According to the D&D IP Guide as found on DMsGuild.com, the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide are the authoritative sources is it regards Faerûnian lore. However, there is a dearth of good sourcebooks for lands outside the Swordcoast area. Enter Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon by Matthew Lee Myers.
Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon
Creator: Matthew Lee Myers
Publisher: DMs Guild
Cost: $24.99 (for the first week after publication)
Product Length: 255 pages
Matthew set out with a purpose to consolidate lore that spans several novels and rule books from various editions of D&D into a single book so that you wouldn’t have to. This is not a resource to help you with a short adventure you’re planning to run. One-shots are generally setting-neutral and easily adapted into any setting you’d like. Nor is this book designed for a larger campaign as those are usually heavily thematic for the campaign in question, as with Call from the Deep. This book is designed to help you with guiding your players through SEVERAL adventures in Cormyr. If you or your players are looking to setup primary operations in Cormyr, you may want to consider this book even if you already know a good deal about Cormyr already.
This book is dense! There is a lot of information available and it’s useful and even inspiring. There are a few minor inconsistencies in spelling and a rogue carryover from a previous edition of D&D (there is a part that mentions a Will save). By and large though, the writing is great you are unlikely to even notice any of the things I picked up on. Unless you’re a persnickety pedant.
A sourcebook isn’t exactly original. However, this book is useful and well-received by this reviewer. While there may be a lot of “unofficial” sourcebooks for various locales this one is particularly interesting because of its expansiveness and attention to detail.
I do have a complaint on the production. The PDF is not bookmarked and one of this length desperately needs that functionality. Aside from that, I love the production. If I understand the copyright information correctly, some of the artwork within these pages is copyright of the inimitable Dean Spencer but everything else was done by Matthew himself. The layout is similar to what you’re used to with the typical Guild product but it has a unique character and design that is refreshing and easy on the eyes. A book this length needs to be easy to read.
The cartography is great and the artwork is simple and engaging. A job well-done!
The design is where this book shines! You get a rich history of the area and an incredibly detailed geography of every area of importance in Cormyr. Population sizes, good hangouts, and persons of interest aplenty fill more than 70 pages of the second chapter.
In the third chapter is everything you could possibly want to know about the culture. If you’re interested in what people eat or how they dress, it’s here. Pets? Yep. Crafting and farming? You’ll find that as well as customs, legalities, and even courtships (I can see the bards raising their eyebrows now).
Chapter 4 covers adventures including, but not limited to adventuring and mercenary companies, peace-tying your weapons, and even how mages are received in the area. Additionally, there are some truly inspired character options for all twelve of the classes from the Player’s Handbook.
The final chapter covers factions and nobility. You can learn about existing families, armies, and councils as well as read up on wonderful suggestions on creating your own.
Lastly, there are over 100 pages of appendices for creatures (some of them unique), NPCs, and magic items. Within the appendices you will also find additional maps and rules for random encounters.
I have given you the 10,000 foot view of this book. If setting matters little to you, you should skip this book. But if you’re interested in exploring the depths of Cormyr this book is a must have. If you want to create a homebrew setting then you may still want to consider Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon. You will get a lot of inspiration on what makes for a good campaign setting and useful tools for creating a world that ultimately takes on a life of its own. Don’t delay if you’re interested in getting this book at a discount. The price will increase in early July to $35.