Tales of the Valiant: Player’s Guide

Ever since Kobold Press announced that they were launching Tales of the Valiant, I have been both cautiously optimistic and extremely curious as to what the final result was going to look like. When Tales of the Valiant started crowd funding, it should be no surprise to my readers to learn that I was one of the first to back this Kickstarter project. From the very beginning, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the progress of this project. I’ve stayed up to date with each of the early previews, alpha releases, and sneak peeks. But, I’ve also stayed largely silent because I wanted to see what the final version was going to bring us.

Just the other day, Kobold Press made the Black Flag Reference Document available to everyone. Similar to what the 5E SRD is to D&D, the BFRD is the open source ruleset that Tales of the Valiant is built on. Once I saw this, I knew the official release was just around the corner. Then, just the other day, I received an email telling me know that the PDF versions of both the Tales of the Valiant Player’s Guide and Monster Vault were available to download. Typically, it is my rule that before I do a TTRPG book review, I want to get my hands on a physical copy. But, considering that there’s so much I want to talk about and my physical books are still a few weeks away – I decided to break this rule and share my thoughts on this new variant of the 5E ruleset. Today, I’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Tales of the Valiant Player’s Guide.

Before I get into the all of the details, I want to stress just what Tales of the Valiant is and why it exists. To do so, I want to reference another popular TTRPG system; Pathfinder. Back in 2000, the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released upon the world by Wizards of the Coast. This version of the game proved to be extremely popular. This was true for both players and third-party publishers. One of those publishers was Paizo, a company that flourished by creating high-quality content that was compatible with 3E D&D. However in 2008, WotC announced they would releasing a Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons and this new version of the game was going to have a much more restricted license when it comes to third-party content. Paizo immediately became concerned by this news, so they decided to take action. Using the open-source d20 ruleset that 3E was based on, Paizo released their own version of “3E” called Pathfinder. The idea was simple, Pathfinder would preserve the 3E rules and allow Paizo to continue to develop products. To say that Pathfinder was a success is an understatement. To date, Pathfinder has flourished and even grown into its very own Second Edition. It’s now very much it’s own product and completely independent from its original D&D roots. After the success of Pathfinder, WotC saw the writing on the wall and when it came time to release the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, WotC decided to once again re-open their ruleset and embrace third-party publishers. Since that time, 5E D&D has flourished and is now more popular than ever before.

Well, history has a way of repeating itself. last year, WotC announced a revision to 5E called “One D&D“. They claimed that this was not another full edition of D&D, but instead it would be a modernization of the 5E rules. However, the same time they made this announcement they also indicated plans to lockdown the ruleset from third-parties once again. As was the case with Paizo back in 2008, many third-party publishers were concerned with the news and openly discussed the idea of starting their own games. One of them was Kobold Press, a publisher known for their quality additions to 5E. Taking a page out of Paizo’s playbook, Kobold Press immediately announced Project Black Flag – their take on the open-source 5E rules. So, in the same way that Paizo brought us Pathfinder, Kobold Press has now given us Tales of the Valiant.

Now that you know why Tales of the Valiant exists, let’s talk about the product itself. I’m going to assume that most of the people reading this article are familiar with D&D products. So with that in mind, I’m going to be doing a lot of comparisons. The product I’m going to be looking at today is the Player’s Guide. This is essentially the TotV version of the D&D Player’s Handbook. This book contains all of the rules needed for running the game; game mechanics, characters options, etc. Before I dive into a point-by-point comparison on the rules and game mechanics themselves, I want to take give a very high-level opinion on the book itself.

As I mentioned before, at the time of this writing, I don’t have a physical copy of the book in front of me. But, knowing Kobold Press’ track record on their physical products, I don’t anticipate any issues. I will update this review with any thoughts and concerns regarding the physical books once I have them in hand. Physical quality aside, the overall look and design of the Player’s Guide is fantastic! The layout of the book is very well put together. It’s organized extremely well (even better than the existing PHB, in my opinion), it’s very readable, and the artwork is just amazing. Also, after several days of heavy reading, I have yet to find any glaring typos or errors. So from a design standpoint, I think Kobold Press hit it out of the park.

Now, let’s focus on the material. In the United States, copyrights cannot be applied to generic game rules. But obviously, one publisher is not allowed to sell a carbon copy of another’s work. With this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that nearly every description for the 5E game rules has been rewritten or reformatted in some way. Still, there’s a number of changes present in Tales of the Valiant that I feel are just unnecessary. For example, when describing player characters, the word “race” has been eliminated from the vocabulary. Anyone who has been following the current culture of TTRPGs knows the reason behind this. This change wasn’t made to avoid legal trouble with WotC. It was made in an attempt to be sensitive to the current political climate. In other words, it was done to appeal to “woke culture”. Personally, I see little point in this. Never in a million years would I worried about offending fictional Goblins or Elves by pointing out racial differences between the two – because they don’t exist. Nor am I able to draw any real parallels between fantasy races like Dwarves and Orcs and various human races here on Earth. In my personal opinion, doing so is a stretch at best.

In Tales of the Valiant, the term “race” has been replaced with “lineage”. Personally, I think this is a terrible change. If Kobold Press really felt like they needed to replace the word “race” with something different, at least they could have used a word more indicative of the actual meaning they are trying to convey. The word “species” comes to mind. Species means the same thing. Lineage does not. Naturally, if we are removing the word “race” from the game. Then it goes without saying that “subrace” is also gone as well. Replacing “subrace” is the word “heritage”.

I wish I could say that this was the only example of woke culture in the Player’s Guide. But I can’t. One of the first things presented to the reader when opening this book is the importance of discussing “lines and veils” with your gaming group. Basically, “lines” is another way of saying that something is “off limits”. For example, let’s say a particular player has an intense fear of drowning. They may decide that swimming is one of their “lines”.  – “I’m so afraid of drowning that I don’t even want to encounter the possibility that my pretend character might drown. Therefore, we need to remove any chance that might happen from our game.”  Veils are similar to lines, except that they are not as severe. A player might be willing to participate if “veiled content” is still present. But the Game Master should try to be sensitive…. I’ll be honest. I don’t know what to say about this. I understand that there are some things that might be seriously triggering to certain people. Rape is a great example of a serious and valid concern. But if gamers today are so sensitive that they need to discuss every little anxiety and trigger before sitting down at the gaming table, then perhaps playing TTRPGs isn’t what they should be doing. Do we really need to waste page space with content like this? What has happened to common sense? And when did the that majority of people becomes so sensitive? To me, this is absurdity illustrated. That’s all I have to say about the topic.

There are other, lesser examples of racial and cultural sensitives present in the book. For example, the removal of race-based ability score modifiers and racial alignment restrictions. But this doesn’t come as a surprise. WotC has slowly been doing the same thing and I fully expect this change to appear in the 2024 updates to the D&D core rulebooks. At least these changes have somewhat of a valid argument from a gameplay standpoint. It allows players to create characters of any race without and negative side effects. Personally, I disagree with it on the basis that fantasy races should have differences to both encourage and discourage certain race/class combinations. An example of this would be something like a Dwarf Warlock. From an overall lore standpoint, the rarity of such a character should be exceptional. Is it possible that a Dwarf could become a Warlock? Sure. But should you be able to look around the the average tavern hall and see three of them at a time? No.

Ok. Now that all of that is out of the way. Let’s discuss some of the major differences between Tales of the Valiant and D&D. Warning: I’m going to get very technical.

Races/Lineage:

Nearly all of the classic D&D races are present in TotV. However, some have been slightly renamed or combined. There’s also a handful of new options.

Beastkin – This is a new option that allows players to create a hybrid humanoid/beast character. Do you want to be a cat girl? What about a fox man?  No problem. That’s a Beastkin. I can appreciate the idea of having such an open option. But personally, I don’t think I’d allow this at my table. If a player really wanted to be a cat person, I’d be more inclined to go with a Tabaxi – something that has a more specific reason for existing. Not to mention, Tabaxi and other beast-races have specific abilities and traits that just make sense.

Kobold – It should be expected that Kobold Press would add Kobolds as a playable option to their game. The option is well done in this book. But I personally would not allow PCs to be Kobolds in a general game. My opinion is that these creatures are best as monsters. But to each their own.

Orc – A little more acceptable than Kobolds to me. But still, I think full-on Orcs are best used as opponents unless you’re running some kind of specialty game.

Syderan – This is essentially a roll-up of Tieflings and Aasimars. Instead of having separate races for fiendish and celestial player characters, the Syderan exists to represent both. To me, creating a new umbrella race seems pointless.

Smallfolk – This is another umbrella race that includes Halflings and Gnomes. I’m not sure why Kobold Press felt this was necessary. I see no real point in it..

Finally, Dragonborn, Half-Elf, and Half-Orc have been removed. I suppose the argument could be made that these options are best handled differently. Dragonborns are just Beastkin, etc. But I don’t think rolling Half-Elves up with other Elves or Ealf-Orcs in with regular Orcs is all that smart. There are reasons that these races existed in the first place and excluding that from the game only hurts it.

 

Classes:

This book introduces a new base class, the Mechanist. At first glance, many people assume the Mechanist is just a rebranded Artificer. The difference is, Mechanist is not a spellcasting class. They are a martial/melee class. But they are able to use mystical powers to forge and manipulate objects. After reviewing the class, it certainly seems interesting and well put together. I’m not sure how it would fit into the majority of existing fantasy settings without a little work. But it certainly has potential. I won’t know more until I actually have one at my table. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome addition.

When it comes to existing classes, for the most part, they work similarly to the way they did in 5E. There are few exceptions. Druids and Rangers seem to have the most blatant changes to them. But I feel these changes are warranted. After all even WotC seemed to indicate some dissatisfaction with the way Rangers ended up in 5E. They even went as far as teasing a revised Ranger in their playtest material at one point. I’ll cover the specific changes in detail below. But if you’re worried that TotV ruined your favorite class, you can rest assured that it did not. A quick look at the comparison between the 5E and TotV Bard skills by level below should show you just how unchanged things are.

So what did change? Well, let me break it down. But fair warning: this is going to get deep.

The biggest change to classes in TotV are the inclusion of something called boons.

Boons – At level 10 every class gets something called a Heroic Boon. This allows players to choose a new skill or ability from a handful of options that are specific to that class. For example, Barbarians can choose from two new Rage options (Instant or Stubborn). These act as a modification to existing rage mechanic.  Level 20 sees players earning an Epic Boon. This is a massive perk granted to players who reach max level. Again, using Barbarian as an example, the Epic Boon is Primal Champion – STR and CON both increase for 4 with a new maximum for those scores now at 24.

There’s plenty of other changes to individual classes as well. The majority of these are balance changes. I feel like Kobold Press really took this as an opportunity to reshape the game a bit in ways that give player characters a bit more power. This change seems consistent with the current trend in 5E. A TotV character class is considerably stronger than a vanilla 5E class. But, when you look at a 5E class built with options from later 5E books (like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything), the power difference doesn’t seem quite as stark.

Let’s get into the specifics:

Barbarian changes:

  • Unarmored Defense. Instead of being a combo between DEX and CON modifiers, this skill is now 13 + your CON modifier.
  • Multiattack – New name for Extra Attack.
  • Fast Movement: Move up to half your speed when rolling initiative.
  • Brutal Critical: Can now score a critical hit on a 19 or 20 with melee weapons/unarmed strikes.
  • Heroic Boon: As mentioned above, you can choose to either rage instantly as a free action when you roll initiative or select stubborn rage and stay enraged until the combat ends or the character is unconscious.
  • Unyielding Might: This replaces Indomitable Might. Ability checks on STR or CON now have a base cap of 10. You also now add your STR score to damage against objects and structures.

Bard changes:

  • Magic changes:
    • Bards now have access to the ENTIRE Arcane spell list and can learn 1 additional cantrip.
    • A single 1st-Circle spell selected can be from any spell list (not just arcane).
    • Bards can now use an arcane focus.
    • Bards can access ritual spells.
  • Expertise: The Bard’s 2nd Expertise is now available at level 6 instead of level 10
  • Bardic Performance: This replaces countercharm. Bardic Performance is an Action that is maintained as a Bonus Action but blocks out Bardic Inspiration.
  • Jack of All Trades: This is no longer a core class feature. Instead it is locked behind the College of Lore class option.
  • Font of Inspiration: Now allows players to use a Bardic Inspiration die as a reaction when a party member fails a roll.
  • Magical Secrets: Bards can now select two spells at levels 9, 13, and 18 instead of levels 10 and 18.
  • Heroic Boon: Bards are able to keep their inspiration die when a roll fails or they can use an inspiration die to add damage to an attack or reduce damage when hit.
  • Epic Boon: Curtain Call. Allows players to recover the CHA modifier that Bardic Inspiration uses once per day. This mechanic replaces Superior Inspiration.

Cleric changes:

  • Manifestation of Faith: Allows the player to select from a list of two “booster” traits without having to wait to select a subclass.
  • Magic changes: Clerics can now learn a number of rituals that are separate from their regular allowed spells.
  • Channel Divinity: Uses per day now increase to 4 once the player reaches level 18.
    • Turn the Profane – Formerly Turn Undead. This ability now affects both fiends and undead. Exorcist style. I like this.
    • Destroy the Profane – Formerly Destroy Undead, Like Turn the Profane, this now affects fiends.
  • Divine Intervention: Now a level 9 ability instead of  level 10.
  • Heroic Boon: Immunity to disease/poison or gain resistance to necrotic/radiant damage.
  • Epic Boon: Divine Herald: Divine Intervention works automatically and can be used once per long rest.

Druid changes:

  • Magic changes:
    • Beast spells have been eliminated.
    • Druids learn 1 additional cantrip than they could in original 5E rules.
    • Druids can now learn a number of rituals that are separate from their regular allowed spells.
  • Nature’s Gift: New feature that heals one target (can be the player) as a Bonus Action.
  • Wild Shape: Changed to work more like Channel Divinity for Clerics. Druids get 1 use per rest. The number of uses increases to 4 per rest once the player reaches 18th level. You can use Wild Shape to invoke “Beast Form” or “Draw Power”.
    • Beast Form: Limited to two specific forms. However, these can be changed whenever you gain a level.  Additional forms are added whenever your PB increases. CR improvements are nerfed to be one level behind the original 5E rules. The restrictions placed on movement types have been eliminated.
    • Draw Power: A massive pump for Druid magic use. Can use a bonus action to recharge spells. Cannot be used when in Wild Shape.
  • Heroic Boon: Can talk to any animal or the player can elect to get one additional Wild Shape use per Long Rest.
  • Nature’s Grace: Combines the benefits of 5E’s Timeless Body. The Druid foregoes the need for food and water. And also receives exemptions from ability score and hit point maximum reductions.
  • Archdruid: Minor changes here. Archdruids can use the ‘Beast Shape’ Wild Shape option an unlimited number of times.

Fighter changes:

  • Indomitable: This mechanic has been eliminated.
  • Martial Action: This replaces Fighting Style. Activated by using a Bonus Action instead of granting a passive benefit. The following actions are available:
    • Aim: Doubles the PB on your next ranged attack.
    • Guard: Imposes Disadvantage on an opponent’s next attack.
    • Quick Strike: Make two attacks as a Bonus Action when fighting with dual weapons.
    • Wind Up: Adds +PB damage to a melee weapon attack against a chosen target.
  • Last Stand: This replaces Second Wind from 5E. It allows you to expend a Hit Dice as a reaction before taking damage to heal yourself.
  • Action Surge: Scales up to three uses per rest
  • Multiattack: Like Barbarian, new name for Extra Attack. Fighters get their 3rd attack at level 9 instead of level 11 and their 4th at level 17 instead of level 20.
  • Heroic Boon: Choose to succeed on a failed save additional times per long rest or end select negative status conditions several times per day.
  • Epic Boon: Once on each of your turns add a +STR modifier or a +DEX modifier and also ignore resistance/immunity when you hit with a weapon.

Monk changes:

The term “Ki” feature has been renamed to “Techniques”. Ki Points have been renamed to Technique Points. This seems to have done in attempt to break that “oriental” stereotypes commonly associated with Monks.

  • Empowered Strikes: Renamed from “Ki-Empowered Strikes”.
  • Stillness of Mind: Removed but integrated into one of the Heroic Boons.
  • The Monk’s point system has been revamped to boost early access to Technique Points at lower levels.
  • Martial Arts: Updated to include Deflect Arrows.
  • Flurry of Blows: Monks can make two unarmed strikes or you can attack once with a Monk weapon.
  • Slow Fall has been removed and integrated into Perfect Motion at level 9.
  • Multiattack: Same as Barbarian and fighter. Previously known as Extra Attack..
  • Evasion: Moved from level 7 to level 6
  • Perfect Motion: Combines Slow Fall with Unarmored Movement.
  • Heroic Boon: Choose between Purity of Body plus the ability to recover HP if HP is reduced to 0 equal to current number of TP once per day or Advantage on Wisdom saves plus the benefits of Stillness of Mind.
  • Astral Teachings: Replaces Tongue of Sun and Moon. Gives Monks the ability to gain proficiency in a language, skill, or tool at the cost of  2 TP.
  • Timeless Self: Replaces Timeless Body at level 17 instead of level 15. In addition to the benefits of Timeless Body, Monks no longer need food/water and your ability scores and HP maximum can’t be reduced.
  • Boundless Technique: Replaces Perfect Self. Recover up to 4 TP when you roll initiative. Also regain 2 TP at the beginning of every turn in combat if you have none.

Paladin changes:

  • Lay on Hands: Can now be used on yourself as a Bonus Action. Not sure how I feel about this. Paladins are supposed to be selfless.
  • Divine Smite: Now limited to just once per turn.
  • Improved Divine Smite: Integrated into one of the Heroic Boon
  • Martial Action: Same as Fighter. Paladin gets access to Guard or Wind Up.
  • Magic: Paladins now have access to their spells permanently instead of having to prepare them each day like a Cleric.
  • Channel Divinity: Scales from once per rest to 3 per rest.
  • Multiattack: Same as other classes. Renamed Extra Attack.
  • Aura of Protection: Same Except that TotV rules specify that multiple auras of protection don’t stack.
  • Aura of Courage: Moved from level 10 to level 9
  • Heroic Boon: Give targets of lay on hands the ability to spend a hit die when healed them or add +1d8 damage on all of your attacks to regular creatures or +2d8 against fiends and undead.
  • Epic Boon: Creates a healing aura. Also grants resistance to non-magical damage, and allows allies to automatically succeed on death saves.

Ranger changes:

The updates feel like a combo of core 5E, Revised Ranger, and Tasha’s options.

  • Favored Enemy: Removed.
  • Land’s Stride: Removed.
  • Vanish: Removed.
  • Explorer: Replaces Natural Explorer. Grants a climb or swim speed advantage when tracking and you can ignore difficult terrain rules.
  • Mystic Mark: Similar to the Favored Foe from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, but without concentration and scales to max of 1d10 damage.
  • Martial Action: Same as for the Fighter, but Rangers are limited to Aim and Quick Strike.
  • Magic: Primordial Spellcasting. Shares the Druid’s full spell list.
  • Multiattack: Extra Attack renamed.
  • Empowered Mark:  Improves attacking hidden/invisible enemies once they’ve been flagged with Mystic Mark.
  • Stalker’s Step:  Replaces Hide in Plain Sight. Rangers can become Invisible for one round as a Bonus Action. (Similar to Nature’s Veil from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.)
  • Heroic Boon: Apply Mystic Mark without hitting and move the mark to new targets or the Ranger can elect to learn 2 Cantrips and 2 Rituals.
  • Keensense: 10 ft. of Keensense (AKA: Blindsense in 5E)
  • Strider: No Opportunity Attacks and Advantage on saves/checks against effects which would bind the Ranger.
  • Epic Boon: Replaces Foe Slayer. + WIS modifier to attack or damage on every attack against a marked creature.

Rogue changes:

  • Slippery Mind: Removed.
  • Weapon proficiencies have been updated to include simple weapons and all martial weapons with the Finesse property.
  • Evasion: Moved from level 7 to level 6.
  • Reliable Talent: Moved from level 11 to level 9.
  • Heroic Boon: Choose from Evasion but for all saves or the option to choose Talents from any list with an extra Talent.
  • Precise Critical: You score critical hits on a 19 or 20 with the same weapons that deal Sneak Attack. You can also add an additional damage die roll on critical hits. At level 17 you add yet another damage die on crits.
  • Keensense. Replaces Blindsense, Like Ranger, same thing, different name.
  • Epic Boon: Stroke of Luck. No changes from 5E Stroke of Luck.

Sorcerer changes:

  • Font of Magic: Moved to level 1 from level 2.
  • Metamagic: You now learn 2 at level 2 instead of level 3, then another at levels 6, 13, and 18.
    • A number of new Metamagic spells introduced.
    • Twinned Spell: The cost for non-cantrip spells increased by 1 SP.
  • Sorcerous Renewal:  Regain a few SP every time that you take a Short Rest.
  • Heroic Boon: Spend a SP to add +CHA modifier to failed ability checks or pick a 1st Circle or 2nd Circle spell from the Arcane, Primordial, or the Wyrd spell list and gain the ability to cast it using SP.
  • Devour Spell: Once per long rest, attempt to eat an incoming spell or an ongoing spell to get SP.
  • Epic Boon: When you’re targeted by a spell, you can transfer the spell’s target to another creature – including the creature that cast the spell at you!

Warlock changes:

  • Eldritch Blast: Now a basic class feature instead of a spell. 4th blast ray available at level 14 instead of level 17.
  • Pact Boon: Moved from level 3 to level 1.
    • Pact of the Blade: Use CHA modifier for attack/damage rolls with your pact weapon.
    • Pact of the Chain: Adds Blink Dog as a possible familiar. Familiars are attack after the PC instead of having to roll their own initiative.
  • Mystic Arcanum: Removed.
  • Eldritch Invocations: Now learn up to 10 instead of 8.
  • Magic: Warlocks now cast spells from the new Wyrd spell list. They also don’t get spellcasting ability until level 2 like the Paladin and the Ranger.
  • Pact Magic: Cast any of your subclass spells at your highest warlock spell circle without  having to spend a spell slot 2 times per short rest. This scales up to 4 per short rest once the player reaches level 17.
  • Enhanced Boon: One Pact Boon is enhanced.
    • Pact of the Blade: Multiattack with your pact weapon.
    • Pact of the Chain: Your familiar gets temporary HP when you rest and the familiar can grant the Warlock advantage on attacks as a reaction.
    • Pact of Tome: The Warlock can to cast rituals and add rituals that you find to their tome.
  • Heroic Boon: Choose a 1st-Circle or 2nd-Circle spell from any spell list and gain the ability to cast them using either spell slots or Pact Magic or the Warlock can add exploding dice to your Eldritch Blast attack.
  • Patron’s Favor: Use Pact Magic to cast any spell you know of 5th-circle or lower.
  • Epic Boon: Once per long rest, recharge all of your Pact Magic uses if you start a turn none.

Wizard changes:

  • Magic:
    • Wizards can now learn a number of rituals separate from their regular spells.
    • Wizards can also add additional rituals to their spellbook.
  • Magic Sense: This is similar to detect magic, but it can also detect creatures with magic casting abilities.
  • Rote Spell:  Prepare a few extra low-Circle spells per day. This gives Wizards a slight boost over other magic-users.
  • Superior Recovery: Change a few prepared spells when you use Arcane Recovery.
  • Heroic Boon: Choose between the ability to learn rituals from any source list or to learn regular spells from your choice of the Divine, Primordial, or Wyrd spell lists.
  • Spellguard: Gives Wizards an advantage on saves against spells as well as resistance to damage from spells and magical attacks.
  • Spell Mastery: Wizards can cast rote spells at their lowest Circle once per day. Your rote spells now include 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circle. Sort of a nerf.
  • Epic Boon: Adds a chance to recover an expended spell slot once per short rest when you cast an Arcane spell.

As you can see from the lists above, TotV isn’t just a carbon copy of the core 5E rules. Kobold Press took plenty of liberties when it comes to the mechanics behind player character classes. For the most part, I find the majority of these to be welcome changes. And I actually expect that when the 2024 5E Core Rules are released later this year, we’ll find that those updates line up pretty close to the sort of thing we’re seeing here. Overall, I feel the majority of these updates are welcome and well balanced.

Still, you might notice a few new terms being slung about. “Wyrd” spells and “Spell Circle” are great examples. This makes a great segue for me to discuss the changes to the magic system that are present in TotV.

Magic:

Magic in TotV is largely the same, with a few notable exceptions. “Spell Level” is now called “Spell Circle”. Why? I have no idea. This is nothing more than a change in terminology. The real change has to do with spell lists. Gone are the class-specific spell lists. Instead, we now have four spell categories: Wyrd, Arcane, Primal, and Divine. This change impacts the spells that are available to different classes in a fairly large way. For examples, Sorcerers and Bards now have more spells in their repertoire than ever before. Still, overall the categorization of spells makes sense and nothing really feels out of place. I suppose it makes sense since TotV plans to release supplements down the line that will introduce new classes/subclasses (Like the Theurge and Witch in the Deep Magic books – which was also our first preview into this new system).

As expected, a handful of spells present in the PHB were not included in the 5E SRD. For this reason, they had to be removed.

Misc:

Other changes to the rules are minor but still worth mentioning.

Inspiration has been replaced with Luck. Now, instead of earning Inspiration Points for various things at the table, players earn Luck Points. These points can be spent 1:1 to increase die rolls or three Luck Points can be spent to allow a complete re-roll. On the surface, this seems like an interesting change. But one that doesn’t really seems either better or worse than Inspiration. That is, until you learn how Luck Points are generated. Luck Points are earned by failing rolls. The idea here is, if you regularly fumble your die rolls, Luck Points can be a consolation prize. There is a cap on the number of Luck Points you can earn. If you try to horde them and reach the cap, the majority of them go away (players can keep 1d4 Luck Points if cap is surpassed).

Backgrounds now grant you two skill proficiencies, a handful of miscellaneous proficiencies, and allow players to pick a “talent” from a short list. What is a “talent”? Well, it’s the new name for Feats. Talents fall under three different categories, Magical, Technical, and Martial. The majority of Feats in 5E were included in WotC books but not referenced in the SRD. For this reason, they could not be copied into this new game. This forced Kobold Press to create new talents from the ground up. The end result is a list of talents are largely similar to existing 5E feats, but also slightly different. this will likely be he hardest part of converting a 5E character to TotV.

Speaking of Proficiencies, they are now only available for PCs. Proficiencies have been removed for all NPCs and monsters.

Finally, combat has a new Weapon Option that allows characters to use a special maneuver involving their weapon instead of taking a simple attack.

I’m sure there are tons of changes that I happened to miss. I’ve only had the PDFs for a few day now, but I did my best to contrast and compare. All in all, it seems like TotV is a pretty good mix of keeping the classic 5E rules familiar while also adding a few refinements and updates. At this point, it should be relatively easy for any group to switch their game from D&D to TotV with very little effort. At this point, I’m not sure why the majority of players would feel the need to do that. But if things do change radically with the release of One D&D, Tales of the Valiant is here to preserve that classic 5E environment. Off the top of my head, I’d say that it’s 95% compatible with 5E D&D. When I say this, I mean that you could easily use the TotV rules to run a pre-existing 5E adventure module with little to no modification needed.

I’ll be curious to see how Tales of the Valiant is accepted by fans of D&D. I don’t expect it will take off the same way Pathfinder did but time will tell.

Tabletop

 

Old Game Hermit

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