RollUP: Warhammer 4E

RollUP is a show all about character creation – exploring a host of different systems every Friday! The last couple of Fridays we have been taking a look at Warhammer Fantasy RPG Fourth Edition with the help of Jim Davis (@therealjimdavis of WebDM and Warhammer Wednesdays right here on EncounterRP!). For our deep dive into the Cubicle7 Character Creation, we took a look at rolling up a random character using d10s, d100s and the random roll tables which are a staple of WHFRPG.

Jim had a dream of playing in a game which explored the rise of everyday folk into the great chaos cults. Yoma, the witch, could not have been a more perfect random roll. Thanks again to chat for their assistance in helping name and shape this character. For all of her final stats, spells and details please check out her sheet below but be warned, like all humans in Warhammer, she is doomed. Her prophecied doom is to “die in water darkened by blood” – hopefully, she can avoid or use the chaos powers to escape this fate but if not, at least that is some bonus points towards the next character!

Yoma/Salandra The Witch

Thanks again to Ex_Libris for his help in the walkthrough for this character creation and for making the fillable PDF which includes advantage trackers for combat.

If you need MORE Warhammer characters you can also take a look at this pre-gen list!

The next part of our focus on character creation took a look at how you could reskin/”homebrew” the already existing content in the core book to create your own races, to play stories that you want to play. Jim’s second dream is of a game filled with orcs and so he got to work coming up with a set of characteristic base rolls, skills, talents and career options which would be a great way to start your own Warband.

Orc Race Character Creation

Check out the episode for more explanation on these choices and how to use them but we hope you have as much fun using them as we did making and talking about them.

If you are looking for some actual play Warhammer Fantasy content then check out Beneath Dark Boughs (2E) or The Great Conspiracy (4E – currently playing live Wednesdays 4pm EST)!

9 Reasons your Next D&D Character Should be a Monk

I asked Twitter which Dungeons & Dragons class I should write about. Twitter chose one of my favourite classes: the monk. Let me convince you that your next D&D character should be a monk.

Monks can learn to catch incoming missiles and throw them back.

That’s pretty cool with arrows and darts, but you can do the same when you’re attacked with spells like fire bolt or ray of frost too.

If you like one-one-on combat, you could make a monk who wants to duel with every character they meet.

This might be about testing and improving your own character’s skill or knowing how your allies fight.

You could make a monk who’s physically graceful, but socially awkward.

When you’re making a monk character, you always want to make Dexterity their strongest ability. With this kind of character, you also need to make Charisma their weakest.

While we’re on the theme of contradictions, you could make a monk who is an accomplished fighter but lacks discipline.

Maybe their lack of discipline is why they have had to leave their monastery and take up the life of an adventurer?

When you’re playing as a monk, you can just ask strangers for money and it’s not inappropriate.

Maybe your monk character always needs to ask for money because they’ve given their money away to others? Or maybe they don’t need the money, but they’re greedy?

You can make a character who masters the elements by choosing the genasi race and making a monk who follows the way of the four elements.

When choosing elemental disciplines, you could choose disciplines that match the element of your character’s subrace. Or you could disciplines that manipulate a range of different elements, to make an elemental all-rounder.

Your monk could be a tabaxi character who always lands on their feet.

If you choose to follow the way of the long death, it could seem like your character has nine lives.

If you make a goblin monk, your character could be just like Yoda.

Just check with your dungeon master if they’ll let you have a sun blade.

Lastly, you could coordinate with your D&D group and make a party of ninja tortles.

I’d suggest using subclasses like way of the open hand and way of the kensei. You could do this for a one-shot adventure or for a whole campaign, set in  the sewers of Waterdeep, Sharn or your own urban setting.

RollUP: Call Of Cthulhu 7E Characters

RollUP is a show all about character creation – exploring a host of different systems every Friday! The focus for our first few episodes has been Call of Cthulhu 7e by Chaosium.  In addition to our episodes, we recommend checking out the free Quick Start PDF for more information as well as the Investigator’s Handbook.

Over the last three weeks, @LaughLoveLindy (Masks of Nyarlathotep and more) and I (@Frostfrmfire) have been working on two characters as an example of what could be made for playing in this narrative, and flexible, system. There are so many settings open so to narrow it down we took a poll and the classic 1920s of Lovecraft were chosen.

Our plot hook was simple: a rich Parisian society lady by the name of Madame du Faux has invited a number of guests to a lavish party in her home, the highlight spectacle of which will be the unwrapping of a mummy. What dark secrets will be found within?

Thanks to the help of chat and the random rolling method (p43 onwards in the handbook) we ended up with: Professor Archibald Bennett, a self-taught expert and Gillian Moore, a jewel and art thief. These two characters went to school together in London but their lives had since diverged. The invitation had the Professor searching for a plus one and Gillian ended up conveniently in Paris just in time to oblige.

Professor Bennett is a curmudgeonly fellow, old before his time who has a specific interest in the occult, his most treasured possession is a stolen artefact with a symbol he has yet to identify carved into its surface. He’s generally unkempt with barely tamed hair and a tweed suit a week past laundry day but his brain is organised, and fascinated with secrets the world. Having glimpsed a few of the dark secrets and not being of the best constitution he chooses to arm himself with a revolver. Gillian rides a motorbike and sidecar and appears to have a much more devil may care attitude to life and her work. She seeks a great prize and fortune – adventure isn’t such a bad methodology. Gillian’s prized possession is a compact which contains a hairpin lockpick, a breath mint and a very handy mirror (suitable for many occasions). Gillian has a habit of staring at things – things she desires and into space where she can imagine things she desires.

Professor Archibald Bennett Professor Career, 180 Personal Interest Points, 200 Occupation Points

Gillian Moore Criminal (Freelance/Solo), 150 Personal Interest Points, 250 Occupation Points

Need more Call of Cthulhu content? Check out the Tomes & Tentacles Podcast for some wonderfully spooky and maddening fun with The King in Yellow.

(Sheets compiled using Dholeshouse.org and require Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Playing Pathfinder Playtest

In March, Paizo announced the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest. Now the playtest is well under way. Today I had a go at running the playtest adventure path, Doomsday Dawn, which is a Lovecraftian apocalyptic. It makes sense to mark the upheaval of a new edition with an apocalyptic adventure!

My biggest problem with the playtest material is that character generation is a huge obstacle. This is one thing that has put me of Pathfinder previously. However, this playtest material is at least more straightforward than Pathfinder 1st Edition. I just don’t think making a character requires that many numbers –that’s why I like Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition! I just want to get playing as quickly as possible.

The character generation problem could be solved by providing plenty of pregenerated character options (at least so that players can learn how characters work) or with a digital toolset. I found some pregens here, and two of my players opted to use a pregen. We found that the goblin alchemist was a lot of fun but the human paladin didn’t make sense. It’s kind of annoying having a character with a thievery proficiency whose code of conduct forbids them from stealing.

Another unhelpful obstacle to was the amount of details the dungeon master and players need to consider when making a check, a save or an attack. You shouldn’t need this many stats for a roleplaying game.

Those are my main gripes. I understand that Paizo will be trying to make Pathfinder more accessible to new players while also retaining what the existing Pathfinder community likes – which apparently includes lots of stats! There’s always going to be some barrier to entry in any community, because it’s the barrier that defines the community.

One thing I really like about the material is the feat system. You have opportunities to choose new feats at each level, making character advancement very flexible. Each ancestry and class provides feats that are available only to characters of that ancestry or class. More powerful feats only become available at certain levels. Some advanced  feats have simpler feats as prerequisites, so it works a bit like a skill tree in an MMORPG.

I’m impressed by the wide range of feats offered. It seems like Paizo are really trying to make sure the ruleset is comprehensive from the beginning. On top of the feats there are thirty-eight cleric domains. If the finished product contains all of these, it should mean you don’t need to carry around a mountain of splat books just to run a game.

As well as choosing feats as you level up, there are opportunities to improve your skill proficiencies. If you’re a spellcaster, your cantrips improve as you level up too.

Something that stands out to me is that a lot of flavor is built into the class rules. This is stuff that D&D 5E players would roleplay, but here it seems baked in a lot more. The way the bard’s feats are written, they sound like performances. A number of classes have taboos built in, based around their god or their totem. Some feats and spells also have particular alignment restrictions, making sure alignment matters.

In short, I would say that the playtest material is a lot of fun if you can get past the (still rather high) barrier to entry.


You can download the free Pathfinder playtest package from Paizo here.

You can also buy paper copies of the playtest books on Amazon or at your local store, while stock lasts.

Player Characters for your Ravnica Adventure

A few weeks back Wizards of the Coast announced two new settings, Eberron and Ravnica. There’s a significant crossover between the fandoms of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, two of WOTC’s biggest properties, but not everyone is familiar with both. Ravnica is a setting from the collectable card game Magic: The Gathering, and the first to be getting a hardcover D&D book. Ravnica is a planet covered by one megacity, co-ruled by ten competing guilds.

Whether MTG was your gateway drug into D&D or you hadn’t heard of Ravnica until a few weeks ago, this article will take a quick look at each of Ravnica’s guilds, and the kind of characters you might make for a game set in Ravnica.

Update:

WOTC has released some playtest material for races of Ravnica, which you can find here. Includes loxodon (humanoid elephants), vedalken, viashino and Simic hybrids.

Azorius Senate

Azorius are the law enforcers of Ravnica, mostly cops.

 

Races: human, vedalken

Classes: wizard, paladin, fighter

Backgrounds: city watch / investigator, soldier

To me, one of the most iconic Azorius cards is Detention Sphere:

Detention Sphere makes me think of making a control wizard, probably a human wizard with the city watch background and spells like friends, lightning lure, shocking grasp, charm person, color spray, grease, sleep, snare. If you were using the variant human you could choose the moderately armored feat to give your squishy wizard a bit more protection in the line of duty, unless you’re happy with just the mage armor spell.

Boros Legion

Boros and Azorius seem  kind of similar. If Azorius are the cops, Boros are the troops.

 

Races: human, minotaur, goblin, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: fighter, paladin

Background: soldier, mercenary veteran

While they have a lot of human, minotaur and goblin soldiers, they also have fire elemental soldiers. If you wanted to make one of these, I’d suggest a fire genasi fighter with the champion subclass for increased crits, and the soldier background.

Another option is a human paladin (soldier) on a griffin, specializing in great weapon combat.  (Azorius have ‘skyknights’ too, so you could do something similar for an Azorius character.) Obviously you’d want to make sure your dungeon master was on board with this plan.

 

House Dimir

Dimir are Ravnica’s crime syndicate. Most of Ravnica doesn’t know they exist. Some of their most valuable business is information stolen from other guilds.

 

Races: human, shapeshifter (use changeling), vampire

Classes: rogue, wizard

Background: charlatan, criminal / spy, urban bounty hunter

I’d suggest using the changeling race (from the Eberron playtest material) to make a rogue character using the criminal background. One of the quirks of the new changeling rules is that one of their tool proficiencies is enhanced when they adopt a persona associated with it. So, if the tool proficiency was alchemy, they might take on the persona of a member of a rival guild (perhaps Izzet or Simic) in order to steal that guild’s secrets.

Golgari Swarm

Golgari are the castoffs of Ravnica’s society, living in the sewers beneath the city, recycling the city’s waste, creating life out of death.

 

Races: elf (shadar-kai or drow), human

Classes: cleric, druid

Backgrounds: far traveler, outlander, urchin

For a Golgari character, I’d suggest an shadar-kai cleric using either the life or death domain. If you’re creating a zombie, say that it’s being held together by animated vines. If you’re healing your comrades, say that their wounds are filled in with fungal growths.

Gruul Clans

Gruul are the barbarians and anarchists of Ravnica.

 

Races: human, goblin, minotaur, centaur, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: barbarian, druid

Background: far traveler, folk hero, outlander, uthgardt tribe member

This card makes me want to have a go at making a Gruul earth genasi barbarian:

Izzet League

Speaking of genasi, I think they could make good Izzet characters too. Izzet are mad scientists and alchemists.

 

Races: human, goblin, weird (use genasi)

Classes: sorcerer (wild mage or storm), wizard

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, sage

One of the most iconic Izzet creations are weirds – elementals created from opposing substances. In order to make a weird character, I’d make a water genasi sorcerer (probably wild mage) and choose lots of spells that do different kinds of elemental damage.

Orzhov Syndicate

Orzhov is a church ruled by a council of ghosts who worship wealth and power. Orzhov exerts control over the masses through debt and extortion.

 

Races: human, vampire, revenant

Classes: cleric, rogue (spy, assassin, inquisitive), warlock

Backgrounds: acolyte, criminal / spy, haunted one, inheritor, noble

I could imagine running an adventure with three different Orzhov characters:

  • an innocent life cleric whose eyes haven’t yet been opened to the corruption of the church
  • a cynical grave cleric who can’t leave because they’re indebted to the church hierarchy. Maybe they’re a revenant, forced to pay off their debt beyond death?
  • an evil death cleric (perhaps a vampire) on a quest for power
Cult of Rakdos

Rakdos is an insane, demon-worshipping clown cult who provide sadistic forms of ‘entertainment’.

 

Races: human, goblin, devil (use tiefling)

Classes: bard, fighter, wizard (necromancer), warlock (the fiend)

Backgrounds: entertainer, gladiator, haunted one

Selesnya Conclave

Selesnya is a kind of utopian environmentalist collective, led by dryads.

 

Races: elf (high or wood), human, centaur

Classes: druid, fighter

Backgrounds: acolyte, outlander, sage

Simic Combine

Simic are a group of mad bioengeneers who create strange combinations of different creatures. Many of them have experimented on themselves.

 

Races: sea elf, triton or anything that you can reskin as a hybrid

Classes: wizard, sorcerer barbarian

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, far traveler, hermit, outlander, sage

One of my favourite ideas is using existing character races to make characters who are results of Simic experiments. For example, to make a giant predatory lizard-frog, I’d make a bugbear barbarian with the totem warrior subclass. Choosing the tiger totem would allow them to make large jumps between buildings, just like a giant frog mutant. The urban bounty hunter background would help them hunt prey on the streets of Ravnica.

What kind of characters would you make for a Ravnica adventure?

Gnine Gnomes your Game Gneeds

Gnome is one of my favourite Dungeons & Dragons races. I’ve played a gnome druid in a couple of one-shots, and I played as a gnome warlock in a Planescape mini-campaign.

Actually, I think everyone likes gnomes because the group I dungeon master for has had three gnome player characters as well as a number of svirfneblin (deep gnome) non-player companions.

 

I’ve made a list of Gnine Gnomes your Game Gneeds, so now everyone gets a gnome. You could use these as concepts for player characters or DMPCs non-player characters.

1. The gnome who always talks to animals.

This gnome prefers the company of small forest creatures over other humanoids. If you choose the forest gnome subrace, you automatically gain the ability to talk to small animals, so it wouldn’t matter what class you choose. However, I reckon it would make the most sense for this character to be a druid, ranger or barbarian.

2. The gnome who is always making contraptions.

This gnome is always working on a new invention during downtime. Rock gnomes can make a few simple mechanical devices. If your group is okay with it, I would suggest choosing a spellcasting class and re-flavouring each spell as a contraption. Invisible servant becomes an automaton, mage hand becomes go-go-gadget-hand, et cetera.

3. The gnome with the golden gun.

Because why the hell gnot? Actually, check if your group is okay with this one too, because, let’s face it, guns could really break the mood of some games. You could use the gunsmith subclass from the artificer playtest material or you could use Matt Mercer’s gunslinger class. I let one of my players go with the gunsmith, but maybe I shouldn’t have. If you do manage to convince everyone this is okay, I’d highly recommend saying that the gun is encrusted in gems and shoots slugs.

4. The thief who is just a little bit magical.

Choose the forest gnome for their ability to cast minor illusion. Another other option is to go svirf and choose the svirf magic feat. With either of these options, you can work your way up to a level 20 rogue (a.k.a. super sneaky boi) who is also just a little bit magical.

5. The gnome with a silly gname.

Gnomes often have ridiculously long, funny-sounding names. When you’re making your character, ask everyone in your life to put a few words into a hat. Pull a few out in a random order and stick them together to make your gnomish gname. Everyone is going to love Spongespindle Wafflebadger.

6. The gnome who likes to do jokes and pranks.

I think either a rogue with the arcane trickster subclass or an illusionist wizard would lend itself to gnomish mischief.

7. The gnome sculptor.

This gnome is a bard from the college of whispers, who sculpts small, grotesque effigies of others in order to mess with their minds, playing on every insecurity.

8. The gnome who the rest of the party doesn’t know about.

This character is probably a svirfneblin rogue using the svirfneblin magic feat. This gnome might be secretly following the party in order to protect them and keep them out of trouble. Or they might be stalking them, looking for the perfect moment for an ambush.

9. The gnome who makes traps.

If the rest of your group is okay with it, you could choose a spellcasting class and reflavour some spells (eg. acid splash, poison spray, web) to represent traps.

 

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN: MORDENKAINEN’S TOME OF FOES

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN

 

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

 

This series will give you insight into games and expansions that you might not have ever heard of before.  Most of these titles are exclusive to certain online retailers and can be applied to games that you currently play or add more to your home-brew games.  If you know of a book or game that’s just released or about to be released let me know; @mbertolini

 

MORDENKAINEN’S TOME OF FOES

 

“Discover the truth about the great conflicts of the D&D multiverse in this supplement for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.”

 

That’s the tag-line for Wizard of the Coast’s book, ‘Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes’, to be released May 29th; it might be a supplement beyond the core rules which will likely appeal to DMs more than players, but it will bring into focus the current multi-verse.  Every iteration of Dungeons and Dragons has involved a shift in the multi-verse in some way; previous editions of the game have hinted at it in various books that the DM could use to bring players into The Forgotten Realms or Gray  Hawk, but these are books that are not only meant for players to know about (and use beyond aspects of character creation) but experience.  Almost every player of Dungeons and Dragons has heard of Mordenkainen, and players can even get some of these books (and the knowledge they contain) in various Dungeons and Dragons games (Volo’s Guide to Monsters).  There’s no reason to think that Tome of Foes and Guide to Monsters will be much different aside from the focus of observation; Tome of Foes will focus heavily on the Dungeons and Dragons multi-verse and likely concern itself with many of the popular monsters we’ve seen from there aside from any new monsters it introduces.

Despite what you might be thinking right now, this article is not entirely about Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes; I am going to visit one of the monsters from the past of Dungeons and Dragons that originates from the multiverse yet has gone on to fill our imaginations and homebrew games over the past few decades.  Specifically, I’m going to to discuss a monster that hearkens back to the start of Dungeons and Dragons; The Balor.

The Balor is a fiend, huge in size, from the abyss.  It doesn’t wear armor but relies on its natural physical defense to give it an armor class rating of 19 (not to mention immunities to Fire and Poison).  It can fly much faster than it walks and it possesses enough HP to make some adventurers question their decisions to bring them face to face with such a creature.

However; the Balor can be defeated.  It is weak to Ice and Lightning magic, as well as most weapons, and though physically strong it is cumbersome and its size can be used against it by resourceful players.  It won’t be an easy fight, and the chances of a TPK (Total Party Kill) are high, especially at a low level, but victory can be achieved by any players willing to embrace the fire that envelops the Balor.

There is more to the multi-verse than the abyss; and it will be up to books like Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes to get us deeper.

Pathfinder Playtest

Pathfinder Playtest

It’s ten years on from when the original Pathfinder playtest began in 2008, and Paizo are about to start the process all over again. The playtest for Pathfinder 2nd Edition will begin on August 2 this year. In the meantime, Paizo are previewing some of the features of the new iteration.

I think it makes sense to develop a new ruleset at this point because the pool of people who play tabletop roleplaying has changed (it’s become larger and broader). I think that’s partly because of the accessibility of Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th Edition rules, which I think have lowered the barrier to entry for many people, myself included. I think the original Pathfinder rules still create a high barrier to entry, like previous editions of D&D. It sounds like Paizo wants to make sure Pathfinder 2nd Edition is more easily accessible while still offering plenty of crunch.

So what do we know at this stage? Alchemists will be included from the start as one of twelve iconic classes. Goblins will also be included as an option for player characters from the outset. I think that makes a lot of sense since goblins are one of the most recognisable things about Pathfinder. 10th-level spells will also be included from the beginning.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition will focus on exploration and encounters (encounters means combat, punctuated by breaks for downtime. Hazards such as traps, poisons and diseases will be more dangerous. There’ll be traps that player character have to actively fight against in order to survive. Rangers will also have the ability to set traps. It should also be easier for game masters to design or modify monsters.

In the leadup to the beginning of the playtest, Paizo are publishing regular previews on their blog. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from them so far:

Actions

In this new ruleset, Paizo is trying to simplify actions. In combat, player characters will be able to take three per turn. If they choose to they can use all their actions to move or use all of them to attack. (If you use all your actions to attack, the attacks will grow progressively less accurate, though.) Most spells take two actions to cast, but some only take one – so I’m guessing player characters will be able to cast two spells in a turn if they have a one-action spell available? Player characters also get one reaction (such as making a classic attack of opportunity) each round, which can be used outside their turn if the circumstances are correct.

Levelling up

In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, player characters will level up whenever they earn another 1000 experience points, and there will be choices to make each time. Every time a character levels up they will have the opportunity to choose feats rather than getting set abilities. The feats a player chooses for their character will determine that character’s abilities and actions. It sounds like there will be a lot of options from the beginning. Paizo say they’ve created a formatting system which should make it easy to see what feats do with just a glance. If a player changes their mind about the feats they’ve chosen for their character, they will have the option of retraining.

If you want to participate in the playtest you will be able to download the playtest rulebook and the playtest adventure Doomsday Dawn on August 2 2018. If you want to make sure you get your paper copies, you will be able to preorder from March 20 (that’s Tuesday next week). Pathfinder 2nd Edition will officially launch in August 2019.

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Sources of the Unknown: Xanthar’s Guide To Everything Else

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN

 

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

 

This series will give you insight into games and expansions that you might not have ever heard of before.  Most of these titles are exclusive to certain online retailers and can be applied to games that you currently play or add more to your home-brew games.  If you know of a book or game that’s just released or about to be released let me know on twitter; @mbertolini

 

XANTHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING ELSE

This sourcebook provides a plethora of scribbles, scrolls, and schemes curated by Volothamp Geddarm’s protégé, Aladair, pilfered from Xanathar prior to publication of his Guide to Everything. Presented in the crime syndicate’s unique style, including a high fashion collector’s cover, the DMs Guild Adepts bring you new player options, including subclasses for every class, backgrounds, magic items, a race, DM rules options, and an adventure!

This book, written by several members of the DMs Guild, is an expansion on what the DM and players can do, further expanding on other supplemental material.  The book includes 25 subclasses, 5 new backgrounds, 1 new race (Feyblood), 6 new rules exclusively for DMs, and a plethora of new magical items to be used.

It has been available since the holiday season and remains one of the latest releases in the DMs Guild D&D Adept League.  This book is available for download AND/OR physical purchase at DMsGuild.com.

 

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: War Wizard

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: War Wizard

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released late last year I’ve been gradually reading through all of the new subclass options that are included. Today I’ve reached the last one: the lone wizard class. Wizards have had it good for a long time, with one subclass for each of the eight schools of magic included in the Players Handbook, so it’s kind of fair that they only get one new option in Xanathar’s Guide.

Those eight original subclasses are nice and neat, but the war wizard from Xanathar’s Guide is here to mess things up. The eight original subclasses help to give the sense that wizards learn magic through academic study of a particular, compartmentalised field of magic. Rather than sticking to a pure, compartmentalised discipline, the war wizard takes what it finds useful from two schools, evocation and abjuration. This wizard is much more interested in the practical application of wizardry than knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

The war wizard uses what they know of abjuration to protect themselves in battle and uses their evocation to turn up the knobs for the damage on their attack spells. When a wizard chooses the war wizard specialisation, they gain the ability to use their reaction to raise their armour class in response to a specific attack or to add a bonus to a saving throw. They can also add their Intelligence modifier to their initiative rolls, as a way of representing tactical expertise. At higher levels, the war wizard can store magical energy which they can use to increase the damage their spells inflict, can increase their armour class whenever they concentrate on a spell and can even turn magical attacks back on their enemies.

I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve ever played as a wizard. Something about them has always seemed a bit too academic and clinical for me. I like the idea of a wizard who is a bit more of a generalist, integrating and applying knowledge from different areas of study. I’d be interested in seeing how other, more traditional wizards respond to a war wizard. Would they see them as ill-disciplined and unorthodox? Would they question the way that magical research is being applied by a war wizard? My guess is that the war wizard would find these concerns a luxury afforded only to some confined to an ivory tower.

What’s next?

I’m pretty excited about the May release Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, but that’s still a while off! In the meantime I’ll still be publishing a review each Thursday, so let me know if there’s something you reckon I should cover here.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Warlocks

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Warlocks

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything came out way back in 2017, I’ve been gradually reading through all the new class options and thinking about how I’d use them. This week I’m almost at the end of them. Here’s my review of the new warlock options:

Celestial Warlock

The celestial warlock’s patron is a good entity from the Upper Planes, who mostly grants abilities associated with healing and radiant damage. This warlock has a pool of d6s that they can use to hand out healing. They receive superior healing during rests, which they can share with their allies in a more limited capacity. At higher levels the celestial warlock receives an ability that allows them to regain half their hitpoints instead of making a death saving throw, at the same time dealing radiant damage to enemies in the area. It’s a kind of resurrection with a vengeance.

One of the things about warlocks is that they don’t necessarily share their patron’s alignment, which can lead to drama – or humour. One of the things I’d like to try with this subclass is making a good warlock who, nevertheless, cannot live up to their patron’s high expectations.

Hexblade

Now this is an interesting one… It’s not clear excatly who is the patron of this warlock subclass. Xanathar’s Guide suggests that the hexblade patron is a kind of arms dealer based in the Shadowfell, and that it might be the Raven Queen, but it’s left very open ended. For that reason, I think this class could be a lot of fun for a dungeon master. If you’re a dungeon master with a hexblade in your group I’d suggest having a chat with that player about who they think their patron might be, but I wouldn’t let them know what I was planning.

A lot of the features for this subclass centre around bestowing a curse on enemies. The hexblade can target another creature with their curse, which give the hexblade a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed creature. It’s also easier for the hexblade to make a critical hit against the target of the curse. If the cursed creature dies, the hexblade regains a few lost hitpoints. At higher levels, the hexblade can use their reaction to try to avoid a successful attack from the cursed creature.

As well as these curse features, the hexblade can choose to channel their will through a weapon. This means they can use their Charisma bonus instead of Strength or Dexterity when using that weapon. The hexblade can also gain the ability to briefly enslave the soul of a slain enemy, which takes the form of a spectre with low hit points.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Sorcerers

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Sorcerers

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released late last year, I’ve been reading through the new subclasses and considering how I’d like to use them. this week I’ve been having a look at the new sorcerous origins.

Divine Soul

The divine soul is a sorcerer whose magical abilities come from connection to a divine being such as a god or an angel. They might be descended from a divine entity or they might have been chosen by a god. Xanathar’s Guide says that these sorcerers may be perceived as a threat to institutional religion. I mean, why go a church or temple when you could hang out with your god’s scion?

Divine souls have access to the sorcerer and cleric spell lists, as well as one extra spell related to the alignment of their divine source. From the outset, divine protection can help them improve disappointing saving throws or attack rolls. Later on, the divine soul can also spend sorcery points to reroll healing dice and at the highest levels they can use a bonus action to regain up to half of their hitpoints, providing that they’ve already lost at least half.

All of these benefits add up to a character who will appear to be especially blessed or lucky, as though someone out there is looking out for them. What I’d like to do with this class option is make a character who’s an aspiring cult leader, mixing religion with ‘infinite potential’ ideas. Another thing I wouldn’t mind trying (which could go along with the cult leader idea) is making a character who is actually a reincarnation of a dead god, seeking to return to glory.

Shadow Sorcerer

This subclass option represents a sorcerer whose magical abilities come from the Shadowfell, the material plane’s dark parallel. They tend to have a dark and gloomy disposition, to the point where they might seem a bit dead. I’m picturing someone like Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. (If you’re using this option, just use Alan Rickman’s voice.)

This subclass grants darkvision and the darkness spell, and an ability to drop to one hitpoint when they character should drop to zero. But the feature I find most interesting is the shadow sorcerer’s ability to summon a shadow hound. The summoned hound seems like it could pose a decent threat, but it only has a few hitpoints, so it will dissolve after only a little bit of damage. I could see a cruel and manipulative shadow sorcerer summoning one of these to attack an opponent, then suggesting that they might have imagined it. After all, the hound disappeared as soon as it was hit. Later on, this subclass grants the ability to teleport between shadows and at the highest levels they can take on a shadowy form themselves, allowing them to move through solid objects and resist most kinds of damage.