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The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
 
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The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
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The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by RedDice D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2018 00:03:56

The Midderlands book is one of the finest OSR supplements that I have had the privilege of reading, it conjures up a world both familiar and yet fantastic. The book is crammed with so much "game juice" it seems almost inconceivable that a GM might not find something for their campaign inside.

For my full video review please look here:

https://youtu.be/EMzhMWEIYzY



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by Juan O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2018 22:08:33

I don't game with OSR style rules anymore, but i found this book an amazing trove of ideas, a joy to read and wonderful to just look at (and I'm not just saying this because I drew a couple of pieces for it)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by James S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2018 22:04:01

Billed as a Bestiary and mini-campaign setting, The Midderlands is far more than it says on the tin. It is built around a small region of a twisted late medieval England that never was, appropriately called the Midderlands. Seal and Co. manage to be both concise and amazingly evocative with the prose of this tiny (but powerful) tome to create a setting that is truly unique, yet doesn't require the referee or players to learn a ton of backstory to enjoy the material as its presented.

The Midderlands is a truly strange place, but because its rooted in a well-researched and well-known period of real world history, its quite approachable. The authors manage to convey in just a few pages what exactly makes the Midderlands unique without going into an inappropriate level of detail so as to bog down or bore the reader. As previously mentioned, the Midderlands is firmly rooted in real world history -- but not specific events. Instead, it uses the feel and commonalities of a real historic place and era and then pours on a heaping helping of strange and twisted folk lore that is both familiar and entirely unique all at the same time.

The Midderlands is a strange and twisted place full of unexplained events, twisted monsters that feel rooted in folklore but have an almost Froudian twist to them. The people of the Midderlands are real people, not adventurers or heroes. They want to tend their crops, feed their families, and not be bothered by the terrible things that lurk just beyond the green gloomfog that lingers in a nearby bog. That being said, most average residents recognize that these monsters are quite real and there's almost a sense that they're nonplussed about the whole affair. 'Well, of course there's a bulging-eyed horde of slime dripping goblins who live in those woods. Any fool knows that."

The magic items are no less strange, each designed to have a tonality that strengthens the themes of the setting. A handful of spells do the same as well. Oh, speaking of magic -- magic is something not to be trifled with in the Midderlands. Because frogs fall from the sky, trees sometimes explode in a shower of green flame, and a dangerous beryl fog floats in from beneath the earth, the people of the Midderlands have a general stance of "Burn the witch, ask questions later" when it comes to magic and magic-users. Again, fitting with the historic context -- but also with it's own twist.

The feelings evoked by the material ooze across every page, but the minimalist word count leaves referees free to build and expand as they see fit to suit their campaign. It's billed as a mini-campaign setting, but to be honest I feel like there are years worth of adventures to be told in these pages.

The monsters are lavishly and beautifully illustrated in a perfect expression of appopriate strangeness. In addition to ecology and stat blocks, most monsters are provided with a full level-progression which both allows the referee to scale them to the power level of an individual party of PCS or, if they're feeling brave, allowing them as player characters. That was a real surprise, and a welcome one.

In short, Midderlands is probably my favorite OSR campaign setting currently on the market because it combines the familiar and the strange so perfectly. This allows the referee to create a fresh experience for players without going into territorty that feels different for the sake of being different. Ostensively written for Swords & Wizardry Complete, it can easily be adapted to many OSR games and B/X-based RPGs currently on the market. Personally, I think it would be an excellent fit for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, given that games strangeness -- plus, LotFP and Midderlands physical copies are of the absolute highest quality when it comes to production values and they're both A5 in dimension. I find they look very snazzy next to one another on a shelf.

Midderlands is absolutely 100% worth a purchase. Even if you don't play OSR games and lean towards more modern game systems, there is enough material here to be begged, borrowed, or stolen that its well worth the price of admission.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by Greg B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2018 21:26:07

The Midderlands is a folklore written by goblins, extensively detailed by their human thrall ["the Glynn" as in: "Make the Glynn taste it first, brother."] with maps, illustrations, a bestiary full of horrible pseudo-medieval freaks, and pertinent descriptions of all the required data necessary to run a campaign there. Situated in a Britain-That-Never-Was, in a region saturated by an eldritch Green quality. Here be notes of Lovecraftian power. Glynn's monster profiles resemble the evocative weirdos of Clark Ashton Smith and are worth the purchase of the book alone. This is an expanding setting with further resources already here at OBS or on the horizon. [5/5]

Buy It If: You like twisted fairy tale worlds like Dolmenwood, Yoon-Suin or anything by Kabuki Kaiser.

Don't Buy If: You don't like a little whimsy in your Weird or happen to be haunted by memories of goblin-perpetrated enthrallment.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by Shane W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2018 08:31:37

The Midderlands is an amazing piece of work, a world you can fit into any campaign. I honestly can't wait to run it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2017 14:11:09

I backed The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting and Bestiary Kickstarter by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design. It surpassed its 12,000 pound goal by 1,953 pounds. I selected the 30 pound pledge level, AKA Mawling, the rewards is a PDF of the Book, a PDF of the map, and a hardcopy of the book, one map, and two character sheet bookmarks.

It funded July 31, 2017. The PDFs were released on October 9, 2017, and I received my physical rewards on November 27, 2017.

Here are pictures of my book, map, and bookmarks.

The PDF: The download with the PDF included a jpg character sheet in color, a jpeg of the monster quick reference for the monsters in the bestiary, and the map in color and parchment both jpgs. After the PDF was released, we received a 33 page PDF of things cut because of layout and other issues, The Midderlands Additions. This gives more information on one creature, some NPCs, and a map and description of an inn, which is also an adventure. These are things cut from the final print version to keep shipping costs manageable.

Inside the 228 page PDF is art by Glynn and several other artists. The table of contents lays out what is in this gazeteer of an RPG setting based on the Midlands of England. There are the standard geographical features, points of interests, towns, villages, and cities. There are also adventures and adventure hooks. Glynn has taken interesting sites from his location in England and filtered them through a combination of RPGs and his imagination to come up with something new. I should mention that there is a language warning on this project from the author. If you can’t handle “adult language” this may not be for you.

It uses Swords & Wizardry as a base, but will work with any OSR ruleset. The ideas can be used in any setting, and many in any genre.

The color scheme for this setting is green. Take any word to describe green and any shade of green, and things that are green, and they end up here. Slime, vapors, demons, etc. are all green and there is a cthonic and dreary atmosphere, and the locals mistrust outsiders. There is enough here for a stand alone campaign, or ideas and adventures to sprinkle in your own campaign or campaign world.

Gloomium is the metallic substance that generates the green hue to everything, and causes all the weirdness in the world. Gloom-touched is the phrase that describes those affected by gloomium. There are random tables to describe what these effects are., and their location on the body. There is a dd0 table called Weird Shit used to add weirdness to The Midderlands. A list of words for green is provided, as everything in the setting should have something green about it. Surprisingly, Lincoln Green, the color associate with Robin Hood and his men is not listed. That color was based on a dyeing process. I am not sure if that shade has another name.

The setting is based on the 15th and 16th century. Artillery exists along with primitive handheld firearms. Magic and witches are not trusted. Religion is left to the GM to handle, but describes a loose system of belief that will suffice without adding to the GM’s workload. A list of superior beings that fit the setting, from angels and demons to deities is also provided.

Among the list of locations that are described, some settlements have a map, and some of those have numbered locations for major locations within the city or town. Points of interest are also given. These are things like a windmill, or a large rock with a history, etc. Some are “normal,” while others have lore or legend associated with them.

There are four new spells, that fit the region/setting. They require but a single page.

Pages 75 – 186 contain all the new plants and creatures. There is a table to randomize the types and effects of fungus/mushrooms that might be found. Some monsters have their own classes and levels. This allows scaling the threat of some creatures in unique ways. (I really need to dig in and read through all these new creatures.)

Pages 188-206 detail the adventures and adventure ideas in the setting.

Pages 207-215 cover hex map locations. Most are fixed locations in a specific numbered hex. However, the last five items actually have random locations, such as a travelling circus. The GM is advised to lay out the map and drop a d20 on it from about 18″ to generate each item’s current location.

Next, there is an Appendix with six tables: a d20 insult table with 20 common Midderlands insults, a d10 festival/gathering table, a d20 weather table, a name and trades table with no numbers/die rolls indicated, an additional Hamlet/Small Town names table, and a d100 Crap You Find On A Midfolk Table. As with any resource, these tables have something you can use in whole or in part in games independent of this setting.

Finally, there is an index, it is not hyperlinked, nor is the Table of Contents.

What I liked about the PDF:

  • The artwork, design, and layout are gorgeous and help evoke the setting.
  • Random tables that can be used in other games and settings.
  • New creatures, spells, and items that are portable to other games and settings.

What I’d like to see in the PDF:

  • A hyperlinked Table of Contents
  • A hyperlinked Index.
  • The character sheet
  • I’d also like a no color option for more economical printing.
  • The map – just a basic version on a single page.
    • NOTE: There are bookmarks in the PDF, so one can navigate to various sections, but the bookmark pane must remain open.

The Book: The hardback book is 6″ x 8.5″. It is solid and has heft to it. It includes two ribbon bookmarks in different shades of green to match the motif of the green cover and green tint and hue to the artwork and pages. It is gorgeous! It also has colored markings for groups of pages in the same section, like settlements, creatures, adventures, etc. For larger numbers of pages, these are easily visible when looking at the edge of the pages when the book is closed. Some are more easily identified when the pages are fanned. This is a cool way to allow the user to jump to a section.

The front end pages are a character sheet, that is the same as the one backers received as a jpg with the PDF.

The pages are slick and thicker than one normally expects. This makes for a durable little tome, with heft beyond its size. While the pages are slightly slick, they only shine at a specific angle to the light in the room, and are easy to read. I have not tried reading it in all light levels. The text does not bleed through, but some of the darker art does. CORRECTION: I realized that what I thought was bleed through is actually the region map sort of like a watermark. It is only the shields for heraldry of certain nobles, and lakes and rivers that are dark enough to easily show. The rest is quite faint and easily missed. I did not find it distracting while reading the text.

What I liked about the book:

  • It is gorgeous!
  • The art and layout.
  • The double bookmarks.
  • All of the same things I liked about the PDF.

What I’d Like to see in the book:

  • The region map on one page, so I don’t need to open up the map or resort to the computer.
  • The Map:
  • Full color 16.5″ x 23.25″. One side has the green color motif, and the other has a parchment like color. Both sides have light gray numbered hexes. On the green side the numbers are white with a dark outline.

I find that the parchment colored background is easier to read the names of all the locations. Both sides are gorgeous, but the green side has just enough of a shine to it that makes it harder to read than the color combinations. I do like the green side as it fits the motif of the PDF and book. The black and white lettering on the green side is easily legible, but any writing of other colors, I find hard to read. I have not tried it in multiple lighting levels, as I have limited space to spread out at the moment.

Instead of using different colored text for different political units, a different size of font in black would work better on the green side for my eyes. I find that this is an issue in the last 6 or 7 years, that certain things I used to read easily, I can’t. I have new glasses, so it isn’t my prescription. Aging eyes begin to lose some of their finer utility. The option of the parchment map on the other side does remedy this.

I first posted this review on my blog: http://followmeanddie.com/2017/12/02/review-midderlands-kickstarter/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting
Publisher: MonkeyBlood Design
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2017 11:47:26

So I've been looking over The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting pdf last night during a wicked ice storm. This morning I'm looking over the Midderlands setting last night & can't seem to shake the feeling I've seen this style of setting before. But first what is the Midderlands, "A green-hued, dark-fantasy, old-school mini-setting and bestiary set in a twisted middle-England." So what do I possibly mean I've seen this style of OSR setting before? The Drivethrurpg blurb goes into far more detail;"

"Situated in the middle of Havenland is an area known by the ancestors as the Middle Havenlands. They don’t use that name much any more, preferring to talk lazily, and skip letters.

In strange accents, often misheard and little understood by those outside of the central region - they call it “The Midderlands”, and themselves “Midfolk” or “Midderlanders”.

There are many peculiar folk that call these Midderlands home. Generally mistrusting of outsiders, they suspiciously eye strangers, close doors, bar windows and scurry in opposite directions. Maybe the area has had a troubled history and that is why the folk behave the way they do.

All that aside, there are good folk too. These folk just want to subsist peacefully and not have interference or “goings on” in their lives. Nothing is ever that simple.

As well as the people of the area, there are the places. The towns and hamlets, the woods and hills, the lakes and the rivers. Amongst all these places are stranger locales too; circles of stones, strange towers, castles and burial grounds.

Everywhere, the Midderlands is tainted by a green-hued menace that rises from the deep and affects nature and order, sometimes subtly and sometimes catastrophically. It rises from the mysterious subterranean realm known as Middergloom. Often described as hell bathed in green fire and flames. Green-tinged slime, noxious vapours, and miasmas creep upwards, amongst them viridian-coloured demons, lime-green tentacles and other malachite horrors claw their way to the surface to wreak havoc. The Lords of the land are always working to keep things at bay. The realm of Middergloom is deliberately nebulous and mysterious, and left for you to develop as needed to suit your campaign.

The vileness that lurks below taints the skies above the land too, known as The Drab. The atmosphere is a hint of green rather than blue. The colour can shift between turquoise and sickly yellow-green in a short space of time. When night comes and the Drab clears, the midfolk can see the constellations surrounded by wispy green nebulae, strange wandering stars and comets, and a single many-cratered moon.

There are many things to keep the inquisitive minds of treasure seekers amused. There are also many things to keep the treasures where they are.

Things stir in this viridian-hued landscape. Evil eyes blink and watch. Teeth and claws scratch and sharpen. Gaping maws slobber and drool.

All is not content in the Midderlands." So needless to say that the Midderlands is very well done, the layout is easy on the eyes, the material fits exactly the itch of a deep, dark, dank fantasy England. Glynn Seal knows his sources & solid background of his world very well. This is not your average OSR world but one that seems to reflect the uniquely weird U.K. brand of fantasy. So where have I seen this style before? In The U.K. series of classic TSR modules. This same home grown U.K. style where the grit is matched by the monsters of the setting twisted into the plot background of the product so that the adventure flows together well as a cohesive setting whole.

I'd compare the Midderlands setting to U.K.1 Beyond the Crystal Cave. "Beyond the Crystal Cave was written by British designers Dave J. Browne, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris, and published by TSR in 1983" There are several reasons why I'm saying this. Your going to need to actually role play, think outside the box, and figure your way out of the interiors of several of the nastier bits of the Midderlands. This is the same idea that Beyond the Crystal Cave employed. By hook or crook the PC's have to use their brains time & again. The second reason I'd compare the two is because of the way that the author has shunted the material into a strangely spun English countryside;" U.K.1 is set in an old English milieu on Sybarate Isle in the Hold of the Sea Princes." This is the same style that we'd later on see in later on in the classic Warhammer Fantasy by Games Workshop because authors of TSR U.K. would go on to create classic era Games Workshop! Let me go so far as to say that you could drop the entire TSR U.K. series right into the Midderlands & the setting would let out a burp & a fart then continue on. That's the beauty of this setting its adaptable easily able to be used in a wide variety of OSR setting & milieus easily including Dark Albion, Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood , Greyhawk, & many others.

For Dark Albion, The Midderlands is the going to be a mid point in the Albion empire. Not quite a backwater but the sort of a frontier border countryside that's common in England. These lands are going to be 'settled' but not quite up to the usual Albion strictness of control that one gets deeper in the cities & towns. There are deep & dark monsters in these places. PC's are going to have to tread very carefully between the politics of the area, the residents, and the monsters. For adapting The Midderlands setting for an old school Sword & Sorcery campaign world like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition, 'The Midderlands' represents the point where civilization ends & the wilderness begins. The technological level is a mid to high point late Roman Empire to Medieval real world historical perspective. As such The Midderlands would be a place where the humans have recovered or retained a good deal of their technological prowess compared to some of the places in Hyperborea. This means that the Midderlands would be the belt way of the capital of Hyperborea. This is the beauty of 'The Midderlands' as a mini setting it can be moved where its needed in an OSR campaign setting. I'd give it five out of five for an outstanding product. Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Want to see more OSR support for this & Original Content For OSR games? Please subscribe to https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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