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Children and Champions of the Fey from Sven Truckenbrodt
Children and Champions of the Fey captures the essence of a wide variety of Fey beings, making many of them playable characters for the first time, or at least their Fey forms, without reducing them to one single aspect and treating them like a monolith. This includes a general overview of the central culture and experience of each these people, which can influence elements of any character, as it does in our world. With elements inspired and based on existing elements of lore and myth, and expanding and evolving mechanics based on existing material, the feel of playing these characters and their essence is in no way diminished, rather it allows for a player to connect more deeply with the aspects of their character and consider how and why they choose their specific Traits.
“What’s in this Book?
In this book, you can find narrative and mechanical player options for the following Feywild cultures:
• Centaurs • Darklings • Dryads • Goblinoids (including goblins, bugbears, and hobgoblins) • Hags and hag-kin • Korred • Selkies • Sprites • Tooth Fairies For each culture, this book contains the following mechanical and narrative options, all tied to the people they originate from:
• An introduction that acquaints you with the culture’s core values and traditions.
• Physical, social, and vocational traits— see the Character Creation section for details on how to use them to build your own lineage and backstory!
• A subclass tied to the culture.
• One or more feats tied to what you could learn from the culture.
• A legacy item that evolves with you as you level, tapping into core concepts of the previous options.
• Where we felt that something was missing and there were no established mechanics to fit these features, we included additional boons:
Transformation rituals for becoming a true hag or a darkling elder, and fairie boons bestowed on trusted confidants.”
Beautifully written introduction, explanations and creator insights, as well as wonderful, evocative flavour prose.
“This book uses a new character creation system, inspired by the lineage rules put forth in Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.”
This is great to see, as the Tasha’s rules didn’t go far enough in addressing the bio-essentialism and baked in racism in D&D, see POCGamer’s article for more on that (https://pocgamer.com/2020/11/20/tashas-cauldron-of-no-change/). Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/314622?affiliate_id=1507682) and other supplements like it, such as An Elf and an Orc Have a Little Baby: Parentage and Upbringing in D&D (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/321845/An-Elf-and-an-Orc-Had-a-Little-Baby-Parentage-and-Upbringing-in-DD?filters=45469?affiliate_id=1507682) [My Review here: https://ko-fi.com/post/My-Review-of-An-Elf-and-an-Orc-Have-a-Baby-Y8Y71Z8P9], go a long way to addressing this, as well as providing so much more freedom, creativity and individuality for character creation when character’s origins and ancestry aren’t presented as monoliths.
In the supplements own words:
“Why did we do this, instead of sticking with established rules? First and foremost:
To enable flexibility and diversity of characters. No two centaurs or selkie are going to be alike, just as no two humans or halflings are going to be alike. So we designed a character creation system that lets you account for that, by offering not a fixed set of lineage traits, but a range to pick from. Even more importantly in the context of this book, this system allows you to create characters of any race or lineage with some Feywild influence—with their backstory tied into how they play right from the start.”
The step by step process is laid out with explanations of the introduced aspects, such as Major and Minor Traits and Powers, which are divided into Physical Traits innate to each ‘race’” based on physiology or anatomy”, Social Traits, which any character “who grew up among or influenced” by a ‘race’ can choose, and Vocational Traits, which any character “taught their trade by or trained with” a ‘race’ may choose, included as default suggestions with each ‘race’ or can be mixed and matched from so many options to most fit your character should you wish in one of these combinations:
2 Major Traits or Powers and 2 Minor Traits or Powers
1 Major Trait or Power and 3 Minor Traits or Powers
5 Minor Traits or Powers
There is also advice around beginning at higher level with additional Traits.
Fey Boons are optional special Traits that can be awarded in game through the developing story, offering mechanical bonuses for significant narrative moments and interactions. This allows for significant changes and character development to emerge outside of the traditional progression, something particularly fitting when dealing with the Feywild.
Legacy items are a special kind of magic item of significance to a character, often picked at character creation, that relates to the backstory and evolves with them on their adventures, getting stronger once certain parameters/ experiences are met. These items hold more sentimental or intrinsic value to characters about who and what they are, and/ or where they are from, staying with them and evolving alongside them as a touch stone for their journey. The requirements to level them up create all manner of goals, hooks for adventure and can have all manner of interesting influences on how a character might be played or the things they may wish to do and places their adventures may take them, which is awesome.
Meet The Fey
“Centaurs. Enigmatic and solitary stargazers, centaurs are masters of divination and always on the move.
Traits: gentle oracles, introspective stargazers, awe-inspiring and fierce combatants—centaurs come with varied traits!
Archetype: The Moon Warden ranger protects the power of Selûne
Feats: learn to use your momentum and hooves to devastating effect!
Legacy Item: The Pendant of Prophecy guides your third eye and informs your prophecies”
The emphasis on prognostication, alongside speed and martial prowess, has some wonderful Traits, including Seer, which grants proficiency with Seer’s Tools. These six tools include, crystal ball, Tarot cards, astrological charts, bone dice, intoxicating vapours, and tea leaves, each with their own mechanics and aspect of divining, on their own creating all manner of different interpretations from a single Minor Vocational Trait.
“Moon Wardens guard the power of Selûne wherever they venture.”
Augmented by and wielding the power of the moon, these Rangers specialise in “hunting down shapechangers and lycanthropes who use the moon as an excuse to manifest their most terrible passions and urges.” I was initially concerned about it as an archetype that is all about hunting down shapechangers and lycanthropes, but it being those who use their largely moon-blessed/ cursed powers to do harm improves it significantly, though it is important to consider who or what are ascribing “most terrible passions and urges” and how that can be interpreted.
The Pendant of Prophecy – Moon – Stars – Heavens is a thematic legacy item for a prophetic ambassador that begins with a boost to Persuasion with royal or government figures of authority that grows with a player gaining Divination spells, Radiant resistance and an increase to AC, including a prognostic ability akin to the Shield spell.
“Cursed to have the light itself poison them by the Summer Queen, darklings survive in the most shadowy of places.
Traits: the many different places darklings hide from the light inform their culture and teach them how to persevere—from the Shadowfell to the Abyss
Archetype: The Nethermancy wizard bends shadows to their will
Feats: learn to master the spiked chain, one of the darklings’ traditional weapons
Legacy Item: The Pendant of Prophecy guides your third eye
Boon: transform yourself into a darkling elder!”
Darklings have a rich, tragic history and are found in many different settings. The information on them here goes into detail, providing all manner of history, inspiration, the ultimate Darkling adventure hook, and even a table of Underdark fungi, as well as great advice on playing a character so fundamentally sensitive to light and how this could be handled at the table.
Social Traits are included that reflect whether a Darkling calls the Abyss, Feywild, Prime Material, or Shadowfell their home, incorporating the effects of the plane, though these are not locked to these settings.
The Feydark is added as a land a Circle of the Land Druid can choose, adding darkness, shadow and strange Feydark spell list, as well as some thematic interpretations of existing archetypes.
“Controlling the forces of darkness, students of Nethermancy manipulate shadow to create objects from seemingly nothing, sap the light from their surroundings, and strand their foes in the unending void.”
The Nethermancy Wizard is a phenomenally thematic class with some wonderful use of shadows, delumination and ties to the Shadowfell. However, the Door to Darkness ability having the possibility of causing Shadowfell Despair in the target creature is a point of contention for me and certainly something that will need to be understood and agreed at the table due to the nature of Shadowfell Despair essentially being a ‘madness table’ that literally contains:
“Madness. The character has disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws that use Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, and gains the following flaw: “I can’t tell what’s real anymore.”
Alternative options that maintain the Shadowfell tone, but don’t breach into mental health and issues of loss of agency would be preferable.
The garrotte and spiked chain weapons seen on some Shadowfell and Feydark creatures are added as thematic weapons with interesting design notes with feats to specialise in the spiked chain and to make a modified version of the Assassin’s main feature available to all with restrictions.
The Darkling Elder Boon contains a ritual to transform a Darkling into a Darkling Elder, changing the size and longevity of a Darkling, as well as increasing their affinity with Darkness. A variety of ways to playout the ritual are included as a solo or group exercise.
The Darkling Legacy Item is the Umbral Shroud, a magical cloak said to have been originally owned by ‘Dark Crow’ the Eladrin noble first cursed by the Summer Queen creating Darklings of them and their house. The cloak has various increasing properties, making hiding in darkness easier and aiding, and ultimately making it safe, for Darklings in the light, which is a welcome game changer at higher levels, as well as containing various charges of shadowy spells.
“Bound to a home tree, many dryads enjoy the company of travellers—and some are even gripped by wanderlust themselves!
Traits: deeply connected to trees, dryads can teach myriad ways of surviving in the wild, forest magic, and caring for plants
Archetype: The Charmguard ranger fights to defend their grove—but with the power of their persuasiveness more than with violence!
Feats: deepen your connection to the trees—or even become one!
Legacy Item: dryad or not, you can show your devotion to the woods by implanting a heartseed and grow it into a gnarly heartwood inside yourself”
Dryads are presented in a way that really allows them to be however you might wish to play them, despite the interesting lore. I greatly appreciate the note on gender presentation:
“Dryads tend to have feminine presentation, although presentation may vary based on the dryad’s identity before their transformation. Non-dryads who live among dryads have varied gender presentations.”
A necessary note with Dryads originating in Greek Mythology as nymphs of oak trees. Nymphs being understood as minor female nature deities, which is why so much art of Dryads is feminine in aspect, while in D&D a Dryad can be of any gender.
As you would imagine the bulk of Dryad Traits revolve around nature and an affinity for natural magic. I particularly enjoy the addition of the Gardner’s Tools as an item, presented with the full Xanathar’s Guide to Everything run down of components, use with different skills and activities with DCs.
“In the defense of a grove, violence is a last resort. This is not because dryads are opposed to violence, but because violence often leads to more mortals with axes who want to destroy the forest to spite the creatures that live there. Rangers who train to protect groves learn ways to deal with threats before they turn violent, and to calm fights before they lead to worse. “
I had some initial concerns about Charmguard Ranger being an Enchantment based archetype using their “persuasive voices”, but rather than removing the agency and controlling others through their magic and abilities, these Rangers are designed in a way to use this power to resolve conflict without violence, put our fires and protect their allies. You love to see it! The emphasis on Charm is something to be aware of due to the way it is used by certain players, but I’m seriously impressed with this.
The Dryad feats essentially allow another fey to become part Dryad, at least in being bound to a tree and all that entails and allow the deepening of the bond and roots with said tree.
The Dryad legacy item is the Heartseed-root-graft-wood from their bonded tree with a variety of forms and effects based on the type of tree, which grows while they rest in a single place and then can be grafted into their heart. The growing abilities deepen your affinity with nature, allow you to gain awareness through other trees, ultimately gaining significant varied bonuses based on your tree type, as well as the ability to fully become a tree with tremorsense.
“All goblinoids—goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears—of the Feywild strive on competition, whether brutal warfare or friendly sparring!
Traits: whether tiny goblin, imposing hobgoblin, or hulking bugbear—nobody should underestimate any of them, they have tricks up their sleeves!
Archetype: The Battle Boss fighter commands allies to maximum effect
Feats: come on, be honest: everyone who ever played a goblin wanted to become a living projectile and be chucked at the enemy—and now you can!
Legacy Item: The Great Gark’s stick of leadership is a symbol of authority”
Goblinoids are presented in a much fairer and humane light than in other materials, which is wonderful to see. The fascinating lore includes a sidebar on The Great Gark, self-titled “Ruler of all goblinkind” with enough information and reference to introduce them into your game.
Goblinoids are presented as three different physical varieties: “the diminutive goblin, the taller hobgoblin, and the bulkier bugbears.
Each type of goblinoid comes with its own set of additional Physical Traits and Physical Power options”, though base Physical and all overall other Traits can be applied to each, particularly apropos with the “infinite variety” of Goblinoids.
“Behind every rabble of goblins there is a boss, the charismatic leader who is considered by far the strongest and smartest. There are countless differing traits among bosses, but one consistency is survivability. In a world of extremes with trickery around every corner, you have to be wily to stay alive and remain on top. A battle boss is curiously somehow equal parts leader, coward, fearless, powerful—and more than willing to put allies in danger if it’ll keep them safe. The greatest bosses know, however, that this only works as long as those under their command respect them.”
The Battle Boss Fighter is an impressive extrapolation and expansion of the abilities from the Goblin Boss statblock into an archetype, focusing on fighting with and using your allies to survive combat.
The feat turns a small creature into a living projectile! I would expect nothing less from a project lead who brought us Yeet! A Guide to Throwing (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/320937/YEET-A-Guide-to-Throwing-5E?affiliate_id=1507682).
The Legacy Item is the Stick of Leadership-Cudgel of Command-Scepter of the Great Gark, a club that is locked to Fighters, which begins as a +1 weapon with benefits to your commands, growing in potency until it has the possibility of turning humanoids into goblins.
CW: Ritualistic Cannibalism/ Eating a Humanoid, Drowning, Ritual Desecration, Blood, Suggested Ritual Skinning a Young Creature (Giant), Suggested Ritual Skinning an Intelligent Creature (Dragon)
I included content warnings in this section because some of the content of the suggested rituals is particularly full on and of a very different tone/ content than the rest of the supplement so far.
“Hags and Hag-Kin. Hags see beauty where most would turn away in disgust. They delight in confronting others’ sensibilities with their own unique aesthetics—as do their adopted children!
Traits: hags have a unique magic and can teach how to read people to get the best deal
Archetype: form an actual coven as the Bonded Coven bard and share your spellcasting and skills!
Feats: delve deeper into Illusion magic and develop your eye for the desperation of others
Legacy Item: from poppets to jars of viscera—a hag’s lair overflows with strange paraphernalia of her trade!
Boon: perform a sinister ritual to become an actual full-fledged hag!”
First of all, the lore here removes the need or at least creates room for creating new Hags without the need for eating children, which is nice, but a number of the rituals are still horrible enough to cause distress in some players and unnecessarily cruel. There is still too much of an emphasis on cruelty, “You take a perverse joy in upsetting and terrifying other beings”, that has just a bit too much of a whiff of Hags being overall generally ‘evil’ for my liking when discussing a whole people, which is a shame, especially compared to some of the other entries in here, though it is somewhat mitigated than the official entries. In taking a more sympathetic and less monolithic approach to these peoples I would have like to have seen more subtlety and suggestion that perhaps Hags are the way they are generally portrayed, or maybe that is an unfortunate viewing of them based on their relatively strange, solitary lives and different views on beauty, or just something more explicit about the variety of individuals. I think a trick was really missed here by not granting them the same breadth and scope as individuals as other Fey in this supplement.
“Hags know that, whatever frustrations they may have with each other aside, they can achieve greater power together than they ever could alone, and there is no greater bond among them than that of a coven. Those who have encountered hags know of the dangers posed by the secret knowledge of a hag coven; and sometimes, those who live long enough amongst hags bring those secrets out to the rest of the world. The College of the Bonded Coven has no formal schools—only hidden teachers scattered to distant corners of the planes, passing on knowledge and hoping they are never caught betraying the secrets of the hags.”
The College of the Bonded is an impressive extrapolation and expansion of the Coven rules for Hag creatures with a ritual bond, additional shared spellcasting, shared Bardic Inspiration and ultimately sharing proficiencies and skills.
The Feats grant an insightful eye and expand the potency and independence of Illusions.
The Boon allows for high level, high Hag Trait characters to enact a Hag Transformation ritual, which will allow them to fully become a hag, choosing one of the 5 types, each with their own appropriate bonuses and abilities, and each with their narrative suggested rituals for inspiration with mechanical considerations for the rituals as a whole. These suggestions are grim, which is fine, but a couple are particularly dark and unequivocally ‘evil’. The suggested rituals include, “devouring the body of a humanoid in its entirety” in a blood circle on a freezing mountain, “forging a new body for yourself from detritus, muck, various magical substances, and parts of your own body, then travelling to the bottom of the sea...and allow your original body to drown” (this one I actually love!), finding an amenable Green Hag to give you a cauldron bath in the right ingredients, desecrating a holy relic in a powerful Fiend’s blood and then drinking the rest, and “skinning a young giant, dragon, or similarly large and intelligent creature, making that skin into a leather coat covered in intricate arcane glyphs...coating your hands and teeth in molten metal that form your new teeth and nails as the coat becomes your new skin.” This last one is particularly full on and seems strange in the context of something a player character would be expected to do in a heroic fantasy game with its shocking callousness (This is, again, within the context of this supplement and pushing for progression in the game, as it would be wholly believable for many players past and present holding no regard for the lives of sapient, intelligent creatures). I also have concerns about the specificity of a” humanoid” in one example and “large and intelligent creature” in another and the possible implications and othering of sapient intelligent creatures.
Hags have Legacy items, the first is Grandmother’s Dolly-Creeping Dolly-Sinister Dolly-Blooded dolly, a terrifying animated wicked doll that first just tries to hide, then steal, Curse, and then drain blood. Incredibly creepy cool and I love the way it evolves by having to find its hiding places, it having stolen enough for you and having enough creatures fail its saves. I want one! The second is a Jar of Viscera-Bubbling Viscera-Accursed Viscera, a grim unguent that is a cauldron in a can, filled with grisly ingredients with their own bonuses that you’ll need a strong, conveniently boosted, Constitution to handle it and the gore needed to empower it. A fun and flavourful must for the modern Hag on the go.
I can see that effort went into keeping the Hags Hag-y, but I think in a supplement doing so well in being inspired by, yet still breaking the mould of singular expectations the mark was missed here. I absolutely love Hags, but I think in the context of the work here they could have been shown in a more sympathetic light, particularly after the broader and more humane perspective on Goblinoids, while retaining their flavour. I also note that they are referred to as “they”, but there is no sidebar discussing Hags and gender, as with Dryads and Green Witch for example. While Hags traditionally have a femme presentation, there’s no reason why they couldn’t characters of any gender.
“Korred are famous for their ability to hear the voices of the stone and respond in kind. They are gentle but you better not get on their bad side—stones break bones!
Traits: learn how to commune with the fickle spirits of the stones and animate your hair just like korred do!
Archetype: The Stonespeaker sorcerous origin allows you to manipulate the very earth beneath your foes’ feet
Feats: become stubborn and immovable as the stone itself
Legacy Item: korred can weave their own hair into animated ropes—and if you bond with one of these prized items, you too can wield that power!”
These Fey have a deep affinity to stone that is conveyed through their lore and Traits wonderfully, as well as granting others a portion of this and the ability to have magical hair through optional Traits.
“Stonespeakers tap into the korred’s knowledge for communing with and manipulating earth and stone. Some stone-speakers hail from races with a strong connection to the earth, like goliaths and earth genasi. Others acquire their magical connection to the earth by participating in one of the korred’s ceremonial dances or through an encounter with a dao or particularly powerful earth elemental.”
The Sorcerous Bloodline: Stonespeaker significantly deepens a character’s connection to the earth making bludgeoning damage pack an extra punch, gaining all manner of thematic spells, an awareness through and taking on the strength of stone, eventually bending natural battlegrounds to your whim. A sidebar has some nice suggestions about adding a rock aesthetic to certain spells.
The Feats add a little of the Korred Magic, stubbornness and immovability, flavourful, situational, and specific build stye abilities.
Their Legacy Item is Korred Hair Rope-Awakened-Ascended, crafted from their magical hair that “almost seem to be possessed by a mind of their own, and legend has it that they carry part of the soul of the korred the hair of the rope originated from.” This magical, regrowing rope evolves into a magical whip through the power of Korred and/ or earth elemental friendship, become incredibly powerful by being awakened by a Korred Elder or its creator.
CW: Animal Harm (Skinned Seal Image) [While the “Seal Skin” item and ability reflects innate and gifted power/ item, it is not explicitly said that the Seal Skin is the skin of a seal, with then Celtic myth they originate from refers to Selkies shedding their human skin to take on seal form. However, on page 71, Sorcerous Bloodline: Cold Waters, there is an image of what appears to be a skinned seal worn around the shoulders of a character that some may find upsetting.]
“Bards of the deep, selkies can effortlessly change shape to switch between their land-going humanoid form and their aquatic sea form. They love to collect and share stories from both realms.
Traits: the culture of selkies centers on the songs they use to remember, music and creativity have a high importance to them
Archetype: The Cold Waters sorcerous bloodline makes the water your element like no other archetype has done before!
Feats: learn how to call the creatures of the sea to your defense and really immerse yourself in the hostile depth
Legacy Item: the seal skin of a selkie is their means of transforming—and they gift them to chosen adopted children as well!”
These wholesome wereseal-like people are described in a lovely, intriguing manner. I particularly like the mention of them “often take in abandoned creatures, or rescue those lost at sea” and how they become part of their “rookery”, being gifted their own “seal skin”.
Selkie Traits revolve around the sea, their seal form, and magical voices with some particularly useful Vocational Traits for sea and coastal adventures, as well as the wonderful “Heartsong” that is a story taught by a character’s rookery that grants them a Bard spell.
“The waters selkie live in are deep and dangerous, a place removed in ways that are difficult to comprehend to land dwellers. Deep currents of magic run through this submerged world, and selkie—or those who have been taken in by them or otherwise learned to live here—sometimes grow up to being able to tap into these powers. They use them to protect them-selves and their home from the countless dangers of the deep as well as those intruding from the dry land above.”
The Sorcerous Bloodline: Cold Waters is empowered by the ocean with an incredibly powerful, incredibly situational first level ability, various water magic, being able to become a “being elemental water”, ultimately being able to share some of your watery boons with your allies.
The Feats have some thematic watery utility with Selkies having the possibility of using Conjure Animals to effectively summon +1 aquatic creatures, which is awesome!
Their Legacy Items are their Skin of the Seal-Sea-Selkie, allowing them to become Seal as if through Wild Shape, diving “to a depth no light reaches” allows a Minor Water Elemental, after receiving a boon from Selkie Elder, it grants the ability to become a powerful Selkie Seal hybrid able to cast spells and use their lineage traits in this form, and a Seahorn, an “ornately carved tusk plays a low, mournful call when blown. It seems to carry a supernatural distance on the wind.” This is more a thematic standard magic item, but great, nonetheless.
“Fierce guardians of the forests, sprites are practitioners of Green Magic and have a gift for learning another’s true feelings and intentions.
Traits: brave and knowledgeable about plants and poisons, sprites can teach wilderness survival like no one else
Archetype: The Witch of the Green wizard embraces herbalism and other nature magic
Feats: mastering poisons is difficult and dangerous—but no better people to learn it from than sprites, who live among poisonous plants all their life and know how to utilize it to even the odds against larger foes
Legacy Item: no Green Witch or poison maker would ever dream of going without their cauldron—some of which are magical!”
These somewhat solemn, empathic fey are interestingly different to their more expressive kin.
I have some concerns about elements of their Heartwise entry:
“With a touch, a sprite knows if someone is secretly angry or sad, if they’re burdened by grief or giddy in love, and even if their heart pulses with goodness or evil. Sprite communities place tremendous value on goodness, and abhor evil.”
This concern stems from the historic and problematic understanding and handling of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in D&D, exemplified by this quote from Gary Gygax himself in 2005 (Strong CW for extremely racist language and descriptions of torture and capital punishment: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/dtpgim/gygax_on_lawful_good/).
The ability itself allows the detecting of alignment and later the casting of Detect Good and Evil, concepts and abilities that exist in the game and fits with the lore, but alignment is a complicated and unfortunate binary (I know there are two axis and nine possibilities), especially with how it has classically been tied to ‘races’, which thankfully D&D has done away with, but still has for creatures, including sapient peoples, of which many are represent in this supplement, though they are not alignment locked in here.
There’s been much discussion about alignment and suggestions to do away with it completely or approach it in an entirely new way, much like Ancestry & Origins, with supplements like Realigned: Alternative Alignment Mechanics from Realm Warp Media (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/313290/Realigned-Alternative-Alignment-Mechanics?affiliate_id=1507682), which discusses both the history and issues with alignment, while putting forth a whole new system based on Focus, Conviction and Reputation.
Their Traits include a natural ability to cast invisibility that the supplement makes clear is only available at a DM’s discretion, among other Traits around being tiny, stealthy, stalwart and forest guardians.
“Witches of the Green, or Green Witches as they are often called, are deeply connected to the natural world.
Through their study of plants, flowers and herbs, Green Witches become expert healers, potioners, and more. These good-hearted individuals look to nature for guidance, and they respect and protect life whenever possible. As they grow in knowledge, Green Witches record their spells in a book known as a grimoire.”
The Witch of the Green: School of Herbalism Wizards are an interesting hybrid of Wizard/ Druid/ Ranger/ Cleric with an additional spell list representing this. HEALING WIZARD BAYBEE! You gain intimate knowledge of harmful and healing plants, can chuck poisonous seeds, rotten fruit, and stinging and restraining vines. It’s worth pointing out that while the poison damage is particularly thematic, over a quarter of all D&D creatures are immune to poison, far more than the next damage type, so the class abilities are somewhat hit and miss, especially for higher level abilities. Making this a choice of Poison or Necrotic damage could make these more viable. I’m not often a wizard player, but this is amazing! (Pay no attention to the fact that this Cleric-loving gal suddenly becomes interested in a Wizard when they become more Cleric-y).
There’s a great note on how Green Witch is a gender-neutral term.
Their Feat allows you to become a potion master with access to a flying ointment
Their Legacy Item is a magical cauldron: Sirona’s Favor, The Cauldron of Purification-Taliesin’s Blessing, The Cauldron of Brigid’s Forge, The Cauldron of Renewal-Cauldron of Ceridwen, The Cauldron of Transformation, which begins purifying food created in it of poison and disease, after a brush with death drinking from it confers a choice of magical boons, gaining knowledge of and using powerful healing magic makes it so it can restore limbs and possibly even life, having a connection to animals and the ability to alter your form finally grants a holy mass polymorph concoction! This item is locked to non-evil aligned characters, which makes sense, though I don’t love that about it.
“Shiny white like fresh-brushed teeth, tooth fairies are much more benign and helpful than many of their capricious cousins—always out to spread light and love!
Traits: dwelling in enchanted forests and a love for exchanging gifts have led to many unique tooth fairy cultures who all embrace the light
Archetype: The Wind Striker ranger is as difficult to pin down as the breeze—always poised to strike yet, somehow, always out of reach of their foes
Feats: learn how to bring sweet dreams to your companions or soothe them with Illusion magic
Legacy Item: what greater and more amazing gift could the tooth fairies bestow upon their adopted children and chosen champions than their own fairy wings?”
These curious, inquisitive, and philanthropic Fey of the more chill kind of fairy with an interest in the Material Plane, guiding those who lose their way in the Feywild, and caring for those who are unable to find a way home.
An amusing sidebar explains the origin of the name Tooth Fairy:
“People of the Prime Material Plane have given them the name “tooth” fairies because of their appearance—shiny white, they gleam like freshly brushed teeth! Over time, they have proudly adopted the name “tooth fairies” for themselves. A later legend, that tooth fairies would actually take the teeth of children, is false—they aren’t creepers, like some of their fairy cousins!”
Tooth Fairy Traits revolve around their natural affinity to magic, selfless bravery, being a guiding, helpful light, and bolstering their companions.
“The Wind Strikers are as old as the Fey-wild itself. They are the guardians of its mythical forests, most sacred places, and some of the fey courts. Other names for these rangers are ‘Watchers of the Roots’ or the ‘Everlasting’. They draw their powers from the magic of the Feywild itself.”
The Wind Striker Ranger gains access to several quick and windy spells, abilities around speed, focus, and using the wind to strengthen your stride and attacks.
The Feats grant the gift of illusion and the power of a good night’s sleep to add a bonus to a roll once a day, which is a lovely utility ability.
There are three Fairy Gift Boons for someone whose experience “with the fairies brought you great insight into their culture and their beliefs. They appreciate you, you are a close friend to them, and they know they can count on you if help is needed.” These add a natural energy-based healing touch, the ability to shield oneself, and the ability to radiate light that harms foes.
Their Legacy Item is Fairy Wings-Shiny Fairy Wings-Glittering Fairy Wings, which can be gifted to outsiders. These wings grant the ability to fly and boost Charisma, can fly further and radiate light after being particularly helpful, and ultimately after aiding two Fairy leaders they allow even longer flight and a radiating boost to allies.
An adorable shrinking Fairy Dust item is also included.
This supplement is stunning to look at and absolutely crammed with art showing various aspects of the Fey and evocative title art that sets the background and palette for each chapter, reflecting the people being discussed. Unfortunately, some of the coloured fonts make some of the titles and details rather difficult to read, which is a shame. I have been making a point to discuss accessibility in TTRPGs, which should be a priority in a space where we are pushing for a greater diversity of voices, experience, expression and players. I believe all games and releases, particularly those design intensive and playing with background and font colours should at least come with a plain text version, as well as making the robust an accessible version that conveys the design and art in text form available for those who need it, for example those using screen readers.
Children and Champions of the Fey captures the essence of a wide variety of Fey beings, making many of them playable characters for the first time, or at least their Fey forms, without reducing them to one single aspect and treating them like a monolith. This includes a general overview of the central culture and experience of each these people, which can influence elements of any character, as it does in our world. With elements inspired and based on existing elements of lore and myth, and expanding and evolving mechanics based on existing material, the feel of playing these characters and their essence is in no way diminished, rather it allows for a player to connect more deeply with the aspects of their character and consider how and why they choose their specific Traits.
Taking inspiration from Arcanist Press’ Ancestry & Culture and continuing to push for progressive and inclusive approach to ‘race’, further than WotC seem to be willing to go to address the racism and colonialism baked into the game, is a vitally important thing and only serves to improve the game, making it more welcoming, and giving players more meaningful options and ways to engage with their characters. I’m still not a fan of the word ‘race’ being used to describe ancestry and origin options because it is a human social construct that doesn’t even make sense in the real world and doesn’t really apply to the beings found in the fictional world of stories and TTRPGs, though I understand it as a standard set by D&D, one I hope they will finally change.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely be playing a Fey character next time I need one.
Designers: Colin Caelin (@colincaelin), Chris Hopper (@chrishopper2), Carolyn Kunze (@MetalicClassy), Ryan Langr (@ RealmwarpM), David Markiwsky (@DavidMarkiwsky), Lynne M. Meyer (@Lynne_M_Meyer), Erin Tierney (@triggy42), Sven Truckenbrodt (@TheRubyFeather), Duncan Watson (@eldritchtophat), Matthew Whitby (@WhitbyWrites)
Lead Designer, Editing & Layout: Sven Truckenbrodt (@TheRubyFeather)
Proofreading: Duncan Watson
Cover Illustration: Tithi Luadthong (aka Grandfailure)
Interior Illustrations: agrus, Alexandra Petruk, Atelier Sommerland, Darkmoon Art, david, David Markiwsky, Dean Spencer, Dominick, Evgeniy Bobrov, Evgeniya Savchenko, liuzishan, lordpeppers, Matt Morrow, MoVille, myersalex216, Rick Hershey (Fat Goblin Games), tibanna79, Tithi Luadthong (aka Grandfailure), venimo, Warmtail, DMs Guild Creator Resources
Articles to check out regarding ‘race’ in D&D and Fantasy:
CW: Many serious themes and extreme circumstances. Each adventure comes with their own content warnings that I have included.
Unbreakable: Revolution is an incredible anthology of adventures and scenarios for all manner of TTRPG systems absolutely crammed with remarkable and exciting stories of rebellion and revolution. The writing and artwork are powerfully beautiful, filled with a vital hope and will, burning bright against oppressive darkness – the sparks of revolution. Taking inspiration from the breadth of history, culture, experience, and imagination of the incredible, diverse Asian creators of the Unbreakable team, they have created something truly spectacular. Building on the triumph of the Unbreakable Anthology Volume One, Unbreakable: Revolution is one of the most vital and affecting TTRPG works I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I can’t wait to run and play each one of these adventures and scenarios, from escaping an oppressive rat regime, rebel pirate heroics, tackling a demon prince-possessed leader, 1970s detectives in the middle of a gang war, a dark, burning mystery at the heart of a seemingly joyous celebration, an ordeal to uncover truth that raises many questions, and the opportunity to take on the role of sentient weapons or those who wield them as they defy their oppressors, lighting the spark of rebellion by holding a culturally significant festival outlawed by invaders. There’s just so much awesomeness exploding from this book!
The themes and stories told in this anthology, inspired by the myriad countries and people that make up Asia, a great breadth of history and experience, are incredibly resonant with the way the world today - still very much feeling the effects of imperialism, oppression, othering, and exoticism, and much more grappled within these pages. There are incredible amounts of fun to be had with these adventures and scenarios, without a doubt, but there is also a deeper meaning and important concepts for the GMs and players to reckon with as they play, which is incredibly powerful and inspiring (I feel like I'm really not doing this justice with my explanation). This is a special anthology with a lot of important things to say, as well as being well-crafted, engrossing, and exciting scenarios.
The cover art by Joshua Mendenhall aka HTTPaladin is remarkable, grabbing the viewer by the lapels and bringing them into the revolution!
“When the Unbreakable Anthology was released in April 2020, the world was faced with a brilliant new reality: not only are we proud to be Asians, but we also want our voices to be heard. One of the best compliments we received was that “[Volume 1] is unapologetically Asian.” In the spirit of that statement, a boldness was necessary—no, demanded. The Volume 1 anthology was the first of a larger dream and ambition to bring more voices and creators to share their cultures, stories, and identities.
Unbreakable: Revolution is something new for us. Be bold, just as we have, and be free. This is a revolution. A revolution is a sudden, radical change, but it can also be a renouncement of the status quo to drive change. We denounce the view that Asians don’t have a place in creative spaces. We are here, and we have something to say. We’re not going anywhere.
I had the absolute pleasure of reviewing Unbreakable Volume One (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product_reviews_info.php?&reviews_id=421217&products_id=306865). It’s absolutely wonderful to see the team go from strength to strength, moving into more systems and thematic releases like this one:
“...Inside this book, you will find stories about resisting tyranny, rebelling against oppression, and overthrowing colonizers. Like our previous publication, these stories reflect the diverse Asian heritages and cultures of our contributors.”
I can’t wait to see what comes next!
How to use this book
This section discusses and links to the various systems used, as well as the included pronunciation guides “placed there in the spirit of good faith; it’s reasonable and understandable if the playgroup mispronounces these names, but mispronouncing is often preferable to substituting another name,” and the sidebars used throughout.
It’s important to use safety tools at any table, but even more necessary when dealing with the themes and subjects within Unbreakable: Revolution. I echo the Unbreakable team in their recommendation of the TTRPG Safety Toolkit linked below.
“Each adventure in this book features content warnings with potentially sensitive subjects. While these warnings are at the front of each adventure, they are not the only tools available to you. We recommend implementing the following tools in your game sessions. This is not an exhaustive list, and not every safety tool may apply to your group. Additional safety tools curated by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk can be found at bit.ly/ttrpgsafetytoolkit.”
The anthology provides some details on Lines & Veils, Pallete, Support Check-In, Script Change (recently updated: https://briebeau.itch.io/script-change), and the X-Card.
Big Rat, Don’t Eat my Millet by KC Shi
Edited by Remy Cortez
CW: rats, claustrophobia, slavery, starvation
This scenario recommends the following rulesets: d20 systems, 13th Age, The Black Hack, B/X Essentials, One Shot World, Quest RPG, Year Zero Engine.
“Features a world ruled by anthropomorphic rats. Players seek to escape their predicament and reach the surface, discovering the awful reality around them. Do they stay and work to make their homes better or do they venture into the unknown world above?”
Art of the Rat King's domain possesses a sinister beauty and wonderful detail. The rats in the shadows with glowing eyes the colour of the background are incredibly striking.
“This adventure was inspired by a 7th century BCE Chinese folk song from the Shijing, or Classic of Poetry, appropriately titled “Big Rat.” The Confucian scholars who recorded these songs perhaps overanalyzed them for allegorical meaning—and certainly modified them to fi t the royal court’s stylistic standards—which is one reason why this adventure interprets “Big Rat” as literally as possible. (The other reason is because it amuses me.)”
“Some elements of the adventure are inspired by the Western Zhou Dynasty—a time both foundational and far removed from modern China, predating Confucianism, Buddhism, or Taoism—but others are pure fantasy. To paraphrase Mark Oshiro in The Unintended Education of Literature, POC authors need not teach readers about “our cultures” whenever we write secondary worlds. Our works deserve space to be playful and imaginative as well!”
Rich in detail and peril, this adventure poses many thoughtful questions to ground the player characters in the setting and situation, as well as a grim, evocative table for the various effects hunger may have had on them on their journey.
During the planning of the escape "the party members can only talk to each other safely through coded songs, hushed whispers, or other secret means", which is a great detail and advice is provided around whether implementing this at the table is appropriate for tour group. Various information to share among characters is provided each to know, so they can pool their knowledge and come up with a plan together.
A moral choice with significant ramifications is presented at one stage, though somewhat unfortunately the adventure handles a character taking this upon themselves by "That character’s return journey happens off-screen, and they effectively exit the story", which is a bit of a shame. I appreciate that everything can’t be within the scope of the adventure and understand they are effectively making a sacrifice to do what’s right. The player can simply roll up another character, but it would be nice to play this thread out and give it some closure or lend more weight to this decision, which is of course within the scope of the GM to do if they wish.
The adventure concludes with revelations and a variety of options and seeds for the group to potentially play out and explore. Will they live out their days in the Happy Land on the backs of their exploited peers, will they return him and begin a revolution and battle the Rat King, or with they explore more of the world?
A beautifully written and thoughtful adventure that explores the slavery and squalor the poor face, presided over by petty tyrants and overseers, so far removed from the hedonistic, vapid lives of the ruling class who have everything they could ever need and so much more from this exploitation, while pretending it doesn't exist. It confronts the difficult choices we face as part of these systems and how we treat each other to get what we want and/or do the right thing. It also explicitly demonstrates that, while circumstances might bring those not innately part of the ruling class to the "Happy Land", they will always be seen as other, treated with "bafflement, disgust, amusement, and pity".
Days of Powder, Plunder, and Plot by Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen
Edited by Omi Chun
CW: colonialism, imperialism, open water, threatening ocean life (sharks), piracy, theft, hostages, suicide attempt(s), description of imprisonment, drowning
This scenario is optimized for Black Hack v1.2 by David Black for 3-4 characters of 3rd-4th level and similar OSR & rules-light systems.
“Vietnamese pirates, ship battles, and a prized warship to turn the tides of revolutionary efforts.”
“Days of Powder, Plunder, & Plot assumes a Southeast Asian–analogue setting (Sông), specifically Vietnamese, that has been colonized by many including a French-analogue nation (Empire d’Soleil). The setting assumes a marginal incorporation of black powder technology, but this can be easily changed from arquebus to crossbows and cannons to ballistae to your taste.”
“This adventure is inspired by dramatized real history of Vietnam, and works of high seas adventure such as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the Black Sails television series, Treasure Island, and more.”
The adventure is clearly laid out in four stages:
“THE LEAD. Taking of Le Tigre illustrates the primary phases of play for the adventure:
• Boarding Action.
• Delving in the Ship, 2-3 setpiece rooms.
THE HEADING. A necessary adjournment on the Hươu Nước and at dock:
• Socializing with the ship’s crew to get to know them better, get a feel for their motivations, and prepare for the coming mission.
• Investigating the manifest found on the Tigre with some NPCs with the opportunity to barter and get a feel of the public opinion regarding the revolution outside the crew.
THE PRIZE. Taking the L’Ouragan, the full showcase of the custom mechanics and a more robust delve as the main setpiece of the adventure.
• Boarding Action.
• Delve into the Ship, 4-6 setpiece rooms.
THE SLIP. Escaping with the treasure, the Empire leaves nothing to chance. A Man o’ War arrives just in time to chase the Hươu Nước from the scene of the L’Ourgan’s reaping. This turns the tables and puts the crew on the defense, fighting off an incoming boarding party.
• Defending from a Boarding Action • Escape or die.”
This is an absolutely rip-roaring rebel pirate adventure on the seas and friendly bay with all manner of action and adventure. This truly provides all the danger, daring and excitement you could possibly want in a pirate adventure for a noble cause. I haven't been this excited to both run and/ or play an adventure in a while. I need to bring this to a table right, stat now!
Additional rules/ materials
A variety of black powder weapons are included with rules and profiles that can easily be ported onto your chosen system.
A simple set of rules for boarding actions are included for when the player characters lead the vanguard onto the enemy ships.
"Ships themselves, once boarded, function essentially as a typical dungeon delve with the treasure being at the “heart” of the ship."
Rules for fighting in gunsmoke and dark cabins.
Eight enemies are included with OSR profiles, which can be easily ported into your system of choice.
Labelled maps of three ships with all decks are included.
Contains brilliant advice and notes throughout the adventure, including recommendations for diverse gender, build and personality of NPCs and considerations for disabled characters. You love to see it!
This is a remarkably well put together adventure and I love to see the rich true rebellious and anti-imperialist nature of pirates, rather than the one-note stereotype so often seen.
Make of Thee an Instrument of Peace by Pam Punzalan
Edited by Lexi Antoku
CW: colonial violence, profaning of Christian beliefs & imagery, body horror
A scenario for Forged in the Dark.
“Set in 19th-century Spanish Colonial Philippines. A powerful demon has possessed the governor-general and players are supernatural hunters tasked to stop the demon’s reign for good.”
“It is 1896, year one of the Philippine Revolution. The fires of rebellion rage across the archipelago where the Governor-General and his constituents still have control, challenging the power of the Crown. These are dark days in the wake of Jose Rizal’s execution, but the fighters of the Katipunan are relentless in their pursuit of a nation free from Spain.
The battles you wage, however, are of a different sort.”
Incredibly striking, bold title artwork and gorgeous playbook portraits.
Fantastic advice for the setting and character creation for the heist, including a variety of backgrounds, seven new playbooks and a new crew, Hunters from the Order of Iscariot, "elite exorcists, monster hunters, and supernatural investigators from an international network of Christian warriors who stand against the darkness."
The playbooks and crew are incredible, absolutely dripping with supernaturally flavour, style, and substance. I want to play them all!
Simply, an incredibly cool concept and wonderfully detailed, approaches, NPCs, possible outcomes and potential further adventures, as the crew of hunters from the Order Iscariot are tasked with taking down the demon prince-possessed Governor-General Diego de los Rios with minimal casualties.
A truly fascinating appendix is included, The Katipunan, Christianity, and Religious Syncretism, discussing the Philippine relationship with, and the incorporation of Christianity and its symbolism into the culture, and how this could manifest in the game.
Altogether, an astoundingly remarkable prospect with the personification of colonialism, its insidious ideology and power as demonic possession, which itself must be exorcised executed brilliantly. As the adventure hook states: “The Order is sure that even if the Revolution overthrows Spain, Beelzebub will seek out another vessel to continue his infernal work on Earth.” Bloody marvelous!
Bad Luck Fortune by Doryen Chin
Edited by Alda Yuan
CW: general horror, gang violence, dead parents & family members, supernatural aging, loss of bodily autonomy, kidnapping & imprisonment, drowning, orphanages, cemeteries, funerals, alcohol, gambling, fi rearms, knives, hatchets & axes
This scenario is compatible with 5e & d20 systems.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
“Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1970s with the central cast of players being members of a family detective agency. A warring feud between two Chinatown gangs stands between the players and the sinister dark forces at work.”
Terrifyingly beautiful and oppressive title art. I don’t think I’ve ever been as affected by a boat or any TTRPG-related art. I am so very morbidly fascinated by this piece. I just get absolutely lost in it!
“A silent hulk cuts a hole in the shadow of the night, a missing tooth among the brightly lit dockside ships. When you see its grotesque form against the inky sky, you feel its name rolling around in your skull. Shuǐmǔ. Your destination.”
In addition to the pronunciation guide a sidebar explaining Cantonese pronunciation and tones:
“Many of the words, names, and places featured in this adventure utilize Jyutping romanization devised by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. Each phonetic pronunciation is accompanied with a superscript denoting one of six tonal contours found in Cantonese. Like Mandarin, tonal pitches are important to denote specific characters and words...You can learn more about Jyutping at http://www.jyutping.org.”
Character creation is a little different for this adventure, making the events all the more personal to the characters .“This adventure is designed to be played without the use of Classes or Races.” Instead, the characters "should be related and between 21 and 30 years old”. A Table of Family, Masculine/ Male, Feminine/ Female, and Gender Neutral common 1950s Chinese-American names are provided, along with details on stat generation, skills (using loose, simplified advantage/ disadvantage training for the relevant skills in the system you run this adventure in), and combat (characters start with no weapons, though they are acquired in the adventure, “the use of improvised weapons is strongly encouraged. Except when specified, fights between living characters and NPCs end when the first character or an NPC falls unconscious.”) The combat elements particularly make sense in a relatively modern real-world analogue where murder is far more of a consideration than it seems to be in many fantasy settings.
Opening an adventure with an interview is a wonderful way to get to know and flesh out the characters, as is playing a family detective agency for an investigative adventure. Having hidden objects and clues to reveal “as the characters poke around the apartment; no skill checks are required” is a great touch and avoids the stalling failure of certain d20 systems.
Wonderful advice is provided throughout, including “Socratic Game Mastering,” asking “specific questions so [the players] fully process what they encounter”/ the evidence they uncover.
NPCs are presented in detailed snapshot sidebars with a bio, goals, family facts/ knowledge and secrets providing a wealth of easy to reference information.
The adventure is a captivating mystery and investigation as the family of detectives uncover secrets in pursuit of discovering the truth around the disappearance of their youngest sibling. On the way they will attempt to mediate a gang rivalry and ultimately lead to a showdown with “an ancient and immortal geung-si [goeng si] 殭屍, a vampire that feeds on youth and beauty” in a graveyard and mausoleum with a family reunion and funeral rites.
The Crimson Uprising by Rajib Kalita
Edited by Steve Huynh
CW: oppression, inequity, gaslighting, immolation, torture, child abduction, violence against children and elders
“This adventure aims to reflect the harsh realities of caste based oppression that exist to this day. It is not possible to “solve” a deep-rooted systemic problem such as this in six hours. As such, even the best outcome of this adventure is not a happy ending. It is a matter of choosing the least harmful option. Check in with your players prior to running this adventure.”
This scenario is optimized for d20 systems, including modern d20 systems.
“This adventure is rooted in the caste-based oppression and violence that is commonplace in many regions of India to this day. It examines what is to many the true context of a popular festival.”
“Players confront the hidden truth behind a seemingly joyous celebration and warring factions ready for all-out war after decades of strife and tragedy.”
Incredibly confronting, powerful, and arresting artwork depicting immolation.
This is an incredibly dark and challenging adventure not for the faint of heart, yet incredibly important and unflinching in taking the subject matter by the horns, presenting the party of outsiders with “the opportunity to side with either the native tribe in the surrounding area or uphold the colonist government in the village with complex moral and societal decisions.”
A variety of adventure hooks bring the party in with different opening introductions on the unfolding events, providing opportunities for them to be confronted with atrocities and those committing them, and those suffering them from different angles. This works particularly well with the party being faced with the choice to assist or oppose the colonizers.
The juxtaposition of joy and pain, festivities and atrocity is stark, opening with a riot of colour, good food and drink, and merriment, all while a woman, encased papier-mâché, is being prepared to be burned alive. In the middle of the revelry, moments before the ‘effigy’ is to be burned rebels, including the victim’s daughter arrive to stop the proceedings and save her.
From here a wealth of information and options are provided, informed by the party’s actions. Will they aid the ruling family or the rebels, or even sit out the violence? Will the revelation and possible Immolation of an innocent change their actions? Will they hunt down or join the rebels? Can they find evidence of a shared history and forge some kind of accord or will everything end in blood and Fire?
This adventure provides everything you need for this to playout any of these possibilities with detailed maps of the rebel base and the ruling family’s compound. How will the party and the opposing groups live with the ramifications of their actions? Details on each possible ending and ideas for further adventures are included.
One criticism I do have of this adventure is the use of torture, which, while being adequately discussed that it needs to be something the players consent to being included, and even then advising fade to black, does pose a potential scenario in which the party are captured and subjected to torture, again fine as long as the group are all okay with this, with the suggestion for handling this bring, “a matter of passing a check to withstand the suffering and not give away information.” I appreciate that this is an abstraction to the mechanics of the game, but it does feel very wrong to me to include rules that effectively show that torture can yield the intended information the torturer is looking for, when it is largely recognized that torture is not an effective way of gaining information, with victims of torture likely to say anything to make the ordeal stop. I don’t believe the creator is trying to convey a political message with this inclusion, rather it is an unfortunate side effect of media and the history of mechanics in TTRPG, particularly D20 games, but it is a topic I am passionate about and feel compelled to counter whenever it comes up.
The maps are included in the appendix as well as a pronunciation guide, with details on vowels, consonants and syllables for the Hindi or a Hindi-adjacent language used in the adventure.
The Mountain’s Shroud by Ari Santiago
Edited by Brent Jans
CW: violence, character bodily harm (via weapons, animals, and fi re), racial and religious prejudice, social stratification, and prejudice reflective of Spanish colonial society in the Philippines circa 19th century.
This scenario is optimized for the Ironsworn RPG, a GM-less system for solo or group play.
“Features a journey to discover the origin of a supposedly blessed shroud while dealing with pursuers, orthodoxical dogma, and challenges to everything they know.”
“Inspired by Philippine syncretism, so-called kulorum societies (from 'in saecula saeculorum') and early revolutionary movements.”
Gorgeous artwork! The title art has the feel of a vibrant piece of wall art and the shroud itself is spectacular!
[Will be updated with adventure review]
The First Diya of Navratri by Charu Patel has
Edited by Doug Riechel
CW: racism, colonizers, cultural & religious oppression, foreign invaders, prison & imprisonment, snakes, mentions of murder
This adventure is optimized for Gun&Slinger and the Sword&Bearer supplement for 1 Maestro and 2 or 4 players.
“This adventure is dedicated to my late grandmother, Pali Patel, and my mother, Usha Patel. My mom has always shared stories about her life and my grandmother’s life in India. Her lifetime of storytelling informed and inspired me to write this adventure.”
“Players assume the roles of either sentient weapons or their wielders in this adventure about rebelling against cultural and religious oppression.”
Astoundingly vibrant art throughout!
[Will be updated with adventure review]
(Apologies, for not posting the last two reviews yet, I’ve been trying to put the time into these reviews they deserve and will be sure to update the last two awesome adventures, but I wanted to get the initial review up as soon as possible.)
Unbreakable: Revolution is a truly remarkable anthology absolutely filled with awesomeness, an aesthetic marvel and a powerful collection of adventures and scenarios that takes so many of the problematic aspects of many TTRPGs, particularly the older and legacy ones, thoughtlessly include, but with care and purpose.
I’m absolutely blown away.
I could not recommend this more strongly!
CREATIVE LEAD & PROJECT MANAGER Jacky Leung
NARRATIVE DESIGNERS Doryen Chin, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Rajib Kalita, Charu Patel, Pam Punzalan, Ari Santiago, KC Shi MANAGING
EDITOR Jazz Eisinger
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Brent Jans
NARRATIVE EDITORS Lexi Antoku, Omi Chun, Remy Cortez, Steve Huynh, Brent Jans, Doug Riechel, Alda Yuan SENSITIVITY EDITORS & CULTURAL CONSULTANTS Lexi Antoku, Daniel Kwan, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Pam Punzalan, Vis Subramanian, TOR WAR
INTERIOR LAYOUT & DESIGN Caroline Amaba
COVER ARTIST Joshua Mendenhall
INTERIOR ARTISTS Caroline Amaba, Alika Gupta, Cammiella Gwisdalla, Sonya Henar, Rajib Kalita, H. “Ink” Kugler, Herman Lau, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Mia Mercury, Tiona Miché, Brian Phongluangtham, Angeli Rafer, TOR WAR, Nichole Wilkinson, Kathryne Wilson, Nala J. Wu
MANAGING DIRECTOR Jacky Leung
ART DIRECTOR Caroline Amaba
EDITOR IN CHIEF Jazz Eisinger
Thank you for the absolutely thorough and heartfelt review! Out contributors are extremely proud of the work done for this anthology and hope others resonate with the stories inside.
It's Still Real to Me, Dammit! by Michael Dorrill
14 Kayfabe Subclasses for 5th Edition
CW: Injury Detail, Blood, Self-Harm (in context of wrestlers ‘blading’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blading_(professional_wrestling))
From the glorious Kaitlyn Leeds cover, depicting a dwarf reverse suplexing a mind flayer and the heartfelt introduction discussing the “magic and pageantry [of] both professional wrestling and Dungeons & Dragons” it’s clear that this is a true passion project. The love and understanding of both professional wrestling and D&D are clearly on display throughout the 14 subclasses, including Blood Hunter, each with their own wonderful illustration by Sandika Rakhi, across 21 pages of unbridled joy.
Every subclass is playable with the vast majority being comparable and competitive with existing archetypes, while bringing the flare and awesome ridiculousness of professional wrestling into D&D. Be prepared for some squared circle antics that will definitely bring some epicness, and not a little ridiculousness to combat.
Silliness aside, this is a seriously quality supplement of subclasses that add all sorts of weird, wonderful and clever features. I particularly like the variety of questions posed at the end of the description of each archetype to help the player consider their character.
Artificer: Guild of the Foreign Object
“Artificers of the Guild of the Foreign Object are every bit the technical geniuses that other artificers are, but their skill comes in figuring out how to get out of sticky situations quickly and with whatever is at hand—sophistication be damned.”
The most hardcore artificer out there! It’s astounding how well the hardcore match aesthetic translates into an artificer always ready to rumble with whatever they can get their hands on, including the classic tacks, barbed wire, ladders, chairs and tables!
Barbarian: Path of the Big Man
“You have taken a simpler path—just being bigger than the guy next to you. It’s a defensive strategy that’s tried and true throughout nature: the cobra, the horned owl, and the puffer fish have all shown that it’s simply better to be bigger.”
This is a big show of a berserker that really leans into being the biggest warrior around and using their size and strength to their advantage. They are brute force and brawn personified.
I do think the name of this archetype and the feature “Big Meaty Men Slapping Meat” are unnecessarily gendered. Obviously, anyone could use this subclass and the actual description is not gendered, which is something.
Bard: College of the Promo
“Every bard does the same thing—get the attention of a crowd. Whether it’s song, dance, artistry, or stories, holding the mob’s attention is what they’re trained for.”
Microphone in hand, these Bards can cast spells over significantly greater distances, cause additional damage with their words and strike fear in their enemies by talking smack over the fallen.
Blood Hunter: Order of the Hardcore
“The Order of the Hardcore adopts principles that are second nature to any Blood Hunter: sacrificing your own blood for more power. Whether it’s juicing yourself intentionally or simply putting your body through so much trauma that you can’t help but turn into a faucet, you know the real power that blood has.”
This Blood Hunter increases their damage to their enemies by doing more to themselves, taking the Blood Hunter’s high risk, high reward hemocraft to 11 in new and brutal ways, including broken glass, bare concrete and gasoline!
Cleric: Tag Team Domain
“The Tag Team Domain has faith in these partnerships, invoking the divine power of brotherhood, camaraderie, and friendship to unite allies in a common struggle.”
The ultimate support! Grant your allies bonuses, healing, take the brunt for in their stead and inspire them to leap from danger.
Druid: Circle of the Bear
“Sometimes things are just a little silly. Oh sure, you’re still fighting, but not everything always needs to be so serious. Sometimes you just need to take a moment, put on a costume, and pretend that you’re a bear.”
This Druid can Wild Shape into a magical bear costume that increases their durability! This hardy bear is the centre of attention with hugs to share.
Fighter: Ring General
“Some folks are always valued members of a party. In any type of situation, they always know how to contribute. They help the group work together better than they could alone.”
If the Tag Team Cleric is the ultimate support, the Ring General is the glorious leader! Helpful to all and full of awareness and martial capability.
Monk: Way of the Daredevil
“For your whole life, you’ve dreamed of climbing to the top rope and taking to the sky, twisting your body as you spin faster and faster until you slam into your opponent, crushing them underneath you.”
These high-flying monks may not fly, but they soar, splash, flip, bomb and dive. This is one of the more thematic and situational archetypes that seems a little more limited compared to other monastic traditions, but if you want to climb, jump and fall on your enemies this is the monk for you.
Paladin: Oath of the Mask
“Whatever it is you’ve sworn yourself to, you embody it through that mask. Your mask is a promise, and just as you shall never break that promise, you shall never, ever take off that mask. Having taken the Oath of the Mask, you bear upon your face the ultimate symbol of honor. It is time to live up to it.”
A mysterious and symbolic Paladin with a magical mask and the ability to stun, inspire and channel the might of the great masked wrestlers and luchadores (which the features take their names from and I had a lot of fun looking up).
I absolutely love this built-in idea: “If the mask is removed in front of others, your DM may wish to consider replacing the Oath of the Mask subclass with the Oathbreaker subclass detailed in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.”
Ranger: Those Who Fall Anywhere
“No fight is the same, but there are some that have an extra stipulation or two, and there’s nobody better suited for that kind of a fight than you. You’re ready for wherever the fight takes you—even if it’s Avernus in a Cell.”
A ranger ready to fight anywhere with the particularly useful and thematic “Iron Man” ability displaying their relentless endurance, and their ultimate feature allowing them to create their own steel cage match, which will certainly add carnage to any combat!
Rogue: The Cheap Trick
“The history of cheating in a fight is as long and storied as fighting itself. Frankly, it would be silly for you to not take advantage of that! I mean, if you’re not cheating, then you’re not trying. Sure, you’re full of Cheap Tricks, but that just means they’re cost-efficient.”
This crafty, sneaky, dirty fighting Rogue is a master of disguise, the Triple H spit take and reminded me of the absolute gloriousness that was the Ministry of Darkness and Corporate Ministry storylines from the WWF in 1999 (very much my era of wrestling), turning the epic revelation of Vince McMahon as the Undertaker’s Higher Power, “It’s me Austin! It’s me Austin! It was me all along, Austin!” into two fantastic 17th level features around the ultimate disguise and stunning unmasking!
Sorcerer: The Gravedigger
“Pulling power from Thanatos, it isn’t quite clear if the Gravedigger is undead or simply draws their immense power from undeath—but they are a horrifying force either way.”
What can I say? This is a sorcerer themed around the Undertaker, including his earn, encasing enemies in caskets, burying them alive (metaphorically) and bamfing around tolling the dead to the unmistakable sound of the gong! What’s not to love?!
Warlock: The Manager
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is the Manager, and it is the greatest privilege of my career to serve as the advocate for my client, the Warlock. And you had the temerity to doubt the strategy of the greatest manager in dungeon-crawling history, or the magical credentials of the most dominant Warlock in D&D ever. Hey, let's get one thing straight: my client is not here to put smiles on people's faces. My client is here to shock the D&D Universe and put tears in the eyes of children. Ladies and gentlemen, there are D&D Hall of Famers, there are legends, and there are D&D superstars, and the key to that is that they're all plural. They're all lumped together. And then there's only one that stands head and shoulders above the rest on a platform of his own. There's only one Warlock. There's only one conqueror of the streak! And there's only one Manager!”
These Warlock’s have more of a personal relationship with their patron, who not only provides them with their magical ability, but acts as their hype being, lending their own personal assistance in combat. This opens up so much awesome potential for roleplay!
Wizard: School of Heat
“You know that getting heat with the crowd is the most important thing there is—well, that, and that everything goes better with massive explosions.”
These wizards have perfected the art of hype and flare, lending themselves the ability to make a grand pyrotechnic entrance, ensure their big spells bang and ultimately crash their foes through flaming tables! To paraphrase Phineas Nigellus Black 's portrait/ Kingsley Shacklebolt, you cannot deny they’ve got style!
This is a seriously quality supplement of subclasses that add all sorts of weird, wonderful and clever features perfect for wrestling fans, or anyone wanting to bring some flare and excitement to the game!
Lead Designer: Michael Dorrill
Editor: E.R.F. Jordan
Graphic Design: Gordon McAlpin
Cover Art: Kaitlyn Leeds
Interior Art: Sandika Rakhim
Special Thanks: Willy Abeel and Hamilton Spive
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/344721/Its-Still-Real-to-Me-Dammit?affiliate_id=1507682
Tomes of Ravenloft: Books, Letters, and Proclamations for Curse of Strahd by Christian Eichhorn (@squirrelgolem)
CW: Horror, Graphic Descriptions
Tomes of Ravenloft is a collection of twenty three player handouts intended to enrich a Curse of Strahd campaign. The entries marked with a * in the Table of Contents are books or letters native to the campaign. They were mentioned somewhere in the text but had no substance—until now.
The other entries are completely new creations.
This is a seriously impressive collection of in universe artefacts that run the gamut from providing substance for off-hand referenced already existing titles to new writings created whole cloth for this supplement, which provide a wealth of lore, inspiration, seeds and hooks, mechanical benefits, and even some tasty snacks!
With locations they can be found suggested, these pages are ready for printing and guaranteed to get a great reaction from your players and add all manner of flavour to your Curse of Strahd and Ravenloft games!
• The Abbot’s Letter to Vasili. A letter explaining the Abbot’s thoughts about his life choices, linking him to Vasili von Holtz and the Belview family.
A nice glimpse of their relationship or at least the Abbot’s perspective on Strahd/ Vasili.
• The Anti God. A heretical text about the gods. Offers insights on the inner workings of the world and the gods.
Very interesting and will definitely spark interest and discourse between the more and less religious elements of your party.
• Baking (for) Children. A collection of recipes by and for hags. Offers insights on baking and benefits checks using cook’s utensils. Can be found in Old Bonegrinder or in Castle Ravenloft near the cauldron. You can try out the recipes at home, only switch bone flour for regular flour.
In universe document that contains actual recipes (though perhaps use an alternative to boneflour).
• Balinok Mountains Survey Report. A survey commissioned by King Barov before the invasion. Offers a quest hook to prospect for gold in Lake Luna and information about the Amber Temple.
There’s gold in them there hills and this might inspire your party to try and mine it, which could set up all manner of fun.
• Barovian Home Remedies. A hodgepodge of questionable tips and remedies for real and imaginary ailments.
Despite the mechanical benefits, the remedies aren’t guaranteed, but will certainly make for interesting sidequests if carried out.
• The Blade of Truth. Accounts of Inquisitors Zeke Ulmist.
Owning heretics with facts and logic, as well as a fascinating new take on the chicken, egg and becoming more powerful that the gods Dilemma.
• Castle Building 101. A book about the basics of building castles.
A practical manual and an amusing read. An extract from chapter 1 is provided. If the rest is like this, I’d read the whole book!
• The Devil We Know Poems by Lady Fiona Wachter
Ribald, silly and fun poems from Vallaki’s favourite book club host.
• Embalming: The Lost Art. A paper detailing advanced embalming techniques. Interesting conversation topic for parties.
A Thayan guide to getting the most out of your dead workforce.
• From the Life of Saint Markovia. A book detailing the life and death of Saint Markovia.
Not only will this help you find the body of the saint, but it will fill in some if they Backstory to boot!
• Goats of the Balinok Mountains. A paper about goats.
You will be relieved to know the little bleaters are thriving, as well as prospects of treasure and mounts.
• The Grimoire of the Four Quarters. A book detailing ways to summon and negotiate with devils.
A ritual guide to summoning Devils with good reviews from the Wachter book group.
• Hymns to the Dawn. A volume of chants to the Morninglord.
Sing Lathander! Sing Lathander! Sing Lathander to the Lord of Morning!
• Killing the Devil. A pamphlet that hangs in Vallaki’s dark alleys.
Fuck Strahd, I won’t do what he tells me!
A hook that could be a trap or a way to meet the resistance.
• Legends From the Svalich Woods. A book featuring dark stories about the Svalich Woods.
Improve your knowledge of the scary forests of Barovia and read a creepy tale that could spark a quest.
• Life Among the Undead. A tragic story, written by one “Vasili von Holtz.”
An insight into the mind of Strahd. If one writes about themself as another persona and publishes it under that pseudonym, is it a self insert fanfic about the self?
• The Oath Celestial. A historical book about the knights of the Holy Empire of Valentia.
An interesting history of an even older order of knights that could give you the edge when dealing with the Order of the Silver Dragon.
• Rictavio’s Journal
A couple of hare-raising pages from the ridiculous diary of Rictavio, showing Van Richten’s inner party boy.
• Rituals for Mother Night. A book containing rituals to interact with Mother Night.
These grim and gritty rituals are a creepy thing to come across, but each grant their own boons of enacted correctly.
• Van Richten’s Guide to Lycanthropy and Vampirism.
A book containing information on vampires and lycanthropes.
Mechanical and practical help for the Barovian on the go.
• Travel Guide: Balinokova. A guide with information about Barovia before Strahd invaded.
Move aside Volo, there’s a new (old) kiss and tell all travel writer in town! Love to see the contrast between sunny Balinokova and the Domain of Dread, Barovia.
• Von Holtz’s Letter to Lovina
A glimpse of the sensitive side to the abusive monster that is Von Holtz/ Strahd.
• Wolf’s Head Jamboree
A proclamation for the Vallaki event the party just missed. Free pikes!
This is a seriously impressive and rich collection of fun, informative and impactful writings that will certainly spark joy!
Author: Christian Eichhorn
Editor: John Parker
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/356173/Tomes-of-Ravenloft--A-Curse-of-Strahd-Supplement?affiliate_id=1507682
**Theros Encounters in Setessa by T.A Gray
CW: Alcohol/ Intoxication, Elderly & Child Endangerment, House fire, Self Starvation, Suicide **
Link to plaintext review in Dyslexie font: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AqATw8u6PzaFhPU81MinLhfaOk_VWw?e=YV8OHn
There is a fantastic variety of encounters here, including a mix of social and combat, hooks, seeds and inspiration that can be extrapolated into whole quests and sidequests, act as follow-ups to encounters or simply add flavour, as well as a number of events and vignettes that give the players a grounding in the lore and setting, something all games benefit from but especially in the mystical forests of mythological Theros.
Presented with a helpful encounter/ location table for quick reference and rolling on.
Picking a few of those that stood out to me from the 30 encounters included in this supplement: opening strong with a wonderfully vivid encounter that gives the party a chance to witness the procession and ritual of an elderly warrior become a caryatid, impressively creepy Phenaxian cursed pomegranates and nightmares, the dangers of oracles and paranoia, a fun twist on the classic rats in the basement quest, a fascinating and desperately sad take on the Returned, and a portentous dragon oracle!
A wonderful map of the polis from Vitor Nunes is included.
Four unique or variant creatures/ NPCs, including a zealous leonin iconoclast monk and a greater swarm of rats.
Three new magic items, including the awesome Boots of the Minotaur.
There are some heavy themes and possible occurrences with a few of the encounters, as mentioned above in the content warnings, though nothing is gratuitous, and all fit the theme and tone of Greek myth and Theros. However, it’s good to be mindful of your players and the issues that may affect them.
While perfectly in tune with the Theros setting and location of Setessa, this is also just a brilliant collection of encounters well worth a look.
This genuinely made me put feelers out to my Theros group, which has been on hiatus, after reading a couple of pages because this was really putting me in the mood. Great stuff!
Designer: T.A. Gray
Template: Simple Microsoft Word Template by Laura Hirsbrunner
Cover Illustrator: Shutterstock
Interior Illustrators: Red Garcia, Pixabay, DMs Guild Creator Resources
Cartography: Vitor Nunes
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/356957/Theros-Encounters-in-Setessa?affiliate_id=1507682
In a similar vein to the way the Uncaged Anthology freed women from the chauvinistic shackles of mythology and folklore, Unbreakable is a watershed moment for Asian representation in both content and creators. From the Khmer language of Cambodia, Chinese proverbs and places both lost and restored through societal forces, through reconnecting with cultural roots and familial tales from the Philippines that blur the line between reality and fantasy, to folklore, spiritualism and Chinese-American mythology, the inspiration for these adventures is as vast as the countries and cultures of Asia and Asian-Americans, beyond the East Asian Archetype and previous offensive depictions epitomized by the 'Oriental Adventures', still available on DMs Guild (with unwieldy notes on the history of its publication and disputes over ownership, though nothing addressing its problematic content).
As important as this is for representation, the quality of the writing and artwork of the anthology are equal to the moment; absolutely spellbinding with adventures rich in mythology, blending with and augmenting existing D&D lore. In Unbreakable you will help a talking carp prove itself to a maternal golden dragon; aid spirits of nature and face moral quandary and pollution; release the restless spirits of a village drowned by greed; reclaim a cultural artefact in a bamboo city heist during a festival; rescue monks trapped within crystal constructs and battle a spirit inside a silver chalice to keep a sacred flame alight; battle or placate undead and fiends with puppets in a bizarre, harrowing tale of lost children; trade emotions and traverse visions to find a legendary warrior to help rally the defense a city from monsoon and monster; enter a mahjong tournament rife with intrigue, tile mimics and a forest spirit in the form of an adorable mouse deer, with the chance to win a wish; deliver melons to a giant demon salamander's son...in hell (Diyu) to save a village from drowning in her tears, help the son get a job and the party out of hell with the power forgery and clerical work because few creatures are more litigious than fiends (or take a quick walking tour of the 18 hells in this Journey to the West inspired mythology), and ultimately end up rich or drowning in melons... and reunite a jade hermit with their 12 animal friends, each with their own flavourful realm, unique zodiac-inspired abilities, lair actions, and various involved and entertaining skill challenges to convince placate the, including a showdown with the tricksy Lord of Cats with multiple possible outcomes.
The lore and world-building are phenomenal with so many fantastic ideas, themes and seeds to act as inspiration for building your own Asian-inspired campaigns, with each adventure providing areas and concepts to use and expand upon in the form of everything from villages, towns, cities and regions to caves, forests, mountains and rivers, as well as people, creatures and mythology, all the way down to the 18 hells (Diyu). Taking the concepts and hooks provided, and expanding upon them could easily make for a quality campaign in which each adventure in the anthology could play an integral part.
Included within are new mechanics for reputation and adversity, a system for generating and emulating the changeable nature of high heat and humidity, running a mahjong tournament with rumours to be collected along with the winnings, as well as handling monsoons, organizing the defense of a city and measuring time as a resource. Also included are a cavalcade of new fascinating, adorable and terrifying creatures and magic items, as well as detailed settings and allusions to power structures and the world beyond and below.
I am absolutely captivated and moved by this release, which is as timely and momentous as it is entertaining and brilliant. Jacky Leung (@DeathByMage) has brought together a team truly worthy of the honour of being a part of this historic project.
Produced by Jacky Leung and Jazz Eisinger.
Layout & Graphics Design by Caroline Amaba.
Edited by Camielle Adams, Jazz Eisinger, Daniel Kwan, Steve Huynh, Lynn M. Meyer, Echo Roanoke
Cover Art by Joshua Mendenhall.
Original Artwork by Anthony Alipio, Caroline Amaba, Alison Huang, Kari Kawachi, Xyrystina Marcos, Tiona, Mouton, Jennifer Peig, Kathryne Wilson, Nicole Wilkinson, Reshma Zachariah
Adventures Written by Anthony Alipio, Steve Huynh, Kat Kruger, Daniel Kwan, Jacky Leung, Kevin Nguyen, Collette Quach, KC Shi, Russ Wilde, Ethan Yen
Strahd’s Dark Servants: A Collection of Monsters from the Misty Lands of Barovia and Castle Ravenloft by Christian Eichhorn by Christian Eichhorn (@SquirrelGolem)
CW: Horror, Body Horror, Loss of Agency, Ableism (incongruous reference to gout, m*d), Whipping, Food, Poison, Forced Feeding, Animal Cruelty (Whipping Dogs), Dog Attack (reference), Clowns (Jester), Torture (Reference), Child Abuse, Neglect
This is a collection of ten NPCs for Strahd and Ravenloft that come with such style, flavour and inspiration that will add morbid amusement and deathly terror to your game! The book is a work of art on its own, taking inspiration from the bold, sketchy punk-metal aesthetic, which fits this subject perfectly. There are lore and descriptions here to develop existing characters and concepts, as well as inspire whole questlines and arcs with a range of danger, from new danger in the Svalich woods to a sozzled zombie kept fermenting in a wine barrel and a truly horrifying Apostate with dark revelations and a deadly bag of tricks!
The added accoutrements, whether fancy arrows, new pupper swarms and an array of poisoned food and drink are something that really adds something great to the supplement, but also provide elements and inspiration for your games. This combined with the lore, flavour, background and window into the lives and encounters with these ‘servants of Strahd’ we’re given in the text, as well as the wonderfully arresting and epically ugly-beautiful, Mörk Borg-inspired artwork and presentation truly elevate this brilliant book of NPCs into something absolutely incredible.
I adore this stylised presentation and when it’s backed up by the quality of concept, writing, entertainment and things to bring to the table and challenge your players with, along with all the fuel for inspiration, it’s a wonder to behold!
Full in depth review on my Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/post/SebsReviews-Strahds%E2%80%AFDark-Servants-by-Christian-E-P5P736GX3
My affiliate link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/342606/Strahds-Dark-Servants--Monsters-and-Retainers-for-Curse-of-Strahd?affiliate_id=1507682
Mörk Borg (@MorkBorg)
This is my shorter version of the full review I plan to dive into another time, but I wanted to share my excitement in my last review of 2020.
CW: Grimdark, Adult, Violent Themes and images, Ableism , Self Harm
Mörk Borg is a lemon sherbet. Bright yellow, sweet and sour on its hard outside. It’s filled with tart, fizzy death. It’ll rot and break your teeth, but you’ll love every minute of it. Grimdark enough to make the Imperium of Warhammer’s 41st Millennium seem like a wonderful place for Mörk the Borg to sojourn.
Full Review on my ko-fi because of formatting nightmares: https://t.co/WnKS6TPiQr?amp=1
Game Design: Pelle Nilsson
Graphic Design and Art: Johan Nohr (@JohanNohr) and dead people
Creative Consultation and English Writing: Patrick Stuart
Örtmästare Games & Stockholm Kartell
PLAYTESTING Adrian Madden, Christian Sahlén, Dan Algstrand, Elin Hedström, Felix Dester Hultgren, Gunnar Landqvist, Karl Stjernberg, Markus Linderum, Nina Åkesson, Simon Perstrand, Stefan Hedström and Tobias Tarnvik-Laesker.
PROOFREADING/EDITING Christian Sahlén, Dan Algstrand, Fiona Maeve Geist (MRC), Jarrett Crader (MRC), Johan Eriksson, Levi Huntsman and Skander Fanni.
ORIGINAL TRANSLATION Johan Nohr
THANKS TO Calle Niblaeus, Christian Plogfors, Christian Sahlén, Dan Algstrand, Domkraft, Fredrik Jarl, Gunnar Landqvist, Heimat der Katastrophe, Helene Rothstein Sylvesten, Jim Magnusson, Joakim Malmquist, Johan Eriksson, Jonas Stattin, Karl Druid, Karl Stjernberg, Niklas Wistedt, Simon Perstrand, Sof i e Nohr, Tiina Pyykkö Nilsson, Tomas Härenstam and all our backers, fans and haters.
MUSIC THAT HELPED
Ash Borer. Batushka. Bell Witch. Belzebong. Black Tremor. Bongripper. Bongzilla. Cathedral. Conan. Dark Buddha Rising. Darkthrone. Domkraft. Dragged Into Sunlight. Dödsrit. Earth. Electric Wizard. Eyehategod. Gnoll. Godspeed You! Black Emperor. KTL. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. Mayhem. Mephorash. Monolord. Morbid. Murg. Phurpa. Primitive Man. Profetus. Shadowmaster. Sleep. Slomatics. Sunn 0))). The Body. This Gift Is A Curse. Thou. Tiamat. Ufomammut. Urfaust. Weedeater. With the Dead.
My affiliate link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/295910/Mork-Borg-English?affiliate_id=1507682
If you are interested in more Mörk Borg there is a hell of a lot of awesome stuff on their website: MÖRK BORG (morkborg.com)
There’s also so much awesomeness on itch.io, including the monumental Album Crawl: https://tahmasian.itch.io/album-crawl organised by Michael Tahmasian (@ItsNotTasmanian) and Owen McGauley (https://owenmcg.itch.io/), which I will definitely be getting into another time!
The Wretched by Chris Bissette aka Loot the Room (@pangalactic)
Live the Alien sequel you always wanted as you take on a role similar to that of Ripley, only this time the creature is trying to get back in, the ship’s falling apart and you need to do everything you can to keep yourself and it together.
Despite being incredibly simple to play with a tumbling tower, pack of cards and dealer’s choice of recording logs (with audio recordings being so much fun as the situation truly comes alive), the depth of emotion and stress concisely conveyed in the results is truly harrowing and effective. It’s even possible to play this purely digitally, as I did, with free card and tumbling tower apps, or without the tower at all, so it can be easily played anywhere.
This was my first experience with a journaling game and I absolutely loved it! There was definitely something about playing this during our ongoing quarantine that heightened the experience, but I became absolutely obsessed with The Wretched, making countless recordings and unravelling along with the character as I got more and more into the acting and performance elements of the logs.
This is a seriously awesome game that really brings the solo journaling experience to vivid life, placing you in a familiar and altogether... Alien experience. I thoroughly recommend it and can’t wait to play my way through the whole of the Wretched & Alone Jam games!
This was the game that really showed me games could be more than D&D or some other large TTRPG. I fell in love with the whole Wretched & Alone family and the wide variety of wonders here on itch! I can never thank you enough Chris!
Update coming when I get my hands on my ridiculously exciting physical goodies from the Kickstarter!
My Affiliate Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311334/The-Wretched?affiliate_id=1507682
Everyone’s Been Naughty by Christopher Waples (@Grumpy_DMs)
“Everyone’s Been Naughty is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure that takes place in the remote northern Kingdom of Hartsvale in the Forgotten Realms. Deep in this valley is the city of Darkwell. Located at the base of the Weeping Spire, it is a city few have heard of. It is there where an unlikely ally seeks to repair the Midwinter Cycle, before all the magic from the holiday is lost forever and replaced by an unending darkness.
This is a 4-5-hour one-shot adventure designed to be played by a party of four to five 5th level characters.”
This heightened holiday nightmare cartoon adventure contains a lot of dark, adult themes and content, but is crafted with skill and care, and will bring the right group with informed consent a whole lot of epic fun.
CW: Violence towards children (Referenced: Krampus, whipping), Children in Combat (Tossed by Krampus from his Sack, becoming Active in Combat), Spanking (as Attack: Krampus), Kidnapping, War (Referenced & Many Bodies of the Fallen), Suicidal / Assisted Suicide (Snowman: Requested, Bargained, Described), Loss of Agency (Magic Item: Becoming a 15 ft. Killer Snowman), Necessity of Fighting Irreversibly Warped Innocents, Mass Death from Depression (Referenced), Fat-shaming (Child)
It should be clear from the sheer amount of content warnings above that Everyone's Been Naughty is an adventure with a number of mature themes. I’m choosing to address this up top because I feel the weight content warnings above warrants it. This isn’t, as was once said, your granddaddy’s Christmas/ Midwinter adventure. That having been said it is clearly not designed to be anything other than good, if not clean fun. There is a heightened nature to things that I would compare to the cartoons aimed at adults such as those produced by Adult Swim. If they are something you and your group enjoy then I can see this being a lot of fun, it’s simply a case of knowing your group, having open communication, giving them the opportunity for informed consent by being clear about the elements and nature of the adventure. I would seriously recommend the use of Safety Tools with this adventure to ensure the comfort of your table. The TTRPG Safety Toolkit (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/114jRmhzBpdqkAlhmveis0nmW73qkAZCj) co-curated by Kienna Shaw (@KiennaS) and Lauren Bryant-Monk (@jl_nicegirl) is an invaluable resource.
Now this has been established I do raise the issue that the appropriate content warnings are not present in the document or product page. Due to this and little else influenced my rating this adventure 4/5, rather than 5/5, which I believe it would be with the nature of the content and discussion of safety tools addressed because this is clearly a quality adventure with great imagination, lore and world-building/ dovetailing with the Forgotten Realms. Finally, on this matter I want to draw attention to the fact this is one of the first works of a new creator with the RPG Writer Workshop (@StoryTellingCol) and the genuine openness and understanding of this matter when I raised it with them. I hope this can be addressed in a future update.
Right, let’s get into this supplement!
There is a heck of a lot here for the introductory price, set to increase after Boxing Day:
• 3 unique holiday themed subclasses
• 3 unique holiday themed monsters
• 3 full color battlemaps
• A full-sized map of the kingdom of Hartsvale
• A full-sized map of the city of Darkwell
Subclasses of Midwinter
“The kingdom of Hartsvale is one of the most secluded places in all of Faerûn. Due to this, the people and creatures of Hartsvale have developed skills and abilities unique to the area.”
This came out of nowhere! I was not expecting subclasses as a bonus to this adventure. I absolutely love these having organically grown up from the Harstvale being so cut off from the wider Faerûn.
Artificer Subclass: Toymaker
“A Toymaker seeks to bring out the magic in mundane items.
Toymakers can mold discarded wood, metal, or other assorted scrap material to craft magical toys. The toys bring wonder and joy to the allies of the Toymaker, while they bring pain and suffering to those that are hostile. The Toymaker is highly sought after in cities and towns during major festivals and holidays.
Each Toymaker carries with them a burlap sack in which to keep their scrap. Reaching into this bag, the Toymaker can magically pull out a fully-functional toy.”
I can’t accurately describe how much I love everything about the concept of this Artificer! The magical upcycling speaks to me on a deep level. Turning scrap into wonder-imbued toys for kids is a glorious kind of magic that captures the joy of the holidays.
The toys produced are rolled on a d10 table from
“A nesting doll of the Companions – You open the nesting doll of Bruenor Battlehammer, Catti-brie, Regis, and Wulfgar. Within the last nesting doll is a note that says: Drizzt Do’Urden sold separately. The toy has no other effects”
“An action figure of the wizard Elminster – Roll a d6 and then cast the spell centered on a point or target within 150 feet. You can increase the level of the spell by expending a higher-level spell slot. The spell will then cast at that level. This choice can be made before or after you roll for the spell.”
• 1-2 – 1st level Magic Missiles
• 3-4 – 2nd level Dragons Breath
• 5 – 3rd level Fireball
• 6 – 4rth level Ice Storm
Each one a fabulous reference to the stars and totems of the Forgotten Realms! I genuinely felt the hairs on my arms stand up in excitement. This is one of my favourite subclasses I’ve come across, let alone my favourite take on this concept and Holiday subclasses.
Bard Subclass: College of Merrymaking
“The long-dreaded cold of winter can break even the strongest individual. The bards of Darkwell, deep in the north of Hartsvale, have developed unique methods to keep holiday cheer going throughout the year.
Spreading good song and festive decorations, these Bards empower their allies and hinder their foes through large radius effects.”
This holly jolly bard truly is wonderfully thematic, using their performance to spark joy and wonder. This does include the charming of creatures, which can be hinky depending on how it is handled at the table, though being all about spreading the Christmas spirit than control or seduction is using enchantment for good.
The Merrymakers also get floating “motes” they can summon in festive shapes with various utility abilities, gaining more little sparkle friends as they progress.
Ranger Subclass: Bond of the Reindeer
“The Firbolgs of Hartsvale have spent countless generations in their forest stronghold of Meadowhome, surviving each gruelling winter on what little harvest can be saved and off the game of the land. Because of this, the Firbolg developed a symbiotic relationship with the reindeer that live in the region. This allowed the Firbolg to utilize the reindeer for numerous tasks, while providing the reindeer protection and shelter from the harsh winter and other dangers in the region. The Firbolg learned to use their magical connection to nature to nurture this relationship further, and gained the ability to summon small Reindeer spirits to aid them when the need arose. The Firbolg have shared these abilities with the other Hartsvale races, but few are able to a similar bond.”
Yo Ranger, I heard you like reindeer, so we put a reindeer in your reindeer, so you can reindeer while you reindeer!
These Rangers have the power to summon reindeer in a plethora of ways that expand as they level up from familiars, steeds, conjured animals, helpful spirits, taking on the powers of Rudolf complete with sweet antlers and light up red nose, all the way up to dropping a Sleipnir of reindeer on your foes and having the eight reindeer go buck wild for a turn!
Everyone’s Been Naughty
The adventure itself is a tight action-packed one shot beginning with an investigation of missing villagers and strange meteorological goings on, snowballing into battling twisted festive creatures, reconstructing and bargaining with a suicidal last survivor of the Snowman Wars to possibly team up with or battle Krampus, before finally discovering the missing warped by the influence of a furious Saint Nick who is angrier than that time he got stuck in a chimney and someone wrote a song about it. A final confrontation against Father Christmas is an epic battle of life and death, a more importantly the survival of the holidays and the Midwinter Cycle with multiple endings, from everyone living happily ever after all the way to “Thousands of people [dying] each winter due to the depression and dreariness of the season!”
It’s...a lot, but a whole lot of fun.
Great “Adjusting the Scene” advice and additional options for parties under or overqualified for the base encounters is included throughout
There are a plushie Beholder and Owlbear acting as Toy Shop guards with appropriate change that could act as a template for creating your own plushie creatures, which is adorable and awesome. The “peaky-looking creatures” who are the “elven citizens that were kidnapped and have been fully corrupted by Santa’s evil holiday magic” that will try to kill the party are much less cute.
In the final confrontation Santa Breaks the fourth wall, sound a bit like Ryan Reynolds:
“Ah, list the names of the players, not their PCs>. I am glad you could finally make it. You’ve been especially naughty this year.
Playing Dungeons and Dragons instead of helping the needy and downtrodden.” Santa then rises from his desk. “Ho Ho Ho! Looks like you will only be getting one present this year, the gift of death.””
There’s not enough meta ridiculousness in D&D and singular, wild adventures like this are perfect places to play about with this.
New creatures included in the adventure:
• Snow Monstrosity: A CR 5 evil pile of snow that makes me want to run a Frozen game with this as the Let it Go Guardian
• Krampus: An interesting take on the festive punisher of naughty children with moves akin to Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion...and a sack of children soldiers that fight for him, which is admittedly grim, but in the heightened holiday nightmare cartoon for adults (and with the right, consenting group) this could be the ridiculous, amusing spectacle it’s clearly intended to be.
I’m unsure if I’m being too sensitive because of my own experiences, but I’m unsure about one of the children named “Chungus the Humongous - Equipped with a Chicken Leg” could be seen as fat-shaming and did give me a cold shiver of memories of bullying when I was a kid.
This heightened holiday nightmare cartoon adventure contains a lot of dark, adult themes and content, but is crafted with skill and care, and will bring the right group with informed consent a whole lot of epic fun.
“Battle Maps of the City Center, Krampus’s Domain, and Santa’s Workshop are provided.
A full world map of the Kingdom of Hartsvale and the city of Darkwell.”
Designer/Writer: Christopher Waples (@Grumpy_DMs)
Story Creator: Christopher Waples
Producer: Christopher Waples
Editor: Shelley Waples
Play Testers: Countless friends during Christmas D&D sessions in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The AL group at Zenergy Gamers.
Balancers: Samuel Amidon, Jay Johnson, Dmitri Virnig
Map Cartographer: Jon Vasquez https://www.jonvdesigns.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Artist: Adam Shumpert https://www.artstation.com/adamschumpert, email@example.com
Krampus Artist: Fil Kearney https://www.twitter.com/filkearney
Background Template: Nathanaël Roux https://www.barkalotdesigns.com
Map Designer: Christopher Waples Map Maker Tool: Arkenforge, https://arkenforge.com
E-mail: GrumpyDungeonMasters@gmail.com ChristopherWaples@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GrumpyDungeonMasters Twitter: @Grumpy_DMs
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/338682/Everyones-Been-Naughty?affiliate_id=1507682
Included in the RPG Writer Workshop Fall 2020 Vol. III [BUNDLE] https://www.dmsguild.com/product/338635/RPG-Writer-Workshop-Fall-2020-Vol-III-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=1507682
Back to the Sea by Ginger (@inkyginge)
Anniversary Updates include:
• Gorgeous cover art from the phenomenal Cita A F (@dancingberry)
• Added introduction with Adventure Background, Adventure Hooks, Dramatis Personae, more information on using adventure, Content Warning, and Safety Tools
• Updated descriptions
• A formatting face-lift that is more aesthetic and accessible
• Combat Level adjustments enabling this to be a level 1-4 adventure!
Back to the Sea is a creepy cool mystery that begins with an inquisitive scholar with gold, perturbing rumours and a burning passion for discovering the mysteries of the area, and hopefully ends with the freeing of a tormented soul, betrayed and abandoned by their lover.
Shipwrecked and alone, save for the briny embrace of octopi and the elements, the party discover the Lonely House and must discover its secrets to unlock freedom for themselves and the poor soul trapped in the cavern below in a twisted state of undeath.
Putting the pieces in place unlocks memories and visions, which lead them deeper into bowels of the house and reveals the perfidious paramour, the oubliette in which he abandoned her and a ritual to save her soul.
Back to the sea is a beautifully written mystery and exploration that is incredibly fun to read on its own, as the secrets unfold and the tale is told. I genuinely shuddered while reading this because of the spoops!
Haunting flavour text set the scenes and bullet points lay out the elements and information. This makes preparation and referencing so much easier, as well as the nature of the information as presented allowing for DMs to interpret and play in their own way. This open layout is infinitely more accessible than dense columns of description and reams boxtext.
For those that need to hit something, there are a couple of new unnerving creatures with ghastly ghostly abilities, as well as trinkets and treasures sprinkled in as a smart way to keep the more mercenary members searching for clues.
This is an adventure as deep, cold and bleak as the sea, reflecting its enigmatic beauty. Truly different, thoughtful and awesome! The update only makes this all the more impressive!
Written by Ginger (@inkyginge)
Map Illustrations by Ginger (@inkyginge)
Cover art by Cita A F (@dancingberry)
Artwork selected from pixabay by StarGlade and OpenClipart-Vectors
Playtesters Ailsa, Alex, Cat, Eris, Rui, Xenia and Yubi
Editing and Correction: Alex Calgaro and Faye Armstrong
Special Mention: Ashley Warren & The RPG Writer Workshop, Dael Kingsmill and #gamowrimo
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/297621/Back-To-The-Sea?affiliate_id=1507682
The Cult of the Shattered Peak by Steve Fidler (@vorpaldicepress) & Bryan Holmes (@FallenWyvern)
This is simply one of the most impressive and comprehensive faction supplements I’ve had the pleasure of reading! There’s just so much here to bring the Cult of the Shattered Peak to life in supplement so mythically powerful the Cult themselves might seek to destroy it!
From a detailed history and lore, full Renown system, an array of Player Options, including Background, Secret, as well as the Sundering Knight Fighter and Agent of the Cult Rogue Subclasses imbued with magic to control and contain, a Group Patron complete with Contacts, Perks, Operatives, Roles and Quests, an in depth chapter by chapter companion to Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden focused on the Cult with NPCs, Motivations, Subplots, Advantages and Complications for Agents, as well as ways to earn and lose renown, and much more, which add a whole new weight of storytelling and focus that grounds the Cult’s Agents in the story, giving players greater motivation and intrigue, not to mention the quality NPCs who may well become part of the team! Finally, there’s an array of new Magic Items, with my favourites being the Proximity Explosives and Blasting Rod because you can never have enough bang!
This is an incredible amount of bang for buck written in an engaging and thoughtful manner. It’s clear this is a labour of love. The Cult of the Shattered Peak are back and things will Nether be the same!
Writing & Design: Steve Fidler & Bryan Holmes
Editing: E.R.F. Jordan
Art Direction & Graphic Design: Steve Fidler
Layout: Steve Fidler
Cover Art: Steve Fidler, with Cult logo by Brian Patterson. Inspired by Nathanaël Roux
Cult Logo Design: Art by Brian Patterson informed by design elements by Ed Greenwood
Interior Art: Philipp Urlich, Brian Patterson, Storn Cook, Christina Bindon, Sergiy Abramov, Dean Spencer, Ginho, Forrest Imel, Jack Holliday, Colleen O’Dell, Carlos “Celurian” Torreblanca, Brett Neufeld, Adobe Stock (Microstocker, warmtail, James Joong, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mia Stendal, Liuzishan), Wizards of the Coast, some vectors by Vecteezy.com, some brushes by Brusheezy.com
Playtesting: Nicolo de la Merced, Israel Moreira
My Affiliate Link: https://www.dmsguild.com/product/338277/Icewind-Dale-Cult-of-the-Shattered-Peak?affiliate_id=1507682