Review – Archetypes by Travis Legge

A Trio of Archetypes

Anyone who has spent any time browsing the DMs Guild over the last 6 months has probably noted the work of Travis Legge – he seems to be putting out mini products at an amazing rate, along with his videos on his Eberron campaign and interviews with DMs Guild creators.

He has also embarked on a crusade to review as many products as humanly possible, which is laudable.

Today I look at three of his recent mini-products – all PWYW Class Archetypes. All three are short, mostly plain text PDFs, though each has a splash of appropriate to semi-appropriate art to give some visual stimulation. Nothing groundbreaking in design here, but aesthetically pleasing enough and better than many PWYW offerings.

 

Order of the Scarred (A Blood Hunter archetype)  

This is an archetype for the Blood Hunter class developed by Matt Mercer (of Critical Role). While not an official class this shouldn’t put off DMs as it is arguably balanced in comparison to the official classes and not overpowered (though I’d gauge it to be on the upper end). It is basically the Witcher, if you are a fan of such things. It is a reasonably complex class however, requiring a level of resource management, and probably not recommended for beginners.

Travis’ take on the class is intriguingly morbid, the archetype being essentially a masochistic warrior that uses damage and misfortune to either help or harm enemies or allies. It treats hit points as a resource to spend in order to manifest various abilities. The Blood Hunter base class does this to an extent, but Travis’ Order of the Scarred dials it up. It’s got some cool powers, including creating a blood Pseudopod to attack enemies, but in my opinion any player will need to be very careful not to imperil themselves in combat by drawing too heavily on an already dwindling resource. Even more so than the original Blood Hunter this archetype is targeted to veterans who can carefully manage their risk of death.

Overall I recommend this archetype if you like the Blood Hunter class mechanics.

You can get this archetype here

 

Way of the Dragon Queen (Monk Tradition)

This is a monk tradition which draws on draconic influences, and is a fairly intuitive affair. It is a similar chassis to the Way of the Elements or Sun Soul type monk traditions, though it does offer a wider variety of abilities that either of them, or really any other monk tradition. Mechanically I don’t think there’s much wrong with the archetype, but I can’t shake the feeling it might be a little overpowered with particular combinations of powers, and the ability to trade out disciplines as you level is something that needs careful consideration.

Finally, and purely aesthetically, naming an ability “Blow of the Blue Dragon” seems…. odd.

I think this archetype has potential, and certainly a great deal of play appeal, but I feel it is definitely up there with the most powerful monk archetypes, if not the most powerful I’ve seen, and should be treated cautiously for power creep.

You can get this tradition here

 

Weird Warden (Ranger Archetype)

Based on the Beast Master ranger, this archetype allows you to tame an ooze or aberration in place of a beast. The Beast Master has long been maligned for being underpowered, and the Weird Warden certainly addresses the perceived power deficit, allowing a companion to be ½ CR instead of ¼ and offering types that have unusual abilities beyond that which beasts can achieve.

The current official sources (Monster Manual and Volos Guide to Monsters) allow for only 4 companions in this CR range – Flumph, Gazer, Gray Ooze or Neogi Hatchling. None of which are earthshaking in statistics, but both the Gazer and the Gray Ooze do have handy abilities that could be potentially abused under the right circumstances.

The other archetype abilities are damage increasers, the 7th level ability adding a +1d6 acid/psychic to one attack and the 11th level ability adding an interesting attack form. Both are flavourful, but the wording on the 11th level ability allows for it to be used in place of an attack in the attack action, so you could theoretically use it plus an energy enhanced weapon attack. The stacking damage of both abilities could mount quickly, and adding in an unusual pet with exceptional abilities this could be considered significant power creep.

Again I urge caution on use. If you fall into the camp that Beast Master rangers need a boost, this might be just what you are looking for. It oozes (pun intended) cool, but be prepared for the archetype to outstrip most others in damage potential, especially if you add Hunter’s Mark and other ranger staples to the mix.

You can get this archetype here

 

Final Rating

It might be unfair to lump these all in together, but as they are short products by the same author I feel that a) it gives us insight to the author’s style and perspective and b) there should be at least an internal consistency to the releases being from the same source.

From a purely mechanics perspective I’d recommend the Order of the Scarred Blood Hunter if you allow Blood Hunters in your game. I’d be cautious in allowing the Way of the Dragon Queen or Weird Warden archetypes respectively unless you trust your players not to exploit them, or you run a higher powered game.

From a conceptual perspective all three are damn cool, and demonstrate potential for fun and rewarding play at the table.

These archetypes were difficult to rate. I really want to give them top marks, as they are slick, easy to use and have great flavour, but I’m always wary of power creep. 5th edition D&D is so very vulnerable to this due to its ruleset mechanics.

Normally I’d give a presentation rating, but for 3-4 page PWYW shorts I feel this is unfair. Instead I’ll just give a content rating of 4 stars, for a total of 4 stars.

The links to each are above, and I should say that even though these are PWYW the work deserves something even if its just 50c. Dont be cheap, tip the author. This goes for all PWYW offerings.

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