It’s not often a session can nail all three pillars of Dungeons & Dragons, but the Beautiful Mine quest in Termalaine features combat, exploration, and role-playing, with just a bit of adjustments from the DM to make things more dynamic.
Uprooted is a twisted fairy tale. It’s a romance-fantasy novel. It’s a horror story. It’s a swords-and-sorcery fantasy epic. Uprooted is somehow all of these things, telling a wonderfully intriguing fantasy story that builds and builds, and more importantly, satisfyingly concludes, within 350 pages.
The story starts off a bit slow, and first-person narration always takes a bit for me to get used to. Agnieskha isn’t a typical fantasy hero; reluctant may even be too strong a word, but once we get over her awkward pragmatism and she begins learning how to cast spells her own way, we can’t help but root for her (pun intended). The way Novik describes spellcasting in this world is sublime, evoking a beautiful symphony of poetry, music, and emotion.
The book effortlessly bounds between genres in relatively short time, giving us breathtaking romance, character-driven political intrigue, exciting chase sequences, dramatic battles, and exhilarating moments of action-horror that reminded me of Aliens in all the right ways.
And then there’s The Wood. Never have I felt such fear and terror of this world’s uniquely antagonistic location. The Wood is a malevolent force with its own agenda, minions, and abilities, and discovering all its reasoning and intentions as the plot unfurls is incredibly rewarding. If you can get past the admittedly slow, fairytale-like start, you’ll find a worthy fantasy story that refreshingly doesn’t take thousands of pages to unfurl.
If you’re like me and not particularly well-versed in D&D lore, you may think that Ravenloft and Barovia are interchangeable. Thankfully the good Doctor Van Richten is here to set the record straight.
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft provides detailed overviews of over a dozen different Domains of Dread, of which Barovia is only one of many horror-themed regions, as well as tips for running horror campaigns, new character options, and a low-level mini-adventure in a classic haunted manor.
Might vs. Magic is an adaptation of the classic Might and Magic computer RPGs… — bah, I wish! It’s actually a player supplement featuring 14 new subclasses themed around high-magic worlds, including martial classes with anti-magic traits and abilities, as well as expanded counter spell rules and spells, and new magic items.
Following the Council of Speakers in Bryn Shander, the party decides to head north towards Termaline to help Speaker Masthew with a kobold problem in the gem mine. But first, a stop-over in Targos to meet with Speaker Maxildanarr and hunt for news about a previous adventuring party last seen in the area.
Death in D&D typically leads to one of two scenarios: revive them through magic, or roll up a new character. Playing Dead presents a third option: transforming the player character into a uniquely undead version, with brilliantly themed new subclasses, spells, and adventuring gear.
The Onomancer is a 60+ page supplement that features a full level 1-20 class that introduces an all new way of casting spells. By learning and calling out the true names of people, places, and things, the Onomancer can invoke spell-like incantations at-will, creating a powerful and flexible spell-caster.
For most of my life I wasn’t big into the horror genre, but in recent years I’ve grown to admire its creative storytelling – even if I still can’t muster the courage to play a horror video game. But horror is an excellent genre to explore with D&D, and Weeping Walls effectively checks all the right horror boxes to recreate a modern ghost story in under 20 pages.
The adventure includes the following content warnings: domestic violence, suicide, and body horror.