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Reviewing Ancestral Weapons A DMs Guild Product For Dungeons and Dragons 5e

I have had this PDF on my computer for a little bit now. Been meaning to dig into it and see if it is as good as I anticipated. Now someone was very critical of the product shortly after I got this. It sort of made me worried to download and review it but after doing so I wish I had never seen that persons thoughts. This product has some fun things in it. While I do have some criticisms I think the good outweighs the negative. In this I will review each section in order and then give my final thoughts at the end.

To purchase this product for $4.95 from the DM’s Guild and support future reviews like this click the image above.

To purchase this product for $4.95 from the DM’s Guild and support future reviews like this click the image above.

For the FREE Ancestral Weapon I created using this PDF CLICK HERE.

The intro, overview and spirit points summary:

The intro managed to get me even more excited for this product. I was already thinking of ideas on what an ancestral weapon could function like in a game of Dungeons and Dragons. The overview mentions there are over 130 different upgrades and that weapons will level up and stay relevant. It is said that using this your players won’t want to pick up other magic weapons to replace their Ancestral Weapons but this might not be true. We will explore this a little more later on. The spirit points breakdown sounds good up front and in theory. I have some ideas on how it can be improved upon in comparison of Ancestral Weapons to Magic Item Creation inside this product.

Chapter 1 Ancestral Weapons:

Some things came up right away that were interesting to me. The weapons will only work in a family blood line. It said the weapons are magical but nobody else will gain the benefits from the magic. It will act as a mundane item in the hands of anyone else. What if the players fight someone who has an ancestral weapon though? If they cast detect magic after the fight will it be magical? If they can’t use the magic within I could see this driving some of my players crazy as they try to harness the magic of the weapon. Speaking of which I now have an amazing idea to really grind my players gears in the future.

It mentions the intended use of spirit points. On average a player should get 1 spirit point per level but they should be awarded by the dungeon master after accomplishing things like defeating a big bad guy while rescuing a town.

Full power is achieved when the weapon gets a certain amount of spirit points and then it is awarded bonus spirit points. These spirit points can be used to purchase new upgrades. You can choose to overwrite an upgrade with the next level up of that upgrade or go with a completely new one. With the dungeon masters approval you can refocus your upgrades but this sounds really rare. It is encouraged to be done through a quest or by performing a roleplaying moment with your ancestors. This idea sounded pretty cool to me actually. I could see a lot of cool roleplaying moments with these types of weapons. I think this is my favorite part about this whole product is all of the ideas that came up for me when I was reading it.

When the weapon earns spirit points it glows and lets the wielder know. I personally think it would be cool to have it happen in their dreams. The weapon could summon the ancesters to the player characters dream and tell them that it is becoming one with the character. I also could see myself holding off and awarded 5 at a time when they reach each tier. Due to having some different ideas I almost wish that they gave us a few different options for how the player could learn of the weapon earning its spirit weapons.

Chapter 2 Upgrades:

This chapter I have a few criticisms of. I thought this chapter actually should have been later. I would have liked to see other chapters before this one. I also didn’t like the organization of this one. It is organized by tiers and then alphabetical order. There are 4 tiers where tier 1 is all common and uncommon upgrades, tier 2 is rare, tier 3 is very rare, and tier 4 is legendary. This is in relation to Dungeons and Dragons magic items. Now some upgrades have a level associated with them. An upgrade like Spell Storing says Level 1 next to it in tier 1. It also have the level 2 version in tier 1. In tier 2 the 3rd level version is in it. These are the upgrades that you can overwrite.

I would have organized this chapter only in alphabetical order personally and then had the level 1, 2, and 3 underneath the upgrades title in the pre-requisite area. The summary of the tiers and upgrades associated was all that I felt was necessary. Doing this and inserting in the pre-requisites section of the abilities what tier they are would have saved a lot of space and made the book read better. I also felt some things were pretty weak compared to others. It seems like the spirit point cost does a decent job of reflecting the balance difference though. I would need to playtest it a bit to see how far off the balance is.

Some upgrades weren’t too clear to me. or example proficient states as level 1 you gain a proficiency skill of your choice. level 2 says you gain 2 proficiency skills of your choice. This goes up each time. Am I to assume I have 3 total if I am level 2 proficient or just a total of 2? To me it wasn’t the most clear. If you level it up to 4 you either have 4 total or 10 total skill proficiencies just from this alone. I am assuming it means you will have 4 though.

To end this chapter on a positive note I do want to say the art is pretty cool throughout. It tells you the name of the weapon and the upgrades associated with them. I really liked that. In fact the art throughout this whole PDF is pretty good.

Chapter 3 Ancestral Traits & Personality:

This section provides good roleplay inspiration. A lot of the personality of the weapon comes out here. As I like to refer to it these are where all of the cool things come from. The stuff that really makes your weapon anything but a mechanic like a +1 sword. There are some mechanics in here but to me the best part is all of the character it brings to the weapon. I really like some of the descriptors here about the personalities.

The traits table has a d20 worth of options. These traits are mostly positive things. One for instance called Learn From Failure will allow you to always have advantage on any attack rolls that follow a critical fail. I did question the limits of Bolstering Growth though. Some of these traits say they can be done once per short rest, and others say per long rest, and some don’t have limits at all. Bolstering Growth allows you to grow 1 foot in height for an hour and you have advantage on intimidation checks. They don’t say how often you can use this though. I feel like it is probably 1 time per long rest but it doesn’t say.

The Ancestral Personalities only lists a d10 worth and I really think they miss the mark here. I would like to see at least a d20 worth of them. I also could see myself strapping more than 1 on a weapon too. This could cause some inner conflict among the weapons personalities too. These personalities are the source of some negative things applied to the weapons too. For example Greedy “The weapon will fill you with a lusting desire when an opportunity to increase your wealth presents itself.” These add to the fun of the weapons for sure but are also why these weapons are not as good as the Non-Ancestral Weapons.

Chapter 4 Creating Non-Ancestral Weapons:

This section is pretty good. It even associates the cost of buying these types of magical weapons. I do think these are always going to be better than Ancestral Weapons because they don’t have any of the downsides that some of the personalities strapped to the Ancestral Weapons do. They use Spirit Points to purchase upgrades in the exact same way an Ancestral Weapon does. I think if they had a maximum amount that is the full power of the Ancestral Weapons without the bonus Spirit Points it would not over shadow the Ancestral Weapons like I feel it does now. The other option is to give the Ancestral Weapons a slight boost.

The examples of crafted items are pretty cool in this section. I really like them and could see myself using them as loot in a future game possibly.

Chapter 5 Weapon History:

This chapter presents more great roleplaying opportunities. You can really get into the lore here. It has a table with number of generations who have held this weapon. Based on the number of generations you can also generate the number of feats of legend associated with the weapon too. On the types of feats per legend table there are things like it was used to destroy a lich or slay a ruler. Some good things on this short d20 table. You can also go into the physical properties such as who crafted it an elf? A dwarf? What type of wood and what type of metal were used? What is the identifying feature of it?

I could see myself using this section even for non-magical weapons in the future. This section has good tables even if they are really small.

Chapter 6 Example Ancestral Weapons:

The examples here are pretty good and I like the stories associated with them. At first glance I thought there were some big gaps in balance between them. Then as I looked again it was actually fairly balanced from a glance. This section inspired me to make my own Ancestral Weapon. DOWNLOAD MY ANCESTRAL WEAPON HERE

Appendix A Crafting Table:

There is a table that associates spirit points with cost, time, rarity, upgrades available, and if attunement is needed or not. This is helpful if people have dungeon masters open to letting a player craft magical weapons and items. I personally am open to this if my players want to get into this. Now I will require some quests for materials and things like that though.

Overall Opinions:

They went with the D&D5e style of book layout and I think it helps the product. It looks really good. I enjoyed the art in the whole PDF. Besides maybe moving a couple things around and a couple small corrections for spelling or adding a limitation here and there I think this is a fantastic product. I will certainly use it in my games. At 27 pages I think they could have made it a little bit longer and added things other than weapons. If they added a section about armor and another section about other wearable items like rings, and cloaks this could have been around 35-40 pages. At just $4.95 it is a great buy. One thing I think most people worry about is if these types of products are too powerful and I would not say this creates any problems in that regard. Lastly I really wish there was an option to purchase a physical copy of this product.

If you feel inspired just reading some of these things above then you should not hesitate and pick the product up. You can pick it up on the DMs Guild by CLICKING HERE. It is extremely easy to implement into your own games and I think can add to the fun of you and your group enormously.

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