There are only so many ways you can spell – or pronounce – the name Bob before your players are going to realize that you’re just making up Dungeons and Dragons characters on the fly. There’s nothing wrong with making up NPCs as you go, of course, but it’s a lot of work! You have to name them, make them interesting, and then you actually have to remember to write down what you made up or next session you’ll have players asking why Ba’ab is named Dave now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work done for you, in such quantity that you don’t have to make anything from scratch for a good while? How about, say, 500 characters? Think that’ll be enough? That’s what you’ll find in the The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters from Topix Media Lab!
The strong increase in popularity of Dungeons and Dragons brought about both by the increased accessibility of D&D’s Fifth Edition as well as the growth of the nascent streaming and actual play communities has meant that there are a whole lot of people getting introduced to D&D. Now that this growth has been going on for a few years, there is burgeoning realization that role-playing games as a medium are capable of a lot more than dungeon crawls and Tolkien derivatives. This is great news for everyone, right? We all know there’s a whole world of RPGs out there, from the big glossy traditional games to indie zines and everything in between. Well, something’s getting lost in translation for some, and in the #dnd world on Twitter you’ve likely seen questions like this:
“How can I make John Wick in D&D?”
“What can you do to run Star Trek in D&D?”
“It would be really cool if I could run Harry Potter in D&D!”
Fortunately, these all have easy answers: Don’t, please don’t, and I don’t think it would.
“Whether aboard an airship or a train car, embark on thrilling adventures shrouded in intrigue! Discover secrets buried by years of devastating war, in which magic-fueled weapons threatened an entire continent.” The pulp adventure and noir intrigue of Eberron have come to the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons in full, hardcover form! After multiple iterations of artifice, after reading the Wayfinder’s Guide on the lightning rail ride here, we’re finally Rising from the Last War with new races, new narrative mechanics, 5e’s first all-new class, and a tacklebox worth of hooks to bring your characters into the adventure. Let’s go through chapter by chapter, and see what there is to find under the light of the Ring of Siberys!
There’s a wide world of RPGs out there. In that world, Dungeons and Dragons represents a small sliver of the gameplay experiences and stories that are possible, but a disproportionately large slice of the games that are actually played. It’s from this juxtaposition that comes the frequent and often irksome question “how do I hack D&D to play [insert genre]?” However, when you mix D&D mechanics with a designer who has actually played other games and given thought to how the mechanics must change, you can get something rather good. Carbon 2185 has taken 5th Edition D&D mechanics, given them a solid restoration to work better in the Cyberpunk genre, and then added some bolt-on systems which take inspiration from the best of sci-fi roleplaying.
Tired of the same old routine in the dungeon? Sick of fighting giant rats every day for a few measly copper coins? Ready to make a change and chase Opportunity™? Then Acquisitions Incorporated is the perfect fit! After years of adventuring across Faerûn and even the multiverse, our company is now offering franchise opportunities near you. Seize the chance at amazing profit by applying at the Head Office today, because there are always positions open . . . just try not to think about why. Not convinced? Then how about a chapter by chapter review of the Acquisitions Incorporated book for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, brought to you by Wizards of the Coast and Penny Arcade!
“Snowhaven has hosted a theocracy, two civil wars, a magi uprising, been partially burned to the ground, and had one small bout of cannibalism, yet still, she shambles on.” As opening lines to a setting book go, you can do a lot worse. I came across Snowhaven on Kickstarter a while back. The authors described it as “snowpunk”, a new genre they were trying to make stick. The way that the authors described it, they wanted to take the steampunk elements of technology and apply it to a fantasy setting, but also keep the sense of “grim isolation” that winter brings. Rather than having your standard bright, optimistic theme of “gaslamp fantasy”, the people of Snowhaven dwell in a brutally harsh cold water port, filled with intrigue between the noble houses and the Illuminate Church. Technology has not been soaring by leaps and bounds because of a new age of whimsy, discovery and exploration; it has advanced because it is the only way for them to survive (they weren’t kidding about the cannibalism thing).
The Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons represented a return to form in many ways over the Fourth, and the merits of that from a rules perspective can be debated. What is not debatable, though, is that the closed-off approach to third-party material which Wizards of the Coast used in response to the d20 debacle of the 2000s went too far, and the return of the Open Gaming License for Fifth Edition is a good thing. Coming out of 2018, the largest tabletop RPG Kickstarter in terms of money raised was one of these third-party products, a supplement called Strongholds and Followers. Strongholds and Followers is the brainchild of Matt Colville, a designer with over two decades of experience in both the tabletop and digital realms. Strongholds and Followers is exactly what it says on the tin: rules for creating Strongholds and having Followers in your Fifth Edition D&D game. Colville’s rules are detailed and comprehensive, but the book harbors no illusions that, when implemented, the expansions from Strongholds and Followers will completely alter the power level of your game. There’s also more coming from Colville, a fact which can’t help but make its way into the book’s presentation and design.
A member of a Tal’Dorei-wide criminal empire, actually a monk hunting knowledge and fighting those who would use it for evil. A child of two worlds with magic in his blood and runes on his skin, taking back control of his life and mastering the arcane. A barbarian warrior of the Terrah Ashari with the strength of stone, a juggernaut instructed to join a new generation of adventurers. A former cultist of the Whispered One, now a cleric of the Matron of Ravens, using the power of blood to strike down her former allies. Vox Machina may have retired, but the world of Critical Role still needs heroes. Let’s see what some of them might look like with a Meet the Party for 5th Edition D&D made using the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting from Green Ronin Publishing!
Transcribed by Bigby, stolen by Shemeshka, dictated by Mordenkainen, and drawing from the many worlds of the multiverse, the Tome of Foes has arrived! Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is, of course, the latest supplement for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, following in the footsteps of Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It has lore, character options, and foes aplenty for us to check out, so let’s get started! I’ll be taking us through chapter by chapter, seeing what Mordenkainen has left for us to read, and comparing the final product to the various bits of Unearthed Arcana that got it started!
A circle of druids who champion decay as part of the natural order, with fungal spores and a sometimes strange relationship with the undead. An archetype of fighter who apply overwhelming strength and persistent durability to simply overcome their foes. A tradition of wizards that champion innovation and experimentation in magic who are regarded as (and just might be) utter lunatics. We’ve got our first Unearthed Arcana of 2018 folks, and so we have Three Subclasses to check out!