Tal’Dorei Reborn is one of those Dungeons and Dragons books that has you itching to get back to the table and roll some dice. Despite being intimidatingly dense at first glance, it’s an easy-going read that fans the fire beneath your imagination.
In fact, Tal’Dorei Reborn reminds me of the lavish, encyclopaedic companion books for franchises like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars that I used to obsess over as a kid, reading them so much that the spines snapped. It has the same sense of wonder.
I’ve not managed to finish it from cover to cover just yet, but, from what I’ve seen, this is a pretty irresistible call to action regardless of whether you’re a fan of Critical Role or someone who’s experiencing the world of Vox Machina for the first time. Hell, even if you don’t play any of the best tabletop RPGs, this is an intriguing read as is.
Old world, new problems
Written by Critical Role’s own Matthew Mercer alongside D&D design veterans Hannah Rose and James J. Haeck, Tal’Dorei Reborn is an exhaustive look at the first campaign setting for Critical Role (a streaming series where voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons). That means it spends a sizable chunk of its real-estate worldbuilding, detailing the continent’s history from days of ancient myth to the post-Vox Machina era.
While this could come across as self-indulgent in other hands thanks to Tal’Dorei being a ‘homebrew’ setting that Mercer created for his home game before it became an internet sensation, Reborn pulls it off. A lot of that is down to writing that doesn’t feel aggrandising, but the rest comes from a world that’s broad in scope yet focused enough not to lose itself in the weeds. It’s precise, doesn’t ramble, and knows exactly what you’re here for.
More specifically, it’s littered with interesting adventure hooks that will likely make you want to put your own party together. In fact, reports of what’s been going on since Vox Machina hung up their weapons make me wish we had another series focusing on the new status quo – things have gone a bit pear-shaped since we last saw the heroes, and there are numerous threats bubbling under the surface that could easily serve as their own standalone adventures. If nothing else, it makes me excited for Call of the Netherdeep, the first full published adventure set in the world of Critical Role.
Naturally, fans will be eager to catch up with the members of Vox Machina as well. Set more than 20 years after the party’s battle with the Whispered One, Tal’Dorei Reborn offers a glimpse at what they’re up to now alongside new art and stat-blocks for each character. It’s a sweet, snappy glimpse into that Critters will appreciate. And considering the new animated show that’s on its way to Amazon Prime in 2022, it’s all coming up Vox Machina right now.
So, should you consider getting Tal’Dorei Reborn? Most definitely. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Critical Role, it’ll impress with its skilful worldbuilding and overall design-quality. Indeed, it’s rather lavish and looks fantastic.
Sure, I enjoyed our last look at the world of Exandria in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. But this is a step up in many ways, and I’m eager to dig in more.
Reviewed using a copy of the book sent by Darrington Press.
There’s a lot going on in the world of D&D right now – alongside the Dungeons and Dragons Rules Expansion Gift Set launching soon, we now have a Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse release date.