Arcadia Issue 26 Breakdown

All art belongs to MCDM

Let’s begin with that cover. Weird, right? I really like the faerie aspect of the dragon with deer horns, but butterfly wings. That’s what Arcadia is mostly about, right? Adding weird new things into our games. I dunno, now I want to create a stat block for that thing and make it a guardian of the Archfey palaces.

In the Letter from the Editor, Hannah talks about the different ways magic works in each world, as well as its limitations. Magic can both alter the worldbuilding and plot of a campaign. A small change or spell can create huge conspiracies to go on or make mountains appear out of nowhere. This issue of Arcadia will have us think of new ways in which we can use magic to affect our current games. Let’s jump into it!

The traveling magic market trope is one I have always enjoyed and even used in my games. Seeing an already-built and detailed one that I can easily drop anywhere in my campaigns is something great to see. What’s more, it comes with 4 different plot hooks to have the characters encounter or look for the place. Considering it is a place that doesn’t stay for long, it’s always great to have a reason for the PCs to be in the right place at the right time.
The market comes with a beautiful map of it, as well as numerous NPCs that seem like a lot of fun to roleplay. The fact that it uses trading instead of gold as currency will surely make it very fun when the PCs try to sell some random stick they find as if it was a truly unique magic item. Among my favorite NPCs, even though I love the dragonborn nanny, I must stand out a couple of an oni and a dryad, doing puppeteering and singing for everyone.
Lastly, the article includes a list of items you can find in it by going around and seeing the 8 detailed sections of the market. Some of these are quite powerful, and may disrupt how the DM needs to plan out the encounters going forward. Nevertheless, having a kigurumi for my D&D character is something I never thought I wanted so much, and the fact that the PC can wild shape into the animal from the kigurumi makes it insanely better!

If you are into political intrigue like I am, then this article is definiely your jam. I’ve created and GMed an entire campaign that is similar in many ways to what appears in this article, so I must say that getting everything to run a complex political intrigue section of your campaign is amazing.
The article begins by explaining that the monarchs of a land have been assassinated. This left the princess in charge of everything, but several people might be interested in getting hold of that throne or playing a part in the coronation. The 5 protagonists of this political intrigue are fully detailed, including the relationships they have with each other, and how they may respond if something was to occur. These all have a portrait image each that I would definitely print and use constantly if I was running this article’s content.
Player characters will get to talk to each of these NPCs, and most probably take a side in all this, leading to a conclusion that takes place after a gala. The gala is when every single plot point connects with each other. The more information the players found investigating, the more they will be able to intervene with the occurring events. I definitely love how the gala events are all loosely detailed to provide you with just enough information for the DM to comfortably improvise it. I will definitely be running this political intrigue scenario at some point in the future!

In this article, JB Little suggests we frame the party for a crime they did not commit. This is something I have thought of doing numerous times with my players but for some reason never did. Forcing your players to solve problems by thinking instead of just hitting stuff is always a fun approach to the game for me, but I can understand why it may not be for all player groups. In this article, a group of clerics and paladins will be chasing the player characters or looking for them. This forces them to solve the mystery, finding out who framed them and why, and revealing the true, all while laying undercover and evading the guards. I find it to be a very different style of game to which we are used to, making the players think outside the box while angrily trying to guess who is behind it all.
The clergy is leaded by a powerful priest that can put up a fight if confronted with the player characters. However, fighting will make things worse, making escape the most viable option in most cases. The article includes a whole set of rules on how to handle the chase scenes. It is intended to be simple and cinematic, in the same way it handles convincing others (including this high level priest) of their innocence. I find the rules for chase scenes in the DMG to be quite lacking. These ones are more akin a skill challenge, which might be better, but they are still not so much my jam for these sort of things. It does handle and take into consideration numerous kinds of things the PCs may do during the chase and how they alter the encounter, which is very nice to have though.
Lastly, the article includes more detailed explanations of how and when the framing occurs, and different places the PCs can get information or leads from. I must say I really enjoyed the way it states the clues and ways to use them to your favor, making it feel more like a detective game. The detective work should lead them to the real culprit, and allow the PCs to handle with them in one of many ways. The whole detective aspect of this adventure definitely makes up for the weaker way in which the game handles chase scenes (but this isn’t the author’s fault. I have OPINIONS on why D&D usually doesn’t handle very cinematic scenes like chases very well, and I can see JB did a great work improving them)

Final thoughts

So what are my thoughts on this issue of Arcadia? I can see myself using the three of this articles inserting them into my games, or running them as short adventures. The magic market is more intended to be something that can seed more mystery into your world, or as a place to have your characters rest between story arcs. The political intrigue article is definitely my favorite, deserving of its own story arc in a campaign that branches into future new adventures. Last but not least, the investigation on a crime you were framed is something I will surely try out, and I will probably steal the whole detective part of this article!

What are your opinions about this issue? Is there some article you can’t wait to run? Would you change something from one of them? Or… how would you implement these articles in your own game? Let me know in the comments below!