DMs Guild Review – Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon

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A review copy of “Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Matthew Lee Myers

Like many folks who really didn’t start playing Dungeons & Dragons until Fifth Edition, most of my lore knowledge when it comes to D&D is centered firmly on the Sword Coast. There are multiple fantasy universes that D&D has used in the past, including Greyhawk, Eberron, and Krynn, but 5E-era D&D is myopically focused on the Forgotten Realms, and even then almost entirely on a single region.

Cormyr, located several hundred miles east of the Sword Coast, is a traditional high fantasy kingdom with rugged lands, lakes, forests, swamps, and mountains, and a violent history of razing dragons and war wizards. Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon is a staggeringly comprehensive sourcebook along the same style as the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, providing detailed lore, culture, and history of the region, along with new encounters, magic items, player character options, and more.

At over 250 pages, Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon is a complete sourcebook that includes everything you’d ever want to know about the Forgotten Realms region, which is particularly eye-opening for someone like me who knows almost nothing about places that aren’t the Sword Coast.

The bulk of the sourcebook covers Cormyr’s history (chapter 1), geography (chapter 2), culture (chapter 3), and factions and nobility (chapter 5). The geography chapter alone takes up 70 pages, providing detailed information on every region, city, town, and area of interest.

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The writing style hits that perfect balance of descriptive succinctness, featuring expressive and immersive notes without getting bogged down in a lot of proper names or extraneous details. Knowing that a fancy halfling restaurant is home to fine dining and warm bread appetizers, and appealing for young couples paints just the right amount of detail in a flyover location.

The frequent sidebars are a wealth of interesting information, including secret plots that could serve as potential plot hooks or rumors, or highlighting potential dungeons and lairs, such as a dracolich in an undead dwarven city, or a political faction of anti-human elves hiding out in a forest.

Many towns and cities are given full page, annotated maps. I love the artwork throughout the book, but it’s a shame the only color is found on the chapter covers, and even then just the palest shades of blue. If ever a book deserved full color art spreads, it’s this one, particularly in the maps and magic items.

The fourth chapter covers the new player options, including 12 new subclasses (one for each class), eight new feats, and nine new player backgrounds, all thematically tied to Cormyr.

None of the new subclasses are hugely impressive, but all seem well-balanced and appropriate to Cormyr’s history and lore, such as the Dragonslayer Paladin, Duelist Rogue, and Falconer Ranger, and obviously the new backgrounds are tied directly into Cormyr’s steep noble culture, with gamblers, rebels, scions, and smugglers.

The book doesn’t include any adventures or dungeons, but does feature 72 new random encounters, divided into all four tiers of player levels and organized into 11 different regional areas, from the Farsea Swamp to the Thunder Peaks mountains.

Encounters can range from run-ins with merchants and nobles to a Medusa cheerily walking her pet cockatrice, or catching a pair of hydra in the middle of a complex mating ritual. To accompany these encounters are nicely detailed overland travel rules that include encounter rates, and the important fact that parties should not freely Long Rest at the end of a day, but at the end of a journey leg, usually at a friendly town.

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Another welcome ruleset is found toward the end of chapter three, which details new social rules on negotiations, arguments, and exchanges. It’s an interesting way to gameify social encounters beyond the standard CHA check, and can feature multiple people each making their own skill checks using various argument cards (included as player handouts), in which players can wield Allegory, Sarcasm, Wit, and Logic in a sequence of verbal duels.

As if all that weren’t enough, the book also contains a large appendix of monster statblocks and several new magic items. Since we’re still in the Forgotten Realms, we don’t see very many totally new monstrosities. Instead the book smartly takes endemic creatures like lizardfolk, bullywug, and dragons, and creates several new varities such as steel dragons and Shadowscale Lizardfolk, as well as lots of NPC forces such as Cormyr’s Purple Dragon soldiers and the Society of Stalwart Adventurers.

The new magic items are each given their own player card handout, with artwork (though again, black and white only). I love the actual player cards, which is something I never see with magic items, and many of the items have their history tied directly to Cormyr.

With so much fantastic content, Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon is easily one of the most impressive products I’ve seen yet on the DMs Guild. It’s not only for those who want to run a campaign in Cormyr. I’d recommend it to any DM, as you could easily be inspired to run an adventure, or entire campaign in Cormyr, if not use some of the many fantastic locations, characters, monsters, and player options found within.

Pros:

  • Extensive, detailed lore and information on Cormyr locations, history, culture, nobility, factions, and encounters.
  • Fun sidebars that point out potential plot hooks and dangerous locations around Cormyr.
  • New rules system for social encounters, including player argument cards.
  • New subclasses, feats, races, and backgrounds for player characters.
  • Over 70 encounters for levels 1- 20 tied to regions around Cormyr.
  • Over 15 magic items, organized as player cards with art.

Cons:

  • Black and white only, no color.

The Verdict: Featuring over 200 pages of detailed history, culture, encounters, and new player character options, Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon has everything you need for a cormyrean campaign.

A review copy of “Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

One thought on “DMs Guild Review – Cormyr: Land of the Purple Dragon”

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