The Ultimate Adventurer's Handbook
by Benjamin Huffman, Ross Leiser, Willy Abeel, Leon Barillaro, Lyde Van Hoy, Amber Litke, Proxy Bacchus Quick, Tyler “Walrock” Reed, Sean vas Terra, Matthew Whitby and Jasmine Yang

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First Thoughts​

 

With 9 new races, 100+  new subclasses, 30+ new feats, 150+ new spells, 10+ new weapons, 100+ new magic items, and, 40+ new spell catalysts there's something for every type of adventurer.  And while this book is player-focused these new additions to 5e are rife with inspiration for new adventures and other worldbuilding for DMs.

Character Races

There are 9 new races: Beastfolk, Grimalkin, Half-Dwarf, Kilnkin, Lemurian, Oculus, Ratter, Saurian. All nine have new and unique abilities and lore tied to them but let's check out my two favorites.

KILNKIN

The mystical and alchemical processes that allow kilnkin to gain sentience require specific dimensions: all kilnkin are exactly 5 feet tall and weigh 150 pounds upon creation. Their bodies are predominantly made of red, blue, or yellow clay. Their eyes burn with the ongoing alchemical fire that animates them, and their bodies are covered in indentations of runic patterns, within which flows metallic liquids.

After the sentience of a kilnkin is catalyzed, they are free to modify their bodies as they wish. Kilnkin often create ornamental pottery to adorn themselves with and paint their bodies in bright colors. Kilnkin can also modify their body by incorporating clays and alchemical reagents other than those they were created with. These kilnkin exhibit a patchwork of colors or, more rarely, a blend of them.


All kilnkin share the following traits.
Ability Score Increase. Kilnkin are a diverse people with natural strength and talents dictated by their mote and anima. One ability score of your choice that is increased by your mote or anima subrace increases by an additional 1.

Age. Kilnkin reach maturity quicker than many other races, reaching full maturity at the age of 5. The oldest kilnkin rarely live beyond 100 years.

Alignment. A traditional people, most Kilnkin are lawful. They tend towards good or neutral. 

Size. What variation exists between the kilnkin is entirely dependent on their dress, behavior, and body modifications. The alchemical process that animates them requires all kilnkin to stand exactly 5 feet tall and weigh 150 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your basic walking speed is 30.

Alchemical Resilience. Your alchemical physiology renders you exceptionally hardy to many dangers. You have resistance against poison damage and have advantage on saving throws against poison. Additionally, you are immune to disease.

Exceed Mortal Limits. As a bonus action on your turn, you can cause the alchemical processes animating you to grant you the ability to exceed mortal limitations. For the next minute, you ignore the effects of any exhaustion levels you have. At the end of this minute, you gain a level of exhaustion. Once you use this trait, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Progenitor’s Expertise. You have proficiency with alchemist’s supplies and potter’s tools. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either proficiency.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Primordial.

Subraces. Each kilnkin is an intersection between their primary material components, represented by their mote subrace, and those of their primary animating alchemical substance, represented by their anima subrace. Choose one mote subrace and one anima subrace.

 

I'm a HUGE fan of Warforged and Kilnkin definitely exists within the same niche as Warforged even though their origins are definitely less violence-based. I think from a narrative standpoint if a world has Warforged and Kilnkin there are a lot of existential discussions that can be had between the two races and about the two races to flesh out worldbuilding. Their short lifespan compared to Warforged, unknown at this point, is also good philosophical discussion fuel.

From a mechanical standpoint the race and subraces, buy the book to check them out, are flavorful and mostly well balanced in regards to other 5e classes so dropping this in your game won't cause any issues. The one thing I am unclear about from a design perspective is the ASI, essentially you get a +2 to the skill from your subrace, which departs from the 2/1 or 1/1/1 that races have so that is something to keep an eye on for players that pick this!

SAURIAN

 

Saurians tower over other humanoid races. The size of the saurian race is proof, saurians say, of their mandate of rulership over the younger races and their connection to the primordial origins of the world. When their footfalls shake the earth and echo off the hills, even the skeptical are inclined to give their point consideration. Their appearance is further evidence of their ancient and titanic origins. All saurians resemble the behemoths commonly believed by scholars to have ruled the world in prehistoric times. Different saurian subraces resemble different species of behemoths but all are covered with a scaled or feathered hide, possess large black eyes, and have a tail.

Your saurian shares an inheritance of traits and abilities with other saurians, passed down by your ancestors since time immemorial.
Age. Saurians mature slower than humans do, reaching maturity at the age of 100, and can live up to a thousand years.
Alignment. Saurians are creatures of habit and custom and are almost always lawful. Saurians have an even temperament and a dislike for trouble, making them disinclined toward good or evil.
Size. Saurians are between 6 to 8 feet tall and weigh between 350 and 450 lbs. A saurian’s size varies by subrace with Pteradas being the smallest and lightest, Plesios being the tallest, and Ankylos being the heaviest. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30.
Intimidating Size. You have advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks made against creatures of your size and smaller.
Long Memory. You have proficiency in the History skill.
Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Draconic. The saurian dialect of Draconic is obvious to other speakers of the language and unless you learn Draconic again from another source, your speech in Draconic will always be notable for its saurian idiosyncrasies.
Subrace. Saurian society is divided into castes primarily determined by a saurian’s subraces. Ankylos are expected to become a member of the military or city guard. Deinony serve their people as ambassadors and traveling merchants. Plesios are depended on as farmers and explorers of saurian society. Pteradas are known for their creativity and expertise as artisans. Sarchos are found almost exclusively in coastal cities
and often make up whatever naval forces a saurian citystate has. Triceras are encouraged to become scholars and bureaucrats. Tyrannos are the leaders of saurian society, as likely to be feared as they are admired.

TWO WORDS: DINOSAUR PEOPLE. I'm a huge proponent for more anthropomorphic races based on actual animals found in the real world and of course the game so dinosaur people were a top pick right off the top. 

Again unsurprising this is a well-balanced race and the subraces add additional flavor that isn't just superficial. I again want to highlight the world-building aspect of this race. Built into the class is a long recollection of history and the ability to have lived through many events. Usually, elves take the place of long-lived races but having elves and an additional race that lives even longer than them and specifically recalls ancient history could result in interesting interracial 

Adventuring Paths

There are 100+ new subclasses spread between all of the official classes in 5e and the following popular classes from the Dmsguild: Accursed, Blood Hunter, Pugilist. Every single class had at least one subclass that I really liked but 15 subclasses is a lot to show in this review so we'll take a look at two: Oblex Impostor for the Sorcerer and Commerce Domain for the Cleric.

COMMERCE DOMAIN

The Commerce domain values trade, proper management of resources, and entrepreneurship above all else, believing a healthy economy is the best path to create a more perfect world. Gods of commerce and trade — including Gond, Kol Korran, and Waukeen — promote enterprise and the development of marketable crafts and skills. Some clerics of this domain, however, eschew the worship of gods to instead focus their faith on the almighty coin, believing that wealth is the best resource for enacting lasting change and living long, happy, and healthy lives.

Regardless of what gods, or lack thereof, clerics of this domain worship, they are always on the hunt for the best deal, and travel the planes marketing their talents as healers and appraisers. In larger cities, temples of Commerce are often found offering a variety
of services: from the standard spellcasting services of healing and revival, to the exchange of goods and coin, to the selling of magical tinctures, to high-risk venture capitalist groups in which others can invest their money.

Domain Spells
You gain domain spells at the cleric levels listed.

Commerce Domain Spells

1st comprehend languages, identify
3rd locate object, zone of truth
5th part and parcel UAH, tongues
7th Leomund’s secret chest, locate creature
9th greater restoration, raise dead

Blessings of Commerce
When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain the mending cantrip if you don’t already know it, and you can use a money pouch or coin purse as a holy symbol.

Instant Gratification 
Also starting at 1st level, you can bypass the lengthy process of haggling for mundane items and wealth by converting goods to coins and vice versa. As an action, you can use this feature for one of the following effects: 
» You magically transform a nonmagical object you’re touching into its monetary worth in coins. For example, a mundane longsword you transform this way becomes 15 gp.
» You magically transform a number of coins you’re touching into a nonmagical object worth an amount equal to or less than the net value of the coins you transform. For example, you can transform 2 or more cp into an ink pen, or at least 1,500 gp into a set of plate mail. This feature has no effect on objects or coins belonging to an unwilling creature. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Channel Divinity:
Irrefusable Offer

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to bribe a creature into changing the way it attacks. When a hostile creature you can see within 30 feet makes an attack against you or one of your allies, you can use your reaction to cause 5 gp to appear at the creature’s feet. If the creature can see the gold, it changes the target of the attack to another target of your choice within range of the attack, other than itself. If there are no other valid targets within range, the creature loses the attack. This feature has no effect on creatures that are immune to the charmed condition, or that place no value in gold or money, such as creatures of Intelligence 4 or lower.

Liquid Assets
Once you reach 6th level, whenever you cast a spell requiring a specific material component with an indicated cost, you can expend a number of coins you possess with net worth equal to half the indicated cost, instead of presenting the component.

Potent Spellcasting
Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.

 

Adventure Capitalist
Starting at 17th level, you can use your Instant Gratification an unlimited number of times. Additionally, as an action, you can magically transform a number of coins you’re touching into a potion you’ve tasted worth an amount equal to or less than the net worth of the coins you transform. You use half the minimum values (rounded up) in the Magic Item Rarity table in Chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide to determine how much a potion of a given rarity is worth. For example, you can transform 51 or more gp into a potion of uncommon rarity, such as a potion of greater healing. This feature has no effect on objects or coins belonging to an unwilling creature. The number of existing potions you created with this feature cannot exceed your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1). If you create a potion beyond this number, another potion of your choice that you created this way expires and becomes inert.

 

Listen. I have a love-hate relationship with the commerce and economy of D&D. Hate that it doesn't actually exist in any meaningful way, love to think and work on ways to fix that. So you can imagine why I would LOVE a subclass around commerce! 

All of these abilities are pretty cool but the Instant Gratification and Adventure Capitalist abilities are what really catches my eye! I think that the ability to directly turn coin into a non-magical or magical item is so useful during travel and exploration. At least for my games the visits to civilization can be few and far between so this fixes a problem I've run into before.

OBLEX IMPOSTER

For most of your existence, you believed yourself to be a normal humanoid. You may have begun to smell of sulfur that you could never clean off, had more trouble seeing at a distance but greater ease seeing in dark spaces, and discovered that you have a bit more
respect for how dangerous fire can be, but otherwise everything seemed normal and everyone around you soon got used to your quirks.


One day, though, you were injured and discovered that what lies beneath your false skin is not musculature, bones, or blood, but living slime. You aren’t who you believed yourself to be; you’re an ooze simulacrum created by an oblex and imbued with the memories and personality of a creature the oblex drained, made for the purpose of hunting the memories of others for the oblex’s continued sustenance. After the discovery, you managed to break the tether attaching you to your creator without being destroyed yourself, and have begun exploring the properties of your new form. Your innate magic comes from being a memory-eating ooze, and you may have begun adventuring to take vengeance on your creator or to discover what happened to your original self.


Oblex Spawn
Starting at 1st level, you count as being an ooze, in addition to any other creature type you have. You have blindsight to a range of 60 feet, but are blind beyond this radius. If you take fire damage, you can’t regain hit points until the end of your next turn.

Eat Memories
Also starting at 1st level, you can consume the memories of other creatures. As an action, you can attempt to eat the memories of a creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. Constructs, oozes,
plants, and undead automatically succeed on the saving throw. On a failed save, the creature becomes memory drained until it finishes a short or long rest or until it benefits from a greater restoration or heal spell. 

While memory drained, the target must roll a memory drain die — which is a d4 — and subtract the number rolled from any ability check or attack roll it makes. At the end of each of its turns, a memory drained creature can repeat the saving throw, ending the memory drain early for itself on a successful save.

Additionally, when you memory drain a creature, you gain the ability to speak, read, and write each language the creature does until you memory drain a different creature. You retain the creature’s languages even after the memory drain effect has ended for it.

Once you memory drain a creature, you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest, or until you expend a spell slot to use it again. The memory drain die increases in size when you reach certain levels in this class: to a d6 at 6th level, d8 at 14th level, and d10 at 18th level.


Picky Eater
Starting at 6th level, when you memory drain a creature, you can spend 2 sorcery points to probe the creature’s mind for a specific memory. You learn which skills and tools the creature is proficient in, as well as what spells it knows if any. Choose one of the
following effects:
» You specify an event that you believe the creature experienced and that lasted no longer than 10 minutes. If the creature has a memory of the event, you gain the memory as though you lived through it.
» You gain proficiency in one skill or tool in which the creature is proficient until you use this feature to gain a new proficiency.
» You learn one spell the creature knows that is of a level you can cast. As long as you know it, it counts as a sorcerer spell for you, and doesn’t count against the number of sorcerer spells you know. You lose the spell if you use this feature to learn a new spell.


Sulfurous Clone
Also at 6th level, you learn to manipulate your biology to create slime clones of your own. Over the course of 1 minute, during which you must maintain your concentration (as though concentrating on a spell), you extrude a piece of yourself into an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you. It coalesces into an exact duplicate of yourself or of a Medium or smaller creature who you’ve memory drained in the last 24 hours. For all practical purposes, this slime clone is you, meaning you occupy your space and its space simultaneously and it uses your statistics. It appears, feels, and sounds exactly like the creature it impersonates, though it smells faintly of sulfur. The slime clone moves as you
choose during your turn, and you can cast spells, take actions, use reactions, and use your racial traits and class features from the slime clone’s position.

 

The slime clone is tethered to you by a strand of slime that can extend up to 120 feet away from your body. The slimy tether is immune to damage, but it is severed if there is no opening at least 1 inch wide between you and the clone. The clone collapses into a pool of inanimate slime if the tether is severed, you dismiss the clone as an action, or if you drop to 0 hit points or die. When you take damage, you can choose to dismiss the slime clone (no action required). You can’t have more than one slime clone at a time.

Gelatinous

At 14th level, you gain greater control of the ooze that makes up your body. You can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing. Additionally, whenever your slime clone would take damage, you can use your reaction to dismiss it, preventing you from taking the damage.

Elder Oblex

Starting at 18th level, you can now have a number of slime clones up to your Charisma modifier (minimum two). When you use the reaction granted by your Gelatinous feature, you can dismiss any number of your slime clones.

I really like this Sorcerous Origin, since I do believe there need to be more subclasses tied to literal monsters rather than "abstract" concepts. This takes all the cool parts of an Oblex and presents it to the players in a way that is fun and pretty balanced.

On the note of balance, I do want to highlight the 6th level ability. It looks like a version of the spell Simulacrum but toned down for the level it's given at. It also doesn't approve to the level Simulacrum as the characters get stronger, which still keeps the spell relevant even for this particular race.

Feats & Spells

Before we get into examples of some of the feats and spells there's something really cool I want to highlight. There are three feats; Dwarf Combat Expert, Elven Combat Expert, and Halfling Combat Expert. They give training in combat orientated towards those three races BUT explicitly state you don't have to be a Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling to take this feat. You could be of any race and raised among those races. That kind of game design really excites me so I wanted to point it out.

FOCUSED MULTITASKER

Prerequisite: Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature

You are able to concentrate on two spells simultaneously. When you do, you suffer the following penalties:

» You can’t cast spells or make weapon attacks.

» The minimum DC for Constitution saving throws you make to maintain your concentration when you take damage is 15.

» At the start of each of your turns in combat, you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or lose concentration on your choice of one of the two spells.

There have been many attempts at finding a balanced way to allow characters to concentrate on two spells of their choice. The Tal'Dorei Campaign has a feat, Dual Focused that tries to tackle this problem and I think does a decent job but still allows for some overpowered combos. 

The Focused Multitasker imposes penalties that I think SPECIFICALLY combat the things I thought were a bit overpowered. Being able to have two spell concentrated on then doing whatever the hell you wanted with a third non concentration spell felt a little too much.

ALTRUISTIC SACRIFICE

1st-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch Components: V, S, M (a ritual dagger, which you plunge into your own heart) Duration: Instantaneous

You touch a creature that has died within the last minute and transfer your own life force into it. You immediately die, and that creature returns to life with a number of hit points equal to the hit points you had when you cast this spell. This spell can’t return a creature to life that has died of old age, nor can it restore any missing body parts.

 

At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th through 8th level, you can choose to drop to 0 hit points and begin making death-saving throws instead of immediately dying. If you cast this spell using a 9th-level spell slot, the spell’s range changes to 30 feet, and you can target any number of creatures you can see within range.

The narrative potential of this spell is RIDICULOUS. Like just to touch on the mechanical benefits. This is a spell a druid, paladin, and ranger can cast. A Paladin and Ranger with this first-level spell could revive a downed party member that has higher revivification abilities. 

I'm already imagining a story of love and sacrifice and resurrection off this spell alone. It works great for a backstory event or something that happens during the game and must be corrected.

Equipment & Magic Items

To talk briefly about the equipment before diving into two examples of magic items. So there are 18 new weapons and three new properties; black powder, defensive, and unarmed.  Weapons with the black powder property emits a loud noise and potentially temporarily deafen you. Defensive gives you a +1 to AC if you aren't using a shield and unarmed allows you to use the weapon damage when you do an unarmed strike.

I think the defensive and unarmed property fills a missing niche in the game! Shields with spikes and weapons that enhance unarmed attacks are definitely lacking in 5e and the shields and weapons themselves aren't overpowered. 

Writ of Execution

New Magic Item Category: Spell Catalyst. Spell catalysts can be harvested from certain creatures and magical places. Each alters the effect of a specific spell or spells. To use a spell catalyst, you must have it on your person and you may use any number of spell catalysts on a single spell. Spell catalysts are consumed when used unless their description specifies otherwise.

Spell catalyst, rare

A written order from a ruler or religious leader that gives you the authority to condemn a creature to death. When you cast the banishing smite, blinding smite, branding smite, dispelling smite UAH, reaping smite UAH, searing smite, staggering smite, sundering smite UAH, thundering smite, vengeful smite UAH, warding smite UAH, or wrathful smite spell, you can choose to allow the spell to consume this spell catalyst. When you do, the spell lasts its full duration without requiring your concentration and its initial damage increases by 2d8.

There are over 40 spell catalyst to boost your spells in this book. I was particularly interested in this because it offers a damage boost and boosts the secondary ability of all of these spells, which I think rules as written means the player casting one of those spells could cast a second concentration spell while the original spell is going. Potentially.  

REWARD OF THE PACT CHAMPION

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement by a warlock)

This magic item takes various forms depending on the warlock’s patron. It is granted to warlocks that have been instrumental in their patron achieving their grand ambition, or completed the final task the patron would give the warlock to prove themself. As an action, while holding the item, you can regain one of your expended arcanum spells. This property can’t be used again until you finish a long rest. If the arcanum spell was of 8th or 9th level, this property instead can’t be used again until 7 days have passed. The item also has additional properties based on your Otherworldly Patron.

This legendary item has an additional ability for all official 5e Warlock subclasses plus the new ones in this book. The additional abilities enhance your Warlock subclass features, typically giving additional or limitless uses and some bonuses to related abilities along with a few unique things. 

Final Thoughts

 

This was A LOT to get through. At over 300 pages it's packed full of options for players and story threads to build and pull on for DMs. I can say without a doubt there is something for every single type of player out there in this book. When it say's the Ultimate Adventurer's Handbook, it lives up to the name!  

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