This is a massive, 200+ page collection of fantastic player-focused content to expand your games with. And all of those options are presented as delightful tales spun by the world-travelling storyteller Kazaan.
The folks over at Gelatinous Cubicles asked us to review their preview PDF and share some of our thoughts, and we definitely have some. There's a ton of great content in here that delivers unique narratives and compelling gameplay all at once. The art and layout work is also top-notch.
Here's a few of our favorites, along with some more information at the end about everything else we aren't highlighting in detail.
This is an extremely cool take on playing an Undead in D&D 5e... although, you'd technically be a construct! Whereas the lineages in Van Richten's allow you to play dhampir (vampire based humanoids) or returned (previously dead humanoids), the Wakeful allow you to play a sentient skeleton: bones from someone else's dead body now inhabited by a spirit. Could lead to an interesting story moment if the bones' original owner ever gets resurrected 👀
With some natural healing and cool utility-focused body modification, (not to mention that incredible art) they have mechanical heft to match their interesting narrrative. For us, the stand-out element is how it suggests GMs modify the Death & Dying mechanics to suit the Wakeful's nature. A wakeful's bones automatically reassemble or return to their bodies over time (hence the proficiency-times-per-day healing bonus action), so instead of dying the spirit attached to those bones goes into a dormant state, disconnected from the bones but not destroyed or lost. This magical coma lasts for a random number of decades. But fear not! Your party can bring you back using non-resurrection based spells, like lesser or greater restoration. They can shorten the time of the dormant state, creating a fun & unique twist on typical PC death.
Path of the Primal Sentry
We've been tooling around with the idea of a spellcasting Barbarian for a while now. Nothing ever seemed to click, and we've seen plenty of bad examples online. They are either so niche as to be unusable, or so completely broken as to be unfun for the rest of the table. But the folks at Gelatinous Cubicles nailed it with their Path of the Primal Sentry!
This subclass is a brilliant way of combining the oil-and-water that are barbarians and spells. They get access to Druid and Ranger cantrips to start, giving plenty of cool out-of-combat options. And in combat, they can use their rage to cast concentration spells from those same classes. But only concentration spells, and only once per rage. They get amazing features that allow for things like Reckless Attack and Rage Damage to translate to their spellcasting, and always cast their spells at the highest level available to them (they don't use spell slots). Overall the features give you the feeling of channeling primal power in battle, "breaking the rules" while keeping things fun & fair.
From a game design perspective, we just want to highlight some very clever rules-crafting that they did for these features. Since you can cast a spell once per rage, your daily limit of rages is the normal limitation. But at level 20 barbarians can rage an unlimited number of times, which would give them an unlimited number of level 4 spells. Instead there's a special limit for level 20 barbarians that limits them to 6 spells per day total. They also included excellent rules for Multiclassing with the Primal Magic system, preventing it from being abusable by niche builds. Just overall a very well done construction of a difficult design space. Bravo!
A very clever wizard subclass that combines arcane and divine scholarship into a single character. By studying divine magic with the same rigor as arcane, they are able to duplicate the powers normally associated with beings of the upper planes, like healing magic and restorative spells.
This is a very cool spin on the "arcane caster doing cleric things" that feels different from the Divine Soul Sorcerer or other attempts at this design space. One of the coolest abilities, Warding Rejuvenation, is a reaction the wizard can use when someone drops to 0 HP. The target heals for 4d6 + Intelligence modifier and are teleported up to 120 feet away. This is a great combination of healing and battlefield control that feels perfect for a wizard.
It can be hard to combine roleplay and combat elegantly, but this tome has you covered with several excellent choices. One of our favorites is a 6th level necromancy spell called consume memories. This spell packs a big punch, dealing 6d10 psychic damage (or half on a successful Charisma save) while also giving you half the damage dealt as temporary hit points. But on top of all of that, on a failed save you can steal a memory from the target!
This memory theft can grant you one of several bonuses: knowledge of a location the target has seen, which gives you advantage on checks to navigate there; proficiency in a language the target knew; proficiency in a skill, tool, or weapon the target knew; or an important secret or memory. Proficiencies gained this way vanish after a year or after you gain another one with this spell, but we think the first and last options stand out as great possibilities for roleplay.
Normally you have to rely on nonlethal damage, social skills, and / or speak with dead to extract valuable information from an enemy. But with this spell the GM can gift you potent information to aid in your active quest, or spawn an entirely new one! Maybe the random bandit had a formative memory involving an NPC from a character's backstory, or they knew the secret location of a cult's hideout. Stuff like that might never see the light of day if the enemy dies unceremoniously in combat. This gives the GM a great way of adding more details to the world and further blending roleplay with combat - a win for everyone!
Coat of Arms
We've seen a lot of magic items, but this one immediately grabbed our attention.
This magic item delivers on every level:
The name is a glorious pun!
The lore of it being crafted from the scales of a marilith is perfect. It's thematic to the look & mechanics of the item, but also references one of our favorite types of demons.
It's a powerful magic item that offers a bonus that any character would love.
When the hood is raised, two extra sets of arms magically sprout from your body (think the temari demon from Demon Slayer). Not only do these arms work like your originals, they also grant several specific mechanical benefits: you have an addition action on your turn for drinking potions or interacting with mundane objects; you have advantage on Strength checks and saves; and you can take a reaction on every turn in combat. This is a fantastic suite of abilities that any character would love to have. Plus, stylish!
And that's just the beginning of this fetching tale. The sample PDF alone has 12 more spells, 9 more magic items, and some incredible subclasses like...
The Way of the Brawler, a strength based monk that evokes a street-brawler vibe while maintaining the martial capabilities of your usual dex-based build. Deliver a one-two punch!
The Ooze Ranger Ranger, which asks the question "what if the Beast Master had a pet ooze?" Answer: cool stuff happens.
The Iron Blood Sorcerer. A sorcerous cousin to the Hexblade Warlock where your bloodline of martial heroes allows you to summon lineage weapons. These abilities feel like an awesome limit break from Final Fantasy.
As of today there's only 16 days left for this project on Kickstarter, so go out there and support an amazing book filled with (almost) unbelievable tales!