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New Warlock Invocations
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 17:05:48

Four pages of new Warlock invocations and two pages of a new Fighter archtype, the Hexblade. The Hexblade obviously gets some ability from the Pact of the Blade Warlock, but some martial ability as well. The artist is not listed, but I found his work here: http://rodimus25.deviantart.com/art/Fantasy-Warlock-
-174156589



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
New Warlock Invocations
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Glamour Mage Class
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 17:00:10

This one is nice since it comes in both screen and print ready versions. While not exactly a witch, it covers a lot of the same ground. Spellcasting is like a warlocks and a emphasis is given on glamour and flashy spells. There is actually quite an interesting and unique class here and one I'd like to try playing. Maybe an NPC would work well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Glamour Mage Class
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Spells of the Unapproachable East
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 16:54:26

This collects various spells that have appeared in some Forgotten Realms books in previous editions focusing on the lands of Thay, Aglarond, Rashemen, Thesk and the Great Dale. If these names do not mean anything to you, don't worry, I only am vaguely aware of them myself. The point here is that there are a lot of "new" spells for you. The spells comprise the last 8 pages. Some are familiar enough to me just because I have been playing for 36+ years, but some are new to me. Twelve pages for a buck (or less) is not a bad deal really.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spells of the Unapproachable East
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The Shaman - A New Take
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 16:48:59

This class has spellcasting foci, like a fetish or idol, which gives it a nice feel. Wisdom is the spellcasting ability. This class also has some spirit based powers that are interesting. The relationship here is similar to the cleric and druid is similar to the Sorcerer-Wizard-Warlock one. I think I would have liked to have seen this class use something more like the Warlock style spellcasting to be honest, but what is here works fine. IT's a good class, but I am left want more.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Shaman - A New Take
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Witch Class
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 16:37:43

This witch is more like a warlock, but that is what it is advertised as. These witches appear to be manipulators of Fate. These witches also use Wisdom as their spell casting ability. Instead of pacts or traditions this witch has "Heritages"; the Traditionalist, the Blighted, and the Clarivoyant. Each one gives the witch some different sorts of powers. Ends with a spell list.
At six pages it seems a bit thin, but does exactly what it said it was going to do.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Witch Class
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Witch Class (5e)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 16:31:10

I rather like this one. The layout is really nice, very professional. The witches here as presented as natural spell-casters; learning through natural ability and experiences. Wisdom is the spellcasting ability for this witch and are natural Ritual Spellcasters. This witch also has a number of witch traditions; fey, hedge and shadow. All provide the witch with background and provide some powers. This witch also can assume animal shape and has a spirit kin; something like a spirit animal. There is a list of spells, but no real new ones.

There are a lot of great ideas in this one to be honest.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witch Class (5e)
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Witch Class, D&D 5e (inspired by Dragon #114 witch)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2016 16:22:04

I love the art for this one, but the background image makes it harder to read and difficult to print. He starts with a bit of history of the witch in D&D, but I am not sure if the author knows how far back this class actually goes. That's fine the focus here is on the Dragon #114 witch.

This witch uses both Intelligence and Charisma for spellcasting and is a divine spellcaster. There is a distinction between White and Black magic witches. I like the "A Blessing and a Curse" idea here. It's a nice touch. The witches also get a lot of powers in addition to their spells. Some, like the candle magic powers, really do invoke the memories of the old Dragon Magazine witch. There are even 5 new spells. I had hoped that since this was inspired by the Dragon witch that there would be High Secret Order spells too, but the author did not include those.
There are some good ideas here.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Witch Class, D&D 5e (inspired by Dragon #114 witch)
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The Thaumaturge
Publisher: DYS Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 08:16:14

I am a sucker for new classes, especially magic-using classes. So I was very pleased to hear that Matthew Skail was releasing a new class designed to replace the magic-user in OSR games.
The Thaumaturge is a 20-level spell casting class in 10 pages for any OSR-like game.


The main feature of the titular class is their non-Vancian spell casting system. Now I will admit that I am a fan of Vancian magic. It is part and parcel of playing D&D in my mind. That being said I have experimented with a number of non-Vancian and spell-point enabled systems over the years. But I keep coming back to Vancian magic. The Thaumatuge is a well thought out class though and the system has merit. There is a bit of 3.0 in this class' DNA, namely extensive use of the ability modifiers, but not so much as to drive away die hard Grognards.


The class is well written and could easily be dropped into any OSR game. In fact I think such things should be encouraged; different lands should have different types of magics.


The main feature of this class though is not just the spell-point system, but rather a system that gives the magic-user the means to do some dice-rolling just like the melee types. Having seen this more in 4th and 5th edition for arcane types, this is not something to be underestimated. People love to roll the dice to see if they hit or, in this case, a spell's success. There is even something in this that I normally call a "repeated casting modifier" (called Overcasting here). The idea of the "Mastered Spell" is also a nice one. Again, nothing we all have not seen elsewhere, but still nice to have in one place.


Since this is designed to replace the standard Magic-User it still uses Intelligence as the primary ability. I think though a strong case could be made to replace that with Charisma and make it a unique class. They can use the same spells as the Magic-user does, much like how the magic-user and elf can in Basic, or the Wizard and Sorcerer in 3rd edition.


There are also a couple of new spells and some new magic items. All for less money than a 20oz bottle of soda and a bag of chips.


There are some formatting issues with the document. Page numbers would also be nice and I'd put in a manual page break over Optional Rules.


Thoughts on Expansion
While reading this I could not help but think that is actually two classes. First, there is the stated design goal, an augmentation of the magic-user class. But there is also a completely new class here as well. We can call them the Thaumaturgic Wizard and the Thaumaturge respectively. Now on paper there is no real difference here, but the concept opens up new possibilities.
The Thaumaturgic Wizard implies there can be Thaumaturgic Clerics, Thaumaturgic Illusionists or even a Thaumaturgic Witch.

The Thaumaturge, however, is a different sort of caster. To go with the dictionary definition of Thaumaturgy you would almost need to add a little bit of clerical power to them without necissarily invoking some diety. Or at least a couple of the cleric's spells. Again, I'd base his spellcasting ability on Charisma at this point and make him something like a counterpoint to the witch.


This class as written would also gain some benefit from some of the ritual casting as presented in Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos. If you use spell points then places of power is a nice logical extension.


I have to say there is a lot of ideas here, certainly more than it's page count suggests.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Thaumaturge
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Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos
Publisher: DOM Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2016 15:13:34

The newest supplement for Dark Albion is now out, Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos. With a name like that how can I possibly say no?


A bit of history, I worked with author Dominique Crouzet quite a bit back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I know what sort of thing he likes (or at least liked) in this area, so I know I was going to be pre-disposed to like this. Kasimir Urbanski is also the author and his contributions were going to be a bit more of a mystery. But I liked Dark Albion so my expectations were pretty good. Like Dark Albion, this book can be played with any flavor of D&D you like. It is simple enough and light enough on the "crunch" it can actually be played with just about any RPG really. While reading I Was thinking about it in terms of Pendragon, Cthulhu Britanica and other games.


Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos is the cults and cult-like groups book for the Dark Albion campaign setting/rules. The book itself is 92 pages (94 with covers). This includes 2 pages of character sheets, a cult sheet and the ogl. Minus title page and various bits we are looking at 80+ pages of solid content.
The art is all black and white and is a mix of newer art and woodcut designs. I am rather fond of the woodcuts myself, I love seeing these in books. I recognize a number of pieces as belonging to Dominique; so he is one of the artists as well as one of the authors.
The first part of the book deals with the cults. In particular their size, composition, what social class they come from (very important really) and of course their motivations and where their secret lair might be. Life of the cultist within the cult is also detailed to a degree. Enough anyway to get you thinking more about them. In particular what they do in the cult, why they might have joined and possible mutations. That one needs some more explaining.
Some cults are so exposed to the forces of Chaos that their cultist can begin to mutate. A great idea that I am glad to see here. Dom and I did something similar for Warlocks back in my 3.0 edition of my Witch book. So immediately I grabbed on that as something to use. The idea though has a lot of traction. There are similar ideas in Lamentations of the Flame Princess and I believe Dungeon Crawl Classics.
The next section covers running advnetures involving these cults. Obviously these cults are not menat to be a one-time adversary. They are meant to be reoccuring antagonists and potentially even the "Big Bads" of your game. This includes a number of NPCs, mostly normal level humans, that are involved in the their cults. Don't assume though that "0 Level" = powerless. Nobility wield a lot of power regardless of level, a noble in a cult can be very bad for a party of adventurers.
I might as well acknowledge the inclusion of the "Frog Cults". I still think "Frogland" is kind of dumb to be honest, but I don't mind these cults at all. In fact wasn't "Temple of the Frog" the first real adventure played in D&D and certainly one of the first ever published. The "Keepers of the Frogs" from Blackmoor could certainly fit as a DA cult.


Packed amongst all of this information are also tables of rumors and other information PCs can learn. I thought of this as the "Scooby Doo" section of the book; the PCs split up and search for clues.


We next get some sample cults and some examples of some cults in various dungeon settings. These are split up into low, medium and high level.


The appendicies are very interesting and include a section on Elves in Albion. This section reminded me a bit of a similar direction given in Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum. Indeed, one could use both books together to get a large, more detailed picture of the elves/fae/sidhe. DA tends to be low-fantasty compared to the C&S High(er) Fantasy. Still in niether case are these "D&D Elves", they still have more incommon with the likes Obereon, Titania and Puck than Tanis or Legolas.


The next appendix details a score cults of various types. All ready to drop in your game. The last appendix details sorcerery and chaos and the strange things that can happen when they mix.
We end with a cult creation sheet and a character sheet. The character sheet should be offered for free download, I think people would like it.


All in all a fun book. There is nothing here we have not seen before in one form or another, but to have it all one place with this particular presentation is great. I am reminded a bit of the old Witches and Pagans book from White Wolf that covered similar territory. I even pulled out my Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade to see if this would work well enough with it. It would take some work, but it could be done.


What strikes me most is how easiy it is to integrate this into any game you like. The crunch that exsists is easily converted. Since a lot of the die rolling deals with tables and their results, conversion is a simple process.


I mentioned in the past that Dark Albion is particularily friendly to Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Using a page from DA:CoC one could easily add DA style elves (and of course their cults) into the world of AS&SH. AS&SH style witches and warlocks seem particularily suited for the the chaos magic of DA.


In the end I thought this was a fun purchase. Glad to have it and glad to mine some ideas from it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos
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Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 15:02:54

A while back I reviewed the Crimson Dragon Slayer game. I had some nitpicks with it but overall I liked it. This new Crimson Dragon Slayer, version 1.11, is a little different. IT is free, and if you bought the old one you can also get a combine version for the price of a click.


This "new" game streamlines CDS into a game that can be setup, taught and play begins in one hour.Not a small feat really. The new game distils everything that made the first CDS different and makes it work. The die system revolves around a d6 set of rolls, sometime 1d6, 2d6 or 3d6 (or even a 4d6) depending on the difficulty or even the new 0d6.


Everything is stipped down. Three basic races (human, elf, dwarf) and four classes (warrior, cleric, wizard, thief). Everything from combat to leveling up is designed to be simple. I see the same design philosophy here that I see in other stream-lined games. There is enough here to really attach some very interesting ideas to not counting the built in campaign view. There is even a simple 3-page adventure to get your characters from level 1 to level 2.


There is still some work that needs to be done before this is a full product but so far there is a lot of promise here. I am very interested in seeing where this goes and what sort of options are available for higher levels. Right now the game is very fast and open and has a lot of potential.


For the right crowd of gamers this would make for a great afternoon diversion and for others it would become their game of choice. For the price you really can't beat it.


I think there are somethings here (and the promise of others) that I could steal for my own OSR games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11
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Baby Bestiary Handbook Vol 1
Publisher: Metal Weave Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 14:37:34

Andreas Walters has put together a fantastic book that is part monster manual, part field guide, part ecology book and a huge part art book.


The book is a densely packed 81 full-color pages. Easily one of the best-looking books to be nominated for an ENnie. Each monster description comes with details on what the young of each monster is called (a baby Hippocampus is known as a "fry" for example), how hard it is to train the young and other vital facts such as danger and intelligence levels.


The book would make for a great coffee table book really and I hope there is a nice leatherbound option in the future collecting both volumes.
Of course, the obvious choice here is the older gamer that has kids that LOVE monster books.
I have forgotten how many times I have had to go on rescue missions to my kids rooms to find my D&D books. I still have a Pathfinder book that I can't account for in fact! For younger kids a "baby monster" game, ala Pokemon, gotta catch them all, would be fantastic.
Since there is little to no "crunch" in this book it is compatible with a wide variety of games. Play your favorite game, use this book as your guide and go monster hunting with your kids.


In any case, this is a really fun book and I am really looking forward to Volume 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baby Bestiary Handbook Vol 1
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Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Publisher: Growling Door Games, Inc.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/14/2016 12:06:39

M love for Chill is WELL documented. When everyone else was playing Call of Cthulhu (and watching their characters go mad or die) I was playing Chill (and watching my characters die). Or more to the point I was creating elaborate scenarios involving SAVE. I loved Pacesetter Chill and even drove out to the old Mayfair Games warehouse to score a brandnew hardcover a few years back. I own pretty much everything for Chill and even Rotworld/Cryptworld/Majus.


On to the product as hand.
Chill: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a 46 page "Quickstart". It has everything you need to play the game now except for people, dice and some tokens. Don't have 10-sided dice? Fine, get a deck of cards, remove the royals, put all the black suits in one deck and all the red in another. Shuffle them. When you need to roll choose a black card and a red card. Count tens as "0" and aces as "1". Save the face cards, the royals, for your tokens.


With this Quickstart author +Matthew McFarland has distilled Chill down to it's essence. It's a game about fighting the Unknown. There are a couple of pages devoted to the mechanics of the game; find a target number, roll that or under. Avoid botches (doubles over) but hope for a Colossal Success (roll doubles and under). Tokens are also covered.


An overview of the character sheet comes next breaking down the Attributes, Skills, Edges, Drawbacks and where you record damage. There is also a spot for The Art, or some magical/psychic abilities. This edition seems to focus a bit more on this than the previous, normal-human-centric point of view of the previous, but that will wait for a full reveiw.


This makes up the first half-dozen or so pages. The next dozen covers Combat and The Art. Combat is just another type of test/roll and The Art are "fancy" skills. The nice thing is when one system is learned the rest are easily picked up.


The rest of the book is the adventure. I don't want to give out any spoilers for potential players, but the adventure is a classic one for Chill. What kind of adventures are good for Chill? Well anything you might see on "Supernatural", "Grimm", "Kolchak" or "The X-Files" would make for a great Chill game, but also the stories you told as kids about the haunted house, or the mean old neighbor lady or the monster in the sewers.


The quickstart includes some characters to get you up and running fast. There are maps, artifacts and investigation sheet to make this feel like a real investigation into the paranormal, or what Chill calls The Unknown. Enough background is given on SAVE to make it interesting and to make you want to know more.


For the price you can't beat it. If you ever told a scary story to others with a flashlight under your chin, dared a friend to go into a "haunted house" or watched a Hammer Horror film then this is a great game for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
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Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
Publisher: Moebius Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2016 12:58:48

The Vile Witch is the newest class for Mazes & Perils.
Before I talk about the class I want to give a shout out to cover artist Jacob Blackmon. Another great witchy creation from him.


The Vile Witch is a 14 page book (cover, 2 pages of OGL, 1 page of ads, 1 title page for 9 pages of content) dedicated to the new vile witch spell caster. This is a character that revels in what others throw away. It immediately reminded me of the Junk Lady in the movie Labyrinth AND Maja the witch from Adventure Time; she is the witch that buys Marceline's teddy bear Hambo for its memories. The idea is that there is power in memories and power in items that have been associated with others. It's a powerful archetype really and one with a LOT of potential.
But because the witch is so often mired in the refuse of others her appearance and form suffers.


The class has a lot of interesting features and powers in addition to some new spells and familiars. Vile Witches are limited to 9th level. I think I see why, but I would try them to 10th or 12th like the other spell casting classes. Though she does have more powers (familiars and "vile blood") as well as a quicker spell advancement.
The book has both "vile familiars" and "common familiars". Common familiars can be used by any spell casting class, the vile ones are for the vile witch. The rules are simple, as befitting the M&P game, and easy to use. If you want familiar rules then this is a good choice to be honest even if you never use the class itself.
The book also contains 19 new vile witch spells. While these spells could be used with any other magic using class, they are very specific to the vile witch and really give her a lot of flavor and color.


For just under $2 there is a lot of material here. It is a very different sort of witch and I like that. I am certain that this class will make for some great NPCs and hopefully some really great PCs as well.


What I kept thinking while reading it was that a Vile Witch dedicated to the Goddess, Tlazolteotl would be a good idea. She could even be "good" or Lawfully aligned. Something like a "Sin Eater". Her job is to make good things happen by "eating" the bad things.
Only a thought, but it would be how I'd play the class.


In any case this is a really original twist on the witch and one I really like.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
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AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/05/2016 09:41:23

"The D&D and AD&D games are actually different games." p.74, The Book of Marvelous Magic.
This was not the first time I had read this, and by 1985 I had moved away from the D&D game to AD&D, it was still interesting to read this. Back then we freely mixed the two systems without so much as a care.

So it was with some confusion then that when I picked up AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic that is proudly stated it was for the D&D AND AD&D games. This was only emphasized more with the very first magic item listed, the Alternate World Gate. AD&D was treated on the same level as Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and Boot Hill.


Confusion of compatibility issues aside, The Book of Marvelous Magic became one of my favorite and most frustrating D&D accessories. Favorite because at this time I was serious into working on my witch class for AD&D/D&D and I was looking for guidelines on how magic items should be created. I didn't find that here, but I did find a lot of inspiration. Also, there were a lot of magic items in this book that later would become rather important in my own games for the next 2-3 years.
Frustrating because I never could get my gaming groups to embrace this book like I did. I think it something to do with the punny names of the some of the items. I now know that this was just something that was going on at the TSR offices back then (see I6 Ravenloft), but it made it difficult to take the book seriously at times.


The authors are listed as Frank Mentzer with Gary Gygax, but I think we all knew at the time that Mentzer did the lions-share of work on this. The book covers the same span of characters (and same span of publication) of the Mentzer penned Basic, Expert and Companion Rules. Living in my small town in Illinois I think this might have been the first reference I saw to the Companion ruleset. Reading this book I am thinking that the Companion rules had just been written and the Master Rules had not. There are no references to the Master Rules and in places, the rules seem to put 36 at the top of the character achievement and in others, it was 26.


So what does this book have? Well, there are over 500 new (at the time) magic items spanning 76 pages of text. The cover art is from none other than Clyde "I'll have the thigh" Caldwell and really grabbed my attention. Not like that (though I was 15 at the time) but because she looked like a bad ass witch.


The magic items are divided by type, so for example under Armband there are five listed magical Armbands. When a magic item needs to be listed, such a Bag of Holding, it is listed with a "see D&D Basic Set".


The book did raise the question in our groups of who was creating all these magic items? That was never fully answered here or really anywhere for a couple more decades. We opted that most of these were in fact fairly unique items. So there were not a lot of "Buttons of Blasting" out there, but maybe one or two at best.


There are a few magic items here that I still have not seen in other (future) versions of D&D, so it is worth it just for those. It is also a great insight to the mid 80s D&D, a time when TSR was on top of the world, right before the big shakeup. Also at the time I enjoyed tthis book, but largely ignored Mentzer's magnum-opus BEMCI D&D. Reviewing both now as an adult I see I did all these books a large disservice.


What is in these books that gamers of today can use? Well in truth, LOTS.
Really. The book might as well say "Compatible with 5th Edition D&D" on the cover. Hell. Change the trade dress and you could almost republish it as is with little editing. Yeah remove references to Basic, Expert and Companion. Change some of the spell casting descriptions, but otherwise this is still a gem today as it was 30 years ago.


Time to re-introduce the Collar of Stiffness to my games!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
Publisher: 00Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/28/2016 10:06:03

Baba Yaga is one of the those great villians/NPCs that has been back for every generation of the World's Greatest Fantasy Role-Playing Game and likely always will. I recently ran a 5th ed conversion of the 2nd ed module "Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" and this worked great. Well...and least in theory. The palyers were smart enough not to make Baba Yaga angry and instead did her a service. Still it was good to know I had these.


The book is 7 pages. Minus 1 for cover, 1 for a full page of art (which I liked), and 1 for the OGL you have 4 pages of solid D&D5 stats. More detailed than a monster entry (as it should be) there are plenty of ideas in-text to use. The best idea is of course do what you can to keep her from attacking the party! CR 26 yes, but also spell use, phyiscal attacks and magic items of unique properties. These stats live up to her legacy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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