Plane Shift refers to one of two things in relation to Dungeons & Dragons: a spell that has been around since at least the creation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, or a series of articles released by Wizards of the Coast in support of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
The Plane Shift spell is a magic spell available to both clerics and wizards in Dungeons & Dragons. A high level spell - 5th level Cleric/7th level Wizard in 3e, a 7th level spell available to Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards in 5e - it allows the caster to transfer themselves and/or other beings from one plane to another. It is technically more difficult to access than portals, and not always perfect, but in a pinch, it can be a life-saver.
The Plane Shift article series examines the various planes of Magic: The Gathering and provides advice to DMs on how to use Magic content, especially material from that particular plane, in their games of D&D. These articles usually include new playable races and new monsters, and may on occasion include new subclasses, magic items or other mechanics.
Currently, there have been six releases in the series, covering the planes of Zendikar, Innistrad, Kaladesh, Amonkhet, Ixalan and Dominaria. The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica is a more extravagant version of these, receiving a full-fledged print-up in November 2018.
Plane Shift: Zendikar
The first of the plane shift articles, Zendikar mostly focuses on adding a collection of new races; Kor, Merfolk, Vampire, Goblin and Elf. However, it also features monster statblocks for three new creatures (Archon of Redemption, Felidar, Zendikaran Kraken) and a mechanical & flavor guide for crafting your own Eldrazi.
The White Mana-aligned nomads, Kor are sort of like Zendikaran Goliaths, but different. A Kor is a Medium sized creature with +2 Dexterity and +1 Wisdom, a base speed of 30 feet, a climb speed of 30 feet (can't use if encumbered or in heavy armor), free proficiency in Athletics and Acrobatics, and the Lucky and Brave traits as per your basic Halfling.
- Zendikaran Merfolk
The handbook's racial representative of Blue Mana. Unlike traditional Merfolk, these ones come with legs, so they can actually walk around on land like Tritons. They're Medium sized creatures with +1 Charisma, Amphibious (can breathe air and water), and a Swim speed of 30 feet on top of their base speed of 30 feet when walking on land. They have to pick one of the three Creeds to follow, which functions as a subrace choice. All cantrips cast with their highest racial bonus (so Wisdom for Emeria, Intelligence for Ula, Charisma for Cosi).
- Emeria Merfolk follow the Creed of Wind, giving them +2 Wisdom, free proficiency in Deception & Persuasion, and a Druid cantrip of their choice.
- Ula Merfolk follow the Creed of Water, giving them +2 Intelligence, free proficiency in navigator's tools and survival, and a Wizard cantrip of their choice.
- Cosi Merfolk follow the Creed of the Trickster, giving them +1 Charisma and +1 Intelligence, free proficiency in Slight of Hand and Stealth, and a Bard cantrip of their choice.
- Zendikaran Vampire
Aligned to Black Mana, Zendikaran Vampires are not undead, but infused with a necrotic disease that requires them to feed on the life-energy of others. Medium sized and with a base speed of 30 feet, they get +2 Charisma and +1 Intelligence, Darkvision, Resistance (Necrotic), and the Blood Drain ability. This is a special attack that they can only do on a target that is willing, restrained, grappled or incapacitated; it inflicts 1 piercing damage and D6 necrotic damage, which A: is deducted from the target's maximum hit point value and B: heals you of an equal amount of damage. The target can shake off this effect by taking a long rest, but if killed by this attack, then they become a Null (a unique sort of zombie, but which isn't statted in the booklet).
- Zendikaran Goblin
Aligned to Red Mana, these goblins are tough and hardy creatures. They are Small creatures with speed 25 feet, bolstered by having +2 Constitution, Darkvision, the Grit trait (resistance to Fire and Psychic damage, unarmored AC is 11+Dex modifier), and they have to choose one of the three Tribes to belong to, though none of them are really spectacular choices.
- Grotag Tribe Goblins receive free proficiency in Animal Handling.
- Lavastep Tribe Goblins have Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made in rocky or subterranean environments.
- Tuktuk Tribe Goblins receive free proficiency in thieves tools.
- Zendikaran Elves
What to really say about these guys? Medium sized, base speed 30 feet, +2 Wisdom, Darkvision, free proficiency in Perception, Fey Ancestry (so immune to magical sleep effects, resistance to charm effects), and three nationalities/subraces.
- Tajuru Elves gain +1 Charisma and two free proficiency slots, each of which can be spent on any skill or tool of your choice.
- Joraga Elves are basically corebook Wood Elves, but with +2 Wisdom and +1 Dexterity, instead of the +2 Dexterity/+1 Wisdom of the corebook version.
- Mul Daya Elves have +1 Strength, Superior Darkvision and Sunlight Sensitivity, free weapon proficiency in the longbow, longsword, shortbow & shortsword, and the Mul Daya Magic trait (know the Chill Touch cantrip, learn Hex as a 1/day spell like ability at level 3, learn Darkness as a 1/day spell-like ability at level 5, use Wisdom to cast with).
Plane Shift: Innistrad
Because of how xenophobic and human-focused the plane of Innistrad is, only a single new PC race was presented; Innisradi Human, with the different provinces of Innistrad being treated as subraces.
Innistradi Humans are still Medium sized and with a base speed of 30 feet, with other abilities depending on whether you hail from Gavony, Kessig, Nephalia or Stensia:
- Gavony follow the standard "+1 to all stats" approach of your vanilla PHB human.
- Kessigs get +1 Dexterity and Wisdom, proficiency in Survival, base speed of 40 feet, the ability to ignore difficult terrain when you dash, and the Spring Attack trait (if you land a melee attack on a creature, you can't provoke opportunity attacks from that creature for the rest of your turn).
- Nephalians gain +1 Intelligence and Charisma, as well as proficiency in any combination of four skills and/or tool kits that they desire.
- Stensians gain +1 Strength and Constitution, proficiency in Intimidation, and the Tough trait, which gives them +2 max HP at character creation and boosts it by a further +2 max HP each time you gain a level. Yes, this is basically the Mountain Dwarf's Dwarven Toughness racial feature but twice as good.
The next section is the Classes Overview, which looks at how the various classes of D&D might mesh with the flavor of Innistrad, suggesting renaming based on Innistrad cards - "ghoul-caller" or "necro-alchemist" instead of Necromancer, for example.
Then, there's the Church of Avacyn, which examines the primary faith of this plane and how to meld it with a PC. In particularly, it notes that the Cleric Domains most appropriate are Knowledge (Bruna & Flight Alabaster), Life (Sigarda & the Host of Herons) and War (Gisela & Flight Goldnight).
After that comes a unique character background; the Inquisitor, a cathar detective of the Church of Avacyn primarily focused on rooting out and destroying werewolves. With free proficiencies in Investigation< Religion, Thieves Tools and one set of Artisan's Tools, it starts with a fre holy symbol, some traveler's clothes and 15 gold pieces, and its special feature is Legal Authority.
This means you have the authority to arrest criminals, and to pass judgment or even sentence them in absence of other authorities. That said, the Innistradi Inquisition is NOT the all-powerful force that, say, a more /tg/ familiar Inquisition is, so getting too blam-happy WILL get you punished.
The monster chapter covers many different Gothic Fantasy critters native to the plane.
Werewolves, of course, are first on the list, completing the sub-section with a new Werewolf statblock, representing a member of the Krallenhorde, Innistrad's largest howlpack. Three alternative monster traits, useful for representing a member of the Vildin, Mondronen and Leeraug howlpacks, are also presented.
Naturally, Innistradi vampires also get a lot of attention, complete with a Neonate statblock and secondary/alternate traits you can use to bump it up to one of the older, stronger vampires of the plane.
Next comes details on the Geist (a plane-unique variant of ghost), complete with how their Mana alignment affects their behavior, monster statblock, and two alternate monster traits to represent White and Black-aligned geists.
This is followed by a short sidebar on necro-alchemists and skaberen, the mad artificer-necromancers of this plane. Alternate monster traits to augment the Flesh Golem to more closely resemble the manic experiments of the skaberen and their grotesque skaabs are also presented.
After flavor-focused examinations of ghoulcallers, liches, demons, devils, cults, witches, dragons, wurms and elementals, we pass by Constructed Creatures, which provides stats for a new monster: the Creepy Doll.
The monster portion of the article finishes with an examination of the archangel Avacyn and her followers - and their descent into corruption as a result of Emrakul. Avacyn herself should be considered a Solar, whilst Bruna, Sigarda and Gisela should be considered Planetars and their underling angels are Devas. Four new monster traits are presented to represent both the original three flights/hosts of Avacyn, as well as the mad Flight of Moonsilver, created by the infected Avacyn to "purge" Innistrad of life. It also notes that any mad Innistradi angel can cast Flame Strike 1/day and their Angelic Weapons divide their bonus damage between Fire and Radiant.
Finally, the article closes with an examination of how to use the Sanity rules from the DMG to represent Emrakul's corruption and how to adapt the adventure Curse of Strahd to take place in Innistrad instead of Barovia.
Plane Shift: Kaladesh
As Kaladesh's magitek theme makes it the most unique of the planes in comparison to vanilla D&D, this is the most rule-heavy Plane Shift so far.
It starts by examining the Backgrounds in the PHB, and noting which ones would be absent and whether the present ones best align with the Consulate, Renegades or Independence.
- Acolytes are Absent from Kaladesh, this plane has no real religious background.
- Charlatans are Renegades.
- Criminals are Renegades.
- Entertainers are Independent.
- Folk Heroes are Renegades.
- Guild Artisans are either Consulates or Renegades.
- Hermits are eitehr Independents or Renegades.
- Nobles are either Consulates or Renegades.
- Outlanders can be Independent or aligned to either faction.
- Sages are most likely Consulates or Independents.
- Sailors, like Outlanders, can be Independent, Consulate or Renegade.
- Soldiers are Consulates.
- Urchins are either Independents or Renegades.
From there, it looks at classes, with a particular emphasis that, by the plane's standard fluff, spellcasting ability is fairly rare and what spellcasting clases are present are themselves restricted - for example, the Druid class is restricted to elves and the Circle of the Moon is forbidden.
A sidebar in this section also includes a new Sorcerous Origin; the Pyromancer, a variant form of Wild Mage whose magic manifests as an affinity for fire. Sorcerers of this subclass gain the following class features:
- Level 1 - Heart of Fire: Scorch all creatures of your choice within 10 feet with fire damage equal to half your sorcerer level (minimum of 1) whenever you cast a fire spell.
- Level 6 - Fire In The Veins: Gain Fire Resistance, ignore Fire Resistance when burninating others with your spells.
- Level 14 - Pyromancer's Fury: use a reaction when hit in melee to torch the attacker, inflicting superheated (ignores Fire Resistance) fire damage equal to your sorcerer level.
- Level 18 - Fiery Soul: You're immune to fire, all fire effects from you ignore fire resistance, and your fire attacks can burn Fire Immunity targets as if they were only Fire Resistant.
From there, the article moves on to the biggest mechanical issue: Aether-Powered Devices, the magic-powered pseudoscience that makes this setting all of its own. This covers multiple features, from noting that most APDs will work just fine as cosmetic reskins of existing D&D magic items, to using aether fuel to replace the conventional "regain charges" mechanic, to rules for actually building your own APDs.
This culminates in two feats; Quicksmithing, which lets you create jury-rigged inventions that basically replicate the effects of Ritual spells, and gives you the Rock Gnome's Tinker racial trait, and Servo Crafting, which lets you create a Servo as a Familiar.
From there, the article moves to more familiar territory. Two new races are provided, the Aetherborn and the Vedalken, as well as Kaladesh's unique take on the classic elves and dwarves.
Artificial humanoids that sometimes spontaneously form from the aether refinement process, aetherborn have extremely short lifespans (some live only a few months) who are driven to experience as much as they can in what time they have. Hedonistic and self-interested, an Aetherborn has Charisma +2, +1 to two ability scores of its choice, is a Medium creature with 30 feet base speed, and has the Darkvision, Menacing (free proficiency in Intimidate), and Born of Aether (Resist Necrotic) traits. Rules are also presented for "darkling" aetherborn, who have learned to suck the life from others in order to extend their own lives. An aetherborn can use the rules for inventing and manufacturing a magic item to transform itself irrevocably into a darkling, in which case it gains the Drain Life trait (a natural attack that inflicts 1d6 Necrotic damage on a victim and heals the aetherborn for that much). If the darkling goes 7 days without using this ability, it loses 1d6 maximum hit points per week without feeding; only feeding followed by a long rest will restore this degraded health.
- Kaladeshian Dwarves
Largely identical to the Hill dwarves, with a +2 bonus to Constitution and a +1 bonus to Wisdom, Darkvision, advantage on saving throws against poison, same bonuses that come from Stonecunning, resistance against poison damage, and a hit point maximum increase by 1 each level. What makes them different is the lack of weapon proficiency, and the Artisan’s Expertise feature. Instead of having to pick one from smith’s tools, brewer’s supplies, or mason’s tools, these dwarves can pick two of any artisan’s tools, and their proficiency is doubled while using them.
Elf-like, inventive humanoids who perceive everything as imperfect and rejoice in the opportunities for improvement that presents. This leads to an irritating enthusiasm for criticising other people's approach/skills/personality. +2 Int, +1 Wis, Medium, Base speed 30 feet, Vedalken Cunning (advantange on Int, Wis and Cha saves vs. magic) and Aether Lore (double Proficiency bonus on Int (History) checks relating to magical items or aether-powered technological devices).
Finally, the article finishes with the bestiary, with statblocks for the three most unique monsters of Kaladesh - the Gremlin, the Sky Leviathan and the Servo - and general rules for "Lifecraft Creatures", a form of construct created specifically to mimic living animals and which often incorporates living plants into its construction.
Plane Shift: Amonkhet
Finally entering the plane of Amonkhet, this Plane Shift has the largest amount of direct PC-available homebrew to date. Three new backgrounds, four new races, four new Cleric Domains and mechanics for being a Planeswalker in the Magic: The Gathering sense, which quite overshadows the three new monsters -- the Criosphinx, the Heart-Piercer Manticore and the Serpopard.
The three backgrounds, naturally, all tie into the distinctive culture of Naktamun:
- Initiate of the Five Gods: You're a devout worshipper of one of the Five Gods of Amonkhet, seeking to prove your worthiness to undergo the Trial of Zeal and earn a glorious death. You get proficiencies in Athletics, Intimidation, one type of gaming set, and the use of land vehicles. You start the game with a gaming set, a scroll containing the basic teachings of the Five Gods, a simple puzzle box, some clothes, 15 gold pieces, and potentially some cartouches, if you've completed some of the trials already. Your background feature gives you access to free room and board, but only so long as you follow the expectations of both an initiate and a citizen of Naktamun; if you fail to act like a proper citizen, you may end up being branded a Dissenter.
- Amonkheti Vizier: You are one of the priest-bureaucrats who serve the Five Gods of Amonkhet and oversee the Trials. You get free proficiencies in History, Religion, a set of artisan's tools and a musical instrument, you start the game with either artisan's tools or an instrument, a vizier's cartouche, a scroll of your god's teaching, some fine clothes, and 25 gold pieces. Your background feature allows you to command initiates and expect obedience, but be careful; abuse this, and your god may punish you for it. Personally.
- Naktamunian Dissenter: You don't buy into the whole Trials thing at all, and as far as the rest of Naktamun is concerned, that makes you a heretic. This Background actually builds from the others; you take either the Initiate or Vizier background to represent who you were before you fell from grace, but replace your background feature with "Shelter of Dissenters", which lets you tap into an underground network of dissenters who will provide you with what you need to avoid being killed for heresy.
Next comes the mechanics for Amonkhet's unique races...
Similar to the Aarakocra, the Aven are bird-people, but in this case they resemble humans with the heads and wings of birds. There are two kinds of Aven; the more scholarly ibis-headed, who are naturally drawn to revering Kefnet, the God of Knowledge whom they resemble, and the more war-like hawk-headed, who tend to devote themselves to Oketra, God of Solidarity (who is, ironically, a goddess depicted as a catgirl. All Aven get +2 Dexterity, are Medium sized, have a base land speed of 25 feet, and a Fly speed of 30 feet, but they can't fly if wearing medium or heavy armor, or if they're encumbered.
- Ibis-Headed Aven get +1 Intelligence and Kefnet's Blessing, which lets them add half their Proficiency Bonus, rounded down, when making an Int check for a skill they don't have Proficiency in.
- Hawk-Headed Aven get +2 Wisdom and the Hawkeyed trait, which grants them free Perception Proficiency and negates the long-range attack penalties when using ranged weapons.
Made in the image of Hazrozet the Fervent, God of Zeal, the Khenra are a race of graceful humanoid jackals who, for some reason, are almost always born as fraternal or identical twins. This leads to strong, culturally encouraged, ties between siblings, and even impacts their stats. Khenras are a Medium-sized race with +2 Dexterity and +1 Strength, a speed of 35 feet, the Khera Weapon Training feature, which gives them free proficiency in the khopesh, spear and javelin, and the Khenra Twins feature - which requires you to decide at character creation if you have a twin. If your twin is alive, so long as you are within sight of your twin, you can reroll results of a 1 for attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws (second result stands). If your twin is dead, or you were one of the rare singleton births, you're Immune to Fear. Of course, making use of your twin being alive can be tricky unless either another player wants to be a Khenra and roleplay as your sibling, or the DM is willing to be flexible
- Amonkhetian Minotaur
Vibrant, boisterous, rowdy humanoids, the Amonkhetian Minotaur bears the head of a curly-horned sheep rather than the traditional bovine head. +2 Strength, +1 Constitution, Medium, 30 feet speed, and as for features? They get the half-orc's Menacing (free Proficiency in Intimidate), Relentless Endurance (shake off a fatal blow and stand at 1 hit point 1/day) and Savage Attacks (+1 damage dice on a crit with a melee weapon) racial traits, plus the Natural Weapon (Horns) trait, which lets them choose to do 1d6 + Str modifier bludgeoning damage with their unarmed strikes.
Made in the image of Rhonas the Indomitable, cobra-headed God of Strength, the nagas also deeply revere the God of Knowledge, Kefnet, pursuing a philosophy that mind and body must be of equal strength to work in harmony. They stand unique amongst the races of 5e so far because they're the first non-bipedal race to get an official writeup; these serpentfolk resemble the iconic Yuan-ti Abomination, having a humanoid upper torso, a cobra's head, and a slithering tail in lieu of legs. They get +2 Consitution and +1 Intelligence, are Medium sized, and have a base speed of 30 feet. Their Speed Burst feature lets them choose to spend a bonus action to lower their torso to the ground and pull themselves along with their hands, increasing their speed by +5 feet for the turn due to the boost - of course, they need to have both hands free before they can do this. Poison Immunity speaks for itself, and Poisoner's Affinity gives them free proficiency with the poisoner's kit. Finally, they have two Natural Weapons; Bite and Constrict. Both can be used as an option for an unarmed strike. A Bite Attack deals 1d4 + Str mod Piercing damage and forces the victim to make a Constitution save (DC 8 + naga's Con modifier + naga's Proficiency bonus) or take 1d4 Poison damage. A Constrict Attack deals 1d6 + Str mod bludgeoning damage and automatically grapples the target (DC to escape is 8 + naga's Str modifier + naga's Proficiency bonus). So long as they have someone grappled in this way, the target is restrained, but the naga can't make another Constrict Attack until they let them go.
Finally, four of the five gods of Amonkhet require unique Cleric Domains - Kefnet, the God of Knowledge, got off lucky by having his domain already in the PHB.
- Solidarity domain: Sort of a cross between the War and Life Domains, as it's all about fostering team-work and unity. Its bonus spells relate to group-targeting heals and buffs, such as Bless, Guiding Bolt, etc. It grants proficiency in Heavy Armor and several features. At level 1, Solidarity's Action lets you spend a bonus action when using Help to assist an ally's attack to make a weapon attack of your own, which you can do Wis bonus times (minimum once) per day. At level 2, you get the Channel Divinity feature "Preserve Life", which lets you heal others as a bonus action without expending a spell slot. At level 6, Channel Divinity "Oketra's Blessing" lets you spend a Channel Divinity use as a reaction to a creature within 30 feet of you make an attack roll; this grants them a +10 bonus to their roll. At 8th level, you get Divine Strike, which lets you bump up the damage on one weapon attack per turn by +1d8 (+2d8 after you hit level 14). Finally, at level 17, you get Supreme Healing, where you automatically heal the maximum possible amount when using a random roll-based healing effect.
- Strength domain: All about proving your strength, physically and mentally. As such, its bonus spells are an odd mix of physical boosters, protective buffs, and also includes the Dominate Beast and Insect Plague spells. At level 1, you gain Acolyte of Strength (1 Druid cantrip, Proficiency in 1 of Animal Handling, Athletics, Nature or Survival) and proficiency in Heavy Armor. At level 2, your first Channel Divinity, "Feat of Strength", allows you to use Channel Divinity to grant yourself a +10 bonus to any Strength based check. The level 6 version, "Rhonas's Blessing", is the same thing, but targeting somebody else within 30 feet instead. You get the same Divine Strike feature as the Solidarity Domain at level 8, and finally, level 17 gives you Avatar of Battle; permanent resistance to all physical damage that comes from non-magical sources.
- Ambition domain: Second only to Death as the most evil-flavored Domain, because of course wanting to push yourself to the top is most appealing to selfish jerkasses. Its bonus spells are all about cheating or manipulating; Bane, Ray of Enfeeblement, Vampiric Touch, Dominate Person, etc. At level 1, you get the Warding Flare ability, which you can use 1 or Wisdom modifier times per day, whichever is greater. This lets you impose Disadvantage on an assailant's attack roll against you as a reaction, provided that you can see them and they're within 30 feet - oh, and they're not immune to being blinded. Your level 2 Channel Divinity is "Invoke Duplicity", which lets you use your CD to create an illusionary double, which is sustained as per a Concentration spell. Aside from the obvious misleading effects, although it's only got a 120 range, you can cast spells through it, and you can tag-team with it to gain advantage on attack rolls. In comparison, your level 6 Channel Divinity, "Cloak of Shadows, is much simpler: you turn invisible, until your next turn ends, you attack somebody, or cast a spell. Level 8 gives you the Potent Spellcasting feature, where your offensive Cleric cantrips inflict +Wisdom modifier bonus damage. Finally, at level 17, Improved Duplicity lets you make up to 4 duplicates with Channel Divinity instead of 1.
- Zeal domain: This one's a weird mixture of the War and Tempest Domains, in practice. Its bonus spells are all offensive based, either directly (Destructive Wave) or indirectly (Searing Smite), and heavy on the thunder and fire damage. You get free proficiencies with martial weapons and heavy armor, and the Priest of Zeal feature at level 1. Usable 1 or Wisdom modifier (use the higher of the two) times per day, it lets you use a bonus action after making an attack to make an extra weapon attack. Your level 2 Channel Divinity, Consuming Fervor, lets you spend Channel Divinity uses to maximize fire and thunder damage. At level 6, you get Resounding Strike, which means your thunder attacks will knock any target that is Large or smaller back 10 feet when they hit. At level 8, you get Divine Strike, which functions the same as Solidarity and Strength's version. Finally, at level 17, you get Blaze of Glory: once per day, when reduced to 0 hit points by an attacker that you can see, you can use your reaction to move at full speed towards that bastard and make a melee weapon attack with Advantage that deals +5D10 (weapon damage type) damage and +5d10 fire damage if it hits. Whether it hits or not, you then collapse on the spot, either dead or dying, depending on how badly hurt you were beforehand.
So, how does those Planeswalker PC rules handle? In truth, there's not a lot of mechanics behind them at all. Planeswalking is recommended to the DM to be akin to Overland Travel: it's a story function, not a rules one. By the rules of MtG, your party needs to be all-planeswalkers, so it works best as something that isn't inherently class tied.
Instead, planeswalking is treated as something akin to a ritual. The planeswalker spends a minute concentrating, and then slips from one world to the other, winding up at whatever destination the DM decrees on the new world.
"Reflexive Shifting", the story-precedented mechanic of planeswalkers instinctively saving themselves from death through the use of planeshifting, is handled as a saving throw: when a planeswalker is about to drop to 0 hit points, they can make a Charisma saving throw with a DC equal to the damage taken. If this save is successful, then the planeswalker shifts away o a random safespot on a random plane.
Most of this section is talking about how planewalker players and DMs really need to talk to each other and be on the same wavelength.
Plane Shift: Ixalan
Compared to Kaladesh or Amonkhet, the Ixalan Plane Shift article is far less crunch-heavy, returning to the format of emphasizing adjusting canon crunch to better mesh with this plane's fluff.
The first segment of the article discusses race, background and class choices appropriate to portraying a member of one of the plane's four major factions, as well as a sidebar talking about how to settle things peacefully when the party inevitably contains members of multiple factions.
The Sun Empire is made up exclusively of humans. Appropriate backgrounds are Acolyte, Entertainer, Folk Hero, Guild Artisan, Hermit, Noble, Sage, Soldier and Urchin.
- Barbarians of the Sun Empire are either Berserkers who worship the Threefold Sun's aspect of Tilonalli, the Burning Sun, or else they are Totem Warriors, honoring the Ceratops (Bear), Aerosaur (Eagle) and/or Raptor (Wolf).
- Bards of the Sun Empire invariably belong to the College of Valor, as they represent the warrior-poets so respected in the Empire. What the article doesn't mention is that one could argue for members of the College of Swords on that same logic.
- Clerics in the Sun Empire worship the Threefold Sun, which as its name suggests is a solar god divided into three aspects. Kinjalli, the Wakening Sun, represents its creative aspects (Light & Life domains), Ixalli, the Verdant Sun, represents its sustaining & nourishing aspects (Life & Nature domains), and finally, Tilonalli, the Burning Sun, represents its destructive Aspects (Tempest & War domains).
- Druids of the Sun Empire are usually followers of the Circle of the Moon, and all druids prefer dinosaur-based forms, reflecting the Sun Empire's worship of the creatures.
- Fighters from the Sun Empire are usually either Battle Masters or Champions.
- Paladins of the Sun Empire are traditionally followers of the Oath of the Ancients, but the increased raids from the Brazen Coalition and the Legion of Dusk has made the Oath of Vengeance more popular. Sun Empire Paladins casting Find Steed prefer dinosaur mounts.
- Rangers of the Sun Empire include both Beast Masters and Hunters, with the former preferring pteranadons, dimetrodons and velociraptors.
The River Heralds, in comparison, are a faction comprised exclusively of merfolk. Available backgrounds include Acolyte, Folk Hero, Hermit, Outlander and Sage.
- Druids of the River Heralds are almost always followrs of the Circle of the Land (Coast/Forest/Swamp).
- Fighters from the River Heralds are typically Battle Masters, Champions or Eldritch Knights.
- Rangers are not unknown amongst the River Heralds.
- Wizards of the River Heralds wield spells calling upon wind, mist, illusion and misdirection, thus favoring the Illusionist path.
The Legion of Dusk is a mixed alliance of vampires and humans. Appropriate Backgrounds for a Legionnaire are Acolyte, Noble, Sage or Soldier, although a human Legionnaire could be an Urchin.
- Clerics of Dusk have acces to the Death, Life and War domains.
- Fighters include Battle Masters, Champions and Knights.
- Monks are mostly restricted to certain esoteric or fanatical vampire worshippers, whose practices effectively mimic the Ways of the Open Hand and Shadow.
- Paladins of the Legion of Dusk are technically following the Oath of Devotion, although they have their own unique creed refered to as the Tenets of Blood. Paladins of the Oath of Conquest are also more than appropriate.
Tenets of Blood: The vampires of the Legion of Dusk can hardly be considered good, but they do favor law and a sense of honor. The tenets of the vampire paladins’ oath reflect that view.
- Honesty: Don’t demean yourself with lying and cheating. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- Courage: Never let a foe see your fear.
- Honor: Treat your peers with fairness and your lessers with exactly what they deserve. Those who recognize your position deserve at least a modicum of respect.
- Duty: Your actions should serve the aims of the queen and the church, and not bring dishonor to either. Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences, and obey your superiors.
The Brazen Coalition is the most multi-racial of the factions, comprised of a mixture of humans, orcs, sirens and goblins. Appropriate backgrounds are Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, Folk Hero, Sage and Sailor.
- Bard is a common choice for sirens, but even the other races follow its teachings; the College of Lore represents those warrior-sages and knowledge hunters sponsored by the Coalition.
- Fighters include Champions, Battlemasters and Eldritch Knights.
- Rogues are extremely common in the Coalition, especially swashbucklers.
- Warlocks are all but exclusive to the Brazen Coalition, with the Dire Fleet in particular being infamous for its trafficking with fiends.
- Wizards are quite common, with each race having its own specialities; orcs favor the Evoker and the Necromancer, sirens the Enchanter, and humans will do just about anything.
From this section, we move on to the races unique to Ixalan. Humans and Orcs are also present, but humans are just PHB standard humans and orcs just use the PHB's Half-Orc stats, which in fairness are better than the 5e orc's stats.
Unlike the tail-legged merfolk of myth, Ixalan's merfolk are finned amphibious humanoids, sort of like the Zora from The Legend of Zelda, but more brightly colored. They're divided into two subraces; Green Merfolk are denizens of the wet, humid rainforest, whilst Blue Merfolk prefer a subaquatic lifestyle. +1 Charisma, Medium size, base speed 30 feet, swim speed 30 feet, and the Amphibious trait serve as the "racial core" traits - yes, these are identical to the merfolk stats from the Plane Shift: Zendikar article earlier. Green Merfolk get +2 Wisdom, the Wood Elf's Mask of the Wild trait, and a Druid cantrip spell-like ability that keys off of Wisdom. Blue Merfolk get +2 Intelligence, the Lore of the Waters trait (free proficiency in the History and Nature skills), and a Wizard cantrip spell-like ability that keys off of Intelligence.
On Ixalan, vampirism is considered a holy sacrifice undergone by valuable members of the Legion of Dusk. +2 Charisma, +1 Wisdom, Medium, base speed 30 feet, Darkvision 60 feet, Vampiric Resistance (halves Necrotic damage), a Bloodthirst special attack that lets you suck the life from others, and the Feast of Blood ability. Bloodthirst is a special melee attack you can only use on a willing or grappled/restrained/incapacitated target, inflicting 1 piercing and 1d6 necrotic damage; this necrotic damage is deducted from the victim's maximum hit points (causing them to die if these are reduced to 0 HP), which is undone if they complete a long rest. You also regain hit points equal to the necrotic damage inflicted with Bloodthirst. Feast of Blood means that, after successfully using Bloodthirst, for the next 1 minute, you gain +10 feet speed and Advantage on all Strength and Dexterity checks & saving throws. Ixalan Vampires can also take the racial feat Vampiric Exultation, which lets them give themselves a Fly speed of 30 feet for 10 minutes once per short rest.
- Ixalan Goblin
Agile tree-climbers, the goblins of Ixalan have readily taken to life aboard the pirate ships of the Brazen Coalition. +2 Dexterity, Small, base speed 25 feet, climb speed of 25 feet if not wearing medium/heavy armor or encumbered, and Darkvision 60 feet.
Ixalani Sirens are harpy-like bird-folk infamous for their mercurial moods and hypnotic voices. +2 Charisma, Medium, speed 25 feet, Fly speed of 30 feet if not wearing medium/heavy armor or encumbered, and the ability to cast the Friends cantrip at will.
A page after this section examines how to use Ixalan's merfolk, vampires and goblins as subraces of the same plane-spanning racial archetype, given they all appeared earlier in Plane Shift: Zendikar.
- Green & Blue Merfolk are literally just subraces that attach to the Merfolk core race from PS:Z.
- The +1 Intelligence and Null Transformation racial traits are unique to the Zendikaran Vampire subrace, whilst the +1 Wisdom and Feast of Blood racial traits are unique to the Ixalani Vampire.
- Zendikaran Goblins all have +2 Constitution and the Grit ability as their unique subrace traits, whilst the Ixalani Goblin's +2 Dexterity and Agile Climber traits are unique to their subrace.
From here, we move on to multiple tables of Ixalan-themed Art Objects, and a new table for randomly generating the "character" of Ixalan-produced magical items.
The Bestiary section of the article is all about the dinosaurs, with unique statblocks for the Frilled Deathspitter, for the legendary Sun's Avatar Gishath, and for the dread Elder Dinosaurs (complete with unique traits to represent the six legendary dinosaurs from the cards; Primal Dawn Zetalpa, Primal Tide Nezahal, Primal Storm Etali, Primal Death Tetzimoc, Primal Hunger Ghalta, and Primal Calamity Zacama). It concludes with stats for two non-dinosaur monstrosities; the Sunbird and the Chupacabra.
Finally, it closes with an Appendix examining the Colors of Mana and how to perhaps integrate these into your D&D games, in particular examining the alignments, power suites, classes & backgrounds most associated with that particular color.
Plane Shift: Dominaria
Admitted by its own author to have been delayed by the work needed to build the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, this Plane Shift article focuses on several of the Domains of the continent of Aerona - specifically Benalia, the Church of Serra, Tolarian Academies, Vodalia, Belzenlok's Cabal, the Warhosts of Keld, and the Elves of Llanowar.
Compared to some of its predecessors, this is a relatively crunch-lite article. Each Domain has tables covering example locations, quests and villains for that domain, as well as basic outlines for playing a hero from that specific Domain. It features two new races - the Benalian Aven and the Keldorn Human - and three new monsters; the Homarid (homicidal, conquering crab-people) and two varieties of Kavu (giant predatory reptiles from LLanowar); the Predator and the Steel Leaf.
The Benalian Aven are described as humanoid eagles deeply tied to the Church of Serra, and a PC from that race has the following statblock:
- Ability Score: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 25 feet, Fly 30 (cannot fly whilst wearing medium/heavy armor or encumbered)
- Vision: Normal
- Hawkeyed: You have Proficiency in Perception and don't suffer Disadvantage on long-ranged attacks with ranged weapons.
The Keldorn are a variant human race with the following stats, which basically make them a tweaked version of the Goliath:
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, +1 Constitution
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 30 feet
- Vision: Normal
- Natural Athlete: You have Proficiency in Athletics.
- Keldorn Resilience: You have Advantage on Strength saving throws.
- Icehaven Born: You are naturally acclimatized to Cold Environments.
Ironically, the merfolk of Vodalia are not statted as a PC race, with the excuse that their inability to function on the land makes them too restrictive. You can easily pilfer the merfolk stats from earlier Plane Shifts and brew your own version. For the elves of Llanowar, just use the Wood Elf stats.