D&D 5E My Five Favorite Things From Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos

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I don’t play Magic: The Gathering but have enjoyed the sourcebooks that they’ve done for Dungeons & Dragons, from the initial Plane Shift PDFs to the current slate of physical books. They are “new to me” settings full of material that I can use in my own games how I see fit. The newest release, Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos is the first one that I’ve considered running more or less straight out of the book. I’ve been intrigued by Wizards of the Coast’s take on a magic school setting, so I tore into my review copies like I was cramming for a final at midnight. Here are my favorite things from the book due out in December.

Social Adventures​

Of the three pillars of D&D cited by the designers - combat, exploration and social interaction - the last one seems to have gotten the short end of the stick in the official adventures. Over half the book’s page count is devoted to a campaign structured around the four years of school the PCs will attend. Of those four adventures, three of them center around big social events: a music festival, a big game like homecoming, and a grand masquerade ball. There’s still battle maps, combats and a climactic battle against a Big Bad but the campaign takes a much different journey to get there.

Relationships​

This playstyle is supported by a big section on NPCs that can become friends, rivals and lovers to the PCs. If I were running the campaign, I’d show these pages to my players and ask them to choose their best friend, biggest rival and potential partner. Then I’d giggle with glee when players chose the same characters for different roles and use the soap opera drama to contrast the heroic deeds. How do you explain to your fighter that his rival just asked you out on a date? What happens when their ex offers to help you pass that exam you know you will flunk otherwise?

There’s also some mechanical heft to this idea as players earn relationship points by interacting with these NPCs. Positive relationship points give you perks like someone willing to have your back in a fight. Negative relationship points create some lingering issues, like a jealous ex who might stack things in front of your door to annoy you. It’s not something like Smallville or Masks as far as social mechanics go, but it’s a start.

Student Dice​

Players in a Strixhaven campaign can jump into the pillars of campus life, including things like jobs, exams and extracurricular activities. These choices not only provide relationship points that power social interactions, but they also provide Student Dice. These act like a bless effect based on the skills the character has been using during downtime by adding a d4 to an ability check once per long rest. Been studying for that Magical Physiologies test? Use a Student Die on your attack roll against the Otyugh because you know where they are vulnerable. A reporter for the Strixhaven Star? Spend a Student Die on your Insight check because you’ve been honing your nose for news all semester.

Mage Tower​

Every magical school needs a weird sport to play and Mage Tower is the choice for the five Strixhaven colleges to challenge each other on the field. It’s a modified version of capture the flag, except each team’s flag is a mascot with a mind of its own. The game is structured like a skill challenge where each successful roll is counted as a point, and casting spells can grant advantage on a skill check or points without rolls depending on the level of the spell. The game is central to one of the adventures, but I could also see it used as a backdrop for other moments in campus life as students play friendly games on the quad.

A Math Dragon​

Each of the colleges was founded by a dragon. I think my favorite founder is Tanazir Quandrix, whose college focuses on learning the laws of reality to break them through magic. Each of the dragons gets a writeup in the monster section and Tanazir has some fun powers, such as a breath attack that manifests as an equation that weakens the character or the ability to fold space and teleport.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland


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That is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about the clash between the magic and non-magic world. Not the culture of a boarding school. If you can have a hidden magical boarding school (heck - a whole society) right next to modern science-based culture, then you can fit a magical university into any D&D setting without much trouble. They seem to work just fine as complete separate cultures. I mean, everyone seems to except that the magical world of HP has no real influence on the muggle world around it (and vice versa).
Hogwarts and the magical world is hidden. Stryxhaven is most definitely not.

And yes, you could fit a magical university into almost and D&D setting, but not this university. A university located in X would have a culture reflecting the culture of X.

The Earthsea wizard school would be out of place in modern Britain in a way that Hogwarts is not.
 

But you say sport wouldn't fit and we know that Italy and England both had sports during the Renaissance (as did non-Euro cultures). Also, we know from Ed Greenwood that there are Realms-specific sports.
But no Renaissance university ever organised a sporting event. You might have students privately taking part in say a private duelling club, but the university, as a religious (or at least church approved) organisation, would have frowned upon it, not organised it.
 

But no Renaissance university ever organised a sporting event. You might have students privately taking part in say a private duelling club, but the university, as a religious (or at least church approved) organisation, would have frowned upon it, not organised it.
Sure, the unis didn't organize team sports, that was usually just the towns and or neighborhoods or companies that did so. Team sports in western Europe predate the Renaissance, as they do in the mideast, central asia, and meso America
 






That is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about the clash between the magic and non-magic world. Not the culture of a boarding school. If you can have a hidden magical boarding school (heck - a whole society) right next to modern science-based culture, then you can fit a magical university into any D&D setting without much trouble. They seem to work just fine as complete separate cultures. I mean, everyone seems to except that the magical world of HP has no real influence on the muggle world around it (and vice versa).

Strixhaven isn't a secret, it brags way too much to be a secret.
 


dave2008

Legend
Strixhaven isn't a secret, it brags way too much to be a secret.
But that bragging could be confined to certain spheres of influence. I mean, wasn't Hogwarts always bragging about being the best school of wizardry and witchcraft? That didn't effect how anyone outside the magical thought of the school.
 

dave2008

Legend
Hogwarts and the magical world is hidden. Stryxhaven is most definitely not.
But it could be.
And yes, you could fit a magical university into almost and D&D setting, but not this university. A university located in X would have a culture reflecting the culture of X.
Why? My whole point is the hidden world of magical universities could have a vastly different culture than the world around it.
The Earthsea wizard school would be out of place in modern Britain in a way that Hogwarts is not.
I'll take your word for that as I have not read the Earthsea series; however, we don't need to make the same assumptions about our fictional word. I see little reason a hidden magical university couldn't have a very unique culture from the world around it. I am not saying it has to be done this way, but it could be.
 

But it could be.
As pointed out already, it couldn't, it's huge, flashy and blindingly obvious. Making it hidden would be a major change.
Why? My whole point is the hidden world of magical universities could have a vastly different culture than the world around it.
But it's not hidden.
I'll take your word for that as I have not read the Earthsea series; however, we don't need to make the same assumptions about our fictional word. I see little reason a hidden magical university couldn't have a very unique culture from the world around it.
Even if the school where hidden, students in it are still drawn from the world around it.

For example, take the Bottle of Endless Coffee. This simple item tells us a couple of things about the culture that made it. Firstly, that coffee is a popular beverage, and secondly, magic is commonplace.

A magic school in Sigil is divided into philosophical factions; Ravnica has several rival institutions run by the Izzet league and Simic Combine; In Thay, sadistic professors employ cruel teaching techniques, whist the students take it out on their slaves; Theros students study in the open air, and their books are scrolls; on Athas tiny groups of mages cower in darkened rooms, fearing the tread of the Templars. And they all have one thing in common: they are not Stryxhaven.
 
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HammerMan

Legend
well... making new humans is fairly easy and enjoyable....
you can make one by mistake... it takes days to make some foods, but it takes only moments to make a human. Has anyone ever known anyone to accidentally make a food? I bet almost everyone knows someone that accidentally made a baby.
 

HammerMan

Legend
But no Renaissance university ever organised a sporting event. You might have students privately taking part in say a private duelling club, but the university, as a religious (or at least church approved) organisation, would have frowned upon it, not organised it.
intresting, I thought things like rowing club and track and field dated back longer than that...
 


Now I am thinking about a idea for a shojo light novel, or or novel. A teen girl loves his parents' gift, a romantic novel about the memories of a student in Stryhaven. Then her home is victim of collateral damages by a fight between chronomancers. When she wakes up and open the eyes she notices she is not in her original body, but in a living construct, a ginoid, a prototype being created, tested and updated in Stryhaven, and in the past, in the same time of the memories of that student. Have I said she had got a secret crush with one of the characters from that novel? And here we have the D&D version of webcomics about reincarnations within an Otome videogame ("my next life as villain" and like this).
 

darjr

I crit!
Have you head about siegeball? It’s a fun in-game sport.

I think I ran a game of this at Gameholecon?!? Did I? If so it was a super fun time!
 


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