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Subclasses by the Dozen
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/04/2018 23:23:20

It wouldn't be fair to review these as a whole, as some of this content is really great, and others less.

Barbarian: While I love all the abilities individually, I think the 10th level one doesn't fit with this theme. Overall though, a solid 4/5.

Bard: I'm not a fan of this one. It grants you two proficiencies that aren't in the game (ventriloquism and puppeteering) where as it should give performance and when doing either of those two uses of performance, you double your proficiency bonus. The other abilities are named well, but don't really thematically fit the themes of control and subversion. A 2/5 (because it IS balanced)

Cleric: While I've seen the travel domain done many times, this is a pretty good one. The fast paced ability is neat, granting you and one creature benefitting from a concentration spell you cast upon it get 10 foot bonus movement. That's cool. The other levels of the class are equally well themed. 4/5 because the capstone isn't that interesting and it's been done in other classes.

Druid: Swarm style druids are always neat. The cool thing abotu this one, your allies ARE your swarm instead of being made of a swarm (although there is some of that in there too). 5/5 for a very comprehensive, balanced, and well themed archetype.

Fighter: It's... ok. Thematically, it lets you use unarmed and improvised weapons exceptionally well. And it does so in a balanced way. However there are a number of abilities that allow you to enact a variety of status ailments upon your foes. How those work is attacking, and if you hit you replace your damage with the effect but traditionally conditions are applied via saving throws. It might be fine, and I'm overly concerned but I'd watch the table closely if you allow this one. 3/5 for caution (but could be a 4/5 if it really is balanced).

Monk: The meteor hammer is one of my favourite chinese weapons, so I might be biased on this one. Overall I'd give this a 4/5 because honestly, it doesn't use the action economy. It's a bunch of "if you hit you can expend x to do y". There's very little variety here, but it DOES look balanced and seem like it would play well. I just don't know if it would be FUN.

Paladin: Right off the bat, the second divinity ability knocks a star off for me because of awkward wording on the group effect. It shouldn't be "total cr equal to or less than half your level", it should be a number of targets equal to your Cha mod. But that's not bad, a 4/5 is still good and the archetype is more or less balanced (sacred polyglot letting you "only take half a minute to read one page of text"... that's oddly specific and... really it's just odd.)

Ranger: A bounty hunter. And it's really well done. However, a 3/5 on this one, as Lone Wanderer granting a feat and if you already have it, a free feat, is bad design. Feats are an optional rule set. Better to have just recreated the effect here (and then have a sidebar about if you use feats and already have taken it) and not worry about the interaction. Add to that "Spur of the Moment" basically gives free HP when you're NOT hit. These are minor issues and if you or your DM understands why I took stars away, this archetype is probably one of the top three in the book.

Rogue: This is a solid 5/5, although of all the archetypes it's the most in need of an edit and polish pass. I see what the author was doing and it's great!

Sorcerer: I'm not sure how one gets abberant blood in their family lines, or rather I'd rather not think about it, but as a sorcerer it makes for an interesting archetype. Telepathy, psychic damage, madness... this is exaclty what it says it is. Overall I give it a 4/5 on a personal level, or a 5/5 objectively (I'm not a fan of "edge" or "dark" archetypes, I believe your 'darkness' should be roleplayed not 100% mechanical.

Warlock: An ooze patron is a neat idea. I'm not sure how balanced this one is, but it does let you split yourself into two creatures and that's really cool. I say a 5/5 for coolness, but a 3/5 for balance (without further testing).

Wizard: 2/5 for the "time wizard". The mechanics are awkward, ranging from barely notable to "holy living heck". Now the theme here works really well here, the chosen mechanics DO represent time travel.

The book is in heavy need of editing and polish, but overall the ideas presented in here are excellent and can be adapted to play at nearly any table. But overall, it's a solid product as it is right now.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Subclasses by the Dozen
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your time and effort to rate all the classes and give some positive feedback, really made my day! I will try to improve on some of your remarks when I find the time for it and will let you know when I do. As for the editing and polishing: you are absolutely right. I am still trying to figure out how to make clean readable PDF's.
Aurora's Whole Realms Summer Catalogue
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/04/2018 15:58:38

What I expected was updating the old (and really excellent) supplement "Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue" into 5e. Which would be fine. That's actually something I was considering doing myself. Instead, we get a new catalogue with items all designed for summer (think like summer hats, zinc oxide to prevent sunburns, and other summery things).

That's right, all fluff, very little in terms of rules. The rules that are present all make sense and are so situational, they could never really break game balance. If I had a critism about the supplement, it's only that the form factor of the page (which matches the original) is a little cramped and all the illustrations have a white background instead of being translucent (which would make it look like the art was drawn onto the page texture). These are tiny little problems and do not detract enough to warrant removing a star.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aurora's Whole Realms Summer Catalogue
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Waterdeep: Expanded Faction Missions
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/27/2018 09:18:07

Gonna admit, at first I thought this was going to be some weak product designed around the idea that the dragon heist faction quests are boring. I get it that not everyone likes the quests, but they're outlines for the DM to fill out. Instead, here we don't get the author complaining about W:DH's quests, but just supplying a solid array of quests for each faction. Now I've read two quests for each faction, so I can't speak to the entire supplement, but everything in here seems to be well written and is more or less complete.

Note that if you're expecting this supplement to be filled with maps and multi branching quest lines, that's not what it is. This is to supply some short side quests for your heroes and that's it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Waterdeep: Expanded Faction Missions
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Skill Challenges in 5e
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/27/2018 09:11:32

Bringing back one of the most memorable mechanics in 4th edition (and in all honestly, one of the few mechanics everyone seemed to agree was a great idea), this is a great summary of how to utilize it in your games. Examples are included, the product is short and simple, and there's no cruft. This is exactly what 5e should be about: modular components that can be plugged in if you want to use them.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skill Challenges in 5e
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for your kind words, Bryan! Glad you like it.
The Greasemonkey's Handbook: Rules for piloting Magitech, Steampunk and Sci Fi mechs in D&D 5th Edition
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/25/2018 15:26:43

So if I could, this product would be rated 4.5 for 2 reasons:

  1. The artwork is not consistant in any measure of the word. That's fine, as on the guild we have far fewer resources available than big publishers. However there's a lot of very disparate artwork here. Normally that wouldn't be worth 0.5 removed, but there's another problem:

  2. About 1/3rd the book could be useless to you. If you choose to have the mech suits (ATUMs), then that 1/3rd will be useful as it gives advice on how to use them, the mechanics of them, and how they can be used in your campaign. So for people who don't care about ATUMs, then 2/3rds of the book is still useful but if someone really likes them, only 1/3rd of the book is devoted to them. It feels like this should have been patterned off of a Shadowrun book where 100% of the 100+ pages was ATUM, and then a second book of ATUM adjunct material could be paired with it.

So those caveats out of the way, I still ranked the book 5/5 and for good reason: what I was picking up as a curiosity shows a deep understanding of the finer points of game design and balance. The spells, magic items (with one exception), and classes are all fantastically balanced and fit the flavor of the supplement. In short, while this book sells itself as a "we have mechs, but for 5e D&D", it has MUCH more than that.

I highly recommend if you're interested in concepts presented, you pick the supplement up. It's really well written and from the credits it's obviously thoroughly playtested and vetted.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Greasemonkey's Handbook: Rules for piloting Magitech, Steampunk and Sci Fi mechs in D&D 5th Edition
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Villains & Lairs
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2018 08:45:26

It's 46 pre-made antagonists for your game. Exactly what it says on the box and with this many writers, it's hard to say there isn't something here for every type of DM that exists. The great thing is, they're all antagonists but they're not all villains. Each has their own goals and plots, and that might mean they do shady things but not 100% EVIL things. There's a great amount of variety in this product, I highly recommend it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villains & Lairs
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Expanded Lifestyles
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2018 08:43:02

So I'm the sort of DM that loves additional systems that feel like they belong. Walrock's Fortresses, Minor Skills, or the big Equipment guide from the guild are all great examples of this. I expected an expanded lifestyles to be the same: take an existing system and provide something that slots into position, feeling like a more indepth version of WOTC's content. This is not quite there yet.

Instead, you'll see a variety of perks and drawbacks for living at one of the existing lifestyles presented in D&D. Since you must have a lifestyle expense in the game, this means basically the supplement is giving you free stuff. You can spend downtime trying to make a contact (entirely dependant upon which lifestyle you are currently living), it adds 'prestige' as a social marker (it amounts to a mild random roll), and perk points (except for the two lowest lifestyles, they get no points).

The perk points are spent on rooms, things like cellars or auditoriums. Basically, by living, your domicile becomes nicer. I've seen rulesets similar to this but the fact that players can change their lifestyles weekly (adventurers have so much gold, after all, that changing lifestyles is trivial in all but the earliest levels) means it doesn't feel like it fits. Perhaps if there was more to this aspect, like giving penalties for switching lifestyles.

I recommend the author give another pass over the product. What's here is good, but feels like there's a more cohesive idea in their head than on the page. Take a look at Walrock's Fortresses product and Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping from the Adept program. These products maintained a clear vision and every part of the product contributed to that final output. This is a good product, but I don't feel it's a finished product.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Expanded Lifestyles
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Notice Board: 42 Quests for Waterdeep and Skullport
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2018 08:30:09

A solid product that gives you exactly what you want on the tin. You're getting handouts that look like quest boards, and very in depth writeups. You'll still need to do a little legwork as the DM (here's a hint: you can ad hoc a lot of them if you just have a dozen or so maps ready to go, with the monster manual in hand) to fully flesh everything out but these are fantastic as they are or as inspiration for larger side quests.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Notice Board: 42 Quests for Waterdeep and Skullport
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Trollskull Alley - a Waterdeep: Dragon Heist DM's Resource
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 12:25:43

A well composed supplement, especially for someone new to DM'ing in general and who might be overwhealmed by the options presented in Dragon Heist. Great suggestions on how to proceed into the various chapters of the adventure, when and where to use factions and their representatives, as well as the general repair and running of Trollskull Manor.

Super useful!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trollskull Alley - a Waterdeep: Dragon Heist DM's Resource
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Waterdeep: A Tail of Two Fishies
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:38:25

A solid 45 pages of adventure, which is honestly incredibly thick. The amount of content here is above and beyond most of the adventures you'll find on the guild, and it ends in a way that's exciting and fun. A solid pace keeps everything interesting and a colorful cast of characters (both allies and foes) will remain memorable for your table long after they've completed the adventure.

If you're running this along side Dragon Heist, do know that it will have lasting consequences at your table even if your villain isn't Xanathar. Also two magic items (Disco Ball and "Wizardry For Dummies") are both so jokey, it was a detractor for me. But the adventure is great and I doubt there's anyone out there who would be stopped by two silly items.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Waterdeep: A Tail of Two Fishies
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The Lady of Trollskull Priory
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:31:44

Gothic is sometimes a hard theme to play on with D&D. After all, we're essentially pulp heroes in a world of often black and white morality (although we all know the best adventures are where that isn't true). This adventure pulls off the gothic feel perfectly, and is a fantastic adventure to boot.

However, I knocked a star off because there was some editing mistakes and some very powerful magic items for the party level. But overall I don't feel either of these things detract from the meat of the adventure and highly recommend running it in your own games!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lady of Trollskull Priory
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the thoughtful review ant the high compliment regarding the gothic feel! With regards to the edits, I will give the book another pass to see if I can catch any errors. Please feel free to shoot me any specifics you may have noticed at raymonddidit (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks, Travis
Downtime Businesses: Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:14:32

Six properties await the perusal and purchase from your players. These locations grant alternative solutions to adventurers who want to invest in Waterdeep, but don't want to run an inn or tavern. This product comes with a variety of complications that can plague any business owner, as well as a worksheet to assist in tracking how well (or poorly) said business is doing.

If you like this product, then I highly recommend "The Press of Waterdeep" that is also from this author.

All this being said, this is a simple product and will require work on the part of the DM to wrap the adventure around any of these locations. Should your players already be working on Trollskull Manor, the adept title "Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping" costs more, but comes with a LOT more content.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Downtime Businesses: Waterdeep
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review, Bryan H.
The Press of Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:08:07

Are you looking for a bit of lore from Volothamp himself, about the broadsheets of Waterdeep? Are you looking for descriptions of all the various outlets and rags of the city, along with the various npcs who are employed by them? What about 12 replica broadsheets that could be printed and used as handouts?

Well then for just under a buck, this is what you want. And if you didn't know you wanted those things, you do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Press of Waterdeep
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the review, Brian H.
Thank for the review, Bryan H.
Factions for 5e
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 09:55:45

Great in theory, mechanically it's shakey.

So you get faction benefits (as you would expect) for belonging to a faction. This comes in the form of discounts, favors, or items. Likewise, you can earn the anger of a faction, and suffer punishments from said factions in the form of markups, targeted harassments, and so on.

This is fine. I particularly enjoyed the results of being targeted by a faction.

My only real problem is that while the Zhentarim are in here, that's the only default faction. And while I can understand wanting to draw from lore and expand the factions, it was all filled with factions from the author's game. It would be arbitrary to map these to existing factions (either from 5e or earlier) but it is a bit of a disappointment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Factions for 5e
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Lost Laboratory of Kwalish (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 09:45:56

As someone who played Expedition when it came out, long long ago, I was excited to find Wizards was coming out with a follow up (and one that was entirely for charity, to boot).

This adventure is presented with 8ish hooks that can be used in combination with most WOTC hardcovers from Tomb of Annihilation onward. There should be no problem dropping this adventure into most campaigns and it even has guidelines on how long to run it (as a 4 hour one shot, as a few sessions of "short play" or as a huge adventure).

The artwork is all of different styles, but that's a minor hiccup when compared to the pure dearth of content available here. Looking forward to finishing this adventure up!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Laboratory of Kwalish (5e)
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