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D&D 5E Strixhaven: Orientation

WotC has released an overview of the upcoming Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, as adventurers of levels 1-10 uncover a plot against the university. Teased are activities like tavern games, a magical frog race, an improv festival, and other social encounters. You can also take exams to improve your skills, join clubs, or get jobs.

Also included is a bestiary of over 40 new creatures.

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The Bibloplex contains most of the information in the multiverse. Plenty of other locations fill the book, such as Captain Dapplewing's Manor, a mansion built for the university professors. One adventure has the PCs breaking into the manor. Another adventure involves the main Strixhaven student sport, Mage Tower.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Stormonu

Legend
There are differences, sure. But I don't think you'd be wrong to call this simply D&D Harry Potter. A bit reductive, maybe. But as a succinct summary, it works pretty well. The same way how it's somewhat reductive, yet accurate to call Shadowrun "Cyberpunk but with orcs".
Yeah, I don’t know why people are getting up in arms about it. It’s not like Ravenloft/Curse of Strahd wasn’t a blatant copy of Dracula & company. D&D is built on taking existing works of fantasy and making a generic copy you can plop you and your friends in. This one’s for new players and the folks who grew up after the 2E/3E days of D&D (though it’s got my attention as well).

And I’m glad that D&D isn’t just focusing on converting old 1E/2E campaign worlds, but is bothering to expand into new worlds, even if those worlds are borrowed from its sister game, MtG and more modern fantasy - not just the pulps of yore. It’s certainly helluva lot better than FR all the time.

Strixhaven is there for those of us who like and want to emulate the genre of magic schools and “young adult” fantasy. If you don’t like it, I’m sure if you wait five minutes WotC will have a new setting to check out that might interest you.
 

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Vael

Hero
The main reason I'm getting this one is less about running Strixhaven than I'm hoping for some tools and insights into improving the social pillar of the game. It's a weak spot for me as a DM. And I like the idea of running a campaign in a magical school, if not necessarily in Strixhaven itself.
 

Liane the Wayfarer

Frumious Flumph
I want to say that, in one of the grimoires to come out of Europe during the Late Middle Ages, there was something about a secret university located below ground in an anonymous part of Europe. Every year, Satan himself would teach a class of warlocks the magical arts. At the end of the year, the last student to leave would have their soul snatched from them to serve Satan. IIRC Francis Bacon was said to have attended, but he knew about the soul-snatching, so he sprinted out of the school last, and the Devil only got his shadow.
 

Jaeger

That someone better.
I’m not investigating the depths of the product, but are you sure it’s an actual “prom”? Is that the word used?

Just like Strixhaven is totally not-hogwarts, I'm sure that they use some not-prom term like a 'ball' or some such.

Tomatoe, tomato. It's obvious what nostalgia vibe they are trying to tap with this one.


There are differences, sure. But I don't think you'd be wrong to call this simply D&D Harry Potter. A bit reductive, maybe. But as a succinct summary, it works pretty well.

Exactly.

Everyone knows what they are doing.

It's not like the WotC PR machine is out there playing up the differences...
 

College 4 of 5:



Note that Warsinger being named here, but pictured with a drum, may be an error, since the tweet for Lorehold also listed Warsinger and it has a pic of a microphone beside it in that post.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
I want to say that, in one of the grimoires to come out of Europe during the Late Middle Ages, there was something about a secret university located below ground in an anonymous part of Europe. Every year, Satan himself would teach a class of warlocks the magical arts. At the end of the year, the last student to leave would have their soul snatched from them to serve Satan. IIRC Francis Bacon was said to have attended, but he knew about the soul-snatching, so he sprinted out of the school last, and the Devil only got his shadow.

A clear allegory for tuition fees.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Except you would be wrong. Both are magic schools, but stryxhaven has a lot of focus on teaching real life subjects, in fact all the colleges have a focus on a real world subject (math, history, biology, writing, performative arts) with a magical lense. All the students are adults. they don't need to hide magic from a real world.... if you go to stryxhaven expecting hogwarts, I'd bet you'd get frustrated, because that's not what stryxhaven was going for. When the MTG set was being previewed a lot of the same criticisms and reductionisms were happening, and now that it's been out for about a year, the comparisons stopped... Being a fan of both MTG and D&D, this all feels a little deja-vu for me :ROFLMAO:

For me, the D&D "Potterverse" is the Eladrin in the Feywild. These Wizards (and Bards!) are nonhumans.

Strixhaven is something else.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
It doesn't really matter if the word is used, since "prom" has lost much of it's original meaning, and could refer to any kind of formal dance for late teens.

"Is it appropriate" depends entirely on the culture of the setting. If you are being informed by some sort of pseudo-medieval context, then colleges should be single sex, with no officially sanctioned socialising. Something to consider if you wanted to drop it into the World of Greyhawk, but otherwise not really an issue.
Hmm.

Regarding "formal occasions", where I am, "prom" means highschool. Something resembling it in other contexts is probably a "gala". The term "ball" still happens, but is intentionally retro, and seems impossible to separate from "gowns".

A "party" connotes an informal celebration.

Something semi-formal might be an "event".
 

where I am
This is the thing really. Where are you? What I've noticed is that in recent years the term "prom" has been appropriated in the UK from the US, but (mis)applied to pretty much anything. Back when I was a student, "ball" was commonly used. I've never heard "gala" used outside of the context of a swimming competition.

I always avoided such events like the plague.
 




BB Shockwave

Explorer
I guess the next book has to be a good one, given the current ratio - Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft was good, Witchlight was a chore to read, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons was super fun and informative, and this looks like another stinker. Weird how both D&D and Pathfinder are churning out "Harry Potter's Magic School" style books with this and the Strength of Thousands PF adventure path coming out around the same time...
This is the thing really. Where are you? What I've noticed is that in recent years the term "prom" has been appropriated in the UK from the US, but (mis)applied to pretty much anything. Back when I was a student, "ball" was commonly used. I've never heard "gala" used outside of the context of a swimming competition.

I always avoided such events like the plague.
In all my school years we only had the one such event when we finished school, after 4 years of secondary school. Thankfully, no stupid prom queen nonsense or such.

Just point out that a big chunk of A Wizard of Earthsea follows the protagonist at a magic school, where he encounters an overprivileged rival, a loyal best buddy and a wise, father-figure headmaster, and gets into trouble through using magic carelessly.
I like to bring up that book as an argument on how "REAL" magic schools should be, not like the nonsense that was Harry Potter. Where learning magic is not just waving wands and saying the words, where everything has a true name you need to learn, and where your teachers do not give you ridiculously deadly tasks like pulling Mandragora or going to woods where giant spiders can eat you... And where the one magic 'prank' that our protagonist pulls has deadly consequences that follow him for much of his career, not brushed off immediately.
But mostly, that they teach them wizards are meant to serve people, how to use their magic wisely to help where needed, and how the best use of demonstrating power is perhaps to not to use it at all (such as when Sparrowhawk drives the mother Dragon away by bluffing about knowing her true name).
 
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In all my school years we only had the one such event when we finished school, after 4 years of secondary school. Thankfully, no stupid prom queen nonsense or such.
I had to endure many a school disco as a student, starting from age 10, and more as a teacher. Nothing of tuxedo wearing formalness though.
But mostly, that they teach them wizards are meant to serve people, how to use their magic wisely to help where needed, and how the best use of demonstrating power is perhaps to not to use it at all (such as when Sparrowhawk drives the mother Dragon away by bluffing about knowing her true name).
That sounds more like paladin school! It's not much like any real world educational establishment I am familiar with.
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
What if the real threat is a secret society of overly-long-term students who want to destroy the world so that their tuition fees are erased? There is a secret war to destroy the arcane brain that holds all student debt information, and it's gloves off for those who got a PhD in theoretical sorcery when they find out that the only job they get with that degree is magical cab driver in Eberron.
 

Bupp

Adventurer
The Command Zone made up some "ads" for each of the five colleges of Strixhaven in their one commander game play video. They start about the 1:30 mark, and the rest are after the intros.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's all just speculation. I have no problem with an "Adventures Academy", I think that can be quite fun.

I just don't want to shoehorn in a PC that doesn't fit the Harry Potter theme.
I hope the interview linked up thread helps with this perception. Strixhaven has monks. I’d say that the Cobalt Soul Monk (and the monks with spells) is a great fit, as are any of the magical Fighter and Rogue subclasses, one or two Barbarians, and of course all the spellcasters. IIRC even the artificer is getting a new spell in this book, and you can use the background and feat to give an otherwise mundane character some magic.
I don't think anybody is claiming that here though? Looking at the images and how it's being promoted they are clearly going for a Harry Potter like vibe rather than Earthsea or Kingkiller. Is that even a controversial take?
Yes, it is. I haven’t seen anything remotely HP in vibe.
There are differences, sure. But I don't think you'd be wrong to call this simply D&D Harry Potter. A bit reductive, maybe. But as a succinct summary, it works pretty well. The same way how it's somewhat reductive, yet accurate to call Shadowrun "Cyberpunk but with orcs".
There’s a point where reductive descriptions become innacurate, and “D&D Harry Potter” definitely hits that point. The only similarity is that both are schools, with magic.

Strixhaven isn’t a boarding school for child/adolescent wizards.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Strixhaven is there for those of us who like and want to emulate the genre of magic schools and “young adult” fantasy. If you don’t like it, I’m sure if you wait five minutes WotC will have a new setting to check out that might interest you.
Yes, this. Strixhaven is not my thing at all, but there's nothing wrong with WotC broadening its reach. That, by definition, means that not everything will please everyone. But if they do six books a year instead of four, and you're used to liking three of those four, chances are you'll still like three of the six, if not more.

Now if the Witchlight-Strixhaven spectrum becomes the norm, I'll be rather disappointed. But I highly doubt that's the case.
 

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