A blue humanoid shaman summons a dragon constellation, while riding a wooly rhino and running from undead dinosaurs.

When I first heard about the product that I’m looking at today, I was very intrigued. There have been a wide variety of fantasy settings used over the history of roleplaying games, but there haven’t been that many forays into a prehistoric setting. When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons settings, there isn’t much of a precedence.

The Star-Shaman’s Song of Planegea leans hard into fantasy, but fantasy with all the primordial spikes and ridges in place. Instead of trying to recreate the prehistory of Earth, and then add in fantasy elements, this setting instead assumes a prehistory where myths and legends were even more literal and fantastic before the modern age.


I backed the Kickstarter for The Star-Shaman’s Song of Planegea, but I did receive early access to preview material that was eventually shared publicly before the Kickstarter began. While I haven’t used any of the material in this book in my games, I have played and run Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition extensively since its release. 

The Star-Shaman’s Song of PlanegeaAuthor: David Somerville
Story Team: Adam Beckwith, Daniel Gable, Avalon Palmer, Fin Prindle
Additional Development: Chris Bowen (Winter’s Draft), Daniel Gable (monster development), Fin Prindle (mechanical development), Thomas Read (Victory’s Cost), Trevor S. Valle (dinosaur specialist)
Creative Consultants: Alex DuFault, Zack Grunewald, Connor Gwilliam, Jeffrey Martin, Sam Reno, Pedro Lhullier Rosa, Bryan Scott, Beau Severson, & Michael Somerville
Producer: Justin Alexander
Art Direction: Justin Alexander & David Somerville
Layout: Justin Alexander
Original Graphic Design: David Somerville
Cultural Consultant: Zoë Edwards
Proofreading: Justin Alexander, Jenae Floerke, Michelle Nephew
Cover Art: Anna Podedworna
Cartography: Brian Patterson
Planegean Art Team: Ari Ibarra, Cory Trego-Erdner, Daniel Mallada, Douglas Deri, Grzegorz Pedrycz, Jake Siano, Jason Wilkins, Javier Charro, Kacper Kutrzuba, Nguyen Nam Hung, Olga Drebas, Otto Metzger, Thuan Pham, Torben Weit
Team Petroglyph: Michelle Nephew & Emilia Nephew
Character Sheet Design: Tim Huckelbery
Additional Art: Ahmed Teilab, Andreas Rocha, Calder Moore, Einar Martinsen, Fabio Rodrigues, Felipe Fornitani, Graey Erb, Igor Galkin, Iliyan Tsvetanov, Jaroslaw Marcinek, Johanna Ruprecht, Jose Luis Islas Lopez, Juno Viinikka, Lane Brown, Maxime Defoulny, Michael Johnson, Nick Silva, Norbert Toth, Quan Chu, Qui Chao Wang, Raph Herrera Lomotan, Ricky Ho, Tom Lopez, Tomas Jedruszek, Vitaly Zhdanov, William Hoglund Mayer
Published By: John and Michelle Nephew

A human, an elf, and a dwarf head out from the large clan fire.The Writing on the Walls

This review is based on the PDF version. The PDF is 378 pages long, including title page, a credits page, three pages of art credits, and a half-page OGL statement at the end of the art credits. There is also a table of contents, and an appendix of a name generator, as well as another one listing inspirational media.

The artwork and cartography are gorgeous. As someone that grew up enamored of dinosaurs, the only thing better than dinosaurs is magically infused mutated dinosaurs. There are all kinds of amazing prehistoric creatures, prehistoric adventurers, and beautiful all-encompassing maps. I also appreciate the little touches, like formatting stat blocks to look like they are carved on stone slabs.

Making Our Way Through the Song

Before we get into the structure of the book, I wanted to briefly touch on the title of the book. The Star-Shaman mentioned in the title is an NPC that provides several in-character sidebars in the book. In this way, the title of this book mirrors the official D&D releases like Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. It has the following sections:

  • Part I: For the Player
    • Clanfire and Wilderness (Information the players would know about the world)
    • Prehistoric Characters (Information on what is and isn’t available)
    • Kinships (Ancestry changes and new options)
    • Classes (How classes are renamed in the setting and how they are viewed)
    • Backgrounds (Backgrounds based on factions and professions)
    • Equipment & Trade (Setting concessions, gear changes, and new gear)
    • Spells (New spells for the setting)
  • Part II: For the Dungeon Master
    • Planegea Adventures (Themes and genre tropes)
    • The Primal World (Cosmology, geography, and nations)
    • Factions & Threats (Neutral and antagonistic factions that drive the world’s story)
    • Treasures (Unique magic items from the setting)
    • Gods & Monsters (Templates, traits, and new creatures)

Player Facing Material

This section starts by explaining what a character from this setting will understand about the world. There are no planes–supernatural lands can be visited by traveling by mortal means. The most common unit of interaction is the clan, and the clanfire is sacred. Clans aren’t always composed of the same kinships, because the clan is about survival.

Characters generally barter for what they need, but for a more mathematical way of resolving commerce, prices can also be determined in salt. There is no metal gear, but characters can assume to have something similar to what they would otherwise find in a D&D game. Weapons can be assumed to work more or less as they do in the core rules, because everyone is using stone, glass, leather, and other materials for their weapons and armor.

Gods aren’t powerful creatures that live on other planes of existence. They are noteworthy, powerful, singular creatures that can grant followers power, but in some ways are really just powerful examples of other creatures in the world.

This will be a recurring theme in the book, but there are a lot of charts to help flesh out character backstories. There are tables for a character’s upbringing, community events, brushes with death, and prehistoric trinkets. There are also some guiding questions for determining aspects of a character like relationships, personal omens, and personal fears.

Goblins fly on the backs of pterydactyls, dodging between flying rocks. Kinships

The section on Kinships explains how familiar species are expressed in prehistory, as well as adding some new kinships that are thematically appropriate for the setting. Dwarves, elves, halflings, humans, dragonborn, tiefling (Godmarked), gnomes, half-elves, and orcs all have a d6 chart to give players an idea of how these ancestries relate to the world as it is described. Dwarves are literally part stone, elves come from the land of dreams, halflings are silent hunters, dragonborn (all associated with chromatic dragons) are tied to the primordial creator of the world, tieflings are people that have been marked by the gods, gnomes are distrusted nomads, and orcs are well-respected survivors.

In addition to the extra information on the existing ancestries, the following kinships are introduced:

  • Dreas (Plants that have decided to walk as humanoids)
  • Half-Ooze (A humanoid body animated by an ooze that is growing within them)
  • Saurian (Dinosaur people)
  • Starling (Stars that fell to earth and are now in humanoid form)

Each of the new kinships has its own set of tables that can help to provide context for the character and their place in the setting. Each of the kinships presented has a sidebar of optional features, which include ability score increases, suggested alignments, and suggested languages. I like how this calls out the “legacy” aspect of races, which makes it easy to use these kinships with the newer rules presented in Tasha’s and Monsters of the Multiverse.

There is a lot of clever worldbuilding in this section. For example, the Land of Nod, where elves come from, is divided between the dreamlands and the nightmare lands. Because elves are from the land of dreams, they don’t sleep like other species, and the two aspects of Nod foreshadow the Feywild and the Shadowfell. 

The new kinships avoid simply being oddities by having unique places in the setting. The Dreas are trees that have decided to walk as humanoids to better understand them. Half-oozes may come from a humanoid that has fallen prey to a predator, but the half-ooze has free will to do what they will and may become attached to humanoids, avoiding other creatures when they come to maturity so they don’t perpetuate the cycle of predation. Saurians are devoted to their ancestors and have a natural affinity for death. The stars in the sky of Planegea participate in a dance to see which star becomes the next sun, and the starlings are those stars cast out during the dance.

The backstory for tieflings is interesting, since it means a character has been marked by a god for some reason. Since aasimar aren’t in the 5e OGL, they aren’t explicitly called out, but since good-aligned gods are treated as celestials and evil-aligned gods are treated as fiends, it’s easy to see that gods marking various mortals can be the beginning of an ancient bloodline of tieflings (and by extrapolation, aasimar).

I really love that orcs are well respected as powerful survivors. While they don’t universally reject the gods, orcs are much more likely to be wary of them, and may even embrace the “heretical” druids and rangers. As much as I love this, I really don’t like the note at the end of the orc section, which notes that Planegea orcs should use half-orc stats, and what we see as “modern” orcs are orcs whose blood has been corrupted by intermingling with monsters. I really could have been happy leaving that part out of the description.

I’m also a little uneasy with the description of gnomes. They aren’t trusted in communities, know supernatural knowledge that other kinships may not, act as tinkers and traders, and often set up camp on the outskirts of other clan’s lands, because they aren’t welcome, but may be worth trading with. That feels way too much like some of the worst aspects of some real-world marginalized cultures that are still treated this way to this day in the real world.

Update: When I originally worked on this review, I started with a version that did not end up as the final text. While I reviewed the final release to look at art placement and maps, I was not aware that the text of the gnome entry had been updated. Gnomes in the setting are now known for their survival skills and their hospitality to other kinships. This is definitely a welcome change.


Many of the traditional classes have new names and a little bit of setting information to set them apart from their modern versions:

  • Ascetic (Monk)—People that harness spiritual power by pushing themselves to the limits of survival
  • Chanter (Bard)—People trained to retain the lore of the clans and charged with never altering the truth of the stories of the clan
  • Druid—People that learn to revere nature without the intercession of a deity, and who draw energy from nearby gods without their permission
  • Guardian (Paladin)—People that often serve as the sword of the local Shaman, and whose devotion to an oath convinces local deities to lend them power
  • Ranger—Survivors and guides that may be tolerated more than druids, if they refrain from using their spells too often
  • Scavenger (Rogue)—People that learn to use their abilities to find useful material and survive dangerous locations
  • Shaman (Cleric)—The voice of the gods, who may not be tied to a singular deity, but rather trained to appease and manage the relationship of local gods and the clan
  • Spellskin (Wizard)—Spellcasters that use intricate symbols to detail spells, using personal symbolism that cannot be used as a language, and who tattoo some of those symbols on their bodies to help them remember their spells

Barbarians, fighters, sorcerers, and warlocks are largely unchanged from their modern forms, filling similar positions in the clans and societies of prehistory. Much like the section on kinships introduces the origins of some D&D tropes in the primeval world, some of the class information does the same. For example, the reason druids have a secret language common to all druids, which they are reluctant to share with anyone else, is their status as dangerous renegades. Scavengers have formed factions in the few proto-cities that exist in the setting, and those factions have created a cant used by scavengers to communicate information with one another.

There are a few additional subclasses introduced in this section:

  • Path of the Farstriker (Barbarian)
  • Dream Sorcery (Sorcerer)
  • Dark Forest Patron (Warlock)

The Path of the Farstriker gains the ability to treat any melee weapon as a thrown weapon (3rd), gains the ability to throw others (3rd), gains the ability to dash after throwing a weapon at a target (6th), have thrown weapons return to your hand (10th), and generate a damaging rush of air to attack an area (14th). Raging catapult also allows an allied creature thrown to use their reaction to hit a creature at which they were thrown. None of the abilities have an X/short rest function, meaning that none of them use the old per ability score bonus or the newer design concept of per proficiency bonus. I’m not sure why this is explicitly a prehistoric barbarian subclass, but as someone that grew up watching fantasy movies where people throw swords, I’m good with this.

Dream sorcerers gain extra spells (naturally) and the ability to grant a number of allies equal to their Charisma bonus a special ability (the benefits being randomly determined on a table). At 6th level, you can remember more dreams, and therefore roll more than once to pick what benefit you grant. You also gain the ability to communicate via dreams. At 16th level, you can teleport by walking through dreams, and at 18th level, you get a more flexible version of simulacrum by using your dream self to duplicate yourself. Both the focused fate and manifest vision abilities have sorcery point spends to refresh.

Because many forests are aware and can travel of their own accord in Planegea, having a forest as a patron makes sense of warlocks in the setting. You gain extra thematic spells, and the ability to mark an opponent with moss that you can then use to do damage to an opponent. When you kill an opponent, you can have a tree grow through them, which you can use as a node for your senses. At 6th level, you get bark enhanced armor class. At 10th level, your moss mark entangles as well. At 14th level you can summon spectral trees to hamper and damage your opponents, and if you maintain concentration long enough, hey, instant stand of trees!

In addition to the subclass, there are also new eldritch invocations. You can do things like changing your type to plant, gain an ability that slightly bridges the gap between thorn whip and eldritch blast, ensnare opponents you hit, and gain the ability to turn into a tree.

While I don’t entirely get why the Farstriker appears here, dreams and living forests are both thematic for Planegea, but I’m all for their inclusion because while they are thematic, they are also broad enough to work in other settings as well. It is interesting to me that the Dream Sorcerer uses charisma bonus as a limiter for an ability, but the Dark Forest Warlock has a per proficiency bonus ability.

A human brings wares to trade with other humans, with the goods loaded on the back of an ankylosaurus.Other Player Facing Material

The backgrounds we get in the book have a combination of ties to societal roles from the setting, and backgrounds that tie to different factions in the setting. Since so many of these backgrounds are tied to elements from the setting, we also get a paragraph of commentary on various aspects of the setting from the Star-Shaman. The backgrounds generally follow the example set forth in the Player’s Handbook, and spelled out in the Dungeon Masters Guide, meaning that most of the features are more general “you can do X,” but with no concrete mechanical aspects.

The section on gear has some example currency conversions, showing what items or services a character can trade for different goods. One of the most interesting aspects of this is the idea that exceptional scars or famous names may allow a player character to gain certain goods or services in exchange for the character explaining their deeds. While this is intriguing, the rules are generally light. There are sidebars that present alternate rules if you want to present prehistoric weapons as being less efficient than standard D&D weapons, as well as a sidebar on crafting items in the setting.

There are a number of interesting new spells, most of which would work just as well if transported to another setting. I do feel a little bad for deflect magic, because much like counterspell if a DM uses the updated stat blocks for spellcasters that we’re starting to see, this is going to be less effective. What may be more interesting than the actual spells are the backstory and additional rules connected to spells.

First, each of the schools is associated with a different kinship. This doesn’t restrict access to spells but explains who first masters spells of a certain type. This includes the kind of verbal, somatic, and material components that different kinships are likely to use. The next unique aspect of magic revolves around blood magic. Instead of spending gold pieces on material components, spellcasters can shed 1 hp of blood on a material component for each gp that the material component requires. This is very atmospheric, but I’m wondering how well it limits things in play. The blood doesn’t have to be shed within a constrained period of time, and the creature shedding the blood doesn’t need to be killed. This seems like it would be easier to prepare than making sure a character spends their cash on items that are needed for access to spellcasting.

Dungeon Master Facing Material

This section starts off with a discussion of themes and tropes. It looks at both what tropes are the most fitting for this setting, as well as how to expand adventures that more deeply explore a particular theme. 

The next section dives into tools, and I wasn’t prepared for the degree to which this section really is a toolbox. There are nine tables to inspire what kind of story elements a character might encounter during a journey. There are pages and pages of the elements that make up a settlement that PCs might encounter, including the current circumstances of the settlement, who the most likely leaders and notable members of the clan might be, and how large the settlement is. There is also a dice drop method for determining the layout of the settlement.

If you don’t know what a dice drop is, the Dungeon Master takes a number of dice and drops them on a surface. The numbers that come up indicate what is located where the dice has fallen. This randomizes both the elements of the settlement, as well as its physical layout. This same method is revisited for randomizing journeys. This is thematic for the setting because the distance between locations literally changes. The world is not as stable or settled as it is in later eras.

The adventure environments section effectively explains the style of “dungeons” present in the setting, as well as providing random charts with more details on these locations. These tables include the following environments:

  • Aberrant Vaults (sealed locations that serve as prisons for aberrations)
  • Apex Domains (lairs for legendary predatory creatures)
  • Dwarvish Ruins (abandoned stone fortresses adopted by new inhabitants)
  • Roving Forests (moving forests migrating across the land)
  • Passages to Nod (portals to the lands of dream and nightmare)
  • Spellskin Sanctums (caves where wizards record their spells and do research)
  • Tomb-Lands (regions where humanoids are servants and cattle ruled by vampires)

This does a lot of the work of explaining what the setting is like, and what player characters might do in the setting, by giving people examples of the threats they might find. It fills in some details even as it provides inspiration. For example, dwarves abandon a fortress once they complete it, in order to start on a new fortress. Vampires stake out (sorry) lands that they control to slake their hunger, and they might have considerable lands under their shadow. Aberrations were free to act in even more primordial days and were locked away so other species could rise.

There is a general map, which doesn’t give exact distances but does give the broad contextual locations of different parts of the setting. Encircling the Great Valley where most of the clans live are the various giant empires – the Fire, Air, Sea, and Stone empires. While the default assumption is that some of the giant empires enslave the smaller humanoids of the world, there is also a discussion on how to modify the presentation of the giant empires if a group doesn’t want to feature slavery as an aspect of a campaign.

Blood Mountain rises from the center of the land, and is the home of the mother dragon who created the world, as well as her children and consorts. Chromatic dragons have established themselves, but the setting has yet to see the influence of metallic dragons. I like that the broad creation myths and cosmological aspects of this setting actually match a lot of recent D&D lore. There is a single world that becomes many, and it was created by a dragon. 

The Venom Abyss is a jungle-filled chasm that is the home of dinosaurs and dire creatures. Dragon cultists live in jungle canopy settlements, and goblins live in the tunnels under the jungles. In between these extremes are an up-and-coming society enacting major rituals, stealing life forces, and building ziggurats.

Each of these regions has multiple entries. For example, there are entries for what creatures exist in a region, what treasures characters are likely to find, what lore is known about this land, and what level characters might tackle adventures in the area. For example, given that it is the home of the Worldheart Dragon and the Brood, the most powerful dragons in the setting, Blood Mountain is an area suggested for 17th to 20th level characters. 

Two small humans on a raft watch as three giants battle enormous tentacles coming out of the water.Factions & Threats

Absolutely my favorite part of the Dungeon Masters section is this section, detailing the power blocks that are active in the setting, what they want, and what they are likely to do about it. Factions are groups that the PCs may belong to, or they may end up being adversarial, but they aren’t framed as the campaign’s villains, even if they end up providing conflict.

The factions include several of the largest clans in the Great Valley, organizations seeking to push the boundaries of magic, organizations that want to create a structure for unifying power in larger settlements, and organizations that don’t want any settlement or clan to become regional powers. There are elite monster hunters, the proto-, multi-settlement thieves guild, and even an organization focused on working with mega-fauna. If you really miss your modern-day Harpers, you even have the Worldsingers, a secretive but benevolent group of storytellers that travel from place to place inspiring hope and opposing evil and tyranny.

In addition to a description of what motivates an organization and how it operates, these entries also have example NPCs to act as the face of the faction. There are also three or four philosophies listed as being common to the organization. These are presented in a way similar to ideals in player backgrounds, suggesting the differences in philosophy between neutral or good members of an organization.

Threats, on the other hand, are setting villains. The entries for threats usually lay out what that particular threat is doing that may be what the PCs need to oppose, and each of the entries has a table with adventures by level, giving you eight different two-line descriptions of potential scenarios. These are divided up by tier, meaning there are eight entries for levels 1st-4th, 5th-10th, 11th-16th, and 17th-20th. 

The threats include the following:

  • The Giant Empires (established tyrannical giants ruling the edges of the map)
  • The Brood (the oldest dragons in the setting, plotting against their mother for power)
  • Kelodhros Ascendant (a cult-like society that graft monstrous physiology to their own)
  • Fiendish Gods (proto-archfiends plotting to corrupt mortals as well as opposing each other in what may presage the conflict between devils and demons)
  • Vyrkha the Shepherd (a mortal warlord that slowly acquires the ability to challenge the great powers of the world)
  • Duru (an ancient tree spirit trying to mobilize plants to wipe out mortal creatures that aren’t plants)
  • The Rescusance (an organization of wizards that are pushing into dangerous territory with their magic)
  • The Gift of Thirst (the aristocracy of the vampires of the setting)
  • Craven of the Kraken Coast (people secretly dominated by the aboleths of the sea, backed up with the power of an allied kraken)
  • Throne of Nightmares (a malevolent power born of the nightmare lands of Nod)
  • The Crawling Awful (aberrations free of their vaults, seeking dangerous goals like killing gods)
  • Deepthought (an arcane variation on artificial intelligence)
  • Nazh-Agaa, King of the Dead (not a god, but the literal embodiment of death)

In addition to providing a lot of table-ready material that directly tells you how and why you might use the threats provided, this section is another area that touches on something I like about this product overall. Setting elements aren’t just prehistoric, they also hint at why things are the way they are in more standard D&D settings. For example, Nazh-Agaa becomes more powerful the more people die, but the gods are starting to realize that the souls of their followers that they sequester in their own pocket dimensions no longer make the aspect of death more powerful. It’s essentially the origin story of why mortal creatures have an afterlife.

A goblin hunter leaps towards a tyranosaurus, ready to plant his axe in the dinosaur's skull.Treasures

This section discusses harvesting monster bits for use in trade and fleshes out some of the concepts for scars and names first mentioned in the gear chapter for players. In addition, this section also explains how items like scrolls or potions might manifest in the setting. The magic items origins section doesn’t provide any more mechanical aspects to magic items, but it does explain what types of magic items are likely to be built by whom, and what different kinships and organizations might do to make their items distinctive.

As far as new magic items go, we get a selection of masks that go from uncommon to legendary in power, which grant some aspect of the power of the creature that the mask depicts. For example, the mask of the blink dog might let you teleport a short distance, while the mask of the balor wreathes you in flames. There are new apparatus magic items with various levers causing the stone constructs to do different things. The section wraps up with a broad description of new weapons, instruments, and tools.

Gods and Monsters

Because gods dwell in the mortal plane and represent a powerful evolution of an existing creature, they have stats. Yes, that means they might be killed, and that’s an accepted part of the setting, especially since the bones of the gods are made from a powerful material called divine ivory. Gods are divided by strata, showing how far beyond the mortal they have transcended. CR10-15 gods are 1st strata gods, while CR16-30 gods are 4th strata gods. This is what could probably be called an extended template, explaining what to add to a stat block in order to turn a creature into a god. There are also alternate rules for tracking the gods ebbing and flowing power, which includes how much power they lose when druids use their powers within the god’s domain. This is called out as optional, and only really something you would worry about if your campaign revolves around securing and increasing your god’s power.

There is also a list of templates that can be added to monsters to make them less predictable and more primordial. None of these templates include an adjustment for CR, although the text mentions that the templates probably do shift the monster’s CR in unpredictable ways. The templates include:

  • Armored
  • Amphibious
  • Berserk
  • Climbing
  • Elemental
  • Frilled
  • Fungal
  • Horned
  • Magical
  • Massive
  • Many-eyed
  • Multi-headed
  • Sailed
  • Slimy
  • Spiny
  • Tentacled
  • Tunneling
  • Undead
  • Winged

These templates are simple modifications that remind me of the monster traits from Green Ronin’s Fantasy AGE Bestiary, or the traits that Adventures in Middle-earth introduced. I like simple templates that can customize a monster, although, without CR guidance, a GM is going to need to keep a close eye on the flow of a fight to see what the adjustment is really doing to the challenge.

Much of the bestiary expands the options for dinosaurs and mega-fauna, beyond what has already been presented in the D&D rules. Some of these are adapted real-world creatures, and some are extrapolated nightmares born in the depth of whatever CGI creatures have been spliced together in the depths of Jurassic World.

In addition, there are some strange hybrid creatures, explicitly magical beasts, and fey creatures tailored to their ties to Nod and dreams/nightmares. There are visitants, the celestials that serve good-aligned gods, and Wooly Unicorns (unicorns, but, you know, more rhino). This section wraps up with NPC stat blocks representing different roles in the setting, such as hunters and shamans.

A Warm Night Around the Fire
Because of the clever way that the setting explores the origin of d20 fantasy tropes, the way it includes elements that are both thematic but also broadly useful, and the way it models what a table-ready, immediately usable campaign setting can look like, I feel pretty comfortable saying that if you enjoy d20 fantasy, you will likely find something to embrace.

I was not expecting the degree to which this book would be a table-ready, actionable setting book. Because of the unique quirks of the setting and its primordial nature, we’re not worried about exact timelines, distances, or numbers. But we do get lots of examples of what characters do in the setting, what their adventures look like, and what a campaign arc would be. While there are plenty of details presented, a lot of the story of the setting is told with tools like tables and adventure inspirations, and I think that makes those setting elements stand out more sharply than they would otherwise. This hits so many of my preferences for how to present a campaign setting, making it feel alive, and calling out to be used.

Winter’s Chill

It’s strange to see the things that I think didn’t come off well, given the things that the book does right. There are so many good aspects to how kinships are presented, but there are still some less than desirable tropes that pop up when discussing “monstrous” orcs, and even the brief references to drow. I appreciate that the section on horror mentions respecting your players’ boundaries, and I love the discussion on how to refocus the giant empires to avoid slavery, but I wish there was more of a general safety discussion. I really wish we had gotten a few more iconic-feeling subclasses, especially for those classes whose roles are modified by the setting.

Update: Like the gnome entry, the reference associating the drow with nightmares and evil has been replaced with a more general reference to other elves from Nod that are formed from darkness, without any particular moral judgment associated with them.

Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure how widely I could recommend it, even if it was well done, because the setting is something that may not be for everyone. Because of the clever way that the setting explores the origin of d20 fantasy tropes, the way it includes elements that are both thematic but also broadly useful, and the way it models what a table-ready, immediately usable campaign setting can look like, I feel pretty comfortable saying that if you enjoy d20 fantasy, you will likely find something to embrace.

Are there other thematic time periods that could be represented in d20 fantasy, that haven’t been touched on in the past? How much adaptation would they need? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.