The editors of No Dice Unrolled received a copy of the manual The Complete Hag for free from the author Daniel Chivers for evaluation purposes. This is an in-depth compendium on hags for D&D5e available on DMSGuild.
Hags are mentioned in practically every version of Dungeons & Dragons, yet, despite being creatures deeply rooted in the history of mankind and its collective imagination, they have rarely found a greater role than a few pages on a monster book. Therefore we’re happy to discover a work that wants to deepen every aspect.
It must be immediately said, as the author does in the preface, that the manual speaks of “witches” as the creatures mentioned in the monster manual and never refers to the women who in history have been called in this way. Indeed, in a dutiful and appreciable disclaimer, he distances himself from the dark period of human history in which tens of thousands of women have been executed to be considered, precisely, witches. He therefore underlines how the women of this book, the fruit of complete imagination, have nothing to do with the victims of the Inquisition.
An overview on The Complete Hag
The manual is quite long, being a 143-page PDF. The topic is covered in depth, touching on all the main aspects of hags in roleplaying games. From the creatures themselves to their places, to the servants, objects and magic they use. There are many particular and impactful contents that make this manual not suitable for children, but perfect for lovers of the genre. The Complete Hag seems truly lack nothing, at least in the eyes of a reader not as expert as me.
It is worth reporting the author’s thoughts on his work:
There is no reason why evil can’t be hideous. There is no reason why evil must be hideous, or that good must be attractive. This idea led to the nightshade hag, a powerful, complex, evil, and feminine creature that is comfortable wearing a hideous form or an attractive one. As I crafted this new hag I found myself changing and fleshing out more and more of the hag canon and ecology. This small project became a massive project that I want to share with the Dungeons and Dragons community.Daniel Chivers
This has been a labor of love, and […] I do hope that you enjoy learning
about more complex and complicated hags.
The graphic of The Complete Hag
As tradition of DMSGuild products, the layout, absolutely well cared by Marco Bertini, recalls that of the official manuals. The pages are full of very beautiful images. Some are of excellent quality and help a lot to immerse yourself in reading. Others give more the idea of recycled, but it is a common defect when using non-original images and adapting them.
In general, despite my fussiness, I really appreciated the graphic sector of the manual and I inserted many examples in this article to share with everyone the pleasure of looking at the images.
Having exhausted the general concepts, I will try to go into greater detail in the contents of the manual.
Hags in general
The first chapter of The Complete Hag is a very interesting and informative treatment of hags in general. This is the main lore which lays the foundation of the whole work.
Psychology, physiology, details on the covens, the deities, the fascinating Hag Sigil Wheel. The first seven pages are full of fascinating information.
Places and allies
The second chapter focus on the places where hags live. It is a less original chapter as it deals with already known and used environments. But it is an inevitable and important part to understand where to put these creatures in the world.
The third chapter begins to give answers also from the mechanical point of view of the game. It identifies and divides various creatures according to the role they can play for the hags, for example as allies or servants. Then it provides practical tables to select them randomly and calculate the definitive Challenge Rating of the encounter.
Then there is a part that I really liked, that is the trimmings for the hag’s lairs. Supernatural plants, trees with strange powers, magic mushrooms. A nice addition to the environment, a deepening of lore and a starting point to insert new and perfectly integrated traps and dangers.
Every woman has her trinkets
The next four chapters of The Complete Hag are dedicated to magical objects. It is one of the parts where there is more originality and where you can take with full hands for ideas to be inserted not only in a hag context, but in any fantasy setting (and not only).
There are first of all the hag gifts, magical objects that are given to the fools as a reward or upon request. However, most of them grant benefits at a price, often a side effect. There are many interesting ideas and many details for each object, from creation to materials. These latter range from children’s tongues to elf skin. Be careful to trade with hags!
Then we have the witch fingers, severed from alive spellcasters, from hags, even the fingers of the hag herself who will then wear them. They provide various types of bonuses based on certain characteristics, including the race of the creature to which the finger was once attached.
A few pages are dedicated to potions of mutation, magical concoctions that only hags can master and that generate physical changes over time to those who drink them.
Finally, the hag weirds, magical objects that only hags can use. Like everything that has come so far, this chapter is also full of details and imagination. The tone continues to be appropriately macabre. Heads of lovers or fetuses are just a couple of examples of starting “materials” for particular objects that can give a further touch of personalization.
Spells, monsters and appendices
The Complete Hag continues with new spells. Not only for hags, but for various classes and all well centered on the theme.
We then move on to monsters. There are new witches, from the Young Hag to Grandmother Hag (much less tender than what the name suggests). The five creatures in the Monster Manual and the Volo’s Guide to Monsters have been rewritten, keeping the Challenge Rating intact, to give greater customization and flexibility. New monsters, which by their nature tend to orbit around hags, are also added. Many pages are dedicated to monsters and there is really a wide offer.
Last twenty pages are dedicated to the appendices that contain NPCs, the statistics of the Immortal Hags and an interesting list of toxic and poisonous plants.
The Complete Hag : final considerations
I was really impressed with this manual in many ways. The author has over 25 years of activity as a Dungeon Master and in my opinion it has a good weight on the product. The topic is interesting and little treated in other works. It is analyzed from many points of view with a good balance between narrative cues and mechanical information. The mature tone is suitable, well dosed without appearing forcefully macabre.
The price is just under 15$. It is not an unmissable offer to be caught, but rather a very satisfactory targeted investment. A monograph of almost 150 pages complete, evocative and full of information.
Keep following us to learn about new manuals for D&D5e like The Complete Hag!