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D&D 5E Jasper reviews Van Ritchen

jasper

Rotten DM
Van Ritchten’s Guide to Ravenloft Review

Warning I have owned and played in I6 Ravenloft, I10 House on Gryphon Hill and Season Four Adventure League modules. I also own the adventure path Curse of Strahd. This is the only official lore I own. Any other lore I have picked up has been by osmosis from gamers.

TLDR. 5 stars barely. Must buy for new dms who want to do horror or get lore. Half price buy for collectors and others. I will add Adventure League remarks when AL guidance is given.

The FLGS cover is great and is another cover which I am not covering any of the art work with my address label.

Artwork. Most of the artwork is great and has different styles and themes. But a purple Strahd on page 67 is laughable. Isolde on page 86 chin disappeared into her neck, it could have used an another light source. I love the combat picture on page 222.

Chapter 1. Includes Lineages, dark gifts, two new subclasses, backgrounds and trinkets. The Lineages mention creature type but does not mention what happens if a creature has multiple types.

Dhampir I give one star out five stars. Why a hybrid lineage would be better at things the base monster is eludes me. A base speed of 35 makes too good of a thing for monks, rogues, or mobile type builds not to take. And bite attack is better than a vampire bite. A vampire has to have a successful grapple attack before it can bite attack. A Dhampir can bite as long as it has an attack action. I recommend if a Dhampir is in the party, give the same speed and bite at will to nearby vampire creatures.

Hexblood I give four out five stars. I think players will argue for the benefits of immune to sleep magic and advantage against charm spells due being a fey. Hex Magic with it multiple spellcasting abilities may lead to some problems or a crowded Spell DC column.

Reborn I give three out five stars. The Deathless Nature gives the elf trance ability, poison resistance, and death save bonuses. The poison resistance should have been dropped.

Dark Gifts are very interesting. With the Echoes, Whispers, and Living gifts the player will need a special d20 any time they roll. With a five percent chance of stuff happening, I can see people forgetting to roll even though it only happens once per rest. Mist Walker’s penalty is a big problem for extended play as it will spiral out of control and can kill a pc quickly. Second Skin, Symbiotic Being, and Watchers are great role playing gifts. However, the best damage dealer is Touch of Death.

The new subclasses should be researched before a campaign in the Horror realms start. So a player could preplan their builds. The backgrounds are well done theme to the book. But the trinkets are just page filler.

Chapter 2. Dark lords, domains, and various horrors. Creating Dark Lords and Domains are great for new DMs and a good idea source for long time DMS. The two sections are a step by step how to do it. The Horror section is a dictionary of horrors and random tables. This is needed so all D&D have a concise idea and definition when talking about horrors.

Chapter 3. Domains of Ravenloft. Decades ago I stole and rename “The Mists” as in game reason to explain why some pcs were not present. The Chaos Fog got him. Mist Talismans give an in game reason for how various people can safely travel through the Mists.

Life in the Domains gives an official hand wave about communication and currency for ease of play. The detailed domains have about four or less pages. These are great ideas for small setting resources. But players will need to buy into the setting and build pcs accordingly.

Barovia gets six pages but last two are random charts which offers variations on how to play Tatyana.

Travelers in the Mists has some great detail on various NPCs, their groups, and motivations.

Chapter 4. Horror Adventures helps DMs discuss and build adventures. The session zero section stresses talking with your players about limits and flavor. The Running Horror section is just stage directions for the group to get in the mood. Or stage directions for the director/DM.

The horror tool kit is another great resources for new DMs. Fear and Stress adds two new saving throws to the game. I suggest the DM expand on the two lists given and require players to have a copy of the triggers. The haunted traps add more traps to the evil dm’s bag and a new use of Channel Divinity.

Survivors are just pregenerated PCs with flavor text and special abilities.

I have not run the included adventure. It reads like a how to do various horror themes to include séances, haunts, and haunted traps. The Guests of Houses has NPCs from various domains guest starring in the adventure.

Chapter 5 The monsters brings about thirty-one great new monsters with a wide range of CR.

Summary. Players should not even crack this book. If your DM allows the PC specific stuff, ask for a photocopy. New DMS and any old DMs who have not bought any Ravenloft lore materials; this is a must buy. Old Ravenloft DMs and collectors should buy at half price unless they want to help out the local friendly game store.
 

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Why a hybrid lineage would be better at things the base monster is eludes me
Because they are supposed to be cool. These guys are supposed to be Blade, with superhuman speed etc. Not some cannon-fodder vampire spawn. I would certainly use it for significant NPC vampires though. The balance bar is set higher on all the new lineages than old races.
Hex Magic with it multiple spellcasting abilities may lead to some problems or a crowded Spell DC column.
One would assume most players are going to choose the same casting stat as their other spells. Not that either of the spells have saves anyway.
Reborn I give three out five stars. The Deathless Nature gives the elf trance ability, poison resistance, and death save bonuses. The poison resistance should have been dropped.
I my experience this is stuff that looks good on paper but rarely matters in play. The only significant Reborn ability is their skill check bonus.
I have not run the included adventure.
I said this elsewhere:
It is designed to level characters from 1st to 3rd quickly, then throw some quite deadly stuff at them. However, it is possible to trigger the deadly stuff early, which could well lead to TPK (although the DM could bale them out with NPC support). If I where using this, I would treat it as a 3rd level adventure and ignore the suggested levelling. In term of length, I would guess my group would take 2-3 sessions to complete it.

By usual WotC standards its quite high in magic item loot for a low level adventure.

I would be interested to know if you agree with my assessment.
 




Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I would like to note that you have misunderstood the dark gift natural ones. They trigger anytime you roll a natural one on any d20 roll. Similar to how hafling luck works.

When it comes to multiple creature types? There are no multiple creature types. The lineage overwrites your creature type with the new creature type.
 

I would like to note that you have misunderstood the dark gift natural ones. They trigger anytime you roll a natural one on any d20 roll. Similar to how hafling luck works.
It occurred to me that a halfling PC could use their lucky trait to largely avoid the negative consequences. Combine that with fear resistance and you have an ideal Ravenloft PC.
When it comes to multiple creature types? There are no multiple creature types. The lineage overwrites your creature type with the new creature type.
I expect they found to many mechanical conflicts with this idea. And "undead" type for PCs would be pretty broken. As the game stands PCs are either humanoid or fey.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
It occurred to me that a halfling PC could use their lucky trait to largely avoid the negative consequences. Combine that with fear resistance and you have an ideal Ravenloft PC.
I disagree.

When I discussed the Dark Gifts with my current crop of players one of them asked about Halfling Luck in particular. And after a moment's thought I responded "No. It wouldn't stop the Dark Gift from triggering."

The Natural 1 occurred. It had to have happened to trigger the Halfling's Luck. And while the Halfling's Luck allows them to reroll and use the new one, it happened for the purpose of the Dark Gift as well.

There's no Order of Operations, here, where one gets primacy over the other. No Magic the Gathering style "First cast last passed" rule.

They both trigger off the same roll.
 

I disagree.

When I discussed the Dark Gifts with my current crop of players one of them asked about Halfling Luck in particular. And after a moment's thought I responded "No. It wouldn't stop the Dark Gift from triggering."

The Natural 1 occurred. It had to have happened to trigger the Halfling's Luck. And while the Halfling's Luck allows them to reroll and use the new one, it happened for the purpose of the Dark Gift as well.

There's no Order of Operations, here, where one gets primacy over the other. No Magic the Gathering style "First cast last passed" rule.

They both trigger off the same roll.
I agree that it could be interpreted that way.

At this point I don't need to decide how I would rule.
 


iltharanos

Explorer
Dhampir I give one star out five stars. Why a hybrid lineage would be better at things the base monster is eludes me. A base speed of 35 makes too good of a thing for monks, rogues, or mobile type builds not to take. And bite attack is better than a vampire bite. A vampire has to have a successful grapple attack before it can bite attack. A Dhampir can bite as long as it has an attack action. I recommend if a Dhampir is in the party, give the same speed and bite at will to nearby vampire creatures.
The recommendation honestly doesn't make sense to me. Aside from what Paul said that it's meant to evoke the character Blade, why would the fact that a dhampir's bite and speed mean that vampires have to be "upgraded" to match?

  1. D&D makes hybrids better at <insert feature> than a lot of the base creatures. Half-orcs are a really good example, they're a better orc than orcs. Half-elves, prior to the free-floating stat change, were arguably better Paladins than base humans, and maybe even v. humans.
  2. Dhampirs have a better bite in the sense that the target doesn't need to be, "one willing creature, or a creature that is grappled by the vampire, incapacitated, or restrained." However, the vampire's bite reduces the target creature's HP max and if reduced enough transforms the creature into a vampire spawn under the vampire's control.
  3. Dhampirs have a faster walking speed than vampires, yes. But vampires are shapechangers and can turn into mist (easy squeeze) and bats (and thus fly).
  4. Vampires also have a ton of other features dhampirs don't get that makes them much more powerful:
    1. Proficiency in three saving throws
    2. Damage Resistances to Necrotic; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
    3. Legendary Resistance (3/Day).
    4. Regeneration 20
    5. Charm as an action
    6. Summoning of bats, rats, and wolves
    7. Legendary actions
With all that vampires have that is demonstrably better than what a dhampir has, it just doesn't make sense to me that you'd need to buff the vampire's bite and speed.
 


jasper

Rotten DM
I hated hybrids being better from base critter since 1E. If fact I never saw a hybrid which got the worst of both critters. And Blade is only an okay character is my book.
 


I hated hybrids being better from base critter since 1E. If fact I never saw a hybrid which got the worst of both critters. And Blade is only an okay character is my book.
It's not implausible - a liger is bigger and stronger than both a lion and a tiger. And Dhampir is clearly aimed at players who do like Blade.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
It's not implausible - a liger is bigger and stronger than both a lion and a tiger. And Dhampir is clearly aimed at players who do like Blade.
The funny thing is that dhampirs in fiction and folklore typically are better than both humans and vampires in terms of abibilities, powers, and weaknesses.
 

Remathilis

Legend
.Reborn I give three out five stars. The Deathless Nature gives the elf trance ability, poison resistance, and death save bonuses. The poison resistance should have been dropped.

The Reborn have the same basic racial traits as a warforged when it comes to resistances. The difference is warforged are immune to disease while reborn have death save advantage. The poison, sleep and biological function traits are all the same though.
 

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