I think that the cover nicely evokes the tone that this setting book tries to convey. Big and scary!
After the credits page there is a very comprehensive table of contents and then a forward by the primary author Mike Myler. Here he articulates his thinking in creating Vast Kaviya and says that he named it Vast for a reason. The land is almost large beyond comprehension - he says that if you think of your computer screen as a globe of Kaviya and put your little-finger nail against that screen, that is the size of the North American continent in relation to the world of Vast Kaviya. That's big! It is that size for a reason. You should never really know what is over the horizon and what wonders (and terrors) you will find there. One thing is for sure, you're far from alone in seeking riches and wanting to slay your foes and listen to the lamentation of their women. There are a plethora of foes for you to tackle at every tier of power. These are the warlords of Kaviya - of which this book provides plenty (but more of that in its proper place later).
The author provides some hyperlinks in the forward to some of his other works in case you want to use this book in other settings such as PA or Steampunk. After a page of in-setting fiction we are at the beginning of the book proper with Chapter 1: Global rules.
This is great and exactly where it should be - right at the start of the main body of the book. It serves as a primer on the setting and also presents numerous rules and/or rule modifications to the standard 5e Rules as Written (RAW). In 3 pages we get the important parts of the setting in a bullet-point kind of way. The economy of writing here is excellent with points being put across distinctly.
For example, we learn that Kaviya is primitive and that bone, stone, and even antler weapons are fairly common and that iron is sought after and steel weapons are basically this settings version of a magic weapon. There are 2 rules variations arising from that one paragraph - Restricted Equipment and Skilled Defence (one limits heavy armour, the other gives a way of mitigating that loss. See below).
Game Rule: Restricted equipment. The following armors are not available: chain shirt, breastplate, half plate, ring mail, chain mail, splint, plate. In addition, there are no crossbows or rapiers, and tool kits are at the GM’s discretion.
Game Rule: Skilled defense. When a creature would gain proficiency with heavy armor from a class or feat, it gains this feature instead. While wearing medium armor, the creature gains a bonus to AC equal to half its proficiency bonus
There are no Gods, just spiritual patrons, ritual magic takes an hour per spell level and magic overall is both rare and spell lists slightly altered. The people are far from primitive however, and Kaviya has an abundance of natural life and nasty dinosaurs. There's a nice psionic system, reliant on spiritualism and the number of different races who call this place home. Kaviya is orbited by more than a hundred moons and its seasons are generally twice as long as Earths. Finally, we find out that there is no such thing as a common tongue - you just get to communicate basic concepts and that trade is poor, equipment more expensive, money less valuable and barter is a standard as well as currency. However, everyone starts with an extra language.
I've just brushed the surface as there are 13 'Global Rules' and 13 actual rules modifications. As i said this section is really good at communicating the basics of the setting within 3 brief pages. To my mind, this section could easily be used as a marketing blurb on its own.
This section seeks to communicate what makes the setting different from others. There is a brief section on history, the harsh environment and commerce cultures before we get to the first mechanical (and setting vital) innovations. The first of these are the Primal Themes which are six pointers to how each community or race behaves. Although not rigid in the sense that it dictates behaviour, the GM will find it useful to use it as a general guide. For example, when the PCs stumble upon a hidden verdant valley, the GM might decide that the village within uses the Earth Primal Theme. The village is stoic and may have a small dwarven population and be well defended. That's a good starting point before you start to flesh it out. PCs and NPCs can chose an element from these Primal Themes for their character and use it as a guideline for their personality if they wish - which leads us into the mechanical innovation, a whole new statistic!
Somewhat confusingly, it's in the Mana section where it makes plain that the players should chose a primal theme for their character, but as it's on the following page to the theme breakdown it isn't too much of an imposition. There is also a new Feat sidebar on the previous page but i'll return to that once i've discussed the new stat. I am aware that having the product in your hand rather than reading a single page at a time on a pdf may be less jarring. As i said, it's no biggy.
Now then, Mana.
Magic is an oft-abused resource and those with it are forced to hide or flee because of their talents, yet the extreme verdancy of the world and its abundance of sentient life forms not just the Kaṉavu-Valai but a veritably boundless reservoir of primal energy as well. Adventurers with a sufficiently potent spirit can subtly reach out to the subconscious influence of Vast Kaviya to unknowingly bend the very reality around them to their whim, their power to change the world literally growing with their prowess.
Your starting Mana score is 10 + your level, so it'll be 11 for starting characters. You can use it during a session to gain what amounts to small magical effects - which is cool, but the No Wizards Global Rule does get a bit diluted to my mind. Achieving your desired effect requires a Mana check against a DC set by the GM. There is a table of examples, one of which I present below.
Likely DC 10 Air
A sudden wind whips up the mountainside in a furious zephyr. During the next round, one ranged attack targeting the elven sorcerer (their choice) has disadvantage.
I like this. It's cool. But this is where the brevity of the writing is not a boon. I would have liked to see more advice to help GM's set DCs and maybe some more examples. This might require some work by the GM to make a workable system. You can use your Mana a number of times a day equal to half your Proficiency Bonus and it refreshes after a long rest.
Remember that Feat I mentioned? It's called Mana-Wreathed and again boosts your AC. However, you must have a Proficiency bonus of +3 to take it. In games where the GM is not using Feats of course, this will not be available. Depending on your theme you also get an additional bonus.
Air: Your speed increases by a number of feet equal to your Mana modifier.
Finally in this section we have a run-down of the various materials used as weapons in Vast Kaviya. Nicely, each material has a few things that make it unique and even more or less useful in the hands of someone of a certain Theme. This is good! For example, bone weapons in the hands of a character with the Good Theme suffer a -2 penalty to hit rolls and on a critical hit with an obsidian weapon you can chose to leave a shard of the blade in the wound, causing extra damage each round until removed, but at the cost of your weapon now inflicting -1 damage. Once that mod gets to -5 the weapon is destroyed. Which brings us nicely to the sidebar...Everything breaks eventually!
Like this. Really drives home that getting resources will be more of a struggle than in typical settings and that its a constant battle to renew or maintain the resources you have.
Excellent. With a setting as 'vast' as this I was hoping there would be something like this and it doesn't disappoint. In this section are the basic tools you need to create new lands on the fly as your players explore the vast hinterlands and limitless lands of Vast Kaviya. First up we have environmental hazards you can experience whilst travelling - weather events and winter hazards. After that we have Geographical Regions which is the meat of this chapter. Whenever the players move to a new area of the map (there isn't one provided in this book, the setting is too massive so if you want to you can come up with your own as the PCs travel) you roll randomly for 2 geographical features, two inhospitable terrains, and one warlord. After the tables concerning travel we next have a slightly more in-depth system of settlement creation which covers size, resources and attributes. Yes, communities have stats that affect the PCs when they are there - how much food they get, what they can buy from specialists etc. I like this quite a lot.
Finally there is advice about Warlords. When you enter a new area roll a d20, on a result of 14 to 20 there is a notable warlord in this land and the book provides the GM with plenty to choose from later in the book. The advice section suggests that you place warlords that are of the same 'Tier' as the PCs, or one above the PCs if your roll was a 19 or 20.
After that there is a decent example of using these rules.
This stuff can be used in any setting that you are running to be honest and is a very good inclusion in this book. As you'll see later, if you are just plugging this into your own game without using the setting, there are lots of ready-to-run adventure sites provided in the warlord section.
Like every chapter before it, there is a page of fiction before we move on to chapter 4.
Well, we were told that Vast Kaviya supports a lot of races and here's the proof. 11 new races are detailed in this chapter. The layout follows the usual WotC racial blocks. It's at this point that i'll note that some of the coloured fonts used in the book are not 100% readable to me viewing the pdf version of this product - it's not unreadable, but on some headings I have to look a couple of times to make it out properly. Nothing too annoying, but thought i'd mention it.
Before I take a longer look at the new races, i'll also note that certainly on first pass some of the racial abilities look a tad on the powerful side compared to those found in the PH. If you are just using the races in this book for playing in Vast Kaviya, then it doesn't matter, but mixing with the default races might cause a minor problem. I'll clarify this more as I progress on the races found here (and correct that view if warranted).
Aasimar Not a new race exactly, but as presented here certainly different. You get quite a suite of powers including darkvision, resistances, and a very limited healing ability, but you also get to choose from 3 sub-races, the Elated, the Soul, and Vindico. Each of these has a pretty hefty ability. You're not going to be able to hide your heritage if you choose the Elated sub-race, just saying.
Good if you want to play a character descended from the upper planes.
Alai The Kanavu-Valai which is the source of spiritual power in Vast Kaviya sometimes results in creating new life and the Alai are one such - a race of diminutive plant people. Somewhat xenophobic but with strong community ties, these little critters don't need to eat or sleep (although they do photosynthesise at night). They get a few plant resistances and don't die until they fail 4 death saves, which is pretty handy. There are also some typical names presented which of course make me want to play 'Lady' (there aren't really any sexes) Gaga.
You might struggle to play nice with others if you play one of these, and might have to come up with a compelling reason why you are no longer a member of your community and travelling around with non-alai.
Next up is the Boggard - froggy swamp and marsh dwellers. The Pathfinder equivalent of the Bullywug, I wonder whether this product has seen a previous PF edition or was originally developed that way before being converted to 5e? Anyway, I've seen this treatment a few times by now (and even posted my own to this site way back) so there's nothing new or surprising here. They've only just started mixing with other races and so initial contact or relations might be a bit Minbari cruising with their gun ports open (bonus point for getting that reference). They tend to be either end of the alignment spectrum so adventurers could certainly travel with other humanoids if they get over their territorial tendancies.
Genasi are tackled next. We have the typical 4 subraces, but are also given 4 new ones, which mix 2 elements each. Ash Genasi are a mix of air and fire, and get dark vision and a couple of fire based spells as they go up in levels, Acid Genasi are a mix of earth and fire elements. These folks get a couple of acid based spells as they progress and also have acidic blood which causes 1 point of damage if they are hit with natural weapons. Mist Genasi are a mix of air and water and can float above the ground if they are not over encumbered by gear or armour. They also get Fog Cloud as a spell. Lastly we have the Mud Genasi which are a mix of earth and water. These guys are amphibious and can cast Grease. They also have advantage on saves against being exhausted, stunned or being knocked prone. Mud Genasi seem a tad more powerful than the others to my mind.
Gnolls are a playable race in Vast Kaviya and they do not follow the lore set out in the Monster Manual. They are instead more like lizardfolk in outlook - survival at all costs and intolerant of physical weakness or disability. They live in a vast savannah called Xerica and worship Karm'ra, the beast of Three. Highly territorial they still often let merchants traverse their lands and they live in mud huts. There are 2 sub-races on offer, the Spotted (Nyang'au) who are brawny and get an additional hit point at each level and the Striped (Shundwa) who have a connection to the beast and can chose a Druid cantrip. Interesting to see how this one plays out at the table.
Now we start to get to the weird stuff. The Kanca are a recently awoken race of insectoids. The vast variety of forms are as diverse as the normal insectoid world, so you might have centipede humanoids, spiders, beetles etc. They have a kind of hive mind which their experiences feed and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the wellbeing of the community. There are 4 sub-races presented. The first is the Grub, which is exactly what it sounds like - you're basically a caterpillar! You have slow movement but can use that movement to climb vertical surfaces, you can eat anything - being immune to poison and the poisoned condition and you have a poisonous slam attack and poison blood! Now I want to play a Grub. Kombang are the soldiers and resemble horned beetles and the like. They get limited flight, a natural attack and natural armour, as well as being hard to disarm to move. Pamburu are spider folk who look pretty much like driders but with an arachnid head. They get spider stuff like poisonous bite and webbing. Said to be the most independent and most likely to be met away for the colony. Lastly we have the Tawon who are the upper caste of Kanca society and resemble humanoid bees or wasps. They have flight, are intelligent and also have a rather cool stinger attack.
Given the blurb saying that the Kanca have almost limitless variety, I would expect that there are many more sub-races in existence, waiting for the touch of an eager DM (and not detailed due to space and equal treatment with the other races, I expect).
Mist sub-races are next. I can't remember any other mention of this phenomena, so i'm guessing it will get more attention later on in the warlords section.
The jungles of Tay Ninaivakam are shrouded with mind-altering mists that few creatures can resist. Whether by fate or adaptation, the halfling mistlings and dwarven mistdweorgs have developed ways to avoid or overcome the effects of the supernatural haze, turning the rainforest and caverns under the mist into their respective homes.
Mistdweorgs are kinda like duergar in appearance but of slighter build. The artwork makes them look like sepia dwarves. They have slaves do their work for them, so they aren't sneezy, dozy, or Doc. They get a couple of mist based spells as they level up but there isn't a lot of information on them in this write up. They seem a bit decadent to me. Get slaves to work whilst they pursue art, literature and...gladiatorial combat! I presume that the sidebar on the next page is a Feat - it isn't clear. Mistdweorg High-Mage gives you more misty spells and allows you to cast Wind Wall as a ritual and it lasts 8 hours!
Mistlings. These cheeky chappies are immune to the mind-altering mist (and the Fogged condition which apparently is on page 123 if you take the (presumed) feat Mistling Trickery) and so have the jungle to themselves. This has led to the mistlings believing they are a 'chosen' people, although they considerately don't ram that down peoples' throats. Sorcerer are fairly common and they get protection from psychic damage and mind-reading and can speak telepathically. I'm tempted to believe that they are chosen!
Mongrelfolk are also a PC race available. Due to exposure to corrupting forces these guys have mutated into composite humanoids, part human, and part animal. Often having several different limbs or features. The artwork depicts a bloke with a chameleon's head, a man's torso, a parot's wing as one arm and a lion's as the other, with a donkey leg and a large bird's leg. Unsurprisingly given this, if they travel beyond the Badlands of their home they are most often shunned, although they can sometimes be found in communities with other outcasts, centaurs, genasi, tieflings and the like. You get darkvision, mimicry and mongrel limbs as racial abilities. Given the endless variety possible, the mongrel limbs section is disappointing, giving as it does only 2 options - either mongrel arms that gives you an extra 5 foot reach at the cost of a 25 feet movement rate, or mongrel legs that increase your move by 5 feet. I understand why there aren't more options, so as to keep it in accordance with other race write-ups, but it feels a bit lacking. Another thing that maybe can be fleshed out at the game table.
We continue with another new race the Ottunni. These are psionic bodysnatchers. They have no physical bodies of their own and animate a recently deceased humanoid body. The ultimate doppelgangers, these parasites leach memories from their hosts as well as taking their place in the society in which they found them. The longer you occupy the body, the stranger you appear, the first clue being that you bleed strange fluids when injured and eventually runes glowing from beneath your skin. Because of this many Ottunni move to new host bodies quite regularly. Indeed, one of your racial features involves leaving your dying host and finding a new body as a 'psychic mist'. Cool! You don't get any of your host bodies racial abilities though. An interesting choice, this one, and one rife with moral questions.
Finally we have the Taino-Kar, lizardfolk descended from Kaviya's dinosaurs. They have a connection to the phases of the moons that orbit Kaviya and operate best at night. These guys ran from their dino overlords and can be found nearly everywhere as they are born survivors. There are 3 sub-races to choose from, ranging from large bulky plant eaters, smaller predatory hunters and the most common type, or typical humanoid size. Not a lot new here, but there doesn't need to be.
We finish this chapter with a sidebar giving advice about large sized characters.
I think there are some nice new races on offer here if you want to move away from those found in the players handbook. Some are very specialised, some are weird, and some are different takes on races already detailed elsewhere. I don't think i'd disallow any of them at my table. Kanca are my favourites though.
Barbarian Primal Path
This fellow is quite the beast. Literally! He taps power from Karm'ra: The beast of three and his abilities stem from these beastly aspect - either goat, lion, or dragon. He starts to exhibit traits from these beasts as he grows in power and is offered a decent range of sub-class abilities. My thought is that the power level here seems a bit higher than PH sub-classes, but that's fine if the trend continues.
Lunar Cleric Domain
You gain you abilities from the spiritual patrons of Kaviya's many moons. Many are in opposition to shapeshifters although the odd evil cleric manifests. You get to see in dim light, use your chanel divinity to create a magical moon-blade (at 2nd level!) and a bit of illusion magic. Again, this is quite strong IMO compared to the PH and Xanathar's guide, but nothing outrageous and certainly fitting for a s&s game.
Burning Circle Druid
A blaster druid! Basically a fire elementalist. I worry a bit about the types of person who take this circle. Bit manic and mad IMO. You get all the fire all the time and can even counteract cold spells with your 'inner fire' by using a spell slot and a reaction - at 6th level! Plenty of power here. Only pyromaniacs and militant environmentalists need apply (your fire doesn't burn vegetation).
This is quite interesting. This guy gets a lesser and more limited version of the Bard's inspiration and also some of the battle-masters manoeuvres. I think it would make a pretty good character, however, IMO, this class has more in common with the power levels of PH sub-classes than the ones I've already covered here. Would have to try it out at the table to see whether my instinct is right. Not that any of that really matters if you want to play this kind of character, and I do!
Pyrokine Monk Tradition
Another pyromaniac. Pretty simple and more shenanigans with flame. Not sure what type of character this is meant to emulate. It's fairly basic and easy to run but like the Xanathar's Guide sun soul monk, i don't personally get it.
This is really interesting (and again possibly more powerful than normal). You are linked to the psychic flow of Kaviya and get a few disguise and sneak options - one of your tenets is to keep your anonymity! Spy, sneak and holy knight of the primal force that binds Kaviya together. Nice (and a bit grey in morals). Astoundingly, you get to channel divinity at 3rd level to go ethereal for up to a minute. Your capstone 20th level ability is just nasty and cool. Would like to play one of these.
Primal Hunter Ranger
This is the simplest sub-class so far. You get to damage your favoured enemy a bit more, you get a 3rd attack at 11th level like a fighter and you get a bit of resistance to conditions and can use a limited Locate Creature. Pretty simple and not that appealing tbh.
Savage Poisoner Rogue
5e gets a kind of alchemist - or to be more precise someone who can knock up a lot of poison. At 9th level you get a 'poison pool' which is basically creating damaging poisons for ingestion or weapon use. Frankly, this could make the rogues sneak attack way overpowered in my view. 4d6 sneak damage and a possible 9d8 poison damage for one hit! The saving grace to that is the number of creatures that are immune to or resistant to poison. I like this sub-class but i do think that the poison pool needs adjusting.
The best so far. This is really good. You can tap the primal power of Kaviya and influence the everyday objects around you. You have your own dedicated spell list because you literally animate your components to deliver your spell. For example, Rope is added as a material component for Hold Person. This rope coils around your victim(s). Every spell in your list has an object that 'delivers' the spell result. Very very cool. More than that, you get a new Metamagic feat at 3rd called, you guessed it, Animate, in which you can spend sorcery points to animate objects around you. This is very similar to the 5th level spell Animate Objects, but is of slightly lesser power. Again that seems remarkably powerful, but we'll see what it's like at the table. I definitely want to play one of these!
Hmm, this bloodline is normally bequeathed when you're the victim of a curse whilst still in the womb. Your dreams have taken a power of their own. You can bless good sleep which helps with rests and healing, but you have to curse the sleep of an equal number of people (you can't bless yourself) which interferes with rest and your next saving throw. You create dream stuff and can speak to people as the Dream spell without expending a spell slot. Not sure about the utility of this bloodline or even its provenance, so i'd give this a miss personally.
Warlock Patron: The Grandmother
Ooh, your patron is a super-harpy! As you can imagine you get some voicy and charmy stuff to play with, which is pretty powerful stuff. You also get a few more martial trinkets to play with. I think (and may correct myself later) that this is linked to a warlord, as is the...
Warlock Patron: Hivemind
You gain your power from the sentient reef. Quite a lot of flavour to this one. You get loads of mental abilities and resistances and a rather cool mental variant of the Hellish Rebuke spell. Get ready to deal Psychic damage by the boatload and have a lot of conversations with yourself as you consult your hivemind. Like this one and it is quite versatile.
Now we get to the new classes, the first of which is...
A self-duplicating, doppelganger, faceman, warrior. To my mind, this fellow gets a suite of powers that may actually beat the Bard for versatility - and is a bit weird to boot. They only get light armour and simple and finesse weapons, but frankly, that's all they need. They get a Balance they must choose at 1st level to reflect their dual nature - Ying, Yang, topsy, turvy, apples and oranges.
You get a cool mirror-image type power at 5th that even effects truesight, a bit of monk, a bit of bard, and a bit of fighter. At 11th, when your duplicates are active you can create a weapon storm effect like conjure barrage. Nice. At high levels you can clone yourself, as per the spell and have multiple duplicates running around the world annoying people.
For me, that's about 3 classes in one. The actual duplication powers form a cohesive progression, but then there are others tacked on that I feel don't fit too well - they even get a monk-lite option as a new fighting style (along with the other options that fighters typically get).
On top of that, their sub-class Balance gives them another suite of powers. I was expecting some good and bad powers to reflect the dual nature, but as far as I can see, its all gravy all the time.
Some good ideas here for sure, but they all got mashed into, what I feel, is an overpowered package - although most of the options mentioned above are also on that side, so maybe adventuring with similar folk it will not stand out too much.
The Monster Tamer is next and I think fills a niche that the Ranger Beastmaster tries to fill, but does it better (allowing for the little power spike that Vast Kaviya gives you to survive the world). At 1st level you choose your regimen which determines what kinds of beast you can tame. You can gain a 'pet' from the type of beast you specialise in (although in order to tame it it can't start off as hostile towards you) and you gain the majority of your powers from the bond with the beast. For some reason you get a version of second wind at 2nd level - oh and these guys get d12 for hit points per level. You get to teach your pet tricks, of which there are many to choose from - from attack or stay to carry rider or unusual behaviour (which is awesome, want your ooze pet to drink tea? you're covered).
The regimens available are for beats pets, monstrous pets and 'oddball' pets which covers dragons, oozes and abberations. You get a suite of powers depending on which regimen you choose at 1st level.
I like this class. It fills a niche that fits the setting. The power ramp here seems a bit higher than other classes, but hey, it fits and as you'll see in a bit, this place is dangerous, so you never know when you'll need your Otyugh riding beast-tamer.
The Elementalist is the first of the prestige classes presented. Again, the flavour is good but the power curve raises some more. You have a pre-requisite to take levels of this class - your Prof Bonus must be 3 (ie a 5th level requirement) and one of your stats must be 16+. Which stat that is depends on which element you are attached to. You also gain a d8 for hit points per level. So far so good (although there are only 8 levels in this prestige class which seems an arbitrary number unless you look at previous editions of d&d). As you would expect, you get added doo-dads for affecting your chosen element, a kind of monk-like natural attack or additional weapon damage from your element and conjuring at 3rd (minor) and 7th (major).
Your elemental archetype garners you more powers than most other sub-classes in the game - at 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th and they are pretty meaty until eventually you can take on an elemental form.
I like the flavour of this class and I think it fits the setting and power curve set within this book. However, I am coming to the opinion that most of the player faced stuff in this book is for games set in Vast Kaviya. For me, I would have trouble allowing an awful lot of the options presented here in other 5e games. If you're looking to steal stuff here for your Forgotten Realms game I would think very carefully before doing so. For Vast Kaviya, go nuts!
The Fractured Soul is next and the prerequisite for it is interesting. You must be suffering from a specific indefinite madness. Tough crowd! Still, these master shapeshifters use this to change shape in a variety of ways. They get less toys than previous classes but retain their niche as they get to shape-change into more difficult and different creatures as they gain levels in this prestige class. To my mind, its a juiced up wild shape with an added madness. In the right campaign this might be cool otherwise i'd avoid it myself.
The Magic Eater is a welcome addition as I think it covers something so far missing from 5e, a class opposed to magic and a hunter of mages. Naturally, barbarians will probably gravitate towards this class - maybe a few fighters and rogues thrown in too. To qualify for this prestige class you must have survived a magical attack, possess no magic items, and if you can cast spells, you lose that ability on taking this class! You have a latent defence against magic that means if anyone casts a beneficial spell on you, you have to make a saving throw, even if the spell doesn't normally allow one. Who needs cure wounds anyway? You can use a bonus action to heal yourself using your hit dice - although you only heal half of that rolled until you get to 5th level, when you get the full effect. You get magic resistance and eventually your attacks can dispel magical effects. I really like this class. There's a trade-off, but the bennies you get make up for it. Not overpowered and rather well balanced. Me likey!
The Primal Shaman is the final prestige class and the most difficult to gain entry to. You must have a spellcasting stat of 18 and have interacted with the flow of the Kaṉavu-Valai (either by touching it or from the afterlife). The class features you get to my mind would suit a monk (except the spellcasting) and it might help various GMs to come up with a psychic powered monk. Did I mention that the Primal Shamen uses psionics? No? Well, they do and they get their very own spell list too. An interesting class, but not sure that it demands such a high level of entry. Would be funny to see one of these in the same party as a Magic Eater. Is the primal shaman casting magic spells when using his psionic 'spell' list?
Last in the character section is a new background: Amnesiac. Remember those mist races I covered earlier? Well, where they come from they have to contend with a mist that makes you forget stuff and this background is for 'the lost' ie those who have fallen foul of the mist. This is actually pretty cool. Unlike other backgrounds you only get 1 skill, no tool proficiencies and no bonus languages. However, during play you can use your 'remember' background feature to discover the other skill, tool, and language proficiencies as bits of your past click into place. Very cool. All the party marooned on a crewless boat in a storm? Shit, I remember that I had Vehicle: Sea tool proficiency. You, man the topsail!
Most of the rest of this book details many warlords for use in your travels. The terrain creation tools I covered earlier in this thread contain the possibility that the new area has a warlord in residence. Well, this book has a bundle already created for you to interact with, and they are detailed in pretty extensive encounter areas.
As this is GM faced material, I will not cover this in as much detail as the player content, but rather I will touch on things I think are cool and then sum up my thoughts on this product as a whole.
As you can see from the picture above, the warlords that are detailed in this book aren't a generic bunch, which is all to the good! Instead we get challenges ranging from CR 2 to CR 21! From a halfling sorceress to the Earthstorm, a sentient mass of rock and er, lightning. Sentience of usually inert things crops up more than once.
Anyway, by far the longest section of the book, you get a huge amount of ready to run encounter areas detailing 21 fully statted warlords and the area they control. I have to say, in the pdf version at least I find the fonts and colours of the warlord chapters rather difficult to read, but maybe that's just my advancing years...
Each warlord gets an overview, some quite detailed NPCs that act as cohorts and in most a new monster or two. The encounter area maps are nothing special tbh (i imagine a budget constraint) but are perfectly usable PC generated maps.
As 21 ready to use encounter areas (remember the chances of bumping into warlords as you travel in the exploration section?) these are great and can easily feed more than a single full length campaign in the endless lands of Vast Kaviya.
There follows a bestiary and an adventure which i will look at in another post before posting my closing thoughts on what has been a nice product to review.
The bestiary section of Vast Kaviya has a selection of beasts to challenge players. They tend to lean towards higher level challenges, but there are enough lower CR creatures to give the flavour of the setting to starting characters as well. The 2 starting barbarian stat blocks are incredibly powerful (and their CR reflects this), you get some dinosaurs, greater Draugr among other undead and a menagerie of monstrosities and megafauna.
After the bestiary is the section on 'Devastation Creatures' which are basically normal monsters that are tougher than normal and have some supernatural powers that a mutation gives them. The devastation goblin isn't that devastating to be honest but it's amusing to have one. The dragon is quite frightening and the less said about the genie the better.
Pretty good stuff that can all be used elsewhere if you want to.
The book is rounded off by an adventure for 4-5 characters of level 2-3 called 'Scorpion Sea Temple'. This looks pretty challenging for characters of those levels, but having seen the player options this book allows you, perhaps the power level is about right. I won't spoil the adventure in any way other than to say it looks like a fairly standard introductory scenario.
We then get a few pages with advice on how to transfer the various warlord encounter areas into other settings - this is useful if you want to pull bits from here piecemeal into your own setting.
Vast Kaviya is a well constructed book for those wanting a S&S feel to their games. There is tons of material here that can be extracted for your own campaign worlds in the Warlords section. Personally, I would be reluctant to use the player options anywhere else but in a Vast Kaviya campaign, but used there, it certainly adds vast deeds to the vast setting. I'm still unsure about themes and Mana as that seems to be a band-aid to the problem of no-wizards. Effectively, everyone is a wizard (albeit with only a few relatively minor tricks), but that's no biggy and in an imaginative group I think that it might shine.
The fonts and maps used throughout the book aren't that easy for an oldy like me to read on the pdf version, but i'm not going to hold my infirmity against it. Overall, I would say that the book is worth it for the warlords section and the Sorcerer's Animator bloodline alone.
Hope you enjoyed the read-through and see you on the next thread!