Arcadia Issue 16 Breakdown
All art belongs to MCDM
With a Neverlandesque map of a beautiful floating island comes the new issue of Arcadia. While this kind of art looks weird next to the others, its uniqueness, as well as how great it looks is welcome in my collection. This issue includes three different things that you can easily plug into your game to create great tales for your players, one in the form of a ruleset, another with two NPCs with their own stories, and lastly a monster that actually looks like part of a city.
James talks today about something different, and that is 4th edition. I can see how with the recent campaign from MCDM using this edition it may have made James want to promote it more. 4e is usually talked about negatively, as if it was some kind of aberration, when it was in fact some kind of alpha version of what 5e ended up being as told by James. He really enjoyed it, and it was having played much in that edition what helped him land his position in MCDM. James continues to recommend trying out 13th Age, another RPG from the creators of 4e that is actually really good and you should try, and state that this issue in a way tries to put more 4e into 5e. While I kind of understand what James means with that last statement, nothing besides the first article screams 4e at me. Nevertheless, I really love the way MCDM is going bringing more 4e into 5e, so I will receive everything they throw at us open handed!
The article comes with two different masterwork artisan NPCs for you to easily add to your table. Each of them have their own things that make them special as well as what they work with and sell to the players. At the same time, these are amazing templates for masterwork artisans you may want to create. They don’t know how to make all the things detailed in the article, but only some of them, meaning that if you want your arrows to explode when they hit, this NPC might not do the job, but some others may do so. One thing that I found weird is that there is an amazing art piece for the half-elf NPC, but instead of having art of the tiefling masterwork artisan we have art of a piece of armor. The armor is gorgeous, but it could have been nice to also have a piece of art for the tiefling in case we wanted to add it to our campaign and show it to the players.
One last thing I really enjoyed from the article is the plot hooks table at the end of it. It contains 8 different adventures, all of them epic in some way, to give some ideas to the DM on what to throw at the PCs to get the articles they want. Simple, but effective.
Ahmed provides us with something very interesting coming from his own lands. We already have genies in D&D, but in this article you will encounter 2 very particular genie NPCs that you can easily import to your game and create great stories. One thing I really like about this article is the fact that Ahmed really seems to have created this article around all the mythology around the genies from Arabia. You can even find what I believe to be some easter eggs as some of the durations for things in the article take 1001 nights.
Fikrah was a good aligned genie that disguised herself as an adventurers to have some fun and stories to tell. Tormented by the continuous passing away of her friends as they died of old age, her grief led her to create her own empire of constructs created from thoughts, memories, and clay. The interesting part is that the article comes with the whole traits of the race so you can play as these constructs. There is a whole side of how this empire works, and how it REALLY works, as well as information on alliances Fikrah has made, and the possible ways those around the territory might perceive her. No one is allowed to come into this region. Which secrets may hide in it?
The article closes with some stat blocks you can use if you decide to import these NPCs into your game. The first one is the crowned genie, the “monster” you can use for both NPCs, with some small changes depending on which one you are using. As usual in MCDM’s fashion, these genies are action-oriented, having very powerful abilities for their bonus action and reaction, making combats much more challenging, and interesting. These are enemies you will want to take out by surprise.
A servant template is also included, making it extremely easy to apply properties to other monsters. I wish we saw more of these templates, as they add a layer of versatility that in good DM hands can make for very interesting encounters. Lastly, some stat blocks for servants were incorporated that are pretty much the commoner, assassin, mage, and veteran stat blocks with the template mentioned above. Not very interesting, but handy to have if you decide to use them.
For those of you who know about the False Hydra, this strange memory-stealing monster from an article some years back, comes the spiritual successor, created by no other than the SlyFlourish! So far, everything I’ve seen Mike make is amazing, and this article doesn’t disappoint either. This does not only provide us with an encounter for a lvl7 adventuring party, but also a new monster, with its minions, its story, location, and adventure hooks, easy to locate in any city or town you want.
The blackweald is a gargantuan mimic that looks like a city street. It’s been there for so long that it’s become part of the city, little by little eating one or two people that come walk through it, and erasing their existance from everyone’s memories. Spooky! That way, there is no real way one can know for sure there is a monster in there, or if there is any actual victim. As this was not enough, both the blackweald and its mimic servants can charm people into getting close enough to be eaten. These mimics range from barrels , mailboxes, to carts, windows, etc. The blackweald and its mimics come with their own unique action-oriented stat blocks that will surely make for a fascinating battle if the PCs ever discover there is something wrong here.
What’s most interesting about this article isn’t actually the monster per se, but its victims. People are being puppeteered to live in these streets to make it seem like a normal place. Some taverns have patreons constantly playing dice that are actual mimics without the tavernkeeper even understanding there is something wrong with that. Shopkeepers repeat the same process over and over again every day as in some kind of trance, due to having their minds clouded by this abomination. Everything about this place screams at you in a way to get away as soon as you can in a way.
All in all, issue 16 is surely one of those issues you shouldn’t miss in my opinion. All three articles contain things I would love to add to my game at some point. The masterwork artisans add an extra layer of complexity to weapons, which after some time playing in this edition have become quite dull for my players. The genies are great NPCs with a fantastic story to tell that can add a lot to your game, or even accidentally end up as BBEGs! Lastly, the whole concept of the blackweald and memory stealing is something that I truly love, and can’t wait to use at some moment.
What do you think of this issue? Has it become your favorite so far? Is there any change you would make to any of the articles? Tell me which of the three you are looking forward to add to your game in the comments below!