With the release of the second Ixalan set, it was about time to get its Plane Shift supplement.
I am late to the party and I’m sorry about that. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really busy these days and I wanted to write this analysis sooner but I couldn’t. Since I don’t want to spend more time complaining about the absence of free time I’ll just move to the good part.
I had the opportunity to play a bit with this set and I was very pleased. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the pre-release of Rivals of Ixalan and the deck I just finished constructing is sitting on the shelf, waiting to hopefully be played in about a month.
Ixalan seems to have a Mesoamerican flavor. There is a powerful native empire and a foreign conquering force. The artwork also supports this claim. Now add dinosaurs, pirates, ancient dungeons, and a couple of fantasy races and you have yourself a pretty interesting setting.
The World of Ixalan
The first thing we are introduced with is the factions in this world. There is the Sun Empire, which is native to the continent of Ixalan. They worship the sun and can control dinosaurs. Pretty badass.
Then there are the River Heralds, who are merfolk nomads and seek to live in harmony with the land. They used to be the dominant faction in the continent before the Sun Empire rose to power.
Now we go to the Legion of Dusk. After conquering their continent they have decided to add Ixalan to their territory. The paladins of the Legion of Dusk are vampires who (un)live to serve eternally and drink the blood of their enemies.
And, last but definitely not least, we have the Brazen Coalition. They used to be sailors that tried to flee from the Legion of Dusk but, when they were driven away by the Sun Empire they decided to just become pirates. Coalition is just a flashy word to describe the loosely affiliated pirate captains.
So what can all these factions possibly have in common in order to tie in this setting? I’m glad you asked. There’s this artifact called the Immortal Sun and every faction wants to do something with it. The Sun Empire want it because they pretty much consider it holy. The Legion of Dusk people believe it’s the secret to unlock true immortality. The River Heralds want to protect it because they believe it’s just to dangerous to wield. And, finally, the pirates of the Brazen Coalition want it because “aaarrrr it’s probably shiny”.
Apart from the descriptions of the factions, in this chapter we get suggested classes, ideals and bonds for each one. There are also a couple of notes that I found interesting. For example, there are a couple of suggestions on how to use a setting that focuses on factions.
The Races of Ixalan
We get six races in this setting. Three of them(Goblins, Merfolk, Vampires) have already been presented in another supplement, Plane Shift: Zendikar, but they are a bit different here.
They can be found in three of the main factions. The stats used are the ones from the Player’s Handbook.
They are the River Heralds. In this plane(shift) they come in two subraces, green and blue. The main Merfolk traits are pretty much the same with the ones in Plane Shift: Zendikar but the subraces differ.
- Ability Score Increase. A nice +1 to Charisma.
- Size. Merfolk are considered medium in the D&D size category but they are really tall.
- Speed. Walking and swimming speed of 30 feet.
- Amphibious. Self explanatory.
- Languages. Common (if you decide that it’s a thing in your game), Merfolk and one
Green Merfolk. These ones prefer living on the land and enjoy the sun. I can’t blame them.
- Ability Score Increase. A +2 to Wisdom. Nothing to see here.
- Mask of the Wild. That’s the Wood Elf racial trait. Perhaps their coloring allows them to do that.
- Cantrip. You get one Druid cantrip of your choice, with Wisdom being the spellcasting ability for it.
Blue Merfolk. The blue Merfolk prefer staying in the rivers and the sea.
- Ability Score Increase. A +2 to Intelligence.
- Lore of the Waters. Proficiency in History and Nature. I like skill proficiencies in general so I like this feature too. Plus, these are Intelligence skills so they do well with the Ability Score Increase.
- Cantrip. You get one Wizard cantrip of your choice, with Intelligence being the spellcasting ability for it.
I don’t see anything exceptional here. Neither of the subraces intrigued me, to be honest. They follow the same design with the Merfolk subraces from Plane Shift: Zendikar.
The vampires of Ixalan have very interesting lore. They are humans that become vampires through a ritual.
- Ability Score Increase. Like with Plane Shift: Zendikar, vampires get +2 to Charisma. These ones also get +1 to Wisdom instead of Intelligence.
- Size. Vampires are considered medium. Well, they were humans before so it makes sense.
- Speed. Base walking speed of 30 feet.
- Darkvision up to 60 feet.
- Vampiric Resistance. Resistance to necrotic damage like the Zendikar vampires.
- Bloodthirst. You have a bite attack that heals a little bit. Its requirements make sure it’s not broken.
- Feast of Blood. It’s a buff you get when you use Bloodthirst. For 1 minute your speed increased by 10 feet and you gain advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
There’s also a Vampire feat called Vampiric Exultation. Using an action you can turn your lower half of your body into black vapor and get a flying speed of 30 feet for 10 minutes. It recharges every short or long rest. It’s not a bad deal.
Overall, the Ixalan Vampires aren’t bad. I like the Feast of Blood feature. It adds flavor based on the lore of the vampires.
The Orcs have the Half-Orc stats from the Player’s Handbook. They aren’t native to the continent of Ixalan. Many of them have joined the Brazen Coalition since they’re being hunted down by the Legion of Dusk.
Goblins are native to Ixalan but many have joined the Brazen Coalition because the pirate’s life suits them.
- Ability Score Increase. Goblins get a +2 to their Dexterity score. There are no subcraces so it feels like something’s missing.
- Size. Goblins are considered Small.
- Speed. Since they’re small, their speed is 25 feet.
- Agile Climber. This one gives you a climbing speed of 25 feet, unless you’re wearing medium or heavy armor.
- Darkvision up to 60 feet. Not bad.
- Languages. Goblins know Common and Goblin.
I like the idea of Goblin pirates. They remind me a bit of the World of Warcraft ones. However, the race does look underwhelming. The Ability Score Increase could be better and the Agile Climber and Darkvision aren’t enough to balance them.
Sirens are humanoid creatures with birdlike features. They are best known for their curiosity and their very abrupt mood changes.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2.
- Size. Sirens are considered Medium.
- Speed. A base walking speed of 25 feet. Their claws probably make walking a bit difficult for them.
- Flight. A flying speed of 30 feet while not wearing medium or heavy armor.
- Siren’s Song. You know the Friends cantrip and can
cast it without material components. It goes well with the flavor of the Sirens.
- Languages. Sirens know Common and Siren.
Sirens are okay. It’s another flying race but it’s nothing special. The Friends cantrip could be something better but, flavor wise, it’s okay.
Land of the Great River
We get a map of the continent of Ixalan which is really beautiful. We also get information about cities of the Sun Empire.
Another thing we get in this chapter is treasure tables. There are quite a few of them and each item mentions which faction it belongs to. As a bonus we also get a table we can use to determine the origin or who is the intended user of the item.
There’s nothing else in this chapter which is kinda disappointing, since there’s not much lore about the land. I guess, however, that’s because more lore will be featured in the art book.
An Ixalan Bestiary
When the bestiary begins with dinosaurs then it’s probably going to be really good. The dinosaurs of Ixalan are presented with dinosaur stat blocks from the Monster Manual, as well as reskins of other monsters.
We also get a few new monsters.
- Frilled Deathspitter. A CR 1/2 dinosaur that spits poison.
- A gargantuan CR 10 dinosaur called Gishath, Sun’s Avatar.
- Six elder dinosaurs. I like that we get a base stat block and six add ons. Did I mention their CR is 30?
- Sunbird, which is another name for a phoenix.
- Chupacabra. I’ve been thinking about making a stat block for it and now I don’t have to.
Of course there a ton of other monsters that add flavor to the setting. They are reskins but they do come with extra lore.
Appendix: The Colors of Magic
Finally, we get an interesting appendix about the colors of magic. In the world of Magic: The Gathering, magic has colors. Each one is tied to a different alignment and emotion. There are suggested personalities traits and races for each one, as well as ideas on how to combine colors.
Personally, I like the setting of Ixalan. The flavor is nice and, to be honest, it’s hard to mess up a setting with dinosaurs and pirates. The only issue I have is that some of the races could definitely use extra work.
And until next time, have fun!