Secrets of the Sylvera Academy 1 Preview.

I’m excited for The Secrets of Sylvera Academy. It’s got good spell mechanics. Some of the spells harken back to ye olden days of AD&D 1E and others let it rip in 5E. So much goodness in these pagers.

A wonderful new 5E supplement by Single Step Gaming now on Kickstarter.

Here’s the link on Kickstarter. Highly recommend taking a look. The pledges are very reasonably priced and the content is pure golden dynamite so far. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at some of the content and I’m blown away.

Caster Dueling.

The first thing one will notice are the rules for caster duels. This makes counterspelling more than just counterspell. Enemy throws fireball? Block with Cone of Cold and so on. It nicely emulates two wizards blasting it out until they’re completely out of spells or one of them goes down to a mighty blast from the other. One could also do a bardic battle of the bands with this system. The possibilities are pretty wild from settling bar bets to taking down BBEGs.

The spell section of this book is intense.

There are a LOT of great spells in this supplement. I’m not going to go level by level on all of them, but I’ll mention some that definitely stand out. There are definitely some I want my (family) group to test out. I would have given $10 to have some of these back in the day. I love utility, illusion, and shadow spells. This book has all that and more.

Clap of Thunder is a cantrip with a tiny amount of damage and 5′ of knockback. Good old knockback. Castable by Sorcerer, Wizard, and Warlock among others. I think it would be fun to use on a Monk/Sorcerer multiclass.

The other outstanding Cantrip to me is Combined Casting. For every 2 acolytes assisting the caster, a spell can be cast one level higher. It makes me think of witches’ covens, warlock cults, even bardic troupes coming together to make a lower level spell something spectacular. Somewhat ceremonial, but definitely a keeper.

I also liked the utility and some of the damage components of Hedgerow, Infernal Weapon, and Stonespike. I like Druid casting, and I think Hedgerow is going to be useful in and out of combat. I think Infernal Weapon is handy for Bards and a possible staple spell for Warlocks.

First, Second and Third Level Spells of note:

Air Shield is a solid Level 1 utility along with Faelyn’s Flaming Armor. Glamur reminds me of the good old Illusionist days. Charged Bolt and Hailstone are great replacements for Magic Missile. Nature’s Speed for Rangers and Druids would be incredible. The spell grants climb or swim speed equal to the target’s movement for 8 hours.

The Level 2 spells really stood out, perhaps more than some of the other levels. Arcane Sling is a magical slingshot with some pretty respectable damage. Gill Growth is a great 8 hour replacement for Water Breathing. Shield of the Dead is very cool. (*I don’t want to give too many spoilers.) Void Sword is another must-have for Warlocks in particular.

I want to talk about Summon Vehicle specifically. This spell totally rocks. My group would have gone bonkers for this back in the day. It’s a 24 hour summonable cart, coach, rowboat, or whatever transportation the caster desires. As a huge fan of the old Mouse Cart magic item, I can’t recommend this spell too much for any party. It gets the job done.

Third Level spells are interesting and useful. Blur Reality is just bizarre as the name suggests. Eamon’s Hear Traps is a very strange, but useful utility. It takes some of the surprise out of the “Click” rule. (*I’ll go over that one elsewhere.)

Haloras’ Knowledge of Other Lives. Hats off to whomever thought of this spell. D&D has needed this for a while now. The caster reaches back into their lineage with a d12 roll and pulls out features from another class. Man, I sure hope some of my character’s ancestors were Paladins.

I also want to really praise the spell, Traveler’s Sanctuary. It creates a 15′ radius sphere safe from the elements for 1 hour. Higher level castings grant more time. This might be a good one to cast with the Combine Spell cantrip.

Spell levels Four, Five, and Six have some noteworthy items.

At Fourth level the spells are really friendly to Warlocks and Necromancers in particular. Rain of Blood, Shared Torment, Shadow’s Touch, and Wall of Shadows are all in that kinda “Dark Arts” category. There’s even a spell called “Defense Against the Void Arts.”

At Fifth level, Beam of Brilliance reminds me a lot of Sun Ray. Ice Prison reminds me of a Diablo spell effect which is to say it’s cool. Armor of the Dead is also kind of in the Diablo vein of things. I like it!

There are only five Sixth Level spells in this supplement. I absolutely have to talk about Scythe of Armageddon. The material component for this thing is the bone of a CR 10 or higher creature. The caster snaps it and unleashes

a Void energy war scythe that does insane amounts of damage + poison. How to make your BBEG cry in one hit.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Level spells are short, powerful lists.

Part of me thinks these spells are underrepresented in a lot of books, but how many campaigns get to caster levels high enough to throw these around nowadays? It’s rare to get to cast the groovy high end stuff. Some of these make good use of it, though.

Folklore (Seventh) plus and kind of scrying tool is likely going to ruin the DM’s well laid master plans. Wall of Force will make archers lose their marbles. Stonewall reminds me of some Old School D&D. I like it a lot.

Unspeakable Nothingness- cool name for a spell. World shattering effects for an 8th Level spell. Kudos for coming up with this one. I pray my characters never get hit with it.

Dalton’s Traveling Taproom and Orb of Transport at Level 9 turn the most intense casting levels into something super useful. These two spells are an especially good choice for a Wizard who knows long rest is on the horizon. The Ending of All Things is aptly named and does what one would expect. Yikes.

Conclusion and overall impression

Overall, this book delivers on mechanical elements. Some things looked tough to adjudicate, but upon thorough reading it has so far turned out not to be broken. So far as I can tell there’s nothing in this supplement I would object-to as a DM. Others might not rule it that way given it’s a third party book.

Maybe it could use a few more graphics with some of the spells? I know how hard it is to score good art, though. Smaller publications like this one struggle. After about Fifth Level Spells, art would have been useful to break up some of the blank spaces. It’s a small thing.

I would have also liked to have seen a little more flavor text with some of the spells and more about the academy itself. There’s a low key Strixhaven or even Hairy Potter vibe going on. I would have liked to have seem more text similar to the snippet on Page 6 (or thereabouts.) I think Sylvera Academy has some good lore possibilities.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate it. Please go take a look at Sylvera Academy now on Kickstarter. Special thanks to Single Step Gaming for providing this preview copy.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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