Ravings of the Mad Leper is a supplement from Samuel Bouchard a.k.a. Leprous Harry, containing quite a few subclasses for every class in DnD5e.
In total, there are a grand total of 36 subclasses, as well as new spells, fighting styles, eldritch invocations, and more. I’m not going to analyze everything, but I will go over each of the subclasses and a couple of sentences on what they’re about, which might make this review a bit longer than the ones I usually write – which also shows the amount of content present in the supplement.
First, the Artificer gets 15 new infusions, some of them synergistic with the new subclasses. They’re quite straightforward, and you wouldn’t call them powerful, but you can easily find a use for all of them.
The first artificer subclass is the Jeweller. It’s focused around jewels (duh) that you, your allies and your enemies wear. It’s got some weird mechanics since its features affect creatures that wear jewels, and so you might have combat encounters where you can utterly break the enemies or encounters where your features are pretty much nonexistent. Still, it’s definitely interesting, and I will talk more about some classes or features I feel have some issues at the end of the review.
After that, we have the Pilot subclass. You can create an Arcane Engine, which starts out as a ground vehicle but can be upgraded as you level up. You can do all your normal actions while driving it, plus run things over which should be pretty fun.
Finally, we have the Sapper, which focuses on dealing damage to structures and objects. You can build your own prototype portable ram that you can also use as a weapon and spellcasting focus, and which also slowly upgrades as you level up. You also get an interesting way to manipulate spells, reducing their area of effect to increase damage. Probably my favorite subclass of the three.
The Path of the Chieftain is a barbarian archetype that includes a lot of ways to support and empower your allies. The most useful, and somewhat controversial for me, is the ability to take the Help action as a bonus action to assist on an attack, and you can assist multiple people with a single action. So many advantages on attack rolls is a bit troubling, especially since there are no limitations on the number of times you can do this. Other than this though, I like the other features.
The Path of the Tribal Shaman is a spellcaster barbarian. You can cast through your rage, you get access to druid spells, and you also access some other magic-y features. In terms of spells and slots, the Shaman is a quarter-caster like the Eldritch Knight and the Arcane Trickster, getting spells of up to level 4 and not a lot of spell slots. I’m not sure if removing one of the bigger downsides of rage (no spellcasting) is balanced, but at least it only works for your Shaman spells and not if you multiclass in another spellcaster. Plus, quarter-casters aren’t the strongest, so I suppose it balances out.
Here we have the College of Tradition, which is a half-bard half-cleric sort of thing. You get access to Channel Divinity and cleric spells. Not much to say here, but I like the concept mechanically since it can give you a lot more utility, something bards are already good at.
And speaking of clerics, we have some more divine domains – starting with the Arts, which again combines bard and cleric. You get the ability to grant bardic inspiration through your Channel Divinity feature, although it has a severe limitation – a piece of art is being created close to you. Considering that bards are the ones usually associated with that, it seems a bit redundant, although I suppose it depends on what you define as art – maybe a talented illusionist counts as an artist, or someone who fights with a lot of flourish and tricks?
After that, we have the Craftmanship Domain, which is quite niche because it focuses on crafting items – creating them faster and cheaper. I’m not going to get into the crafting thing – it’s a long-standing problem, if you’ll allow me the word, and I think most groups don’t really bother with it. But if you are involved with crafting you’ll probably consider this domain. You also get to build a Golem, did I forget to mention that?
Next is the Festivity Domain. As you can probably assume, it doesn’t deal so much with combat, but it has several mechanics that help with preparations, giving buffs against exhaustion and death saves after certain rituals, or with healing.
Next up is the Seasons Domain, which gives access to a whole lot of different spells, as well as both utility and offensive actions, however with an important restriction: What you have available to you depends on the current season. So for example in summer you get some spells like Heat Metal and Fire Shield, but in the winter you get Ice Knife and Cone of Cold. Same goes for the rest of the features. You can choose to instead represent a single season and have all of its features available to you year-round, but you can’t get access to the rest of the seasons that way. However, at level 17 you do get a way to temporarily change the season in an area through a long ritual, so you do have a way to “force” a set of features to activate. An interesting theme and mechanic, that I think is also versatile and strong enough to not be considered a simple niche subclass with a gimmick.
Finally, we have the Time Domain, in my opinion one of the more powerful ones. Besides getting access to Haste and Slow, as well as some other pretty good spells, the features are also pretty good. You get the ability to freeze enemies in time, manipulate the duration of spells and the initiative of creatures, and even ignore the effects of Time Stop.
For the Druid, we have the Circle of the Old Gods, which is actually a very fun and interesting twist on the class. As the name implies, this has to do with eldritch beings and aberrations and such. You get a number of mutations that can affect your wild shape, but it comes with the downside of a pretty big chance of madness affecting you. It also has some other interesting mechanics that I won’t spoil.
The Fighter gets three new Fighting Styles. However, two of them have to do with reducing creatures to 0 hit points; a mechanic that while sounds fine in theory, it can cause some issues with metagaming and “kill-stealing”.
As for the archetypes, we have the Fencer, which plays on swagger and flair to give you various special actions – kind of like a mix of a bard and a battlemaster. It definitely looks fun from both a mechanics and roleplay perspective.
We also have the Hoplite, which focuses on teamwork; gathering people in formations to synchronize attacks and protect each other with shield walls. An interesting ability with a lot of advantages, but it is also vulnerable to disruption.
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The monk also has two subclasses, the first being the Way of Hardened Steel which focuses more on straightforward melee combat. The second is the Way of the Mountain Ascetic, which leans more into the spirituality aspect and interacts a lot with spell scrolls.
The Oath of Pilgrimage has to do with traveling and seeking illumination. Your pilgrimage might be a holy quest, or it might be because you strayed from your original tenets and need to find your way again. As expected, the features have to do with movement and traveling.
The Oath of the Temple Warden is almost the exact opposite; it’s about defending your temple and being immovable and unshakeable. It’s one of the more defensive subclasses, great if you want to tank things for a while.
The Pioneer, as the name implies, is about exploration and wilderness survival. In terms of mechanics, it also interacts a lot with cover and battlefield awareness. The Raider, on the other hand, is all about brutal combat; grappling, killing, breaking stuff, all the fun things.
There are four archetypes for the rogue. The first, the Buffoon, is all about the “creepy jester” theme, dealing psychic damage and laughing at your opponents’ failures. Maybe it fits the bard more, but I can see it working for the rogue as well – especially since it focuses more on damage than the bard’s utility.
Second is the Gadgeteer, which while not exactly an artificer, certainly has the theme. You can create a number of very fun and useful gadgets using a new pool of points. There are a total of 27 of them, although I suppose you want to consider whether you want your fantasy campaign to take this more technological/clockwork theme.
Third, we have the Juggler. This archetype focuses on throwing weapons, and lets you keep multiple of them available for attacks without having to draw them through juggling. An interesting concept, but I’m a bit worried about the mechanics, especially because some features give additional attacks – something that’s been kept away from the rogue for balance reasons.
Finally, we have the Racketeer, leaning on the thug/mobster/mafia angle of the rogue. It’s a good choice if you want to rely more on Strength rather than Dexterity, and also intimidation and fear.
The sorcerer gets 4 new metamagic options in addition to the two new archetypes, the first of which is the Accursed Name. This subclass inflicts you with a permanent curse, which is determined by you and your GM – and it is advised to not have an actual mechanical effect. You also gain so-called affliction points, which are then used to deal damage or inflict other effects to your enemies.
The Haunting Spirit subclass grants you magic powers through being haunted by some ghost – it might be an ancestor, a victim, or something else. This gives you a measure of protection against death, as well as various necromantic powers.
First for the Warlock we have the Broken Pact as an option for a Pact Boon, giving you the option to break your pact with your patron and gain new bonuses depending on the nature of your patron; you can do this at any time, however you lose your previous pact boon if you do so. An interesting way to cut off your connection with your patron, with all the consequences that would entail.
We also get 5 new invocations, all of them giving you access to a spell as well as requiring either the Broken Pact, or the Elemental Essence patron. Speaking of, the Elemental Essence is the new patron in this supplement, giving you spells and features depending on the element of your choice – air, water, fire, or earth.
The Arithmetic arcane tradition gives you various meta-effects on your spells, particularly ones that require somatic components, allowing you to manipulate rolls, area of effect, concentration, et cetera. As always with mechanics of this nature, they’re a bit dangerous in terms of balance, but if you find them too powerful you can add some additional restrictions on their uses.
We also have the Blood Magic arcane tradition, a generally frowned upon practice. Mechanically, it’s a bit confused – it involves quite a bit of melee combat, which wizards are generally not very fond of. It could use some more survivability in order to fully utilize its features.
Finally, the supplement contains 15 new spells of all sorts, although 6 of them are cantrips and none of them are over level 5. I will also say that some of them are perhaps a bit too powerful for their level.
Overall, there are some excellent ideas in this supplement – a lot more that “some” in fact, though, I would describe a large portion of them as niche. However, the good thing about niche subclasses is that they can be easily de-composed and the features repurposed individually. The Pilot for example, or the Gadgeteer; you can use their creations regardless of the subclasses. In addition, while they may not be widely appealing to players, they are perfect for NPCs, both friendly and hostile to the party. Thus, I would say that I wholeheartedly recommend Ravings of the Mad Leper.
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