Arcadia Issue 24 Breakdown
All art belongs to MCDM
Dungeons… and DRAGONS… When we hear that name the first thing that comes to everyones’ minds if they don’t know much about the game is that we are going to be fighting those giant scaly lizards, but that’s mostly not the case. However, issue 24 offers us this champion impaling a dragon as its cover art, fear coming out of the winged creature’s eyes. This issue is in fact all about dragons!
In the letter from the editor, Hannah explains why dragons are so iconic in the fantasy genre, talking about mythology, religion, and many beliefs (while also joking a little about those who do believe these actual dragons once existed). All three articles in this issue are about dragons in a greater or smaller scale (heh, see what I did there?). There’s also a quick reminder on how MCDM and Arcadia are going to continue moving forward regarding the whole OGL situation.
Again, we see Willy with another magnificent article, all about dragons! I personally have a whole campaign in my mind planned out for dragon riders as PCs, so this will surely come in handy in the future for me. The article makes sure to explain the mounting rules again for those who don’t have the previous two articles (issue 1 and issue 4). Once that is out of the way, there’s the dragons:
To start with, we have 4 draconic mounts, 3 of which are original new dragons. There’s the rock-eater dragon that when it releases its breath shrinks in size, a mixture between a dragonfly and an actual dragon that looks dope and deaf its opponents with its wings, and the shadow dragon (different from the one in the MM) that can become a shadow and move everywhere it wants! Lastly, there is a “juvenile green dragon” which is your usual green dragon except it is changed to not be OP when used by a PC while retaining all its fun abilities.
If these four fantastic dragons are not your thing, you can create your own! There is a whole “Making a Mount” section that describes in detail how to create your own mount, with a separate sidebox with extra tips on creating a heroic mount. These all make use of a leveling system similarly to the ones we have seen before, as well as the one from the Beastheart.
If what you are looking for is creating a mount version of an already existing powerful monster, there is also a section on creating “Juvenile creatures”, which are lesser versions of extremely powerful monsters for you to ride. Apart from giving some tips, there is also an example on how to create one which I found extremely easy to follow by using a wyvern. Last but not least, we have more omnimounts (like the ones found in issue 4)! These friendly NPCs are fantastic and unique dragons whose stat block already gave me a ton of inspiration on where to add them in my games (the design for the First Sage is SOOOOOO COOL).
Jessica comes to bring us a new shop to put into your game, with two very lovable NPCs running it: a hag, and a fat ginger cat. However, there is a twist to this shop. The granny running it is not actually a hag, but a simple old gnome that understood that displaying herself as a hag made more people come to her shop ; and then there’s the ginger cat, who is actually a transformed copper dragon.
The article provides us with a great personality for the granny, to make it much easier to roleplay. I found it quite weird that there was no “how to roleplay” section for the copper dragon, but I assume that is because it won’t come out of cat formed unless attacked. Granny is a very intelligent businesswoman and knows how to properly sell her wares, even including special promotions and punchable cards (that you can actually print!!).
The products being sold are potions, and explosives. All with their respective prices, each of the 20 potions (that are totally new and not seen in previous official products) give us fun beverages to play with that all sound and seem very ‘haggy’. I love the idea of an “Instant mouse” potion that can polymorph you at will into a mouse, as this can create amazing infiltration scenes if properly used. The explosives are the kind of thing you would imagine a gnome creating. In other words, extremely chaotic, which I love. My favorite has to be the “Portable door” just because of its description: “Anything can be a door—with enough firepower”.
Lastly, this granny NPC has quests to offer the PCs, three of them in fact. The three of them sound very fun to run, but still it’s strange that 2 of these 3 quests require the dragon to talk to the PCs. I assume these quests are given principally when the PCs develop their relationship with Granny enough to get to know that the cat is a dragon.
This has got to be one of my favorite articles to date. Carlos comes back again with not only a villain, nor a group of villains, but actually the plot for an entire campaign involving all 4 tiers of play! Don’t think of it as the adventure books that WotC and many other 3rd party publishers sell. It’s more of a guide on how you can create an extremely interesting story about kicking capitalism in the face and eating the rich. This is done by providing enemies for each of the tiers of play, what they should be doing, how to get to them, combat tactics and much much more!
The prime BBEG is a gold dragon corrupted by greed while creating machinations and manipulating commerce to his will from the shadows. I adore this concept, and it comes with a very detailed backstory to roleplay this character in a way for your PCs to HATE him. Two interesting things Carlos decided to add into the article are a new way to detail the spells an enemy has in its stat block to make it easier to read (see image below), and also bringing back the subclasses he created in issue 5 of Arcadia as villains (having spoken with him in Big Bad Evil Con and knowing he really appreciated my opinions on that article makes it feel like one of the sideboxes is targeted towards me by making those subclasses now be evil, hehe. More info on that in this article).
The 4/3 villains are to be used as story arc ending bosses, which are masterfully detailed with great and inspiring backstories for you to easily create a whole section of your campaign with them. Why am I saying it’s 4/3 characters? That’s something you will need to find out by yourself by reading the article, but that twist is definitely what makes that character my favorite villain (I’m intentionally being vague here because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Just trust me these 4 characters will be a ton of fun to run and make your players despise them). They all help the golden dragon in some way or another in his evil capitalist and commercialist scheme that exploit the commoners in several ways. For that very reason, the article has a content warning at the very beginning. Even though these things the enemies do are truly evil, there are still some cases ocurring in the world, most of them having occurred in the past, which may make some people uncomfortable.
Besides the golden ancient dragon, who uses its usual stat block with some extra stuff added in the article, all other villains and monsters use action oriented stat blocks. I really enjoy that most monsters used in this article are from previous Arcadia issues, making the campaign particularly unique in its monsters selection (don’t worry, the stat blocks are included here). All in all, it ended up being a campaign I would really consider running. The only thing I would add as an extra, while not quite necessary, is some loot that you could receive from the villains (like having the first villain wield a flame tongue or a unique magic item from another Arcadia issue).
Dragons have a very high to hit score on their attacks, so it’s not very usual for them to miss. The same happens with Arcadia, which as always has enough dope material to be considered an issue I adore. There’s also the fact that dragons are possibly my favorite monsters (aside from Mind Flayers). So yeah, if you are looking to add more dragons to your story, or plan to use Carlos’campaign, definitely consider adding the rest of the stuff in here!
What is your favorite things about dragons? And which of these articles are you looking forward to include in your campaign to surprise your players? Be sure to write it down in the comments below!