Supplement Review: The Defenders of Midgard (4e) by Richard Green & Brian Liberge from Open Design

Sure, I read tons of articles and books for RPGs across the spectrum of theme, setting, and system, but for the last couple of years I’ve mostly been playing D&D 4e. And though I love everything from Open Design/Kobold Press, most of the Midgard-based resources have been based on the Pathfinder RPG (and would likely work for 3.5e as well), so when I heard they were creating some goodies specifically for 4e, I got excited. Now, after having read The Defenders of Midgard by Richard Green and Brian Liberge, I’m still excited. I think that’s a good sign!

defenders-of-midgardThough fairly short (24 pages with 21 pages of content), The Defenders of Midgard offers a little bit for everybody, spreading the love across multiple class types: mages, clerics, fighters, rogues… Each descriptive element offers subtle (and not so subtle) ways to add a bit of “Midgard”-ness to just about any kind of PC you can come up with.

The book includes seven different flavors for your 4e PC. Take a normal wizard and add a bit of Clockworks to the mix. Or play with the traditional single deity priest and turn her into a Pantheist. Going to sea? Why not make your sailor a Corsair and make him a scourge on the high seas?

Among my favorites? The Clockwork Mage, the Midgard Elementalist, and the Planewalker. And no, we’re not talking about someone walking onto a plane (unless you’ve gone backwards in time and a small man is saying “De plane! De plane!” as you step onto a small tropical island)…

The Clockwork Mage can create a small clockwork companion that works a bit like a robotic familiar. Everyone needs one of those! They even get to do stuff like move around, perform minor actions, and so on. It’s not the most independent of devices, but could be exceedingly useful to take and give a few hits in combat.

The Midgard Elementalist on the other hand integrates a few minor elemental abilities that just about any character would love to have in a pinch. Though the abilities are more suited for a Dragonkin than other races, I think any character would love to have the ability to purify water, raise a 5×5 square of terrain as cover, create and direct a wind, or heat an object to give someone a hot hand…

Then there’s the Planewalker. One part Portal, a bit of Planescape, a little bit of Locke & Key, the Planewalker can get into trouble and out of it just as easily. But every magical portal, gate, or rift has a chance of adventure, right?

Beyond these details you get a few new Gearforged Racial Powers to ponder, new backgrounds, schools of magic, and even a few pieces of new gear… It’s kind of a Chinese menu approach – a few things from column A, B, and C with a sprinkling of D to keep things interesting. The great part of it all is that I don’t think it will unbalance the campaign. These are relatively minor abilities, especially at lower levels, which should add some variety without throwing everything out of whack.

Page layout and art is up to the usual high standards for Open Design, with the cover by Aaron Riley, the interior art by Chris McFann, and graphic design by Marc Radle. Brian Liberge, Richard Green, and the rest of the gang came up with a terrific mix of 4e goodies to play with whether you’re playing in Midgard or simply looking for some cool new ways to spice things up!

I’d love to see more 4e material for Midgard, so hopefully The Defenders of Midgard isn’t the last of it!

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