I was looking back through all the DM’s Guild titles awaiting my review (it’s fairly lengthy) and noticed I had Matthew Mercer’s Order of the Lycan for Blood Hunters and realized I hadn’t reviewed a class yet. Not to mention a review for an order for a class. I guess it’s time, yeah? I doubt anyone really needs an introduction to Mercer. But just in case, he’s essentially the celebrity DM for Critical Role and also a voice actor.
By the way, I have a confession to make. I love lycanthropy in general. The Twilight book/movie series nearly ruined it for me though. Thanks for nothing, Stephenie Meyer! At any rate, D&D and lycanthropes is a fairly unexplored combination at my table and I wanted to consider Mercer’s product.[insert featured image]
Order of the Lycan for Blood Hunters
Writer: Matthew Mercer
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 3 pages
Matt also created the Blood Hunter class and DND Beyond recognizes it as “unofficial homebrew” content. Or maybe they regard it as official but unpublished. I don’t know. It gets a little weird the more I read up on it. Suffice it to say that Mercer is kind of given a lot of latitude when it comes to the things he creates for D&D in general. For example, I’ve known creators who got their Guild content pulled for not featuring the DMs Guild logo on the front of their publications. Mercer’s Order of the Lycan doesn’t even have a title on the cover image that’s featured on the product page. But I digress. Let’s talk about the Order.
Lycanthropes aren’t unheard of in Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, Moray, in the Moonshae Isles, is controlled by lycanthropes. But Order of the Lycan helps breathe some life into what adventuring as a werewolf (or were-whatever) would be like. It helps make it sensible and believable to your character’s backstory. I love the idea that you can master your curse and start to use it more to your advantage. This is in keeping with how I always viewed this affliction. It sucks at first. But after a while you move through all the Kübler-Ross stages of grief and accept it and use it as a strength!
Short and sweet. This reads as well as anything in any of the official D&D content whether it be from the physical core books or from DND Beyond (makes sense since it’s on DND Beyond). Mercer isn’t trying to impress us with his writing talents. He’s a proficient writer and uses that talent to convey information, not to astonish us.
The cover art by Joma Cueto is amazing! The layout and organization is such that you could insert it into any official publication and it would pretty much feel right at home. The PDF isn’t searchable with CTRL+F (if you’re a Windows user) but the document is short enough that it shouldn’t be problematic. The grayscale printer-friendly version looks great as well. This is not always the case but Mercer pulled it off nicely.
I’m gonna say it. Almost everything in 5E is OP. We address this in Heaven is a Place on Faerûn with our big bad, albeit in an indirect way. Maescia Biralei is very much a temperamental glass canon. But, sometimes, the idea isn’t to destroy your enemy. My point is that Order of the Lycan for Blood Hunters may create something that is a little over-powered but what isn’t OP in 5E? Eldritch blast, anyone? Besides you don’t want a character that is UNDER-powered! Not always anyway. They can be fun sometimes.
That being said, this design creates what you want in a lycanthrope. A monster for sure, but a monster whose impulses you can start to control over time and harness the power to do some amazing things with. You do, however, still have weaknesses that come with lycanthropy. Namely, silvered weapons.
This product is brief and well-designed. I feel like it fills a very small niche but fills it perfectly. However, it is an Adamantine bestseller on DMs Guild (one of just sixteen, currently) so it has sold at least 5,000 copies so calling it niche may be missing the mark a bit. If you’re interested in playing a Blood Hunter with a monstrous sort of order to go along with it, look no further than this one. I posit that the players who would most benefit from the Order of the Lycan would be the ones who get heavily into their roles. Mechanically speaking, it is a good accessory, but if you only want it for the mechanics you’re missing a lot of opportunity here.