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SYFY WIRE Dungeons & Dragons

D&D’s Magic The Gathering crossover book is ditching those weird subclasses

By James Grebey
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

One of Dungeons & Dragons' upcoming books is all about going to school. And, just like how you learn things in school, D&D has learned a lot from the player feedback about some experimental subclasses that were in consideration for Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. The subclasses, while interesting, were controversial with playtesters and are not making it in the final book. However, there is plenty more adventure and excitement in the November release — not to mention some cool new player options. 

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is a crossover with Magic: The Gathering, and it transports players to a magical school. Playtest content (known as Unearthed Arcana) released in early June gave fans an early look at five magical subclasses, each tied to one of Strixhaven’s schools of magic, that were in development for the new book. These subclasses, unlike every other subclass in D&D’s Fifth Edition, were not specific to any one class. Wizards, bards, and warlocks all had the option to become a Mage of Lorehold, for example. 

“Unearthed Arcana did the job that we ask it to do for us. We put sometimes very experimental things out in front of D&D fans and really just ask them ‘hey, do you want to see more of this?’ And the simple answer we got was ‘No,’” D&D’s lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford explained with a laugh during a press preview for the game’s D&D Live 2021 event earlier this week. 

“People love for D&D subclasses to speak to the distinctiveness of a particular class,” Crawford continued, explaining that playtesters didn’t love the one-size-fits-all nature of the subclassed. He added that another concern was how closely the subclasses were tied to Strixhaven-specific lore, making them trickier for DMs and players to use in homebrew settings. 

Instead, Strixhaven is going in a different direction, one that Crawford says is “going to support even more character types than those hybrid subclasses were going to.”

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

What will be in the book seems quite exciting, though. Despite being a Magic cross-over, the scope of the book is so zoomed-in on the titular magic school that DMs could easily plop Strixhaven into any setting, homebrew or otherwise. Once there, they have access to the roughly two-thirds of the book that are devoted to an academic adventure. It’s a four-part campaign, with each part representing a year of school. It can be played as one ongoing story, but each part (or year) can also be a standalone story that can be played over two or three sessions. The campaign is for players level 1 through 10. 

In addition to all the usual D&D adventure players expect from a campaign, Strixhaven also features more academic pursuits like exams that offer mechanical benefits depending on whether or not your character passes. There are also social events like dances and house parties, and you can make narratively and mechanically meaningful relationships with other NPC students — and that goes for both friends and frenemies. 

The other third of the book provides a bestiary that’s full of both monsters and plenty of NPC foes that DM’s can throw at their players. Perhaps in lieu of the nixed subclasses, there are new feats that give players a taste of Strixhaven’s magic teachings. Crucially, players don’t need to be a magic-using class to attend Strixhaven, as it’s about the study of magic, not just personal mastery of it. That said, all Strixhaven students get a free feat, so it’s likely that everyone will have a little magical flare. 

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

Finally, Strixhaven introduces a new player race. Magic’s Owlin, which were named owlfolk during playtesting, are a playable race in the new book
Class begins when Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos comes out on Nov. 16. Check out the second day of D&D Live 2021 today for more D&D announcements and content.