DMs Guild Review – Restless: A Guide to Laying Incorporeal Undead to Rest

A supplement on ghosts, wraiths, poltergeists, and other ghostly spirits.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Restless: A Guide to Laying Incorporeal Undead to Rest” 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: V.J. Harris

Most undead encounters in DnD use classic zombies, skeletons and ghouls. Incorporeal (ghost-like) undead are much more rare, and tend to have more exotic abilities, like the Ghost’s possession ability.

Restless: A Guide to Laying Incorporeal Undead to Rest focuses solely on this subgroup of undead monsters, but falls short of the comprehensive supplement I was hoping for.

The supplement is 50 pages long, but don’t let that fool you – 40 pages are nothing but statblocks, and most of those statblocks are different variations of swarms. When undead apparitions are being banished as described in Chapter Two, they can summon swarms of objects or beasts to attack the party.

Some of these swarms I can appreciate, like swarms of books, rocks, and utensils. But many of them make zero sense as a swarm, like a Huge Swarm of Apes, or a Gargantuan Swarm of Axe Beaks. That’s, uh, a stampede!

The bulk of the content lies within the first ten pages. In the first chapter we’re given expanded descriptions and flavor text on every incorporeal undead from the Monster Manual and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, such as the Allip, Banshee, and Poltergeist. Nice, but not terribly helpful.

dms guild review

The second chapter covers exorcisms, which I don’t think is covered in any of the published Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition rulebooks. Exorcisms could be a compelling quest to tackle the unique hauntings that are always closely associated with ghosts; certainly more interesting than treating them as another hack and slash enemy with some resistances.

After setting up a binding circle with an anchoring object, the party can execute a skill challenge to complete the exorcism, while the ghost tries to animate objects or “destroy the building the exorcism is taking place.”

Strangely we’re not given any actual rules for how the ghost accomplishes any of this, other than it acts on Initiative 20 each round. The DC for the skill checks depends on the CR level of the ghost, but no skills are provided¬† – I assume Religion checks? And why does every type of ghost go the summoning-swarms routine? Why not some horror-visions, WIS saves, Madness checks, etc?

I love the idea of making exorcisms a thing in DnD, but I was hoping for more concrete rules and options.

Some of the ghosts, like Banshees and Poltergeists, are given d4 tables that describe their tragic past. More of this please! I wish it went even further with different varieties of ghosts with unique haunts, objectives, abilities, and tactics. There’s a variety of films to pull from like The Babadook, The Shining, The Grudge,¬† The Conjuring, Insidious, Poltergeist, and yes – Ghostbusters!

Ghostly undead deserve their own supplement but Restless left me wanting much more, and not in a good way.

Pros:

  • Dozens of new swarm statblocks.
  • Expanded descriptions for incorporeal undead.

Cons:

  • Half the swarms don’t make any sense (swarm of apes, swarm of wolves, etc).
  • Exorcism rules are underdeveloped.
  • No artwork.

The Verdict: Expanding on ghostly undead is a great idea, but Restless‘ exorcism rules are underdeveloped, and new statblocks focus more on conjured swarms than the ghosts themselves.

A review copy of “Restless: A Guide to Laying Incorporeal Undead to Rest” 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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