. The town, while small, serves as the player’s initial hub and home that can be used as a place to return between adventures. The new backgrounds fit well with the setting but can be extrapolated into your own games as well. The formatting is clean and crisp, it’s also very well organized and easy to access the relevant information in the respective PDFs. You should definitely check it out since it’s Pay What You Want (PWYW) so there is no financial downside, but if you enjoyed the product, consider returning and give something to the creators.
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