I always viewed the souls requirement as a spur to adventure, but I agree that it falls apart as soon as you go to downtime. Maybe like CR 8 per month?One thing I hated about Grim Hollow's Transformations was how many of the drawbacks would be all but impossible to deal with in-universe.
As an example: The Lich's drawbacks (8 CR worth of souls every day at the highest level of the transformation) would mean a lich would swiftly depopulate any area they were in just to get enough souls to keep going. And they can't use commoners since they're CR 0.
The idea is the DM is going to ensure the lich player faces enough enemies each day to keep their soul cage filled, but it breaks suspension of disbelief and just feels silly. Liches in-universe would need to go on daily murder sprees to keep from burning out.
Alright, kids. I don't technically own a new kidney, but I have one in my possession. And while I'm browsing BackPage for people with surgical training and loose morals, I figured we'd talk some of the spells in here!
This book presents 42 new spells, quite a lot of which are sangromancy, a new type of spell that requires the expenditure of hit dice to power the spell. Typically, you spend a number of hit dice, roll them, and that total modifies the spell somehow. It's an interesting way to use HD in powering spells. These vary from "damn-near a must-have" to "only in very specific instances?"
To compare, let's take the really good option. Blood rush is a first level bonus action spell with no concentration. You spend and roll a HD, then add that total to your spellcasting modifier as healing. It's only available to druids and sangromancy wizards, but almost anyone could pick it up with a feat (or a bard with Magical Secrets). Honestly, this spell might make a two-level dip into sangromancy wizard good for barbarians and fighters, since sangromancy wizards get to use d12's instead of your HD for sangromancy spells.
By contrast, blood bond is a 3rd level spell action spell with a duration of 1 hour. It gives a target 3HD worth of temp hp, and lets you track the target for an hour. The target can end the effects of the spell on itself at any time. So you can really only use this to track a willing target, and it gives them some temp hp. Like, just use a familiar to follow your target. Yeesh.
So sangromancy can be a bit of a mixed bag. The rest of the spells, on the other hand, are great. There's one that lets you cut off your hand and turn it into a spider you control, through which you can see and hear. Holy crap that's fantastic! There's another that lets you die and turn into a ghost for 1d8 hours. As a fun extra, ghosts get to possess people, so you can wreak some absolute havoc with this spell. "Your Majesty, I hate to say it, but Jenny has been talking mad smack about your hair..."
I really like the spells in this book, honestly. Well done, Ghostfire.
And now, let's turn to the advanced weapons chapter!
Right off the bat, we get hit with a bunch of new weapon properties. I have no idea why designers keep adding these - most of them are not a huge value-add. There are twenty four new properties for these weapons. Holy crap. Look, I can barely keep track of the six or seven that matter in the PHB. Twenty four new properties? This is just a non-starter for me. Some of these can do neat things, like disarming or entangling an opponent. These would be OK, as long as your players are on the ball and know how they work. Some of these are going to be a pain in the ass. The armor-piercing property gives you a +1 to hit as long as the opponent has natural armor or is wearing armor. So be ready to answer one question literally every round of combat: "Are they wearing armor?" The defending property lets you take a reaction to add a 1d4 to your AC against a single melee weapon attack that hit you. So be ready to go back to the rules every time to make sure that every single one of those conditions is met. It's clunky as hell design, and it'll slow down my table more than it has been already.
But what about the actual weapons? Maybe they're better. Well, here's the table:
"Hey guys, is there a way to make the spiked chain from 3rd edition worse?"
"Sure, let's make four of them!"
"Goddamnit, Ricky, you're a genius!"
What, exactly, differentiates an elite rapier from a regular rapier? Diegetically, in the world, what is the difference? This kind of complexity in an already-crunchy system just blows my mind (and not in a good way). Hard pass on this entire chapter.
Alright, gentlemen, I'm going to be back hopefully tomorrow night after I take my wife on a date and get this kidney installed. At that time, we'll go over new magic items!