DMs Guild Review – The Academy: The Wizard Class Hall

A sourcebook detailing a classic staple of fantasy stories: the magic wizard university, as well as new wizard player features.

dms guild review

A review copy of “The Academy: The Wizard Class Hall” 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: Jason BakosThemis ParaskevasMatthew Whitby

Harry Potter popularized the magical fantasy school with Hogwarts, though by no means invented in. I remember being a big fan of Discworld’s Unseen University throughout the 90s.

The Academy: The Wizard Class Hall presents the familiar trope of the fantasy wizard school within the D&D universe. It includes over 30 pages of detailed information, along with new feats, familiars, spells, sidekicks, and a mini-adventure.

The first half of the 60+ page supplement is all about The Academy. The school can be placed in any large city – or in its own area, and features a castle-like design where each tower houses a different school of magic. The courtyard acts as a wizard-friendly trading outpost, including shops, taverns, and forges.

Each of the arcane school towers are appropriately themed. The Tower of Conjuration lacks stairs, as students are expected to teleport around. The Tower of Enchantment features magical holograms for practicing charm spells, while the Tower of Transmutation includes a laboratory.

A magic university is fertile grounds for quirky characters and interesting developments, but I didn’t see much that interested me in The Academy. Just like its name, everything inside is a bit too generic and obvious, from the cemetery located next to the Necromancer Tower to the grand dining hall where all the students mingle.

The most interesting and unique area is actually located outside The Academy: a high-class tavern called the Gelatinous Resort, which features furniture made to resemble a gelatinous cube, without the pesky digestive acids that come with the real thing.

dms guild review

I enjoyed the flavor text courtesy of the many student quotes found throughout the supplement, breathing life into each area. But I never did see compelling reasons to actually use this magic school in a D&D campaign. Why is my adventuring party going there, or why would I begin a campaign here? What are some adventuring hooks or events that we could explore? What kind of mischief could we manage? At the very least, a series of d4 encounter table for each tower would have gone a long way to providing something to do.

The second half includes new features that players can use, such as spell school specializations, school-themed familiars, and sidekicks.

Specializations are a neat idea, and include their own feats, but I was disappointed we only get one per class. Evocation wizards can be Pyromancers while Enchanters can be Mindbenders. The feats seem very powerful, and there aren’t any notes about how long it would take to acquire them or much how it costs to attend the classes – things that a DM would definitely want to know if a player was interested.

The sample encounters don’t do a good job differentiating between an encounter and a mini-adventure. “Strawberry Fields Forever” has the party running through the random dungeon crawl that is the Tower of Illusions before solving a puzzle with a phoenix – that’s far more than a standard encounter!

Meanwhile the actual adventure, “Arcanoloth and Found,” is more of an encounter that’s been slightly expanded with some black-and-white graph paper maps (bonus points for the punny name, though). The entire “adventure” is only a couple pages long and boils down to a single chase sequence and boss fight, failing to do much with the Academy that couldn’t be done around any major library.

A magical school should be a gloriously fun place to visit, adventure in, or start a campaign with, combining the exoticism of the fantasy genre with the mundane familiarity of an administrative school system. While I did get a load of information about The Academy, I failed to see how it could be effectively used as an RPG setpiece.

Pros:

  • Over 30 pages of detailed information about the Academy.
  • Fun, flavorful quotes from students at the Academy.
  • 8 NPC wizard sidekicks (1 per school).

Cons:

  • Mini-adventure is very short, and little more than a chase sequence.
  • Lacks encounter and event tables and adventure hooks.

The Verdict: The Academy: The Wizard Class Hall provides the D&D version of Hogwarts, but without the adventure hooks and dramatic intrigue.

A review copy of “The Academy: The Wizard Class Hall” 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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