Dragonlance has had a major setting sourcebook in every official Dungeons & Dragons Edition save for 4th. But their releases weren’t always immediate, and the online Dragonlance fandom has been known to pick up the pace and make free fan material. The Dragonlance Nexus is perhaps the oldest surviving online community, having existed since 1996 and still going strong. It helped host conversion manuals for 3rd Edition* before WotC released an official sourcebook in 2003, and sometime during the 5th Edition era they released a free sourcebook known as Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything. It was pretty much a “player’s guide,” with a heavy focus on races, subclasses, equipment, and some detail on the world and its history.
*And over time other systems such as Fate, Pathfinder, and Savage Worlds!
Now that Dragonlance material can be published on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, the Nexus released a new and revised Tasslehoff’s Pouches book with even more material for sale. Not only that, it has a tie-in adventure, Champions of Krynn Chapter 1 which is basically a tabletop conversion of the retro video game of the same name. Although both products are bundled together, as Champions of Krynn has yet to be published to completeness (only the 2nd out of 3 Chapters are out) I will only view Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything Revised for this thread.
Chapter 1: Ancestries of Ansalon
Our book covers playable races in Ansalon, separated into common (are widespread across the continent) and uncommon (who are overall rarer and mostly clustered in a few areas). Our first entry concerns dwarves, who all use the base dwarf race from the core rules but have entirely new subraces. Calnar dwarves are our first, being more of an historical predecessor of the Hylar who established the first dwarven kingdom and were renowned for their trade. Their subrace is geared towards this role with a +1 bonus to Charisma, one bonus language of their choice, and being proficient in Persuasion. Next up we have the Hylar dwarves, the traditional ruling clan of the mountain nation of Thorbadin, who have +1 bonuses to Strength and Intelligence, a bonus language of their choice, and are proficient with light and medium armor. The Daegar are one of the three “evil dwarf” clans, native to Thorbadin’s deepest reaches and have a lust for violence, with a higher-than-usual +2 to Strength along with doing one extra damage dice on melee criticals like a half-orc, and to top things off they have 120 foot darkvision but sunlight sensitivity. Ouch! Daewar are the warrior caste of non-evil dwarves, who are like the Hylar but have a bonus to Charisma instead of Strength and also have proficiency in heavy armor. Klar are Neidar dwarves who ended up in Thorbardin after the Cataclysm, and are known to be wildly emotional which gives them a sort of “mad” reputation. They have a +1 bonus to Dexterity along with a base walking speed of 35 feet, and can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action they add their ability modifier to if they have one hand free.
Neidar are the hill dwarf equivalent, who traditionally lived above ground outside Thorbardin and were denied entry during the Cataclysm, creating a deep-seated hatred between them and the “mountain dwarves.” Neidar have the same mechanics as the hill dwarves in the core rules plus proficiency in any one skill reflecting their versatility. Theiwar are our second evil dwarf clan, having a knack for fiendish plots and are less distrustful of arcane magic than other dwarves. They get +1 Intelligence, and their ability to wriggle out of danger is reflected by advantage on checks to avoid being grappled as well as proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics. The Zhakar dwarves round out our evil dwarven clans, who in this book are briefly described as having the worst qualities of both human and dwarf and have few allies in the world along with being enemies of all other dwarven clans. They have a +1 bonus to Strength, ignore difficult terrain made of earth or stone, and are proficient in light or medium armor.
Last but not least, we have gully dwarves, who in terms of mechanics are treated as their own race rather than a dwarven subrace. I am happy to say that this book more or less averts their comic relief stupidity, instead focusing on their ability to survive in the most inhospitable of environments. They have +2 to Constitution, +1 to Dexterity, are Small in size, proficient in Survival, and have advantage on Stealth checks when using the Hide action. They have resistance to poison damage and advantage on Constitution saves vs the poisoned condition and catching diseases. They have a special ability, Diverting Demeanor, they can use a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus where they can pitifully beg, cry, and plead as an action. Each creature within 10 feet of the gully dwarf must make a Charisma save, or all of the dwarf’s allies have advantage on attack rolls against them until the start of the dwarf’s next turn.
Thoughts: Some of these dwarven subraces are much more appealing than others. The mountain dwarf’s armor proficiencies in the core rules made it an attractive choice for otherwise unarmored and lightly-armored characters. Since the Daewar get all that plus a bag of (mail) chips, they will likely be the subrace of choice for “armored wizard” builds. And with the Neidar’s bonus skill proficiency, this makes them a pretty attractive option for a variety of builds. The bonus armor proficiencies of the Hylar and Daewar feel superfluous for Fighters, Paladins, and Clerics with certain domains, so your typical “heavy armor” dwarf player is likely to pick a subrace besides those ones such as the Neidar. Conversely, the subraces I can see being less popular are due to either punishing features or for specific builds: the Daergar’s sunlight sensitivity is pretty bad all around, while the Klar’s bonus unarmed strike is really only useful for a monk or some other unarmed damage-booster as the bonus damage is quite pitiable. As for the gully dwarf, most of its abilities are passive rather than active and quite situational. The advantage on Stealth for hiding makes them pretty good for ambush builds, and while Diverting Demeanor can be a good means to set up an advantage for an ally it comes at the expense of an action that can be used for spells and attacks. Given that Help already does something similar, this would only be of use if more than one ally is capable of attacking after the gully dwarf. Overall there are better races for thief types.
Elves come up next, and are one of the three elder races. The favored creations of the Gods of Light, they often have an arrogant demeanor towards the other races. Like dwarves, they have their own subraces. The Silvanesti are the oldest of the elven civilizations, inhabitants of a forest kingdom of the same name. They are much more strict than one’s typical fantasy elf, being very lawfully-aligned and arranged into a strict caste system organized into Houses along with being fiercely isolationist. Statwise they gain nothing special, using the high elf from the core rules. The Qualinesti elves are an offshoot of the Silvanesti, who left that nation in favor of founding a relatively freer society. They live in the forest kingdom of Qualinesti, and are much more open towards non-elves. As a subrace they get a +1 bonus to Charisma, are proficient in Persuasion, have your typical elven weapon training of bows and swords, and get a bonus language of their choice. The Kagonesti live mostly in the forests of Southern Ergoth, who aren’t fond of the other elven nations’ concept of “civilization” and opt to live in simple hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Mechanically speaking they are wood elves.
The Dargonesti are one of two aquatic elven kingdoms, who traditionally live in settlements deep on the seafloor, most notably the ruins of post-Cataclysm Istar. They have a +1 bonus to their Constitution, a swimming speed and the ability to breathe underwater, can transform into a porpoise for 1 hour per long rest, suffer exhaustion when they go for long periods without full immersion in water, and are proficient with light crossbows, spears, tridents, and nets. The Dimernesti are the other aquatic elven subrace, who live closer to the surface along Ansalon’s coastlines, and barring the city of Dimernost are nomads who move between coral reefs and kelp forests as temporary homes. In terms of stats they are the same as Dargonesti, but have a bonus to Strength instead of Constitution and shapechange into a sea otter instead of a porpoise. Both Dimernesti and Dragonesti used to be bitter towards each other after the Cataclysm, but in the Age of Mortals they united to fight an undead army commanded by the dragon Blazewight.
Regarding the shapechange forms, they have their own stat blocks in Chapter 8. To briefly sum up, both are CR ⅛ aquatic animals, where the porpoise has a higher swim speed and a more damaging charge and slam attack along with blindsight up to 60 feet, while the sea otter in comparison has a weaker bite attack, darkvision, advantage on hearing and smell-based Perception checks, and can move and breathe on land.
Half-elves are our final group, who much like in other settings are caught between worlds and were often used as diplomats between the two peoples. Their stats are the same as a half-elf from the core rules, but there are variant options where they trade in their bonus skill proficiencies for a limited list of special features otherwise unique to their parent elf’s subrace, as from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
Thoughts: The Qualinesti subrace is rather unexciting, basically being a high elf who trades in their wizard cantrip for the Persuasion skill. That being said, that may be of better use for some builds, and having a bonus to Charisma instead of Intelligence pushes them towards a wider variety of spellcasting classes such as bard, sorcerer, and warlock. The Dargonesti and Dimernesti subraces are rather situational and would only be picked for campaigns that expect to be around water a lot. When it comes to animal shapechanging the Dimernesti’s sea otter has more uses in a typical land-based adventure than the Dargonesti’s porpoise. If anything, I can see most players choosing a half-elf with the Aquatic trait to better represent the concept.
Gnomes are the most technologically-advanced people in Ansalon, having made all kinds of dangerous and wondrous machines in their volcanic home of Mount Nevermind. Clockwork devices, steam-powered engines, and even geothermal and experimental nuclear energy are but some of their most renowned accomplishments. What’s preventing their devices from spreading across Ansalon is their unpredictability, as gnomes prefer to continually expand on their projects beyond what is necessary and tend to view predictable and practical devices as an unimaginative scientific dead end. The tinker gnome subrace is best exemplified by this, gaining +1 Constitution, gaining a bonus proficiency in a single set of artisan’s tools, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks pertaining to magic items and advanced technology, and have advantage on saves vs the charmed condition and Intimidation and Persuasion checks are made at disadvantage. The last resistant-based abilities are due to a gnome’s single-minded pursuit of their Life Quest, an individual goal a gnome sets their lives towards accomplishing that can take a significant portion of their life to complete.
Thinker Gnomes, or “mad gnomes,” are gnomes who display antisocial behavior in gnomish culture, such as abandoning or not caring about a Life Quest or not caring to overcomplicate their personal inventions. They are the same as tinker gnomes save that they increase their Charisma instead of Constitution, don’t have the resistances befitting one with a Life Quest, and double their proficiency bonus on their chosen artisan’s tools. Wild gnomes originated as a scientific expedition of tinker gnomes who settled in the moors of Nordmaar to study the wildlife. Generations of close proximity to nature, and adoption of stealth and illusion magic to mask their presence from the land’s dangers, have made them different from their ancestors. In terms of stats they are forest gnomes.
Thoughts: As the base gnome race already has advantage on mental saving throws vs magic, advantage vs the Charmed condition is a bit superfluous save for those rare times it originates from a non-magical source. As PCs can’t be swayed by the Intimidation and Persuasion skills by default, this is something more for NPC gnomes than an appealing player’s option. Otherwise, tinker gnome PCs get less exciting stuff in comparison to the rock gnomes of the core rules, who at least get the ability to create one of three nifty devices. As for Thinker Gnomes, the double proficiency on artisan’s tools is a very situational feature. If your DM is using one of those crafting mini-game sourcebooks such as Monster Loot or the Armorer’s Handbook, they’re a great choice. Otherwise it won’t matter in typical 5e games.
Humans are one of the three elder races, created by the Gods of Neutrality and the first people blessed with free will. In spite of their common origin, humans differ too widely in societies and cultures to be pinned down beyond a relative “restlessness” to accomplish things in life in comparison to the longer-lived races. We have a list of the most prominent human ethnicities in Ansalon, and unlike earlier Editions and in keeping with Shadows of the Dragon Queen there’s no separation between “civilized” and “nomadic” humans. Unfortunately, the individual entries are lacking in detail, really only describing common physical features and their regional bonus language. There are smaller human groups in the setting which the book notes, but it doesn’t go into detail.
The Tarmak are a group of humans who have fluff and crunch all their own. They were unknown on Ansalon until the Chaos War, when Ariakan recruited them for military service. Native to the island of Ithn’carthia, they formed tribes around the remote corners of Ansalon after the war’s end. Tarmak are basically Proud Warrior Race Guys who use magical blue war paint to give them increased endurance in battle. They are Variant humans but with the following changes: they add 2 to Strength and 1 to Constitution, have advantage on saves vs the frightened condition instead of a bonus feat, and instead of a bonus skill they can create 5 applications of war paint with 1 hour and 25 steel pieces* of materials. The war paint can be applied as an action, granting them AC of 13 + Dexterity modifier unless they have better armor, and 10 temporary hit points that last until they’re gone or the next long rest.
*Dragonlance’s gold piece equivalent.
Thoughts: While it’s good that Tasslehoff’s Pouches has entries on the human ethnicities, they are far too brief in comparison to prior sourcebooks which included specific cultural details. Such as how the Ergothians are descended from the oldest human empire and took to seafaring after the Cataclysm, or how Solamnia is a patchwork of different government types after the fall of their Knights.
As for the Tarmak, their war paint feature is really good. A typical Potion of Healing costs twice as much but deals 4-10 hit points. While the war paint is temporary hit points, for half the cost they gain an effective 50 hit points. The AC bonus can be nice for certain classes as a Mage Armor equivalent. As for whether that feature and advantage against getting scared is worth a feat and skill trade-in, that really depends on the individual and party builds. But with that said, I can see the war paint being a worthy trade-off in that it effectively works like Inspiring Leader but has a wider pool of HP to spread around.
Kender are short people possessed of a childlike innocence and penchant for exploring everywhere…including places other people don’t want them to explore, such as their pockets. Most people in Ansalon have a love-hate relationship with them, either viewing them as nuisances who can’t keep their hands to themselves, the most blessed of the good-aligned peoples of the world, or a mixture of both.
Unlike the prior entries, kender are a race unto themselves, with two subraces. The base race has +1 to Charisma, is Small sized, proficient in improvised weapons, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks regarding geography, and speak Common and choose additional lange of the player’s choice. The Wanderlust Kender are the first subrace and the most common, representing kender in their default state: a fearless wide-eyed wonder at the world and an endless well of optimism. They have +2 Dexterity, are immune to the frightened condition, can pull a random item from their belongings as a bonus action which stays with them for 10 minutes at which point they lose track of it, and can taunt a target (range unspecified) as a bonus action where if they fail a Charisma save they can’t take the disengage action and take disadvantage on attack rolls against anyone besides the taunting kender. Both of the latter special abilities can be used a number of times per long rest equal to the kender’s proficiency bonus. As for what kinds of items a kender can pull out of their pocket, they are mostly nonmagical knick-knacks of varying usability on a 1d100 table, ranging from light weapons, trinkets, and tools to half-finished small books and maps. An actual magic item can be gained on a roll of 100, but the item is from Magic Item Table A of the DMG, which are the most trivial kinds such as healing potions and low-level spell scrolls.
Afflicted Kender are the other subrace, who are basically kender with PTSD after the red dragon overlord Malyxtryx destroyed the city of Kendermore. They have lost their childlike innocence and are a lot gloomier in mentality. They get +2 Intelligence, are proficient in Survival and one set of artisan’s tools, and can identify the weakness of a target creature within 60 feet (action type is unspecified), where if the target fails a Wisdom save they have disadvantage on attacks and ability checks that target the kender until the start of the kender’s next turn. Its uses per long rest are also based on proficiency bonus.
Thoughts: The kender in Tasslehoff’s Pouches is remarkably different from the one in Shadows of the Dragon Queen, with only the Taunt ability being otherwise the same. The ones in this book are a more authentic portrayal, where they have outright immunity to fear rather than resistance, and they trade in their bonus skill proficiency for more kenderlike things such as random pocket items, improvised weapon proficiency, and better familiarity with locations due to their wanderlust. The afflicted kender’s special ability can be useful if the DM rules that it’s a free action, as the action type isn’t specified, but given that it’s similar in use to the Taunt I presume it was meant to be a bonus action. Survival and artisan tool proficiency are rather situational, although they’re more reliable but less fun IMO than the random pocket treasures.
Draconians are the first of our uncommon races, with the rest in this post belonging to that category. Created by Takhisis’ Dragonarmies from captured metallic dragon eggs to serve as tools of war, they were forced to find a new place in the world after the fall of their creators. Most draconians continued to live the lives of soldiers by serving various masters. When one band of draconians discovered female draconian eggs once kept hidden by the Dragonarmies, they were able to reproduce on their own terms and eventually founded their own city-state of Teyr. This new kingdom serves as a message to others that draconians can now be masters of their own destiny.
In terms of stats draconians have a base race and five subraces. The base race has +2 Strength, are humanoid but also count as a dragon for dragon-specific effects, 60 foot darkvision, immunity to magical sleep, all besides the aurak have wings which allow them to glide and can increase their walking speed by 5 feet when taking the Dash action, can go for long periods without food and water, and have a unique death throe which activates upon death. What is universal among death throes is that it leaves hardly anything of the original draconian behind, meaning they can only be resurrected by a Wish spell.
The first draconian subrace are auraks, the least common type derived from gold dragons who were designed as powerful arcanists for special operations. They get +1 Intelligence, their death throe is an explosion of fiery magical energy, they have an at-will breath weapon of poison gas in a 15 foot cone that deals 2d6 poison damage and blinds foes for 1d4 rounds should they fail a Constitution save (half damage on success), gain Eldritch Blast as a cantrip, can cast Disguise Self and Misty Step at 3rd level once per long rest each, then two and three times each at 5th and 9th levels, and can cast Dominate Person once per long rest at 13th level.
Baaz are the most common type of draconian, derived from brass dragon heritage and typically served as infantry. They get +1 Constitution, their death throe turns their body to stone and piercing and slashing weapons risk getting embedded within them, and their knack for disguises grants them proficiency with Deception, disguise kits, and advantage on Deception when disguising themselves as humans.
Bozak draconians are taken from bronze dragons and designed to be spellcasting commanders of other draconians. They get +1 Charisma, their death throe causes their skeleton to explode dealing piercing damage, they have the Shocking Grasp cantrip, can cast Magic Missile once per long rest, and can cast Web once per long rest at 3rd level.
Kapak draconians have copper dragon heritage and were designed to be stealthy commandos. They have +1 Dexterity, their death throe causes them to turn into dissolving acid that splashes adjacent targets, and once per short or long rest can coat a slashing or piercing weapon with poisonous saliva as a bonus action. Said poison can paralyze a target for 1d4 rounds if they fail a Constitution save. It doesn’t say which ability score determines the saving throw DC, which is a hindsight.
Sivak draconians are the largest of draconians, and their size and shapeshifting capabilities make them suitable as spies and infiltrators who can also hold their own in a straight-up fight. They get +1 Charisma, can shapeshift and look like a humanoid of Large or smaller size that they kill, can only take on another form with this trait once per long rest and after they killed a new target, and their death throe causes their corpse to appear as a duplicate of the one who killed them (if the killer was a Large or smaller humanoid) before exploding into flames. A sivak’s disguise can be seen through an Investigation vs their Deception, where a successful Investigation determines that the form’s a duplicate.
Thoughts: I’m happy to see that draconians of all five common varieties got the full PC treatment. They only became PC options in 3rd Edition to my knowledge,* but their Hit Die and Level Adjustment made playing them impractical, and the ones besides Baaz and Kapak were only suitable for mid to higher level play. That being said, the draconian subraces vary in balance. First off, the base race’s gliding and immunity to falling via their wings opens up some nice maneuverability and tactics even without full flight. Their death throes are more a curse than a blessing, as being a low-magic setting revival magic is quite rare and you’re pretty much forced to roll up a new PC should your draconian die unless the DM pulls a Deus Ex Machina. Their superior metabolism is of more situational use, only really mattering in campaigns that make PCs track supplies and rations.
*I haven’t read SAGA Edition, the unique system spin-off for Dragonlance in the 5th Age.
As for the subraces, the aurak’s blinding breath is a really great feature, both being at-will and imposing a powerful debuff. Eldritch Blast is a useful long-range cantrip, and Misty Step is a great spell to get out of sticky situations. Gaining bonus uses of that at higher levels only makes them better, and auraks are definitely one of the best subraces. The Baaz’s ability to disguise themselves as human is again situational, albeit given that draconians are still disliked in many places in Ansalon this more or less serves as a bandaid to the “can’t bring the monster PC into town without getting harassed” dilemma in campaigns.* The bozak’s initial spells are alright, with Web at 3rd level being the clear winner. Between that and Shocking Grasp, this encourages them to take builds that keep enemies out of melee, which is at odds with their +2 Strength. The kapak’s paralyzing poison is a nice feature, and regenerating every short rest it’s a neat trick they can afford to use a few times rather than saving for the climactic battle. Finally, the Sivaks are a discount version of Irda (detailed below) and Eberron’s Changelings, with their humanoid disguise ability being more limited in how it can trigger and their base race doesn’t lend itself well to stealth and social builds. Additionally, they don’t have Powerful Build, which is an odd exclusion given that they are one of those “medium yet functionally large” races such as the centaur and goliath.
*I should point out that the aurak’s Disguise Self and Sivak’s shapechanging also help alleviate this.
Goblinoids aren’t really different from virtually every other standard fantasy D&D setting and have nothing you haven’t heard of before. The major difference is that there’s a non-evil nation of goblins in Northern Ergoth called Sikk’et Hul. They have good relations with their kender and Ergothian neighbors. The book oddly says that Sikk’et Hul is a hobgoblin nation, whereas in prior sourcebooks they were implied to be either regular goblins or a variety of goblinoid types. The goblinoid races use the same mechanics as in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse.
Thoughts: I do like the inclusion of Sikk’et Hul in that it gives a good origin for a non-evil goblinoid PC, and makes said races have a place in Dragonlance beyond always evil cannon fodder. That being said, goblinoids in general are treated that way in much of Ansalon, so it’s still a slight inversion. But as there’s a new background specific to that nation later in the book, I do like how Tasslehoff’s Pouches is showing that the otherwise monstrous races are viable PC options.
Minotaurs are cousins to ogres, and before the Cataclysm were the slaves of other races. The Cataclysm, ironically, liberated their people, and now they primarily live on the island kingdoms of Mithas and Kothas as a ruthless seafaring warrior people. Their social mobility is determined by gladiatorial combat in the Great Circus. They use the rules for minotaurs in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse, with the exception being that their starting languages are Common and Kothian, their unique racial language.
Thoughts: Minotaurs rank as one of the cooler races in Dragonlance, and I’m glad to see that the book didn’t skimp on describing their society and history. I kind of wish they had features reflecting their skills at seafaring, which their race got in 3rd Edition with bonuses on appropriate skills, but that can be easily fixed with the right background: SAILOR!
Ogres are one of Krynn’s three elder races, the firstborn of the evil gods. They used to rule a mighty empire which enslaved humans, but after a rebellion by the humans their civilization crumbled. The ogres who fight for evil were cursed to be as ugly as their souls, becoming the monstrous giants of later eras. They have fallen far, living in crumbling cities and towns of their ancestors or in nomadic bands. Ogres come in three distinct races, and oddly enough the typical “monster giant” ogre isn’t one of them. Half-ogres have one true ogre and one human parent, smarter than the typical ogre yet also weaker, making a lot of them outcasts in both ogre and human societies. As a race, they gain +2 Constitution, +1 Strength, are considered to be an ogre for any effects requiring one to be an ogre, have 60 foot darkvision, have the half-orc’s one bonus damage dice on melee criticals, count as one size larger for carrying capacity and weight they can push/drag/lift, and have a default AC of 12 + Dexterity modifier when not wearing armor.
High Ogres, or Irda, are descendents of ogres who followed the example of Igraine, the first ogre to achieve free will and sought to end enslavement of humans. They fled to an isolated island north of Ansalon, remaining in seclusion for thousands of years, only occasionally sending an individual to the outside world to recover dangerous artifacts from the empire of their ancestors. In terms of stats, they have +2 Charisma, +1 Intelligence, are Medium size, 60 foot darkvision, can cast Prestidigitation at will and Detect Magic once per long rest, can also cast Daylight once per long rest and can cast both spells with spell slots, and can transform their physical appearance into various humanoids as a bonus action along with Deception checks to maintain such disguises.
Thoughts: One cannot help but compare the half-ogre to half-orcs and goliath, the two races most notable for being melee brutes. The half-ogre’s stat bonuses more or less pushes them into physical combat roles. Their unarmored AC bonus is unlikely to matter, as the AC of being a Barbarian is likely to be equal or greater, and most martial classes and subclasses have access to medium armor. In comparison to a half-orc’s Relentless Endurance or a Goliath’s Stone’s Endurance, it’s inferior. They don’t have a bonus skill proficiency like either of the races I’ve mentioned, and while they have a feature that’s mechanically the same as the Goliath’s Powerful Build they more or less trade in that one’s Mountain Born for Darkvision like the half-orc gets. All in all, they rate below both of these races, and I’d personally use a reflavored Goliath for half-ogres.
As for the High Ogre, it’s pretty much built to be a non-Wisdom spellcaster or some other archetype that makes use of Intelligence or Charisma. The bonus spells they get are pretty broadly useful, although Daylight is a bit more situational. If anything, they are closest to Eberron’s Changelings whose Shapechanger feature is more or less the same. But the Irda gets darkvision, advantage on Deception while maintaining it, and unlike the changeling’s the text doesn’t state that they revert to their original form upon death. In effect, they trade in that race’s Fey type and bonus skill proficiency for darkvision and bonus spells. Which can be a worthy trade-off given the usefulness of what the Irda gets.
Phaethons are a reclusive people distantly related to elves and live in remote mountain ranges. They claim ancestry from a Kagonesti elf who was the son of the god Habbakuk, and their ability to manifest wings of flame is regarded as a sacred gift from that god which they only show to outsiders in times of utmost importance. In terms of stats they have +2 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity, have immunity to fire damage but vulnerability to cold damage, 60 foot darkvision, advantage on the charmed condition like elves, and as a bonus action can grow fiery wings from their back. Once in this state they either gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed, or the wings can be used to make unarmed strikes that deal 1d6 fire damage. The damage also occurs when someone grapples the phaethon and increases with level, up to 4d6 at 16th level. A phaethon cannot fly and make wing attacks during the same round.
Thoughts: Despite their “don’t reveal your wings to outsiders” cultural trait, phaethons are an incredibly strong race. Their wings are treated as unarmed strikes, giving them great synergy with monks, and deal significantly more damage than a typical unarmed strike. The main drawback is that fire damage is the most commonly resisted damage type. Immunity to fire and a flying speed are also very nice features suitable for just about any build. Overall they’re a great race.
Thoughts So Far: When it comes to new race mechanics, the most broadly powerful and therefore appealing ones are the Daewar Dwarves, Tarmak Humans, Wanderlust Kender, Aurak Draconians, and Phaethons. Each of them has one or more useful traits that can work for a variety of builds. The Irda is more situational but works well for a sneaky spy type with some magical tricks, and the Afflicted Kender’s special ability is broadly useful and encouraged to be pulled at just the right moment to avoid an undesirable fate.
The gully dwarves aren’t as underpowered as in prior Editions, but I still can’t see most players choosing them due to the baggage that race has. The gnomes are uninspiring, and I’d much rather use a Rock Gnome than the new Tinker Gnome subrace. Same for half-ogres and Goliaths. The Baaz and Sivak draconians need more uniquely useful features to help them stand out from existing options. The remaining dwarven subraces are mixed bags, and the aquatic elves’ subrace traits are only really useful for certain campaign types.
But overall, I like the variety of races we have. Add in the existing ones from the core rules plus Monsters of the Multiverse, and we have a lot of decent options.
Join us next time as we check out new Classes & Factions!