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[5E] A Touch of Class (Revised): 7 New Classes for 5th Edition
Publisher: EN Publishing
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2020 19:51:28

(Full disclosure: I was a Kickstarter backer for this. I also support EN5ider on Patreon.)

A Touch of Class is a collection of classes (and related articles) presented in ENWorld's EN5ider series. There are seven in all:

  • Alchemist: A spellcasting class with a focus on bombs and potions. While I liked the class overall, they failed to clearly describe just what their spellcasting looks like, as distinguished from other classes like the wizard. (It's implied they use chemistry to generate spell effects, but I didn't see that spelled out.) They do, however, also include some cool alchemical items.
  • Cardcaster: A spellcasting class that uses tarot cards. I loved the concept, but was disappointed with the execution - instead of a distinct class with flavorful powers based on each card, we get an upgraded diviner wizard with some thematic limitations. Some of the mechanics are also a bit odd, especially the King of Pentacles and its money powers. They also included a Jack of Beasts subclass, which is essentially a Pokémon trainer - fun, but it feels like it was thrown in, and doesn't feel particularly D&D.
  • Diabolist: A class with fiend-related powers, clearly meant for evil characters. Honestly, it seems unnecessary when we have the warlock. They also include a section of "Conjured Horrors", but I only liked one, the tiny cacodaemon.
  • Feywalker: A class with fey-related powers. Despite some neat abilities, like the "feystrike", I don't see why we need this when we have the archfey warlock. It also has the same Hit Die as the fighter, for some reason, which makes it feel like someone building a class just for their personal tastes.
  • Morph: A dedicated shapeshifting class. It's OK, I suppose, but very specialized, and takes away one of the chief appeals of the druid. I also predict balance issues from the menu of shapeshifting options.
  • Noble: A thinly veiled 5th Edition version of 4E's warlord. As such, it runs into the same problems 4E's warlord would have in 5E (explaining non-magical healing; the effects on combat from granting player characters extra actions; and the fact that most of the warlord's flavor and other features have been given to existing 5E options, like the battle master fighter). That all said, they do a good job of designing the class; I particularly like the Path of the Heart subclass, which reflavors them as a non-violent Disney-style princess. (Though giving them disadvantage in combat seems excessive and harsh.) I'm not sure I'd use this class, but I would understand if others did.
  • Occultist: False advertising. This is built as a class, but it's not any sort of occultist - it's a way for players to be a constructed creature, a vampire, or a werebeast. These should have been presented as character race options instead.

Overall, the book is mechanically sound, but many of the class concepts seem too specialized or redundant to be used in the typical D&D game. The alchemist and noble are the best of lot, and the main reason to seek this work out; the others are just OK. Unless you're looking to create a very different campaign using a number of these classes, I would recommend signing up with EN5ider and seeking out the specific class articles you prefer, rather than buying the entire work. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[5E] A Touch of Class (Revised): 7 New Classes for 5th Edition
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The Masterclass Codex: Sixteen New Character Classes For Your Fifth Edition Campaign
Publisher: EN Publishing
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2020 19:27:38

(Full disclosure: I was a Kickstarter backer for this. I also support EN5ider on Patreon.)

This book compiles together two other ENWorld collections, A Touch of Class: 7 New Classes For Your 5th Edition Game and A Touch More Class: 9 More Character Classes For Your 5th Edition Game. (I previously reviewed A Touch of Class individually, but I'm including parts of that review here for convenience's sake.)

The Masterclass Codex includes new character classes for D&D 5th edition, along with some related articles, all originating in ENWorld's EN5ider series. There are sixteen in all.

From A Touch of Class:

  • Alchemist: A spellcasting class with a focus on bombs and potions. While I liked the class overall, they failed to clearly describe just what their spellcasting looks like, as distinguished from other classes like the wizard. (It's implied they use chemistry to generate spell effects, but I didn't see that spelled out.) They do, however, also include some cool alchemical items.
  • Cardcaster: A spellcasting class that uses tarot cards. I loved the concept, but was disappointed with the execution - instead of a distinct class with flavorful powers based on each card, we get an upgraded diviner wizard with some thematic limitations. Some of the mechanics are also a bit odd, especially the King of Pentacles and its money powers. They also included a Jack of Beasts subclass, which is essentially a Pokémon trainer - fun, but it feels like it was thrown in, and doesn't feel particularly D&D. (Also, considering they added the Monster Tamer in A Touch More Class, it seems redundant to have both in this compilation.) I do admit I liked the Cardcaster better on a reread, but the above criticisms still stand.
  • Diabolist: A class with fiend-related powers, clearly meant for evil characters. Honestly, it seems unnecessary when we have the warlock. They also include a section of "Conjured Horrors", but I only liked one, the tiny cacodaemon.
  • Feywalker: A class with fey-related powers. Despite some neat abilities, like the "feystrike", I don't see why we need this when we have the archfey warlock. It also has the same Hit Die as the fighter, for some reason, which makes it feel like someone building a class just for their personal tastes.
  • Morph: A dedicated shapeshifting class. It's OK, I suppose, but very specialized, and takes away one of the chief appeals of the druid. I also predict balance issues from the menu of shapeshifting options.
  • Noble: A thinly veiled 5th Edition version of 4E's warlord. As such, it runs into the same problems 4E's warlord would have in 5E (explaining non-magical healing; the effects on combat from granting player characters extra actions; and the fact that most of the warlord's flavor and other features have been given to existing 5E options, like the battle master fighter). That all said, they do a good job of designing the class; I particularly like the Path of the Heart subclass, which reflavors them as a non-violent Disney-style princess. (Though giving them disadvantage in combat seems excessive and harsh.) I'm not sure I'd use this class, but I would understand if others did.
  • Occultist: False advertising. This is built as a class, but it's not any sort of occultist - it's a way for players to be a constructed creature, a vampire, or a werebeast. These should have been presented as character race options instead.

From A Touch More Class:

  • Bloodweaver: A class with powers based on the manipulation of blood. Many of said powers ("disciplines") are close to existing spells, which makes one wonder why they didn't just give them spells. However, some of the strongest disciplines are rather interesting (such as "amalgamate"). The class has an unusual structure, with a skill-tree approach to disciples, plus the requirement to damage yourself (though that also feels kind of edgelord-y). Overall, the class seems too specialized for many campaigns, but I imagine there are some that will embrace it.
  • Fatebender: A class that gives you luck-manipulation powers, similar to superhero characters like Domino. Mechanically, it feels like a hybrid between a bard and the wild magic sorcerer. Looks like a lot of fun to play. The only issue is that it doesn't feel like much of a fantasy archetype.
  • Gemini: A very odd class concept, based around creating duplicates to aid you, with a duality theme (young-old, etc.). It honestly feels like someone really wanted a character with duplication powers, and built a class just for that specific character; I can't see it fitting into most campaigns. (As written, it also sounds like it might be meant for a more modern-day setting.)
  • Geomancer: Kind of a druid-monk hybrid, loosely themed around the five Chinese elements (earth, fire, metal, water, wood). The lore is pretty vague and doesn't seem to quite connect with the class's features. I was pretty disappointed, as the concept had promise, but never quite seems to gel.
  • Gunfighter: A pretty good class, as long as you're fine with firearms in your fantasy. However, there's one big problem... they don't include rules for firearms! So it's unusable as written. (They apparently did include the firearms rules as bonus content with the PDF release... but not having them in the actual hardcover is inexcusable.)
  • Lodestar: Another odd class, this one focuses on orbiting stones that can be used to strike enemies and for other effects. It feels like a gimmick you'd see in a video game, not particularly archetypal in any way. Another I can't see much use for in most campaigns.
  • Monster Tamer: Basically lets you create a Pokémon trainer, but with D&D monsters. (There also seems to be a touch of Beastmaster in there.) This could be fun to play, and the pet rules seem solid, but teaming a tough PC (they even have a d12 Hit Die) with tough monsters could make this a little strong for many campaigns.
  • Savant: An Intelligence-based class, which reminds me the most of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes. Love the concept, though a few of the "tricks" seem very powerful. I would have also appreciated subclasses that weren't so reminiscent of other classes. This does seem like one of the more broadly useful options, however.
  • Tinkerer: An ideal class for a world that mashes together magic and steampunk tech. Certain elements are clearly inspired by the comic Girl Genius. One interesting design feature - all the level 20 features are part of the subclass, rather than the main class. This could be a lot of fun in the right kind of campaign.

The classes in the first half (A Touch of Class) are more mechanically sound than the ones in the second half (A Touch More Class), though both function. Both halves share a problem that many class concepts are too specialized for many D&D campaigns, or redundant with other classes; specialization is especially a problem in the second half (again, I just can't see the gemini or lodestar being in many campaigns). I also wonder if some would have worked better as subclasses of existing classes, rather than classes unto themselves.

The alchemist and noble from the first half are definite highlights, and would work well in most campaigns. But even though I like some of the classes in the second half, I can't recommend any of them without some caveats. Most of the classes in both halves (but especially in the second) require you to change some fundamental D&D assumptions to fit them in. If you're up for doing that on a large scale, it may be worth buying the entire compilation. Otherwise, I'd probably sign up for EN5ider and get the classes' information individually. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Masterclass Codex: Sixteen New Character Classes For Your Fifth Edition Campaign
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Monsters of the Guild
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/27/2020 23:01:02

A compilation by numerous creators on the Dungeon Masters Guild, this product includes over 100 monsters... and most of them are just adequate. About 2/3 are from other Dungeon Masters Guild products... not a problem per se, but something about the way they did it makes this feel like a promotional item. (A few, custom-made for specific adventures, also seem odd outside of that context.) Furthermore, a significant number of the monsters are not original creations, but modifications of existing monsters; many come off a bit like filler, not far beyond what a mildly experienced DM could create on their own. Another handful are conversions of older-edition monsters (which isn't good or bad, really, but also a little odd and filler-y). On top of all this, the work also has some minor design hiccups and typos - none really being deal-breakers, but they give the work an amateurish feel (especially since the errors are still there, on a digital-first product, two years after they were pointed out by commenters).

Still, Monsters of the Guild does offer a large number of monsters, and there's something to be said for quantity. It also isn't without highlights, including:

  • Cackling zombies
  • The chart attack, which teleports the unwary to random locations
  • The ooze dragon, a straightforward but fun hybrid concept
  • Arcane and habilis oozes, both trouble for wizards
  • The Potato Sack Man, which is basically also a self-contained adventure
  • The tomb spider and its web mummy hosts
  • The yantra, straddling the line between golem and robot

Overall, though, I was disappointed in this product. It's not terrible, but I expected a lot more. Glad I didn't spring for the print edition. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of the Guild
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Fifth Edition Options
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2018 19:53:50

A neat selection of optional rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. There's something here to suit pretty much any sort of D&D campaign, from gritty to cinematic and everything between. A lot of the options are derivative of rules from older editions, especially 3.5, and other d20-based games, but it's still useful to have such rules ready for 5E use. That said, I don't think I'd be as forgiving if I'd picked this up in print; I'm rather glad I bought it as a PDF instead. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Options
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Sorcerous Origin: Fey Bloodline
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/08/2017 00:16:00

A cool concept, but lacking in the execution. Adding a set of spells at 1st level isn't really done with official sorcerer subclasses, though that isn't a problem exactly. Beguiling Eyes is cool. Magic in the Veins is much too strong for level 6. The utility of Step of the Phasing Moon seems pretty limited, though I do like the flavor. Outside of Time is interesting, though I'm not quite sure it works with the rest of the subclass. This is a good attempt, and very flavorful overall, but not something I'm likely to use.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcerous Origin: Fey Bloodline
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Intelligence Matters
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2017 00:30:30

Disappointed with this product. The Tactician (which was the main reason I got it) goes from weak at low levels to way too strong at higher levels (the level 10 is decent, though). The Warlord is a bit better, but has the opposite problem, its best abilities are front-loaded and its later ones are lackluster (and the level 3 in particular is much too effective). The Sleuth is OK, I suppose. The optional rules for using Intelligence are interesting, although I'm wary of having anything outside a character trait that increases critical threat range. The feats are a mixed bag, Combat Focus is neat, Raw Magic is OK, but the others seem game-breaking. Not fond of the new spells, both of which threaten the martial classes' niche; also, the first spell's +1 base makes it undesirable at lower levels, while it fails to balance out the resistance-ignoring in the second spell.

I really like the ideas in this product, but the execution was wanting. I wish I could offer useful feedback to make it better, but I suspect the whole thing needs an overhaul. Good try, though.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Intelligence Matters
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Expanded Racial Feats
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2017 19:27:03

I was pleased to see this available through the DM Guild, after previously expecting the bonus feats to be exclusive to D&D Beyond users (which I am not at this time). $2.99 strikes me as rather expensive for the 2.5 pages of content we get, especially since the material isn't actually official, but the content itself is fine.

The feats are mostly obvious choices based on Monster Manual counterparts for the various races, but not bad. A handful are actually rather neat and/or flavorful, such as Feline Grace, Master of Mimicry, Mountain's Endurance, and Tortle Protector. (The only one that bugs me a little is Well-Rested, which gives a character free inspiration after a rest; don't like a game-mechanics feat giving out a metagame resource.) They're all interesting enough to merit inclusion in feat-friendly games, I think.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Expanded Racial Feats
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Player's Option - Skills & Power (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2015 22:25:46

This was one of my first purchases after I got the AD&D 2nd Edition core rules, and it was a big influence on me! Before my eyes, every class and race was broken down into a point system, and many other options presented besides! The results may not always be balanced, but this toolkit gives you a lot of fun options for the game. Highly recommended.

One warning - the scan could be better, many pages are a little crooked, and a little yellowed. (Hence the 4/5 instead of a 5/5.) But it's perfectly readable.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Option - Skills & Power (2e)
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Ravenloft Domains of Dread (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by James B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2015 22:08:14

Excellent book, the final TSR version of the Ravenloft setting, and the first to seriously try and make it a world of its own (as opposed to a "weekend in hell" setting). It's also the most comprehensive overview of the setting you'll get in 2nd Edition, covering the then-latest versions of most of the domains and darklords invented at the time, as well as all the rules you'd need. Definitely recommended on that note.

Unfortunately, the scan is subpar - a fair number of pages are slightly crooked, and there's yellowing at the edges. Not as bad as some scans I've seen on dndclassics.com, since it's readable and it appears to be complete... but still disappointing, and enough to knock off a star.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ravenloft Domains of Dread (2e)
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Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/27/2014 20:07:20

A great new setting for Ravenloft, and a useful reference for anyone wishing to extend AD&D 2nd Edition to a more modern setting.

The scan quality is solid, overall. The only issue is that the poster map of Gothic Earth is missing (as is an additional poster of the boxed set's cover). If this error is fixed, I will update my review.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
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Monstrous Arcana: I, Tyrant (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/27/2014 20:01:35

A neat product, with lots of good material on beholders - much of it useful for any game. A must read for anyone who wants to flesh out beholders and their society.

Unfortunately, the scan has some quality issues, with distortion along the edges of some pages towards the middle of the book. (Fortunately, the text is still readable, with some effort here and there.) Some of the two-page art spreads also suffer, with bits missing from their centers. On the other hand, the product does include the poster (if anyone was wondering).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Arcana: I, Tyrant (2e)
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Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 23:56:04

An excellent tome, with all the material and rules you need to run an Al-Qadim campaign (or any other Arabian Nights-themed campaign). Great at getting the cultural details across, too. This would have been worth $9.99, so it's a steal at $4.99, especially with the high-quality scan.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)
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Faces of Evil: The Fiends (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 23:52:23

An excellent Planescape sourcebook, a must-read for anyone with a campaign involving fiends. It's especially notable for its details on the lesser-known fiends, like the yugoloths and gehreleths. Had the scan quality been just a little bit better, I would have rated it higher, but it's still a good book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of Evil: The Fiends (2e)
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Guide to Hell (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 23:43:17

One of the cooler products from the late 2E era, and very useful for planar campaigns (or any campaign involving devils). Unfortunately, the scan is adequate at best, which is why I can only give it four stars...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Guide to Hell (2e)
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