The Midgard Heroes Handbook is a Mess (Part 2: Spells and Spell Access)

Continuing onto spells. I thought I’d talk a bit about all the problems I found with spells and spell access in this book.

Part One of this examination is here. Part Three is here.

Spells

  • The term “spellcasting level” is used in 4 different spells in this book however its not actually clarified what this is intended to be. It’s not an official term. Based on the text for these spells it seems like it’s likely based on your class level. But it could be based on the level of the spell slot used to cast a spell. 
    • Blade of my Brother is one such spell. The spell doesn’t do that much damage from the look of it, so it could get a bonus to its attack roll based on your cleric level, but that would mean it would get +20 to its rolls at cleric level 20. Like I said it’s likely just one attack roll, so not a lot of actual damage, but this would be unusual in an edition that tends to avoid outright giving such large attack bonuses.
  • Chaos Vitality states that you “make a melee spell attack against a creature with a number of hit dice no greater than your level and at least 1hp.” How can a player know how many hit dice an enemy has? Answer: They can’t. 
  • The cantrips in this book are not great. I would say only at most 8 out of 19 cantrips here are worth considering. Bards, druids, and clerics, also get hardly any of the good cantrips (which seem to be reserved to sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards).
    • To see what I mean. Let’s check out the Claws of Darkness cantrip. Here you have a cantrip that lasts for one minute, takes concentration, and whose only effect is to give you claws with 10 feet of reach that do 1d10 cold damage. This is damage that never scales. Ohh and the cantrip is only available to sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards. 
    • Sadly, too many of the cantrips in this book are either too situational, not very strong, or are (at least by what the book states) restricted only to the sorcerer, warlock, and wizard classes.
  • The book only really tries to explain a few of its 15 new schools. The “rothenian”, “battle”, and “hieroglyph” schools don’t even get any kind of explanation for what makes them unique or why they were even needed. 
  • They don’t even provide a list anywhere of the full list of new schools and clear descriptions for all of them are never provided (though some descriptions for the schools can be found scattered throughout the book). 
  • Alright, so this is the definition of nitpicky but in the bard spell lists many of the lower level spells aren’t capitalized. Also the same can be said for the encrypt/decrypt cleric spell. Just sort of seems like someone should have noticed this. But what is most weird about it is it’s only an issue in the PDF copy, not in the hardcover book.

Clockwork School

The clockwork school is getting its own section because it is a mess. Particularly the aspects of them concerned with making constructs.

  • You won’t find in one place here that explains the difference between constructs, clockworks, or soulforged and what spells and knowledge is required to make each one. Instead everything is very scattered (or not mentioned).
  • The book doesn’t direct you towards where to find any of the crafting rules and has none of its own.
  • The Absolute Command, Animate Construct, Overclock, and Hellforging spells assume you can make these constructs. Animate Construct even refers to “prepared constructs” but never explains how much time or what kind of tools would be needed to make them. The phrase “prepared constructs” is also not used again in the book anywhere else.
  • The wizard subclass has clockwork tool proficiency (the clockwork cleric has the option to get it). It’s never explained though what this does.
  • It’s not clear how the constructs would work in play. After all, if you use Animate Construct, with the goal of making a gargantuan construct, the spell only lasts 10 minutes. So does that mean you have to drag around this huge construct body all the time when it isn’t animated?

Spell Access

  • All the 4th level bard spells are listed as 6th level spells (and a couple of 5th level spells are also listed as 6th level spells). They fixed this in the Deep Magic book.
  • Druids get only access to one new cantrip. In a book with 300 new spells and by my count 19 new cantrips.
  • Rangers get no fifth level spells (even though the paladin does)
  • Despite being full casters, Bards and Druids get hardly any new level 6 to 9 spells.
  • The restrictions on spell access also get kind of silly if you think about them. Especially when it comes to the wizard schools. The Ring Warden for instance, along with any sorcerer or warlock who has taken a ring feat, are the only ones that can learn ring spells (pg. 92). However, in the case of Hoarfrost (a ring cantrip) this presents a problem. You don’t choose your subclass as a wizard until 2nd level. At which point in time you’ve already chosen most of your cantrips. Rules as written it’s clear that can’t learn Hoarfrost then before 4th level (when anyone that takes a ring feat can also get it). So the specialized wizard whose focus is ring magic takes just as long to learn a cantrip in the school as some sorcerer with a feat concerning it.
  • The ring school is not alone with this. In fact some of the restrictions suggested in the subclasses section get contradicted later on in the spell lists section at the back of the book.

The work of Redditors

Finally, credit to u/Lugia61617 on Reddit for these next ones. Some of the ones they listed here I noticed independently of them, but these are the ones I missed (there are more they list as well in that link but they seemed a bit too subjective to include).

– “Brittling”, a 4th level Rune spell from Deep Magic: Rune Magic, is included in the spell descriptions page and complete spell list on pages 141-147, but is absent from the rune spell-only spell lists on page 93 (meaning unless you check the complete spell list, you would miss it being learnable) 

– “Prismatic Ray” is written as Prismatic Spray in all of the spell lists. This is not to be confused either with the Prismatic Spray spell which is actually an official 5E spell.

– In the Spell Descriptions section, the following spells have a Material component, but do not specify said material component: Binding Oath (p151), Brittling (p154), Curse of Boreas (page 160), Flurry (page 168), Hero’s Steel (p173), Hod’s Gift (p174), Not This Day! (p184), Triumph of Ice (p199).

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