Midgard Heroes Handbook [Part 4 – Arcane Characters, Character Options, and Overall Conclusions]

Hello, everyone! It’s finally time to wrap up this review of Midgard Heroes Handbook. Today, I’ll be writing my thoughts on the arcane subclasses, character options(feats, backgrounds, spells, and alternative spellcasting rules), and overall conclusions about Midgard Heroes Handbook. If you’re looking for Parts 1, 2, or 3 of the review, you can find them at the following links:

[Part 1 – First Impressions and Races] [Part 2 – Martial and Roguish Characters] [Part 3 – Divine Characters]

Arcane Characters

Midgard Heroes Handbook features two new sorcerous origins, three warlock patrons, and a whopping eleven wizard arcane traditions(almost one for each installment of Deep Magic). In terms of the overall quantity offered, I would have rather seen fewer wizard subclasses, considering that wizards and clerics already have a nearly overwhelming number of options available to them. Because these subclass options are for casters, I would be wary of effects which replicate spells – features like the Mazeborn bloodline’s Madness of the Maze imply the ability to cast additional spells in a turn, with no clear indication whether they cost spell slots. Several of the subclasses feel uninspired or redundant, such as the Doom Croaker being largely a different flavor of Divination wizard, the Light Eater being a warlock whose patron aims to make the world more like the plane of shadow, and the Elven High Magic wizard being largely a ritual caster who is more suited as a supporting NPC than a hero in a story.

Of the subclasses presented in this section, my favorite is the Angelic Scribe arcane tradition – a wizard subclass who can produce an assortment of nearly-permanent angelic seals. Additionally, the Geomancy arcane tradition fills an interesting mechanical niche somewhere between the sorcerer’s metamagic and wild magic, producing a d10’s worth of random adjustments to spells utilizing ley line powers. Like I’ve mentioned in my reviews of Mists of Akuma and Book of Exalted Darkness, I still have my distaste for filling a subclass’s feature with a feat – I’d much rather see Ley Initiate as a feature for multiple subclasses(possibly to round out the roster as well), especially since it could invite new ways to utilize ley lines on a per-class basis.

Feats, Backgrounds, Spells

The most stable features of the book are its feats and backgrounds – on par with those found in the PHB, they would feel at home in just about any campaign. However, the feats are categorized strangely – it’s bizarre that Negotiator and Survivor were lumped together as Elemental Magic feats, but I suppose that a lack of a martial category is to blame for that placement.

If you’re going to use spells from Midgard Heroes Handbook, I can’t stress enough that this is where your GM’s approval is most important. The spells featured in Midgard Heroes Handbook are all over the place – some of these spells are underpowered (ley whip dealing only half the damage of similar level spells at most) or incredibly situational(such as blade of my brother requiring a weapon wielded by a dead ally in addition to its spell slot cost), some of them are overpowered, and some are simply experimental (I swear, pendulum is not a necessary addition to the roster of spells) so a GM should be prepared to adjust on the fly and determine a consistent ruling.

Overall Conclusions

Honestly, I’d recommend getting a copy of Midgard Heroes Handbook only if you’re looking to round out your character options for a Midgard game for an entire party. For a single player or for games not using the setting, I’d recommend getting the Deep Magic PDFs a la carte. You can get a decent amount of utility out of this book, but the size and martial options don’t make up for the mixed-bag quality and redundant content(so many races with unimportant natural weapons). The book runs $24.99 for the PDF through Kobold Press’s website and $39.99 for the print version.

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