Here are my thoughts on how I can use content from Arcadia in my 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game. Arcadia is a new magazine style digital publication for 5e in the tradition of the old Dragon Magazine. In particular, the content is a useful buffet of DM resources, adventures, and lore that enhances existing games.
Arcadia is a solid debut and I think I can get use out of everything in it. Of course, I think most groups would find it useful as well. You can get it for $7 per issue on the MCDM shop, or as a $5 and above patreon.
No spoilers here. I stick to what I thought was useful in the issue and why.
Things I Found Particularly Useful
The layout was well done and easy to read, and the way the content is organized will make it easy to reference during a session. Obviously the utility of a printable PDF is a strength here, I can print handouts, or copy/paste as needed. I enjoyed the art style, not only is it evocative, but it’s different and always useful I can show during a game. Additionally, I very much appreciate they included both DM and player version of maps for my Virtual Table Top. Also, I found the length very useful at 43 pages. Meaning long enough to make for solid sit-down and enjoy it time, but not so long that it stays in my reading backlog.
The Workshop Watches
The Workshop Watches is a fun short encounter you can drop into any campaign and probably run in a single night. The tone and style is going to be different from many games, which is what I look for in a published adventure. The McGuffin of the adventure is creative and doesn’t assume a party motivation, making it flexible. The location is intellectually interesting enough to give the party something to RP about. However, it’s not so lore heavy that the party can’t grasp it in a single session. Adding to the utility of the art I mentioned above, the handouts for this adventure add tangible assets I can use to root players in the world. Lastly, the central antagonists acquires spells in an interesting way that can make the playthrough unique each time.
The Titan Heart
The Titan Heart subclass is an interesting expansion for sorcerers with unique abilities and a great theme. It seems well balanced against other sub-classes and doesn’t suffer from power creep. Since the abilities are unique, the player should always feel like they have their own role. Equally important, the aspects related to lore and implied setting should be easy to fit into most campaigns. Additionally, it comes with a handful of well crafted 1st level spells and a CR 7 NPC that can be used independently. Most of all all, this is a subclass I would be interested in playing myself or having someone play at my table.
Jumping on Mounted Combat
Jumping on Mounted Combat adds some easy and interesting to spice up encounters. The rules themselves mesh well with existing 5e rules and wont create a new set of record keeping and they easy to understand. Without a doubt, I’ll have to give a bit more thought as to how this interact with other rules. Given that 5th edition has tightly coupled rules, a change to one area might have unintended impact in another. Primarily what jumps out at me to think about, is how this might interact or contrast with the new Beastmaster companions rules. Additionally, I need to think a bit more about how this might blend with the sidekick rules form Tasha’s. Regardless, thinking about new rules alone always adds to my game and I find it useful, even if I need to sit with it a bit.
Rules aside, the mounted combat section also includes a hand full of creative and useful mounts you can add to your game. Even if I choose not to use the mounted combat rules, I’d find the mounts useful as monster encounters.
Lastly, there’s a whole encounter added that showcases these rules and new mounts that can be dropped into any adventure. I mean, how cool is that! Great festival style encounters is something lacking in 5e adventures.
Uqaviel The Recreant
Uqaviel the Recreant adds interesting lore and powerful celestials for higher tier play. In spite of the heavy impact of celestial lore on an implied setting, I thought this would be easy to integrate. The beings are evocative, unique and flavorful without forcing much of a particular point of view on the divine. Best of all, these are new and unique celestials instead of a retread of real world myths or overused Princes of Hell. In short, if I found myself needing a quick celestial in the middle of a game, I felt like I could reach for one of these and drop them in. That’s a bit win for me as a DM.
Things That Would Make it More Useful
Generally speaking, I don’t have a lot to say here as I can use almost everything in the issue.
It would have made it more useful if I knew what type of article I was reading from the start of the article itself. The table of contents lists the article title and a sentence about what it is, but the article itself starts with some prose and doesn’t tell you up front. Given the way I read the issue on laptop or tablet, this created some confusion for me as I scroll past the TOC to browse the articles. Unless I scrolled back up to the TOC it would take me a moment to understand what I’m reading is supposed to be about.
The last thing I’ll mention is that I found myself slightly stressed about how I’ll use this across digital toolsets. Since we’ve all become fragmented across multiple platforms, this is going to be a persistent issue with any gaming content. Things like the mounted combat rules have no barrier at all. Adventures will be fairly transferable with just some cutting and pasting. Alternatively, custom monsters will require a bit of data entry, and subclasses present the most challenging transferrable content. This is a consequence of our gaming environment, not of published content in things like Arcadia. However, it’s something we’re all going to have to think about as the RPG landscape and tools continue to evolve.
I Do Not Do Reviews Disclaimer
I do not do reviews. The only important factor to me is if something is usable in a real game. That’s it. Firstly, I am not a judge of product quality, look at my own writing afterall. Secondly, I don’t think it’s useful to break things down to their minute detail to critically dissect elements in some failed attempted at High Gaming Culture. With this in mind, you can expect comments from me on how you might use something too. If you need a hot-take, this is probably not the content for you.