Supplement Review: Go For The Eyes (Alex Clippinger): 4.5 Stars
“Enhance your battles with new traits and targets! In Go for the Eyes, you’ll find ways to throw curveballs at players who thought they knew monster stat blocks by heart.”
What DM hasn’t had a player ask, “Can I shoot him in the leg?” or declare, “I’m going to aim for that eyestalk!”? Don’t let the light goes out in their eyes explaining that called shots are not possible in D&D. They’re possible with Alex Clippinger’s Go For the Eyes.
Go For the Eyes is a rules supplement that presents over 60 monsters hand-picked from three different D&D hardcovers, now with options to disable or destroy specific body parts. There are also all-new creature traits that are usually activated once a monster takes a certain amount or a certain kind of damage.
Nicely Fills a Niche – This rules supplement isn’t for everyone. But we just know plenty of players and DMs who have been itching for something like this. If nothing else, Go For the Eyes adds a layer of verisimilitude absent from this streamlined edition of D&D. And it also ups the cool factor of combat. This supplement means more cinematic combat sessions peppered with visceral details, which is a big improvement over the all-too-common “you hit it with your axe for 15 slashing damage.”
Clean Layout – The two-column layout is spartan but easy on the eyes. A few color illustrations—most of which will look very familiar to Guild regulars—pop on the white background. The wrap-around text is a bit too close to the illustrations for comfort and there were some pages that had too much empty space, but these are small quibbles.
The cover by Matt Forsyth is definitely eye-catching. Bold and thick headers with a font you don’t often see make this book easy to peruse and just distinctive enough. What’s more, it’s got no typos, and grammar mistakes are few and far between.
Monsters, Monsters, Monsters – There are dozens of monsters here, including some iconic favorites. So, aim your crossbow at the beholder’s eye stalk. Yes, you can slow a dragon’s flight or disable its breath weapon. Go ahead and stake a vampire outside its resting place and see what happens. We all have our preferred monsters, but most of the high-CR fan favorites are covered.
Creature Traits – You wouldn’t know it beforehand, but traits are a big reason why you should buy this supplement. What’re traits? Think of them as dormant monster features that roar to life under the right conditions. For example, when a behir takes a certain amount of lightning or thunder damage, it can redirect that energy as a reaction to shock the unfortunate character in its clutches or belly. That’s a cool mechanic that can shift combat dynamics mid-battle.
Mechanically Sound – We haven’t playtested this supplement, but Clippinger has definitely done his homework. And the rules are clear and concise and stick to the formatting and language of official hardcovers.
Here’s the way the rules work: first of all, targeting a body part requires an Intelligence skill check, usually Arcana or Nature. (You have to know something of a monster’s weaknesses to exploit them.) Second, you roll to hit a specified body part, such as the wings, legs, or throat. The AC is higher to hit, since you’re aiming for a smaller target. Third, if you and your allies deal enough damage to that spot before the round ends, that body part is disabled or even destroyed. Reap the benefits of a debilitating your enemy.
Not for Tier I or II Campaigns – If your players are new or have 1st- to 10th-level characters, you won’t get much use out of this resource. Most of the monsters are challenges reserved for upper-tier characters. If you want to target the hand of a local pickpocket or take out the legs of a fleeing goblin, you’ll have to homebrew your own disable and destroy features. It also feels like a missed opportunity to not have anything about NPCs in here. What do you mean I can’t shoot the mayor in the throat?
No Overview or Table of Contents – Get ready to jump right in and find your own way through the book. There’s no thematic overview or introductory text besides an explanation of the mechanics. A lot of people skip that part anyway, but, even worse, there’s no table of contents or index. A list of the monsters would have been inspiration-fodder for DMs planning their next session and would certainly make navigation easier.
Not Too Rewarding – This is a potential problem with an easy fix. Players who, after succeeding on skill checks and hitting a higher AC time and again, finally disable or destroy a monster’s horns or tentacles might feel slightly cheated when the monster unleashes new power. That’s because Go For the Eyes gives monsters compensating power for what was lost. Take out a dragon’s breath weapon, the wyrm gets deadlier claws. Disable an elder brain’s tentacle, get ready to suffer a blast of psychic damage. Clippinger’s goal was to keep the damage output of the monster the same, even if its options to deliver it dwindle. The problem is that characters might feel cheated or even punished for succeeding at something hard.
But this one has a very easy fix. If your players get tired of taking a hit when the monsters get mad, just ignore the monster’s retributive ability. Watch the dragon choke and finish it off with no breath weapon and no surprise reaction ability.
We are giving Go For the Eyes a rating of 4.5 stars. Its flaws are simply overwhelmed by all the battle-ready awesomeness found in its pages. If you DMs are looking for something to surprise veteran players or to amp up the fun of combat for everyone, this supplement certainly fits the bill. And if you appreciate our reviews, please click the picture if you’re planning on buying.
Adam Hancock is a best-selling DMs Guild writer and editor. His authored works include the Visual Class Guides and Slinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and he’s edited Good Country Dyin’ and Ishavar’s Guide to Curses. He’s currently putting the final touches on Balduran’s Guide to Kingdom Building coming August 2019. He loves removing hurdles for DMs and new players and inventing story seeds to fuel adventure. Find Adam on Twitter @ AdamDMsGuild or browse his works at https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Adam%20Hancock