Arcadia Issue #3 From MCDM – Review

Arcadia Issue #3 from MCDM

Hello dungeon creatures and crawlers, it’s me Slick Dungeon. Is it time for me to gush about how amazing MCDM studio’s Arcadia magazine for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is? Let me check my watch. Yep, it’s that time. The third issue of the super awesome Dungeons & Dragons magazine Arcadia by MCDM is out! I took a look at all the articles and want to give you my hot takes so far. If you don’t know what Arcadia is and you want to learn more about it before reading about issue #3 you can start at the beginning and check out my post for issue #1 here.

This magazine has proven to be overwhelmingly popular and in my opinion is one of the best returns on investment in any D&D product out there at the moment. One thing I love is that in every issue so far there has been at least one adventure you could use as a one shot with your gaming group. This issue is no exception and I hope that trend continues.

I also want to reiterate that I have no association with MCDM in any way whatsoever, I just think that their products are top notch and worth every penny if you love playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. That being said, if you want to pick up the first, second or third issue of Arcadia you can do it here. If you buy them together you can get them discounted as a bundle for $6 a piece instead of $7.

Arcadia #3 Announcement

Alright, enough about me telling you how to buy the awesome stuff, let me review the awesome stuff. Once again, there will be some spoilers as to what is in the issue but I won’t give too much away. To get the full story you definitely need to buy the magazine. Also like last time I will give each article a grade.

The artwork

What can I say? I don’t think this magazine would work half as well as it does without the absolutely fantastic artwork involved here. For three out of three issues I have to give this an A+. the images are interesting and strange and somehow combine both the modern and old school feel of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s incredible how good this stuff is. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this cover art by Justin Gerard. If this doesn’t spark your imagination for about a million campaign adventure ideas, I don’t know what will. If you want to check out more of Justin’s artwork check out his website here. Again, I don’t have any affiliation with this artist, I just think it’s super cool.

Arcadia #3 Cover artwork by Justin Gerard

Article #1 The Dreamkin

The Dreamkin gives us three new ancestries based on dreams in one way or another. There are Lucidlings who are the offspring of aberrations, Sandspeakers who can enter the dreams of others, and Somnians who are dream architects and can craft illusions and assume nightmarish forms.

All three of these ancestries are strange and interesting and if you happen to have someone in your party who can cast sleep, I think any of these beings could play a major role in a campaign.

While they are strange and wonderful ancestries, they are going to be of limited use in certain types of campaigns. If you are in a setting where there are no aberrations, a Lucidling isn’t going to work. If you have a campaign where most of the monsters have high wisdom, the Somnian’s Nightmare action is going to be much less effective.

If you are playing a campaign involving Stone Giants who can’t really understand the difference between waking and sleeping, these ancestries could be majorly fun to play.

While these ancestries are situational for the most part they are quite well designed and I personally would love to play a Somnian at some point.

All in all this was a fantastic article and if you are looking for a completely new ancestry, this is it. I give it a B+ for a normal campaign but an A+ for a campaign in which dreams and dreaming feature heavily.

Article #2 – Ten Spells You Need in 5e

There are a lot of us out there who love playing 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons who also remember some great old spells that used to be in the game. This article takes ten of those classic spells and updates them for this newest edition.

I’m always a sucker for a good spell that can be used to give a magic wielder advantage. Not all spells are created equal however and some can give a player or Dungeon Master a decidedly meh feeling.

Not all of the spells here are winners but there are enough of them that I am excited about for this to be a solid offering in the magazine. I think my favorite might be Attract Metal. I can see that used in conjunction with Heat Metal from the Player’s Handbook to be a deadly combo an armored foe won’t be able to escape. I also like Rainbow Recurve which is a lot like Chromatic Orb with a power up. Glitter Dust, although neat, is not one I’m that keen on as there are other existing spells that give the same effect but if you love the idea of glitter bombing an enemy, it’s perfect for you. Another of my favorites is Walking Dead. If you’ve ever felt like you needed your campaign to have a Weekend at Bernie’s session this spell is exactly what you need. Entertainment gold right there.

The spells here are diverse enough that Bards, Clerics, Druids, Rangers, Sorcerers, Wizard and Warlocks all can use at least one of these spells. The Wizard benefits most here which makes sense because… Wizard.

While I like a lot of these spells some of them do feel a bit simply re-skinned so for this article I am giving it a B- overall but there are some good spells here so it’s kind of a pick and choose what you love here.

Classic Dungeons & Dragons back in print! - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Article #3 – Aces High New Rules for Aerial Combat

I’m usually pretty cautious about articles that claim they will make the use of written rules easier and then have tables with a bunch of modifiers in them. Sometimes authors make the mistake of creating a new rule set that is simply different from the original but no less difficult to manage.

If you’ve ever done aerial combat in a campaign you will know that the rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide are confusing and fairly difficult to adjudicate and sort of slow the game down. (At least that has been my experience) And if you have a player who is into airplanes, zephyrs and the like, they’re sure to tell you how this combat you’re running is nothing like a real dog fight in mid-air would be.

I took a look at the rules in the DMG and compared them with the ones written in Aces High and I have to say, the Aces High rules win by a huuuuuuuge margin here. If you buy this issue of Arcadia and are intimidated by the tables found in this article, don’t be. These rules add a lot of excitement and verisimilitude to the game. I think it does help if you have read some of the war rules for Strongholds and Followers to have a full understanding of how these rules work but it’s not strictly necessary.

And while the rules are super helpful, one thing that really pushes this article over the top is that there is a sample encounter using these rules right in the article. It’s a nice little test you can use at your own table and if you hate these rules and prefer the DMG, you won’t have wasted too much time on it.

Usually in Arcadia there is at least one article I say is worth the price of admission. In the previous two articles I would say those were the adventures given. This time I have to give that honor to this simplified and more exciting rule set for aerial combat. This article provides a solution for a problem a lot of DM’s run into and actually makes the DM’s life just a little easier. For that reason I give this article a full A+.

Article #4 – A Diamond in the Rough

A Diamond in the Rough is a roleplay and intrigue adventure for 3rd-level characters. It’s essentially a mystery about who or what is thieving from a family of nobles.

Reviewing this one is a little tricky because I don’t want to give anything away in case anyone plays this as a player but I still need to describe it so people can know if they would be interested in the adventure.

Reading through this one it reminded me of a game of clue (but about theft rather than murder) with a Dungeons & Dragons twist to it.

The adventure has three parts, a solid map with 12 locations and has at least 2 suggested conclusions. There are several NPC’s that I could see being used not just in this adventure but showing up from time to time in a full campaign.

I’m not sure how coincidental it was that a mystery came out in Arcadia the same month that Candlekeep Mysteries was released but this does feel like it would be at home in a campaign full of mysteries.

There are suggestions for ways to make some of the clues either easier or harder to find for players which I think is important for an adventure like this as no two gaming groups are going to be alike in how they solve a mystery. I do think this adventure takes a bit of DM skill in order to navigate it successfully however. It’s got a lot of potential and I think could be great for those groups who love a good mystery. If you’re not into having mysteries at your table this is not for you but I think you could still pull an NPC or two out of here for use at your own game.

While I like the concept and the NPC’s here quite a bit some of this adventure feels a bit predictable. I think it will be on DM’s to adapt and there will need to be some work put in here.

For this article I am giving it a solid B.

Overall

MCDM is batting a thousand with these issues. It’s clear that the effort and care put into each article is thought about and cultivated until they have the best product they can deliver. I was a little late in reviewing this issue this month but I don’t think I will let a month pass me by where I don’t buy this magazine as long as they keep making it. I think with enough time and issues an entire campaign could be worked out just using articles and adventures from Arcadia. I’m tempted to try to string something together myself already and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are DM’s out there who already have.

Once again, if you haven’t picked up Arcadia, I don’t know what else to tell you other than if you play 5th edition it is one hundred percent worth the money.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Slick Dungeon’s 2021 Challenge Check-in!

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, hoping March was an amazing month for you and that April will be even better.

(Note that there are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase anything through these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

In January I put out three challenges for this year, one for books, one for movies and one that combined books, movies and role playing games. I wanted to take today to see if anyone has done any of the challenges and update everyone on my own progress.

As a reminder, if you complete any of the three challenges and talk about it on your blog, I will review anything in that category that you want me to and post that review on my blog with a link to your blog.

Don’t worry if you haven’t started, each of my challenges is only 12 items long and there is still plenty of the year to go.

In case you want to participate and still need the challenges, just take a look at this post and download yourself a neat little PDF or three.

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for, how did I, Slick Dungeon do on my own challenges in March? Let’s find out.

Challenge 1: Book Challenge

For the second month in a row, I did not make my book challenge. I am going to try to make reading a bit more of a priority for April. I make no promises though because I am a pretty slow reader. That being said below are the books I intend to read this month for my challenge.

This is a book recommended to me by a friend and I am about two thirds of the way through it so hopefully I will be reviewing it soon. That was the challenge from way back in February but this month is the month I will get this done!

For March the challenge I wanted to take on was a book you swore you would never read. I haven’t quite finished it but I am close. I am reading none other than Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I definitely have some thoughts about it and I’ll be sure to let you know what those are so stay tuned.

Challenge 2: Movie Challenge

My challenge this month was to watch a movie that scares me. I remembered being terrified by the film Phantasm when I was a kid and wanted to revisit it. If you want to check out my review of it, take a look at this post.

Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge

This month for the Read-Watch-Play challenge, I did one of the play challenges. I had a little trouble getting a group together so I went with a solo campaign called The Executioner’s Daughter. Check out my review for it here.

Well, that’s it for March. Let’s hope I will be able to complete all the challenges in April. Here’s what I am going to be attempting.

  1. A book recommended by a friend (left over from February)
  2. A book you swore you would never read (left over from March)
  3. A book that has a BIPOC author or protagonist
  4. A movie with an ambiguous ending
  5. Read a book with a quest

Good luck to the rest of you out there and if you have decided to participate, feel free to let me know how it is going in the comments!

If you would like to download any of the challenges you can do that on the original post or right below.

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Book Challenge
Movie Challenge
Read-Watch-Play Challenge

The Executioner’s Daughter: Dungeons & Dragons Solo Adventure Review

The Executioner’s Daughter, Part 1 of the Tribunal Trilogy by Ashley Warren

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. If you are like me you love playing Dungeons & Dragons. Also, if you are like me, you can’t always get a group together to play. So what do you do? Find a solo adventure you can play by yourself. I found myself in this situation recently so I decided to play The Executioner’s Daughter by Ashley Warren who writes some fantastic RPG material you can purchase on the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

What’s a solo adventure for Dungeons & Dragons you say? Simple. It’s kind of like a choose your own adventure book but where instead of making decisions you roll up a character sheet and roll some dice to find out what happens.

These types of adventures have become increasingly popular in the last year for obvious reasons. Never let the lack of a group stop you from enjoying your favorite TTRPG. Now, on to the review.

The Executioner’s Daughter is an adventure meant for a 3rd level character. This can be played by one person alone or is easily adapted to have a Dungeon Master and a single player.

The adventure is rich with detail and has some pretty cool twists and turns. I chose to be a 3rd level Aasimar Paladin because I had never played that race or class before. I found the combat challenging (mostly because I somehow managed to roll really well against myself and really poorly for my character). I will say that the adventure tends to lean toward the good side of alignment but you can play as whatever you want.

The setting is a place called Soldra that has a history of fighting dragons but at a price. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory here but basically Soldra has survived for years by sacrificing a young woman from the city every year to Bahamut the dragon god. Things must be going relatively well because there hasn’t been a dragon attack on the city in years. The ceremony where this selection happens does not go as planned this time and that is where your character comes into play.

Conveniently, all of the stat blocks you need to play are included right in the module so there’s no awkward pausing to find something in the Monster Manual just to continue playing.

While it is a bit odd rolling against yourself for combat, I got used to it pretty quickly.

The artwork is high quality and it helps to make the adventure feel truly immersive.

There are some drawbacks to the module. First, if you have never played D&D before, this could prove challenging because the module assumes you know how to make a 3rd level character. Since that’s outside the scope of what the module is trying to achieve, I don’t hold it against the creator. I just thought it would be fair to warn anyone who might purchase this that it’s not for totally inexperienced players.

The module is text heavy and does seem to assume a couple things about your character. Mostly it assumes that you want to get in on the action somehow. Since it would be a pretty boring adventure without getting involved, I can’t really hold that against the module either. But due to this it can feel a little bit like thee outcomes are inevitable.

Overall, including the time it took me to make a character, this adventure took me about 2 hours to play. I am sure some people will go faster and others will take longer.

So, what’s the cost of this little adventure and is it worth getting? I have good news for you. This is a steal at only 99 cents. It’s technically a Pay What You Want title on the DM’s Guild but I paid the full price and I think it was worth every penny. If you are interested and want to buy it, click on one of the links to it above or click this link here.

Not only did playing this fill my time and give me a couple hours of fun, it also crossed off one of my challenges for my read-watch-play challenge. To check that out take a look at this post or download the challenge here for free.

I should also mention that this is part one of a trilogy. I plan to play all three and review them on this blog so if you are interested, stay tuned and I will let you know how they go. I feel like there is a lot of story potential in this first one so I am looking forward to the next adventure in the series.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Slick Dungeon’s 2021 Challenge Check-in!

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, hoping February was an amazing month for you and that March will be even better.

(Note that there are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase anything through these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

In January I put out three challenges for this year, one for books, one for movies and one that combined books, movies and role playing games. I wanted to take today to see if anyone has done any of the challenges and update everyone on my own progress.

As a reminder, if you complete any of the three challenges and talk about it on your blog, I will review anything in that category that you want me to and post that review on my blog with a link to your blog.

Don’t worry if you haven’t started, each of my challenges is only 12 items long and there is still plenty of the year to go.

In case you want to participate and still need the challenges, just take a look at this post and download yourself a neat little PDF or three.

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for, how did I, Slick Dungeon do on my own challenges in February? Let’s find out.

Challenge 1: Book Challenge

Ack, this one is the one I failed at this month. I did get a book recommended to me and I have started reading it. It’s by one of my favorite authors Isaac Asimov and is called The Gods Themselves. I’m about half way done so there should be a review for it in the next week or two here. In case you want to get it for yourself, check it out below.

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Assimov

Challenge 2: Movie Challenge

My challenge this month was to watch three films by the same director. I went with 3 early Alfred Hitchcock films. Challenge completed on this one woohoo! If you want to know what I thought about the movies check out the posts for them below.

  1. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
  2. Rich and Strange
  3. The Secret Agent

Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge

This month for the Read-Watch-Play challenge, I did one of the watch challenges. I chose to watch (well re-watch) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While I love the book and I enjoy the film well enough, I think there is considerable room for improvement in the film. Check out my review for it here.

Well, that’s two out of three for February. Let’s hope I will be able to complete all the challenges in March. Here’s what I am going to be attempting.

  1. A book recommended by a friend (left over from February)
  2. A book you swore you would never read
  3. A movie that scares you
  4. Play a Dungeons & Dragons one shot adventure

Good luck to the rest of you out there and if you have decided to participate, feel free to let me know how it is going in the comments.

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Arcadia Issue #2 From MCDM – Review

Arcadia Banner from MCDM

Hello dungeon creatures and crawlers, it’s me Slick Dungeon. Guess what? The second issue of the super awesome Dungeons & Dragons magazine Arcadia by MCDM is out! I took a look at all the articles and want to give you my hot takes so far. If you don’t know what Arcadia is and you want to learn more about it before reading about issue #2 check out my post here.

Even more exciting is that this magazine seems like it has the green light to go through issue #6 so there is going to be a lot of 5th edition goodness you can get your hands on. Matt Coleville summarizes what is in the issue in the video below. The release schedule does still seem to be tentative so I can’t say when issue #3 will be available but if they stick to the schedule it should be sometime in March.

I also want to reiterate that I have no association with MCDM in any way whatsoever, I just think that their products are top notch and worth every penny if you love playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. That being said, if you want to pick up the first or second issue of Arcadia you can do it here. If you buy them both you can get them discounted as a bundle.

Arcadia #2 Announcement

Alright, enough about me telling you how to buy the awesome stuff, let me review the awesome stuff. Once again, there will be some spoilers as to what is in the issue but I won’t give too much away. To get the full story you definitely need to buy the magazine. Also like last time I will give each article a grade.

The artwork

I can’t review this magazine without mentioning the artwork. For the second time in a row, the artists have blown me away with their handiwork. The creatures depicted are cool and weird and all of the artwork is evocative and interesting. As if that were not enough, the adventure that is included in the magazine has useable maps for Dungeon Masters to use in their game. This month I am giving the artwork an A+ again.

Article #1 Subclasses of the Season

Have you ever wanted to play a character who had a subclass based on a season? Well, now you can. There are four subclasses for four different spellcasting classes. There is a winter themed subclass for wizards, a spring themed subclass for bards, a summer themed subclass for sorcerers and an autumn themed subclass for warlocks.

You’ll have to excuse me a little bit on judging these because I tend to be the DM more than the player and I tend to play a barbarian or druid so I can’t say with certainty how awesome these would be for players.

I found the winter subclass to be the least interesting because it seems to mostly rely on using rest time or downtime for the bonuses to work. That’s going to be somewhat dependent on how your Dungeon Master deals with short and long rests. It’s still a really cool idea, it just excited me the least of the four.

On the other hand, the autumn subclass for warlocks seemed amazing to me. I have never really wanted to be a warlock but I might reconsider that with this.

Now, because there are four different subclasses for four different spell casting classes this could be a little hit and miss. Some people are going to love one subclass more than another and if you love the subclass but you really don’t want to play a bard, that makes it a little difficult to give this an A.

Still, the variety here is fun and I am sure a lot of people are going to find something they do love here so I give this article a B+.

Article #2 – The Periodic Table of Elementals

Let me start objectively and without bias here. I freaking love this! As a dungeon master, I have had the experience of running a campaign with lots of elementals in it and they tend to get repetitive. While you can come up with creative ways to use them, at a certain point, the players know what’s coming and tend to be able to strategize well enough that elementals, which should be challenging, are a bit of a walk in the park. Not anymore.

Author Mackenzie De Armas has come up with what are called Nova elementals. These are elementals based on things other than just fire, earth, air and water. Things like lithium and potassium combine to make an elemental called a Comburo, precious metals like gold and copper make up what is called a Conducere elemental, and there are two others that I will just let you buy the magazine to know more about.

As cool as those are on their own, and they are cool, that’s not even my favorite part of this article! This article has alternate rules that allow the elementals to work together, powering one another in varying ways, that is just amazing. If your players have confronted elementals over and over again, they are not going to see this coming at all. I think it will make for a more interesting scenario for both the dungeon master and the players if you use this.

The price tag for this magazine is worth this article alone so I give this one an A+.

Article #2 – The Well of the Lost Gods

The Well of the Lost Gods is an adventure scenario for 4-5 players at 8th level. Much like the adventure scenario in the first issue of Arcadia this scenario is a combination of magic and a bit of technology. I think it would be best suited for a setting like Ravnica or maybe Eberron but since there is a dimensional portal in it, you could literally drop this anywhere in your game. It’s got two full maps with an interesting set up and both would make for a good dungeon crawl. There is also a bit of a hook to get started although, depending on your campaign, you might need to make adjustments so it doesn’t seem too forced for the characters to investigate.

The scenario includes two NPC’s you can play and has six new monster stat blocks. While I wish there were illustrations for all the new monsters, you can only pack so much amazing art into one issue. They do have one illustration for a CR 10 monster that is sure to leave players gasping when the Dungeon Master reveals it.

The adventure itself is more complex than the one in the last issue but since both have to do with technology and magic, I could easily see the two being tied together to make more of a campaign. I will say that the adventure seems potentially deadly but then again, what’s the fun in having no chance of death in Dungeons & Dragons? Do take caution before you use it n your game though to make sure your players could be a match for it.

For this article I am giving it an A. I would have bumped it to an A+ if there were more images to go with the stat blocks but it’s easily worth a read and I definitely want to build a campaign around this.

Overall

Once again this issue has impressed me. The quality did not degrade from the last issue in any way. And while I can’t say that this issue is better than the first, that’s because the first issue was so incredibly good. To have matched the quality is quite the feat here and if this continues, this is going on my must purchase list, with the hope that someday MCDM would put out a full hardcover anthology book that I would gladly pass my money over for.

For now at $7 an issue, it’s a steal. And if you bundle the two for $12 that’s an even better deal. If you love D&D, I am here to tell you, you gotta get this, it’s great.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Slick Dungeons 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids

Howdy folks! Slick Dungeon here and I play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. I have had conversations that have lasted for hours just on the topic. One thing I don’t see a lot of are guides or suggestions for how to play this game with kids. I’ve run into parents who have children who want to play but the parents are too intimidated to give it a try. To help solve that problem, I came up with a few rules and I want to give those rules to you for… absolutely free!

If this sounds like something you might be interested in just download the free 18 page PDF below. If you like it, consider signing up for my mailing list. If you hate my tips, you can always unsubscribe. You don’t have to sign up to the mailing list to get the PDF but if you do, it will put a swing in my step and a shine on my top hat!

Happy gaming everyone!

Here’s the PDF:

Get the 10 Golden Rules by clicking the image above

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 14

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with youwalked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarfrole playing an elfrole playing a halflingrole playing a humanrole playing a dragon bornrole playing a gnomerole playing a half-elfrole playing a half-orcrole playing a Tiefling. and talked about Class. Today we are going to talk about playing as a Barbarian.

Oil your muscles up, do a few stretches and get ready to let the fury of your rage loose upon the world. You are a barbarian. You might not have those fancy spells that go flying around the battlefield all the time but that’s fine, you don’t need them. You just need a handy melee weapon, the strength of your rage and something to hit!

I love playing a barbarian and there are tons of examples from literature and popular entertainment you can base this character upon. Barbarians also get some pretty neat class skills which can be quite fun to play.

When I think of barbarians one that I think most kids could understand and relate to would the The Incredible Hulk. While a Dungeons & Dragons character is not likely to go from academic scientist to raging gamma monster (although that would be possible in certain settings) the way that Hulk rages is very much like what a barbarian does. When Hulk gets angry, he hits harder than anyone else. Yet, even in his state of rage, he is usually aware enough to protect his friends and only go after bad guys. Sure, he does a lot of structural damage but he isn’t known to be a killer (at least not in my favorite interpretations of him).

His anger is often misunderstood and it can be a frightening sight to see even for his friends but ultimately, they are glad he is on their side. Also, when Hulk is angry its harder to hurt him. The blows glance off him for the most part unless you happen to be a god of thunder.

However, this rage can only last so long and after a while Hulk will wear himself out, especially if he runs out of stuff to hit.

Another model of barbarianism I think of is Conan the Barbarian because, well, it’s in the name. If you read some Conan stories though, it’s pretty obvious he may not be the best role model for children. There are some good qualities a kid playing a barbarian can adapt from Conan though. He never gives up on a fight and he will not abandon his friends no matter what the odds are. He’s a bit self centered and will take as much treasure as he can get his hands on but he’s not so greedy that he won’t share fairly in the spoils. And Conan, unlike the Hulk, is able to keep his head (literally and figuratively) not only in a fight but usually in a social situation. He respects magic while not using it and really only cares what someone else believes when it becomes a problem for him or anyone innocent around him.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the female version of Conan, Red Sonja. She’s a little less hot tempered than Conan and she had a very rough childhood where she had to learn to fend for herself, a child whose teacher was nature itself. She learned her lessons well and is one of the few people who can easily keep up with Conan. I actually think she might be a better role model for kids than Conan but she still went through some things that you might want to wait until your kids are older to explain. She has boundless courage and is always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. She is somehow stealthy despite her shock of red hair that you would think could be seen by just about anyone. Her choice of battle gear is a bit… exposed, let’s say. It does leave her flexible though and as a barbarian you don’t want to be clunking around although, it would be wise to get yourself a shield from your closest merchant.

Barbarians tend to live for danger and are willing to take risks for themselves, especially if their actions might protect those they care about. There are all kinds of barbarians though and they often come in surprising packages. Being a barbarian isn’t about how big you are but about how bold you are. Halflings and dwarves make barbarians just as well as elves and goliaths do.

It can also be fun to play a barbarian a little against type. There’s no reason a barbarian can’t be smart or kind or even reluctant to get into battle. the one thing that should be consistent with barbarians is that once they are in battle, they revel in it, almost to the point where they are blind with rage but very effective up close.

So, now that I have given you some barbarian examples, how does one make a barbarian? Let’s take a look at what the basic rules have to tell us shall we?

Creating a Barbarian

When you first play Dungeons & Dragons with kids and the basic rules tell you what to use for a quick build I would say it’s probably best to start there. It’s the least amount of poring over and trying to figure out stats you can do and since this part was written by the game designers you tend to get a fairly balanced class out of it. The one place you might change is in the suggested backgrounds. I feel like the backgrounds are more a role playing choice than a mechanic (although they have that too) and thus should be left up to the kid playing. Also, for those who don’t know, when I talk about “mechanics” I just mean how the rules operate, usually with some number crunching involved.

What do the basic rules suggest we do with our barbarian?

For this class the rules recommend putting your highest ability score in Strength, followed by Constitution. This makes sense because as a barbarian your weapon attacks are going to use strength, your rage gives you some bonuses to your strength. You also want high constitution because this is how healthy you are and since you are likely to get bashed around plenty, you want to have enough hit points that you aren’t getting knocked out ever other round in combat.

Second they recommend the Outlander background. In a later series of posts I will go more into each background but I will say that Outlander can be a great choice for a barbarian but it is not the only choice. I have played a barbarian with the folklore background and that worked out very well for me. I also think that if you made a few adjustments a barbarian could be a noble. Sure, she might not come from a fancy castle and want to pay for the most luxurious accommodations every night but there’s no reason they can’t be the leader of their tribe or a proud noble of a people who shun the niceties of civilization.

There are different features you get for being a barbarian and while you are unlikely to get to the top ranks of levels with a group of kids, I’ll give you a rundown of these things anyway.

Class Features

Hit dice: Barbarians get to use a d12 when figuring out their hit points and hit dice which is pretty great since a lot of other classes use smaller dice meaning barbarians are sturdier. For your hit dice you get 1d12 per barbarian level.

Hit points: At first level it’s 1d12 + your constitution modifier. (This is where having con as one of your higher stats really helps) For every level after that you get 1d12 (or 7 if you are using averages) + your Constitution modifier per barbarian level after 1st.

Just a quick note here because I know this was confusing to me when I learned to play. What is the difference between hit dice and hit points? Hit dice you get to roll when you take a short rest. These will be however many d12s you roll per level. You get to add the number you roll to your hit points if you have taken any damage. Your hit points are how many points of health you have. The easiest analogy is probably a health bar in a video game. If that number gets down to zero or below, you are likely in trouble. When you roll your hit dice you get to refill that bar. And just like in a video game, you can’t exceed the maximum of your health even if you roll higher than that number.

Proficiencies: These are basically things you are good at. A barbarian has several proficiencies to begin with.

Armor: Barbarians are good with Light armor, medium armor, and shields. While I highly recommend you pick up a shield, you may not want to wear armor because if you do, you won’t be able to use Unarmored Defense which I will talk about more below.

Weapons: Barbarians are good with simple weapons and martial weapons. Spears, daggers, axes these are a few of the types of weapons barbarians are good with. They’re not great with a bow or anything that takes great practice and skill to perfect but that’s fine because a barbarian is going to want to get up close and be right in the middle of melee as much as possible.

Tools: None. Alright, barbarians just don’t have the patience for tools. That’s what rogues are for.

Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution. Saving throws are when you might befall an attack or damage of some kind. If the check for that attack or damage calls for strength or constitution you are going to be glad you are a barbarian

Skills: Choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival. We’ll talk more about skills more in future posts but for now, these do basically what they sound like although I will point out Survival doesn’t mean just how long yo live. It’s more like, how long can you live in nature on your own instincts.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a greataxe or (b) any martial melee weapon
  • (a) two handaxes or (b) any simple weapon
  • An explorer’s pack and four javelins

These are all good weapons for a barbarian and it’s basically down to your preference of how you want to hit stuff.

Features

Alright, now for the fun stuff! On top of all the things listed above, barbarians get several features. Like I said before, kids are not likely to go all the way to level 20 but I will talk about all of these anyway. The descriptions with the bullets and stuff are taken right from the basic rules but I will give you my spin on each one. The first few are the ones to focus on at the beginning.

Rage

This is the key to being a barbarian. Whenever you get into combat you are going to want to Rage. It gives you bonuses that make you much tougher but there are some drawbacks to it so make sure you know how it works.

So what is it exactly?

On your turn, you can enter a rage as a bonus action.

While raging, you gain the following benefits if you aren’t wearing heavy armor:

  • You have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws.
  • When you make a melee weapon attack using Strength, you gain a bonus to the damage roll that increases as you gain levels as a barbarian, as shown in the Rage Damage column of the Barbarian table.
  • You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

To sum this up, you are stronger when raging and as you level up you get to do even more damage per level. On top of that if an enemy is hitting you with any weapon that does bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage, you get to reduce the amount of damage you would take.

There are some limits though. They are listed below.

If you are able to cast spells, you can’t cast them or concentrate on them while raging.

Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or taken damage since then. You can also end your rage on your turn as a bonus action.

Once you have raged the number of times shown for your barbarian level in the Rages column of the Barbarian table, you must finish a long rest before you can rage again.

Those are the limits, let’s talk a little bit more about them.

Some barbarians do a little bit of magic so if you have an awesome spell, make sure you cast it before you rage. If it’s a concentration spell wait until the effect ends before you rage. It’s all about timing.

You can also lose your rage in a number of ways. First of all it only lasts for one full minute. Now, that’s actually quite a few rounds in most combat situations but if it’s a really long battle you’re going to want to make sure you go into the rage at the most opportune time.

Also, if you get knocked unconscious your rage is gone, so try not to get clobbered to the point where you have zero hit points.

On the other hand, you also lose your rage if you don’t either tried to hit an enemy or gotten hit by an enemy so if you are raging, be sure you are in the thick of the fight.

You can also choose to just stop raging, unlike the Hulk, so if you rage and then realize you should cast a spell you can drop that rage.

The final limitation is that you can only rage twice per day so if you are pretty sure you are going to be in ten combats, save your rage for the hardest two. You get your rages back after a long rest.

Unarmored Defense

While you are not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.

Ok, here’s the deal with unarmored defense. You don’t want to wear armor. Why? Because adding all those numbers above is probably going to be more defensive for you than wearing armor in the first place. Plus, if you have a shield you get a +2 to your AC while you use it so you can boost that number even higher. Also, you and your Monk buddy (we’ll talk about Monks in a later post) are going to be the quickest to get out of the inn to see what all the ruckus is in the middle of the night. Why? It takes 10 minutes to put all that armor on but you don’t have to. Your armor is your flesh.

Reckless Attack

Starting at 2nd level, you can throw aside all concern for defense to attack with fierce desperation. When you make your first attack on your turn, you can decide to attack recklessly. Doing so gives you advantage on melee weapon attack rolls using Strength during this turn, but attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

This is an awesome feature but I will give you caution that using it on an adult dragon might be unwise. Basically at the start of your attack you can do so recklessly which means you get to roll two d20s and take the higher number for your attack roll. The drawback? That same creature has advantage against you on its next attack. If it’s a squishy little goblin with no armor that’s probably fine but if it’s something bigger than you just remember it gets to hit back.

Danger Sense

At 2nd level, you gain an uncanny sense of when things nearby aren’t as they should be, giving you an edge when you dodge away from danger.

You have advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects that you can see, such as traps and spells. To gain this benefit, you can’t be blinded , deafened , or incapacitated.

For this one you get a bit more of a chance of escaping damage caused by your environment or your enemies, so long as you can see it. It doesn’t work if you have the blinded , deafened , or incapacitated conditions going against you. We’ll talk more about conditions in a later post but they do basically what they sound like.

Primal Path

At 3rd level, you choose a path that shapes the nature of your rage. Choose the Path of the Berserker or the Path of the Totem Warrior, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th levels.

Look, this one sounds confusing but basically you get to pick one of two cool ways to manifest your rage. Since they both get entries in the end of the barbarian section I will go into more detail about both the Path of the Berserker and the Path of the Totem Warrior later in this post.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Meh. You get to increase some numbers on your stats here which is cool and all but not that nifty as far as role playing goes. We’ll go way more in depth on Ability Scores in a later post.

Extra Attack

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Yeah! You get to hit stuff more. Hitting more stuff is good for a barbarian!

Fast Movement

Starting at 5th level, your speed increases by 10 feet while you aren’t wearing heavy armor.

We’ve been over this, barbarians don’t want to wear armor and this is another reason. You can move faster. Faster is good because then you get to hit stuff sooner!

Feral Instinct

By 7th level, your instincts are so honed that you have advantage on initiative rolls.

Additionally, if you are surprised at the beginning of combat and aren’t incapacitated, you can act normally on your first turn, but only if you enter your rage before doing anything else on that turn.

If you are sort of new to D&D this just sounds confusing. This is mostly wrapped up in some mechanics. Basically the idea is that you notice when things are about to get hairy before others do so you are more likely to get into combat first. And if you are new to D&D the whole surprised thing can be tough to figure out. It’s a sort of weirdly complicated mechanic of figuring out who goes first in combat. I’ll do a post later that talks about this so for now, don’t worry too much about it. Having the Feral Instinct is very helpful, just know that much.

Brutal Critical

Beginning at 9th level, you can roll one additional weapon damage die when determining the extra damage for a critical hit with a melee attack.

This increases to two additional dice at 13th level and three additional dice at 17th level.

I know this one sounds kind of jargony but it boils down to this. You get to roll more damage dice when you roll a 20 on your attack roll. In other words, you hit really hard.

Relentless Rage

Starting at 11th level, your rage can keep you fighting despite grievous wounds. If you drop to 0 hit points while you’re raging and don’t die outright, you can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If you succeed, you drop to 1 hit point instead.

Each time you use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When you finish a short or long rest, the DC resets to 10.

This one is fun because just when it looks like you are down and out, you get back up again. That bugbear that thought it just struck a killing blow against you? Guess what? It’s your turn now!

Persistent Rage

Beginning at 15th level, your rage is so fierce that it ends early only if you fall unconscious or if you choose to end it.

Yes! You can be in a near perpetual state of rage unless you decide to calm down or you get knocked out.

Indomitable Might

Beginning at 18th level, if your total for a Strength check is less than your Strength score, you can use that score in place of the total.

By this time you are probably pretty strong so getting to use your strength score is usually going to be way better than a low roll on a d20.

Primal Champion

At 20th level, you embody the power of the wilds. Your Strength and Constitution scores increase by 4. Your maximum for those scores is now 24.

Again, this doesn’t seem that neat from a role playing perspective but it does make you stronger and sturdier. I can’t say I have played a level 20 barbarian (yet) so I am not sure how helpful this is but most of the score caps are 20 so an extra four ain’t bad.

Primal Paths

So what exactly are Primal Paths and how do they work? This is the part of the class that lets you add a little style to your barbarian. There are two paths you can choose from in the basic rules, the Path of the Berserker and the Path of the Totem.

For some reason the basic rules on D&D Beyond don’t actually give the details for the Path of the Totem but I have you covered.

Here is how the basic rules describes Primal Paths:

Rage burns in every barbarian’s heart, a furnace that drives him or her toward greatness. Different barbarians attribute their rage to different sources, however. For some, it is an internal reservoir where pain, grief, and anger are forged into a fury hard as steel. Others see it as a spiritual blessing, a gift of a totem animal.

Pretty cool right? Let’s take a look at each option.

Path of the Berserker

If your kid wants to basically be the Hulk when she plays, have her take the Path of the Berserker. You get some cool features to use and you get to be the scariest thing in the room.

Here is what you get.

Frenzy

Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you can go into a frenzy when you rage. If you do so, for the duration of your rage you can make a single melee weapon attack as a bonus action on each of your turns after this one. When your rage ends, you suffer one level of exhaustion.

Basically you get to hit more frequently in battle but there is a cost. Once you are done, you really need to take a rest otherwise you suffer a level of exhaustion. exhaustion is a condition and again. we will talk about those in a later post but suffice to say it can lead to death eventually if you are not careful.

Mindless Rage

Beginning at 6th level, you can’t be charmed or frightened while raging. If you are charmed or frightened when you enter your rage, the effect is suspended for the duration of the rage.

None of that mind control spell funny business for you. You are way too focused on your rage to listen to anyone else. When the rage ends that wizard can get back to charming you… if he hasn’t fallen to your greataxe by then.

Intimidating Presence

Beginning at 10th level, you can use your action to frighten someone with your menacing presence. When you do so, choose one creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. If the creature can see or hear you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier) or be frightened of you until the end of your next turn. On subsequent turns, you can use your action to extend the duration of this effect on the frightened creature until the end of your next turn. This effect ends if the creature ends its turn out of line of sight or more than 60 feet away from you.

If the creature succeeds on its saving throw, you can’t use this feature on that creature again for 24 hours.

The Hulk is big and scary and he makes people afraid. Barbarians get to use that to their advantage. The caveat is that the creature has to be close enough and if they succeed on their saving throw, they don’t think you’re such a big deal anymore. Be sure to have a weapon ready to remind them that they are wrong about that.

Retaliation

Starting at 14th level, when you take damage from a creature that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature.

If you hit me I hit you back is pretty much what this is. It’s pretty effective for barbarians.

Path of the Totem Warrior

The Totem Warrior is very in tune with nature and all the animals and spirits of animals around them. This is a much more mystical take on the barbarian and it can be a lot of fun to play.

The Player’s Handbook describes it like this:

The Path of the Totem Warrior is a spiritual journey, as the barbarian accepts a spirit animal as guide, protector, and inspiration. In battle, your totem spirit fills you with supernatural might, adding magical fuel to your barbarian rage.

It’s sort of like Brother Bear but if instead of only learning life lessons about acceptance, you also learned how to be really good in a fight.

Here is what you get with this path.

Spirit Seeker

Yours is a path that seeks attunement with the natural world, giving you a kinship with beasts. At 3rd level when you adopt this path, you gain the ability to cast the beast sense and speak with animals spells, but only as rituals.

Basically what this means is that you can use a beast’s eyes and listen through it’s ears which can be great when scouting an area. You can also talk with animals to find out about what’s going on in the area. However, it takes time for you to do that because you have to do it as a ritual. We’ll get more into that when we talk about magic in a later post but for now just know, ritual spell means you need a bit of time to cast it.

Totem Spirit

At 3rd level, when you adopt this path, you choose a totem spirit and gain its feature. You must make or acquire a physical totem object — an amulet or similar adornment — that incorporates fur or feathers, claws, teeth, or bones of the totem animal. At your option, you also gain minor physical attributes that are reminiscent of your totem spirit. For example, if you have a bear totem spirit, you might be unusually hairy and thick-skinned, or if your totem is the eagle, your eyes turn bright yellow.

Your totem animal might be an animal related to those listed here but more appropriate to your homeland. For example, you could choose a hawk or vulture in place of an eagle.

Bear. While raging, you have resistance to all damage except psychic damage. The spirit of the bear makes you tough enough to stand up to any punishment.

Eagle. While you’re raging, other creatures have disadvantage on opportunity attack rolls against you, and you can use the Dash action as a bonus action on your turn. The spirit of the eagle makes you into a predator who can weave through the fray with ease.

Wolf. While you’re raging, your friends have advantage on melee attack rolls against any creature within 5 feet of you that is hostile to you. The spirit of the wolf makes you a leader of hunters.

I think these are pretty straightforward but the gist of it is that you get to choose an animal and gain some of the benefits that animal naturally possesses.

Aspect of the Beast

At 6th level, you gain a magical benefit based on the totem animal of your choice. You can choose the same animal you selected at 3rd level or a different one.

Bear. You gain the might of a bear. Your carrying capacity (including maximum load and maximum lift) is doubled, and you have advantage on Strength checks made to push, pull, lift, or break objects.

Eagle. You gain the eyesight of an eagle. You can see up to 1 mile away with no difficulty, able to discern even fine details as though looking at something no more than 100 feet away from you. Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Wolf. You gain the hunting sensibilities of a wolf. You can track other creatures while traveling at a fast pace, and you can move stealthily while traveling at a normal pace.

Again I think this is pretty straightforward but this time the effect is magical. You do only get to choose each animal once so make sure you choose wisely.

Totemic Attunement

At 14th level, you gain a magical benefit based on a totem animal of your choice. You can choose the same animal you selected previously or a different one.

Bear. While you’re raging, any creature within 5 feet of you that’s hostile to you has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you or another character with this feature. An enemy is immune to this effect if it can’t see or hear you or if it can’t be frightened.

Eagle. While raging, you have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed. This benefit works only in short bursts; you fall if you end your turn in the air and nothing else is holding you aloft.

Wolf. While you’re raging, you can use a bonus action on your turn to knock a Large or smaller creature prone when you hit it with melee weapon attack.

Ditto for this one, you get the benefits of the creatures you choose and they are magical. They are all pretty useful so have fun with it.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Barbarians

When you tell a kid that they can play a barbarian you might think you would regret that decision. I mean, a character who is all about rage and anger? Is that something we want our kids to do? Well, I think yes because anger is a huge emotion for kids. It’s something they understand and if they have ever had a tantrum they know there are times it is scary and they might feel like there is no way of controlling it. Guess what? That’s just like a barbarian but there is one major difference. They get to experience this in a safe environment without real world consequences. They might be able to see that their character is able to reign in that rage when needed and they can use that emotion towards something positive, namely protecting their friends. Also, kids are kind of egomaniacs. That’s not an insult, it’s just who kids are and how they develop. That being the case, sometimes they want to get to feel super powerful and playing as a barbarian is a great outlet for that.

The main caution with playing a barbarian is not to take things too far. You don’t want the role play of the rage to turn into actual anger so make sure that the rules of what is allowed at the table while playing are well set ahead of time.

Other than that, let your kid have fun, let them be powerful. Let them feel like the strongest in the room. It will be a ton of fun, I promise you.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for reading to the end if you are still here with me. Next time we are going to talk about the ultimate in entertainment and support when we talk about bards.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Arcadia Issue #1 from MCDM – Review

Cover art by: Gustavo Pelissari

Hey out there all you dungeon creatures, it’s me, Slick Dungeon, here to review a super cool Dungeons & Dragons supplement you can get your hands on. I went through the first issue of Arcadia put out by MCDM and am here to give a thorough review of all the articles in it.

For those who don’t know, Matt Colville is a major name in the online Dungeons & Dragons community. He makes YouTube videos talking about his philosophy on the game, gives advice on running the game and he publishes some awesome products you can use in your own game, including a supplement I really enjoyed called Strongholds & Followers. He is currently busy with a follow up to that book with one called Kingdoms & Warfare that I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on.

I might sound like I am gushing a bit here but to be clear, I have no affiliation of any kind with MCDM, I just think the stuff they put out is extremely high quality and worth the money and I am guessing you will think so too if you love Dungeons & Dragons.

While we have all been waiting for Kingdoms & Warfare, Matt has assembled a team that just laid down a surprise product on us and, I’ll be honest, it’s chock full of awesome. It’s a magazine inspired by some of the stuff you would see in the 1980’s like Dragon magazine that not only provides cool art and talks about the game but also gives things like mini adventures you can run or stat blocks for cool creatures. This first issue has four articles and I am going to review each one of them. But first, you might want to check out what this is from Matt’s own words. The video is a little on the long side at 16 minutes or so (although that’s actually short for one of Matt’s videos) but even if you just watch the first couple of minutes you’ll get the idea of why they came up with Arcadia.

Basically, Matt felt bad his patrons were not getting anything while he is hard at work on his next book and decided to have some other people launch a magazine. And lucky for those of us who are not Matt’s patrons on Patreon, you can still purchase Arcadia at the MCDM store. You’ll have to pay around $8 if you are not a patron and if you are a patron you get it at the $5 per month level. In case I have already talked this up enough before I get into the review (which will contain spoilers) here is the link where you can get Arcadia #1.

As I mentioned, there will be spoilers to follow so if you are a player who has a Dungeon Master who might use this magazine stop reading here. Or, if you are the type of person who hates spoilers entirely, stop reading here. You have all been warned!

The artwork

You can see a bit of the artwork at the top of this post but I would be remiss if I did not mention the art in general for this magazine. When I saw the cover it took me right back to the 80’s when you could find amazing fantasy art in two places, any magazine dealing with Dungeons & Dragons and heavy metal album covers. In Matt’s intro video he talks about this and low and behold, what they were going for is exactly what it reminded me of. All of the art here is spectacular.

There are weird and interesting creatures, and even some cool maps that you can use in your game. As far as the art goes, I give this an A+.

Article #1 – The Workshop Watches

The Workshop Watches is an adventure for fifth level characters. The premise is a group of magic users was tasked to come up with a magical workshop that could attend to their needs, assist in spells and generally make life a bit easier for those who are into learning magic. They have a wealthy sponsor who has not heard from this team in a while and he is starting to get worried something may have gone wrong.

It wouldn’t be fun if something doesn’t go wrong in Dungeons & Dragons so of course something is wrong! What the party will find is a sentient magical laboratory doing its best to help magic users but is not real clear on what might or might not kill mortal beings. It’s reminiscent of Hal from the movie and book 2001: A Space Odyssey. More modern audiences might think of this as Jarvis from Iron Man gone wrong, or if Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron had essentially become Jarvis but didn’t turn evil, he just didn’t understand humanity.

My favorite part of this adventure is how the magical laboratory interprets things. It knows humans are mostly made up of water, so there is a chance the lab will fill the place up with three feet of water to make sure the party stays hydrated. There are several things like that in the adventure and if you want to read all about it, you’ll need to buy the issue.

I found this article to be a ton of fun and I really want to play the scenario. Of all the articles in this issue, I think this one is the best suited to play with kids and I would encourage parents to get this issue for this article alone. (Also, for more about playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids check out this post).

This article is full of fun and I could see it as a good entry point to start a whole campaign on. I am giving this article an A.

Article #2 – Titan Heart

This article is not an adventure but rather a subclass for sorcerers. It takes the idea that titans, you know those huge monstrous creatures such as krakens, demi-gods and the like, can infuse certain people with some of their magic. Thus is born the Titan Heart Sorcerer.

This is a well thought out subclass with some majorly cool stuff players can do. They get to do things like increase their size, have magic that titans know, albeit to a lesser extent than the titans themselves, and increase their armor class.

This has been play tested by MCDM but it is definitely not an official subclass at this point. Dungeon Masters will need to thoroughly review and decide if this is something they will allow in their game. There are lots of possibilities with the subclass and ways it could be used but it’s not going to be appropriate for every table.

There are two things that gave me a little pause about the concept. The first is on the player’s side. The subclass allows certain spells to be used while in titan form but only while in titan form. To me it’s a little unusual to have spells not accessible most of the time to players so depending on your game, you may need to adjust that a bit. The second is on the Dungeon Master side. While in Titan form the player gets a +2 bonus to their Armor Class for a full minute which is a pretty major bonus, especially at lower levels. However, I will say that after seeing how the creatures in Strongholds & Followers were scaled with their armor, in a MCDM campaign +2 might actually be necessary.

While I really like the concept here, I feel like it might be necessary to play around with to get right for your table. I am giving this article a B+.

Article #3 – Jumping on Mounted Combat

This expands on and adds to the mounted combat rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide. If this were only a rules update, I would probably not think much of this article but there is a lot more to it. This not only gives some rules of how to train a mount and makes mounts capable of living longer and becoming more useful in a campaign, it also has a mini adventure (including some cool audio narration in the PDF!) and provides several examples of mounts that can be used in a campaign.

The adventure in this one is something you could drop into the middle of almost any campaign, assuming that there are creatures capable of being mounted in the campaign. It’s got a bit of a western feel to it and lays on some Dungeons & Dragons undead creature style right into it. It’s nowhere near as robust an adventure as The Workshop Watches but it would make for a great encounter if you have a party that really wants an unusual mount.

You might be surprised how often this kind of thing comes up. When I was playing Storm King’s Thunder with my son and his friends, they found and tamed an otyugh and they all wanted to ride it. I let them because I thought it was fun but I wish I had these rules at the time! It would have opened up more role play possibilities and given some rules around how the party rode.

This also has stat blocks for six new mounts, including my favorite, the owlbear. Because this article provides so much at once I am giving it an A.

Article #4 – Uqaviel the Recreant

This article is about two celestials who could become major villains (or allies) in your campaign. This article by far deals with the most unusual creatures of the whole magazine. Uqaviel is a disgraced archangel who was framed for a sin he did not commit.

I found the backstory here a little difficult to follow but perhaps I just don’t know enough about how celestials operate to get the proper appreciation for it. This article gives stat blocks for both Uqaviel and the creature that betrayed him Anahita. Just glancing at the stat blocks, these are major powerhouses. These are definitely end of campaign level creatures and they do some really cool stuff.

I am not sure I would personally incorporate all the backstory suggested in this article but both creatures are well worth using, just make sure that they are something your party has a hope of handling before they encounter them. The artwork in this article is phenomenal and even if you don’t use Uqaviel or Anahita’s stats, you might want to put their art somewhere in your campaign, especially if you have a campaign dealing with celestials at all.

While I really like the creatures themselves, the backstory felt a little less clear than I would have preferred. I am giving this article a B.

Overall

Alright, there you have my thoughts on the individual articles but what about the product as a whole? In some ways I have to reserve my judgement here. I am not saying it is easy to put out a great product the first time but if you do, that will make the next product you make have to live up to a high bar. MCDM has set an incredibly high standard here. There are two more issue slated to come out for sure and Matt has said he needs to see what the reaction is before guaranteeing issues beyond that. I will absolutely be picking up the next two issues. We’ll see if the quality and variety can be maintained. If so, I will be a loyal reader of this magazine. I will be back next month to review the next issue and let you know what I think.

For now, as a Dungeons & Dragons product I give this a solid A. And once again if you want to buy this you can do so here.

At $5-$8 depending on how you purchase this, I’m honestly not sure I can think of a better value in a Dungeons & Dragons supplement, so help out some independent creators and get a copy for yourself!

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

3 Reasons Why Parents Should Play Dungeons & Dragons

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Parenting is hard. One minute you have to drop kids off for a soccer game and the next minute you have to explain why eating chocolate for breakfast is not a good idea. Next, you have to encourage a kid to face the world with bravery as she peers suspiciously down at the pool when she is getting her first diving lesson. It’s overwhelming. Parents need structure to their day, they need to improvise constantly, and they have to do it all with a sense of adventure that keeps their kids engaged. It’s no easy task. Parents need help.

There are all kinds of parenting books and advice out there. Some work well and others are a waste of time. I’ve got a tool you probably haven’t considered using in your parenting arsenal. It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s effective, and it’s something you can do with kids present or in those precious few hours you have to yourself. You’ll get the benefits either way. Obviously, I am talking about playing Dungeons & Dragons, one of the best parenting tools available.

You probably think I have a couple of screws loose in my toolbox but hear me out. Playing Dungeons & Dragons can help parents to improvise, learn to provide structure, and foster a sense of adventure. 

Improvisation

Most Role-Playing Games call for improvisation. You have to think on your feet and if you want to survive, or be a good game master, you have to do it well. You can play the game where all you care about is the math. Sometimes you just want to know if you kill the monster or not. But, In Dungeons & Dragons whether you are a Dungeon Master or player, there will come a point when you have to make something up. As a player, you will imagine what your character looks like and is doing. As a DM you have to decide what is on the other side of the wall you described but never expected your players to try to climb over. It’s time to think on your feet. If you do that while playing Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll get better at doing it as a parent. 

After you’ve improvised a thousand times for the fun of it when playing Dungeons & Dragons, it’ll be much easier to improvise a reason why Dad can stay up as late as he wants but kids have to go to bed at a reasonable time.

Structure

Improvisation is great. It can be useful in a ton of parenting situations. Do you know what’s even better? Having structure. Kids need it, parents need it, everything runs better when there are rules. Guess what Dungeons & Dragons has? Rules. Lots of them. You don’t have to know even close to all of them to play the game but knowing that they exist is important. And the more you play, the more you learn the rules. Being able to clearly state a rule and know the structure of what should happen is hugely important as a parent too.

It’s one thing to be able to tell a kid that they need to do their schoolwork so they can get good grades. It’s something else to be able to provide them with the structure needed so they can get the work done and not become stressed out about it.

Adventure

Parenting is an adventure, hands down. There is no telling what’s around the next corner, what the next monster to slay might be. Why not experience a little adventure in a safe environment at a table with some friends? That way when you see the challenges in front of you as a parent, you know you have the courage to confront them. If not, you can think about what your character would do in the situation and do that instead. Either way, having a sense of adventure is going to help you as a parent. Your character is probably one filled with bravery and sometimes reckless abandon who will stop at nothing to achieve a goal. That’s something most of us can use more of in our lives (well, not the reckless abandon part maybe) and it might just come in handy. If a kid is struggling with a problem, make it a challenge. Tell them about the time your Half-Orc Monk went into a deadly situation thinking it was going to end for her but through careful and unexpected tactics she succeeded instead.

Most of the time we can all use a little more adventure in our lives. Or at least, a sense of adventure that is fun and exciting. You get that while playing Dungeons & Dragons. Remember that feeling the next time parenting feels overwhelming and think of it as your next big adventure instead.

Plus playing Dungeons & Dragons is downright fun! So, take some time today (or whenever you get a second to yourself since I know you are busy if you are a parent) and have some fun. Play some Dungeons & Dragons with your friends or your kids. If anyone asks you why you’re doing it, tell them the obvious. You’re doing it so you can become a better parent.

If you want to know why I think kids should play Dungeons & Dragons, take a look at this post: Kids Kill Monsters – Why Kids Should Role Play.

Adventurously yours,

Slick Dungeon 

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 13

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Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome, role playing a half-elf, role playing a half-orc and role playing a Tiefling. Today, we are going to talk about Class.

In Dungeons & Dragons, if character Race is who the characters are, then Class is best described as what a character can do. In other words, while most of the traits that the characters gained for being a dwarf, a halfling, etc. are immutable, the Class traits are ones that can be learned. If you want to be a wizard, you have to learn how to do it. If you strive to be the best fighter in the land, it is going to take some practice.

At the beginning of character creation, a player’s character is already better than the average person at whatever Class they choose. A fighter isn’t just some woman who can occasionally win in a bar fight (although they probably can), she is also someone who is better than the average fighter. That’s why when it comes to class, you get certain bonuses. Class can be one of the more confusing parts of character creation because there is some math involved. We’ll go through it as it comes in future posts, but in this one, we are just going to stick to defining what class is, how it is used, and my tips for using it with kids.

What is Class?

As stated above, Class is what a character can do. More specifically, I might add, it would be something they would likely be called on to do. In other words, it’s ingrained in who they are, even if they never actually take money for it. A wizard might be hired by a king to cast battle spells but even if he loses the battle, he is still a wizard. A fighter might very well be paid to be a soldier but even if they are defeated in combat, they are still a fighter. A paladin might be a knight but even if they fall from grace, they are still a paladin.

Does it Matter What Class My Character Is?

The short answer here is, yes. This matters greatly. If you really want to use magic, you are going to want to choose a magic user. Be a wizard, a sorcerer or a warlock. If you want to get in lots of combat, a fighter or a monk is the way to go. One note here, if your character uses magic even a little bit, you are going to have to learn some magic rules. These can get complicated but they are also a ton of fun. There is usually a bit more math involved in the game if you are a spellcaster so be forewarned there.

My advice to anyone who is trying to decide what Class to be, is to pick something that you think is interesting and go with that. Be sure to read through the basic rules and have an understanding of what that Class does. You don’t have to be an expert on the math part yet, just read the descriptions of what these people do and decide if that sounds interesting to you. Pick the one that is the best fit for how you imagine your character.

Some people will demand that a party be made up of a delicate mechanical balance where you have certain classes to do certain things. To some extent, this makes sense, but don’t overdo it here. If your kids all want to be wizards, let them be wizards. Maybe have one of them learn some magic for healing and one of them learn magic for fighting but don’t stress too much if your party is not perfectly balanced. If you are the Dungeon Master, you will need to make adjustments to the bad guys based on the party and what Classes they are.

What is Multi-Classing?

This is briefly mentioned in the chapter on Class in the basic rules. What that means is that someone choose a little bit of one class and a little bit of another class. If it is your first time running or playing Dungeons & Dragons I wouldn’t really recommend it just because your character won’t necessarily live up to their full potential unless you have a really good grasp of the mechanics of the game. That being said, if you love the idea of being a fighter who learns magic and then decides to become a wizard, multiclassing can be great. You do you. Just be forewarned that it gets a little tricky.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips for Class with Kids

When it comes to kids, choosing a Class can be daunting and exciting. It is as important, if not more important, than what Race your character is. I would make sure that your kids really understand what someone in a Class is likely to do. Alternatively, you can ask your kids what they want their character to be able to do and recommend a Class to them. If they start talking about magic spells, suggest a Wizard. If they are combat focused, suggest a Fighter. If they want to be entertainers and support their friends in battle, a Bard is the way to go. If they want to heal others, a Cleric might be a good way to go. Look through the Classes (There are 12 in the basic rules) and describe to your kids what that Class does. If it sound like something they want to do, let them do it. Even if they are not good at math but really want to cast magic spells, I would let them do that. It’s much more fun to do something you want to do than to have to pretend to like something you don’t really want to do.

My next 12 posts in this series will be a deeper dive into each Class, starting with my favorite class to play, Barbarian.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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