Arcadia Issue 27 Breakdown (SHARKADIA)

All art belongs to MCDM

Oh man, look at that cover! It’s as if the shark from Jaws had been experimented with and transformed into some sort of eldritch creature from the depths, full of glowing eyes, and covered with kelp. Ok, let’s stop fangirling over that fantastic cover. It’s not even Shark Week and we are getting this amazing special issue. What is it that we may discover if we dive in?

Hannah opens the letter from the Editor talking about the origin of this (Sh)Ar(K)cadia issue. It was born as a joke James Introcaso made a while back. However, both Hannah and James loved the idea so much that they ended up creating it. Henceforth, here we have a whole issue featuring sharks and underwater exploration! The amazing thing about this is that there isn’t much D&D content for underwater exploration, but this whole issue will give you more than enough to create your own story arc underwater, if not a whole campaign! If you plan on doing this I greatly recommend you check out our book Under the Seas of Vodari that has our take on many of the takes you will see in this issue + more monsters, rules, character options, and content!

James comes back to Arcadia to write about shark monsters! 8 new sharks + 1 shark companion, accompanied by 4 unique magic items are included in this amazing article. While sharks from our world would be pretty similar if you had to create stats for them (except the whale shark), James added some new things and magical abilities to these creatures to make them monstrous, and something you should definitely be terrified of. Ranging from the classical megalodon to sharks that can devour memories or control weather, there is an extremely wide variety of things to use in your game. The aranoth is definitely my favorite, having not only a fear-inducing art piece, but also being capable of petrifying PCs and stealing their memories, to create a whole collection of their preys.
Apart from including some other fantastic sharks, such as something akin to a “blink shark” that can kidnap their targets and disappear, there are weresharks, with notes on what might change from your character if you were to fall victim to this form of lycanthropy. As regards the items, these provide new ways in which your character can earn shark-themed abilities, like blood frenzy, the ability to track their prey, or summon the Sharkboat (which of course can bite)!

No underwater adventure is complete without some encounters, hazards, and events happening underwater. This article provides all that and more! There are rules for how light changes as you dive deeper into the ocean, how that affects visibility and pressure. Going too deep might cause pressure to start dealing damage to your character, so you better be prepared to go there!
Going that deep, however, would be boring without some encounters: While not full encounters per sé, the article brings us 5 hazards you might encounter, that with some added monsters, NPCs, or a puzzle might easily turn into a whole encounter. I would have loved to see some fully prebuilt encounters, but there are only some for shipwrecks. All these seem to contain a story to be continued or told, easily inspiring the DM, which is always nice to see.
Lastly, 5 new original monsters are featured in the article as part of the encounters I mentioned above. While not as shark-themed as the ones from the previous article, these monsters are terrifying on their own. The eldritch anemone and the swarm of zombie warms sound terrifying and I wouldn’t like to be anywhere near them ever.

I believe Willy is the one that has created more articles for Arcadia so far, right? I’m not sure, but every time I see one of his articles there’s a smile on my face because I know it’s going to be good. This article is no less, with all the necessary to tie both other articles together and create a fantastic adventure out of it. In top of it all, it comes with its own original sea shanty that you can hear! I was amazed to click the link and hear a wholly produced sea shanty.
Captain Shivershank is your fearless pirate with an objective: getting a mcguffin that grants wishes. I couldn’t avoid thinking about Pirates of the Caribbean when I read that because it follows the same vibe. She attempts to be neutral amongst all things but won’t let anyone stand in their way. This means that the player party can have her be a thing going on in the background on their adventures, or have her as an ally, or rival/enemy. There are sections on how to set and start the adventure, having the characters get to know in some way who Shivershank is, but this was created to start at lvl3. If you are planning on playing your own swashbuckling adventure, Seas of Vodari has a lvl1 adventure that could have the players end up at the beginning of this whole event.
There is a whole stat block for Captain Shivershank that makes her a fearsome enemy to face, able to eat their friends’ head off to heal, and much more! Additionally, there are tips on how to roleplay her, and how she may serve as a patreon for your campaign, giving the party fun missions such as being in charge of finding a place to bury her treasure and doing so, while being chased by other pirates!
This article does also include a huge variety of encounters to use , which can serve as one-shot adventures if used 2-3 in a single session (in fact, it’s the article that suggests doing so!). As this was not enough, the article includes quest hooks, rivals, possible allies, and rules on how to sail and pilot a ship! However, my favorite section is the one that adds in rules on how to fight sea monsters from the ship, dividing ships into zones to battle from, with its own set of new cinematic rules. You don’t want to miss what’s going on in this article!

Final thoughts

Sharks, pirates, seafaring adventures, sharks, campaigns, SHARKS! There is really a lot to love in this issue of Sharkadia. Definitely a must-buy on my part! If you also do have the Seas of Vodari and Under the Seas of Vodari books, you can make sure to make the most out of these and create a fantastic seafaring campaign full of fun stuff. The Shivershank article remains my favorite, especially because of the sea shanty, hehe.

You ready to sail on a new adventure? Do you plan on creating a pirate story arc in your game? Maybe a whole campaign? Which articles are you looking forward the most to use? Let me know in the comments below!