Gwelf is a land far in the north peopled with Badgers, Sparrows, Raccoons, Otters, Mice, Rabbits, and Foxes. The best anyone can tell, everything further north of Gwelf is run by the Ravens and their minions, and is very unwelcoming. But the council of Gwelf would like to give tourists some idea of what to expect, and so we have this guide to the land, its peoples, its magic, and everything the interested visitor might want to know about this fantasy land, from what’s served in the tea shops to where one might find the Badger Zones. Be cautious, though: as one starts in the south with the hospitable city of Gwelf and its bookshops and inns, one might become overconfident and unready for the harsh moors and tundra of the north, with its constant struggle against the ongoing attacks of Ravenkind.
The real hero of Gwelf is the artwork – every page has some gorgeous illustration of an adorable anthropomorphic animal, or an apothecary made out of a tree stump. Larry MacDougall has done fantastic work, and there’s a lot of beauty spread around the book. It is an unusual work – a standalone guidebook to a fictional land, but the art makes it clearly worthwhile.
There’s an interesting backstory to this work as well: MacDougall was working in the role-playing industry for years, and he grew tired of producing work that became more grim and violent every year. Once he had enough of the serious and bloody work in the role-playing industry, he switched into children’s books and eventually wanted to tell his own story, which became this sort-of-a role playing sourcebook stuffed with pretty pictures, the wonders of particle candles, and a lot more sunshine. The Ravens or the ghosts might still get the inhabitants of Gwelf by night, but it’s not Mordor or Warhammer. Lots of fun to be had here, especially by those with an interest in anthropomorphic animals.