DMs Guild Review – Sorrow’s Ruin

Help the church of Ilmater protect their people and their holy sites from their rivals in this 1st level adventure.

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A review copy of “Sorrow’s Ruin” was provided by the publisher.

Designed by: Blaise Wigglesworth

dms guild reviewFirst level Dungeons & Dragons just kind of sucks. Fifth Edition has improved it somewhat (no more Wizard with 2 hp dying to a single goblin), but it’s still very rough and limiting. Every official published adventure by Wizards of the Coast fast-tracks player characters out of the early levels as quickly as possible.

Designing meaningful adventures for 1st level PCs is thus quite the challenge, but “Sorrow’s Ruin” makes it look easy. “Sorrow’s Ruin” is designed as a one-shot adventure for 1st-level PCs, and portrays an intriguing story along with a variety of encounters and social opportunities. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Sorrow’s Ruin”

DMs Guild Review – Undead Races

A short sourcebook featuring four playable undead races, designed for freshly killed PCs.

A review copy of “Undead Races” was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Matthew Gravelyn

dms guild reviewIn most D&D campaigns the undead serve as antagonists, either through the usual fodder of skeletons and zombies to cut through, or as big bad liches, vampires, and death knights.

Undead player characters aren’t unheard of, but they’re a tricky thing to balance, especially when it comes to healing. “Undead Races” provides four playable undead races: Bound Spirits, Vampires. Specters, and Soulless. They’re designed for existing player characters to transition into should they die, as an alternative means to resurrection.

“Undead Races” is a short, 10-page booklet that devotes about 1 page for lore, and 1 page for stat block to each race. Since most undead don’t really have their own culture, the lore sections explain how a PC could be transformed into their new undead incarnation, and how those creatures typically live out their questionable existence.

Some of the undead work better than others. The Bound Spirit is a nifty idea as your soul (or conscienceless) is put into a construct body, typically a suit of armor. You’re not quite as cool as a Helmed Horror but you do get resistance to piercing and slashing damage, as well as immunity to critical hits (!). That’s kind of bland but also incredibly powerful.

Healing also becomes tricky (a common theme for most undead) as you cannot be healed through resting or magic. Instead you have to be repaired, which equates to spending HD during a rest. It’s unclear if you still regain Hit Dice during a Long Rest, and if you can regain the same Hit Dice you just spent since you’ll be using them to heal.

Of the four, vampire is the easiest one to apply, both thematically and mechanically. For balance purposes PC vampires don’t have to fear the sun, though I find it weird that they aren’t at least saddled with the Drow Sunlight Sensitivity penalty.

Vampire healing is obviously tied to feeding on blood. There are two notes about healing that seemingly contradict each other: “All damage is healed if you consume enough blood” and two sentences later, “When you consume blood, spent Hit Dice as you would during a rest.” Like the Bound Spirit, there are no extra notes about when you can regain Hit Dice (vamps don’t rest!), making another race where I’m not a bit confused on the healing mechanics.

The Specter is the most bananas of the bunch. A ghost PC? As an action you can plane shift between the astral and material planes, and you’re  completely incorporeal on the material plane. On top of that, as a bonus action you can become invisible! That sounds game-breakingly crazy.

The specters have a similar curse to vampires, only instead of bloodlust it’s a strong emotion, like rage or jealousy. This is completely tied to the player’s ability to effectively roleplay their new emotionally-crippled ghost.

Soulless is the most original of the races presented here. Soulless are basically the same as they were before, just, you know, without a soul. Thematically it makes them into bland sociopaths who begin to lose all emotion and purpose, which seems a tad delicate to role-play with others. Mechanically they gain the Deception and Performance skills, and immunity to mind control. By far the the least exciting but also the easiest to transition into.

Undead races are a difficult thing to manage. I appreciate the notes on the hows and whys a PC may transition into each of these forms. A lot of thought when into making their abilities and powers reflect their new forms, but the balance level is a bit questionable, and there could be a few more details about healing with the bound spirit and vampires.

Pros:

  • All four undead: Bound Spirit, Vampire, Specter, and Soulless are very different from each other, with their own thematic traits and abilities.
  • Each ‘race’ comes with a lore box on how and why a PC may transition into their new undead form.

Cons:

  • Healing for Bound Spirits and Vampires is vaguely worded and confusing.
  • Specters are literally ghosts capable of plane-shifting and invisibility at will. What!

The Verdict: Undead Races features four VARIED playable Undead for when You can’t let a Good PC Die.

A review copy of “Undead Races” was provided for the purposes of this review.

DMs Guild Review – Construct Compendium

New races, spells, feats, class archetypes, and monsters, all with a clockwork theme.

A review copy of “Construct Compendium” was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Brandon Norris, Richie Root

dms guild reviewWhile Dungeons & Dragons has always been firmly rooted in a fantasy setting, even the lowest of magic settings often include golems and rudimentary mechanical devices, like crossbows and spike traps.

The “Construct Compendium” provides a large amount of mechanical-related content. Over 70 pages provide new races, class archetypes, feats, spells, monsters, and a few magic items, all tied together with the theme of constructs. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review – Construct Compendium”

DMs Guild Review: The Theocracy

Infiltrate a militant temple of Tyr to recover a magical artifact in this heist adventure for 11-16th level.

A review copy of The Theocracy was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: JVC Parry

dms guild reviewJVC Parry is one of my favorite creators on the DMs Guild. He’s produced many quality one-shot adventures with neat ideas and well-designed miniature dungeon crawls.

The Theocracy” is Parry’s latest adventure, and while the actual title is hopelessly generic, it offers a substantially deeper, higher level dungeon crawl with a unique, richly detailed theme.

The twist is that the “dungeon” is actually a Temple of Tyr (the Forgotten Realms’ militant God of Justice), and the PCs are tasked with retrieving an important magical item – hopefully without declaring war on a bunch of paladins, priests, and a gods damn angel. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review: The Theocracy”

DMs Guild Platinum Flash Sale this Weekend

The DMs Guild is featuring one of the best sales I’ve seen over the next four days. We already have the May D&D Sale this month, and spinning out of that is the Platinum Flash Sale. The Sale ends on Monday, May 14.

Platinum Bestsellers represent the top 1% best-selling titles on the DMs Guild. That doesn’t automatically make them best, but it is a pretty good barometer of quality.

All Platinum level titles are 33% off. Highlights include:

Other good deals include several notable Tomb of Annihilation supplements, such as Cellar of Death, Ruins of Mezro, and Encounters in the Jungles of Chult.

The Platinum Bestsellers Sale ends May 14.

DMs Guild Review: Monstrous Uprising

A review copy of Monstrous Uprising was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Alex Billiedeaux

dms guildThe Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition campaign The Rise of Tiamat briefly mentions several adventure hooks that DMs can employ that showcase the chaos and unrest from the machinations of the Cult of the Dragon. One of these hooks is a half-red dragon and his band of kobolds and lizardfolk, which the DMs Guild adventure “Monstrous Uprising” expands into a 10-page mini adventure.

“Monstrous Uprising: A Sidequest” is a designed as a 4-6 hour adventure for 7th-8th level heroes. It’s stated as a single-session adventure, but my own sessions rarely go over three hours, and there are multiple battles to be found here, including a mini-dungeon crawl.

While it’s designed to slot into The Rise of Tiamat, DMs could easily employ these villains in any adventure. Given that the Tyranny of Dragons campaign is nearly four years old, I suspect that will most likely be the case. Unfortunately there are several major issues that hold it back. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review: Monstrous Uprising”

DMs Guild Review: Destiny Abroad: The Voyage of the Rose Marie

A review copy of Destiny Abroad: The Voyage of the Rose Marie was provided for the purposes of this review.

Designed by: Matthew Gravelyn

DMs GuildIf you can’t already tell by the title, “The Voyage of the Rose Marie” is a ship-based adventure that takes place during a lengthy sea voyage. It’s designed for brand new level 1 PCs, and at 11 pages you should be able to finish it within a single session. It features a heavily scripted mix of role-playing, combat, and skill checks, and even a major choice for the party to make at the end.

Apparently there is a whole “Destiny Abroad” series planned, though this adventure can easily be played as a stand-alone, as well as incorporated into any campaign or world that features sailing ships. Continue reading “DMs Guild Review: Destiny Abroad: The Voyage of the Rose Marie”