This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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Designed by: Lucas AndersonMarius BrunnerJoanna DeLauneDaniel KingJoe Gaylord (Lazarus Game Lab)

It’s no secret that martial classes (Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue, Monk, and to some extent Ranger and Paladin) are underserved compared to spellcasters in Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. They even get their own magic school with Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, courtesy of Magic: The Gathering.

Titanhall Academy: Rivals of Strixhaven creates a Strixhaven-like fantasy school, but one that caters to non-spellcasters instead.

Whereas Strixhaven was founded by dragons, Titanhall Academy was founded by their ancient (and generally non-spellcasting) foes, the giants.

Five schools were founded to create the college. Saberguard, school for tactical warfare, history, and debate. Memnor specializes in deception, assassination, and theater. Felforge is all about weapon and armor crafting. Leafcloak teaches students how to survive in a myriad of outdoor environments. And Hjertseir students seek personal enlightenment and spirituality through warfare.

Oddly, one of the primary martial classes, Barbarian, doesn’t really have a proper home in any school, though Hjertseir comes close. Surely we can have a fun sports school full of jock barbarians, yeah?

As in Strixhaven, each school features detailed notes on its professors, faculty, and students, including statblocks.

The excellent assortment of NPCs is the strongest element of the sourcebook, from the dragon dean of Memnor (and his rebellious half-dragon son!) to the minotaur weapon master of Hjertseir who scoffs at his own school’s spirituality nonsense. Not to mention all the student drama.

Unfortunately there’s no adventure or even adventure hooks to utilize these NPCs, making much of the product feel more like an elaborate dramatis personae.

In comparison, Strixhaven featured an entire level 1-10 campaign, spanning four years of school life.

Jobs, exams, and extracurricular are included in Titanhall Academy, building off the rules established in Strixhaven. A few new activities are worth mentioning, however: Clobberin’ Clockworks, and Kotapelit.

Clobberin’ Clockworks is Battle Bots for Felforge students as they cobble together clockwork creations and pit them against each other. Kotapelit is a tabletop wargame invented by Saberguard. Both activities provide new rules and are great example of how to create non-spellcasting fun for players to engage with.

The new Scuteback race are armadillofolk. Sure they’re basically reskinned Tortles but they’re adorable and feature a nifty rolling Ball of Fury ability.

The sourcebook also adds new magic items, feats, and a player background for each school. The backgrounds are especially powerful, adding new Fighting Styles that reflect the specialized training each school provides.

Thumbs up to Titanhall Academy for giving martial classes some much-needed love and attention. As a sourcebook it’s almost entirely NPC-focused, and far smaller in scope and design compared to Strixhaven, but provides some excellent player-focused content.

Update: Since this review was written, new Adventure Hooks have been added!

Pros:

  • Five colleges reflect different aspects of non-magical gameplay.
  • Five new player backgrounds and over a dozen magic items and NPC statblocks.
  • Clobberin’ Clockworks (battle bots!) and Kotapelit (tabletop wargames!).
  • Armadillofolk!

Cons:

  • Far less detailed and encompassing compared to Strixhaven.
  • Missing a barbarian-equivalent College of Jocks!

The Verdict: As as non-magical university alternative, Titanhall Academy provides fun NPCs and useful new backgrounds, but it can’t compete to its far more robust rival.

A review copy of “Titanhall Academy: Rivals of Strixhaven” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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