Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos - An In-Depth Review

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is the latest D&D 5E book based on a Magic the Gathering set. That's led a lot of people to refer to it as Harry Potter meets D&D, but that's not accurate for reasons I will explain below.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Wizards of the Coast has raised the bar when it comes to their adventures, sourcebooks, and supplements for Dungeons & Dragons, so to provide a more useful grading system, we will henceforth compare all new material to the best product WOTC has produced. This sourcebook/adventure is being compared to Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft (A+) and Wild Beyond the Witchlight (A+).

If Strixhaven had been released in the '80s, I think it would have been produced as a box set because it involves a variety of elements. Obviously, there's the setting of Strixhaven University, but that involves more than just player options. It also includes new mechanics to help simulate college life. Instead of just having an introductory adventure, SACoC has one for characters 1st through 10th level. It could be played straight through as a campaign or divided into four segments that can be played individually. Games within Strixhaven also have their own rules. It's rather amazing what's packed into its 224 pages.

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The Broad Overview​

Based on MtG's Strixhaven: School of Mages expansion from earlier this year, many people assumed the D&D version would be a school where wannabe wizards go to learn how to do magic. It's actually a university where magic is used and applied to various fields of study—history, eloquence, life and death, mathematics of nature, and the elemental arts, though it's even more complex than that. Each field of study contains opposing points like reason and emotion, order and chaos, etc. because the MtG card set has opposing colors that create philosophical tension within each college.

To put it another way, it's not a university about learning to become a spellcaster so much as a place where casters learn to apply their magic to specific disciplines. Most new students will already know a little magic. However, non-caster classes are also welcome at Strixhaven and the various colleges give examples of non-magical subclasses that could be attracted to a given Strixhaven college. A Strixhaven feat can give those subclasses a little magic of their own. More on that later.

Strixhaven has its own mythology and planar environment based on the MtG lore. A DM could also set the university in any campaign world from established ones like Forgotten Realms or Eberron to a homebrew campaign.

Regardless of the world setting, the five colleges of Strixhaven were founded by ancient dragons who were among the first beings to learn magic. The founding dragons, as they're referred to, are still alive and have turned the running of the colleges to their deans and are now out exploring. Students study broadly in their first year before selecting a college in their second year. The colleges within Strixhaven are:
  • Lorehold, the College of Archaeomancy
  • Prismari, the College of Elemental Arts
  • Quandrix, the College of Numeromancy
  • Silverquill, the College of Eloquence
  • Winterbloom, the College of Essence Studies
One of the hallmarks to SSoM is that each college contains “opposing forces” represented by opposing colors. In MtG the five colors (White, Blue, Red, Black, and Green) have distinct meanings that affect how cards of those colors are used and played. The D&D version expresses this through “philosophical tension” within each college. As a result, each college has two deans, each one representing one side of the debate. Strixhaven students, similarly, get two counselors after selecting their college.

The Strixhaven landscape also includes Snarls and Star Arches with the descriptions of both lifted almost exactly from MtG descriptions. Snarls are places where the Weave (in the D&D version) has tangled or knotted, causing magic there to be unpredictable, distorted, or magnified. Star Arches are geometric shapes that float, defying gravity. They're a mystery in both versions of Strixhaven, and some believe they occur in places of great magic. For those who like numbers, SACoC contains 45 stat blocks.

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Making a Student​

We previously got a peek at “owlfolk” in the Unearthed Arcana preview earlier this year. Now called “Owlin” this species is a player option that differs slightly from the UA version. The Magic Sight is gone and Darkvision is now 120 feet instead of 90. They keep Silent Feathers, but “Nimble Fight” is just “Flight” now—no reaction when falling. Owlin still look totally cool. Their wings are on their backs and they have clawed hands with normal arms.

Five new backgrounds are available, one for each college. In addition to spell proficiency, equipment, and languages, personality traits, a spell list, and trinkets are provided, as well as access to the Strixhaven Initiate Feat for their college. The Initiate Feat allows students to select two cantrips and one 1st level spell from the appropriate list. More importantly, they can cast that 1st level spell without a spell slot (it recharges on a long rest) or in any spell slot available. You also get to choose between Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as the corresponding spellcasting ability when you select this feat

Besides fleshing out a player's spell list, this feat allows a character of a non-spellcaster subclass to have some magic. It won't make them the full magical equal of a spellcaster, but it reinforces the idea that anyone interested in the application of magic can attend Strixhaven.

At 4th level, a student with the Strixhaven Initiate Feat can choose to take the Strixhaven Mascot Feat. It starts off similar to the Find Familiar spell with the familiar looking like the mascot for the student's college.

In addition to the usual abilities a familiar has, two additional abilities are granted. The student can give up their attack action and grant it to their mascot. Also, if the mascot is within 60 feet, as a reaction the student can swap places with the mascot. To do this again it needs to either recharge on a long rest or the student has to expend a 2nd level spell slot.

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New Spells & Items​

If a previous edition had released a setting or adventure at a college of magic, it probably would have been accompanied by an abundance of new (or new to the edition) spells. SACoC only has five new spells because the current team has been careful to avoid system bloat or overpowering it. Despite the limited number, the Strixhaven spells have some distinct benefits.
  • Borrowed Knowledge (2nd level) provides proficiency in a chosen skill for one hour.
  • Kinetic Jaunt (2nd level) improves movement speed, allows the character to move through occupied space without difficult terrain limitations, and they don't provoke opportunity attacks for up to one minute.
  • Vortex Warp (2nd level) allows you to teleport a creature in range to another location in range if they fall a Constitution save. They can also choose to fail, and it scales at higher spell slots.
  • Silvery Barbs is an interesting 1st level spell. It's cast as a reaction when a creature within range succeeds on an attack, saving throw, or ability check, forcing that being to roll again and take the lower of the two rolls. I won't digress into a math geek tangent, but anyone familiar with probability can tell you that it means this 1st level spell could be very handy. Even better, the caster can then select one creature in range, including themselves, and grant advantage on that being's next attack, ability check or save roll.
  • Wither and Bloom (2nd level) is also useful. It imposes the magic of both life and death in a 10-foot radius sphere, forcing each being of your choice within to save vs. Constitution or take 2d6 necrotic damage, half on a save. Non-magical vegetation in the affected area also dies. At the same time, the caster can designate one person in the same area to spend and roll one of their unused Hit Dice and regain hit points equal to that plus the caster's spellcasting modifier. It also scales with a higher spell slot.
The book only includes eight new magic items, five of which are college primers. The latter have charges that can be used to provide a bonus on ability checks and, if you studied after a long rest, the ability to cast a chosen 1st level spell without a spell slot. The conditions on which abilities and spells this can be used with vary by the college.

My favorite new magic item is the Bottle of Boundless Coffee. If I could give such a thing to a few friends, the world would a better place.

The Strixhaven Pendant glows with light when activated. The Cuddly Strixhaven Mascot is a toy you can attach to yourself. The magic items are useful in the case of the primers and fun in the case of the rest, but only the Bottle of Boundless Coffee made me smile.

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Academic Life​

What makes SACoC unique from other D&D adventures is that the mystery and action has to be blended with the activities of a school year. Usually adventurers go off to another location or, even if they're campaigning in a city like Baldur's Gate, they're focusing on the adventure. Here, the adventure has to fit in among study, exams, extracurricular activities, and maybe even a job.

To support the setting and create the feeling of school year, SACoC offers tools and mechanics. A few of them could be implemented in other campaigns. First and easiest is a tracker to help characters manage the details needed for the school year.

Studying gives students a chance to reroll when taking Exams. Passing Exams provides Student Dice that they can use to add a d4 to an ability check involving one of the skills involved in an Exam they passed. Additional rules cover Pulling An All-Nighter, Studying Together, and Cheating.

Relationships, good and bad, are also a crucial part of the college experience. NPCs can be friends, beloved, or rivals. Relationship Points help the DM and players track how strong or difficult the relationship is. A Beloved Relationship can provide Beloved Inspiration, which functions similarly to the Inspiration rules in the Dungeon Masters Guide. Friends and Rivals can also provide Bond Boons and Bond Banes, respectively.

Extracurricular Activities allow characters to earn both Relationship Points and Student Dice. Jobs provide both money and Relationship Points. Indulge in so many Extracurricular Activities plus a job and it can affect Studying, which, in turn, can lead to failing Exams, mimicking real college life.

And what is college without interpersonal drama? SACoC includes 18 student NPCs that players can cross paths with in classes, on their job, at Extracurricular Activities, etc. How the characters interact with them will determine if the NPC is a Rival, Friend or Beloved.

Each NPC has a name, image, college, personality description, Bond Boon, Bond Bane, and maybe a job. An example of a Bond Bane is how that NPC might taunt or do things to make the character's life miserable. Bond Boons are favors that might be done for the character or advantages they receive as a result of the relationship with the NPC.

These student NPCs are not designed to go along when the PCs explore the mysterious events affecting Strixhaven. If, however, stat blocks are necessary, a chart correlate's that NPC's student year to the First Year, Apprentice, or Pledge Mage stat block for their college.

The NPCs also cover a nice span of species. Humans are the most common, but other NPCs are Fire Genasi, Owlin, Dryad, Gnome, Orc, Dwarf, and Elf. A Minotaur and Loxodon are also included, which means looking at Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica if you want more information.

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Academic Adventures​

The first adventure takes characters from 1st to 4th level. Campus Kerfuffle involves a variety of challenges and activities that allow the PCs to explore the university, get a feel for the colleges, acclimate to the school year, get into shenanigans, and get hints as the larger plot weaving through all four adventures.

The second adventure is Hunt for the Mage Tower, which is a reference to an intramural game played at Strixhaven. The core rules of that game were established in MtG's SSoM, and it is featured, obviously, in this adventure. Mage Tower isn’t just a Quidditch knock-off. Both are intramural sports played on a field where teams are trying score enough points to win, but Quidditch involves scoring by getting balls through hoops and capturing the Seeker ball. In Mage Tower, a team is score by stealing the opposite team's mascot and then bring that mascot back to their own Mage Tower. Spells can be cast during the game so long as the spells do not harm players, mascots or the audience.

The Magister's Masquerade is the third adventure, by which time the PCs will be 7th and then 8th level. The titular event is a major campus event for students and fancy dress ball. As before, students have to juggle plans for that event with studying and school activities as well as the larger mystery. By the end of this adventure, the PCs should know who the larger villain lurking behind the scenes is.

The last part of the adventure, A Reckoning in Ruins, will allow the PCs to progress through 9th to 10th level. I credit the writers for providing a reason why the faculty can't deal with the villain on their own—he has warded himself against their magics so they need the student's help to find him. After all, it's required trope of the magical school genre that the students actually save day, not the teachers, or to at least have the focus be on the students as the teachers help.

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The Good Bits​

I love a lot of SACoC. The team did an excellent job of creating the feel of college in a magical setting. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into essential elements that would need mechanics, like studying, exams, and relationships, and fleshing out things like Extracurricular Activities and on-campus jobs. The rules do what is necessary for the setting without bogging things down in unnecessary complexity. Instead they hit a sweet spot.

The NPC students and faculty are well done and have an interesting variety. While we only get one new player option, I really like the Owlin.

The D&D team has been experimenting with adventure types, which I really love, and SACoC fits in with that nicely. While the ultimate stakes in the campaign are serious, it’s lighter and more fun than Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden and Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus are. The change of pace is nice and an adventure without a lot of doom and gloom is appreciated during a pandemic.

I also like the novelty of having to juggle school, studying, exams, activities, and a job with solving mysteries and fighting villains. That also all combines for an adventure where players who enjoy role-playing can really sink their teeth into all of those elements to really have fun.

The art is great—consistent in tone and feel, and evocative of the setting. Some of it is recycled from MtG, but that doesn't diminish it in my opinion. Plenty of new art is included anyway. Scenes depicting people have a good range of types to reflect a truly cosmopolitan college.

The wide release cover by Magali Villeneuve sets the tone perfectly with students, including an Owlin, chatting while they study—or take a break from studying, depending upon how you look at it. The limited game store distribution cover by Hydro74 may be my favorite work by that artist yet. The cover is a symbol of unity while the back features sigils for all of the colleges.

WotC has been building flexibility in its recent books, more than just assuming that DMs will mix and adapt the published material. Strixhaven fits in very well with this. For example, the founding dragons could be mixed with some of the Fizban's Treasury of Dragons material, whether that means blending them with the gem dragons or others. The Wild Beyond the Witchlight sets the stage for potential student characters to start fresh and enrolling in Strixhaven could be their next step.

If you raid the published adventures for homebrew, like I do, SACoC gives you a lot of options. The NPCs could be used any number of ways. The relationship mechanics could be beneficial in a variety of campaign types, especially city-based campaigns where they'll run into a lot of people over and over again. The adventure is naturally divided into four parts. Each section has a paragraph or two on suggested changes if you're only running that segment by itself.

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The Disappointing Bits​

I like a lot about SACoC, especially the premise. However, the execution of converting MtG's Strixhaven: School of Mages into D&D's Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos was awkward when it came to describing the colleges. By contrast, I believe that Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica was a much better fit in adapting MtG concepts to D&D.

The issue partially lies in the fact that what works for a collectible card game doesn't necessarily fit an RPG, especially one with as distinctive a magic system as D&D. The problem wasn't insurmountable, but the writers seemed to go for the most convoluted explanation of the dichotomy at the heart of the “opposing forces” within each college.

For example, Silverquill is known as “the College of Eloquence”, but then SACoC describes Prismari's opposing forces as “Perfection and Expression” with its deans being the Dean of Perfection and the Dean of Expression. Wouldn't expression go with eloquence? SACoC then goes on to explain that “perfection and expression” actually represent “intellect vs. emotion.” That's a long way around to make the point.

By contrast, MtG describes Prismari mages as not seeing a difference between art and magic. The MtG version doesn't use fancy titles for the dichotomy. It refers instead to the colors of magic foundational to MtG, but even without the “perfection versus expression” label the MtG version is clearer in my opinion—Blue magic is artistic theory and training while Red is elementalism, so students magically harness the elements to create art. That’s much easier to comprehend than the SACoC version, which describes how Prismari can overlap with Lorehold and Silverquill without really improving the clarity much.

Witherbloom is another example of how the first chapter makes what could be clear but thematically rich opposites unnecessarily convoluted. It's also especially frustrating because the name of this college captures the dichotomy beautifully—bloom and wither. The MtG version talks about how Green magic focuses on life energy and growth. At Winterbloom the Black magic is about necromancy and dark spells fueled by decay. That's also clear and easy to understand.

Instead of something that simple or even talking about how students at “the College of Essence Studies” manipulate life energy to either encourage further growth or exploit decay for powerful means, SACoC refers to its dichotomy as “Root and Vein”. The latter makes me think of blood, which is essential to life, but SACoC uses “vein” to represent decay. It then goes onto to explain that vampires frequently favor this side of Winterbloom, which helps, but the point could have been made more easily.

Similarly, Silverquill is the College of Eloquence, but then that's labeled as having opposing philosophies of Radiance and Shadow because “students learn to manifest brilliant light or inky darkness”. What does that have to do with eloquence? The MtG version is more to the point—Silverquill's White magic uses the power of language to inspire and uplift while its Black magic uses the power of language to attack enemies and reveal stinging truth.

Ultimately, the SACoC descriptions do work, but while reading them I often felt like I was reading a dry textbook or the brochure for a college trying to demonstrate its lofty scholarship instead of actually focused on appealing to and attracting students. Coming in the first chapter made it worse because this where you want to pull in readers and make sure they're hooked. It should make me want to reach for my editing red pen.

My other complaint might seem trivial, but the big villain annoys me. He feels weird, not particularly threatening, and more comical than dangerous. Maybe that was deliberate to show that not all villains have to angst ridden or to show that even unconventional can be a threat. It felt like a letdown for an otherwise enjoyable adventure.

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The Conclusion: B+​

I like SACoC a lot and recommend it with a few caveats. First, if you're expecting Harry Potter dropped into the D&D multiverse, SACoC isn't it. Magical schools come in a variety of styles from Ursula K. LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea to Sarah Gailey's Magic for Liars and Diana Wynn Jones' Witch Week in the Chrestomanci series to Lev Grossman's The Magicians and beyond, and the MtG card set draws from such a broader range of inspirations. It's also firmly focused on college-age students, not 11-year-olds heading off to Hogwarts. I recommend Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos if you:
  • Want a fresh adventure approach
  • Enjoy the magical school genre
  • Like or are interested in MtG to D&D setting adaptations
  • Want an adventure with a lot of opportunities for role-playing
  • Are in the mood for a more light-hearted adventure that still has action and drama
As I said above, I didn't like how this group of writers translated the meanings of MtG's color magic system into the college descriptions. They are using the same concepts, but the execution in the first chapter was a turn off. I was excited to learn about the colleges, but it soon felt like my eyes were glazing over while I tried to grasp their awkward labels. I'm not sure if the writer(s) of that section was trying too hard to distinguish the material from the MtG or maybe they thought these labels and descriptions were elevating it, but it didn't work for me. After reading the whole book, it bothered me less when I went back and reread that part of the first chapter, but that shouldn't be necessary. I think I'm more surprised than anything because it seems like a self-inflicted wound to the project.

I also wanted more on the school. Nothing felt skimpy so maybe the thought that went into on-campus locations and jobs, etc. just whetted my appetite for more, but I wish the section on the school had been even longer.

If Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos had come out earlier in the year, I would have given it an A- because the adventure has a fresh approach and there is lot of good content in the book. But after Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, the D&D team has raised the bar, so it gets a B+ from me.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels



HammerMan

Legend
It’s more about comparing D&D products with each other. So A is the best WotC has produced for 5E by definition, while E is the worst.
DO we have a list of just product and letter grade somewhere? (Hey it's a school setting thread and I am asking for a report card)
 


Dire Bare

Legend
NuRavenloft and Witchlight are A+ books? As in, above 100% and flawless?

Different strokes for different folks, but I dunno about that.
As a teacher . . . giving a student an "A+" doesn't mean their work or understanding is flawless and could not be improved. It simply means they have excelled beyond expectations.

In that light . . . yes, Ravenloft and Witchlight are A+ titles, in my opinion. Not everyone shares that opinion, but I can respect that without using insulting language like "NuRavenloft".
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
In that light . . . yes, Ravenloft and Witchlight are A+ titles, in my opinion. Not everyone shares that opinion, but I can respect that without using insulting language like "NuRavenloft".
Insulting? Please.

I didn't write BadRavenloft or Ravenbad 2.0 or some other such thing. And even if I did, that's not offensive either.

If those pearls get clutched any harder they'll turn into diamonds.
 

I just can't help but feel the Strixhaven magic set, with its suggested tone of darker-than-expected, was a lot more interesting compared to the lighter tone of this book.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Some very interesting ideas here. I am definitely interested. It looks to me that some of the material here could be used to support other type of campaign. I am thinking of something like Buffy or the Dresden files. I am thinking I would love to see an update Urban Arcana type material.
 


JThursby

Adventurer
I have to agree, scoring these books is probably not worth the effort. Given the huge size of the 5e player base there are lots of buyers out there looking for incredibly different things in a book: as a DM, Curse of Strahd has been my best purchase, closely followed by Volo's. I imagine non-DMs prefer Xanathars and the like. I'd also rather not have more fuel for unproductive arguments about relative quality of 5e stuff on this forum.

As for the book itself, I find it doesn't sell me on the setting, which I wasn't so eager for in the first place. It isn't doing anything particularly different from other magical school stories to make it memorable or interesting to me. It's an issue with the tone, both in the lore and the art, which is that for a school of mages in constant conflict it comes across as too light, low stakes and petty. If the schools were more distinct, if the conflict was more dire and the stakes of being enrolled in the school were higher I would be more interested. As it is it seems to be more concerned with presenting Strixhaven as a functional college with happy, sane and marketably diverse students rather than as a location that engenders a need for adventurers.
 

I've been looking through the book on D&D Beyond, and it does have some pretty interesting ideas, and can definitely be used as-is or easily re-skinned if you need to have a magic university in your campaign. I haven't read through the adventure yet, so I obviously don't have an opinion on that, but the setting material itself was a fun read.

My one real issue is this: it really needed to have a section on non-magic using characters; basically, how a non-magic using character can shine in a place so based around magic use, with some tips and advice on how to do so, and where exactly they would best fit in. They do periodically bring up a few subclasses for fighters and so on here and there, but nothing consistent like all the various magic-using classes. There needs to be a place in one of the colleges focused on health and physical fitness (and, presumably, traditional athletics) that would appeal to many of the non-magic using archetypes. Obviously, some fighters looking to study traditional fighting styles and military history would look into Lorehold; some monks, rogues, and dex fighters would look at Prismari to learn dance-like fighting styles; and monks focusing on mind over matter would look at Quandrix; but there just needs to be a place for the traditional brawny and brawling types. Witherbloom, with one of its focuses being on biology, seems to be a decent fit for this, but it's not something directly mentioned in the text. It would really be helpful to have this spelled out more clearly in the text to help these types of characters fit in...
 

doctorhook

Adventurer
Just as a point of correction, the opposing forces in each of the Strixhaven colleges were named in MTG, not by the authors of this book. There was a double-sided card featuring the two deans for each college:

* Lorehold: Plargg, Dean of Chaos // Augusta, Dean of Order

* Prismari: Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression

* Quandrix: Kianne, Dean of Substance // Imbraham, Dean of Theory

* Silverquill: Shaile, Dean of Radiance // Embrose, Dean of Shadow

* Witherbloom: Valentin, Dean of the Vein // Lisette, Dean of the Root

Beyond that, your point about remains valid with regards to how the names don’t make a lot of sense.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Yeah, I mostly agree with this review. I don't hate or dislike the book (like I did for Tyranny of Dragons and the SCAG), but I also don't love it (like I did for Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and Explorer's Guide to Wildemount). This is solidly my least favorite of the 3 M:tG books, even though I wasn't particularly a fan of Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica (I really liked Theros, though). It's way too much "adventure", in my opinion, and not enough "setting". Sure, having an example adventure (or 4, if you're Explorer's Guide to Wildemount) is great and all, but this was marketed primarily as a setting book, when the vast majority of its pages go to the adventure that I'm almost definitely never going to run. I'm also disappointed by the lackluster amount of spells (Acquisitions Incorporated had more than this book! This is supposed to be a magic academy sourcebook, and that's a fantasy office-comedy book!), the changes to the Owlin, the relatively boring feats, and the lack of more information in the book about the world in general for if the party ever decides "hey, what if we were to leave the university and explore the rest of the world for a bit?".

I don't regret buying it, but I also don't see myself using this book all that much in the future. Might use some of the magic items (infinite coffee mug, anyone? and a magic teddy bear!), monster stats, and possibly some of the spells, but the adventure and setting aren't going to see much use.
 
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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Shows how much it's just down to taste, I reckon Theros is by far the worst WotC 5e setting book I own (I haven't read Ravnica or Acquisitions Inc, but that includes SCAG).
IMO, nothing in this edition can beat the SCAG in sheer disappointment. I'm not a huge fan of the setting, Theros, and would much rather play in/DM for a "normal" Ancient Greece campaign setting than the knock off that Theros is, but I thought that the book was well done, liked most of the options in it, have frequently used its magic items and monsters in my campaigns, and love its Piety system.

But, yes, it's up to taste. It's interesting when you find people whose opinions and experiences are completely the opposite of your own.
 


I think all of the MtG setting books have had interesting new subsystems that I would have preferred be in a setting-agnostic rules book.

Ravnica has the guilds, how they interact (and how PCs in the guilds interact with other guild members), guild spell lists, renown and the awards that come with it from each guild, etc. Theros has the Piety mechanic that gives more concerete rules for what serving or angering a god entails and how to adjudicate it. Strixhaven has expanded rules for NPC interactions and the kinds of perks and drawbacks they might entail.

I find all of that interesting, but I'm not really interested in the settings that make up the rest of the books and don't want to have to buy a book about a setting I don't care about to extricate the little bit of new rules that could be used in any setting.
 

As I said in an earlier I think a good setting book should include everything you need to run adventures in that setting. And in that respect I feel only VGR, Wildemont and Eberron make the grade. Theros feels far from complete: where is the bronze age tech? Where is the detailed geography? Same goes for SCAG: Where is the rest of the continent? Where are the new ideas?

But I think Stryxhaven is better judged as a campaign adventure rather than as a setting.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Back when Strixhaven was announced, I said I feared it would display that you can't just port over MTG into D&D. And I kinda feel right. MTG uses such a different world and magic foundation with wholely different foci that if you don't go big, you miss out on too much. The Disappointing Bits far overshadow the Good Bits based on what most reviews show me if you come with any preconceived notions of doing anything but magic university.

My setting of Klassico has 2 magical schools in it. Would I replace one with Strixhaven? Not unless my players beg me. Would I make Strixhaven a third school in an unoccupied part of the map and let the PCs visit it? Maybe. But it isn't the "drop in" idea that was first pitched. Based on what I've hear. It's a full dive into what it is. It's not really heavy on MTG, Wizardy, or Houses. It's D&D college. It's really really good if that's what you want. It looks like great adventure.
 

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