DMs Guild Review – Volo’s Tome of Ancient Archetypes (Dwarvish Archetypes + Elvish Archetypes)

Two 12-subclass supplements, one for each class inspired by dwarves and elves.

DMs guild review

A review copy of “Volo’s Tome of Ancient Archetypes” 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: Christian Eichhorn and Christopher Walz

Volo’s Tome of Ancient Archetypes is a bundle that includes two separate class supplements: Dwarvish Archetypes and Elvish Archetypes. Both feature one new subclass for each of the 12 classes, thematically tied to these classic fantasy races.

Both supplements feature gorgeous, professional layouts, including original character art for half of the subclasses. And Volothamp’s name isn’t just slapped on here. He provides fun and flavorful narration for the races and many of the subclasses.

The new subclasses follow the lead from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything in including d6 tables for thematic backstory components, such as the Battle Hymn Bard’s favorite drink, or a Treesinger Druid’s sacred type of tree.

Although the subclasses utilize their respective race’s history and culture, you definitely don’t need to be a dwarf or an elf to use them. Fifth Edition smartly got rid of race and alignment requirements, so if you want to be a lizardfolk who worships the elven pantheon of deities via the Seldarine Domain Cleric- go for it!

My favorite subclasses from Dwarvish Archetypes include the Barbarian Skullsmasher, Heavy Bolter Fighter, and Rune Forger Wizard. The Skullsmasher collects bones from defeated foes, which incur bonuses based on the monster such as additional hit die, resistances, and spells. After gaining a few levels, the Skullsmasher can expend these precious bones to summon specter allies or even cast Revivify on downed allies.

The Heavy Bolter is a Fighter who specializes in the Heavy Crossbow – basically Varric from the Dragon Age series. You start with a +1 crossbow and gain several modifications to add awesome new components and abilities, like iron sights, a ripper blade, and a flamethrower.

DMs guild review

The Rune Forger gains runes whenever they cast spells, one from each school. These runes buff the Wizard by adding temporary hit points and CON save bonuses, but can also expend them to enchant items with new one-use abilities, one for each rune. Runes can add damage, AC, movement, and more.

Those three subclasses alone are some of the best I’ve seen from the DMs Guild. Of the two products I prefer Dwarvish Archetypes overall, but Elvish Archetypes has plenty of fun new additions, like the Druid Treesinger (awakened tree ally and plant wild shapes), Verdant Path Monk (create magic herbs, nature powers), and Court-Blooded Sorcerer, which can choose one of four different seasons after each Long Rest, gaining new spells and abilities.

Not every subclass is a big winner. The Dwarf Druid, Elvish Bard, and both sets of Paladins are quickly forgettable. But for the most part I was incredibly impressed with the mechanics of the new subclasses and how they tied into the respective races, cultures, and deities.

Pros:

  • Great character art for half the archetypes.
  • Highly thematic subclasses with fun mechanics.
  • Lengthy descriptions and fun flavor text by Volo throughout.
  • Lovely professional layout.

Cons:

  • A third of each supplement’s subclasses are a bit weak or uninteresting.

The Verdict: Volo’s Tome of Ancient Archetypes features some of the most interesting and thematically satisfying new subclasses with Dwarvish Archetypes and Elvish Archetypes.

A review copy of “Volo’s Tome of Ancient Archetypes” 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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