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.
‘Twas a few nights after Christmas, and all through the house, a few creatures were stirring, clicking on a mouse . . . to find their way to a band of ready-to-play adventurers prepared to save Christmas! Yes, the holiday has passed, but there’s still time for that holiday-themed one-shot you’ve been thinking of running. This one can be filed under the ‘just for fun’ column, and draws some inspiration from way, way back in the CHG archives. So hitch up the reindeer, pack up all the presents, and check your list twice, because we’re going to adventure for the holidays with Santa Claus and his elves in this Meet the Party for 13th Age!
Jethro saw her for the first time. In a clearing of the thickets that had occupied their dreams for so many weeks, stood a woman adorned in a cloak of feathers, astride a white horse.
“You are all getting closer. Eventually the time will come when you can decide to open the door.” Jethro shouted questions, but before he could get a reply, he awoke. While losing time was getting to the point of normalcy, Jethro had been gone for almost a week and a half, and the party was now far away from Montral’s Mine, sitting in a supply closet in the underground research complexes of the Wizard’s College of Glebhavern.
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!
Finally ascending from the mine of fire, stone, and mephits, the adventurers headed north towards the Imperial Shelter. They camped along the road, slept without incident, and made their way back to the river they had originally followed from the coast. The road crossed the river further inland, in an area they had not yet been in before. And as they prepared to cross a flooded causeway to continue on their way, they spotted a giant metal beast, drinking from the river. This bull didn’t eat grass…it was a Gorgon, which subsisted on ground up stones from its petrified prey. It saw the adventurers, and got ready to charge.
The elementals lay dead after a brutal fight that claimed the lives of half a dozen kobolds. Interpreter Ogro and Commander Snaks had regrouped, seeing who was left in their troop. But the fight was over. Ander and Elliot went over to the forge that the elementals were working, cooling but still hot with elemental fire. Not much of a smith, Ander plunged his sword directly into the hottest part of the fire…and had no sword left to speak of. Elliot, more accomplished at the forge and amused at his comrade’s fumbling, used the cooling embers to reforge the blade, more carefully this time. The new blade held an edge just as well as the old, and seemed to have a mild twinge of elemental magic.
For the first time, Elliot found himself pulled through a fairy door. He could tell he was in his homeland, but nowhere he had ever been. But when he called to the laughing voice, she responded. Apparently the party’s fates were now intertwined with this being, and at some point in the future, they’d have to choose between the fairy world and the “concrete world”.
Elliot awoke in a cold sweat. Actually, more of a hot sweat. He was prone on the floor in a room he didn’t recognize, surrounded by wisps of steam that he did not know were Mephit corpses. “How long was I out?”
Dungeons and Dragons has a long and storied history, but like all long and storied histories there are some bumpy parts. When Third Edition (3e, and then 3.5e) came out, the first version of the game produced by Wizards of the Coast, many of the old guard were less than pleased. It was this reaction that planted the seeds for the OSR movement, in addition to the Open Gaming License (OGL), which made it easier to use the basic mechanics of existing D&D rulesets. Despite having detractors, 3e was wildly successful, so successful that it too inspired a wave of dissatisfaction when it was replaced by the significantly revised Fourth Edition (4e). The shift in design and the decision to discontinue the OGL at the end of the 3.5e product run not only alienated some players, but left many content producers hung out to dry. One of these was Paizo Publishing, a well-regarded outfit who had made a name for themselves publishing Dungeon and Dragon magazines. When this license expired in 2007, the entire company was in jeopardy. It was then that Paizo made a bold move and developed its own OGL-based game, Pathfinder.
The day foretold in the Draconic Prophecy has come, and Eberron has returned to Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition! The planned settings announcement went live on July 23rd, and to accompany it came the PDF of the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron (don’t worry, we’ll pay due attention to the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica when it comes out later this year). We grabbed a copy pretty much right away, and after a few days to read through it and digest the contents I’m ready to talk about what’s in it, what’s not, what it all means, and where Eberron and D&D go from here!
With the mast successfully returned to the pirates, the adventurers began preparing for their trip inland to the Imperial Shelter. When the ship was crewed and outfitted, Salty, the piratical second-in-command had a surprise for the outgoing party. A shabby looking kobold was almost thrown at the adventurers. He was small, even for kobolds, and his ragged clothing was covered in singe marks. Apparently the pirates had picked him up at some point, and wanted him gone.
“I am Weekbadd! Help me prepare for when the First Lizard ends the world in holy fire!”
This was going to be interesting.