DMs Guild Review – Mark of the Vestige

A 5E update to 3.5E’s Tome of Magic, featuring 35 ghostly entities to bind.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Mark of the Vestige” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: E. R. F. Jordan

Typically when I think of possession I think of ghosts and demons and horror movies – or perhaps a villain’s attempt to bind an evil creature to their will. Mark of the Vestige is all about consensual possession, summoning up an otherworldly entity and forming a contract to gain their powers.

With clear rules, excellent writing, thematic art, and dozens of options, Mark of the Vestige is one of the most impressive sourcebooks I’ve seen on the DMs Guild.

The 50+ page sourcebook is organized into three chapters, along with a helpful introduction that explains what the hell a “vestige” is. Vestiges are not quite demons nor deities, but powerful, legendary entities that exist on the peripheries of our world. They hold great power but mostly just want a chance to exist on the Material Plane again, which is where the binder comes in.

The first chapter explains how a potential binder can learn about vestiges and perform the ritual needed to summon them. Skill checks are needed to gather the necessary information  and for performing the binding ritual, though a failure doesn’t mean the vestige leaves. In a classic twist of “success, but,” you gain the vestige’s powers but also their debilitating influences, which usually manifest as madness-like role-playing traits such as distrust, narcissism, avarice, and fear.

The rules are clear and simple and the rewards are pretty awesome, with the average vestige granting multiple at-will spells and abilities. Chapter one also includes helpful notes on using vestiges as flavorful roleplaying devices or purely mechanical, with either being appropriate depending on your world and (more importantly) your players.

Chapter Two lists all 35 (!) vestiges available for summoning and binding, including 32 from the original 3.5 Edition Tome of Magic, updated to Fifth Edition. Each vestige is given a backstory along with detailed notes and flavor text on the summoning ritual, and the powers, influence, and physical transformations once the pact is made.

dms guild review

For example, Shax, an aggressive and territorial Storm Giant leader, requires her seal be drawn upon a body of water, and due to her warlike nature, any body of a dead foe placed upon the seal lowers the DC to bind her by three. If a pact is made, the binder gains thematic abilities such as immunity to lightning damage, a stunning lighting strike, and a swim speed, though failing the check could result in becoming overly possessive about your land and personal space.

Shax’s backstory involves her reign coming to an end when she was beheaded, thus when she’s summoned her towering form appears, only for her head to roll off and skitter around on ropey hair – deliciously creepy! As a result of the pact, the binder’s neck will appear scarred as if their head had been cut off and reattached.

When faced with so many options I was expecting a variety of quality, but I’m delighted to report that every vestige is cool, interesting, and thematic.

Paimon is a noble dueler with an intriguing backstory about running afoul of a nobleman and getting his limbs chopped off, only to return with swords for arms and legs, and granting binders extra dexterity, dodging, and blade proficiencies. Chupoclops is a hilariously named giant phase spider, granting poison bites and phase shifting. Buer is a kind huntress that adds healing and protective abilities, while summoning Andromalius the jester involves telling a joke using a Performance check, possibly lowering the DC to bind them.

The Manifestation sections of each vestige are particularly well-written, highly evocative descriptions of the vestiges bursting forth, whether it’s a three-headed dog devouring a bird, a man with snakes for arms, an undulating blood fountain with a skeletal arm, or a sword driven into the ground bursting into radiant light.

The final chapter lists 20 new magic items, all of which are tied to the mechanics of summoning and binding vestiges. Some are designed to help potential binders, others to increase your patron power or suppress the negative effects, or just increase your power, just as the Voidsteel Shield, Armor, and Weapon. Other’s, like the Exorcist Dagger, are designed to combat enemy binders, possibly severing their ties to their patrons.

With so much fantastic content I was hard-pressed to find anything I didn’t love about Mark of the Vestige. The font is plain and a bit too small, and the subheadings aren’t as pronounced as they could be, but that’s being extremely nit-picky, and not enough to even warrant a mention in my Cons section. Even if you’re not sure about allowing the summoning and binding of vestiges in your campaigns, Mark of the Vestige is well worth a look for the quality of content alone.

Pros:

  • Clear, concise rules for researching, summoning, and binding vestiges.
  • 35 vestiges, each with their own powers, backstory, physical manifestations, detrimental influences, and player handout cards.
  • Evocative flavor text for summonings.
  • Thematic all-black symbol art for each Vestige.
  • 20 new magic items tied to summoning and binding.

Cons:

  • None!

The Verdict: More than an update of 3.5 edition’s Tome of Magic, Mark of the Vestige is an excellent sourcebook for dozens of fascinating otherworldly entities.

A review copy of “Mark of the Vestige” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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