Review: Arcadia 4 (5e)

ProductArcadia Magazine, vol. 4
Author: Various
PublisherMCDM Productions
System: Dungeons & Dragons – 5e

Summary:  Cool stuff for your game from the best freelancers in the community. This issue contains rules for exotic mounts, a mysterious and dangerous location, and some drop-in road encounters.

Snap Judgement for Busy Wyverns: Awesome stuff, as always. I’m a huge fan of The Chained Library location. And I’m always happy to add some drop-in encounters to my vast collection.

What is it?
Arcadia is a periodical digital magazine, put together by the geniuses at MCDM Productions. It is primarily targeted at DMs who support them on Patreon. Every issue has original and unique offerings – maybe some new rules, locations, encounters, adventures, magic items. It changes from issue to issue, but two things are constant – quality content and absolutely gorgeous art. Issue 4 is no different.

What makes it good?
The MCDM team has built relationships with the best freelance creators in the D&D business. I think the standout article this month is The Chained Library, by Cat Evans.

Opening Paragraph of The Chained Library article

Every fantasy world deserves a library of forbidden knowledge – and every adventuring party, at one time or another, will need to seek out forbidden knowledge. It’s a given, at least in my games. Now I have maybe the best forbidden library location I’ve ever seen to drop into my game at a moment’s notice. This 9-page article gives you everything you need – a description, a map, NPCs, motivations, hooks, even some sample tomes that hide within The Deep Stacks. There’s enough variation in the hooks to have the Library, or its agents, pop up anywhere in your campaign. I can’t wait to use this.

Also in this issue is Swimming through Sand to Sea: More Mounted Adventuring by Willy Abeel. This is building on his mounted combat article from Arcadia 1. This time around, he focuses on some water and sand swimming creatures, and provides some new items to control them.

Rounding out the ‘zine is On the Road Encounters by Derek Ruiz. Normally going by the Elven Tower moniker, Derek is mostly known for their prolific output of high-quality maps and short adventures. Here we get 5 travel encounters, mostly geared towards low-level parties – but could be scaled up pretty easily. “A Kobold’s Toll” is a fun extortion scenario that I’m sure to use in one way or another. “Grimly Fate Tonight” is a classic Magnificent 7 Samurai scenario, with the party having on day to prep and make a stand against oncoming bandits. It seems the most intense to me, with waves of enemies coming at the defenders – but it’s been playtested for maximum drama and balance. I trust them. Those two are the standouts in my opinion, but we also get “Bad-Faith Duel” with some good suggested twists to a straight-forward encounter, “Brigands in Disguise” that’s a pretty well-described bandit ambush, and the quirky “The Cartographer” which is the most open-ended and malleable encounter – could be used to launch an adventure, arc or even an entire campaign.

And of course, aside from the stunning cover art from MCDM house artist Grace Cheung, we have unparalleled interior art from:

How do I use it?
Drop any of this into your game, at any time. It’s great stuff.

Downsides
None. I mean, I guess I’m unlikely to use these sand and sea mounts – but you never know! They’re interesting on their own – gets the creative juices flowing.

Final Thoughts
I’m a huge fan of MCDM, and – disclaimer – a patreon supporter. I have Matt Colville to thank for helping me get back into the game and actually enjoying DMing after a long burnout hiatus. It thrills me to see the success he’s having with the MCDM products – and the products are top-tier.

Recommend or Not?
Highly Recommend and not just Arcadia 4, but all the issues. I can’t tell you to be a supporter, but at $5 a month, it’s a steal. You can buy single issues for $7, if that’s more your jam – but I haven’t looked forward to a magazine this much since checking my FLGS for a new Dragon every month in the 90’s. Check Arcadia out.

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