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World of the Witch 4E
Publisher: Sage of Sorcery Productions
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2021 21:41:59

As I read through this book, I took some notes. I thought they might be helpful to others who are curious about the book, so I'm sharing my thoughts here.

I love that the book offers new Themes. Themes were fairly late to 4th Edition, so I don't think everyone had a chance to try them out. If they started with 4e during the earlier part of its run, then you might have started a campaign without the option. Once your characters are already created, it's unlikely that you'd go back and add a new character option that's part of PC creation. Alternatively, they may have tried 4e out without the option, then switched to another system before giving it another try with Themes. Regardless, if you try 4th Edition, I highly recommend incorporating Themes into your game. They add one more dimension to Heroic Tier play, beyond race and class. They're similar to Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies, from that perspective. Seven Themes is a nice variety.

The Witch class is a Controller, and offers four different builds (referred to as covens) – this is roughly the variety you'd get for a class in a Player's Handbook plus its entry in one of the Powers books. I like that a White Witch is there to offer some healing to a party if you want a Controller that dips into the Leader role. The flavor for the Hag, with its claws and fey skin, is thematically appropriate. The at-will class feature for all witches, Bewitch, gives you four options that apply a penalty to an enemy (two enemies for Paragon Tier, three for Epic Tier). Twenty-five pages of powers offers a ton of possibilities.

There are four new Paragon Paths. Three of them feel like they're intended to expand upon one of the builds. None of them struck me as a great match for the White Witch. One of the Paragon Paths requires that the PC is evil (4e doesn't use PC options to build NPCs or monsters, so a Paragon Path only makes sense in context of a PC). While I get that the theme of these Paragon Path features are evil, I would probably allow an Unaligned PC to take this Paragon Path and explore how they react to using such dark abilities without becoming evil themselves. I appreciate that this section also recommends Paragon Paths from other products that would fit a witch nicely. None of these felt particularly White Witch themed. You can certainly pull from one of the Paragon Paths to double down on the "witch" aspect of your class, but if you wanted to lean into the healing aspect of the build, you might need to scour other products for some options.

Three pages of feats offer plenty of class-specific options. The Hag build is well represented among the feats, with a handful of Karmic and Primeval build feats. There are only two White Witch feats, and one is an Epic Tier feat. There are plenty of other feats, not only for witches but for Leaders in general (in other products), but just be aware that you may need to be more familiar with other 4e products if you pick up this book with the intent to really focus on being a White Witch. There are plenty of powers that are friendly to the White Witch, so I don't think you'd be disappointed if you wanted to create one. You just might not be able to double down on being a White Witch across every aspect of your character options.

Next, we have four pages of flavorful, witch-themed magic items. I appreciate that there's a magic item here for your witch's familiar. It's a nice way to really accentuate your relationship with your familiar.

I was a little surprised to see covens described as in-world factions, with mechanical benefits to characters who join them. My surprise wasn't due to their inclusion in the book – covens are such an important aspect of witch lore, it makes great sense to include some possibilities here. My surprise was the overloaded use of the word "coven." I've used the word "build" in my review, to differentiate between the two. Terminology aside, I really like the flavor of these options. Their history and leadership is described with enough detail to include them in your game, but not so much that you aren't given any canvas to paint on, as it were. Mechanically, each coven provides one option that its members can choose from – either a power, a feat, or a magic item. If your campaign uses recommended magic item distribution, I think this would work fine. If your DM distributes fewer magic items, this might cause some disappointment if you don't access to the cool, thematic item that your coven grants access to. I don't view that as an issue with this book, but is a conversation to have with your DM before choosing your coven.

I like the inclusion of a goddess of witchcraft, forbidden knowledge, misfortune, and rebels. It's written up like the Dawn War pantheon deities in the core 4e books, so it feels right at home in a 4e book. The domains might introduce some gray areas between deities if you use the Dawn War pantheon (e.g., where do you draw the line between witchcraft and magic, or between forbidden knowledge and secrets?). The inclusion of an encounter power and a channel divinity power for Divine characters is a nice touch to really round out the entry and make it feel like this is truly a 4e deity.

The remaining 28 pages introduce a lost witch kingdom, plot hooks, NPCs, monsters, and campaign ideas. I like that the witch kingdom, now buried and lost to the ages, could easily be placed in 4e's default Nentir Vale setting. Its history could influence adventures or whole campaigns, while continuing to use the rest of the Nentir Vale's lore. The lost kingdom is said to be on the world of Aeinia, so perhaps we'll see more content fleshing out Aeinia in the future. If so, it would be interesting to see if the setting remains compatible with Nerath. So much of this product feels like an official 4e book, it would be fun to see that through-line into the setting lore, even if it remains implicit and optional.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of the Witch 4E
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Level Up Your Background
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2021 23:54:43

One aspect of D&D 5e that I feel can be improved is mechanical PC differentiation after 3rd level. Spellcasters can select new spells, but by 4th level many subclasses effectively know what the next 17 levels are going to look like unless they multiclass. This book offers a copule different lightweight layers that you can place on top of your PC. It offers both additional flavor and roleplaying opportunity as well as ribbon abilities that are unlikely to break game balance.

First, the book presents a way in which PCs can evolve their Background, retaining small pieces of their former Backgrounds when doing so. It's a straightforward idea, but it goes a long way toward demonstrating the type of change a PC is likely to experience as they reach Tier 2 and Tier 3 play. I like how the PC doesn't completely throw away their former Background: they get to keep one aspect of it. And then they get to select a new Background that better represents who they are, now. They don't get the starting equipment from the new Background, but they gain its other features. This can happen twice: once during levels 1-10, and once during levels 11-20.

Second, the book describes 18 Advanced Backgrounds. Rather than reflecting a significant change in a PC's background over time, these represent an evolution of an existing Background. The PC doesn't lose the initial Background, but gain the Advanced Background on top of it. They're limited to just one Adavanced Background, so even if they're using the optional rule I mentioned above, they won't be able to take advantage of multiple Advanced Backgrounds (unless the DM wants to include that in their game, of course). Advanced Backgrounds have a bit of flavor text, then a feature that tends to be more focused on roleplaying and another that has more mechanical weight. A sidebar in the book encourages DMs and players to work together to mix-and-match the first and second feature to build a customized Advanced Background that's best suited to a PC.

The combination of Advanced Background features will go a long way toward covering a wide variety of PC archetypes. My only complaint about the book is that I want to see more Advanced Backgrounds. Thinking about my own PC, who has a Background that isn't in the PHB, I'd certainly need to work with m DM to build an appropriate Advanced Background. I'd likely need to ask if some of the ability scores could be swapped in features that target Intelligence or Wisdom when my PC has high Charisma. It's certainly doable, and I could change the flavor of the features to better fit, but that's a fair bit of change to place on the player and DM. Eighteen entries isn't an unreasonable number, and I understand that the book is focusing on PHB backgrounds (perhaps to leave room for future books?), but given that we currently have 85 official Backgrounds spread throughout the WotC books, there's certainly room for more Advanced Backgrounds.

I'm giving the book 5-stars because it does what it sets out to do: it offers new options to make Backgrounds more meaningful for your PC. It does this with new approaches and a deeper dive into the PHB backgrounds. It's left itself room for expansion—I would buy an additional book filled with Advanced Backgrounds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Level Up Your Background
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In The Land Of The Dead God - Iconic Edition
Publisher: Seedling Games
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2021 18:12:15

This adventure would make a fun one-shot or could be placed into a longer campaign. If you're running a campaign in the default Dragon Empire setting for 13th Age, it occurred to me that the Tuje Wasteland where the adventure occurs could be the Red Wastes on the Dragon Empire map. Perhaps the iconic Red Dragon could be tied into the death of the god that turned it into a wasteland, thereby tying the history of the area from both the Dragon Empire and from this adventure. It would also give some possibilities to tie in the Council of Scales in the adventure (the Three in the Dragon Empire setting), which is one of the least represented icons in the adventure.

If you're running this in Midgard, this adventure wouldn't be a bad fit for the outskirts of the Wasted West. Perhaps the destruction caused by the dead god could instead be caused by one of the Great Old Ones before the rest were locked in time. The town of Barenna could serve the purpose of a cosmopolitan settlement near the wastes.

Of course, you could also run the adventure in the author's Letatuje setting. I was interested to see that there are blog posts that go into more detail around the setting and its language. Don't overlook the links on page 2 of the adventure if you want to learn more.

I liked that the author made use of the OGL Mageflame icons, which are both intriguing on their own, or can serve as easy analogs to the Dragon Empire icons. I also appreciated the word count spent tying NPCs to icons and offering suggestions for the us of icon advantages. These little touches make the adventure feel like a true 13th Age product, not a D&D product with swapped-out monster stats and skill DCs. Nicely done.

As someone who often uses a chocobo as an avatar on social media, I couldn't help but smile when I saw the feathered dinosaur on the cover. The adventure doesn't fail to deliver, offering an encounter with wild Yidimuse (Utahraptor). What's more, the domesticated variety—the horse-bird—is available to rent or purchase in the adventure. Who doesn't love an exotic mount in an adventure?

The only issue I spotted in the adventure is the lack of the map that is mentioned and described on p. 4. Fortunately, the map is included in the Handouts folder in the ZIP file that this adventure is included with. It wouldn't have hurt to also include it in the adventure, as I think that would be easier for the GM to refer back to while flipping through it. But this is a small nitpick.

I recommend checking this adventure out if you're looking for a 13th Age one-shot or a few connected encounters to insert into your campaign. With included maps and handouts, advice on using icons, several new NPCs, and a handful of new monsters, there's a lot here to enjoy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Land Of The Dead God - Iconic Edition
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review! And thanks for bringing to my attention that I forgot to include the map in the PDF, I've added it now.
Dazzling Descriptions
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/27/2020 00:17:21

This short book offers a fun way to break free of using the same terminology time after time when describing your character's actions during combat. The authors have essentially mechanized finding the right word to describe your action, using a combination of your character's status in that moment, what your character is doing, and a die roll. It's a clever approach, and something I've never seen before.

I'd particularly recommend using this for play-by-post games. In those games, you have all the time you need to pause and think about your descriptive words. At the table (virtual or otherwise), you'd be best off consulting the appropriate entry prior to your turn. Don't wait until it's already your turn to roll that extra die and look up the result at on the table, or you'll risk slowing things down. It would be easy to eschew the die rolling, and simply pick a term you haven't used lately. While gamers love rolling dice, it's really not necessary.

Considering this is a pay-what-you-want product, there's no down side to picking this up. I recommend offering the authors some money for their efforts, but you can always come back and do that later, if you want to preview the book first.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dazzling Descriptions
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The Malady Chronicles
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/03/2020 23:08:10

I ran Blossom of Oshadis as a one-shot for my co-workers, recently. It was the right length for a one-shot, and offers helpful information on how to scale the encounters for 1st-level parties. It features handouts and maps, which help keep players engaged. The sidebars help put valuable information front-and-center, so you don't forget to read it. DM tips are offered to help the adventure run smoothly. The boxed text is short and sweet. A page offers suggestions on how to continue the story, if you want to tie this to a campaign.

Having had a positive experience with this adventure, I look forward to referring back to the other adventures in the book in the future. I hope they're all as easy to open and run as Blossom of Oshadis is.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Malady Chronicles
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Arcane Incantations
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/18/2020 22:07:47

This set of 800 incantations (which can rapidly be converted to spells, if you so desire) are a boon to those of us who enjoyed 4th Edition and miss some of the tactically rich powers that were offered to PCs. I've incorporated a handful of these into my game so far, and found them to be flavorful and balanced. My recommendation is not to use these as typical spells, but to grant all PCs in the party some sort of incantation, martial exploits (from the eponymous book), or prestige path rank. These can all be drawn from DM Steele's various sourcebooks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arcane Incantations
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Vigilant: Through Shadow and Dreams Book One
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/29/2020 00:27:26

To provide a bit of context, I'm someone who has never played an adventure in the Scarred Lands setting. I've read a trilogy of novels and have some of the materials for D&D, but haven't "lived" in the world with my own player character. I appreciate that this book is approachable to a reader who isn't deeply steeped in the lore. It focuses on only a handful of locations, and fleshes them out sufficiently for me to get a good sense of what makes each unique.

This book is an interesting contrast to the other trilogy that I read. The characters, while still fantasy characters, are much more down-to-earth. The story is more personal, rather than epic in scope. It goes a long way to showing that the setting is capable of telling different types of stories within various sub-genres.

I found the book to be an entertaining read. It touches on some dark themes, particularly around warfare, so be aware of that if you're sensitive to descriptions of violence. By the end, I was quite curious to discover more about the main character, Eochaid's, story. I hope there will be additional books in this series so I'll get the opportunity to read the continuation of his tale.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilant: Through Shadow and Dreams Book One
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Ghostwalker: Eidolon
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/05/2019 23:03:49

It's fun to see a throwback to the Ghostwalk campaign setting from the D&D 3.5 era. I've always appreciated options that allow a player to continue playing the same PC, even after that character died. The Eidolon provides a solution to that challenge. There are seven different paths, and your Eidolon will be able to choose three of them by the time they reach 6th level. That's 35 different possibilities! Combined with the feats and spells offered in this supplement, and that's a whole lot of content for your back-from-the-dead PC.

I appreciated the flavor text scattered throughout the book. It never mentions the Ghostwalk setting, but references to manifest wards and ectoplasm draw enough flavor from the setting, while making it available for any campaign where the tone is a good fit. Not every setting is going to feel right with physically manifest ghosts showing up. But I suspect many would benefit from a character where this is essentially their One Unique Thing. The setting doesn't have to be a haven for Eidolons if your PC is the only one (which is possible even without a manifest ward, thanks to soul anchors).

I'm giving this book four stars rather than five for a couple reasons. First, the text could use another pass from a copy editor. There are some extra words and other small punctuation or grammar issues that made it into the final product. It's by no means widespread enough to make it hard to read, but I'm the kind of person who notices these things, and it draws me momentarily out of whatever I'm reading.

Second, there are a couple mechanical choices built into the class that could be problematic. At first level, an Eidolon can choose the Path of the Corruptor and gain 1d6 additional damage to all melee weapon attacks. Unlike the rogue's Sneak Attack, the Eidolon doesn't need to have advantage, there's no once-per-turn limit, and there's no limitation on the weapon type. That's just flat-out better than Sneak Attack. At 9th level, this increases to 2d6 additional damage, which is amazing. Path of the Traveller grants a fly speed at 1st level. It's slow (just 5 feet), but any flight at all can be game-changing. So there are some potential balance issues here, and they're going to entice players to want to "dip" into Eidolon by dying. That brings me to the means by which this class is used. You must have a level in another class before your character dies and becomes an Eidolon. This leads to the unusual requirement that you need to strip your character of their previous level before applying the first level of Ghostwalker. Unless you die at 1st level, you'll need to go through your character sheet and remove all features that came from at least one of your levels. It doesn't specify which class, if you've already multiclassed up to that point. It's the kind of thing that could lead to players having to flip through books to figure out how to turn back the clock on their PC.

If your players aren't too concerned about balance, then this is a very flavorful class, and packs a lot of options that appear fun to play. I'd absolutely consider playing a Ghostwalker in my home game, where we're more focused on RP than on PC balance.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ghostwalker: Eidolon
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Enhanced 4E: Combat in Motion
Publisher: Enhanced 4E
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/23/2019 00:15:30

The book is filled with modularized house rules that can be dropped in to supplement or replace portions of 4e's rules.

Most of them focus on distance and movement. For example, chases on a combat grid often play out where if two participants have the same movement, one participant sprints ahead on their turn, and then the other closes the distance on theirs. Or if the chaser gets a turn first, they simply move up to the target before the target even gets a chance to move away. Obviously, it isn't playing out that way in the in-world fiction, but without choosing to switch to a less tactical skill challenge, or some other house rules, it can end up working out this way.

The book presents relatively lightweight ways to capture the fact that characters, monsters, and vehicles are in motion. The risk is that it's adding more to an already tactically rich game. Even if it boils the concepts down to a few conditions and turn-order house rules, it's still more for the table to keep track of. It might not be for everyone. I found that it's fun to use these rules when they're going to make a difference, but not in every combat.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Enhanced 4E: Combat in Motion
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Game Angry: How to RPG The Angry Way
Publisher: Angry Games, Inc.
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2019 01:07:17

This book is filled with helpful advice, particularly to those who are new to tabletop RPGs. I've purchased several copies and sent them to friends and families who are trying out GMing for the first time. I can't say that about very many products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Angry: How to RPG The Angry Way
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Macchiato Monsters
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2019 22:54:36

Macchiato Monsters is a fun, lightweight system that captures the feel of classic D&D in 58 pages – and that includes 14 pages of random tables, 50 monsters, and the OGL! The classless system allows you to build a character that fits your concept, providing they live long enough, of course. Combat tends to be fast, and at low-levels it can be qutie deadly. If you're looking for an OSR game that welcomes players using their creativity rather than what's written on their character sheet, Macchiato Monsters is worth checking out.

While it's not the first game to use a risk die (roll a die of a certain size, if you roll a 1-3, the die size steps down the next time you use it), I believe it features the most extensive use of this type of die in any game I've come across. Personally, I like this mechanic as it provides for careful resource management without having to individually track every coin, crossbow bolt, and ration.

The spell system reminds me of Vance's Polysyllabic Verbalizations from 13th Age or the ritual system from that game. Players have a lot of leeway in what effects their spells will have. There's a risk to failing to successfully cast a spell, however. It's not quite as gonzo as Dungoen Crawl Classics' consequences, but it adds an element of risk/reward when casting spells.

I'm amazed by how much content is packed into this book. It offers these little rules that are only a paragraph or two in length and cover a broad spectrum of scenarios that come up in a typical fantasy game. Morale, mass combat, random encounters, NPC reactions, chases, wilderness travel, retreating from combat, determining the weather, hirelings, sanity, stamina, and other subsystems are all provided in a consice manner. Often, the rule can be written with few words thanks to the nearly universal use of the risk die.

Even when I run other systems, I like to use Macchiao Monsters as a quick reference for how to handle situations. For example, I wanted to provide a unique magic item to a player recently, and assigned the item a risk die, rather than a set number of charges. Watching him weigh wether or not each use is worthwhile adds an interesting strategic twist that wouldn't be there if charges were simply be deducted from a total.

In a sense, this book is like a minuscule Rule Cyclopedia. It covers a broad range of situations in a small package.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Macchiato Monsters
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Leverage: Waterdeep - "Waste Not, Want Not"
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/19/2019 19:55:40

Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this adventure. If you're looking for a side-adventure for your Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign that doesn't take itself too seriously, this is a good option. Having just taken possession of Trollskull Manor, the PCs find themselves embroiled in the machinations of...the Bakers' Guild! The PCs are likely to get dirty (literally) to solve the mystery and clear a plumber's good name...as well as Trollskull Manor's backed-up sewer pipes!

I appreciated that this adventure presents a problem and then provides the DM with several ways the PCs are likely to solve it. They may choose to fight their way through, persuade the right people, or sneak their way in. Far too often, adventures assume the PCs are going to turn to combat at every possible opportunity, so they don't give DMs many tools to move the story forward in the absence of combat.

I also liked that the adventure offered 4th Edition-style skill challenges. When trying to persuade someone, for example, the PCs must succeed on a certain number of skill checks before failing three. One way the adventure could be improved is by offering the DM some ways to indicate degrees of success or failure as the skill challenge progresses. Just as in combat it's much more flavorful to describe the blows that are landing or the way the PCs artfully dodge an attack, a skill challenge should be equally as tense. While a DM used to this mechanic can come up with some descriptions as the pressure mounts, I'd love to see more adventures that offer suggestions on how to handle describing these scenes. Otherwise, they're likely to be the character with the highest Charisma rolling a die between three and five times waiting to see what the result it. Due to the fickleness of the d20, I like requiring multiple failures before a skill challenge fails completely, but without some connective tissue between rolls, it can feel stale. Yes, that was a baking pun.

If your players are invested in Trollskull Manor or you want to extend Waterdeep: Dragon Heist beyond the content in the original adventure, I recommend picking this adventure up and inserting it into the larger story.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage: Waterdeep - "Waste Not, Want Not"
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Mordenkainen's Compendium of Quirks, Vol. I
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/17/2018 02:21:16

If you're familiar with 13th Age magic items, then this book will be familiar to you. In 13th Age every non-consumable magic item has a personality of its own -- a quirk. The quirk serves as a role-playing hook; it's something the characters can embrace, ignore, or only exhibit during times of stress, as chosen by the player. I've watched as a magic item quirk has dramatically changed the way a player has played his PC, and it can be a lot of fun for the table. In 13th Age, characters with too many magic items have their quriks take over their personality, but with limited magic items in 5e, that won't happen. Instead, the authors came up with a clever use of personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws, with magic item quirks adding a new one on top of the character's existing personality, and giving an opportunity for the player to receive Inspiration when quirks are role-played.

There are ten new magic items, which is a nice addition to the book. The remaining pages list the magic items from the DMG and give them quirks of their own. This list could come in handy for 13th Age GMs looking for more quirks for homebrewed magic items, too.

The only thing I would've liked to have seen is a tag to show whether a quirk should be added as a personality trait, bond, ideal, or flaw. A DM can certainly make a judgment call on this, but it would add even more value to the product. This is definitely worth the suggested price.

UPDATE: The designers incorporated my feedback into an updated version of the book. The items now state whether a quirk is a personality trait, bond, ideal or flaw. Kudos for listening to readers' suggestions!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mordenkainen's Compendium of Quirks, Vol. I
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Mordenkainen's Compendium of Quirks, Vol. II
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/05/2018 15:37:48

If you enojyed Mordenkainen's Compendium of Quirks, Vol. I, then you're sure to like having even more fun quirks at your fingertips. Before I dive in, I wanted to mention that I received a free copy from the designers for this review. That being said, I'm presenting my honest opinion of the book.

Volume II has the same basic structure of Volume I. There's an introduction that explains how Mordenkainen researched magic item quirks before his spellbook was temporarily lost. It's during this time that the contents of this book were copied from the spellbook and distributed. There's a section that provides Mordenkainen's general observations about how quirks fall into one of five categories. I believe this is the section that is mentioned in the product description when it says, "you learn the method to the madness of some of these quirks such that your mages may craft items of their own." I wanted to point out that there are no crafting rules, here. Since 5e doesn't have detailed crafting rules, someoen reading the description may have been led to believe that those rules would be provided here, but that's not the case. There's no mechanical system for assigning quirks to magic items when they're being created, either. This section is a list of five categories that quirks tend to fall into, and can be used to think through quirks of your own. I view it more as a DM's tool for assigning quirks to magic items that they create for their game (or pull from other products). It's valuable, but lacks the mechanical crunch that I'd initially expected.

I appreciate that the designers were responsive to feedback on Volume I, and have suggested whether a quirk adds a personality trait, bond, ideal, or flaw. Sometimes, there's more than one option for the same quirk, which I'm supportive of. That's very in the spirit of 13th Age.

I thought it was interesting that there's a larger emphasis on quirks that manifest physically in this volume. I'm curious to know if this was intentional -- do the designers view quirks as generally manifesting physically more often as the rarity of an item increases? This is a rough correlation to item power, and seems thematically appropriate.

This book is worth the price for the three pages of new magic items and the list of quirks for very rare magic items found in the DMG. Even a 13th Age GM like me can find fun inspiration here for magic items quirks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mordenkainen's Compendium of Quirks, Vol. II
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Selûne's Gaze: Class Options for Dragon Heist
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/16/2018 00:45:59

I'm approaching Selune's Gaze mostly from its character concepts, rather than its mechanics, for the most part. I play some D&D 5e, but it isn't my main system, and I don't pretend to have enough system mastery to dive deep into sub-class mechanics. Still, I enjoy reading content written for all sorts of RPGs, as I find that the flavor often sparks ideas for future characters, regardless of the system. I like that this supplement focuses on a single "power source" for these five sub-classes. While I'm not too familiar with Forgotten Reamls lore or deities, I can appreciate that these sub-classes are all themed around the moon.

I love the idea of lycanthropic ancestry driving a barbarian's rage. It seems like a natural fit, in hindsight, yet I don't think I've seen it used before. Brought to an Eberron campaign, a Path of the Beast Within shifter would really double down on the theme (and now that I've reach the last page of the book, I see that this is mentioned in a sidebar—neat!). My only caution on this sub-class is granting the PC a Large size at 10th level if they have Wearboar blood. As we've seen with the recent centaur race in Unearthed Arcana, the designers have chosen to grant certain aspects of Large creatures to PCs, without going all the way. I would suggest this approach instead, granting the same carrying capacity as a Large creature and extra reach, if those are the main benefits that the sub-class seeks.

The Knight of the Blue Moon felt like an Eldritch Knight with fewer options to me. I believe sorcerers have a subset of the wizard spell list, so to grant the Knight of the Blue Moon access to sorcerer spells with the same spell progression as the Eldritch Knight and no other benefits, I'm not sure why a player would want to select this sub-class, other than flavor. Speaking of the flavor, when reading the introduction, I thought this was going to be a Paladin's oath, given the emphasis on religion. Perhaps if you really want to play a race with a bonus to Charisma, and were otherwise looking at the Eldritch Knight, this would be a good pairing for you.

The Way of the Rising Moon monk sub-class reminds me of the Jedi who are able to heal in the Star Wars Legends books. I isn't a trope I often see in RPGs, and I like it. I'm concerned about the Healing Arts class feature as written, in terms of balance. The feature allows a monk to heal a nearby ally by a number of hit points equal to the monk's Wisdom bonus. Let's say that's 3 at 3rd level. This takes place each time the monk hits with Flury of Blows. If I'm reading that right, the monk could heal up to 6 hit points by spending a single ki point (for two successful hits), and then do it two more times before each short or long rest. And that's on top of the normal damage of the Flury of Blows attacks. Granted, you can't rely on this healing, since it depends on hitting an enemy (although if you have some way of gaining advantage, that certainly helps), but it feels strong when you compare it to Healing Word, which would heal for 1d4+3 in a similar situation, but burn a much more limited resource (the cleric only has 4 1st-level spell slots per day at 3rd level). Perhaps granting temporary hit points would be a good solution here. Regardless, I still like the sub-class, and it's probably fine, as long as it doesn't step on the toes of another healer in the party.

The Moonbound Ranger archetype grants several moon- and season-themed spells. The ranger is a spell-casting warrior, casting spells that grant advantage on attacks, pushing away enemies with a sonic blast, and withering away enemies' nearby allies. Tying the four seasons to the moon is a bit of a stretch, but I like the theming.

The Lunar Magic arcane tradition offers several features that would be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances. Proficiency in perception and darkvision are beneficial to characters who don't already have darkvision (which is the minority of 5e races). The expanded darkvision is intended to help those races that already have it, but in my experience, DMs seldom make the distinction—your mileage may vary, of course. A bonus to saving throws against magic will come in handy at 6th level. Free invisibility a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom bonus will permit a whole lot of sneaking. I don't know how this balances against other 10th-level features for wizards and other classes, as I've never played a 5e game at these levels, but it doesn't feel too far off as characters approach Tier 3. Rerolling your attack or forcing an enemy to reroll a save against your spells is helpful, but I'm not sure how it works when combined with advantage/disadvantage.

There's a small element that I would've liked to have seen different in the introduction. The first couple sections talk about religion in Waterdeep and then more specifically worship of Selune. While I knew that the book's title has Selune in it, I wasn't sure how any of this was going to tie into Dragon Heist. This explanation is given near the end of the first page. I think this should have been the very first paragraph, so the reader immediately understands how Selune ties in with Dragon Heist (because in the adventure itself, she doesn't). Once the connection is clear, the intro could go on to talk about religion and Selune's worshipers. It's fairly minor, but would've prevented me from scratching my head for the first several paragraphs.

Overall, I could easily see incorporating some of these concepts into future characters. I especially liked the Path of the Beast Within barbarian and the Way of the Rising Moon monk, and will ponder how I might incorporate them into my 13th Age games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Selûne's Gaze: Class Options for Dragon Heist
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