Reviewed by D. Andrew Ferguson, Copyright ©2001
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
is an officially licensed campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons
3E, and is produced by Kenzer and Company, who are perhaps best
known for their Knights of the Dinner Table series.
My first impression of Kingdoms of Kalamar
(KoK) was way off. When
the new campaign setting first came out I glanced at it in the local game
store but eventually put it down because it was not as flashy as some of
the other products that were on the shelves.
Eventually, however, I took a closer look and discovered a wealth
of history and stories contained within the book.
At that point I bought it, and consider myself lucky for taking
that second look.
artwork ranges from average to very good, but the maps that are in the
campaign setting are superb and, in my opinion, even surpass those found
in the new Forgotten Realms campaign setting book.
In the modules, the artwork is present for more than just
decoration; because of the innovative Image Quest system, each module
contains many handouts to show the players exactly what they see while the
DM reads the corresponding text box.
is designed as a low-fantasy world where fantasy is present but not as
prevalent and as in-your-face as most other campaign settings. As well, KoK
is not designed for epic gaming (although this is possible).
Although KoK uses the new D&D 3E
rules, a reading of the campaign setting or one of the modules will
quickly inform you that this is a setting where story means more than the
began its life in 1994 when it was published as a generic game world,
and the campaign setting still holds to this as it contains few incursions
of rules. The world is
generally controlled by various nations of humans.
The dwarves, elves and even hobgoblins, however, have nations of
their own. Not only are there
different human nations, but several subtypes of humans, and many
different cultures. On a
similar note, the theology is set up differently from most other fantasy
worlds. The gods of Tellene
are all from a single pantheon and each of those gods has worshipers from
the different mortal races. This is much easier to keep track of than "so-and-so, the
gnomish god of whatever."
reading the campaign setting you notice each entry has numerous plot hooks
and NPCs, but unlike settings such as the Forgotten Realms,
each entry is not a separate item. When
read several times the cohesion of the setting begins to set in and you
will discover that many of the things that are hinted at in one entry are
supported or debunked in another.
modules are simple to use, well written and include the aforementioned
Image Quest system. All of this combined makes it very easy to actually
use the modules instead of having to rewrite half of the adventure.
The KoK modules are a bit different because each one
is also a regional sourcebook that covers the area that the adventure
takes place in fairly well.
Many of the modules are designed for use together,
but all will function on their own. I
believe that the story arc covered in The Root of All Evil, Forging
Darkness, and Coin's End would be an excellent introduction
to Kingdoms of Kalamar for players and DMs alike.
following is a list of future products that was posted to Kenzer's KoK
message board by Dave Kenzer himself:
November 2001: Siren's Prize, 48 page adventure, (incl. Image
December: Deathright, 80 page adventure, perfect bound, (incl.
Image Quest) $15.99
January: Geanavue: The Stones of Peace, est. $23.99-27.99, est.
pages 160-176, perfect bound, 24x36 2-sided map.
February: Lands of Mystery, 64 page adventure, (incl. Image Quest)
Invasion of Arun'Kid, 32 page adventure, (incl. Image Quest) $9.99
Living Kalamar Guidebook, 32-48 pages, $9.99
Lost Tomb of Kruk-ma-Kali, 64 page adventure, (incl. Image Quest)
Also posted were some tentative dates/releases:
Summer/GenCon: Kalamar Atlas
A final Note
most fantasy campaign settings try to wow you with magic and epic stories,
KoK succeeds at presenting a much more realistic world with
a rich history and unique cultures, where subtle role-playing replaces
hack-and-slash dungeon crawls.
Note: Kingdoms of Kalamar
is published by Kenzer and Company. You can learn more about Kingdoms
of Kalamar at the
following web address: http://www.kenzerco.com/dnd