GTM #219 - Tricks of the Game Trade: Getting On In Years
by Jon Leitheusser

Getting On In Years

There are a couple very exciting books available this month. Both of them are for games that have been around for a while now, and both of which allow other publishers to create books for their game. Once a game has been around for a few years (or more), the books from these “other” publishers can equal or exceed the original publishers in quality.

This month, there are two books (or is it four?) that meet those criteria. The first is for Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle-Earth: Rivendell Region Guide (for D&D 5th Edition). The other is Kobold Press’s Midgard Heroes Handbook and the two supplements for it that provide more options for D&D 5th edition and the Pathfinder RPG.

These books are all exceptional and offer Game Masters and players great setting information and a variety of excellent rules options for their D&D or Pathfinder games.

Attracting the Eye

Over the past couple of years, the Adventures in Middle-Earth line of books have released a number of very high-quality books for 5th Edition D&D. This month, the Rivendell Region Guide explores the area west of the Misty Mountains all the way to the Last Homely House, which provides information for extending your game into the eastern portion of Eriador. So, if you’re interested in introducing Rivendell, Angmar, Fornost, Mount Gram, Tharbad, and everything else in that area, this is the book you need!

One of the fantastic things about gaming books based on licenses is that they consolidate information from the source material in a well-organized way. So, instead of having to hold all the information from the books in your head, you can rely on the writers and editors to have done their research and included all relevant details in the gaming sourcebook. That’s very handy when you’re mid-game and you need to find some detail to make things “feel” more like the source material.

In addition to all the world information teased out of the books, the Rivendell Region Guide also includes rules for playing the ever-popular Rangers of Middle-Earth and the High Elves of Rivendell. Clearly, the Rangers and High Elves have many similarities to what’s found in D&D since Tolkien’s books were definitely the inspiration for that class and race, but this book provides game information to make them match the source material even more closely. That should be a real boon to players who want to play a real Ranger or High Elf.

If you’re looking to challenge and reward your players with new and different options, then this book offers rules on creating your own magical treasures along with what happens when their PCs attract the attention of the Eye of Mordor; something every fantasy fan should have a strong fear of.

This is a book that fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will appreciate on many levels, but it also offers mechanical options to appeal to gamers who want to make their game feel even more like Tolkien’s world.

From Middle-Earth to Midgard

Kobold Press has been around for 12 years now, but Wolfgang Bauer, the man behind the kobold, has been in the industry for decades, having worked at TSR and Wizards of the Coast before setting out on his own. So it’s no surprise that someone with so much history, talent, and connections should create amazing books for D&D and Pathfinder. After all, both games are based on the same rules system, so they’re similar in terms of rules, but also with regards to their fantasy setting. However—and this is a big however—Kobold Press has taken the setting ball and run with it!

Kobold’s Midgard setting has been around for a little over a decade, but now the folks at Kobold have gone through all the books and pdfs released in the past, added new details, and created new books for both Pathfinder and the latest edition of D&D. Like most fantasy settings, Midgard is based on a Western medieval vision of fantasy, but particularly draws inspiration from Norse mythology, but also introduces scads of original ideas to create a setting like, but also unlike any other.

The main book, the Midgard Worldbook, is 461 pages of setting information along with a selection of monsters, magic items, and more for Pathfinder and D&D. That’s a seriously huge setting book, especially for D&D, which has released a number of adventures, but not a big setting book. The Midgard Worldbook is exactly what you need if you’ve been looking for a highly-detailed, well-executed, and mechanically sound (with regards to game mechanics) setting to base your D&D games in. Pathfinder has had plenty of setting information available, but the Midgard setting is different from Paizo’s official world of Golarion, so anyone looking to start a new campaign in a world unfamiliar to the players should absolutely check out Midgard, you won’t be disappointed. One important note, the vast majority of the Midgard Worldbook contains almost no game mechanics, instead concentrating on a wealth of setting information including multiple nations.

Each of the nations have a different “personality”, so if you want to run something in a major city with thieves and intrigue, or if you want to take the players to a city of dragonborn, or if you want to pit your players’ characters against Genghis Khan-style centaurs ranging across the steppes, then this is the book for you.

What Else?

For GMs and players looking for more to add to their games in terms of game mechanics, the Midgard Heroes Handbook includes 17 new/different races, more than 30 new archetypes, paths, bloodlines, paths, schools, etc. Including new options for every one of the characters classes. There are also new feats, backgrounds, domains, spells, magic items, and more. The Midgard Heroes Handbooks offer new options that players and GMs will be exploring for years to come. They’re just the sort of things to reinvigorate a long-running game and gives players and GMs new options to keep their game fresh and interesting.

Some of the options include the Barbarian’s Primal Path of the Ancestors, the Bard College of Entropy (luck-focused), the Fighter Sword-Dancer archetype, the Rogue Duelist, a Sorcerous Bloodline for Shadow, a Warlock pact of the Genie Lord, a new Wizard school of Elementalist, and plenty more.

The new feats include options related to ley lines, runes, and more. Backgrounds including Amazons, exiles, scholars, villagers, rebels, and more. In addition, there’s information about ring magic, rune magic, rituals, and dozens and dozens of new spells to add to your campaign.

In short, the books detailing Midgard are excellent and offer GMs and players a ton of new options that should make your games more fun and exciting for years to come.

Take It to the Tabletop

With new books like the ones discussed above, there are options to keep your games fresh and new for many campaigns to come. Whether you’re talking about Pathfinder or D&D, the Midgard setting books offer a wealth of new choices that you should definitely check out.


Jon Leitheusser is a writer, editor, and game developer. He published the Dork Tower comic book, was the HeroClix game designer for years, was a content designer for Champions Online and Neverwinter, was the Mutants & Masterminds game developer for Green Ronin from 2008 to 2016, and freelances for a number of different companies. He cut his gaming teeth on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and still games twice a week with his friends online or in person. He lives in Bellevue, Washi