Arcadia Issue 15 Breakdown
All art belongs to MCDM
It’s a new month, and while we keep waiting for the Flee Mortals! monster book to come, let’s enjoy some Arcadia content. This one offers a pretty great collection of articles that go a bit towards the creepy side of things. Nevertheless, in this letter from the editor, James confirmed that they don’t actually attempt to give a theme to every Arcadia, it just accidentally happens. So… I guess I will stop looking for a theme in all articles? Nah, I’ll keep doing that cause that helps us realize if the issue has content we may be looking for. If you are running a Ravenloft campaign, you can go through my articles and check which issues are horror-themed. I guess that can help someone? Let me know in the comments!
The cover art is impressive, looking like an oil painting from a dark-skinned elf. It has the grace of Tolkien’s elves, but in a way, I like it better. Anyways, let’s get to the fun part! What does this issue have for us?
Way of the Flesh Subclass
- 3rd Level: Shape the Flesh. You get yucky pseudopods from your skin that allow you to hit enemies that are far from you. This reach is extended on lvls 11 and 17, finally allowing you to hit from 20ft afar. This allows you to grapple enemies from afar and pull yourself to the enemies
- Am I the only one picturing Dhalsim from Street Fighter as well as all the classic stretchy superheroes from this? I see a lot of potential with this ability by adding a bit of flavor.
- I don’t know how grappling an enemy from a distance would work. If you move closer or in opposite direction to the enemy what happens? I guess it’s up to the DM to decide.
- 6th level: Mind is Matter. You get two very cool abilities: Get flesh from dead foes to shapeshift to them, including voice, size, and items. Alternatively, you can talk to the dead through their skin.
- I really like that you can save pieces of flesh for later and use them strategically
- The abilities force PCs to kill to use them, which means it’s going to be difficult for your character to be mercyful. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives the character more of a Carnage or Venom vibe… But at the same time it can be problematic
- The ability to talk to the dead is an improved Speak with Dead spell. I’m not sure I enjoy the fact that dead people are forced to answer any question the characters ask truthfully and without hiding anything. This eliminates all the interrogation scenes that your game could have.
- 11th level: Free the Flesh. For 10 minutes you become an unstoppable fleshy thing that can’t be stopped, and can get ANYWHERE.
- Yeah, this is the stuff of nightmares. See the video game Carrion to get a mental image of what you could look like. DOPE.
- 17th level: Charnel Apotheosis. You teleport up to 30ft, creating an explosion of flesh as you reappear. This damages the enemies on a 30ft radius and can push them and knock them prone.
- Considering this is an ultimate ability, it seems a bit lackluster to deal just 5d10 damage = 27. The lvl3 spell fireball deals 8d6 damage in comparison = 28. However, the range is bigger, and it’s just an action, meaning you can still use the Flurry of Blows ability to deal 2 extra attacks. That’s what truly makes this attack so powerful. Combine it with the movement that Shape the Flesh allows, and you can move incredible distances in one single round!!
While I do have the S&F book, I’ve never got to try retainers yet, so I don’t think there’s much of use I can say about this new retainer on how powerful it is. The art for it is pretty menacing, and the attacks are borrowed from the subclass, with some differences to make it much easier to use.
Encounter: Thinker’s Block
The article also includes a lvl5 encounter about a female human looking for a fight that you can place pretty much anywhere. This woman named Charity wants some combat, as she can think clearer when throwing punches. The problem is she’s a fricking skin and bone-extending thing that can do some heavy damage. The art for Chastity is pretty much amazing, making me want to add them somewhere in my future games!
This is the kind of articles that feature one single amazing monster and lots of details and lore to play with, and insert into your game. What’s very interesting and different from other monsters, is that the Nightmare Dragon is a monster that was created with the intention of it being a high-tier enemy, which is something we rarely get to see. By the whole description of it, you can have this dragon from the Astral Plane be the big bad evil guy pulling strings, and psychically destroying the whole world.
I was surprised to find no actual art of the monster, until I found out it doesn’t have a true physical form, as it takes the shape of people’s nightmares. While it is a very cool concept, I would have really enjoyed seeing at least one interpretation of this abstract being. For this very reason, there are no wyrmling, young, adult stat blocks. You only have the CR24 creature, created out of a recopilation of many people’s nightmares. The dragon torments folk in their sleep and leaves them terrified for the rest of the day. If the PCs want to get rid of it, there’s no other choice but to track it down in the Astral Plane.
Despite being named a dragon, there are just a few things the nightmare dragon shares with others of their kind. It’s mostly a new thing. My favorite thing about it is an ability called “Lull” it can use in its lair. This puts a ticking clock on the player characters, making their failures move this clock even faster. As time goes on, they run the risk of falling unconscious. This is done through a dice pool mechanic. Once a PC is down, the dragon can reanimate them as sleepwalkers that attack their allies. It has some other cool abilities, but for some reason, I still have the feeling that it could have had something extra, being a CR24 monster. That may just be me though, it’s still a fantastic monster.
Marcello’s article is all about informants. These characters may offer important information in your games at a price. The three of them are extremely unique and can be easily inserted into any world. What’s more, they come with some interesting quests for the PCs to accomplish as well in exchange for information. I will try to give some brief descriptions of them to not spoil the fun parts.
The first one is Imirich the Rat, the spy from the docks. Some say the informant is “a now-dead drunken augur who occasionally got something right,” while others believe he is “a whelp of a street urchin that skirts through market crowds, peddling rumors and truths.” Every time you try to come to him, an urchin arrives followed by dozens of rats. No information is free, though. Never cross the rat.
Roadside Magda is the second informant featured in the article. She is an ex adventurer you can find on the road with a tragic past she always tells traveling adventurers she encounters. She has heard many things, and is willing to share. You’ll need to share one of your own stories if you want to learn something. Nevertheless, there is something weird about her, something you may end up finding out, or maybe not.
The Sable Gala is not AN informer but a whole place full of informers, an actual gala celebrated in a city. Those looking to get information about the most wealthy and noble folk may encounter an invitation to the Sable Gala, a party full of assassins willing to exchange information. You are going to need to convince these assassins to offer what they know, but if you mess with them or don’t fulfill their requests you may face an actual horde of assassins.
In conclusion, this article has more than enough for me to want to get it. I feel like the stronger articles are the Monk subclass, which tries out weird things I would love to see in play, and the informants one, mostly because I really like easy-to-port things that add something great to your homebrew world. While there are many things that I enjoyed about the dragon, however, I have a feeling that it could have been a bit better… But that may be mostly because I love designing monsters and I would have liked to see more unique things from a colossal monster from the astral planes (or maybe it was just the lack of art of it, idk). It’s still a fantastic monster and has enough to have it be a very interesting endgame monster.
What did you think of this issue? Does it have enough for you to want to get it? Is there something that doesn’t convince you, or perhaps an article you can’t wait to try out? Let me know in the comments below!!