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Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Review - Mithgarthr

Mithgarthr RPG Core Rulebook written by Matthew Evans
You can find it here. The PDF is $19.99 and the Hardcover Color Book + PDF is $49.99
There is also a website here.
** This review is based on the PDF version**

From the back of the book:
"Enter a rich, original world inspired by Norse and Germanic culture. Explore the dark places where Gooblitts and Dyrverr roam. Battle against the treacherous forces of Chaos led by Orcus and The Thrir. Die horribly at the hands of greenskins while trying to get rich quick with your friends! Included in this core rulebook is everything you need to play the game. Character creation rules, combat, adventuring, equipment, magic, monsters, world setting information, and even a fully fleshed out town and surrounding wilderness to start in."

What is Mithgarthr
The quick and easy explanation is this: A reduced 5e system hacked to fit a low-magic and deadly setting. The book is almost 200 pages but it has everything you need to play a 5e style game. Races, Classes, 5e Rules, Custom Rules, Bestiary and a Campaign Setting.

First Impressions
I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get a new RPG product is examine the cover/back art and just flip through the pages (in this case virtually flip through the pages).
The cover art tells me instantly that inside this book is going to be a dark and grim world. Sadly, what it doesn't tell me is the name of the game. Though, to be fair Mithgarthr is written in a different language on the cover. I don't have a physical copy so I don't know if Mithgarthr is written on the spine of the book but it is on the back cover. But I did find this product on a webstore and it isn't like it was sitting on a shelf in a local bookstore so no real issues with the lack of title on the cover.
Flipping through the pages the layout and design is nice and easy to read. The colors are a great combination and the font and size is easy to read.
Now, the art. Man oh man. The art is great. Most of the artwork is very grim and it paints a picture that this setting is dark. As I flip through the book there are some pieces that make me stop and admire the work. Which is most of the artwork for the classes and races. When looking at the artwork for the classes and races you can easily see that this isn't the usual fantasy setting that most of us are used to. It is a nice change from the Forgotten Realms.

There are the normal races we are all familiar with, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling and Human. There are two other races that are unique to Mithgarthr: Fjothr and Ratten. The Fjothr is a bird-like humanoid race with wings. The Ratten is, well, a man-sized rat-like race.

Again, there are the normal classes we are familiar with, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Ranger, Rogue and Warrior. There are two other classes that we are still familiar with but they have different names: Godi (Cleric) and Zauberer (Wizard).

Now, this is when things change from 5e. When creating a character you select your race but you don't select your class. You actually start out as a 0-level character. You pick a profession that gives you some equipment and proficiencies. There are a total of nine professions:
Acolyte, Con-artist, Craftsman, Entertainer, Forester, Outlaw, Sailor, Soldier and Urchin.
When you get 500 xp you then select your class and are now level 1. But you also keep what you received from your profession including hit points and proficiencies. So technically, a level 1 character in Mithgarthr is slightly more powerful than a level 1 character in 5e. Also, I received a doc file from Matthew that shows a comparison of what a 5e Challenge Rating is compared to Mithgarthr's Challenge Rating. For example: A 5e CR of 6 would be a Mithgarthr CR of 3.

There are also race restrictions with some of the classes. I know some people may not like that for their 5e game but I am a fan of this. Plus it makes sense for the campaign setting and some of the restrictions are fairly unique. For example: Halflings and Gnomes have a 10% chance of becoming a Barbarian once getting enough XP to select their class.

5e Rules
Note: I am not a 5e player but I am somewhat familiar with the rules but not enough to know what changes (if any) have been made from the official 5e rules.
That being said after reading through this it appears to have everything you would need to run a 5e game. And this is one of the things that I love about this book. All the rules I need to play 5e in a single book instead of split up into three different books.

Custom Rules
Now, this is where Mithgarthr hacks away at 5e and makes it into it's own game. And I love it!
Some custom rules:
1. One extra ability score: Sanity. Sanity measures mental health, rationality and reason.
2. Magic Points for spellcasting (I LOVE this!).
For an example the Zauberer gets 1d10 Magic Points per level. Though, how I may use that rule is instead of adding 1d10 Magic Points to what you received in the previous levels I would reroll for Magic Points. For example: Instead of a level 2 Zauberer rolling a 1d10 and adding to their level 1 result the Zauberer would roll 2d10 and keeping the result.
3. Madness rules. I love how the mechanics for this work and I already have ideas on how I would take advantage of this system. Especially, if I run Curse of Strahd ;)
4. Chaos Magic & Creating Chaos Shamans.
This is another thing I love about this book. Chaos Magic is one of the ways evil casts magic. And Chaos Shamans are those that wield the power of Chaos Magic. And there are rules to take any monster and turn them into a Chaos Shaman. Which makes things deadlier because now a group of Skeletons are no longer just a group of Skeletons if one or more of them are Chaos Shamans.

Now, the Bestiary in this book is no Monster Manual but it is definitely more than enough for this book. Plus, any 5e monsters will work if you need a monster from a different book or need to create a new one.
The Bestiary is divided up into ten different categories: Animals, Beasts, Demons, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Humanoids, Monstrosities, Undead and Non-Player Characters. A total of 127 monsters (if I counted correctly). Like I said, it is more than enough.
Though, I do have one complaint about the Bestiary. There is no Dschung! Dschung is mentioned under the Elf description under the races. Dschung are the dark elves of the world.

Campaign Setting
This is an amazing bonus! Seventeen pages with information on the disc world of Cairnvarthi and the Kingdom of Karak. The information here gives you just enough that you can use to explore the world of Cairnvarthi to make it your own. There is enough details of the entire world that you could easily adapt the official 5e adventures and place them in this world. One of my favorite parts of this lore is how Cairnvarthi was created and how humans created their own gods. There's also a list of the gods with some information about them and the creation of Chaos.
There is a beautiful map of the Kingdom of Karak. And the area is massive! 1,728 miles wide and 1,368 miles tall. There is information on the history of the Kingdom of Karak, the land and the towns/cities. Something that I also enjoy in a campaign setting are factions and guilds. And Mithgarthr has them! Though, they aren't listed out in their own section but they are mentioned and described throughout.
There is also a more detailed section of The Kingdom of Karak with a starting town mapped out. There are plot hooks and locations on the map of the "starting" area that are ready for adventures! The town is fleshed out some with NPC information and what equipment/goods there are to be purchased and by whom. Though, the one thing that slightly bugs me about the NPCs is all of them are good. There isn't one that could be turned into an antagonist. Though, it really isn't a big deal at all. I could just easily create one myself.

Overall Summary
Get it! Get it now! Especially, if you are someone like me who is on the fence about 5e. This is a great starting point for 5e. Plus, it is more affordable than the official 5e game. It was small enough for me to be able to read through it once and already feel pretty comfortable about the mechanics of 5e. But if I need to reread the rules it's just a quick read.
So, why get it now?
- Cheap/Affordable 5e system.
- Great custom rules that takes 5e and molds it into it's own game but yet still able to run the official 5e adventures.
- It comes with a campaign setting with a clear "starting point." Which, for me is very important. Often campaign settings just throw you details after details but never give guidance on how/where some areas could be used as a starting point.
- Shadows that drain Sanity score instead of Strength (not in this book but an idea I got while reading this)!
- The artwork on pages 152, 146, 109 and 48.
- 5 out of 5 stars from me. I had some minor issues but nothing that was actually serious.

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