Tales of the Valiant Alpha

Tales of the Valiant Alpha – A Review


Since running a successful Kickstarter earlier this year, Kobold Press has been hard at work on Tales of the Valiant, and they’ve recently released the public alpha version. Coming in at 177 total pages, the alpha document comprises martial contents for the Player’s Guide (the core rulebook) and for the Monster Vault.

As Tales of the Valiant is being developed and playtested alongside One DnD and the Pathfinder 2e Remaster, we’ve decided to dig into the mechanics of the alpha in the same depth that we’ve given to the One DnD playtest. We’ve previously reviewed the rules preview, but most of what is here is new.

I’m going to make comparisons between the two specifically because ToV and One DnD are presenting two different visions for improvements to the 5e rules.

Kobold Press generously provided a physical copy of the Tales of the Valiant Alpha, but I also backed the Kickstarter.

Table of Contents

The OGL Controversy

The creation of Tales of the Valiant was spurred by the OGL controversy which took place earlier this year. We’ve dug into the OGL in depth previously in a 5-part podcast episode arc. If you’re not up to date on what happened, I encourage you to listen to them.

Basis in the Current 5e SRD

As Tales of the Valiant is developed, Kobold Press is gradually building on the basis provided by the 5e SRD. Gaps in the current rules are filled by the pre-existing rules from the SRD.

Character Creation

When we’ve spoken to Kobold Press on the RPGBOT.Podcast, one of the design goals that the kobolds shared was that they wanted to streamline character creation so that players no longer feel the need to jump back and forth in the process, and the changes that they’ve made are a clear improvement, though there’s still some room to improve further.

The section begins with a 7-step explanation of how to create your character, plus a “final steps” sidebar with reminders to fill in various bits from your build such as your size and your spell slots. The text for determining your ability scores is mixed right into the middle of this section, which is a weird editing choice since none of the other steps are handled this way. Step 1: X, Step 2: Y, Step 3: Determine our ability scores right now, Step 4: Z, etc.

Ability Scores

As with historical versions of DnD, character creation starts with ability scores. If you know how ability scores work in 5e, that hasn’t changed.

However, determining your ability scores has changed significantly. Perhaps most notably, racial ability score changes are entirely gone. This means that once you set your ability scores, you don’t need to worry about them again during character creation. This is a welcome change.

The method for rolling is 4d6 drop lowest, but with the added benefit of a +2 increase and a +1 increase which can raise ability scores to max of 18. This gives players some control over the randomness so that they’re somewhat insulated from poor rolls, but there’s also no explicit rule for rerolling, so it’s still possible to have horrid stats.

The point buy method has changed from the 5e rules. You get a larger pool of points, but the formula for spending them is also different. In addition, you can now buy scores up to 18, rather than 15 in the 5e rules. Of course, 5e assumes that racial ability score modifiers exist, but in Tales of the Valiant you buy your scores and you’re done. The ability to buy an 18 is exciting for SAD characters like wizards, but the cost to do so is significant enough that you’ll need to dump multiple ability scores to achieve it. I anticipate a lot of 18/14/14/10/8/8 builds for SAD classes. MAD classes will probably land somewhere very close to the Standard Array.

The Standard Array has historically been an unfair option for MAD classes like the Monk and the Paladin. The scale of the scores meant that such characters couldn’t get the ability scores needed to make their class features work, but SAD classes like the Rogue and the Wizard did just fine. The updated array includes three reasonably high scores, making MAD classes considerably more viable when using the Standard Array.

Overall, these are meaningful improvements both in the simplicity of the rules and the ability to customize your build in a way that’s mechanically satisfying.

While it’s not part of initial ability score generation, it’s also important to consider Ability Score Increases here. In 5e, it’s +2 to one ability score, +1 to two of them, or a feat. In ToV it’s +1 to one score, plus a Talent.


The alpha presents the four most central classes, and only up to level 5. Kobold Press is focusing on the absolute foundations of the system, and they want to get those right before they start expanding into the rest of the content.

Each class’s subclass is now granted at 3rd level, similar to One DnD.

I won’t address changes to the core spellcasting mechanics here; instead, see Spellcasting, below.

Many class features scale based on Proficiency Bonus. I have repeatedly highlight the inherent multiclass abuse here since Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced this design concept. It looks like ToV hasn’t moved away from PB scaling for low-level class features, but without multiclassing addressed anywhere in the alpha, we can’t definitively say that it’s an issue.


Manifestation of Faith is a new 1st-level feature for the Cleric. Like the “Divine Order” feature in the One DnD playtest, this feature distinguishes heavily-armored martial clerics from spellcasting-focused clerics. Manifestation of Faith also includes a once-per-turn damage bonus equal to your Proficiency Bonus.

This gives the cleric a scaling damage boost rather than waiting for 8th level, and since the bonus is “once per turn” rather than “once on each of your turns”, martial clerics can make meaningful Opportunity Attacks. I think this is an interesting improvement, but it does also make 1-level class dips into cleric even more appealing.

Channel Divinity: Turn the Profane replaces Turn Undead. It works the same way, but now also affects fiends. This is a fun idea, but I think it will be hard to explain for evil clerics. I would love to see players given more choice here, such as the ability to turn elementals, fey, etc. depending on their alignment, their deity, or their domain.

The playtest includes two domains: Life and War.

The Life domain is nearly identical to the 5e Life domain, except that Channel Divinity: Preserve Life now heals for a fixed 30 points rather than scaling with level. This will make the feature more impactful at low levels (starting with 5 points at level 1 feels bad), but it will also make the feature obsolete very quickly. Something like 10 + 5 times your cleric level could work, providing a higher initial value than 5e, but also keeping the feature impactful as players gain levels.

War domain sees more changes. The domain spell list has been reworked, likely because War Domain is not in the SRD and contains non-SRD spells on its spell list. The new spells seem perfectly fine, though maybe less “on theme” than the 5e spells. I hope we’ll see Kobold Press experiment with newly-written spells here.

Channel Divinity: Mark of Triumph replaces Guided Strike. Guided Strike was a boost to the cleric’s attack, making low-level attack spells like Inflict Wounds much more accurate. However, clerics in 5e are bad at using weapons (yes, even with Divine Strikes), and attack spells mostly disappear after 2nd-level spells, so the feature was rarely impactful beyond low levels. Mark of Triumph replaces that with a shared buff which gives you entire party Advantage on one attack against a targeted creature, allowing the party to cooperate and focus their attacks on a single high-priority foe. This will remain impactful and satisfying across the level range.

The Disciple of War feature is ToV’s answer to 5e’s War Priest feature, granting the Cleric an additional weapon attack. Disciple of War grants an additional attack PB times per day as part of an Attack action, which both encourages clerics to use the Attack action and avoids taxing their action economy. I’m on the fence about whether this or the One DnD version is better (One DnD’s is a Bonus Action but doesn’t require the Attack action). I think it will come down to whether ToV can make weapons appealing for clerics beyond low levels.

As of this writing, the full 20-level version of the Cleric has been recently shared to Kickstarter backers.


5e’s Second Wind has been replaced by Last Stand, which remains unchanged from the rules preview. Instead of a Bonus Action to heal, you can spend hit dice as a Reaction when you take damage that reduces you below half hp. I dug into the implications in our review of the rule preview, but tl;dr: I love this feature.

Martial Action, ToV’s replacement for Fighting Style, has seen some improvements. Rather than a (usually) passive benefit, Martial Action always uses a Bonus Action to do something. New in the alpha, you can either use a Weapon Option (we’ll discuss those below under Equipment) or one of your chosen Martial Action options.

The text of the feature states that these Martial Actions improve at higher levels, but the classes currently only go up to 5th level, so we don’t have details on those improvements.

  • Aim: The answer to Archery. Rather than boost all of your ranged attacks, it boosts your first attack against a chosen target. This is less useful for fighters than Archery because fighters rely on multiple attacks, but it’s more useful for rogues, making this a great class dip. I do like that it scales, but the DPR math is extremely complicated because builds can vary so much.
  • Guard: The answer to Protection, Guard makes it easy to get into an enemy’s face and debuff one of their attacks. Unlike Protection, this also protects you, which is a huge improvement. However, beware the Tank Fallacy. Players will need to ensure that their opportunity attacks are scary enough to prevent your target from walking past you to eat your friends. Unfortunately, it also competes for space with the Bash Weapon Option.
  • Quick Strike: The answer to 5e’s two-weapon fighting style. Adding your ability score to your off-hand weapon attack was mathematically terrible starting at level 5, so for fighters, two-weapon fighting was the worst option available to them beyond low levels. Quick Strike adds a second off-hand attack. A qualifying weapon will typically deal 1d6 damage, which means that the second attack’s expected DPR will actually be less than adding your ability modifier to a single attack. However, if you can find other on-hit damage boosts, the additional attack can quickly become very impactful. It’s hard to say if this will be good or not given the limited content currently available.
  • Wind Up: The answer to Great Weapon Fighting. GWF felt satisfying for people whose dice rolls are consistently poor, but mathematically it had almost no impact. Wind Up is essentially Aim for two-handed weapons, which is a huge improvement.

The alpha presents two subclasses: The Spell Blade and the Weapon Master.

The Spell Blade is the equivalent of 5e’s Eldritch Knight. The Spell Blade follow’s 5e’s spell school restrictions, and the spellcasting appears to be the same. Weapon Bond has been replaced by Enchant weapon, which, rather than being a quickly-forgotten novelty, allows you to add a +1 to a weapon. Notably, this bonus explicitly works on already-magic weapons and stacks with pre-existing bonuses. It will prevent you from casting Magic Weapon on the weapon because it’s now magical, but that’s still fantastic.

In addition, the Spell Blade can select talents from both the Martial and Magic lists. More on Talents below.

The Weapon Master is the equivalent to 5e’s Battle Master. “Stunts” (equivalent to Maneuvers) work similarly, but the “superiority dice” mechanic has been abandoned. 

The Weapon Master has access to all of the options rather than picking and choosing. Instead, the different Stunts are more restrictive about what weapons qualify, so choosing your weapon determines your Stunt options. Largely this is fine, but it does mean that introducing more Stunt options in supplements would require complicated new rules (trade an existing option to take new ones), or would be a straight buff to the subclass. The text does specify that you get more options at higher levels, so maybe the current options are fine.

The Stunt options have not changed from the Kickstarter preview. They need a bit of rebalancing, and I think we need more options, but some of the ideas here are really fun.

  • Arcing Strike. Cleave to a secondary target for half damage. Fantastic on a big crit.
  • Cheap Shot: Make a free unarmed strike as part of the Attack action after you hit. Could be good with a bit of optimization, but may not be worth the effort to do so compared to other options.
  • Make it Count: Make a single attack at +10 to hit instead of potentially multiple attacks. With Aim and Wind Up available, I’m not sure if this will see use beyond low levels.
  • Parry: Mitigate some damage as a Reaction. The scaling is poor, so it likely won’t see much use beyond low levels, especially with Last Stand competing for space. Both options use a Reaction and mitigate damage on a nearly identical scale, and Last Stand uses a different (and larger) pool of resources.
  • Redirect: Potentially save a missed attack, but only works well against crowds since the second target must be within 5 feet of the first.
  • Riposte: An easy way to get an additional attack as a Reaction on a regular basis.
  • Run Through: Arcing Strike, but for piercing weapons.
  • Shifting Strike: Only situationally useful, but it can let you move through an enemy’s space, which has some interesting tactical implications.

In addition, the Weapon Master chooses 3 weapons to master and can reroll a damage die once per turn with those weapons. It’s neat, but mathematically it’s not a huge impact.


The rogue has seen some changes from the Kickstart preview.

I noted in our review of the preview that the Rogue inexplicably got proficiency with the longsword. Their proficiencies have again changed, and now they get proficiency with all simple weapons plus martial weapons with the Light property. This notably omits the Rapier, but you can still select a rapier as starting equipment.

The Rogue appears to be otherwise identical to the 5e version.

The alpha document includes two subclasses: the Enforcer, and the Thief.

The Enforcer is equivalent to 5e’s Assassin. Ambush is equivalent to Assassinate, but guarantees Advantage on your first attack and gives you the automatic critical hit if you hit a Surprised creature. Surprise is difficult to attain in 5e, so hopefully that improves in ToV. OneDnD handled the issue by making Assassinate much less impactful, but also much easier to attain. There’s room to find a different compromise which may be more satisfying.

Cold-blooded is a new feature, giving the Rogue a way to better handle groups of relatively weak enemies. Normally it’s easy to bring down a rogue by swarming them with low-CR creatures, so this is a fun addition.

Enforcers can also select Talents from the Martial Talents list, where rogues typically select from the Technical Talents list. More on Talents below.

The Thief is mostly unchanged. Fast Hands remains identical, but second-story work now gives you an actual climb speed. I think One DnD’s update to Fast Hands (you can use magic items) is a huge improvement, so I hope ToV tries something similar.


The Wizard does not appear to have changed from the preview document.

The Wizard’s proficiencies now entirely omit weapons. However, you still get the same starting e equipment options as the 5e rules, so you can get a quarterstaff and a staff focus and have two staffs that you’re now even worse at bonking things with. I don’t actually care that wizards can’t use weapons; it always struck me as odd that a light crossbow was such a good choice until level 5. But the starting equipment needs adjusting.

Arcane Recovery has been moved down to 1st level, the new Magic Sense feature has been added at 2nd level, and your subclass is delayed to 3rd level alongside every other class. At 5th level, wizards get the new Rote Memorization feature which very slightly expands your list of prepared spells.

The Wizard may have been hit hardest by the changes to ritual casting. The Wizard’s unique ability to cast any ritual in their spellbook (which could be every wizard ritual) made them a master of magical utility outside of combat, but with the new fixed number of rituals known, the Wizard has lost one of their most unique capabilities. I’m sincerely sad about this change, as it removes much of the need to compulsively collect spells like some sort of mystical magpie.

If wizards got more rituals than other classes, I think that would be a major improvement.

I’m surprised that wizards don’t get a cantrip damage boost feature. Clerics can get one at first level, putting their cantrip damage consistently ahead of wizards. Such features come online around level 6 in the 5e rules, so that may be the answer, but it still feels odd that clerics can do so much more damage for the first 5 levels of the game.

We’ll address the changes to the core mechanic below under Spellcasting.

The rules preview includes the Battle Mage and the Cantrip Adept subclasses. The Battle Mage falls somewhere between the 5e War Mage and the 5e Evoker, while the Cantrip Adept is updated from Kobold Press’s Tome of Heroes, in part as proof that it’s easy to move 5e content into Tales of the Valiant, which is a massive boon to other 3rd-party creators who may be practically shut out of One DnD unless WotC updates the SRD to match changes to the core rules.

The Battle Mage offers access to the Martial Talent list, which may offer some interesting build options.

Spell Ward is the Battle Mage’s signature tactic, providing a buff that requires specific actions to persist, much like the Barbarian’s Rage feature. You need to keep casting leveled spells to persist the ward. The buff is excellent, dramatically improving the wizard’s durability, but the resource cost to maintain it is prohibitive. Reaction spells like Shield can persist the buff, which helps a lot, but you’ll need to carefully monitor your spell slots to keep from burning out in the first encounters of a long adventuring day. Expect to use Arcane Recovery to recover 1st-level slots so that you can maintain your Spell Ward at minimal resource cost.

Tactical Caster works like school of evocation’s Sculpt Spells, though it has a PB/day usage limitation, so you can’t rely on fireballing your party as your only tactic.

The Cantrip Adept gets two cantrips from any circle spell list, and can cast a cantrip as a Bonus Action PB/day. Not a ton of nuance here, but if 5e options are available you can do things like Mind Sliver as a Bonus Action prior to casting an Action save-or-suck spell. Quickened Spell metamagic effectively lets you do the same thing, but you need to devote a large amount of resources to match PB/day uses.

Exactly how great Cantrip Adept is will come down to how good cantrips are in ToV.

Lineages and Heritages

Rather than race and potentially subrace, ToV has separated those options into “Lineage” and “Heritage”. Lineage presents your character’s biological traits, while Heritage presents your character’s cultural upbringing and the traits they’ve developed as a result.

The text describes go-to pairings to create historically iconic lineage/heritage pairings, but also encourages you to mix and match as you see fit to create a character whose mechanics represent the unique story you want to tell.

There have been a few textual changes from the preview document. Kobold Press briefly experimented with “Night Vision” in place of Darkvision, but they have reverted that change.

We get four lineages:

  • Beastkin: Live your bear/bird/boar/beast-person fantasy. With multiple decision points within the Beastkin, you can mix and match traits to reflect the variety of beast you want to emulate. Ex: Take Perception, Claws, and Natural Adaptation (Avian) for a hawk person.
  • Dwarf: Darkvision, resistance to poison, bonus hp. An easy go-to options for basically any character simply because they’re survivable.
  • Elf: Proficiency in Perception, advantage on saves against charm, can’t be magically put to sleep, and Trance. Not super exciting, but charm effects are surprisingly common in 5e and Perception is really good.
  • Human: One extra skill and one Talent from any list. Getting to ignore the Talent list restrictions from your class offers a lot of room for customization and optimization.

Your character’s language proficiencies come from their Heritage (you may get more from your Background). The current publishes options all give Common, plus one or two other languages of your choice. Lineage-based languages (elven, etc.) exist, but being a member of that Lineage doesn’t make you proficient: You might be a Stone Heritage Elf who grew up in a dwarven society and has never heard a word of elven in your life.

We get eight heritages:

  • Cloud Heritage: Proficiency in Arcana and build your own innate spellcasting feature around a single school of magic. You only get to cast the non-cantrip spells once per day (no re-casting them with slots), but you do get to pick your spellcasting ability score. This is going to be very powerful.
  • Cosmopolitan Heritage: Good at not getting lost or surprised in cities, and good at identifying unfamiliar architecture. I don’t foresee this being used by anyone doing any optimizing at all.
  • Fireforge Heritage: Expertise with smith’s tools, fire resistance, you know the Ignan language, and you can cast Mending on metal objects. Until we get another option with fire resistance, this will be popular for front-line characters.
  • Grove Heritage: A climb speed and proficiency with weapons which DnD elves have historically been proficient in. Appealing for rogues who want the climb speed and proficiency with longbows.
  • Nomadic Heritage: Advantage vs. weather, reduce Fatigue level once per long rest, proficiency in survival. Unless there’s a class that makes you take Fatigue like 5e’s Berserker Barbarian, I don’t foresee this being used by anyone doing any optimizing.
  • Stone Heritage: The closest to the historically iconic dwarf. You get proficiency in historically dwarven weapons (axes and hammers), proficiency in a tool, and proficiency to look at metal and stone. I don’t foresee this being used by anyone doing any optimizing.
  • Slayer Heritage: Proficiency in Intimidation, and it’s hard for Beasts to attack you. Beasts stop being a threat early in the CR range in 5e, but Kobold Press’s Tome of Beasts line includes numerous beast options more interesting than those in 5e, so it might remain useful. The wording on the Ferocity trait makes it sound like you’re making a save against your own trait, which appears to be an editing error. The Tracker trait essentially duplicates Survival’s tracking capability and gives you Expertise if you’re already proficient.
  • Wildlands Heritage: Shepherd’s Gift is almost copy+paste from Slayer Heritage’s Ferocity, except that you’re proficient in Animal Handling instead. Beast affinity is neat, but Speak With Animals is a 1st-level spell.

There is still some work needed to balance these.


As in 5e, backgrounds grant two skill proficiencies, some combination of tools and languages, and some starting equipment. In addition, your background in ToV will give you a Talent. This Talent ignores the usual Talent List restrictions, making your Background a powerful decision point when building a character. Each Background offers a choice of one of three Talents.

ToV’s backgrounds replace the trait/bond/ideal/flaw system with a table of example adventuring motivations. I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about the trait/bond/ideal/flaw system, but I’m not sure if adventuring motivation is actually better of it’s just different and novel. If nothing else, I think it’s less likely to be outright ignored by players.

The rules for customizing backgrounds are just as flexible as they are in 5e’s rules: 

“To customize a background, you can replace one talent with any other, choose any two skills, and choose a total of two tool proficiencies or languages from the sample backgrounds.”

This means that you can effectively pick any two skills, any two languages/tools, and any Talent, so backgrounds are more of an example storytelling device than an actual rigid-defined character option.


If you’re not used to playing DnD, you have probably never heard the word “feat” in your life. Nearly every player I’ve taught to play has instinctively looked at their shoes when I brought up the subject of feats. The term Talent is outright better. It’s easier to understand, and it describes a capability. A “feat” is a single act. Lifting a horse is a feat. Being able to lift a horse is a talent. Talent is a better word for the idea, and I will die on this hill.

Talents are separated into three lists: Magic, Martial, and Technical. Each class offers access to one of the three lists, and you may be able to cross lists depending on your subclass. For example: the Spell Blade Fighter can select both from the Magic list and from the Martial list.

The presented options include options similar to those in the 5e Player’s Handbook, but several have been updated to address pain points. Some have been buffed, some have been nerfed, but most of the options are roughly equivalent in power. I do see a few options like Artillerist which I think will rarely see use without improvements.

Talents are granted from your lineage (currently only for humans), from your Background, and when you get an “Improvement” feature from your class. When you get an Improvement, you add +1 to one ability score, effectively making every feat a hybrid feat similar to many of 5e’s feats (Fey Touched, etc.). In addition, you can choose a Talent which gives you another +1 increase, allowing you to opt out of the complexity of Talents if you so choose.

The alpha document gave us a total of 21 Talents across the three Talent Lists matching the options from the preview document. At a glance, I don’t see any changes.

Playing the Game

Making Checks

The rules for making checks are very explicit about the workflow: Player describes an action, not “I roll for Perception”, then the GM decides if a check is needed. This has always been the rule, but 5e’s text is less explicit, and players jumping straight to rolling dice has led to countless arguments. I don’t care if you rolled a natural 20, I never asked for a check. You can’t throw the gnome into the sun no matter how good you are at Athletics.


Luck is ToV’s metacurrency. Players start with 0 Luck Points, but can accumulate by failing attacks or saves (once per turn max) or as a reward from the GM. You can have a max of 5, but if you get to 6 you lose most of them and roll a die to keep a few, which discourages hoarding.

Luck can be spent on a one-to-one basis to add a bonus to your d20 rolls, or spend 3 points to reroll the d20, allowing you to turn near-misses into successes or to recover from disastrously poor rolls. If you have Advantage or Disadvantage, you reroll both dice. No more rolling two natural 1s when you have Advantage. Well, much less. There’s only so much that the rules can do to save you.

The Gen Con ToV sessions experimented with allowing players to share luck. While my group used this to great effect, I think it’s going to introduce problems at the table because it enables the party to hoard Luck Points by spending them from only the largest pool of points. They could mitigate this by making sharing more expensive, such as by making it cost two points to apply one point to another player’s roll.


The text appears to be largely identical to 5e’s, which means that by a strict RAW reading of the rules, you can only do the things explicitly listed in the skill descriptions. This means that Animal Handling, Medicine, and Survival are all explicitly borderline useless.

All that we need is for someone to liberally sprinkle the words “such as” in most of the skill descriptions, then to add some flavor text to describe Medicine as capable of doing anything beyond the equivalent of CPR.

Other Stuff

The other rules seems to be unchanged with very minor exceptions.

“Blindsense” has been renamed “keensense”.

The “void” damage type is introduced, but it feels like an odd half-way point between psychic damage and necrotic damage.

Everything else seems to be copy+pasted from the SRD.



Padded Armor (wich no one ever used) and Breastplate have been removed. The removal of Breastplate is a bad idea, in my opinion, as it allowed medium-armored characters to be moderately stealthy even if they were several points behind lightly-armored characters.

Armor now has Properties similar to weapons, which offers more flexibility in designing armor options. Currently we have the “Cumbersome” property (the same as the Strength requirements in the 5e rules), the “Noisy” property (disadvantage on Stealth), and the “Natural Materials” property which explicitly specifies what armor druids can use.

The existence of the Natural Materials property implies that ToV is sticking to the prohibition on druids wearing metal armor, which feels odd as a PF2 and One DnD both abandon it. Furthermore, studded leather does not have the trait, making the Druid’s long-standing AC problems that much worse.

The design of armor in 5e has long been a point of frustration for me. There is functionally no reason to use any armor except the most expensive version at each step, with the rare exception of a character in medium armor who also wants to be stealthy and is therefore stuck in breastplate until they can get mithral half plate.

PF2’s armor has scaling dexterity caps and Strength requirements across the full armor spectrum. This means that every single armor option has a specific mechanical niche catering to different ability scores. Differences in armor are both meaningful and mechanically satisfying. Adjusting 5e’s armor stats to get that same is not only doable, it’s easy.

There’s room for more adjustment, but here’s an example how this could be done:

ArmorAC BonusProperties
Light Armor
Leather11 + DEX modifierNatural Materials
Studded Leather12 + DEX modifier
Medium Armor
Hide12 + DEX modifier (max 4)Natural Materials
Chain Shirt13 + DEX modifier (max 3)
Scale Male14 + DEX modifier (max 3)Noisy
Breastplate14 + DEX modifier (max 2)
Half Plate15 + DEX modifier (max 2)Noisy
Heavy Armor
Ring Mail14 + DEX modifier (max 1)Noisy
Chain Mail16 + DEX modifier (max 1)Cumbersome (STR 13), Noisy
Splint17Cumbersome (STR 15), Noisy
Plate18Cumbersome (STR 16), Noisy


Weapon stats appear to be identical to the 5e stats, but with the addition of the new “Weapon Option” system. Similar to One DnD’s Weapon Mastery, this allows characters to do additional things when they hit with a weapon. All characters have access to these options, provided that they’re proficient with a weapon.

The action economy around Weapon Options is interesting. Some options work on a hit, while others replace an attack. This gives the designers more options to design masteries than One DnD’s Weapon Mastery. The Fighter’s Martial Action feature allows you to use a Weapon Option as a Bonus Action, but it’s not clear how that works. Can you use a Bonus Action to use a Hamstring weapon? What about a Bash weapon? Does that mean that you get additional attacks?

Some weapons have two Weapon Options, such as crossbows, which typically have both Pinning Shot and Ricochet Shot.

  • Bash: Disadvantage on the target’s next attack. Notably does not have a duration.
  • Disarm: Knock a weapon out of the target’s hand instead of actually attacking. Relatively few enemies use manufactured weapons, so this isn’t consistently useful. It’s also on short swords and rapiers, which are go-to weapons for rogues, so Weapon Options may be a poor option for rogues.
  • Hamstring: Instead of dealing damage, impose a -10 ft. speed which last until a creature succeeds on a Medicine check as an Action, which is unlikely to happen during combat.
  • Pinning Shot: It’s frustrating that this requires the target to be wearing clothes, but immobilizing them and requiring an Action to try to escape makes this very powerful.
  • Pull: Pull enemies off of horses, just like the gods of polearms intended when they start putting hooks on the heads of polearms.
  • Ricochet Shot: A full action and it limits additional damage boosts like Sneak Attack.
  • Trip: Excellent, especially if you’re making numerous attacks.

Other Items

This appears to be copied directly from the SRD.

Magic Items

This is our first look at magic items in ToV, and there are some exciting things here!

“Fabled” Items

Fabled items start at Common rarity, but scale as the player gains levels. This is similar to the Vestiges of Divergence from 5e’s Wildemount or Hoard Magic Items from 5e’s Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. 

Blood Spike Armor is included as an example.

“Enchanted Magic Items” vs. “Permanent Magic Items”

In addition to consumable magic items (portins, spell scrolls, etc.), ToV introduces the concept of “Enchanted Magic Items”, which are distinct from “Permanent Magic Items”. Enchanted Magic Items are easier to price than Permanent Magic Items, but what distinguishes the two categories is clear as mud.

+X items are definitely enchanted, as are a handful of items listed as examples in the price table, but beyond that it’s totally unclear. Artifacts are definitely Permanent Magic Items, as are anything with Fabled rarity. But that leaves most magic items uncategorized.

The intent here is that Enchanted Magic Items will have a simple table that you can use to calculate the price of items. +1 weapons cost X, +2 armor costs Y, and so on. But since it’s not perfectly, brutally clear what qualifies as Enchanted vs. Permanent, the table’s usefulness is extremely limited.

A better solution would be to simply list a cost for individual magic items. What’s especially odd is that they did that.

Magic Item Prices

Most of the items included in the alpha document have explicit prices. You can buy a 2nd-ring spell scroll 100gp. You can buy a suit of +1 full plate for 3,000gp. They even remember to include base item price, closing the 5e loophole which makes adamantine full plate cheaper than regular full plate.

One DnD is allegedly planning to do this, too, but we haven’t seen rules for it yet. It’s supposed to be in one of the next two UA documents.

The rules also include a sidebar for adapting items from 5e, which also specifies that certain items should be priced on step higher. This includes items that grant flight (broom of flying is outright broken at its 5e rarity) and a few other specific effects with huge implications.


Spell Rings / Spell Levels

Using the term “level” for spells alongside a different scale of “level” for characters has been confusing for as long as DnD has had spell levels, so ToV has replaced the term “Spell Level” with “Spell Ring”. The concepts are identical, but no more explaining that level means two things to new players.

Spell Circles / Spell Lists

Like Pathfinder 2e, ToV consolidates spell lists into four lists: arcane (wizards), divine (clerics), primordial (druids), and wyrd (I assume warlocks, but it remains to be seen), though only arcane and divine are addressed in the alpha document.

These lists are called “Spell Circles”. I think this is going to confuse people alongside “Spell Rings” since circle and ring are synonyms.

Ritual Casting

Ritual spells have been separated from regular spells. This allows characters to keep these spells available without cutting into your prepared spells, most of which are going to be combat options. In many 5e games, ritual spells are only available to wizards or after a long rest because players can’t afford to commit limited daily resources to options that they’ll only need when they have an hour to cast a ritual.


Tales of the Valiant has made improvements to the way spell entries are formatted. The sentence of flavor text at the beginning of most spells has been separated from the rules text so it’s clear that it does not have rules implications, and the organization of the blocks makes them clearer to read.

The included spell lists for the Cleric and for the Wizard include many of the iconic spells that you’ll recognize from the SRD, as well as some intriguing new options with names like Fire Under the Tongue, Gear Barrage and Pendulum. We also get some spells for other classes, though the classes aren’t available yet.

Ritual spells have been broken out into a separate spell list. Rituals usually take either 1 minute or 10 minutes depending on the spell, but otherwise their effects haven’t changed much from 5e.

Detect Magic is an interesting case. In 5e it’s a ritual because the designers wanted it to be always available, but not available as quickly as a cantrip. Making it no longer a ritual means that preparing the spell and using a spell slot on it are a much larger expense than they were previously. I’m curious to see if that will be a problem.

Upcasting information has been omitted from the alpha, but the mechanic isn’t going away.

The other rules are largely identical to the SRD, but updated to use the new terminology.



Included as an optional rule, Doom gives the DM a per-encounter pool of points to support the antagonists. Doom is recommended as a way to make encounters more difficult beyond the baseline balance assumptions of the game. Essentially: My players are better than the math expects, so I need to keep up the challenge.

This is a major improvement over the version presented in the preview document.

Stat Block Changes

Tales of the Valiant has made some structural changes to how stat blocks are presented. Creatures no longer list ability scores because those have only ever mattered for players. Condition vulnerabilities/resistances/immunities are listed on the same line as damage vulnerabilities/resistances/immunities, which feels like an obvious improvement. Every creature now has a Perception score, which is effectively the creature’s Passive Perception.

Skill proficiencies have also been removed from creatures, instead defaulting to straight ability checks. I’m less excited about this change than about the stat block structure improvements. Many creatures in 5e simply don’t have skill proficiencies, but removing the possibility means that we can’t have NPCs that are good at specific skills. The Goblin Chief isn’t good at Intimidation thanks to its +0 Charisma modifier, which feels like a thing that a goblin chief should be good at. It’s not a tool that’s needed for every single stat block, but I don’t think it’s a tool we should give up.

Classic Creatures, Fresh Ideas

One of the biggest criticisms of 5e’s monsters is that many of them are bags hit points with teeth. They’re boring. Basically you can slide their CR up or down and call it something different and not notice. Kobold Press has long had a reputation for more interesting monster design, and it’s on display here.

Quick examples: The Tyrannosaurus now has a Bonus Action to throw a grappled creature and damage them, and the Hippogriff now has a dive attack. Previously I couldn’t distinguish the Hippogriff and the Griffon, so this feels nice.

Included Monsters

Among several fnatasy staples, the alpha document includes the new Void Dragon, a space dragon that breaths gravity and radiant damage. The document also includes the “micolid”, not to be confused with the “miconid”.

The art on everything is awesome, and every non-NPC, non-animal monster has art except for the Worg. You know what worgs look like, right? They’re like… spicy wolves. Yeah.


Mostly duplicated from the SRD, but there may be changes snuck in here. Invisibility has a new bullet which grants Advantage on Stealth checks, but I haven’t spotted anything else obviously different.


There are some great ideas here! There are a few editing issues and balance issues, and there is definitely room for further improvement, but I’m excited to see that Kobold Press is making meaningful changes without throwing out the parts of 5e that people really like.

One Response

  1. Ethan October 8, 2023

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