|by April Prime|
There is a new D&D playtest document out, and I thought it would be fun to go through it and check out the lore.
Trying to guess what new D&D books will be coming out is a source of joy for me. I'm almost always wrong, but it's fun to try to envision the future of the game.
No Sourcebooks? I keep expecting sourcebooks, like in previous editions. Ones I assumed we'd have gotten by now:
- Manual of the Planes
- Undead Sourcebook (like Open Grave, Libris Mortis, etc.)
But instead, we get:
- A mega-adventure that also acts as a source book (Dragon Heist detailed Waterdeep, Rime of the Frostmaiden detailed Icewind Dale, etc.)
- Monster books with lore.
- Player's books with new spells.
- Licensed settings (Critical Role, Magic: The Gathering, Acq Inc)
It Works: The way they do things really weirds me out. It's so jumbled and disorganized. But! From what I can tell, it works! It is my understanding that, in the past, adventures just didn't sell very well. By making an adventure also serve as a sourcebook containing new monsters, items, and spells, there's enough stuff in there to convince most fans that it is a must-buy.
Their strategy has made D&D an epic success, so I guess they should just do what they do.
Books I Wish to See: If I had my way, I'd like to see a lot of different things:
- A Planescape Setting Book: Detailing Sigil and the factions, all that stuff.
- A mega-adventure focused on Vecna.
- A Baba Yaga Book: Either a mega adventure that goes beyond just a remake of the Dancing Hut adventure, or a lore book that gives us more info on Baba Yaga, her allies, and her schemes.
- A Rod of Seven Parts Mega-Adventure.
- A series (?) of books that detail the planes.
- A book full of magic items and lore: Like Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium.
- An adventure or sourcebook that takes the story of the Abyss forward - Grazzt/Tasha, maybe Demogorong getting de-throned/split into two separate beings, something like that.
- Spelljammer Stuff: I know most people don't care about this, so I'm happy if they just keep sprinkling Spelljammer things in each book.
Unearthed Arcana: This new document details "Gothic Lineages." Three new racial options:
- Dhampir: A vampire-type race.
- Hexblood: A race created by hags.
- Reborn: An undead race.
I think I wrote about these creatures in my Guide to Vampires. Maybe I'm thinking of vrylokas, who had red hair, red eyes, and bright white skin.
We get a chart of suggested "hungers" that the character might suffer from, which include blood, cerebral spine fluid (!), and "...a color from one's appearance."
Origins: Then we get a list of possible origins, my favorites being:
"Your pact with a predatory deity, fiend, fey, or spirit causes you to share their hunger."
Strahd obviously is a fun choice for this one. Yeenoghu could work. The Lich-Queen of the githyanki would work - she needs souls, I think. In fact, almost all liches need souls for their phylacteries, right?
"You survived being attacked by a vampire but you were forever changed."
That's the Alan Moore League of Extraordinary Gentleman's Mina Harker right there. I loved the first two volumes of that series.
"You loved an immortal and were willing to be transformed into a vampire to join them, but tragedy interrupted the transformation."
Wow, I really like this one! In fact, I like all of them.
Vampiric Bite: It's a melee attack. "When you are missing half or more of your hit points, you have advantage on attack rolls you make with this bite."
It has a special effect that you can activate a few times per day: You can use the bite to regain hit points or gain a bonus on your next attack roll/ability check.
Seems fun! Very simple. I really like how 5e is able to keep things concise.
I think in 2e or 3e, there was something similar to this known as "The Witchborn."
"Some who enter into bargains with hags gain their deepest wishes but eventually find themselves transformed."
Eldercross: All hexblood have an eldercross, s crown that serves as a visible mark of the bargain between a hag and a hexblood, a debt owed, or a change to come.
Become a Hag: "Hags can undertake a ritual to irreversibly transform a hexblood they created into a new hag..." Once a hexblood becomes a hag, they become an NPC under the DM's control.
This is very cool. I think in earlier editions, a hag would eat a person and then give birth to them in hag form. This hexblood version of had creation is a bit more palatable.
Origins: My two favorites:
- "A coven of hags lost one of their members. You were created to replace the lost hag."
- "You made a deal with a hag, but they twisted your words and transformed you."
Some of the origins are a little out there. It seems like the Hexblood is a pretty concrete concept - it's a creature made by a hag, that is set to become a hag in due time.
Magic Token: You can use this to maintain telepathic contact with an ally within 10 miles. You can even see and hear through it.
Hags Are Fun: I have a half-finished Guide to Hags sitting on my computer. I can't get over my compulsion to try to find every hag from every D&D product, even though I know that's an insane task, because hags appear so frequently (especially in Dungeon magazine). In 5e alone there's got to be, what, ten new hags?
I do love the idea of a known hag creating a hexblood. You can connect your character to a really cool NPC, like:
- Baba Yaga
- Baba Lysaga (Strahd's "mother" from Curse of Strahd)
- The Sewn Sisters from Tomb of Annihilation
If a had is creating you to ultimately be a friend and companion, but you reject them... all sorts of fun stuff can come from that. Maybe the hag ultimately becomes the group's patron? Maybe the hag makes another hexblood that hunts you down for betraying her?
What if the hexblood just doesn't ever want to actually become a hag?
This is such a great concept. Love it!
I think this is similar to the "revenant" character race in 4th edition. You're undead!
"Some reborn exhibit the scars of fatal fates, their ashen flesh, missing limbs, or bloodless veins making it clear that they’ve been touched by death."
This remind me of the Nameless One from Planescape: Torment.
Resting: Reborn don't sleep. They sit and dwell on the past.
Faded Memories: Many of them can't remember their past. Sometimes they have a vision of a past event that hits them out of nowhere. Example:
"A memory brings with it the voice of someone once close to you. How do they advise you?"
This is so Nameless-One-y. You shuld probably get a mimir to start with, too.
Origins: We get a list of possible origins:
"Stitches bind your body’s mismatched pieces, and your memories come from multiple different lives."
That's a crazy one! Basically, Vasilka from Curse of Strahd - a flesh golem.
"After clawing free from your grave, you realized you have no memories except for a single name."
Love this, gives me Kill Bill vol. 2 vibes (I really like the middle hour of that movie).
"You were a necromancer’s undead servant for years. One day, your consciousness returned."
OK! These are all great. I don't want to just cut and paste them all.. this is a fantastic list.
Deathless: You have advantage on death saves, you can finish a long rest in 4 hours, no eat/drink/breathe, etc.
These are all tremendous ideas!
What I really like is how it seems like the designers start with a cool idea, and then build around it. They don't limit themselves to converting what appeared in earlier editions, they just go with whatever is the most fun.
Thanks for reading!