The Kingdom of Karak is the latest 5E release of Mithgarthr Entertainment. (Their previous adventure was The Mines of Valdhum, reviewed here). This product is a combination sourcebook and adventure, containing an overview of the world, details on new monsters and spells, and a short adventure.
The world’s background is relatively basic, with hints of potential adventures. Interestingly, the five gods this book describes are all ascended heroes. Each god’s clerics have one or two quirks that distinguish them from the standard, primarily in the types of weapons they can use. I note that there are no goddesses worshipped in Karak, as all the heroes were men!
The timeline is problematic – especially as it uses “Age of Mithgarthr” as its convention, later noting that in 936 AM, “: An official treaty known as the Mithgarthr Charter was drawn up as an official agreement between the two kingdoms. It was this document that gave Mithgarthr its name.” Most dating conventions would use this as 1 AM! Other details are frustratingly terse. “Morkar is revealed as having become a servant of Tchort, and starts his machinations to take over the realm of Mithgarthr.” Revealed by who?
The book also describes shamans and chaos magic, a system purely for the DM’s use for enhancing the leaders of humanoid tribes. I have one or two quibbles with the mechanics (in particular, the rust spell has a very odd method of determining how the item resists the spell), but I very much like the potentially self-destructive flaws in the magic. Each spell cast carries with it the chance that the user is destroyed in a burst of chaos magic. It would be a dreadful system if intended for players, but gives a lot of entertainment as a monster-only mechanic.
One new monster is detailed, the Ratten. As you might gather from their name, they’re a race of humanoid rats. Three stat-blocks are given: the basic form, the warrior and the shaman. There are a few oddities with the stat-blocks (for instance, the hit dice of a monster are not given but only their average hit points), and it’s very hard to judge if the shaman’s Challenge Rating is accurate. My impression is it may be a little high, given the low power of most Chaos Magic, but the Ratten as a whole seem quite useable.
A short gazetteer of the important towns and villages in Karak follows. Unfortunately, the land around them isn’t described. The biggest problem with this section is a lack of interesting details: no intrigues, power struggle or threats.
The adventure in the book is quite short, basically just an 8-room dungeon for low-level characters. The party need to recover a set of magical thieves’ tools before minions of a dark power do so. The dungeon has a number of goblins and other monsters, with one or two chances for role-playing. There’s a ring of regeneration potentially available to the players here, which makes the treasure much better than the general assumptions used in 5E. One particular monster, the water moccasin, has an extremely high-damage poison bite which is at odds with its low XP total, although its hit points are quite low. The chance it has of killing one or two unwary characters? Quite high!
Ultimately, there’s nothing particularly special about the adventure or the product. The world isn’t described in enough detail to be really inspiring, and the adventure is terribly basic. I can see how there are details presented here that might become more relevant one day in a future product, but taken on their own, they’re not interesting enough. The layout is good, but that’s not enough to save The Kingdom of Karak from being a distinctly poor product.