Ice Kingdoms Campaign Setting is a setting designed for OSR systems, by Mad Martian Games.
Personally, I haven’t tried any OSR system so far and I don’t really know if I ever will. However, I decided to review this product because the setting looked promising. Also, I’d like to note here that there’s an appendix containing a conversion guide for other systems, but I’ll get to that later.
The Ice Kingdoms are part of the world of Eordan. This is a low magic setting, heavily influenced by Norse mythology and the Viking culture. It is also influenced by the Greek and Near Eastern mythology.
The PDF is about 200 pages, which makes it quite large. The editing and layout are good. There’s a lot of content in there but it’s well organized and divided into ten chapters. The chapters are the following:
Kingdoms of Blood and Ice
This chapter acts as an introduction, giving a taste of the setting. It provides information about the environment, common races and classes, and an explanation of how the government works.
An important note to keep from this chapter is about the environment. The Ice Kingdoms are cold(duh), but the setting isn’t meant to focus solely on survival in extreme conditions. The native races are used to this environment and know how to survive.
History of the Ice Kingdoms
Here you can find a detailed history of the Ice Kingdoms, along with timeline, which I found quite helpful. Also, there’s information about figures that played an important role on how the Kingdoms evolved through time.
Of Thanes and Thralls
This chapter talks about the social structure in the Ice Kingdoms. You can easily see the Viking flavor here, since there are clans, jarls, thanes, and karls. The chapter also focuses on the culture and daily lives of the people. You’ll find information about how people dress, their diet, what they do for entertainment, trade, and much more.
Characters in the Ice Kingdoms
This is one of the chapters that talk about mechanics and how the flavor of the setting is incorporated into them. It basically provides information on how to create a character for each clan. Each clan has its own favored classes, traits, and class restrictions. This also applies to Dwarves, the other race that’s usually found in the Ice Kingdoms. Personally, I don’t mind the restrictions because it’s part of the flavor of each clan.
Magic in the Ice Kingdoms
As I said previously, this is a low magic setting. This is portrayed by having arcane magic be limited, usually dark, and heavily dependant on runes. On the other hand, divine magic is more common and also more powerful. This chapter features extensive rules about rune magic and also includes some new spells.
Legends of the Ice Kingdoms
This is probably the best chapter of the book for me. It talks about the cosmology, the gods, and the mythology of the Ice Kingdoms. Basically, it’s a chapter full of lore, and I love lore. It is heavily influenced by Norse mythology but you will find various details that make it unique.
Temples of the Ice Kingdoms
This is a fairly large chapter, and justifiably so. Divine magic is more common in the Ice Kingdoms and the existence of many temples verifies that. There are all sorts of priesthoods, and this chapter provides detailed information about them.
Geography of the Ice Kingdoms
This chapter contains maps and information about the various regions in the Ice Kingdoms. It also features information about points of interest. Another thing that can be found here is a section about weather. It contains a couple of tables with temperatures and possible weather conditions, as well as a map of the Kingdoms divided in weather zones.
The City of Arfhrdheim
Arfhrdheim is the center of the Ice Kingdoms. Not the literal one, but the cultural, religious and commercial one. In this chapter you can find any kind of information you may need about the major city of the Kingdoms. Every good setting needs a major city, and Arfhrdheim successfully plays this role for the Ice Kingdoms.
Flora and Fauna of the Ice Kingdoms
This chapter is dedicated mostly to the fauna part, providing information about the monsters that inhabit the Ice Kingdoms. However, it also contains a small section about common trees.
I really like appendices and this book has seven of them.
Appendix A: Basic conversion notes
Like I mentioned before, there are some notes on converting the numbers to other systems other than OSR. Personally, I know it’s not that hard to convert older D&D editions to 5th Edition, and these notes make it easier. Sadly, I don’t know how much they can help you convert it to other systems.
Appendix B: Bestiary
You will find a few monsters here along with their stat blocks. But the best part is that they come with a bit of lore about them as well as some notes on how to use them in combat.
Appendix C: Adventures in the Ice Kingdoms
This appendix features a few tips on what kind of campaigns can take place in the setting.
Appendix D: Clerical Spheres
This is a huge list with the Cleric spells divided by sphere.
Appendix E: Cultural Miscellanea
Here you’ll find the calendar of the setting, constellations, as well as Human and Dwarven names. These are details that I really enjoy.
Appendix F: The Codex of Eordan
This appendix is a rather interesting one. It talks about Eordan as world, its position in the Multiverse, and its composition as a planet.
Appendix N: Games to play
This chapter contains a list of systems that Ice Kingdoms can be used with.
Finally, I’d like to talk a little bit about the art. There’s a lot of art in the book. It is black and white but very well drawn. I believe the choice to use black and white art was the right one because the content now gives off an OSR feeling. The maps in the eighth chapter, however, are colored and I believe that was a good choice.
I’d give Ice Kingdoms Campaign Setting a positive review. After reading about the setting, I got the urge to run a game in it. It’s interesting and well made. And, even though it’s meant for use with OSR systems, the rules aren’t that ingrained in the setting, which means it can easily be used with the system of your choice.