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Designed by: Milosz Gawecki
Thanks to the magic of Public Domain, eldritch horror has become pervasive in fantasy, sci-fi, and supernatural horror, and Dungeons & Dragons is certainly no exception. In 5e it’s mostly regulated to a single subclass of the Warlock, The Great Old One. “Those Lost in Madness” adds four new Far Realm-themed subclasses for Barbarian, Cleric, Druid, and Rogue.
I was very impressed with the layout and overall visual presentation of the 12-page supplement. The color choices, font, and art blend together beautifully. And there’s also a printer-friendly version for those that groan when they see background colors.
Of the four new subclasses, two of them do a fantastic job adding fun new abilities while keeping with the cosmic horror theme. The Barbarian Meatshaper gains new physical deformities that gave me fond memories of the polymorph skill tree from Divinity: Original Sin 2, including growing wings, chitinous skin, and tentacle arms. The Meatshaper gets a new deformity at levels 3, 6, and 10, along with new abilities that each one grants.
The rogue Far Lurker is also a fun new option. Relentless Strike lets rogues apply their sneak attack as long as their foe is 10 feet away from all other living creatures, giving the Far Lurker almost the opposite play style as a normal rogue who needs their allies nearby.
The Far Lurker also earns unstable energy die as they deal sneak attack damage using Relentless Strike. Once they’ve acquired up three of these d4s, they can add them to the damage as bonus elemental energy. It’s a really neat-looking system that adds a fun new resource for the rogues that’s both rewarding and satisfying, without overly fiddly.
I was less impressed with the cleric and druid subclasses, however. The Cosmic Domain is weirdly boring. You’d think being able to commune with an elder god or feel the divinity of the Far Realm would translate to some crazy abilities. Instead they can switch their skill or tool proficiency, do a debilitating psychic melee attack, and add their WIS modifier to cantrips. It’s just not terribly exciting.
The druid’s Circle of the Blot has a lot more going for it, though I’m not sure it’s very well balanced in lower levels. The ability to assume misshapen animals is very cool and thematic (with extra necrotic damage!), and eventually being able to wild shape into full on abberations is awesome on paper. Then you realize that there are no CR 1 abberations!
I think the designer realized this, as they add a new CR 1 monster stat block, the ooze-like Amoebic Crawler, with a ridiculous hit point pool of 8d10+24! I just heard every DM that’s had to deal with a nigh-unkillable Circle of the Moon druid audibly groan.
The Circle of Blot’s signature ability is spewing a mucus film on the ground. To pull it off you have to spend a new pool of d4s (scaled to your druid level). From level 2 to level 9 all the mucus stuff does is turn the ground into difficult terrain, with the number of squares tied to how you rolled. Cool things happen at level 10 and 14, when the druid can start inflicting damage combos using this tainted zone, but that’s a long ways away. Neat ideas but doesn’t feel very balanced or interesting for Tier 1 and 2 play, which I suspect is the most common era of most D&D games.
Despite my misgivings on some of the subclasses the supplement is definitely worth getting to add some nifty new Far Realm features and abilities to classes other than warlocks.
- Outstanding visual presentation and layout.
- Path of the Meatshaper and Far Lurker have fun, thematic abilities and traits.
- Cosmic Domain and Circle of Blot feel a bit undercooked and underwhelming.
The Verdict: If you want to think outside the Warlock for Far Realm-themed PCs, look no further than “Those Lost in Madness.”
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