Rule of Chaos has created a new setting and ruleset for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. Published by Alexander Amstler, it is a new way to play your favorite ttrpg by focusing play onto powerful demons of various shapes and sizes. Rule of Chaos – Demonic 5E features 6 new playable demon races, 10 re-imagined classes, and hundreds of new magic item, subclass, and template combinations that will never make the same game!
This review is based upon the initial release document “Ambergleam’s Demise”, a 119-page adventure and rulebook available now from the Rule of Chaos website.
Rule of Chaos – Demonic 5e allows Player Characters to be demons, and the varying different forms allow for some unique gameplay options. From the shapeshifting Morpher Demon to the powerhouse Hellstruct Demon and (my humble personal favorite) the animated object Objectoid Demon, there’s a ton of new and unique ways to play demonic characters. Each has unique powers and abilities designed from the ground up to be completely compatible with the rules you’re used to.
There are some differences here, which add to the flavor. Each of the new options have additional magical reserves called Arcanum, which can be used to fuel arcane spells or to heal oneself. A True Form gives you different abilities than your Disguised Form, but the latter may allow you to escape an angry mob or infiltrate a guard tower.
Another juicy feature is the concept that, as Demons, you’ve been summoned to do the bidding of a mortal. This bond follows certain unbreakable rules – a Contract – that sets a goal that must be obeyed. This ranges from simple to complex fulfilment goals, all of which add to another layer to the game narrative – you’re not happy about this meddling.
As a Demon, you want to spend your time corrupting mortals, controlling mobs, and instilling fear in the commoners who dare look upon you. Demons are the embodiment of chaos, and these Contract laws are a plague. So, you play the game … and seek a loophole. Demons spread chaos whenever they use some of their demonic abilities, which leads to the best new rule from this update: the Chaos Counter. A Chaos Threshold is determined at the start of play, and your demonic actions (whether they fulfil the contract or not) add to the Chaos. Special Chaos Cards are drawn to add additional gameplay mechanics that can aid – or punish – your demonic characters.
The results are wildly fabulous. You may hear all of the thoughts of the townsfolk for the next day, or your demonic visage will be completely different only when you talk. It’s as if the wild magic surge table suddenly turned demonic itself. It’s unique, bizarre, and fun.
The adventure aspect of Ambergleam’s Demise is set in the world of Arde. In the city of Paragios, a wizard and rogue are at odds. The PCs are demons summoned by the wizard to destroy his rival once and for all. A simple hitch in the plan makes the quest far from simple: as the Demons make their way through the city to seek their quarry, a larger scheme begins to take root. And, before you know it, the Contract becomes much more difficult to navigate that initially thought.
The adventure is well constructed and varied, with plenty of plot hooks. It successfully runs the gamut of the 3 different pillars of play. During the plot, the players will explore the Wizard’s Tower, enact an ambush, and run afoul of a Dwarven Temple. Other locales of a Tavern, Dungeon, Smithy, and Hideout all lead to possible hooks and many different ways to carry out your mission.
The mapwork in the book is top-notch, and each location is nicely detailed. They feature as the highlight of the adventure for my personal tastes, and maps that are well lit, illustrated, and reusable with both “Full” and “Player Handout” versions are just really neat.
The adventure looks like it will be fun to play; characters have moral lee-way different from typical parties, but their ties to the Contract makes them use their unique abilities cleverly rather than with abandon. This helps curtail the sometimes-dreaded murder hobo mentality. Unless you’re in to that sort of thing. Then, seek those loopholes … and Let Chaos Rule!
Rule of Chaos – Demonic 5e comes to Kickstarter on October 20.
Rule of Chaos Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ruleofchaos/rule-of-chaos-demonic-5e
Rule of Chaos website: https://www.rule-of-chaos.com/