Twisted Mithral is Mad Max meets Dungeons & Dragons. Expanding mounted and vehicular rules to include hanging off the sides of mounts and vehicles, as well as crashing, this book would be great if it was just that. But it goes way above and beyond! Vehicle building, repairing, and modification rules allow you to create chariots, war wagons, and even more esoteric and archaic steam- or magic-powered “carts.” Subclasses are included to take advantage of all of these rules, plus there’s new gear, feats, spells, and magic items.
Credits Writing: E. R. F. Jordan
Art: E. R. F. Jordan, Joyce Maureira, Tan Ho Sim, Wizards of the Coast
I picked this high-octane PDF up at the DMsGuild with my own cash-money.
I pride myself on being pretty critical and not giving out 5 stars to just any old book. But here we are with a 5/5 for content, which I seem to be handing out like candy recently, once already to E.R.F. Jordan for the amazing Animal Training release. Quite frankly, though, Twisted Mithral deserves every one of those 5 stars for content.
The book kicks off with the combat rules, which are the linchpin regarding how this release jives with the core rules. The additional mechanics for vehicular combat are dead simple, and incredibly fun to play with. You’ll find rules for getting on and off vehicles, moving them around, hanging off the sides of vehicles and mounts, and how combat works between “ground to cart” and “cart to cart” combat. These systems are very straightforward and don’t add extra complexity and bookkeeping: they lightly expand on the mounted combat rules, and wherever possible reference existing rules like falling whenever it’s logical to do so.
Carts and their components are the focus of the next two chapters, making up the bulk of the book. There’s plenty of stuff that would be mundane in a D&D world like chariots and animal-drawn vehicles. But here’s where we also see how to build land vehicles meant for combat, and let’s be honest: they are basically anachronistic versions of Mad Max-style cars. Which is awesome! Building on that first chapter, though, they aren’t here to clog up your game with tons of complexities: these chapters literally tell you the components you need to build them, how much they cost, and from that is derived the rules to modify and repair them. Again, simplicity is at the heart of everything, but there’s enough options here to make a really fun system of building a cart during downtime, or before the session where you smash them up in truly epic fashion!
The subclasses are next, and we see six of them:
The Engineer (Artificer)
Path of the Road Warrior (Barbarian)
Way of the Wheel (Monk)
Speed Demon patron (Warlock)
They are surprisingly versatile: only the engineer, charioteer, and highwayman rely on the cart rules. The other subclasses simply take inspiration from the idea of a sort of Mad Max aesthetic, without relying on mounts, vehicles, or anything anachronistic; you can use them in any campaign. The charioteer, in fact, probably would work just as good if you replace “cart” with “mount/land vehicle” in every instance. In my analysis of the classes, I worry that the barbarian and monk subclasses feature relatively weak higher-level abilities. They aren’t bad, just not as iconic and powerful as I feel many other subclasses are, but again, we’re only talking about the higher-level abilities here. Worth analyzing for your own campaign and retooling the balance a bit if needed.
After that, we have five feats that really plug into the cart and gear rules, a fun mix of about a dozen spells that are pretty specific to the mechanics in this book but show how versatile the system is, seven fun (but not necessarily mind-blowing) magic items, and then five sample carts built using the components and rules featured earlier. Although I’m glossing over these sections, it’s not because there aren’t great things in here. It’s more that I can’t think of a way to describe them amusingly without just regurgitating the exact parameters of each thing. What’s the point of that? All you need to know is that this stuff maintains the same high quality in design and presentation as all of the previous stuff I’ve been raving about.
One thing I liked about the two previous DMsGuild releases I reviewed of E.R.F. Jordan’s was the simple layout of each. That really played to the fact that those were guides you can and should just print out and toss into your gaming library (if the subject matter is of interest to you and your players, of course). But that barebones layout also isn’t going to win any awards, and might even leave some fans behind: looks are important to people no matter how many times you tell them not to “judge a book by its cover.”
Well, I’m happy to report that Twisted Mithral is something on an entirely other level from Jordan! The layout remains simple and primarily geared towards reading and printing (if needed), but it features great chapter-intro artwork, a few color flourishes for chapter and section headers, and key art for major features. Each of the subclasses gets a piece of art, several cart components and magic items have accompanying art…it’s really the whole package. A big pet peeve of mine is when gear and monster sections don’t feature enough art. The cart components aren’t all drawn up, but a good number of them are, so that’s something I’m extremely pleased to see.
Some editing stuff I caught:
P. 11. “Side” should be “size.”
P. 19 feather fall not italicized.
P. 21 magic missile not italicized.
P. 38 under Vehicle Mastery: “have” should be “half.”
P. 41 Road Gate: “place of existence” should be “plane of existence.”
P. 43 Spectral Anchor: spectral leap is not italicized.
P. 44 Chapter into text is confusingly worded.
None of these are the types of things that are going to affect playability. There’s literally nothing game-breaking or missing that will mess up how these rules work. While the lack of an editor credit usually scares me, obviously it didn’t do anything terribly wrong here. Therefore, I’m just going to ding one star.
Content 5/5, Form 4/5. This averages to 4.5, and as always with D&D, we round down for a final result of 4: I really like it!
If you enjoyed this review, find more at timbannock.com!