I asked to review this product and got a free copy. I’m using referral links to it below if anyone wants to give me a few cents from their purchase.
Recently released on DMsGuild, Drizzt’s Travelogue bills itself as ‘an astonishing account of rules options for the world’s greatest roleplaying game’. Whilst we are presented with options here for both players and DMs, the majority of the book is focused on character options (mostly subclasses, more on that below), but the magic items and tools for dungeon masters are also well thought out.
Let’s take a dive into some of the options presented.
First up, the Tactician – a new class all of its own that is a decent remake of the warlord class from 4th Edition: “Masters of the mind and the battlefield, a tactician embodies the idea that one does not need incredible strength or arcane might to achieve greatness, only a sharp wit and an analytical mind.”
I really like what the class brings to the game, and the four different subclasses give a great spread of how the class can play. Relying heavily on preparing for fights and skill use for careful play, I know the class won’t suit every table, but it fills a hole at some. I won’t go into details of every different feature the class offers, but I really suggest you take a look at this product if only for the Tactician and its subclasses.
A quick overview –
- d8 hit dice but only get light armour proficiency – a bit squishier than most clerics,
- proficiency in simple weapons plus a couple of extras – longswords, rapiers, and hand crossbows make the class capable up close and at range,
- a couple of open tool proficiencies, Intelligence and Wisdom saving throw proficiencies, and three skills from an Intelligence- and Wisdom-based list – this fits really nicely with the focus for the class as a master tactician,
- Not included in the blurb for abilities but a class abilities at level one – two additional language proficiencies, and add Intelligence modifier to armour class (super useful for this class).
The core ability of the Tactician is called Perfect Plan – a pool of d4s that can be used as a reaction to boost rolls of allies. This can be added to attack and ability rolls at level 1 and saving throws at higher levels, and is replenished on a long rest. After reaching level 2, the pool can be used by the Tactician or allies to boost damage, and an ability similar to a wizard’s arcane recovery brings some spent dice back to the pool once between long rests. From level 14, Tactician’s even gain a bonus reaction that can only be used for their Perfect Plan dice.
There’s a lot to be gained by high intelligence and Wisdom scores for the class. At higher levels, an enemy can be ‘analysed’ and disclose its armour class after failing an Intelligence save keyed from the Tactician’s own Intelligence, or successful Wisdom saving throws yield zero damage instead of half (very rogue-y but with a twist, I like it).
The different subclasses available, called a Strategic Focus here, make the class feel different for the different play styles with just small tweaks.
- The Grandmaster gains proficiency in multiple gaming tools (of course), can move allies using reactions in place of the Tactician’s own movement (of course), bonus armour class against the target of your analysis, and handy counterattacks.
- The Mentalist gains proficiency in two Charisma-based skills, has a chance to drop an effect on an enemy under analysis that mimics the bane spell, and later they are able to goad enemies to attack the Tactician’s target of choice, or make Intelligence (investigation) checks as a bonus action, and upgrade that bane spell to also deal psychic damage with all successful attacks against the creature.
- The Scholar is the spellcasting variant of the Tactician, in a similar vein to the eldritch knight fighter and arcane trickster rogue. Using the wizard spell list and focussing on divination and transmutation magic, the subclass can use spell damage to trigger some of the base class features, or add extra spell damage, or increase allies’ spell saving throw DCs using the Perfect Plan pool.
- The War Mind is the fighting upgrade for the Tactician. Between access to medium armour and martial weapons, a fighting style, and later an extra attack, this is the style I most associate with the warlord from 4th Edition (whether that’s an accurate assessment or not – this subclass is a warlord!) At higher levels, giving bonuses to saving throws, armour class or damage is the nature of the class.
Am I entirely happy with the class? No, not exactly. The capstone ability is ridiculously powerful – advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws, and disadvantage on all attacks made against the Tactician. I’d have made this situational or keyed it off the Perfect Plan pool somehow. Of course, I’m not the person that built or playtested this class, so it might work fantastically with just d4s.
A handful of the abilities on offer to the subclasses seems quite powerful too, but even scaling them back in number of uses per long rest would fix them in my eyes – there’s nothing wrong with the abilities themselves!
Next up – subclasses for all thirteen of the other official classes in D&D.
I won’t go into details on all of these, or even name them all, because there are two or three for each class. That said, my highlights are:
- The Mechanic artificer because the art of a half-orc riding a motorcycle with glowing wheels is magnificent and I immediately wanted to make one. The class features are pretty nifty too (ramming speed you say?)
- The College of Wordsmiths bard is a lightly disguised battle rapper with a little emphasis on the battle – they get access to all wizard spells of the evocation school.
- The Chaos Domain cleric is a cousin to the wild magic sorcerer and has its own Divine Chaos table to roll on for strange results.
- The Way of Redirection monk has abilities called ‘Anything is a Weapon’ and ‘Parkour’ (sadly no exclamation point) are fun, but proficiency in improvised weapons and eventually every improvised weapon having a ranged attack option is just an interesting use of the rules to me.
- The Oath of the Many paladin has the ability to share skill, weapon, language or tool proficiencies with a willing target for an hour, both borrowing them and giving them.
- The Agitator rogue has improvised weapon proficiency much like the monk above, but also adds the finesse property to those weapons. Which seems… terrifying to me.
- The Fate warlock has some interesting interactions with Tarokka decks, such as giving advantage or disadvantage on attacks, or later casting polymorph or phantasmal killer.
- The Planar Weaving wizard (possibly my favourite subclass of them all, hashtag Planescape for Life) gets passive and active abilities based on the various Planes of Existence noted in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. These passive abilities could be bonus languages (celestial, infernal, aquan etc), telepathy, a fly speed, or something equally interesting. There are options for damage resistances, changing damage type of spells, immediately halting nearby teleportation, or making charm effects you cast more difficult to avoid.
Some real gems in the subclasses, I don’t think I’d change much about any of them, and I’m eager to find a DM who will let me try some of them out.
We’re done with character options now and move on to Magic Items. Again, I’ll just focus on the highlights.
- The Backpack of Flying is something I’ve built versions of myself. I really like how it’s been done here – 5 charges that get used on a bonus action, move 50 ft in a straight line in any direction. FUN!
- A Coin of Enhanced Luck can only be attuned to by a halfling or someone with the Lucky feat and gives some bonuses on using lucky abilities once per long rest. I know a lot of people seem to have issues with the various lucky abilities, but this is a solid addition to them.
- What do you call a heavy crossbow that conjures bolts of radiant damage? A Dawnbolter. It’s a +2 weapon too, I like it.
- The Empowering Orb is perhaps my favourite in the section – it’s a hamster ball with a terrifying, glowing-eyed hamster included. You can set the hamster loose, have it run 30 feet and then roll on the Wild Magic Surge table, and it keeps going until the hamster gets tired (determined by a die roll).
This item is going in my next treasure hoard.
- The Ghost Robe lets you walk through obstacles as if they were difficult terrain. Those obstacles include people and walls.
- Lenses of Darkness allow the wearer to see through both non-magical and magical darkness, and give advantage on saving throws vs blinding effects. They come with a sunlight sensitivity drawback though.
- The Nascent Forest is a +1 spear that can be tapped on the ground to create saplings that lift the user up 5 feet into the air. They can also be uprooted and turn into +1 javelins. There’s a reason this +1 weapon is very rare!
- The Rear Guard is a +1 longbow that alerts the wielder to the location of ranged attackers when they make an attack. You can also stop an arrow fired from it mid-flight for a range of purposes. It’s a fun idea and one I might steal for a game.
- The Storm Lord’s Charm is also a fun one. Whenever you deal lightning damage to a target, deal an additional 1d8 lightning to a target adjacent to them.
- Another one I’ve built in a different edition of D&D – the Torch of Shadows emits a radius of darkness instead of light.
The last section deals with Dungeon Master Tools. There’s some fun stuff in here too.
The section on creature domestication gives some rules for things that a lot of players already love to do – collect creatures they find on their adventures. From performing monkeys to wolves to mimics, there’s ideas here on how to limit power creep as well as make the domestication an investment of time. I want to test out the rules here myself and see how well they work in play.
The section on intrigue and mystery in play gives DMs help and ideas for how to run this type of game, how to dole out clues, how to negotiate istead of run in guns (swords) blazing, and even includes some fantastic random tables for who, what, when, where, why and how statements to build the plots and several to build NPCs.
Rolling 6d8 I get the following: a djinn, a betrayal, dawn, a business, greed, in the study with the candlestick. I can build a quick plot off that alright, and think of some ways to misdirect if necessary.
Rolling 1d100, 1d20 and another 1d100 I get the following: big jacket, overemphasises ‘s’ sounds, arrogant.
OK, so there’s something, let’s see – a arrogant and overbearing noble in business with an unassuming partner gets greedy. He has a djinn kill the business partner in their study with a candlestick – killing them inside a locked room early in the morning. Now it’s up to the adventurers to thwart their large jacketed opponent by negotiating with the djinn when it comes to attck them and keep them off the case. Why the large jacket? The noble is a secret Yuan-ti with extra arms or something!
The section on reskinning monsters gives lightweight advise on tweaking monsters that is especially useful to those that don’t build a lot of homebrew creations or are experiencing difficult metagaming players for the first time and want to make some necessary changes. No solid rules here, it’s all advice and it’s all great.
The section on revising the shopping and business downtime activities has some interesting ideas that I need to check up on. Changes for buying and selling magic items are written because of easy ways to abuse the economy in downtime activities to buy low and sell high on most magic items (who is spending downtime to do this? I didn’t even know it was a thing!) Changes to the business activity include modifying the results of die rolls based on previous complications, investing into the business for benefit, or using shrewd roleplay decisions to further aid the business downtime activity.
Finally, the section on traps as stories and encounters throws the one-skill-check-and-done trap out of the window and adds dynamic events, countermeasures and initiative counts to trap resolution. I really like that they’re set out with suggested tier and party levels to give an idea of the design goals of each trap example, as well as the options for modifying the trap encounter in simple or not so simple ways – the planar trap has options for changing the effect of drawing player characters towards damage-dealing planar rifts to restraining tentacles, fleeing in terror after failing Wisdom saving throws, or gaining blindness and exhaustion conditions after failing Constitution saving throws. All very fun and thematic for the different planes of existence.
So, there you have it. I thoroughly recommend you pick this up for some of the great design on show, the DMs Options and plenty of magic items worth using. This is a really well designed book, my wondering about the Tactician aside (I’ll have to just try it in play and see how it works!)
Drizzt’s Travelogue is on DMsGuild now for just under $20 for the pdf and is also available in print for $40 in hardcover and $28 softcover.