Author Topic: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana  (Read 438 times)

Offline Libertad

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[Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« on: December 13, 2020, 07:33:39 PM »

Hello everyone, and welcome to my next Let’s Read! This product is a 3rd party campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, but unlike my other reviews this one’s different. Namely, it isn’t for sale on any storefronts. Technically it’s a KickStarter product, but it’s been more or less confined to vaporware status and the creator has not meaningfully communicated with backers in quite some time. The book in question is more or less complete PDFwise, but the only things missing are physical copies and a long-promised Pathfinder 1e conversion. As to why I’m reviewing this, one part of me wishes to show the world what could have been, or will be if good fortune permits. The other part of me, while cynically realistic, still has some care about this setting when so many other backers already wrote it off, and figured to share my thoughts with an audience untainted by crowdfunding woes.

Old vs New: Legacy of Mana technically has 4 versions of the 5e product. The first two were very rough drafts, while the third was intended to be ‘complete.’ The final version was meant to add more content, and while it has 32 pages over its predecessor quite a bit of material was excised. And I’m not talking minor changes either, but important details such as the languages of the world, various subclasses, the names of the twin moons orbiting the world, and other such important things ended up removed. Erring on the side of comprehensiveness, this Let’s Lead will mark what has been changed where relevant.


Chapter 1: About Imaria & Chapter 2: the World of Imaria

The best way to sum up Legacy of Mana would be as a friend of mine put it when I described it to them: “Star Wars, but medieval fantasy.” Having nothing more than a coincidental naming structure with the Seiken Densetsu Mana series, Legacy of Mana is a world where magic is a natural energy source known as mana that flows throughout the planet in ley lines. Humanity became a dominant race due to the Blooded, an aristocracy of magic-enriched dynasties who used their connection to the land as evidence of their right to rule and became the de facto lords in pretty much every human settlement. The tyrannical Illtherian Empire rose to become the dominant power by exploiting anti-magic sentiment, utilizing an order of Knights bearing swords wrought of a metal capable of destroying mana itself. In an interesting change of things the setting takes place after the defeat of the Emperor, and the Empire while surviving is starting to crumble. The focus of the setting is on what occurs in the chaotic aftermath and the gradual return of magic to the world, for good or ill. Or at least, that’s the intent.

The first chapter is incredibly brief, going over what makes the setting distinct from other cliche fantasy worlds out there. Make no mistake, it is very heavily “D&D high fantasy,” but the author’s putting things front and center rather than being found later on.

Beyond this general overview, there are some other things to highlight: there are no gods in the classic D&D standard, for all forms of magic come from mana, and the closest equivalents we have to religion are those who view mana as a fate-like cosmic phenomena and worship it, and people who worship dragons. Clerics and paladins channel mana based on their faith and emotional state, while druidic magic comes from ambient mana altering their natural biology. The book would later contradict itself by having warlocks as a class making pacts with eldritch entities, although there’s a new ‘patron’ where warlocks become something akin to arcane white blood cells for the planet. Airships and floating continents are also in vogue, although said method of conveyance is restricted to the mysterious skybound kingdoms.

Old vs New: The 2 chapters used to be one larger, more comprehensive chapter. The older version of the book went into more detail on how mana is created and flows through the world. It radiates from the twin moons Palonia and Promia down to the planet. Mana in its flowing state are referred to as ley lines, gathering underground in thick clusters known as mana-wells. The wells shoot excess mana through subterranean tunnels up into the surface, suffusing the planet with magic.

*which go unnamed in the current version.


History

The world of Imaria is divided into six Ages. In the shadowy annals of Pre-History there were long-lost kingdoms of elves, dwarves, orcs, and Neranians (a new race in the book) who battled with each other in seemingly endless struggles. The beginnings of recorded history start with the Age of Baronia, with the discovery of humans. It turned out that humans had something going for them besides short lifespans and high fertility rates: they produced innately-magical members among their race who would later become known as the Blooded, and united all of the other races into peace...by making orcs a common enemy. This is viewed as a golden time by many, although some historians assert that this was an act of opportunistic genocide.

The Blooded became the dominant power in worldly politics; historians discovered that they originated from the surface of the twin moons and came down to Imaria via unknown means. Naturally they used their status and magical nature as a divine right of kings minus the divine part, creating a magical aristocracy. The world would become more interesting in the Age of Lunalia, where winged elves astride airships came down from floating continents and used their aerial gifts to establish a world-spanning trade empire. Things became more peaceful, and while the Lunalians exalted the value of open borders and free trade they immediately cut off all contact with the groundbound realms when the Blooded demanded that they be given airships of their own as part of the deal. So much for the invisible hand of the free market, eh?

The following Age of Pareth was when everything began to suck. The current generations of Blooded forgot what their ancestors fought for and started acting like stereotypical feudal lords. The nonhumans, meanwhile, started realizing that the human kingdoms could totally kick their ass with their magic and numbers and started withdrawing and preparing for potential war that soon became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But peace soon came again when the once-meager Lynnvander Blooded house shown the world that #notallnobles are bad and began to lead by example and started smacking down the worst of the warlords. They were successful, ushering in an Age of Lynnvander where peace once returned.

The following Age of Iltheria (called the Age of Loss by the elves due to their genocide) would repeat the cycle of history for the worst. A secret paramilitary order wielding swords made of a strange anti-magic metal struck at key strategic points, causing disunity among the Blooded and even bringing down the elven forest kingdom of Crystalfellen. These Iltherian Knights drew upon social outcasts and those who felt that the Blooded had failed them. The Lunalians saw what was going on and went “nah, let’s stay in the clouds for a while,” although most of the other races began to come together upon realization that this threat wasn’t localized. They failed, and the Iltherians came to power as they jailed and executed most of the Blooded, waged genocide against elves and other magical races, and enslaved countless people. Although surviving post-war nations attempted economic sanctions against them, Iltheria’s geographic position and reliance on slave labor (which the nouveau riche class of mundane landholders loved) meant that they came out ahead of such trade wars.

The Iltherian Empire did not last long. In a mere two decades they’d start to decline; once you drove all the mages into graves or hiding you couldn’t rely on them as a bogeyman as easily, so intellectuals of all stripes were targeted on the off-chance they were “secret wizards.” Slave rebellions, while rare, became the new go-to, but the Empire relied on their scapegoating a bit too universally and as a result faith in the system gradually weakened. This is not counting the degradation of the land in places due wiping out mana, or sudden hardships faced by communities when nobody could accurately predict the weather, cure resilient diseases, or do any of the stuff magic can easily do. Iltheria’s enemies raised a mercenary army in secret, striking at the capital, assassinating the Emperor, and causing a power vacuum to occur as others sought to clamor for the now-empty position. Iltheria still lives, although they lost a lot of power and territory since that fateful day.

The current postwar era is the Age of Arcana. Magic-users are beginning to grow more common as survivors come out of hiding and train new generations bearing supernatural talent. Blooded members in exile attempt to reclaim their noble birthrights to varying degrees of success. Lunalian airships are gradually making contact with the outside world, slavery is banned in most nations, the survivors of genocide and slavery are being given reparations for their suffering, and those former Iltherians who broke away from the system to fight it seek to atone for their misdeeds. In an odd choice of words they call themselves Iltherian Reformists, even though it’s clear that they see no sense in preserving the Empire and even take violent action against them. Shouldn’t they be called Revolutionaries, Redeemers, or even better discard the term Iltherian altogether to show their change of heart? They’re more or less the PC option for players who want cool anti-magic swords and powers but don’t want to be a Lawful Evil dickwad in a spellcaster-free party.

There’s mention of a “new unknown evil” at the edges of the world, which...isn’t described, only that there are lots of scary stories going around.

Old vs New: The Age of Lunalia was originally called the Age of Iouna, which was oddly-named as said continent (spelled elsewhere as Iounia) has little prominence during this era. There’s still references to this Age in the current version, although I believe it’s a mistake the editors failed to catch. The Iltherian Reformists were formerly called the New Order Iltherians.


Magic, Imarian Life, & Dragons

There are technically six types of magic in Imaria, with Arcane and Divine being but two. Magic, no matter what its source, comes from mana. The way in which it is wielded and processed differs, but ultimately stems from the land itself. Alchemical magic doesn’t even require you to be a spellcaster, for it is the natural process of using items and ingredients to trap mana in a certain state, usually for medicinal and poisonous purposes. Anti-Magic isn’t even a type, but is included here for relevance; a metal known as renik has the ability to outright destroy mana from existence, and is typically shaped into swords by Iltherians for offensive properties. “Antimagic” spells such as Counterspell and the like merely staunch the flow of ley lines or slow them to a bare trickle; renik instead evaporates them. Arcane magic is when a person uses their blood to call mana from the environment and reshape it to their whims; sorcerers can do this naturally, while wizards learn to do the same effects via study and practice. Divine magic is the process of shaping mana via the power of belief; as such divine spellcasters don’t need holy symbols to channel their powers, although they can still ‘fall’ if they suffer a crisis of faith. Seers are people who call mana from different places in the timestream, and as such are unaffected by low/no mana zones given that they’re borrowing the mana from a point when it did exist. Seers are named such that their powers give them glimpses into what may be and what has passed. Finally, supernatural magic is when a person’s very biology is reshaped by long-term exposure to mana. It’s an all-encompassing term for those who have natural magical powers due to their race, and also includes druids. As to why sorcerers aren’t lumped in or how this makes it different from arcane magic “casting through the blood…” this isn’t really explained.

Old vs New: Seers were originally called psionics and would also cover potential psionic classes that will be made official...any day now...by Wizards of the Coast. Additionally, some sample “in-character text” for various entries has been replaced with new text or moved around.

There’s no one-size-fits-all description of how people in Imaria live; different places have their own particular needs, cultures, and traditions, although there are some broad universalities. The Iltherian Empire’s anti-intellectualism caused technological as well as magical regression in places, as scholars who once maintained wondrous devices were executed and their works burned. There has been no conclusive evidence of the existence of gods or how the world itself was created, although there are those who worship mana and the land. Indeed there are people who believe that the world itself chooses champions to safeguard its welfare. Dragons are one of the most powerful beings known and are commonly worshiped, although most went into a deep slumber from the lowering mana levels and Iltherian depredations. There’s also a second draconic race known as Wyrms, artificial creations who are skilled shapeshifters possessed of a free spirit. They use Brass Dragon stats, but as little else is said about them I’m unsure what niche they’re supposed to fill in the setting.

Most of Imaria falls in that vague High Medieval/Renaissance level of technological industrialization. Most of society is agricultural, and gunpowder and airships are local specialties. It’s mentioned that Iltheria has “running water, irrigation, sanitation, and lighting” although the vagueness on this makes me ask if the empire’s cities have out and out electrical grids or merely very efficiently-burning fuels for illumination. It kind of goes against their anti-intellectual streak causing technology to be lost, and the book doesn’t describe how they managed to avert this particular problem...or if they’re averting it very well at all.

Old vs New: The prior version of this book went into detail on common currencies by continent. The gold/silver/platinum standard is far from universal: the barter system reigns in Krymaris, which housed the Iltherian Empire, and the wild continent of Tensire. Iounia uses gems and precious metals as currency in addition to coins, while the island nations of Phaelan’s Republic have their own local currencies with favorable exchange rates due to trade agreements. Thalagrant differs wildly between the barter system and coins depending on local circumstances. Furthermore, we had a table of Standard and Exotic Languages, numbering a whopping 32! Merchant Tongue is the “common” language of the setting, and there’s multiple languages based on continents, cultures, subraces, and subcultures; Skull Sign is used by member of the Diamond Skull, Slave-Tongue developed among Iltherian slaves to speak in confidentiality, and Mana-Arcane is the language spoken by spellcasters (mostly seers, wizards, and humans).

Thoughts So Far: I have mixed feelings about the first two chapters. For one, I like how humans have a specific role in the world and distinctive trait via a moon-born magical aristocracy. Making humanity a high magic race, at least among the upper class, is a rather novel spin and also gives an explanation for how they became a dominant power. I also commend the author’s chutzpah in departing from the necessity of gods and pantheons by making religion a literal matter of faith; by making magic a natural resource which some believe can empower agents to protect the land itself, the setting has more of an eco-friendly/green message as opposed to one such as Faerun or Krynn where the gods are the linchpins of reality cohesion.

I have to take points off for inconsistencies and vague descriptions, which I outlined in the above sections. I also find it odd that the Iltherian Empire rose in a time of peace; in terms of real-world history and for narrative purposes it feels as though it would’ve made more sense for them to succeed during the Age of Pareth, where distrust of the Blooded and the infighting among nations would be ripe to exploit. I also do find it stretching belief a bit that the Iltherians were able to single-handedly destroy the elven nation and most of their forest; they were but a military order at this point, and wouldn’t become a proper kingdom until an undetermined amount of time later. Maybe the elves are very small in number or something?

Last but not least, none of the PDFs have proper bookmarks or even an index. As the latest 2 versions range from 156 to 188 pages with 8-9 chapters, this makes navigating the books quite hard. Even more so when you’re a reviewer like me, trying to find out what’s changed or been added/taken away.

Join us next time as we take a tour of the world in Chapter 3, Lands of Imaria!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2020, 07:33:54 PM »

Chapter 3: Lands of Imaria

Old vs New: This wasn’t even a chapter in the prior versions, and a much-needed one at that. Before Legacy of Mana only covered the setting in very broad details in the first chapter, focusing mostly on a continent-view of things with a few specific places here and there. In this version we get proper write-ups for various kingdoms, important cities, and more. For the sake of brevity I’m not going to cover every place, only the ones I believe are the most interesting and relevant to the setting as a whole. Continents are in bold, while all other places are in italics.

The world of Imaria is home to four major continents along with smaller islands and subcontinents, although the map proper doesn’t show Lunalia. The Iltherian Empire originated on the continent of Krymaris but colonized parts of Tensire and Thalagrant. The book mentions they also got a foothold in Iounia, but later contradicts itself by saying how said continent remained untouched by them due to the Iltherians being repelled with overwhelming force. The Empire was unable to reach into Phaelan’s Republic as this historically low-mana place relied upon gunpowder and advanced technology to make up for the lack of magic, and the Empire’s forces proved ill-suited against gunpowder.

Ansalebia is a cold northern country who only recently gained its freedom from Iltherian forces. Harsh winters, dense forests, and boggy marshes show that nature, not man, is the clear master, and most towns are self-sufficient. It used to have a Blooded house, but they too were scattered to the winds like so many others.

Iounia is the only continent that remained virtually untouched by the Iltherians. It’s a veritable magical golden age not unlike the Age of Lynnvander; here the Blooded rule openly and unbroken, the ley lines flow richly, and all of the kingdoms are autonomous yet entered into a mutual defense pact due to Iltheria’s rise. Dragon worship is common here, and there’s an order of knights known as the Paragons of Iacocca who revere these creatures. The dwarven kingdoms here are very isolationist, consisting of wealthy kingdoms with advanced machinery and artifacts. Most Blooded families preside over feudal estates, and while peaceful the peasants are kept uneducated and overworked to prevent any rebellions.

Barring the brief mention of agrarian oppression, Iouna is one of those places you see every now and then in settings that are meant to be defended, not have adventures in. Much like the Shire, it’s a utopia from where PCs come from as they adventure out into a dangerous world, or gives them something to fight for when the forces of evil inevitably threaten it. But as Iounia is militarily powerful, they aren’t in any real danger at the moment.

Krymaris is a land of suffering. No other land has lost so much from Iltheria’s rise and the loss of mana. Villages, manors, and farms lost to war, plague, and magic blight stand as graveyards to lost civilizations within living memory. Iltheria still stands as a country, but their recent losses give a sense of hope to the oppressed. Sometimes dangerously so; now every youngster wants to be the next great hero or wizard, and the adventuring craze has gotten so out of control that peasants are leaving crops to rot on the vine and militias leave their homes unguarded all in hopes of hitting the next big quest to fame and glory. A former Lunalian airship base resides in the two largest mountains, Mt. Pareth & Mt Oredale, but is now a monster-ridden dungeon. A demon turned the inhabitants of the kingdom of Bactactia into undead horrors, the land becoming swamp. The lakeside city-state of Delaborun is a crime-ridden slum under Iltherian control, whose leader is hiring outside help to “get tough on crime.” A creepy village by the name of Deepwode did the unthinkable and made a pact with a forest elemental to protect their community...and in turn made said community murderously hostile (and possibly cannibalistic) to outsiders. The city of Ghoremare is trapped in a time-looping curse, forcing the citizens to relive the siege of Iltherian forces as ghoul scavengers pick the burning houses clean. And last but not least, the city of Tallinad, capital of Iltheria, is being rebuilt. Although much is done to make the city a thing of beauty, the power blocs are divided between those seeking to move on from the past and hardliners who want to return to the glory days of witch-burning and elf-hunting. It is a city where one can pass ruined walls and towers and head over to a fancy restaurant by a public park, presided over by grim-faced guards keeping out ‘undesirables.’

Crystalfellen is the kingdom and homeland of the Surface Elves. It was a forested place of magic and harmony like in any D&D setting, but the Iltherians viewed them as a grave threat for their knack at manipulating mana. They were one of the Empire’s first victims. Most elves died, the survivors fleeing. It is a grim place full of choked, dead trees and desperate outposts of elves and Iltherian soldiers both unaware of the Empire’s fall. Wyrms are a constant plague, growing great in size in spite of the meager offerings, and dragon-slaying has become a much-desired occupation.

Khenbia is the southernmost nation of Krymaris. A warm place full of sandy deserts and rocky badlands, the Iltherian Empire went after its Blooded all the same but were not keen on long-term occupation. Most Khenbians live in self-sufficient nomadic bands, famed for their music, poetry, and beautiful weapons forged in volcanic vents. They are split into three larger ethnic groups, the Ghusarn (exclusive nomads), Hanisarn (spend half the time on land, the other half at sea), and the Valisarn (live in sedentary towns but travel the desert during holy days). Roholinary, their only city of note, mounted an insurgency against the occupying Iltherians and ever since prized their freedom. There’s also Serpentika, a black tower presided over by a naga lich who is corrupting the local mana in the area.

Blackrazor is the stereotypical rough and violent orcish society, although this is more due to being forced by humans into inhospitable lands after suffering from genocide, and the ‘orcish marauder’ stereotype comes from the practice of exiling criminals who end up becoming other peoples’ problems. The book makes a brief mention that orcs who live elsewhere in Krymaris have assimilated into other countries as laborers both free and enslaved (the latter in the case of Iltherians).


Lunalia is notable for being the sole skyborne civilization in Imaria. A chain of floating islands that never dip below cloud level, the place is home to magic and technology unseen anywhere else. Airships are the primary means of travel between Lunalian islands and maintaining contact with the surface world. As of the Age of Arcana, they have made cautious forays down to land, still suspicious of the Iltherian Empire and the legacy of war.

Phaelan’s Republic is the easternmost realm of Imaria. Consisting of large islands north to south, the ley lines have been weak in this area since recorded history, and so the locals resorted to technological improvements to make up for the relative lack of magic. Most settlements are reliant on sea trade, even the ones inland, and have a more Age of Sail piratey flavor than the medieval fantasy elsewhere in the setting. The Republic is home to a city of sapient golems and living constructs, the sole known realm in the region that combines magic and advanced technology. The largest city in the Republic, Kaderia, is a dirty industrial place that employs druids to counter the worst effects of industrialization.* The city of Trifalcon is a steampunk realm with a closed network of Lunalian-designed airship cabs for public transportation, and is home to the world-spanning Merchant’s League.

*this place is seeming kinda high-magic right now…

Tensire is wedged between Krymaris to the west and Phaelan’s Republic to the east. It is most well-known for being the traditional home of the mutates, a diverse race of anthropomorphic animal-people. Mutates largely live subsistence farming or hunter-gatherer societies at the local level, with no notable cities or kingdoms. There are ruins of older civilizations here and there, although the mutates regard them as sacred territory of their ancestors and forbid foreign researchers from desecrating their grounds. The Tree of Elements is an ancient specimen at the center of a huge ley line that suffuses the surrounding plant life. A ssnse of magical calm prevents violence and predation in the area, but a gold dragon and a group of mantideans guard the place just in case. The Iltherian Empire tried to make a beachhead in the nearby forest of Tylondale, destroying its natural mana reserves in the process. But otherwise their attempts at colonizing Tensire have been a failure.

Thalagrant is a wild, harsh land, although unlike Tensire it’s more wild in the “warring states'' way than “man vs nature” way. There are some kingdoms ruled by Blooded, although most are busy enough holding onto the territory they have to make any larger alliances. When word of the Emperor’s assassination got to the Iltherian outposts in Thalagrant, the rulers took this as a warning sign and viewed themselves as the last remaining bastion of their empire. The kingdom of New Iltheria has its own self-appointed Emperor and a brutal secret police force. They’re not as magic-hating as their predecessors (but not that much less), and are finding ways to use the ley lines beneath their capital for purposes of warfare. The Silver Swords, a martial society loyal to the Lynnvander Blooded house, maintain a secret base of operations in a cavern and made an alliance of sorts with resident dragons. The people of Khalingan are nomads who live within a ruined city whose civilization withered away from trade wars.

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That kingdom fell ages ago before even the rise of the Iltherians. It was a slow descent, until the city itself collapsed due to a lack of trade with other continents, so cut off were they by the Iltherians. With barely any natural resources, the city built on trade couldn’t survive. Now, it is being rebuilt, the seat of a new Kingdom built around the protection of the mana-laden.

Ummm...this could use an editing pass.

The Khalingans hate Iltherians with a passion, and it’s not hard to hire them out for mercenary work if the renik-wielders are their intended victims.

Thar-Nandria is not a continent per se, but rather an all-encompassing term for the subterranean realms crisscrossing Imaria. As the flow of mana is stronger underground due to the wells, magic is much more common among the civilizations down here. Although a relatively remote place in the past, the rise of Iltheria caused the underground kingdoms to cut off ties from the surface world. There’s a political movement known as the Shallows Lodge encouraging the reunification of ties with the surface world, although they’re widely disliked and thus tend to secrecy. Besides this, there’s not much else information-wise pertaining to Imaria’s Underdark in this chapter.


Lands Beyond covers the smaller locations that don’t fit anywhere else. Fyrd and Tzyaen are icy northern islands whose locals are renowned for high-quality weapons, armor, and glasswork which is the backbone of their economy. Dravanyia is a strange place, for the island floats on top of the ocean rather than rising from the continental shelf, and half its surface is covered in crystal-like glass. The southern subcontinents of Palonia and Poromia are home to temples where people take pilgrimages for spiritual growth. The land is so named for the twin moons that float in the sky, for this is the only place one can view their annual dual eclipse. Fangart is a mountain-island notable for being home to warp crystal fragments...whose purpose is never elaborated on or mentioned again in the book! Perhaps it’s a reference to something from an official Wizards of the Coast book?

Old vs New: A lot of material for the Lands Beyond was excised in the new version. Some entries remained, but were reduced to but a few sentences. The pseudo-religious pilgrimages to Palonia and Poromia have been changed to a monster-haunted icy wasteland, while the cultures and industry of Fyrd and Tzyaen go unmentioned. Trove was originally a cultural bridge between Thalagrant and Iounia, home to a unique all-female Blooded family known as Vathi who prefer isolation. In the current version the island is home only to gnomes and kobolds “who run in packs.”

Thoughts So Far: This chapter does a good overview of the world at large without being too sparse or in-depth. Unfortunately many sections outside Krymaris suffer from a lack of gameable adventure-material. For example, there are descriptions of towns and local industries, but little in the way of odd events, dangers, and political tensions to make them pop out. Some entries you’d expect to be quite large, such as Tensire and Thar’Nandria, but suffer from a lack of content.

Imaria’s major continents have readily-identifiable themes, which can help differentiate them. Krymaris by far is the strongest entry in both volume and workable material. It paints a great picture of a troubled dark fantasy land whose societies are struggling to rebuild in the wake of a fallen empire. Phaelan’s Republic is steampunk/Age of Sail/technomagic blend with a rich/poor divide. Beyond these two entries, Thalagrant feels passable yet brief, and Tensire has potential but is harmed by its brevity. Iounia is not a place you would run adventures in... unless the PCs have a bone to pick with the Blooded locals or dragon-warriors.

Join us next time as we cover the major races, old and new, in Chapter 4: Peoples of Imaria!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2020, 07:34:07 PM »
Chapter 4: Peoples of Imaria

It wouldn’t be a third party D&D setting without new races and subraces, and Legacy of Mana delivers this in spades. We should start out with what Legacy of Mana doesn’t have: Halflings. Well, they existed in the old version as humble farmers living on Lunalia, but given that the Skytouched more or less cover the “good-hearted short people” role there’s not much missing.

Old vs New: Beyond the missing halflings, quite a few races got mechanical buffs or had abilities made more versatile. For example, the Blooded humans’ default race was pushed hard into charisma-based roles via +2 Charisma in the old version, but in the new version the default option gains +1 to an ability score of their choice to better reflect the versatility of humanity. Additionally, the older version had more flavor text overall, including sample names, sidebars with general views of other races not unlike the racial entries in 5e’s core PHB, and such. This is perhaps the most blatant for the Phoenixborn (formerly Phoenixian) who in the new version had their fluff text entirely excised!



Blooded are those humans whose lineages had higher exposure to mana in the distant past and thus become the ruling class in most lands of their race. Physically speaking they appear identical to normal humans, but mentally and socially they differ. One, as they were spawned by mana to safeguard the land they are strongly compelled towards good alignment and have an inborn intuitive compulsion to tend to their ancestral dwellings and their overall welfare. Blooded who defy this end up afflicted with curses (no game effects, but there’s a sidebar of vague sample penalties). Mechanics-wise they are their own race, although are treated as humans for the purposes of spells/items/etc, and their subraces are specific noble Houses. The base Blooded has +1 to a single ability score and learns one cantrip of their choice.

Old vs New: Originally the Blooded were physically incapable of suicide; so important were they to the land that mana itself would seize their bodies and direct them away from said self-destructive action.

We have six Blooded Houses as subraces. Ansalebin are tough northerners skilled in survival, with traits such as +2 Constitution, proficiency in Athletics, resistance to poison damage, and the like. Dewisk are a House cursed with the taint of near-undeath, and get things like +2 to a score of their choice, Darkvision and proficiency in Intimidation, but are saddled with some debilitating penalties such as being immune to healing magic and recover 1 less hit point per Hit Die spent during rests.

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Scarred Bloodline: You heal a number of hit points equal to any necrotic damage you take. This cannot heal more than your maximum number of hit points.

This is a bit oddly worded. Do they immediately regain hit points from necrotic damage, or are they immune and instead heal whatever damage would be dealt? I don’t think it’s the former as they’d simply be listed as Immune, but this could be reworded better.

Khenbians are the Blooded house of southern Krymaris, and their nomadic lifestyle allowed them to better evade and hide from the Iltherians. They are geared towards mobile builds, with +2 Dexterity, +10 feet to walking speed, can Dash as a free action a limited number of times per long rest, are resistant to fire damage, and cannot have their speed reduced due to exhaustion. Lynnvander are very much the stereotypical knightly benevolent lords; they get +2 Charisma, are immune to the Frightened condition, are proficient in Persuasion and add double their proficiency bonus on checks with it, and gain a bonus proficiency in a mental saving throw of their choice. Phoenixborn hail from Lunalia and have the unique ability to revive instantaneously upon death. They are Small size, proficient in Air Vehicles, able to cast a smattering of low-level divination spells (Detect Magic, Speak with Animals, Augury, etc) as rituals, and also gain a bonus wizard cantrip. They explode into a fiery burst among death and gain the benefits of the Resurrection spell immediately, but this ability can only be used once per 10 years. Finally, the Vanduschel interbred with orcs after being driven off their lands by Iltherians, creating a novel orcish-blooded yet mostly human bloodline. They have +2 Strength, Darkvision, advantage on saves vs illusion and enchantment spells, and can make an additional attack as a bonus action whenever they score a critical hit with a weapon.

In comparison to Humans, the Blooded are more specialized and overall gain some useful abilities. The Ansalebins and Dewisk are weaker choices if only due to the former having more situational abilities, and Dewisk having a harder time of healing will be a persistent penalty. Lynnvander’s bonus saving throw really stands out, and is tailor-made for paladins. In comparison to default Humans they are a stronger choice depending upon class, but for those Variant Humans who get a free bonus feat they may be more situational depending upon the desired class and feat in question.

The enslavement of the Dwarves became a priority for the Iltherian Empire. Although the race was not as magical as others, their underground kingdoms were closer to renik veins and thus a priority for the anti-magic war machine. Postwar many dwarves are debating their place in the world, and from their suffering became less dour and hidebound and sought to find newfound joy in life in a world awash with hardship. The Redbeards are an exception, as the only innately magical dwarven subrace they were slain to the last on Krymaris, with only enclaves in Thalagrant surviving. Redbeards are rather one-note as a subrace: they get +1 Intelligence or Wisdom, and learn fire-based spells such as Produce Flame, Searing Smite, and Scorching Ray as they level up in a manner similar to the Tiefling race. Shallowskin Dwarves prefer the open sea over mountains, gaining +2 Dexterity, proficiency in the Deception skill, firearms, Water Vehicles and Navigator’s Tools, and trade in their Stonecunning trait for a swim speed.



Elves have four major subraces. The victims of genocide by the Iltherian Empire, Surface Elves have become a lot more reserved and self-centered as a result, knowing that much rebuilding is to be done to make up for the losses. They use the rules for High and Wood Elven subraces.

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Because of their long lives, rocky history, proficiency with mana, and connection with nature, elves place less importance on gender and relationship choices than Imarian humans tend to. Because so many were killed, everyone pitches in to do all manners of work, and if someone shows an interest in a skill or knowledge, they are encouraged to learn it. Elves are likely to have multiple romantic and life partners, ranging from casual romances to life-bonded friendships. Their androgynous appearance often confuses humans, but they consider gender a fluid concept, and place little importance in its expression.

Legacy of Mana is far from the only setting to do this, but whenever sourcebooks call out a specific race or culture as gender-egalitarian that raises questions for the rest of the setting at large. Are most Imarians patriarchal and monogamous by comparison? Are elves the only culture that acknowledge nonbinary identities? The book doesn’t really say.

Aerial Elves are a subrace from Lunalia, and are known for being friendly, accepting, trusting, and make frequent visits to their ground bound kin who they regard as distant family...except for all those times Lunalia cut off contact with the rest of Imaria. Mechanics-wise they get +1 Strength, trade in Fey Ancestry for a natural flight speed, and trade in darkvision for immunity to the blinded condition.

Deep Elves are not drow, but another underground elven subrace who safeguard the mana wells. They played an important role in smuggling surface elves to other continents after the burning of Crystalfellen, and fought many Iltherian Knights who sought to destroy their subterranean storehouses of magic. Mechanics-wise they get +1 Wisdom, ignore all kinds of difficult terrain when underground, trade in darkvision for 60 foot blindsight, lose said blindsight for one round whenever they’re exposed to bright light and instead are blinded during that time, and increase the spell save DC of all magical abilities by 1 due to growing up close to the mana wells.

Old vs New: Dark elves had their own entry, but it was super-short. Basically they are just like in any other setting: insane sadists who are killed on sight by everyone else. They only get the briefest of mentions in the new version.

The elven subraces are pretty strong choices. Deep Elves make for great scouts and spellcasters, while flight speed for Aerial Elves is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, there is a feat and a few subclasses who can also increase spell save DCs further. In 5e this is a very big deal; even if they’re not Wisdom-focused this more or less makes Deep Elves the best spellcasters overall.



Mutates are so named for their anthropomorphic physiology. Just about every mutate bears a resemblance to some variety of mundane animal, and their folklore teaches that they sprung spontaneously from mana. Most hail from the continent of Tensire, but smaller bands immigrated elsewhere. Each mutate subrace has a language of their own, which is incredibly difficult for others to pronounce as the sounds are keyed to their biology. They are shorter-lived than humans, often reaching maturity in the single-digits and rarely living beyond 50 years. There is no “default mutate race,” with each entry effectively a race of their own.

Vulpines are fox-people who operate in close-knit matriarchal family units, and tend to keep out of world affairs. Their racial abilities hew closely to roguish pursuits, such as +2 Dexterity, darkvision, proficiency in Persuasion or Deception, can reroll a failed Dexterity or Acrobatics check once per short rest, and their 2 subraces grant either +1 Intelligence and double proficiency in Stealth or +1 Wisdom and the ability to glide like a flying fox.

Leporines are loyal, good-hearted rabbit folk whose only true enemies are the Vulpines. Such hatred is one-sided as the Vulpines don’t have strong opinions on them, but Leporines are prone to conspiracy theories and instinctive flight-or-fight reactions when hearing of their presence. They are geared towards roles as “helpful fighters,” gaining +2 Wisdom, the ability to jump an additional number of feet equal to their Dexterity modifier, can grant advantage to the attack roll of an ally with who they share a space with,* and their subraces grant either +1 Dexterity, advantage on initiative and proficiency in Perception (and advantage on hearing) or +1 Strength, proficiency in Persuasion, and grant advantage on attacks of opportunity performed by adjacent allies.

*Leporine can share spaces with allies due to communal living.

Lupines are community-oriented, highly-social wolf-people who find it the easiest to integrate into non-Mutate society.

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Lupine society is ruled by an alpha, who listens to the council of elders and makes decisions for the pack as a whole. Any who don’t bow to the will of the alpha are either killed or exiled. There is a clear hierarchy of strength in Lupine society where the strongest rule and the weakest serve. Craftsmen and other useful but weaker members of the pack have a place in the hierarchy due to their contributions. Any Lupine out of alignment with the will of the alpha will soon find themselves either beaten or killed depending on the severity of the crime.

I know it’s a fantasy setting, but I never get tired of pointing out the myth of the alpha male in wolf packs. It’s basically an artificial state brought about by a zoo’s pseudo-prison culture.

Mechanics-wise lupine are geared towards martial roles with some wilderness survival, such as +2 Strength, darkvision, proficiency in Perception (advantage on scent-based rolls), a natural 1d6 bite attack, can gain advantage on one attack roll once per short rest, and their two subraces grant either +1 Constitution, +2 on all melee damage rolls on a single designated target the lupine dealt damage to previously, or +1 Dexterity and double proficiency in Survival rolls (advantage on hunting and tracking).

Ursine are natural wanderers with strong moral compasses. They are very strong but are no more prone to violence than humans. Mechanics-wise they have no subrace, so get a lot of default abilities. They are geared towards melee combat, with +2 Constitution, +1 Strength, natural 1d6 claw attacks, advantage on grappling checks, and they also get some exploration-based features such as proficiency in Athletics, climb and swim speeds equal to their walking speed, and can choose to ignore the difficult terrain of either tundra or forests at character creation.

Aven are a diverse assortment of nomadic bird-people who are viewed as impatient by other races. They are highly selfish and the closest thing they have to government is consulting shaman druids when they need advice on a matter. Mechanics-wise they have +2 Dexterity, a natural fly speed with restrictions (cannot wear medium or heavy armor while flying, disadvantage on all attack rolls save with Talons or Wing Blades), have a natural 1d4 talon attack, and are proficient with Wing Blades (a new weapon in a later chapter). They have four subraces, which include +1 Constitution and the ability to heal hit points once per short rest when consuming flesh from a fresh corpse, +1 Charisma and telescopic vision which allows for observing fine details up to a mile away and proficiency in Perception (advantage on sight), +1 Strength and the ability to fly better (fall slowly if unconscious and airborne, +10 flying speed, can wear medium armor), or +1 Wisdom, +1 hit point per level, and superior 120 foot darkvision where one can see normally in all levels of darkness and discern color within said range.

Mantideans are an otherwise friendly race but whom most outsiders detect contact with due to their liberal use of capital punishment. They are a highly communal caste-based society where the will of the individual is expected to live for the good of the group. The bodies of the fallen are eaten, which is viewed as a way of giving back to the community while also avoiding needless waste, and also to honor the sacrifice of those who died. Most adventurers among their people are either on a mission from the hive or wish to learn more of the world so they can teach the rest of their kind how to adapt in unknown lands. Mechanics-wise they are versatile, gaining +1 to three ability scores of their choice, +1 AC from a chitinous hide, 1d4 natural scythe attacks, resistance to one magical damage type of choice,* and can regain hit points once per short rest by eating flesh from a fresh corpse.

*an odd choice of words, as damage types in 5th Edition do not specify magic/non-magic divisions.

Overall mutates are a bit specialized and samey in places. Quite a few get proficiency in Perception and advantage on rolls for a specific sense, which is nice to have. Natural weapons are a bit more situational. Some like the Leporine are tailor-made for Rogues, while others such as the Aven or Matidean have abilities of broader use.

Neranians hail from the swamps of the same name. They are large green people often mistaken for ogres, but unlike ogres they are contemplative pacifists who love all forms of artwork. They live in simple agrarian communities who have a democratic system on the local level and with village representatives in the cases of affairs that affect multiple communities. Mechanics-wise they have no subrace, gain +2 Strength and +1 Intelligence, darkvision, ignore difficult terrain in mountains and swamps, proficiency in Insight, count as Large for carrying capacity (are actually Medium) and have advantage on all saves to avoid the Prone condition. Besides the Intelligence bonus and Insight proficiency, their stats highly encourage martial builds which is rather ironic.



Skytouched are a diverse race of short people who hail primarily from Lunalia. They have varying levels of fey ancestry, and their cultures promote individualism. As a race they all get +1 Intelligence and +1 to another ability score of choice, are Small size, and proficient with Air Vehicles. Not much there.

Squirrelly are hyperactive child-like people regarded as annoying by most other races.

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“Hello!” The little brown head popped out of the oak’s branches, face beaming. “I like your sword! Can I have it? What’s your name?” The paladin, still staring in shock up at the rustling tree, took a breath before answering the small, furry humanoid.

“Good day, young one. You may not have my sword. And my name is Allyn Stonesteel.” The knight performed a slight bow.

“What a great name! I like it so much. My name is Allyn Stonesteel as well. What a coincidence, us meeting this way! I just know we’ll be the best of friends.”

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They often forage for a living and don’t often do much work. Squirrellys will trade for anything shiny and often lose interest shortly after acquiring their mark. They prefer to live off of the wealth of other races and are more often the visitor than the one receiving visitors.

Squirrellys do not have a formal social hierarchy, decisions are often just made by the popular decisions, and any who are upset simply leave to find any who will agree with their decision

Squirrellys often piggyback on the cultures of other races, adopting the fun bits and throwing away the boring ones. They rarely have time to sit for an entire ceremony and they prefer to just be active and on the move at all times. Unable to take even the gravest of situations seriously, Squirrellys are eager to be a part of adventures.

Holy shit, they’re kender with wings.

They gain +1 Dexterity, a climbing speed, can glide, and are always considered to have a running start when jumping.

Pinn Pan are fey who look like children. They have strong moral compasses and are eager to help ease the burden of others, either through helping out with chores or saving the lives of the innocent when violence becomes inevitable. They get +1 Charisma, +2 AC vs all ranged attacks, and have a limited levitation flight where they must remain within 20 feet of the ground or a surface capable of supporting their weight while doing so.

Sun Children almost exclusively live in fancy crystal spires on Lunalia, deriving supernatural powers from the sun. They are peaceful but when forced into violence or the necessities of adventuring they will commit to the cause with single-minded devotion. Mechanics-wise they get +1 Intelligence, are immune to the blinded condition, are resistant to fire and radiant damage, and learn fire-based spells as they level up in a manner similar to Redbeard Dwarves and tieflings.



Minor Peoples cover the races of Imaria who are too low in number and influence to make a dent on world affairs. Dragonborn are descended from dragons and are practically mythical due to their rarity save for a small community in Tensire. Gnomes live in Lunalia and invented airships, which sounds like a pretty major innovation for a Minor People to me! Half-elves used to be more common before the rise of the Iltherian Empire, but suffered just like their elven parents. Half-orcs and orcs have traditionally been pushed to the most inhospitable climates due to generations of war and distrust from the other races. The Iltherian Empire dealt with them in one of two ways: employing them as laborers and soldiers, or as slaves. While the slaves were treated poorly, orcish numbers grew in imperial lands due to not being one of the races targeted for annihilation given that they’re not much of a magical race. Tieflings are as rare as dragonborn, but are regarded as demons and killed on sight in most places.



Minor Peoples also has pictures of a goblin and minotaur, but said races are not mentioned at all elsewhere in the book. I suppose this was done to show that the more exotic choices from Volo’s Guide and other official sourcebooks have a place in Imaria, but without text on their place in the world the Dungeon Master is more or less left to homebrew it out.

Old vs New: In the older version half-elves of Aerial or Deep ancestry could trade in their darkvision for either immunity to the blinded condition (Aerial) or blindsight (Deep). As Deep Half-Elves don’t suffer from light blindness, this was a pretty strong choice for them.

Thoughts So Far: I like some of the new races more than others. I’ve often been surprised by how rare animal-people are as a common race in D&D settings, and even when we get them are often just a few, made harder to play, or not well-supported in existing lore. I like the addition of Mutates as a common archetype in a realm otherwise awash in Tolkien options. I can tell that the author is fond of defying the “big strong dumb guy” conventions with Ursine and Neranians, although the latter race doesn’t have much going for them to defy this. I was expecting some more features like artwork which can positively influence people, or said artistic society granting them attention to fine detail for some visual/perception/etc bonus. There are times when it seems like the author wants to defy conventions, but still includes iconic choices for the sake of compatibility. The removal of halflings and relegation of gnomes to a minor race is clearly due to the Skytouched filling their niche, but even then gnomes get a big role in Lunalia’s history. It feels odd to have drow in a setting when dark-skinned underground elves are a new (non-evil) subrace. Legacy of Mana does have some nods to anime-inspired fantasy, and plenty of work in that genre still has dark elves who in such cases are just treated as just another pointy-eared civilization than psychotic spider-worshipers. Legacy of Mana could have easily gone that route with deep elves, but even in the new version there’s a very brief shout-out to drow.

I do have quite a bit of thoughts regarding the Blooded, and the larger implications that they have for the setting. I’d like to add that Legacy of Mana has in places averted Tolkienian tropes of race and morality; most of the new races have alignment tendencies, but are more shaped by environment and culture. And of those who are biologically inclined, like the Blooded and the Skytouched, they tend towards Good. Even races typically designated ‘evil’ like the orcs are given a more even-handed treatment, their harsh lives shaped by being the losing side in many wars and the “brutal marauders'' being peculiar holdouts. Low-level humanoid cannon fodder in the vein of orcs and goblins isn’t really a thing, as the Iltherian Knights more or less occupy this role. Furthermore, their willingness to condemn entire races to enslavement and death is viewed by most as a crime without comparison.

Legacy of Mana seems less a product of 19th century Western racial attitudes a la Tolkien and Gygax, but a more distant callback to medieval feudalism: you’re not noble because you’re human, you’re noble because you’re a human of regal bearing. You are a benevolent ruler not because of your upbringing or the values others instilled in you, but due to an innate awareness instilled in you since birth courtesy of your ancestors and the land itself appointing you as its champion. There are those who would defy this or seek alternative forms of government, but the natural order of things ensures that there will always be Blooded. Even when there are bad apples this is treated more as a mutation or aberration, which mana itself will surely correct over time. And even then such cursed Blooded or those who err in judgment isn’t much much dwelt upon, what with Iounia’s harmonious golden age society but also intentionally-undereducated and overworked peasants. Legacy of Mana tries at times to provide multiple viewpoints (“not everyone wants a return to the rule of the Blooded, and that doesn’t make them wrong”) but many of the options, organizations, and popular narratives in the book seek to protect their legacy and/or return them to their right to rule.

While I can understand finding an answer as to how and why hereditary monarchies are so popular in a world of mages, monsters, and other powerful contenders, Legacy of Mana’s Green Feudalism leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth in trading one problematic trope for another.

Join us next time as we cover Chapters 5: Orders & Societies and Chapter 7:Backgrounds! Yes I’m reviewing them out of order, but it’s for a very good reason!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2020, 07:34:23 PM »

Chapter 5:Orders & Societies and Chapter 7: Backgrounds

Although technically two chapters, the subject matter is so intertwined they may as well be covered together. Here we detail the major power players in Imaria as well as rules for PCs who join such vaunted organizations. The major exception is the Iltherian Empire, for the only PC backgrounds for that are ex-members who deserted or escaped from slavery.

Old vs New: An awful lot of flavor text has been cut from the orders in the new book. Some such as the Iltherian Empire were mostly left intact, while others such as the Merchant’s League and Vanguard got significantly cut in size. I’m going to be mostly drawing upon the older versions for this chapter.

Although by far not the only people jockeying for power in Imaria, the following eight organizations have either a wide enough pull and reach to make their presence felt across the world, or are more involved in matters of interest to adventuring types.



Iltherians: There is hardly a place in Imaria which does not know the name Iltheria. In spite of its short 20-year reign, they’ve made grand and terrible changes to the face of the world. Their origins lie in a mercenary company led by a wicked man by the name of Bravensca. Entering into an alliance with a necromancer by the name of Trahlyle, the mage revealed to the warlord the secrets of forging renik and filled his head with dreams of an empire. Bravensca’s band struck at wizard’s towers and other magic-rich places, looting the grounds and expanding their coffers to get more soldiers and renik steel. The Iltherians grew even larger, slaying monsters and bringing food and aid to peasants whose Blooded rulers were unable or unwilling to address their subjects’ woes. Soon such support grew into outright rebellions, with peasant uprisings weakening lands for an Iltherian takeover, and the intelligence reports of mere soldiers with anti-magic swords being responsible were dismissed as trickery and illusion. By the time a united alliance was forged, the Iltherians had allies both overt and covert in too many places to the point that their rise was all but assured.

The Iltherian Empire is in theory a meritocracy, where skill and ruthless ambition determine one’s station rather than magical potential. This was an appealing recruitment process, but in the empire’s later years there arose a calcified order of senior generals rife with nepotism. Emperor Bravensca was a great military leader, but a poor civilian one, and he was loath to delegate tasks to advisors. This helped set in motion various domestic problems that contributed to Iltheria’s decline.

Iltherians are taught that mana is a destructive power which will inevitably become a tool for the few to oppress the many. When such rhetoric failed, they pointed to the existence of magical horrors and supernatural monsters to strengthen their points instead. The Empire relied on divisive rhetoric to whip up hatred against magically-talented people and races, who were blamed for all manner of problems.

The Iltherian Empire is a military dictatorship, and the term “Iltherian'' is used interchangeably between citizens and the order of renik-wielding knights. The bulk of the military is formed by Knights who are outfitted with special renik swords and training against supernatural threats, and undergo a special ritual where they bind part of their soul to a renik sword. The empire also has auxiliary forces of conscripted militia, slave-soldiers, and brainwashed berserkers. Iltherian Knights are not an elite or exclusive order: they range from frontline infantry to special agents and officers, and their primary identification and rank is via a numbered sash. The Emperor was naturally 1, and there used to be an intricate process for determining the rise and fall of numbers. Postwar the system is now much more subjective and ad hoc given the divisions and collapse of order where regiments were forced to fend for themselves. Knights are divided into three types of soldiers based upon their specialty: Defenders are primarily combatants, while Inquisitors rely more heavily on mana-disruption techniques. Relic Hunters are highly-skilled mobile forces who specialize in the hunting down and disruption of magical items and artifacts. Albeit not an official designation, wilderness scouts are highly prized for their skills. There has been some experimentation in new forms of soldiers and renik weapons in the postwar period, such as brainwashed auxilary berserker suicide-bombers whose renik armor is triggered to explode once it absorbs enough magic, or the repurposing of broken renik shards into arrowheads to poison magical beings. Unfortunately said suicide-berserkers and renik arrowheads and armor are not given stats in this book.

After the Empire’s fall, many Iltherians felt shame for their past deeds and sought to correct the harm they’ve done. Reformist is a catch-all term for such Knights, while loyalists of the Empire are known as Old Order or Purists. Among the Reformists is a specific organization, the Iltherian Guardians,* who seek to use their training to bring the balance of mana back into the world. As part of induction they break their renik sword, embedding the shards into a staff of wood to turn into a spear known as a reave. Although they will still use mana-destroying powers in times of need, they are against replicating the renik-binding ritual responsible for making Iltherian Knights on moral grounds. Guardians and Reformists alike have a long way to make up for their past crimes, but they are nothing if not dedicated.

*this is a stupid name for people trying to break away from the empire’s violent legacy.



We get not one, but three new backgrounds related to Iltheria. Freed Iltherian Slave grants proficiency in Athletics, Survival, land vehicles, one type of artisan’s tools, one bonus language of choice, starts play with various labor tools (miner’s pick, small knife, etc) and their feature grants them great physical endurance such as “shrugging off exhaustion completely.” Which makes me ask, is this merely flavor text or is this outright immunity to the Exhausted condition?

Iltherian Guardian is only available to those with levels in Iltherian Knight. They gain proficiency in History, Persuasion, one language of the player’s choice plus Krymarian or Thalagrantian, and start play with some travel gear and a reave. Their feature grants them knowledge of how to turn renik shards into a reave, and those who would be normally hostile to Iltherians are less so due to their aura and how they carry themselves.

Iltherian Reformists are the other class-exclusive background. They are those who are aware of the empire’s flaws and do not wish to see the old days return, but still believe that the empire can be changed to something more moral...which contradicts the text about them being a catch-all term for former members. They are proficient in Athletics, Intimidation, the Krymarian and Thalagrantan languages, have mostly RP-related gear (former memento of home, sash with their former Iltherian rank, etc), and their feature means that commoners are more fearful of them and more likely to do what the knight wants, if only to get them out of their hair.

Arctine Federation: The northern tribes were used to tough living, but the loss of mana and unreliable trade routes as a result of war forced them into a larger alliance out of necessity. The Arctine Federation’s priorities are maintaining stable lines of communication and travel, and coordinating efforts and reallocation of resources via mutual aid. Major decisions are convened during a council of tribal leaders, and while rather insular there’s encouragement in recruiting foreigners with specialized skill sets to aid the realm.

The Arctine Federate background grants proficiency in Medicine, Nature, Water Vehicles, Navigator’s Tools, a bonus language of the player’s choice, starts play with various survival equipment, and the ability to subsist comfortably in cold environments and familiarity with all seabound ships as a feature.



Diamond Skull: Originally the Diamond Skull was a clandestine order of spies and assassins for the Lynnvander family.* With the rise of Iltheria they had their hands full, operating even after the fall of their patron house and engaging in guerilla warfare against the renik-bound knights. They were instrumental in the assassination of the Iltherian Emperor, but it was a pyrrhic victory as they too suffered great losses. As of the postwar period the Diamond Skull is in a precarious position; there are lots of people who even if originally joined with good intent have grown comfy in their positions as crime bosses, smugglers, and other illicit trades. Others still hold loyalty to House Lynnvander as a primary concern. The Skull has yet to fall into civil war due to their recent losses, but that doesn’t mean that individual members are jockeying against each other. They’re also so named as their leader is said to hold a diamond skull which grants the wielder magical powers...and has done nothing to prevent ambitious up-and-comers from plotting to overthrow their leader.

*wait, I thought they were idealized pseudo-paladin types!

The Diamond Skull Slink background grants proficiency in Deception, Stealth, Thieves’ Tools, Firearms, knowledge of the Skull Sign code language, starts play with some mostly-flavorful equipment, and a feature where they can automatically find a Diamond Skull contact and safehouse in a settlement of at least 2,000 people. Optimally tailored towards roguish characters, although a bit superfluous for actual rogues who already have Thieves’ Tool proficiency.

Exuro Mane: Founded by the wizard...sigh...Evanndenkainen, the Exuro Mane is a secret society of magic-users of all stripes who entered into a mutual defense pact against Iltherian depredations. Evanndenkainen built a secret lair in the Glasslands of Dravanyia (or so he claims) and has doled out arcane knowledge and artifacts to those who earned his trust. The organization’s requirements in joining are simple: be a spellcaster, even if you know but only a single cantrip. Its goals are simple as well: safeguard magical items,  rescue and train what spellcasters they can, safeguard ley lines, and achieve the destruction of all Iltherians, both civilian and military. Oh wait, that last one is...not so simple.

Mages of all stripes suffered greatly under Iltheria’s reign, and the Exuro Mane views every imperial citizen who didn’t dedicate their lives in fighting the government to be equally guilty. Even deserters and conscripts are not spared, and Evanndenkainen brooks no argument against this. This makes the Exuro Mane extremists in the eyes of some, but the organization’s goals as well as Iltheria’s crimes allows others to overlook this.

The Exuro Mane Neophyte background grants proficiency in Arcana, Insight, Herbalism Kits, knowledge of the Light cantrip, starts play with various ‘scholarly’ equipment, and a feature where a secret tattoo of membership can only be revealed by the light cantrip, and all Exuro Mane members can grant the Neophyte safe refuge and magical training if they require it (and are expected to reciprocate in turn). I’m rather fond of this feature, as it has a nice flavor for a secret society.

Merchant’s League:* Based out of Phaelan’s Republic, The Merchant’s League is an inter-continental organization whose first and only concern is free trade and material enrichment. The League as a whole does not discriminate when it comes to their business dealings, meaning that they frequently fund both sides of a war. Postwar their primary concern is keeping trade routes open and safe from banditry, monsters, and tariffs.

The Merchant’s League Associate background grants proficiency in Investigation, Persuasion, Air Vehicles,** firearms, two languages of the player’s choice, starts play with various merchant-related equipment, and their feature allows them to sell any type of item to any merchant even if said merchant has no need of the item at the time.

*the relevant entries in the book also refer to them as the Merchant’s Guild, even in the same pages as “League.”

**strange choice given that Lunalians closely guard construction of their airships.

Old vs New: The newest version mentions that they’re the most powerful organization in Imaria, but oddly enough gets scant mention elsewhere in the book or how they’ve made their mark on the world in a manner similar to the Iltherians.

Order of Ivy: Although old and rich in history, the Order of Ivy gained newfound prominence during the Age of Loss. A paramilitary order of elves and elven allies, the Order of Ivy is dedicated to safeguarding elvenkind. Sometimes that means reclaiming lost stretches of forest from monsters and regrowing them, but a lot of the time it means striking out against Iltherians and those who would oppress and kill elves. They are a secret order split into individual cells who undergo a magical ritual which imprints a tattoo on their skin. Said tattoo is a vine that grows leaves every time a member completes a mission for the Order.

The Order of Ivy Leaf* background is very much a guerilla fighter type. Proficiency in Acrobatics, Stealth, Poisoner and Herbalism Kits, knowledge of one language of the player’s choice, possession of mundane equipment and a free Poisoner’s Kit, and the aforementioned tattoo as a feature. The feature’s a bit underwhelming as it doesn’t really come with anything besides being able to identify fellow members, and feels a bit like a reprint of the Exuro Mane feature minus the mutual aid.

*term for the lowest-ranking members.

Crystalfellen Survivors represent surface elves who managed to stay alive during the Age of Loss, which is pretty much all of them. They gain proficiency in Nature, Survival, the Krymarian language and one other of the player’s choice, start play with various survival gear equipment and a Healer’s Kit with which they’re not proficient, and their feature allows them to identify any kind of plant or animal in a forest and can always spot natural hazards ahead of time.

Old vs New: This background originally gave Surface Elven as one of the bonus languages, but given that you can only take this as an elf you’re already knowledgeable in said language. One of the new version’s improvements.



Silver Sword: Like the Diamond Skull, the Silver Sword was made up of loyalists of the House of Lynnvander. But unlike the Diamond Skull they are primarily warriors and knights who have a strict code of honor and are more or less unified in wanting to see the return of their patron Blooded to rule. However, this makes them quite conservative in a “some are born to lead, others to follow” line of thinking. This has lost them quite a few potential allies and groups containing non-Blooded leaders. The Silver Sword’s duty will not be truly complete until they retake Lynnvander’s former palace, which now lairs in the Iltherian capital.

The Silver Sword Initiate background represents a squire or low-ranking warrior. They gain proficiency in Athletics, Animal Handling, one type of gaming set, longswords, knowledge of the Krymarian language, and start play with typical adventuring gear plus a silver longsword. Their feature allows them free aid and lodging with fellow Silver Swords, can tell whether or not a human is Blooded or not at a glance, as well as their Blooded house.

The Reincarnated Bloodline background isn’t related to the organization per se, but is similar in that it reflects a similar calling in representing a Blooded who in a past life was a particularly notable individual of their house. They gain proficiency in Insight, Perception, two languages of the player’s choice, have a smattering of equipment ranging from a Bloodline Coin to a Healer’s Kit (which they’re not proficient) to fancy noble stuff, and their feature grants a literal once-in-a-lifetime ability to gain supernatural insight into a present dilemma by calling upon their past life.

The Reincarnated Bloodline may initially seem attractive in the granting of the Perception skill, but they gain a Kit with which they are not proficient (starting to see a pattern here), and their feature is both subject to DM Fiat and one-time use. Not a stellar choice.

Vanguard: The Vanguards are a far-spanning adventurer’s guild whose primary duties are finding, rediscovering, and repairing the ley lines of Imaria. They also seek to protect the Blooded rulers as an equal priority, as their organization arose from ex-soldiers of Blooded houses who perished fighting the Iltherians. But their text mentions that they also “don’t mind fighting for the little guy,” too.

The Vanguard Novice background is an oddly-scholarly choice. It grants proficiency in History, Arcana, knowledge of one Wizard cantrip, and starts play with scholarly adventuring equipment. Its feature allows the Novice access to any library in Imaria, and they have an easier time of studying research pertaining to magical lore.

I almost can’t help but wonder if the Vanguard was originally intended to be another type of organization before being turned into a generic Adventurer’s Guild style one.

Thoughts So Far: A lot of the new organizations are rather bog-standard: Evil Empire, Rebels Fighting the Evil Empire, Merchant Empire, Thieves’ Guild, Adventurers’ Guild, etc. I do get that some of them are necessary for the setting, such as the secret mage order or the noble yet stuck in the past knights. But barring a few exceptions a lot of them lack that special pizzazz which lights the fire for inspiration. The Diamond Skull was the strongest one in that their ties to the criminal underworld were once necessary, but now a black mark against them in a postwar world. That kind of stuff differentiates them from other “thieves’ guild” archetypes in fantasy RPGs, and allows for different factions with their own goals.

Again, we see more cases of the book saying something but not following up elsewhere. The Merchant’s League, much like dragons, are inferred to be one of the most powerful groups in Imaria, yet their influence and impact on the setting as a whole is not shown here or elsewhere in the book. More word count is dedicated to the Iltherians by contrast.

Of the eight groups, three of them are dedicated to restoration of the Blooded in some way, shape, or form. Although the text infers imperfections in the system, I can’t really see how the Vanguard are all that different from the Silver Sword besides having a broader focus beyond the Lynnvander house. While the Iltherian Empire is clearly a greater evil, it seems odd that there’s no faction option for people who don’t want to return to Blooded rule. There seem to be more inferences of cracks in the foundation, and not just in the implications of the Iltherians drawing their ranks from people failed by the system when the Blooded were in charge. Be it the Capital-G Good Guy Lynnvanders employing assassins and shady types via the Diamond Skull or the Silver Swords looking down on non-Blooded leaders, there’s material to work with in casting a critical eye on the seeming peace during the Age of Lynnvander. But the book leans harder in the other direction.

Join us next time as we cover new core classes and subclasses in Chapter 6!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2020, 07:35:40 PM »

Old vs New: The flavor/fluff text for the new core classes has all but vanished. The Circle of Vitality Druid is a new addition, as is the College of Adaptability and Titan Martial Archetype.

This meaty chapter contains 2 all-new classes as well subclasses for every existing class save the Cleric and Wizard. As one of the new classes is a pretty iconic part of the setting, let’s cover the brand new material first.


Iltherian Knight: The most iconic class of the setting, the Iltherian Knights are a ruthless, disciplined fighting force who have the ability to drain mana and use the stored energy to empower their swords. The class gets hit points and proficiencies as a Fighter, although they are proficient in Strength and Wisdom saving throws, for skills have Arcana instead of History and Survival, and their starting equipment weapon options include renik short/long/greatswords.

The default class has several iconic features. At 1st level they can attune to Renik Blades much like they can a magic weapon (but cannot be attuned to any other magic item while so attuned), and when attuned count said weapon as magical for damage purposes. They can spend renik charges to give it an enhancement bonus equal to charges spent for an hour, and at higher levels gain +2 on attack rolls on spellcasters (and eventually all magical creatures) and spellcasters damaged by the blade suffer disadvantage on concentration checks and their concentration DC is increased by the Knight’s Wisdom modifier. An Iltherian Knight cannot spend more charges than half their proficiency bonus, rounded down, at once, so you can’t go too crazy with bonuses and damage.

Speaking of which, Iltherian Knights can infuse an attuned renik weapon with renik charges up to half their class level + 2. The Knight gains charges when they Drain Mana, performed as a reaction when targeted by a spell, whenever they score a critical hit, or when a foe is knocked out or killed. If they succeed on a Wisdom saving throw when Mana Draining, the spell fizzles out and is converted to a number of charges equal to spell level; if the spell would give them charges above their maximum, then it cannot be countered. Higher levels allow them to counter spells within 30 feet, gain a +2 bonus on the Wisdom save, and can eventually safeguard everyone in a hostile spell’s AoE (normally a drained spell merely fails to affect just the Iltherian). The Iltherian Knight can also convert their own life energy to renik charges in a pinch, taking necrotic damage and running the risk of Exhaustion, and they can spend charges to deal 1d6 damage to an enemy or heal themselves an equal amount per charge spent.

Old Vs New: At 10th level a magical creature slain by an Iltherian Knight could never revive by anything short of a Wish spell. This option no longer exists, but it does persist in the stat blocks of the more powerful Iltherian NPCs in the bestiary section.

Draining Mana and spending renik charges in such a way are not limited based on resting periods. This means that Iltherian Knights can theoretically counter spells all day long. They don’t even need to be fighting mages or magical creatures to use their powers, as simply killing their foes is another means of recharging.

But that’s not all! An Iltherian Knight gains a Fighter Fighting Style at 2nd level of their choice as well as the Extra Attack that martial types get at 5th level, and they gain an Ability Score Improvement at 10th level as well as the normal progression rate (4/8/12/16/19). For more utility abilities they can Detect Magic with a renik weapon a number of times per long rest equal to their Wisdom modifier, can perform 2 reactions per round instead of 1 at 7th level, and their 20th level ability allows them to automatically gain 3 renik charges whenever initiative is rolled if they have 3 or less charges.

There are 3 subclasses for the Iltherian Knight, reflecting different imperial orders and training regimens. Inquisitors focus more heavily on counterspelling than other Knights, as well as limited ranged combat. At 3rd level they can spend a bonus action to deal 1d8 bonus necrotic damage and gain 1 charge whenever they hit an enemy with a renik weapon, and said enemy loses 1 of their lowest-level spell slots (can only do the last a number of times per long rest equal to Wisdom modifier). At 6th level they can spend renik charges to shoot out an AoE beam of force from their sword with a higher than normal save DC (10 + proficiency bonus plus Wisdom modifier)* dealing 1d6 per charge spent. At 11th level they can use Drain Mana on magical abilities that aren’t explicitly spells, such as a Paladin’s Lay on Hands or a dragon’s breath weapon, gaining only 1 charge if countered successfully. At 18th level they can reflect a spell instead of absorbing it back at a caster a number of times per short rest equal to their Wisdom modifier.

*5e saving throw DC structure usually has a base of 8 instead of 10.

Defenders are the most common subclass, dedicated primarily to combat. At 3rd level they can consume surrounding mana as an action a limited number of times per long rest (Wisdom modifier), gaining 1 renik charge and creating a 15 foot radius of difficult terrain for 1 minute that only fellow Iltherian Knights can move inside without hindrance. They can also make Attacks of Opportunity on anyone inside the terrain if said target attacks someone other than the Knight. At 6th level they can opt to channel renik charges into their armor, gaining +1 AC for each charge spent for 1 minute,* and at 11th level can apply an Extra Attack to all of their Attacks of Opportunity. At 18th level they gain resistance to all damage from a magical source, advantage on saves vs all spells, but only heal half as much from healing magic.

*don’t forget, limited by half your proficiency bonus, so no RNG breaking.

Finally, the Relic Hunters are the least conventional Iltherian Knights. They are more likely to operate alone or in mixed groups outside of the traditional military structure, serving as more akin to spies and special forces. At 3rd level they can permanently drain unattended magical items and objects (including traps) by passing a DC based on the item’s Rarity. The rarer the item, the more renik charges gained. Is this a saving throw DC, an attack roll, a skill check? The class doesn’t say. Additionally, the subclass also grants at-will Detect Magic and Identify, but only as rituals, and Detect Magic’s range in this case can be up to 1 mile!

At 6th level they gain a smattering of boons: their Renik Charge limit is now their class level +2, they can attune to magical items while also attuned to a renik weapon (but cannot cast spells if the item would allow it), can make Mana Drain checks on ongoing magical effects, and gain proficiency in Arcana or another skill of the Relic Hunter’s choice if they already know Arcana. At 11th level they can permanently gain the properties of a drained magical item but can only have 1 such effect active at a time (2 at 15th and 3 at 19th level), and at 18th level they can drain magic items carried or wielded by another creature and gain advantage on such rolls.

Judging by the class as a whole, the Iltherian Knight is one I’d put around mid-tier, for they lack the sheer versatility of spellcasters. However as a martial type they have some pretty strong anti-magic defenses, are proficient in Wisdom which is useful for many of the “anti-fighter” type of spells, and can “nova” with attacks via spent renik charges albeit not to the same degree as a Smiting Paladin or an Action Surging Fighter. Unfortunately their ranged capabilities are limited, with the Inquisitor’s laser-sword being the only real one of note. Having access to Perception and Arcana allows for Relic Hunters to be good trap spotters and disablers in the case of magical ones, although they don’t measure up to full-fledged Rogues and aren’t proficient in Thieves’ Tools barring the proper Background.

When it comes to fighting spellcasters, Iltherians can be dangerous in groups; however there are many ways to get around them. First of all they are at their best in close quarters, for their Mana Drains trigger anywhere from 30 to 60 feet away (depending on subclass) or when directly targeted. Casting at range, while flying, or relying upon less direct spells can get around these countermeasures. And spells and non-spell magical abilities are more or less safe unless going against Inquisitors and Relic Hunters. Furthermore, although they can drain mana all day, they must still use a reaction to counter and absorb a spell, and as such mages fighting them on even terms or (better yet) outnumbering them can cast a minor spell they know will be absorbed and have a buddy follow up with a more powerful one. Furthermore, one cannot use reactions unless they are aware of the triggering effect. While the Knights can Detect Magic, it is something they cannot do all of the time, so in most cases when suspecting magic at work they are likely to have one soldier Detect and direct the others to the likely source.

The reason I’m pointing these out is that the NPC stat blocks for Iltherian Knights have many of the PC class’ abilities as well, and given their prominent bad guy status in the setting is worth pointing out.

Old vs New: The class in the latest version has virtually no fluff text besides a cautionary disclaimer: most Iltherian Knights in the setting are villains, and the PC option is primarily intended for Reformists who broke away from them. Even if non-evil they performed (or were forced to perform) war crimes, and as such are hated in many lands.

Additionally, the class used to specify that you must be a non-magical human in order to take it. Said restriction is gone in the updated version, meaning that you can totally play a Blooded Iltherian, which doesn’t work lorewise. But in exchange the new version gives us a fancy two-page spread for the Iltherian Knight. Wait, hold on a second…





They reused the same artwork, and within 4 pages of each other nonetheless! Now hear me out; I get that the art budget for a project is expensive, and for a first-timer like Legacy of Mana I don't begrudge them reusing assets. But the closeness of the art is more blatant than the other times it's happened in the book. Believe it or not, the former artwork wasn’t in the prior version, but the latter one was. Also the Final Fantasy VI reference is so obvious it isn’t even funny.


They reused the same artwork, and within 4 pages of each other nonetheless! Now hear me out; I get that the art budget for a project is expensive, and for a first-timer like Legacy of Mana I don't begrudge them reusing assets. But the closeness of the art is more blatant than the other times it's happened in the book. Believe it or not, the former artwork wasn’t in the prior version, but the latter one was. Also the Final Fantasy VI reference is so obvious it isn’t even funny.


Seer: Seers are practitioners of a unique magical type that allows them to borrow mana from other timelines. Reaching out into the past and future gives them a sixth sense to go along with this ability, which is appreciated by many for their ability to detect and better avert future disasters. The art of the seer can be both innate or learned, with some coming to it precariously and others conducting meditation and research to think of reality in nonlinear ways. In terms of Hit Die and proficiencies they are close to Rogues, having d8 for hit points, are proficient in Light & Medium Armor and Simple Weapons, Dexterity and Intelligence saving throws, and choose 3 skills of their choice to be proficient in much like a Bard.

Many of their core class features are powered by Augury Points, which a Seer has a maximum equal to their class level and which are all restored after a short rest. At 1st level they can do an at-will Cerebral Blast which deals force damage (1d10+1d10 every 4 levels after) to a target within 60 feet and uses Intelligence for attack rolls in addition to being proficient in its use. Additionally they can also spend an Augury Point to reroll a failed saving throw or skill check representing their ability to look into the future. At 2nd level they can use their powers to knit and heal flesh, restoring 1d6 HP per Augury point spent up to their proficiency bonus as an action to a touched creature. At 4th level they can become proficient in a single Tool until the next rest by spending 1 Augury Point, and can do the same with weapons at 9th level. At 6th level they can spend 1 Augury Point per ally (including self) to reroll initiative. At 10th level they gain proficiency in a saving throw of their choice and become immune to aging, sleep, starvation, and thirst. At 14th they spend a Augury Point and a reaction to impose disadvantage on an enemy’s attack roll targeting them and gain resistance from damage if it hits anyway. At 15th level they can spend a Augury Point to Dodge as a bonus action and gain advantage on saves to resist any kind of damaging effect.

Seers also learn divination spells automatically. At 2nd level they learn every 1st level divination spell, every 2nd level one at 5th level, and so on every 4 levels, maxing out at all 1st to 5th level divination spells at 17th level. Instead of using spell slots, they spend Augury Points equal to the spell level to cast them.

The rest of their class features hit in at higher levels. At 13th level they can speak, read, and write all languages. At 18th they can spend 3 Augury points to cause a target to lose their action on a failed save; the class does not specify if it’s just the target’s main Action, or all of their actions, bonus and reaction included. At 20th level they increase their Intelligence by 4, to a maximum of 24.

The Seer has 2 subclasses known as Cerebral Awakenings, representing alternate timelines to which they become aware. The Prowess Awakening reveals a timeline where the Seer became a great warrior, and imparts all of the knowledge therein. They’re basically a Soulknife, at 3rd level gaining the ability to manifest a channeled weapon in their hands that deals damage as per the weapon (and use Intelligence for attack and damage) as well as Extra Attack at 5th level. At 7th level they can spend Augury Points up to half their proficiency bonus to gain an equal bonus to AC for 1 minute. At 11th level their channeled weapon deals 1d10 bonus damage, and at 17th level they can spend 1 Augury Point to gain advantage on an attack made with said weapon and can also spend 2 Augury Points to deal 3d6 bonus damage to a target struck with such a weapon.

The Hope Awakening...has no detail on what timeline the Seer sees, only that they can better alter the flow of time to their own benefit. At 3rd level they can spend an Augury Point to give an ally within 30 feet a 1d4 bonus to the next attack/save/skill check they make (1d6 at 11th level). At 5th level they add their Intelligence modifier to Cerebral Blast damage rolls, gain double the range on that, can use their healing touch ability on a target within 30 feet, and become proficient with shields. At 7th level they can spend an Augury Point to use Detect Thoughts but without spell components, and can spend an additional point to have a target autofail the save and remain undetected in its use. At 11th level the Seer can spend 3 Augury Points and a reaction to send a message back in time to an ally within 30 feet who dies or is KOed by an attack. The ally must then use a reaction to move half their movement speed away, avoids all AoOs, and ignores the negative effects from that intended fatal blow. At 17th level the Seer can spend 5 Augury Points to cast Time Stop, but with no spell components and can affect other creatures and objects without causing the spell to end.

As a class the Seer is a bit narrow in focus and geared more towards utility than offense. But within that focus they can be quite good. The mental blast is a nice always-have weapon, although they don’t stack up to a Warlock’s Eldritch Blast (which has a longer default range). They can heal hit points more often than a Cleric or Paladin due to their short-rest recharge, but they are powerless to stop or remove other debilitating conditions. Their ability to reroll initiative and failed saves and skill checks is pretty useful, and knowing every divination spell the DM has access to sourcebook-wise is great. They are not good fighters save for the Prowess option, and the Hope Awakening’s initial abilities are ho-hum with the best features at 11th and 17th level. From rerolls to divination to healing they are good at saving the party’s bacon from a wide variety of troubles, which many players can appreciate.

Old vs New: Augury Points were formally known as Psi Points. The Seer could not cast divination spells. The Prowess Awakening could only manifest melee force blades dealing 1d6 damage but now can take the form of any melee or ranged weapon (but ammunition must still be supplied). Several abilities got buffed, such as greater range for Cerebral Blast in the Hope Awakening, while Hope’s “dodge death” 11th level ability requires that the affected ally has a reaction to spend, and the Time Stop equivalent could only let the Seer make attacks on creatures for environment manipulation. They also got the bonus saving throw and age/food/sleep immunity as a new 10th level ability; originally they got an Ability Score Increase option at that level.

Just covering the two new classes took quite a bit of words, so for the purposes of brevity I’m splitting up the entries for the PHB classes into their own post.

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2020, 07:35:59 PM »

Barbarian: Barbarians in Imaria are the same as in practically every other stock D&D setting: technologically-primitive warriors who channel their inner rage to fight. New Iltheria recruited many barbarians in their auxiliary ranks, and are very common among mutates and Neranians...in spite of the latter being mostly pacifists. The Bestial Path is a new mutate-only option centering around enhancing natural weapon attacks. At 3rd and 14th level it increases the damage die of natural attacks when raging to 1d8 and 2d8 respectively, also lets one attack with said natural weapons as a bonus action when raging at 3rd level, at 6th level lets one Dash as a bonus action provided the barbarian has no weapons, shield, or armor equipped, and at 10th level their natural weapons threaten a critical on a 19-20 and are considered magical for damage resistance/immunity.

Overall the damage increase is good, but it’s a bit lacking in comparison to other archetypes. It lacks the utility of a Totem Warrior, and the “treated as magical” and the 2d8 damage come in rather late-game.

Old vs New: The prior version had a picture of an ursine warrior for the Bestial Primal Path, but now it has an orc/Neranian...who cannot qualify due to said subclasses’ restrictions. Doh!

Bard: Bards are some of the more trusted spellcasters in Imaria, but they suffered the Iltherian purges just as same. Their more subtle means of magic allowed them to more easily evade detection, but their existence caused many mundane performers to be executed under suspicion of using their art and music to enthrall people.

Old vs New:There are technically 2 new Bardic Colleges, albeit one got replaced in the revision process. The College of Thar’Nandia is the older one and preferred by those living underground, making use of sound and vibrations for survival. At 3rd level they increase the spell save DC of Illusion magic by their Charisma modifier on top of their existing bonuses, can discern direction while underground, and gain blindsight out to 60 feet and can spend Bardic Inspiration to grant this to a number of creatures equal to the Inspiration die rolled for 1 hour. At 6th level they can create stone wall barriers which can be toggled to be see-through or opaque. At 14th level they learn Greater Invisibility or a bonus 4th level Bard spell if they already know it, and once per long rest and the spending of a Bardic Inspiration die can cast said invisibility spell on themselves and every ally within 30 feet. Overall a nice class, but effectively adding double your Charisma for Illusion spell DC makes this a rather overpowered option.

The newer replacement College is something else entirely. The College of Adaptability focuses heavily on the jack-of-all-trades archetype, reflecting their wily abilities to survive in a hostile world. At 3rd level they can substitute Performance for any other Charisma skill check provided they perform for at least 10 minutes, can spend Bardic Inspiration die to give allies equal to their Charisma modifier their choice of +1 attack/damage, +1 to all skill checks, or +1 to all saving throws for a number of rounds equal to the Inspiration Die result rolled. At 6th level they can choose a class they have no levels in and gain all of the benefits of multiclassing into it without needing any of the prerequisites, but cannot actually multiclass into it later on. At 14th level they gain a bonus Ability Score Increase or Feat.

College of Adaptability is very good in part due to the multiclassing boon. You know how the College of Lore is useful for granting access to non-Bard spells? Well this feature more or less does the same, but opens up the entire list of one other class for the Bard! The +1 miscellaneous skill is a bit weak in that while it can affect multiple people, it’s generally more effective to do the default Bardic Inspiration which can give a single ally a far larger number (you can still roll a 1, after all).

Cleric: Nothing new here, save for the fact that the use of the Death domain is gaining popularity among elves seeking vengeance against the Iltherians.

Druid: Druids were always loners, but with the rise of the Iltherian Empire they retreated farther into isolation. Their priority in the postwar period is returning the balance of mana to the land, searching out dead magic zones and other dangerous places to restore. The Circle of Vitality is reflective of this goal, where a druid learns to store up mana in their body and release it into the surrounding environment long-term. They’re very much a “help your party spellcasters” role; at 2nd level they can perform a Terrain Suffusion ritual that takes 1 round to generate a 50 foot radius of strong mana. Those within the area of effect instantly regain one 1st-level expended spell slot, have a 5% chance to retain a spell slot after casting a spell, increase their spell save DC by 1, and roll an additional 1d6/1d4 dice for damaging and healing spells respectively. The duration is a number of days equal to the Druid’s level, but costs 1 or 2 points of Constitution damage each time it’s used which can be restored by 1 every 7 days via natural rest.

At 6th level the Circle of Vitality allows the druid to Wild Shape into Plant types and have their natural attacks count as magical, and at 10th level their Terrain Suffusion becomes doubly powerful (10% chance to retain, 2d6/2d4 bonus dice, spell save DC +2, restore up to one 2nd-level spell slot). At 14th level the druid becomes immune to all disease, poison damage, and gains resistance vs necrotic damage.

As Terrain Suffusion is limited only by the Constitution score and lasts for days, the Circle of Vitality is a very good choice that only gets better refresh-wise at higher levels. It may not measure up to the raw staying power of the Circle of the Moon, but it makes up for it in other ways.

Fighter: The book has nothing substantial to say on this class in how it fits into the world besides the new archetype. Poor Fighters...

Old vs New: The older versions had an Aerial Lancer archetype that could only be taken by Aerial Elves. At 3rd level it grants a special Raptor Dive which is an air-to-ground charging attack that adds +10 damage to an attack roll with a spear or reach weapon. At 7th level the archetype increases natural flying speed to 50 feet, allows one to wear medium army and be one immune to attacks of opportunity while flying. At 10th level the Raptor Dive can be used within 10 feet and no longer requires going air-to-ground. At 15th level the Raptor Dive causes airborne opponents hit to fall 100 feet immediately, while at 18th level the Fighter gains temporary HP equal to 5 + their Constitution modifier for every round they remain within the air and they roll double the base weapon damage die when making a Raptor Dive.

This archetype is a one-trick-pony in that it only really does one thing. Fortunately the Raptor Dive counts as only one Attack so you can still do Extra Attacks before, during, or after the Dive. But in comparison to the Battlemaster Fighter it doesn’t have as many versatile options. The constantly-gaining temporary hit points is a very powerful option, but as it kicks in at 18th level most gaming groups aren’t going to see it.

Its replacement archetype, the Titan, is available to all races and represents your stereotypical big bruiser. At 3rd level they gain a pseudo-Power Attack where they can voluntarily suffer a penalty to attack rolls equal to their Strength modifier and add double the penalty as a bonus to the damage roll. At 7th level they gain an All-or-Nothing attack where they can give up Extra Attacks in exchange for gaining +3 bonus on the attack roll for every attack sacrificed and a flat +1d8 damage, +2d6 if a two-handed weapon. This is not a very good option unless you’re suffering a rather grievous attack roll penalty; the +1d8/2d6 is akin to a bonus longsword or greatsword, and you most certainly have that kind of weapon if you’re a Strength-based Fighter. Furthermore, in giving up Extra Attacks you are giving up not only bonus damage die but also the bonus to your Strength modifier and potential critical hits.

At 10th level the Titan gains proficiency in Intimidation or one other Fighter class skill if already proficient, and can add Strength on top of Charisma to Intimidation rolls. At 15th level they can have their All-or-Nothing attack be treated as a critical miss on a 1-10 roll result on a d20, or a critical hit on an 11-20 but only once per long rest. I presume that a critical miss is an auto-miss, but as the term does not exist in the base 5th Edition rules (or mentioned elsewhere in the book) I am not entirely certain of the meaning. Their 18th-level ability allows the Titan to give up their bonus action to add +5 to the attack or damage roll of an All-or-Nothing attack.

Overall the Titan is a rather weaksauce archetype save for the rather large critical threat range. But as that kicks in at 15th level you’re gonna be waiting a looooooooong time if your campaign ever reaches such vaunted heights.


Monk: Monks in Imaria live isolated lives in monasteries, and due to this they managed to evade Iltherian notice. They have a new Monastic Tradition, Way of the Sleeping Dragon, representing those monks who help guard Tensire’s Tree of Elements by instilling draconic power within themselves. At 3rd and 6th levels they can choose a type of draconic breath weapon which they can spend ki points to activate, and they don’t have to choose the same dragon type each time. The 3rd level abilities are pretty nice damaging effects, ranging from 3d10 to 4d10 damage in cones and lines of varying size. The 6th level options include breath weapons which impose debuffs as well as damage such as paralyzing breath, disadvantage on Strength rolls, becoming slower (half speed, can only attack once per round, can’t use reactions), and the like. Unfortunately the save DC for said breath weapons are set in stone, ranging from 13 to 15.

At 11th level the monk can make their breath weapons more powerful via additional expenditure of ki points, increase the save DC and/or damage dice, and can also spend 2 ki points to grow spectral wings granting them a fly speed for 1 hour. Finally, the subclasses’ 17th level ability grants immunity to a specific energy type along with some other boon: regain HP when you’d suffer fire damage, can swim and breath underwater and immune to water/gas based difficult terrain, gain a frightful presence, or can choose to succeed on a failed saving throw instead once per long rest.

The Way of the Sleeping Dragon is kind of like the Four Elements monk in that its primary features consume ki quickly, but unlike the Four Elements is rather lacking in utility features. In low-level games you can be a pretty good blaster; but given you need to spend precious ki points to boost the DC to respectable levels, a Warlock and Sorcerer can do this more often and better.

Paladin: Paladins are less religious in this setting than others. Their Oaths are more commonly given to philosophical ideals and individuals rather than a (fictional) god or religion. The new Oath of the Bloodline represents paladins sworn to protect a Blooded dynasty. At 3rd level their Channel Divinity options include adding their Charisma modifier to all skill checks for 1 hour and a vow of protection which transfers all damage from an ally (can be non-Blooded) to the Paladin, who in turn has resistance against said damage. Additionally healing spells cast on one heal both parties. At 7th level the Paladin gains a permanent +2 bonus to AC and can spend a reaction to grant an ally within 10 feet (30 feet at 18th) +2 AC as well. At 15th level they have no need to eat, sleep, or drink. Their 20th level ability allows them once per long rest to grow to Large size, change their AC value to 30, and enemies have disadvantage on all attack rolls against a target other than the paladin. This last part has no specified range; is it line of sight or meant to be closer?

The Oath Spells include a variety of defensive magic (Banishment, Dispel magic, Guardian of Faith, Lesser Restoration, Sanctuary, Wall of Force) but there are some offensive and utility options too (Bane, Commune, Haste, Hold Person).

The 30 AC really stands out. I get that this is meant to be a primarily defensive subclass, but that goes way beyond 5th Edition’s bounded accuracy. In comparison to the Oath of the Crown, the other big “paladin tank” option, it is more one-note. Oath of the Bloodline can reduce damage and boost AC, but Oath of the Crown can compel enemies to stay within 30 feet of the paladin, and their 20th level capstone is more versatile in granting advantage on death and Wisdom saving throws and giving said benefits to nearby allies. The Crown’s 7th level ability in transferring damage is a bit less powerful (takes a reaction, cannot be reduced) vs Bloodline’s Channel Divinity, but unlike Channel Divinity has technically infinite uses.

Old vs New: The prior Paladin has specifics for the Oaths’ tenets: swear fealty to one Blooded house and be prepared to lay down one’s life for them, must never leave a Blooded human unattended, and be prepared to kill a protected Blooded human if they are at risk of dying from a renik sword.


Ranger: Rangers adapted well to the collapse of the Iltherian Empire, given the breakdown of infrastructure is something that affects them less due to their knack for living off the land. The Black Powder Conclave represents rangers who specialize in firearms. At 3rd level they gain proficiency with Tinker’s Tools and can use them to craft firearms and gunpowder-related accessories, and can clear a jam on a misfire as an Action rather than 1 hour which is the default rule. At 7th level they can reload a weapon fully rather than one ammunition at a time per Action or Bonus Action. At 11th level they deal +1d10 bonus damage with all firearm attacks, which are treated as magical. At 15th level they gain advantage on all attacks with firearms made within the weapon’s close range value.

Although detailed in a later chapter, there are 6 firearm weapons in Legacy of Mana, and of those 6 only 2 can hold more than one bullet at a time: the Repeater Pistol (up to 4) and the Double-Barrel Arquebus (2). So the “reload multiple bullets” is really only useful for those weapons. Additionally, although they have some sweet damage values (ranging from 2d4 to a whopping 4d10) firearms use that stupid misfire rule which are pretty much Critical Fumbles that render the weapon unusable for an hour. D&D gamers’ weird need to “balance” firearms makes them impractical to use, which also limits this subclass unless you’re going for raw damage; and in that case you’d probably want to be a Fighter instead.

Old vs New: The Ranger couldn’t clear a misfire in an Action, but instead got a free Repeater pistol and 50 bullets.


Rogue: Rogues thrive off of the political instability caused by Iltheria’s fall. The new Roguish Archetype, Diamond Skull Spy, requires membership in the aforementioned organization. In exchange you gain proficiency with Disguise Kits and Insight at 3rd level, know the Skull Sign language which is like Thieves’ Cant but faster and better, and as a bonus action can grant advantage to a single attack roll 4 times per short rest (HELLO SNEAK ATTACK). At 9th level they can effectively “take 10” on all Deception checks instead of rolling, and at 13th level gain two additional skills to benefit from their Expertise class feature. At 17th level they gain advantage on all saves vs effects that bestow the Charmed or Fear conditions, and become immune to all abilities that can read or discern the contents of their mind unless the Rogue permits it.

Overall this is a rather fine archetype. It grants the Rogue a more reliable means of sneak attack and is quite useful for skill monkeys. The magical defenses come in rather late, however, and besides the rest-based auto-advantage the bulk of the features feel kind of lacking in the “do cool stuff” department.

Sorcerer: No new stuff that hasn’t been said about Sorcerers before. However, they do have one more Origin: Chronomancy. This represents a sorcerer whose abilities come from a previous life, which..wait, isn’t this basically the Reincarnated Bloodline but a subclass?

The origin’s 1st level features have them substitute Constitution for Charisma as their spellcasting ability, as well as permanent proficiency in one skill and tool of the sorcerer’s choice. They can also replace sorcerer spells with Cleric/Druid/Warlock/Wizard spells as they level up, and at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter gain one additional spell known. At 14th they can give themselves advantage on one skill check at will...but only once per short rest, which sounds kind of contradictory. At 18th level they more efficiently spend sorcery points for spell slot levels on a 1-1 basis (1st level costs 1 point, 2nd 2 points, etc) and once per long rest can spend sorcery points to create a spell slot of 6th to 9th level.

Old Vs. New: At 14th level they used to gain advantage on all initiative rolls, and could never be surprised while conscious. At 1st level they could also grant themselves advantage on a skill check within the next 10 minutes once per short rest, which sounds cleaner than the newer 14th level ability we got.

As an Origin the low-level abilities point to a more skillful sorcerer, but 6th level onwards they dive into “GET ALL THE SPELLS” territory. Gaining access to other class’ spell lists opens up some nice options, and subbing in Constitution over Charisma allows for some Muscle Wizard jokes.

Warlock: Warlocks are nearly universally distrusted due to their knack for making pacts with strange, often dangerous patrons for their powers. Most joined the Exuro Mane for protection. The exception to this negative perception lies in Warlocks whose patron is the Mana Well.

The Mana Well patron is not a sentient entity, but more akin to a body producing white blood cells in reaction to danger. Warlocks empowered by the Mana Well are always of good alignment, those with dispositions conducive to protecting the land and its people from wickedness and corruption. At 1st level the warlock’s own body is treated as an arcane focus that they themselves (and others touching their bare flesh) can use to cast spells, and they can spend a spell slot to ignore the effects of Exhaustion until the next short or long rest. They also ignore all prerequisites save for levels in learning Invocations, which is really good. At 6th level they can draw 5 spell slots worth of energy from ley lines once per long rest, and divide said slots among themselves and allies within 30 feet. At 10th level they ignore all nonmagical difficult terrain and gain various ‘immortal’ immunities (starvation, thirst, aging). At 14th level they need only spend 10 minutes to benefit from a short rest, but during that time they enter a deep meditative trance that renders them completely blind and deaf.

The Mana Well’s expanded spell lists includes a variety of restoration/light based options (Cure Wounds, Moonbeam, Awaken, etc) and some odd choices (Blight, Locate Creature).

This archetype is similar to Circle of Vitality in that it’s also a “help your fellow spellcasters” in terms of its abilities. Its other choices are largely passive or defensive in nature, and as such are more situational. But being able to short rest for 10 minutes makes the warlock even more able to rapid-fire spells over the course of a day. They are more vulnerable in such a state while resting, but that’s what fellow party members are for!

I believe that the opening up of invocations was meant as a broader class reflavoring; the warlock as it stands rubs hard against the setting’s assumptions of a non-godly universal magical power source, so my guess is that all warlocks were meant to be Mana Well Warlocks at some point in the design process.

Wizard: Wizards, while rare, are more common outside of Krymaris due to having more distance from Iltheria. Even Phaelan’s Republic saw an influx in spite of their low level of mana, if only due to safety than anything else. In the postwar period they are regarded positively by most people for their talents and wisdom, much like bards. This is a bit contradictory, as a later entry in the DM’s Toolbox chapter mentions that wizards are “as likely to enslave villagers as defend them from attacking orcs.” I also imagine that anti-magic sentiment would still be common in many Iltherian areas.

Thoughts So Far: The new classes and subclasses are a mixture of good and bad. For the new core classes I think that the Iltherian Knight and Seer are good at what they do, albeit the former lacks a bit of versatility outside of said role. The clear losers of this chapter were the martial classes, who tend to either be too weak or situational for their intended purposes. New subclasses for the casters ranged from the reasonably good to the outright broken. The removal of fluff text for the new core classes is a loss as they did help out in establishing their place in the setting (Seer especially), and the fluff provided for the base PHB classes is nothing special.

Join us next time as we learn the secrets of airships, renik steel, and more in Chapter 8: Equipment & Vehicles!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2020, 02:10:33 AM »

Chapter 8: Equipment & Vehicles

Old vs New: To the latest version’s credit, it does have a lot of fancy new full-page artwork (resized for ease of display on certain forums). Unfortunately a lot of it isn’t always contextual to the relevant chapters at hand.

This relatively brief chapter covers the new innovations of Imaria that may not be found in your typical D&D world. We first open up to how the fall of Iltheria caused a breakdown in infrastructure, and most people in Krymaris use a barter system where items of immediate practicality have greater value than luxury goods. There’s no rules to simulate this besides suggesting the DM use fiat to jack up prices.

We also have a Technology Chart table showing the overall rarity of equipment based on the relevant continent:



Everything but renik weapons are hard to come by on Krymaris and Thalagrant, Thar’Nandria is very resource-poor, Lunalia is the highest-magic realm of them all, and one can find a bit of everything in Phaelan’s Republic provided they’re not too mana-intensive.

Weapons: We have a list of 18 new weapons, with 7 of them being firearms and 4 of them technically being existing PHB weapons but built with renik. To start off with the lower-tech ones, we have a nifty Boomerang (1d4 thrown weapon that returns to your hand), Bolas (no damage but reduces speed to 0), Wing Blades (put on winged creatures to let them melee attack while flying without use of hands for 1d8), Bastard Swords (like a longsword but 1d10/1d12 if in both hands but you need to have 17 Strength to wield it one-handed without suffering disadvantage), Cane Swords (1d6 but concealable), and Brass Knuckles and Scythes (1d4 and 1d8).

Our 4 renik weapons include a renik shortsword, longsword, greatsword, and a Reave (which is a 1d10 polearm). The swords are identical to their steel counterparts, but have higher prices to compensate (25, 50, and 75 respectively). Additionally, they deal 1d4 bonus damage to spellcasters and any spellcaster that wields them suffers the Poisoned condition, even if they’d be immune to the condition

Now for the firearms! Guns in Imaria are modeled off of real-world Age of Sail variants, meaning that they need black powder and pellets to fire. Bayonets can be attached to the end of them, dealing 1d8 piercing for the low price of 5 gold. Firearms have several special rules: their ammunition cannot be retrieved after being shot, their loudness makes it easy for creatures to notice the shooter’s presence (+10 to +20 on relevant Perception checks), and they suffer Misfire which is basically a Critical Fumble. Each firearm has its own Misfire chance, ranging from a natural 1 to as much as a natural 1-4. Misfires not only auto-miss, the gun jams and require an hour’s worth of maintenance to put them back into working order.

All that said, firearms, are pretty good damage dealers. The humble flintlock pistol deals 1d8 piercing, while a repeater pistol deals 1d12 and can fire up to 4 times before reloading. The Arquebus and its double-barreled variety deal 2d10, while the Blunderbuss deals 2d8 in a 15 foot AoE cone (d20 is rolled for misfire purposes, but enemies must make a Dexterity save to avoid damage). Finally, the impressive Handcannon deals a whopping 4d10 damage but requires its own special ammunition of small cannonballs which can hit multiple targets in a line. Additionally it deals double damage to objects and advantage on attack rolls vs stationary objects.

Countering their high damage rates are their expense and relatively short range. Even the Arequebus has a 50/150 range and it’s the longest-ranged one in the book. Even the flintlock is 50 gold pieces minimum, with others ranging from 100 to 400 gp. Due to these setbacks, I can’t see firearms being a common choice save for damage-dealing builds and Black Powder Rangers.

Old vs New: The Handcannon originally dealt a whopping 8d6 damage.

Armour: We have 4 new sets of armor and 2 new shields! The Gun Vest has AC 11 + Dexterity and gives multiple holsters for firearms, but is a costly 150 gold pieces. Given that said armor has no special rules for drawing firearms faster, it’s clearly a waste in comparison to leather armor. Chitin Half-Plate and Chitin Plate are Light and Medium Armors fashioned from the shells of Mantideans. They are very lightweight and provide good AC values for their category (13 + Dex mod and 16 + Dex mod [max +2] respectively), but are appropriately pricey at 250 and 1,000 gold pieces respectively. The heavy Crystalline Plate functions as normal plate armor, save that it requires an 18 Strength to wear properly, and can reduce enemy ranged attacks that deal energy damage by 1d10 + half the wearer’s level on a reaction. It doesn’t say how level is determined when NPCs wear it; is it based off of their Challenge Rating or Hit Dice?

For the Shields, we have a Shoulder Pad that grants +1 AC but requires 17 Strength, cannot stack with other shields, and can be wielded while keeping one’s hands free. The Leporine Tower Shield is a big shield sized for Small creatures. For them it grants +3 AC and can give half-cover against ranged attacks via spending a reaction. For Medium and larger creatures it uses the stats for a normal shield. Both shield types cost 50 gold pieces.

Old vs New: Chitin Plate originally had 1 more point of AC.

Adventuring Gear: This covers a bunch of miscellaneous material, including gunpowder and pellets. We also have a Black Powder Bomb not under Weapons strangely enough, but it is lit via a wick and can deal 4d6 damage (half fire, half bludgeoning) in a 10 foot radius. Stonebite arrows are a unique type of ammunition that can stick into stone and wood objects, capable of supporting up to 300 pounds of weight. Bloodline Coins are literally priceless and can be given to a Blooded human in order to call in a favor within reason, and are given by said Blooded houses as rewards for good deeds. Spidersilk Bandages grant advantage on Medicine rolls in stabilizing targets, and allow one to heal 1d8 bonus hit points during a short rest. Finally we have enhanced versions of existing gear, such as Lunalian Rope which can hold up to 1,000 pounds without breaking, Thar’Nandian Oil which burns twice as long and right as regular oil, and Waterproof lanterns and containers.

Old vs New: At the end of Adventuring Gear we used to have a table of sample trade goods to better emulate a barter system. We even had sample gold piece prices for animals you typically don’t see in D&D settings such as a moose (1,000), an ostrich (5) a llama (10), and a capybara (1)!

Artifacts & Relics: This single-page section has 4 unique items of Imaria. The Emperor’s Blade is a non-magical yet masterfully crafted longsword that grants +3 on attack and damage rolls, advantage on Drain Mana attempts, and allows Iltherian Knights to store an additional 10 renik charges on top of what they can ordinarily store in the blade. The Lajatang is a Tha’Nandrian spear that makes one immune to the Blinded and Stun Conditions and can grant advantage on an attack roll once per short rest. The Monocle of Insith* grants the wearer Truesight for 10 minutes once per day. Finally, the notable Wyrmhewers are renik greataxes forged by the Iltherians to kill dragons and other large magical creatures. They grant +1 to attack and damage rolls, and +3 additional damage vs Larger and bigger creatures.

*Insith is never mentioned again or detailed identity-wise in this book.

Old vs New: Four artifacts did not make the final cut. Amber Fang is a magical sword once owned by a Lynnvander hero, granting auto-successes on all death saving throws, +3 to attack and damage, and Mana Drains which target the sword suffer disadvantage. The Diamond Skull grants advantage on all rolls targeted to the organization’s members, grants immunity to aging, and if the wielder is slain they will revive later by DM Fiat. The Gauntlets of Cyrus are in the current possession of a famous Silver Sword member of the same name, granting +2 to the wielder’s Strength but making them incapable of telling direction falsehoods. But lies of omissions are A-OK!. Finally, Night’s Kiss is a sword that vibrates in and out of reality, granting +3 to damage (but not attack apparently) and any target who takes 10 or more damage is knocked Prone on a failed Strength save.



Airships: Exclusive to the Lunalians, mana crystals unique to the floating islands are used in the process of creating these vehicles to make them effectively lighter than air. An airship’s mana crystals are recharged via exposure to ley lines, allowing them to function for long periods provided that the pilot doesn’t spend too long in mana-poor areas. Additionally, mana crystals are magic items of their own, capable of being powered by the expenditure of spell slots (or necrotic damage and exhaustion in desperate circumstances) and a caster can draw their power out to restore their own spell slots. Crystals which are fully drained are destroyed, so care is needed. When built into an airship, these spell slots can be spent to use special abilities.

We have 2 different airship stats: the Scout is a common vessel for subtle travel and maneuverability, and as such are favored by pirates. It’s a rather hefty airship: Hugesize , 500 HP, and crew of 5, and 10 max passengers. It can store up to 40 spell slots, which can be used to take off from land, increase their flying speed, perform the Dodge action, shoot elemental cannons (4d6 damage of a specific energy type), and ramming and sideswipe attacks (cost no slots but are the ship’s melee attacks). The Man-of-War is a veritable dreadnought at Gargantuansize , 2,000 HP, a crew of 25, and 50 max passengers. It can store up to 105 spell slots, has the same abilities as a Scout but does more damage, and it has a special Hellfire Cannon that can do 8d8 fire damage in a 20 foot radius of a targeted point. In spite of the LUNALIAN ONLY policy we do have prices for both airships: 15k and 40k gp respectively.

Old vs New: The Man-of-War was originally called the Moon Slayer. Said term in the current version is now the name for a new monster in the next chapter.

Old vs New: Most of the equipment is nothing to write home about. However I am a fan of the airships, and think that more D&D settings should have them. The rules for mana crystals and special moves and attacks for airship combat is a nice touch, and can give non-pilot spellcasters feel useful by restoring said crystals’ spell slots. I’m not very fond of the firearm rules; it seems a common trend among D&D writers who grudgingly make guns an option to nerf them so much that using a bow is better in most circumstances. I do understand that D&D takes place at a relative technology level when firearms were in their infancy, but there are many other anachronisms and Schizo Tech in such settings that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Join us next time as we wrap up this book in Chapter 9: DM’s Toolbox!

Offline Libertad

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Re: [Let's Read] Legacy of Mana
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2020, 02:11:01 AM »

Chapter 9: DM’s Toolbox

Hold on a sec, is that even OGL legal?

Alright everyone, we’re in the home stretch! This chapter has a little bit of everything: a sample encounter location, adventure hooks, feats, and a bestiary to top it all off!

The Mana Well: So what happens when your epic quest takes your daring band of PCs through the most magic-rich environments in Imaria? Well we get a sample location and general rules for such places of eldritch power! The environment alone is dangerous enough that it’s scaled for 15+ level PCs. Mana Wells are very hard to find and even harder to get into, for they sit in tunnels deep under the earth. A Mana Well is a massive cavern (30-40 miles across) chock-full of glowing blue-white half-gas half-liquid mana. Simply being within the environment causes a d100 table of random magical effects to occur at regular intervals (energy damage, healing winds, physical transformations, gaining flight speed, etc). The closer one gets to the Mana Well the more easily they can draw upon magical powers (more renik charges, bonus dice for spellcasting, etc) but imposes progressive maladies such as disadvantage on Perception checks, provokes a save vs fear against the Mana Well, risk falling into it, and total submersion deals 10d10 damage a round. Anyone who dies in such a manner can only be revived via the Wish spell.

We also have rules for regions where mana has been drained by Iltherian interference or other maladies. It’s a straightforward penalty to all manner of magical related rolls, the inability to recover spell slots via rest, advantage against all magical effects, -1d6 dice of damage and healing spells, draining mana saves are at disadvantage (less mana to draw and empower renik steel), and checks made to resist exhaustion are at disadvantage (low mana levels are tiring for even noncasters).

Adventure Seeds: We have 20 short adventure seeds, separated by the major continents and an “Elsewhere” for those not tied to any specific location. They are mostly standard faire: Iltherian remnants stirring up trouble, some local magical horror or monster menacing a village, a patron needs the party to find a rare relic or safeguard passage for a promising apprentice mage, finding and repair a crashed Lunalian airship, and so on. Two of them are particularly notable. “The Undead Threat” mentions sightings of undead creatures wielding renik blades that cannot be put down, which is a call to one of the new monster types in the back of the book. While I cannot be certain, I’m guessing that it’s the “new threat at the edge of the world” implied all the way back in Chapter 1. The other one, the Lost Heir, mentions that the Lynnvander line is believed all but extinguished, and that finding a Blooded member can cause entire armies to rally behind them.

And then I just remembered that this is a subrace option for PCs.  :o

Customization Options: This mainly concerns multiclassing rules for the 2 new core classes and new feats. Nothing special really, although Iltherian Knights cannot be combined with magical classes. They’re only limited to Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, and Rogue, and of those classes they cannot have subclasses that grant access to magic.

Interesting to hear that monks are explicitly nonmagical in Legacy of Mana, as the Class chapter implied that they would be under threat of the Iltherians were it not for their isolated lifestyle. Then again said empire is also anti-intellectual, so it’s totally within their boundaries to destroy whatever they don’t understand or can control.

We have 14 new feats, of use to both mundane and magical roles. I won’t go over all of them, just the most interesting ones. Renik Smith can only be taken by Iltherian Knights and grants proficiency with Smith’s Tools, allows them to craft a renik weapon out of any melee weapon (not just swords), can potentially give it the +1 property (but nonmagical) if they roll a high enough Smith’s Tools check; Bastion of Thought grants immunity to the Charmed and Fear conditions and can grant allies advantage on such attempts via spending a reaction, which is great as the vast majority of ‘mind control’ effects in 5th Edition use one of those two conditions; Magic Adept is nigh-obligatory for every spellcaster, increasing their spell save DC by 1 and immediately granting knowledge of two new spells at a level of which they are capable of casting; Tactician allows one to substitute Intelligence for initiative rolls, can use the Help action on any ally within line of sight and grant them temporary hit points when doing so, and as a bonus action can grant an ally within hearing distance the ability to take one weapon attack, Dodge, or Use Item actions as a reaction; Blade Dance treats all one-handed slashing and piercing melee weapons as finessable, can be treated as wielding them two-handed and attack an additional time with said weapons as a bonus action if wielding no shield or off-hand weapon; and Arcane Preparations can only be taken by prepared casters (but divine as well), granting them an additional number of spells prepared equal to their spellcasting ability modifier +1.

A lot of the new feats are nice options, although predictably spellcasters get the best ones by far. A few of the bleh ones I didn’t mention (Fighting Style Expert grants a Fighter’s Fighting Style, Shield Bash makes you good with using shields as improvised weapons) don’t have enough pizazz to justify taking over an ability score increase or another better feat. Renik Smith is situational, as it would only really be taken if a PC wants a non-sword, non-polearm renik weapon. And perhaps for the most situational one of all, Trade Savvy grants advantage on Persuasion checks when bartering, getting additional rewards from nobles, can locate the best shops in town, and pay only half lifestyle costs.

Old vs New: Some feats were slightly altered, although one was removed entirely. Casting Veil grants access to a new cantrip, Spell Feign. It is cast as a reaction when an Iltherian Knight tries to Mana Drain the caster, causing them to absorb the worthless cantrip instead of a spell if they fail a Perception check. Additionally the caster can also use a bonus action to empower a spell with a spell slot one level lower, granting advantage on spell attack rolls and disadvantage on attempts to Mana Drain the spell.

Also, the feats used to be in alphabetical order. Now they’re randomized.



Monsters: We have 8 monsters divided into 3 broader families. First up we got Iltherian Purists, whose antagonistic role should be self-evident. You won’t be mowing them down like Stormtroopers unfortunately; even the least-powerful Iltherian Defender is a very capable combatant. They have high HP and AC values for their respective Challenge Ratings, and they also have access to several of the Iltherian Knight class features. But most notably their rest-based abilities are changed to per-day uses, and amusingly all of their renik weapons can explode if overcharged beyond their capacity; Iltherian Knight PCs don’t have to worry about this as they can’t go above the limit, they just fail to drain/counter spells that would put them above the limit. We have the meager Iltherian Defender (CR 3), who is very much a melee-based frontline combatant and can go from a sturdy 18 AC to whopping 21 by empowering their armor with renik charges. The Iltherian Inquisitor (CR 5) has the mid-level abilities of the class and subclass, a startlingly-high Wisdom save (+10), and can also cause any spellcaster they reduce to 0 HP to be non-resurrectable save by Wish on a failed Constitution save. An Iltherian Relic Hunter (CR 6) has proficiency in a lot of roguish skills, has all but the 18th-level ability of their eponymous subclass, and are the only Iltherian NPC with a decent long range attack via a Longbow and Multiattack they can use with any wielded weapon. Finally the Iltherian Captain (CR 14) is a dirty rotten cheater; they have a mixture of Defender and Inquisitor abilities, can take 3 reactions per round, are immune to the Charmed and Frightened conditions, and also have Legendary Resistance (up to 3 times per day can choose to succeed on a failed saving throw) as well as the Inquisitor’s anti-resurrection ability. While the Captain sounds like a veritable foe, they’re not exactly a great boss encounter; one, while they are good with a bastard sword their ranged attack is a shitty Heavy Crossbow with a mere 1d10 piercing damage. They also lack any Legendary or Lair Actions that most 5e boss monsters have.

Regiments of the Blooded were a group of Lunalian humans who sought to create a bloodline of their own...which seems odd given that the Phoenixborn are a thing. Maybe it was a dynasty of non-Blooded Lunalians or something? Unfortunately they were so desperate that they resorted to dark rituals that corrupted the mana for their test subjects. They gained powers, but also mutations and madness. The Regiment would have been reduced to leaderless bands of scavenging monsters were it not for the Moon-Slayer, a former Lunalian princess who killed her own mother in the belief it would make her a Blooded. Now the Regiment live in a ruined kingdom, one day hoping to become a true bloodline.

There are 3 major Regiment types. Rageful Blooded (CR 2) are not very notable combatants save for their high HP (60) and roll a d6 to determine a random mutation (minor spellcasting capability, can multiattack due to extra arms, etc). Gargantuan Blooded (CR 5) are merely Large size who hit hard with their claws and gain advantage on attacks when reduced to less than half their hit points. The mighty Synthetic Blooded (CR 10) has spellcasting potential (up to 4th level, mixture of damaging and battlefield control) along with being adept with a longsword and the ability to exert mental domination over any other Blooded.

Necrovitae Magi are powerful, renik-wielding undead. Although Iltheria’s plans for world domination have failed, the wicked necromancer Trahlyle who put the idea of conquest in Bravensca’s head still lives. Seeking yet another means to make the world a worse place, he abducted choice Iltherian Knights, transforming them into powerful undead who can persist even with the anti-magic interface of renik steel. Consumed of an all-encompassing need to consume mana, Necrovitae Magi are capable of turning other Iltherian Knights into more of their kind via kidnapping them back to their necromantic creator’s lair.

Statwise they are a high CR 15, and defy the rules by being both the Humanoid and Undead types. They have a hardy 190 hit points and 20 AC, can detect magic at will, and can make up to 3 attacks with a longsword that deals bonus necrotic damage. Furthermore, they can Drain Mana much like an Iltherian Knight can, and when they hit a creature with magical abilities and/or ancestry they can deal bonus necrotic damage and gain renik charges if the target fails a Wisdom save. The Necrovitae Magus cannot really do anything with said renik charges; they have no limit to how much they can hold, but they take 1d20 damage per round they have no charges and consume charges at a rate of 1 per day(or 1 per round when in combat.

This is a terrifying monster to lower-level people, but as a high-CR monster it’s a bit lacking. Besides having no Legendary, Lair, or utility actions besides the mana-draining countermagic, they have no ranged capabilities to speak of or movement speeds to keep up with fast and flying opponents. They’re really just a big ol’ bag of hit points who only knows how to slash and stab.

Old vs New: Way way back in the first two initial versions of the book, there were stats for Iltherian Infiltrators and Berserkers. The Infiltrators (CR 8) were spies and assassins who had Sneak Attack and Assassinate features as the Assassin subclass, and wore renik rings they could use to store charges and drain mana. Iltherian Berserkers (CR 2) were lightly-armored tough guys who could be Reckless like a Barbarian (advantage on melee attacks but enemies have advantage on attacks vs them). The Iltherian Captain more or less replaced them.

An entry for the Monsters of Revilo were excised completely. They represented strange monsters from an island of the same name which is never mentioned elsewhere in the book. I can get why they were cut, for they didn’t really fit in with the rest of the setting. They are five largely weak creatures. Reapers of the Brood Tribe (CR 5) are bipedal beings with an additional head in their torso, can cast spells as a warlock, and have a Confounding Gaze that gives them advantage on attack rolls and resisting saving throws on a creature that fails an opposed Persuasion/Insight skill check. Burnadazi (CR ½) are humanoid lizards with rocky scales, live in hot environs, and are stereotypical “dumb brute” humanoid mook monsters. Salazarites (CR 2) are horse-sized six-legged arachnids capable of great leaps (50 feet long, 25 feet high) who hunt in caves. Horvaths (CR 0) are dog-sized harmless creatures prized as pets for their rainbow array of colors. Karkathians (CR ½) are highly intelligent (17 INT and WIS) kangaroo-like creatures who spread a rumor that their carved horns bear the souls of slain opponents. They do this to make people too scared to fight them, as in reality they are Lawful Good.

Thoughts So Far: Overall I’m rather mum about this chapter. Nothing really leapt out and grabbed me. I most especially like the new feats, even if a few of them are unbalanced, and a Mana Well can be a cool place to have a dramatic final battle. The Iltherian stat blocks make for rather dangerous opponents for mages to take on head-on, although barring the Relic Hunter aren’t really good at non-melee combat and unorthodox tactics. In fact the new monsters suffer from being unimaginative melee brutes, the Synthetic Blooded being a notable exception.

Final Thoughts: When I first saw the pitch for Legacy of Mana I was very excited. The idea of a Lawful Evil empire of knights with magic-draining swords hit all the Epic High Fantasy spots for me. In a way, it is still delivering on that core concept, although for various reasons my enthusiasm has waned. There’s no doubt that part of this likely influenced my review of this work, although I’ve done my best to review the product as it is and not the process that went into it.

Legacy of Mana is...okay. It is not a terrible book, either mechanically or aesthetically. The art is serviceable if a bit static, and while there are various unbalanced options there is a standard of quality that runs through the book in the creation of races, class archetypes, and other rules. But even so, there are numerous cracks in the foundation. For instance, the nonsensical revisions that took out many important and interesting parts from the prior version of the book, or the frequent mentioning of people, places, and things that indicate something of import but don’t permeate naturally through the rest of the setting. We don’t exactly know Trahlyle’s end-game and why someone who is a mage would want to destroy the world’s mana supply. In spite of the emphasis on a chaotic world with roving warbands there’s a larger than usual number of otherwise idyllic or conflict-lacking realms. And even in cases where conflict is to be had, said the material is undetailed to the point that the GM must make up their own warriors and factions jockeying for territory. The conflict centers on the Iltherian Empire to a large extent, but we don’t have much mention of rivalries between other power groups beyond the vaguest of terms: which houses of Blooded hate each other’s guts, for example? The Silver Swords and Vanguard are mentioned at having tension, but what exactly are they butting heads on? The setting is very bog-standard in checking off fantasy cliches, which I may find forgivable if it had more material to work with, but as it stands that makes it harder to stick out from the crowd.

Legacy of Mana is a focused setting, in that it is built for a certain kind of campaign: fight the evil empire, return the exiled mage-kings to their thrones, and help repair the environment’s ley lines in doing so. The various new options for player characters point to a more heroic vibe, from the races to the class archetypes, and being a more antihero or “take what you can warlord” or political intrigue is not in line with the Epic High Fantasy feel. That can be a strength in a way over a kitchen sink approach. But as of now we have more of a toolkit world to emulate this, and one that unfortunately seems to have lost just as much as it gained.

Legacy of Mana has a promising idea, and part of me hopes that it can grow into something truly great. In spite of the abandoned KickStarter the author still has a fondness for the world, running sessions set in it on his YouTube channel to this day. As one who saw the very, very rough initial 2017 PDF release as a backer I can say that the later versions have come quite far. However, there’s not a lot that can make me choose this campaign over something like Dragonlance, which warts and all has more material to work with in the Epic High Fantasy subgenre. For now, I can take solace in my review, ensuring that this work is not forgotten to the annals of crowdfunded vaporware.