Previewing The Adventurer's Guide to Theria
Dungeons and Randomness, an actual play podcast that helped lead to the creation of Erylia and the Adventures we take within it, is Kickstarting their first setting book! As someone who has very much enjoyed the show, I was super excited and have been waiting for this book for a long time. Not only is it fully funded as you are reading this post, but they have given an amazing chance to preview various parts of the book, for free.
Right off the bat, we get to see a full 2 page map of the continent of Ellara. When you compare the content given in this preview with how much room it takes up on the map, you can really get a sense of scale for how big this book is going to be. The preview focuses on a region in Ellara known as The Northlands, which the first section of the book covers. We are given brief overview of the entire region, giving flavor for the area within the region. Following the overview, each major location or point of interest has a section to describe the setting as well as give details on what makes it stand out within the region.
No region is complete without a major city to serve as a gathering place for the people, a point of travel, and a place for would-be adventurers to seek a quest. The Northlands has Winterhaven. In the podcast, Winterhaven was a key location from the beginning and stayed important throughout the entirety of the first 200 episode. Included is a map of the city, as well as the city’s history, government, and factions. Of course, no major settlement is complete without a list of notable places to see and people to talk to, which are also present. Along with other pieces of art to help visualize the area, there is also a 2 page spread of the city center, showing a statue of a very recognizable and beloved character from the show.
With a world as well built and heavily played in as Theria, it makes sense that there have been significant moments in history. The Adventurer’s Guide makes sure to document those as well so they can be used within your own games. In the preview, we get the story of The Siege of Winterhaven. This is a very powerful story that is sure to pull at your emotions. Shortly after one of the groups had left it, the city of Winterhaven was attacked. The Siege of Winterhaven follows the memories of one of the women who had been there when the attack happened. A woman who became a large part of the story, ultimately helping to lead a rebellion against those who had seized the city for themselves.
Whether a Dungeon Master wishes to use this historic event as inspiration for their own game, or they wish to create their own stories on Ellara, a set of tables are given to help come up with what challenges a group may face during their travels through the region. In The Northlands, a table of encounters is given for traveling by road or off the main roads. We have also been given a sneak peek as to what some of the stretch goals will unlock. The Northlands is a very cold region, and for a time of year that is very cold, it will be helpful to have unlocked these tables for travel in extreme colds.
Moving away from location based parts of the setting, throughout the show’s history a number of magic items and artifacts have ended up in a party’s possession or crossed their path. Though some items may feel familiar, often there is a twist to make the item its own thing within the world of Theria, while other items are completely unique. The preview gives us Theria’s Rod of Wonder, complete with origin, history, a description, the full table of 100 possible effects, and a piece of art depicting the Rod.
If you couldn’t tell yet, a lot has been done to make Theria feel unique in a sea of fantasy worlds. Even if you have no intention of playing within the world of Theria, much of the book is a helpful resource for a Dungeon Master looking for inspiration or for new things to add to their own games at home. Along with items, a section for homebrew creatures is included, featuring the Kla’kor. The Kla’kor comes with its own piece of art, as well as a stat block, written description, and tactics. And because not everything is horrible in Theria, they have made sure that we can include sheebs into our games as well. The puppers are so cute.
Some Dungeon Masters decide that not all elves are stuck up and snobbish or are evil just because they live underground. Some decide that female dwarves don’t all have beards, or even none at all. Some will play up how big of tinkerers the gnomes are. The Adventurer’s Guide to Theria includes the lore behind how the races of Ellara are treated, treat each other, and what might set them apart from one another.
Something that I have personally felt was lacking within the core books and have worked on mechanics of my own, Dungeons and Randomness must have felt was lacking as well. The preview book contains not only the lore for how werewolves came to be in Ellara, but a stat block is given for a low level version of their own take on the beast. And where the core books do not give much detail as to what to do when one of your players finds themselves becoming a werewolf, the preview includes two whole pages of mechanics for how to treat a lycanthrope in the party.
The story told by Dungeons and Randomness is a very long one. Their show consists of over 260 episodes averaging over 2 hours each, for over 500 hours of storytelling. Throughout its history, the show has featured multiple groups, running 4 simultaneous groups during their first 200 episode arc, and 3 groups in arc 2. Naturally, this much time interacting with the world, with groups in various areas of the world, some legendary characters have made a name for themselves. Origins, history, mannerisms, and of course, stat blocks, are given for some of Dungeons and Randomness’ most famous characters, including characters played by members of the cast.
No high fantasy world is complete without a pantheon of gods. Or is it? At one point, there were no gods in Theria, at least not in the traditional sense. It wasn’t until recently their powers have been returned and the preview not only gives an introduction to how the gods as whole act within the world, but also how a god becomes no more, how a mortal becomes a god, and much more regarding Therian divinity. The current recognized pantheon, with each god’s symbol and their ethos are outlined as The Adventurer’s Guide to Theria’s preview comes to a close.
Considering everything that was done just to make this preview and how much of the book they are letting us see before the campaign has even finished, I have a lot more confidence in this Kickstarter than I have in many others. The amount of work put in to this makes it clear that they are ready to turn this into a book. This have demonstrated skill with the lay out and how to put this together in a way that it will feel right at home next to other TTRPG supplements. The amount of art they have already gotten for this also gives me confidence that they have realistic goals on what it will take to actually fund the various elements of the book. I have backed this and cannot wait to get my copy.