Note: Beadle & Grimm’s was gracious enough to provide us with a media copy of this set for the purpose of our unbiased review.
When the original campaign book for Matthew Mercer’s Tal’Dorei campaign setting was published back in 2017, the Critical Role cast were nearing the conclusion of their first campaign, and had certainly made quite a splash – going through a handful of impressive evolutions from a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons on Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry network, to being a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons on their own Twitch channel. Campaign 2 was still on the horizon (though it would hit a major snag with COVID just before its 100th episode) and it would still be about 2 years before the record-breaking Kickstarter event that would bring the (now) critically acclaimed animated series to life.
So, needless to say, it was a big deal. Getting to take a peek behind the tall and wide curtain that shields the full extent of Matthew Mercer’s creativity and vision for the world of Exandria helped fans of the show, and D&D fans in general, prop up an entirely new world for their players to explore: rife with conflict, mystery, and enchanting magical items and encounters.
Now, in the midst of popularity and recognition of the series that the cast likely would never have seen coming back when they gathered around the table to celebrate Liam O’Brien’s birthday over 7 years ago, Beadle & Grimm’s has helped elevate the updated version of the Tal’Dorei campaign setting, Tal’Dorei Reborn, with an exquisite set that’s sure to please longtime fans of the show.
Let’s take a look at what’s included in the Exalted set (NOTE: If you are planning on being a player, you may want to avoid this breakdown, as campaign components are pictured/featured. Forge ahead at your own risk!):
The core “Arcane” box contains a lovely letter of thanks and introduction, as well as 4 additional adventures in a small booklet titled Tal’Dorei: Tales from the Warehouse. These offer supplemental adventures your players can go on for a quick romp/introduction to the broader world.
Next up is a shrink-wrapped collection of maps, both large and small, and numerous paper props to enhance your sessions. Everything from stoic & mysterious letters, to wanted posters, formal invitations and more.
Digging deeper into the box, you discover a handful of pins and metalwork that is designed to be integrated with different elements of the world and broader story.
There is also a nice thick stack of character and monster cards. These are probably my favorite aspect of the Beadle & Grimm’s sets (outside of the minis, when they’re included), as they offer an enhancing experience for both DM’s and players equally. DM’s have easy access to key monster stats and data at a glance, while players have an image to complement the combat and help paint a better picture of their enemy…or ally.
Alongside the character cards are magic item cards specific to the world of Exandria. Chief among these are the Vestiges of Divergence – powerful magic items and weapons that evolve over time, moving from a “Dormant” state, to an “Awakened” one, and finally “Exalted” – from which this set took inspiration. There are three cards for each of the vestiges so that you can provide your players with more and more detail on their powers as the item grows along with them.
Alongside the magic items are the “Tools of the Ashari” deck, which spotlights a handful of other magic items our players may encounter and use, whether they’re attempting to connect over vast distances with a mirror, or just interested in going fast with a pair of magical boots.
Central to this box is the core material – the Tal’Dorei Reborn guide is broken up into modules within for easier transport by section, and some fantastic art adorns each booklet as well.
A recurring element of Beadle & Grimm’s sets is an impressive array of prop jewelry, and the Tal’Dorei Reborn Exalted set includes a box with 4 distinct pieces inside.
Whether your player is representing the Alabaster Lyceum, or is a recent recruit of the Whitestone Rifle Corps, the major organizations represented in this set allow DMs to make these allegiances that much more real with tangible badges/necklaces.
Finally, what Beadle & Grimm’s set is complete without a vault of quality maps? Within the Arcane box is a folded, fabric map of Tal’Dorei, as well as a number of battle maps in varied settings.
My only gripe about this, and it’s a minor one, is that the deep creases on the Tal’Dorei map make it hard to frame. If it were included in the rolled map vault tube, it may have lent itself more to being preserved or displayed in such a way. Still, this is a lovely and handy way of getting a high-level view of the Tal’Dorei continent.
There are other handy maps abound, such as an arena, a lush graveyard setting, and a skyship layout. No matter where you’d like to take your heroes, there’s likely going to be a map for you to use!
This set has a lot going on, with tons of supplementary material to elevate your Tal’Dorei adventures. Some may see the price and balk, but the value in the unique metal pieces, pre-made props, maps, character cards, DM screen, magic item cards and all the rest that I detailed above really does take your game to the next level. A modest investment from a table of 5-6 players can also help transform the shared experience.
I was a bit bummed this set was missing out on minis, especially from a world so rich with unique characters and monsters that Mr. Mercer so lovingly (or deviously) crafted. I think quite a few Critters would have shelled out some premium Platinum to get their hands on such a set.
Still, as a longtime fan of Critical Role, I’m delighted with the work that Beadle & Grimm’s has done with this Tal’Dorei Reborn Exalted set. Whether you’ve been with the players since they were eating fried chicken and pizza on stream and having weekly Critmas parties, or just recently caught wind of this property thanks to The Legend of Vox Machina on Amazon Prime, fans of Dungeons & Dragons and rich fantasy worlds in general will find little to fault in the work that Matthew Mercer, James Haeck and others have done in bringing Tal’Dorei, and Exandria, to life.
You can find the sets here to order. Currently they are backordered through March after their recent advertising campaign on Critical Role, but you can keep your eyes open for re-stocking, or your local game shop may have a copy on hand!
Happy adventuring, geeks!