Arcadia Issue 9 Breakdown
All art belongs to MCDM
The spooky month arrived, and surprisingly, no spooky Arcadia articles came to accompany it. However, what we received in exchange was content from some of my favorite content creators! This issue definitely won’t disappoint, but let’s examine it in detail, shall we?
What about James’ letter though? This one was an interesting one for me! It focuses on telling people to try out other games besides D&D to improve their games. I definitely agree with this, and the articles included in this issue definitely took some inspiration from other games, which I find really interesting.
Remember I wrote last time that I really liked the ads that appeared in Arcadia Issue 8? Well, they said that they planned on keep adding ads if they were well received, and in this issue ads are nowhere to be found. I can only imagine that people didn’t enjoy having ads in something they paid for. Not that any other physical magazine doesn’t have ads though. It’s a bit of a shame because it was a great way to help those products that needed some extra boost in sales, or to get to know new products. Nevertheless, it could be a good idea to add in recomendations from the article writers to help raise some awareness on products that only few know about. James, feel free to steal this idea 😀
Cleric: Anathema Domain
Cleric: Atonement Domain
Know the Paladin Oath of Redemption? Picture that but instead of being a fantastic healer it is a cleric and it is an amazing tank. I can see Mario took a great deal of inspiration from videogames RPGs when creating this subclass. It’s all about taking damage from others and tanking the enemies so your allies can keep being glass cannons. I’m surprised it doesn’t have the compelled duel spell in the spell list as it is incredibly thematic for the cleric. If you are looking for a heavily armored cleric that focuses on defending people to atone for the evils they did, then this is a great character choice, both mechanically and storywise.
Warlock: The Swindled
This subclass is the roguish warlock that STEALS FROM THEIR PATRON. How cool is that?? They are charismatic and quick with their hands, being able to create and use eldritch thieves tools from thin air they can use with their Charisma. These warlocks focus on stealing magic, both from their patrons and enemies. Every night, you can make a “heist” into your patron’s domain in your sleep and steal power from them, learning new spells. If you get caught, you are penalized. I’m deeply in love with this character concept, and the archetype of a roguish warlock is fantastic.
Warlock: The Compound
Did you watch that What If? episode from Marvel featuring Dr Strange in which he absorbed tons of different entities? That’s the first thing I pictured when reading this. However, it is described as having tons of different patrons. This has quite a lot of backstory potential, creating very interesting characters. Projections from your patrons appear next to you and help you in battle. If you are the kind of DM that likes torturing PCs using patrons, you can have them all fight for the PC and create interesting plot points with it. The warlock can pull knowledge from this entities, as well as summon them in battle to distract enemies. On 14th lvl you can concentrate on 2 spells at once. Every time I see this I worry a bit because the DMG states that the game is balanced in a way that PCs can only have one concentration spell at a time. Break that rule and balance can fall apart. I need to see this in practice to have a clear opinion about it, but if the many MCDM playtesters didn’t have a problem with it, then it might not be problematic.
Backgrounds and Tables
This article does come with some background to better tie the PCs to the story to be played and the moving pieces in the political intrigue. As always, backgrounds are quite simple, but Sally goes an extra mile to have them be great sources for ideas that can make your character have a greater influence in the city than they expected. Each comes with a set of suggested characteristics to better roleplay a character coming from these backgrounds
As for the tables, these offer you 20 different options for all 4 of the roleplaying section of your character sheet: personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws. Some of them are quite generic, and may not be precisely for political intrigue campaigns, but they can surely involve in politics or helping those in need to reach higher renown and ranks. Combining both the backgrounds with the tables, your players will be able to create unique characters. Think of a backstory for them and introduce the necessary elements for your city to keep it growing and add new factions. It all ties together to create a great story.
Last but not least comes an extremely interesting article from Chris. If you have been following my articles you’ll know I’m a big fan of their stuff having written an article about their award winning game and creating a game of my own using that game’s engine (check out Stuck and Wretched if you haven’t, I’m pretty proud of it!). You didn’t come here to read about that, you want to know what this level 0 thing is all about, so let’s talk about it!
Taking inspiration from other games such as Mork Borg, Troika, and Mothership, Chris designed something that is known in those games as “funnels” for D&D. It’s some sort of meatgrinder playstyle that catalogs as playing as a lvl0 character. The character creation is pretty similar to creating a lvl1 character, except that you only roll your stats in order, roll for your max hp, and give a name to it. The rest you’ll earn it as you play or at the end of the adventure. That’s right, you have no class nor ancestry (the latter can be optionally chosen though so not everyone plays a human).
Following the rules are some big tables full of exciting stuff to define your character that you can use as well. In funnels you pretty much play as an angry mob with torches and pitchforks, so an occupation table for your character is an excelent adition to help roleplay these characters. By the way, each player creates several characters, because the funnel expects most of them to end up dead. The remaining characters can become lvl1 adventurers.
The article comes with the adventure The Price of Passage, an adventure in which you go enter the cave of a troll and come out as monster slayers (or pile of corpses). The adventure is quite simple and greatly reminds me of the Mork Borg adventures I’ve read. It’s dark, filthy, and full of inevitable deaths for your weak peasants. It is filled with tips on how to run it and tables that add a bit of replayability to the adventure. No traps are to be found in the cave, as trolls wouldn’t prepare traps for others, but you will find the environment to be much more deadly than any mechanical contraption created by a kobold.
The adventure comes with a map, stat blocks for the NPCs, and many tables full of fun stuff. I see this adventure concept to be easily replicated, and it would be great to see lvl0 adventures from Chris or other folks in the future!
In conclusion, this issue easily goes among the best issues you can get for your money’s worth. I know I’ve said that with most issues, but this one is definitely one I’ll end up using quite a bit in the future. I love it when all content is useful to me. The subclasses I’ll be saving for those times PCs are considering leaving their deity or patron behind, giving them a great character art moment. As regards the second article, I plan on running political intrigue again in the future, so I’ll definitely keep that article at hand’s reach for when that moment arrives, even if it isn’t for a D&D campaign. Lastly, reading that last article created a whole campaign idea in my head that would start with this adventure, so I believe it was more than successful!
With all this great new content, how are you intending to apply them to your game? Are you skipping this issue for some reason, or would have prefered for it to include some other kind of article? Maybe you liked having ads in Arcadia and are bummed they removed them? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!!