Supplement Review: Midgard Campaign Setting by Wolfgang Baur and the Open Design team, Part 3

As I continue my journey into Midgard reading the Midgard Campaign Setting, Chapter 3 suggests that I need to explore what it means to be at a “Crossroads.” A few such crossroads in history come to mind, such as the ancient cities of Rome and Constantinople. There’s the mythological connotation of a crossroads representing someplace between worlds and a place where you might be able to make a deal with the devil. And then there’s the simpler idea of a crossroads simply being a place where two or more roads meet.

How does the chewy center of Chapter 3 – the Free City of Zobeck in Midgard – fit these ideals? I think it’s a bit of all of them and more. Heading to the Free City? Better keep one hand on your coinpurse and be ready to bargain.

Now you may be saying to yourself… Wasn’t Zobeck covered in a different supplement? Yes it was. The Streets of Zobeck book focuses mostly on the gritty inside of the city. Chapter 3: Crossroads really broadens the scope to show how Zobeck fits in with the lands around it. There may be more specifics in the other book as far as people and places in-town, but here you’ll find a solid overview of its internal workings as well as major places of interest, available magic schools, trade, and so on.

Learning about the area around Zobeck really made me happy. From the Cloudwall Mountains and the Empire of Ghouls (not a place I’d be in a hurry to visit for fear of being ON the menu) to Perunalia and the Iron Crags, each has personality and plenty of juicy tidbits GMs can sink their teeth into. Plenty of places to explore in detail during a campaign or simply hint at with a well placed rumor.

What I really can get behind however is that the chapter doesn’t just cover the basics. After all, there’s a whole book about Zobeck already. In this 40+ page chapter, there are crunchy little things that will add life to any campaign world.

For example, we just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. In my family it’s a good excuse to get together and share some time, good food, and laughs. But why don’t we see similar holidays in all campaign worlds? In Midgard, we do! The people of Perunalia celebrate the end of the harvest when all debts are paid. It may not happen every year (it’s been quite a few years since we celebrated a lack of deficit in the US, for example), but it encourages residents to continue their struggles despite any hardships from weather or invaders. It’s a little thing, but a little thing any GM should be able to build on and set a solid adventure within…

Also, do you have any clue how much a caravan guard earns per day? I’ve often wondered aloud that very question as either a GM or a player. Well, thanks to this chapter (Table 3-1), now I know what scouts, mounted outriders, wizards, and others might earn simply escorting a trade caravan from destination to destination. And now I also know I should have charged more the last time this came up in game. 🙂

How about travel times between countries? How long does it take by land or sea to get from Zobeck to other realms? Thanks to table 3-4, I now know it takes 29 days by horse or 43 days on foot to get from Zobeck to Bemmea. And 26 days by sea from Bemmea to Vidim. Just like in a modern atlas, this sort of information will save GMs valuable time computing journey time during a campaign.

The Midgard Campaign Setting has plenty to offer gamers, whether you’re looking for inspiration for places, people, or plots. And I’m only on chapter 3!!

Stay tuned as we move on to the other chapters soon…

In the meantime, check out the following sources for details about Midgard or the Midgard Campaign Setting

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