Friday, October 22, 2021
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Review: Humblewood 5e Campaign Setting

Humblewood is a 5e campaign setting development by Hit Point Press and launched as a Kickstarter project which attracted more than 14,000 backers and generated more than $1 million USD in pledges. While the funding was for more than just the campaign setting alone how successful is this campaign setting for those with the love of all things avian and forest?

The campaign setting much you would expect including:

  • Custom lineages for forest folk including birds (subdivided into crows, chickens, pigeons, raptors, and owls), deer, hedgehog, field mouse, racoons, and fox. Characteristics fall along the tropes prescribed to such species in real life but birds can only glide
  • New class options: Bard (college of the road), Cleric (community and night domains), Fighter (Scofflaw – a scrappy dirty tricks fighter)
  • Backgrounds (bandit defector), Grounded (for birds that don’t like heights), and Wind-touched
  • Feats – aligned to improved gliding, or forest dwellings
  • A small number of spells for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Ranger, Sorcerer, Warlock and Wizard classes

In terms of world building and establishing a setting the book provides a pantheon for the gods, languages, basic tale of world creation, and more recent history and the state of the world today.

“As a campaign setting it is a boring cutie-pie filled place that reeks with egalitarian notions of high piety.”

However the campaign world that exits in Humblewood is very sparse and the environment feels very much like Emmet from the first Lego Movie where he is singing “Everything is Awesome“.

It’s a very tranquil, happy joy, joy kind of place with only a few very vague reference to a nebulous Bandit Coalition (that lacks any goal(s) but is somehow organised) and an extensional vague threat from fire elementals. As a campaign setting it is a boring cutie-pie filled place that reeks with egalitarian notions of high piety. There are no petty squabbles, no cults, and no major ideological conflicts. There are cats – they do like to eat Humblefolk – but they are dumb – just apex predators and not protagonists with goals.

As a traditional campaign setting Humblewood fails miserably but it does have a path of redemption. The majority of the book’s page count comprises a single multi-part adventure. The adventure covers levels 1 to 5 which is where the majority of 5e adventures take place.

“…CAN provide a good experience for a short to medium specific themed campaign experience.”

If instead you look at Humblewood not as a traditional campaign setting but as a single adventure with custom races and other customisation that follow a theme – it then makes sense – and can provide a good experience for a short to medium specific themed campaign experience.

In terms of production quality Humblewood is really well assembled. Art is fantastic and scattered throughout the booking including both small and large art pieces which are on par with Wizards of the Coast products.

Cartography is excellent and much better than Wizards of the Coasts black and white maps.

Page layout is good but not excellent. There is something in the way the text is displayed, font choices, or colour scheme that makes the text difficult to concentrate on (in the PDF version). It would be unfair to say effort has not been made – I just find the design choices difficult to read.

As Humblewood markets itself as a campaign setting it will be marked from the perspective of a Game Master looking for a well developed world in which they can either run their own adventure. If it was being marketed as an adventure with tools to build themed characters it would receive slightly better marks.

If you really want a bird and forest animal themed adventure that isn’t a campaign setting but a detailed specific bird and forest creature themed adventure then you can consider this as a purchase.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Content
5
Artwork
9
Cartography
9
Layout
7

REVIEW SUMMARY

As a traditional campaign setting Humblewood fails miserably but it does have a path of redemption. If instead you look at Humblewood not as a traditional campaign setting but as a single adventure with custom races, and a self-contained time and place in the world that you run as a long-singular arc it then makes sense and can provide a good experience for a short to medium specific campaign experience.