Review – The Greenfields Adventure Series

This review looks at the Greenfields Adventure Series by Christian Eichhorn and includes adventures such as The Tower Golem and supplements such as Player Stronghold: Tower Golem. Each of the products is in some way linked to the Greenfields area of the Forgotten Realms, giving them all a base from which to start. Most of the adventures are Tier 1 or 2, and the supplements are universal. Because there are several different kinds of product, I’m going to give a general overview of them all, without going into specific details about one product.

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I’ll start by saying that the author’s style is very distinct. They create lots of interesting and dynamic NPCs with their own motives and backstories that should always keep PCs on their toes. Even if the PCs move onto the next element of an adventure, there is no guarantee that these fleshed out NPCs won’t continue to wreak havoc. In the case of The Tower Golem and Igach’s Reign of Terror,some of the devil NPCs in the adventure such as Igach and Azaketh have great dynamics between themselves, which will only get messier when the players get involved.

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In a similar fashion, the locations for adventure created by the author are unique and fantastic. Although the adventures are all in the Greenfields area of the Forgotten Realms, they don’t all stay there! Different adventures see the PCs fight within a living tower golem and in planes of existence such as a ceaseless maelstrom. These new, living locations are bound to keep players interested and on their toes. An extension of this can be found in Player Stronghold: Tower Golem. If the characters manage to obtain the golem during the adventure, they can continue to use it for their own devices. This comes with dozens of new locations and NPCs that they might end up encountering, especially if the chaotic portal within the tower is not closed.

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Each of the adventures is well thought out and structured. Each has a synopsis at the start to give DMs an overall idea of the flow of the adventure, and the important NPCs are detailed too. In addition to being well written, the mechanics and their text are clear and concise. Each encounter has been thought through from both a story and a mechanical perspective, making them clear and easy to run. Different text boxes, tables and sidebars help break up the information to make it easily digestible and the splitting of the adventure into parts also helps. We also get loads of new monsters and magic items which are sure to liven up your table, and keep the players guessing about the abilities of the important NPCs and unique monsters.

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The stand out quality of all these products is the production. Although the artwork is almost exclusively Creative Commons, the author has taken a great deal of care to pick the most suitable pieces, and to frame them in a professional manner. Because of this, the combination of fantasy stock art and creative commons art blends seamlessly, which helps to immerse the reader in the story. The author has also made excellent use of full colour maps which really help bring the locations to life.

Overall – 5/5

When taken together as a body of work, I have to give the Greenfields Adventure Series 5/5. Although there may be small errors here and there in the writing and design, the overall quality is very high. The narratives of the adventure are well thought out, engaging and original, and are certain to play out nicely at the table. This is aided by the amazing artwork and production within each product, which makes them an easy read. Considering the quality of these products, the pricing is extremely reasonable, making them an easy buy!

Review – The Malady Codex: The Guide to Diseases

This is a review of The Malady Codex: The Guide to Diseases by Jason Bakos & Themis Paraskevas. In this instance, the title says it all! This product, which was published on October 27 2018, is a guide to using diseases in a more narrative way in your campaign. It also presents a range of new diseases which can be implemented into your games and range from wizard created biological weapons to beholder infused fungus. Currently the product sells for $2.95 and is a platinum best seller, thanks in part to a Comicbook article.

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Design – 4/5

The design of these diseases is good. Each has a clear method of diagnosis and cure, and a well presented list of effects. Some of these effects are progressive and interactive, but the authors have done a good job ensuring that their design intent is clear when communicating these. In some instances, they have included separate tables to streamline this process even more.

My only hangup in terms of design is the ease with which some of these diseases can be cured. This is one of the major issues with using diseases in a D&D campaign; restoration, Lay on Hands and similar effects are available to low level characters, and can easily remove most diseases. While this has been removed as an option for some of the diseases, the alternatives provided are not always more interesting (requiring a higher level spell or example). Instances where the authors have addressed this for the better are where narrative cures must be sought out.

Overall, the mechanical design of the diseases is interesting. There are new mechanics which are based on the diseases in a narrative way, which should keep your players interested in them, and allow them to be a story line rather than an annoyance.

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Writing – 5/5

The majority of this supplement is extremely well written. There is a good balanced between lore and descriptive text as well as mechanical text, and we even get some read aloud and first person descriptions. This changing of style is easy to follow, and makes reading the supplement interesting, even if you don’t think you’ll find use for it in your games.

Where the writing is let down is simply in some sentence structuring. I am a stickler for mimicking the mechanical language of WotC publications and in some instances the authors deviate from this style.

Despite this minor discrepancy, the writing is both easy to understand and evocative. You should have absolutely no trouble understanding the authors intentions from their text, and reading the unique origins for the diseases is great fun, and will fill your head with plot ideas!

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Production – 4/5

The layout and use of artwork in the supplement is superb. The style is somewhat similar to that of published WotC products, and makes good use of the free colour stock art provided by the DMsGuild. The cover is unique and eye-catching, and is the work of Anthony DePietro.

Use of headings, sidebars and read aloud boxes help to split up large portions of text, although it is not always clear what information a box will contain based solely upon its appearance and colour. This and the lack of custom, commissioned artwork (which is becoming more and more popular on the DMsGuild) is the only thing holding the supplement back from a 5/5 score.

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Overall – 4.5/5

If you’re thinking about using diseases in your campaign, or if the idea even mildly interests you, then I would highly recommend this supplement. The authors have done a superb job of putting together and interesting and useful product which should help you use disease in a narrative and challenging way. They have expanded on the somewhat lacklustre WotC rules for diseases to make some truly lethal maladies that are sure to be memorable at your table!

(NOTE: The ISTD (interspecies sexually transmitted disease) is not suitable for all tables, and not something I would use at my own. I have chosen not to count this against the rating of the product, as it might appeal to some tables, but I would have chosen to omit it.)

Parry’s Picks – 17th December 2018

Hello and welcome back to Parry’s Picks! Each week in this article series I take a look at what’s been published on the DMsGuild over the past 7 days and try to highlight 5 of the best ones out there! This week we’ve got Dungeon of the Mad Mage supplements, Eberron content, Ravnica content, and a new release from yours truly!

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Halaster’s Hoard

R P Davis et al.

This supplement contains a huge payload of magic items, monsters and traps to supplement your Dungeon of the Mad Mage campaign. Not only that, but it contains a mini-adventure named Halaster’s Vault for your characters to take a stab at. This supplement even has a review on comicbook.com!

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The Mad Mage of Xen’drik

Travis Legge

If you’re trying to keep ahead of your party in Eberron, Travis Legge’s new adventure The Mad Mage of Xen’drik will be a great addition to your arsenal. It includes a new location for characters of 5th – 10th level to explore and a CR 17 BBEG that’s bound to give characters a run for their money.

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The Palace of Pain’s Pleasures

Beatriz T. Dias & Travis Legge

Travis is back for a second release! This one is set in Ravnica, the newest WotC campaign setting. It’s the sequel to Off to a Weird Start, an introductory adventure on the plane. This adventure follows closely with the Izzet and Rakdos guilds, as the characters try to recover a rogue weird that has made its way into a travelling caravan of performers, which doubles up as a magical construct!

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Undermountain: The Lost Lore

Micah Watt

If you’re looking for a player supplement to expand your Dungeon of the Mad Mage repertoire, then this is the product for you. This product contains 8 new character archetypes, 3 backgrounds, 15 spells, 19 magic items, 8 monsters and a host of random dungeon dressing tables to bring your Undermountain experience to life.

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Winter’s Breath

Zeke Gonzalez & JVC Parry

This week saw the beginning of a new initiative I’m spearheading called ‘JVC Parry Presents…’. This project aims to help new writers break onto the DMsGuild scene, by giving them a helping hand to get published and putting them in contact with experienced publishers who can assist them. Look for more in a blog article soon.

Winter’s Breath was written by Zeke Gonzalez, and is a festive adventure which sees a party of 5th – 10th level heroes explore Snowmound Crossing, a temple which has been mysteriously frozen for some unknown reason. Hopefully the characters can discover what caused the freeze, and try to remedy the situation before it’s too late!

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Winter’s Breath and The Wizard of Zo!

Parry’s Picks – 9th December 2018

Hello and welcome back to Parry’s Picks! Each week in this article series I take a look at what’s been published on the DMsGuild over the past 7 days and try to highlight 5 of the best ones out there! This week we’ve got a few adventures, the new instalment of the Khyber Khronicle, and something from a favourite returning creator.

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Chalk Hill – Honeymoon at the Eight Maidens

R P Davis

Fancy some real traditional adventuring this week with a somewhat Rothfuss feel to it? Fancy some old fashion dungeon crawling, a classic story and a few twists along the way? Want to rip the head off a zombie or two – then this is the module for you! RP’s newest is a great homage to the OSR, and is accompanied by great artwork and even better maps by none other than Dean Spencer and Dyson Logos!

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The Khyber Khronicle – Volume 4

David Morris et al.

I’m never not going to feature the Khronicle in my Picks. Although this edition doesn’t have a preview, I can assure you that it’s as good as all the others! There really isn’t a better way to keep updated your Eberron games. This edition contains 2 new adventures, an intro to Droaam, and a handful of new player options. Always worth picking up.

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Trap Compendium

2CGaming

From the creators of the Total Party Kill Handbook comes an all new supplement which should help you create deadly traps for your home games. These traps aren’t going to be for the faint of heart, but should truly challenge players of all levels.

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Trinkets 3: The Third One

Chris Bissette

Chris of Loot the Room fame is back again with his trinket supplement! If you don’t know already, Chris has put out these epic collections of trinkets on two other occasions, and they really help to bring life to your games. In addition, Chris is using the ‘goal’ system on this release, meaning it’ll continue to get better the more copies it sells!

  • At Copper bestseller status this release will be updated with 10 adventure hooks using the trinkets in the book.
  • At Silver bestseller status this release will be updated with 50 new trinkets.
  • At Electrum bestseller status we’ll commission Samantha Darcy to produce original artwork of some of your favourite trinkets.
  • At Gold bestseller status we’ll add more adventure hooks and more art.

Want to find out more about Chris and his blog? Check out our interview!

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Undermountain: The Caverns of the Many-Legged

David McDonough

Looking for some supplementary content for your Dungeon of the Mad Mage games? Look no further! This adventure details a mini-layer of Undermountain built around the drow and their arachnid kin. The production of the adventure is top notch, with great layout, artwork and maps.

Want to check out some of David’s other work? Take a look at my review of The Priest, The Witch & The Lost Temple.

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Special Mention – Encounters in the Savage Wilderness – Fantasy Grounds

Rob Twohy et al.

Basically, Rob turns everything good on the guild into Fantasy Grounds compatible files to save you the trouble of doing it yourself. He’s truly doing the VTT community a massive favour by keeping up this work, and deserves all the support of the FG community! Look out for the encounters I wrote for this supplement, and let me know what you think.

If you wanna find out a bit more about Fantasy Grounds, Rob, and his work, check out our interview.

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and TwitterDON’T FORGET TO BUY THE WIZARD OF ZO!

Review – The Priest, The Witch, & The Lost Temple

It’s review time! Feels like it’s been a while because I’ve been releasing adventures (The Wizard of Zo, Grimm Encounters II etc.) but I’m back! Going forward these reviews might be shorter and more sporadic because I really need to finish my Masters degree! This week we’re taking a look at The Priest, The Witch, & The Lost Temple by David McDonough. The adventure promises the chance to save a town beset by undead, and explore the mystery of an evil witch, a strange priest and a relic in an ancient temple. Title tells you all right?

Each product I review is given a rating out of five in each of three categories: DesignWriting & ProductionDesign focuses on mechanics for player and DM supplements, and on the narrative of adventures. Writing focuses on the style of the writing, including how well it has been edited and how comprehensive it is. Production takes into account layout, artwork and the general flow of the document. Also, despite receiving a free copy of this product to review, I’d like to stress that all views are my own, and I’ve not pulled punches where I feel improvements should be made.

This title was first published October 27, 2018. It’s already a silver best seller, and is currently on sale for the Christmas period – down to $0.95 from $2.95! The adventure is around 40 pages long, has a rating of 5 stars from 12 reviews, is designed for Tier 1 (2nd & 3rd level) characters, and has been updated several times since release to make sure the final product is as polished as can be!

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Part 1 – Intro & Whitehaven’s Welcome

The adventurers get into a standoff with some zombies on the road to Whitehaven and hopefully save some townsfolk. When they arrive, they learn that the town is being run by a vigilante group called the Warriors of Torm who are led by a priest named Kosef. They blame the zombie attacks of a local wizard who they’ve named the Witch of Whitehaven. Characters have the chance to bust the bigoted organisation.

This first chapter is essentially a prelude to the adventure, describing in sometimes exhaustive detail the town of Whitehaven and its inhabitants. We get given a lot of background for the adventure, and for each of the characters within the town, which I personally think is too much. Normally, a few sentences of backstory for important NPCs will suffice, rather than a few paragraphs. The NPCs are interesting, but I think a lot of the information provided will go unused.

The initial encounter and adventure hook are great because they’re grounded in the Forgotten Realms setting, and give a sense of urgency to the adventure – something which is often lacking. Because the zombies are literally killing people on the road, the adventurers will feel inspired to act sooner rather than later. My only issue with this, and the later encounters in this chapter, is that they are blocks of text. Subheadings would greatly improve the digestibility of the text. It would also be useful to split plot points and clues from the general lore of the adventure.

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Part 2 – The Witch of Whitehaven

This part starts with a goblin ambush on the road to the Witch’s House. The encounter seems mundane to begin with, but when the bodies of the dead goblins reanimate, the characters are given some insight into what might be going on in Whitehaven. The characters can also visit several other locations on their way to the Witch’s House which might provide further info about the locale.

The house itself is a mini-dungeon, packed with weird and wacky creatures, traps and features. The characters eventually get the chance to interact with the Witch and her companion. This could go ahead as a combat encounter or a roleplay encounter depending upon the party.

In general the design of this chapter is good, giving characters the opportunity to find out more about the local area, and begin to get a feel for what’s causing the undead to rise. I’m not sure enough clues are necessarily given, but it’s a good start and is sure to drum up some mystery. I think the house is likely to be a lot of fun, no matter what choices the characters make.

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Chapter 3 – Epilogue & The Lost Temple

When the characters return to town, their reception and the events that occur will change slightly depending on whether they rescued a prisoner in part one and what they did in the Witch’s House. Either way, there is a combat encounter with more undead assailants. It transpires that these are coming from the crypts near Whitehaven.

The crypts themselves are a relatively straightforward dungeon crawl with plenty of undead to fight, some fun treasure and a handful of traps to keep characters on their toes. The spoiler behind all of this is that Kosef the priest has made a deal with a dark power and used that to create a wight and other undead in the crypts. They also uncover a portal to a Temple of Azuth in which Kosef is searching for an artifact which is sure to make him an extremely powerful villain.

At the end of the document the author provides an epilogue which attempts to tie up any loose ends the adventure might have, and provides some appendixes with new statblocks for the NPCs and magic items.

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Conclusion – 4/5

The adventure should be a great introduction to D&D for low level characters, with a twisting plot that should keep them guessing, and several fantastic locations and NPCs that will continue to breathe life into the adventure. I think the work needs editing in some places in order to distil the important information, but this shouldn’t deter you from purchasing the adventure!

Design: 4/5 The introduction and hooks are sure to spur the characters into action, and the narrative is complex enough to keep players interested, without too many false clues and side-quests that it might become derailed. There are interesting NPCs throughout which will help to keep characters invested in the adventure. The presentation of false villains is a good trope that the author displays well here, giving the chance for a real villain to arrive in style. The design of the dungeons is basic, but that’s no bad thing for a Tier 1 adventure.

Writing: 3/5 The style of the author is good, if a little verbose. They are clearly keen to create a fully fleshed out adventure and setting, but this is probably to the detriment of running the adventure, as it’s difficult to distil the important information. The adventure would benefit from having the text cut down a lot in several places to ensure that the important elements are clear. It’s clear that the author and editor are the same person.

Production: 4/5 The production is almost flawless. The artwork is sparse but full colour and fits well with the text. The maps are Dyson style but very functional. My only concern is a lack of sidebars and formatting to help make important information distinct from description.

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Parry’s Picks – 2nd December 2019

Hello and welcome back to Parry’s Picks! Each week in this article series I take a look at what’s been published on the DMsGuild over the past 7 days and try to highlight 5 of the best ones out there! It’s beena  seriously busy week on the Guild, and there’s lots of great new content out there, but these are my top picks.

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The Wizard of Zo

JVC Parry

Surprise surprise, my top pick this week is my own adventure; The Wizard of Zo. This adventure is definitely my best work so far in all ways; writing, design, production, you name it! It’s already got 2 5-star reviews so far out of 10 sales! Long gone are the days when my adventures went Copper overnight, but if you’re looking for some amazing Tomb of Annihilation additions, you need look no further.

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Dinos of Darkness

Ashley WarrenPhil Beckwith

Despite what I just said about the Wizard of Zo, there is another contender for the best Tomb of Annihilation adventure ever – Dinos of Darkness! I’ve worked with both Ashley and Phil before, and I can tell you that they are at the top of their game! If you want some dino on dino action, this is the adventure for you.

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Last Christmas

Janek Sielicki

That’s right, the Christmas adventures are officially here! This adventure is not just a festive funfair, it also have 10 pregenerated Christmas characters, custom maps and handouts. This adventure promises to be pure tongue-in-cheek humour, featuring Santa Claus & the Grinch as major NPCs.

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Skills Challenges in 5e

R P Davis

The idea of taking Skill Challenges from 4th edition and updating them to 5th edition rules has been commonplace for a while now, being used by many famous DMs and discussed on dozens of YouTube advice shows. This supplement takes all that advice and experience and distils it down into a short supplement which will help you run these mechanics at your own table.

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Tavern Games

Anne Gregersen

Once again Anne is back with another DM and Player supplement! This time we have a product all about playing tavern games in D&D. It includes 10 mini-games that you can play at the table using just your dice, as well as mechanics for bluffing and cheating for less scrupulous gamers!

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. DON’T FORGET TO BUY THE WIZARD OF ZO!

The Wizard of Zo

Time for a new adventure! If you’re still running Tomb of Annihilation, fancy a romp in the jungle or just want a new adventure with a bizarre villain and litany of characters, then check out my new adventure – The Wizard of Zo!

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The adventure takes place at Camp Resistance, where the characters have come across a poorly manned encampment created by the Gauntlet of the Flame. When they arrive, the camp is on the verge of being attacked by a zombie tyrannosaurus! Hopefully, the characters make it through the fight with the undead dinosaur and take respite in the camp.

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As they spend time in camp, they learn of the various goings on, including the appearance of a strange phenomenon or being dubbed the ‘Mask of Ubtao’. Not everyone in camp believes in the spirituality of the being, but they certainly don’t want to cross it. The Mask has been demanding a tithe from the camp for many moons, which it takes in the form of gold from a nearby mine. Once the camp tried to refuse, but they were attacked by Razira and her pride of weretigers. They haven’t made the same mistake twice.

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When the characters arrive, the camp has another chance at freedom! If the characters can discover what lies behind the Mask of Ubtao, search through the Tomb of Impersonation, and free Camp Resistance from the clutches of the Wizard of Zo, they will be surely rewarded!

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The Wizard of Zo is a 5-10 hour Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition adventure for 5th-10th level characters. It is absolutely stuffed with custom artwork and maps from amazing artists such as Dean Spencer, Danny Pavlov and Matthias Rothenaicher.

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Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Parry’s Picks – 25th November 2018

Hello and welcome back to Parry’s Picks! Each week in this article series I take a look at what’s been published on the DMsGuild over the past 7 days and try to highlight 5 of the best ones out there! This week we have a real mix of products including a sci-fi supplement, a Ravnica adventure and D&D for kids!

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The Greasemonkey’s Handbook

Vall Syrene, Mogman Dubloon

Ever wanted to fight in a massive robot but keep using the basic D&D 5th Edition rules? Well now you can! This huge supplement contains rules for building and piloting futuristic vehicles as well as new spells and magic items for steampunk and sci-fi D&D games! This whole think is over 100 pages long and is packed full of awesome material!

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The Heart of Svogthos

Richard Malena-Webber

The new setting for D&D is out! Ravnica! For those that are loving the idea of a Magic: The Gathering D&D crossover (which should be all of you) then you’ll be excited to hear that none other than Richard Melena-Webber has published a wicked Ravnica adventure, filled with lore and heroic opportunity. The adventure is for 1st and 2nd level characters, and is filled with Guild magic and guidance, exactly what you want from this unique setting.

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Little Heroes – A Guide to Children at the Table

Anne Gregersen

Children at the table. It’s not always so straightforward as we might think. What sort of content is appropriate? Which rules might be a little too much for them to understand? How deep into character creation should we go? These questions and more have vexed people playing with younger siblings and youth groups for as long as the game has been around. Thankfully, Anne has created a supplement to help answer these questions, and also talks about playing as a child or adolescent in your D&D games. It’s certainly a niche supplement, but it’s definitely a worthwhile buy!

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Notice Board: 42 Quests for Waterdeep and Skullport

Christian Eichhorn

This product is exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a collection of notice boards from the cities of Waterdeep and Skullport, each of which is filled with epic adventure hooks. The boards are amazing rendered so that they could be printed off, or displayed on a screen and look like the real deal! In addition to the 42 quest seeds provided, Christian has included blank boards and blank notes so that you can make your own! Definitely worth picking up for only $2.95.

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Villains & Lairs

Jeff C. Stevens et al.

Jeff is back with another amazing compilation! This time, rather than encounters, we’ve got examples of villains and their lairs – 46 in total. Each of these villains is well detailed with motives and flaws, and many of them have detailed lairs too. The villains range from sahuagin to gnolls and back again, with a wide variety of CRs. The product is packed with art too which really helps you visualise your baddies! It’s already a silver best seller and features a villain written by yours truly; Faithsbane – a sentient weapon.

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

At the minute there’s a HUGE Black Friday sale on at the DMsGuild. Nearly everything I’ve ever written is discounted at the moment, so if you get time, please do check them out!

                               

Review – Captains & Cannons

It’s time for another review! This week we’re taking a look at Captains & Cannons by Drifters Game Workshop. This product presents us with a way to run naval combat in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, using material from the Dungeon Master’s Guide. They aim to streamline naval combat whilst keeping it realistic, and in accordance with the existing 5th Edition combat rules.

Each product I review is given a rating out of five in each of three categories: DesignWriting & ProductionDesign focuses on mechanics for player and DM supplements, and on the narrative of adventures. Writing focuses on the style of the writing, including how well it has been edited and how comprehensive it is. Production takes into account layout, artwork and the general flow of the document. Also, despite receiving a free copy of this product to review, I’d like to stress that all views are my own, and I’ve not pulled punches where I feel improvements should be made.

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This title was published on October 24th 2018, and has already achieved a Silver Best Seller. It’s got two reviews so far which place it at 4 stars. It also already has a great video review from Mr Tarrasque.  Essentially, this product gives us new rules based on existing material for running naval combat in D&D 5e. It contains stats for ships and their weapons and potential upgrades. It also has different combat encounters outlined that you could throw straight into your home games, and some environmental challenges (kind like complex traps for ships). All in all, a detailed supplement for combat coming to 42 pages for $7.99.

Part 1 – Ship Combat & Statistics

In the first part of this supplement the author takes a look at what makes a ship a ship. They break this down into several categories which help a ship function in and out of combat such as Armour Classs, Hull Points, Damage Threshold, Crew Members, Weapon Slots, Speed Units etc. Each of these statistics informs the reader of a specific quality of a ship, and allows them to quickly and easily compare and contrast between multiple ships, to see which are designed to do what. All of this is condensed into a table, which could easily be added to by a DM should they wish to expand the supplement. Each statistic is intuitive, and clearly explained so that having read this section, you already get a feel of what the author is aiming for.

The second part of the supplement deals with ship combat. The author breaks down ship combat into two phases; the character phase and the ship phase. This breakdown is well explained and is actually very simple. In the character phase all the characters, including NPCs, take actions. The actions they can take could be the usual ones made by a character (Attack, Dash, Dodge etc.) or, if they are a member of the crew, they make take a Crew Action. The Crew Actions are Sail, Helm, Operate, Command and Ready Action. Each of these has a specific function that should already be clear, but essentially they allow the ship to move and use weapons. One thing I love about this method of handling naval combat is that it allows characters to do all the cool things they’re playing the game for, and more! Spellcasters can still throw spells if they wish, archers can still fire volleys of flaming arrows at incoming pirates, but people who are struggling for something to do, or who fancy firing a cannon, can certainly do so!

During the Ship Phase the Crew Actions resolve. Each ship has a fixed initiative and they act in this order, unless characters have taken actions to change this (such as the Command Ship Action). During this phase the ship moves and attacks. Movement has been simulated to resemble real naval navigation, only allowing for 45* turns, and preventing absolute stops. The attack options vary wildly from firing cannons and ballistae to grappling and ramming. Some of the rules here are taken from the Dungeon Master’s Guide which I love! It means I know the supplement has a solid mechanical base.

The final section of the chapter dives into (excuse the pun) sinking ships and repair. It uses the Hull Points and Hull Dice mechanic in a similar way to Hit Points and Hit Dice, making for an intuitive repair system. Finally, we get some DM advice. This section provides help for DMs running large crews, running ships as single units, and creating crews.

Writing: 5/5 I have yet to notice any spelling or grammatical errors. The writing is clear and concise, but there’s room for a little spice here and there. Because the mechanics are the core of this book so far, the author has done a great job of condensing them and making them easily understandable.

Design: 5/5 The author has masterfully constructed mechanics that whilst being crunchy are also highly intuitive. They have taken material from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and elaborated on it in a way which makes clear sense, and should slip seamlessly into a D&D 5e game.

Production: 4/5 The author has used homebrewery to make sure the layout f the product is on point, and has used sidebars to help divide information. They have used the DMsGuild Art Packs to add a little colour to the publication which works well. This score could only be brought higher through better cropping/presenting of artwork or using custom art.

Overall: 5/5

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Part 2 – Challenges & Encounters

Chapter 3 takes us through a whole host of environmental challenges and hazards including weather and terrain. Obviously wind plays a large factor here, and there are several tables to help you determine wind conditions for naval combat scenes. Whilst these are likely to see a lot of use, I’m far more likely as a DM to pick something narratively appropriate rather than roll on the tables. If I want to give an extra challenge to the characters, I’ll drop a dead wind on them, if I think they need help, the wind will certainly be in their favour. Other potential hazards presented include water currents, fog, extreme cold etc. All of these have been given mechanical effects which impact either the ship or the crew itself.

We are then presented with a handful of Environmental Challenges. These read similarly to the Complex Traps from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and I like them a lot. As with the afore mentioned traps, the hazards have active, dynamic and constant elements such as destructive winds, tidal waves and hail. The only thing the author hasn’t made clear are the countermeasures a crew could take to either avoid or escape these hazards. We’re given sizes for each effect, so presumably the crew just need to sail the ship out of the danger zone, but some kind of Skill Challenge would be preferable in my opinion.

Chapter 5 contains brilliantly naval combat encounters including Lizards of the Coast, Back Galley Brawl and Smoke on the Water. Each of these encounters has a recommended level range, a list of equipment on board the ship, a list of crew and a description of tactics and even a statblock for the ship. These encounters are great because they give you an idea of how the author intends the rules to be used. We get this insight through the tactics subheading, which tells us whether ships will pepper the characters with cannonballs or crash right into their side.

Writing: 4/5 All of the mechanical information is well presented and easy to read and understand. My only issue is that the encounters contain perhaps a little too much information. It’s unlikely that the characters will care to explore the backstory of a random encounter captain. I’d rather see those words used to better describe the tactics of the crew.

Design: 4/5 Great design again for the most part. My only request would be a countermeasures section for the Environmental Challenges so that I have a better idea of how my characters can circumvent or overcome the challenges.

Production: 4/5 As before, the layout and artwork are better than the average DMsGuild production, but could still be polished a little to get that 5/5 score.

Overall: 4/5

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Part 3 – Upgrades & Equipment

The final pages of the document contain information about potential weapons that can be mounted on ships, which range from cannons to grappling hooks to fire-breathing dragon heads. We also get options for upgrades such as plating and melee weapons like rams. These are all well presented, and draw on information from the Dungeon Master’s Guide to balance damage and other statistics. Each of these weapons can be placed in a ships weapon slots which, for the purposes of realism, are located either at the bow, starboard, stern or port side of the ship. Whilst this does continue to make naval combat more realistic, it requires a little bookkeeping to ensure everything is located and used correctly in combat.

Finally we are presented with an appendix of ship statblocks which are very useful as bases for NPC and PC ships. We also get a few tables of prices for the ships themselves, their equipment and ammunition. These seem well balanced  against the existing cost of ships and siege weapons from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook.

Writing: 5/5 Clear and concise descriptions of weapons and upgrades make this section easy to read and run on the fly.

Design: 5/5 The author has based this on the existing rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide which helps to ensure everything is well balanced. By only misgiving is that the placement of weapons might be a little annoying during combat if a situation arises where you are prevented from using weapons thanks to speedy opponents.

Production: 4/5 As before.

Overall: 4.5/5

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Conclusion – 4.5/5

If you and your group are looking for a realistic way to simulate naval combat in your D&D game that adheres to the basic principles of D&D 5e combat then this is certainly the supplement for you! The rules in some areas are perhaps a little clunkier than necessary, but only in the interest of preserving realism. Depending on your group, the bookkeeping aspect of ship management could be a huge appeal, and I think you’d struggle to find a group that wasn’t interested in naval combat in some form. This supplement provides a great base for these kinds of encounters, presents ships and upgrades ready for use, and environmental hazards and combat encounters that you could run at the drop of a (tricorn) hat!

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Parry’s Picks – 18th November 2018

Hello and welcome back to Parry’s Picks! Each week in this article series I take a look at what’s been published on the DMsGuild over the past 7 days and try to highlight 5 of the best ones out there! This week we’ve got a couple of adventures and a few supplements, plus a great Fantasy Grounds conversion!

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Enhanced Focuses

Tyson VanOverhill

This supplement already rated at 4 stars helps to bring some life into spellcasting focuses! This is something normally ignored at most D&D tables, as they essentially just let spellcasters get on with their usual duties. This supplement provides new rules for focuses that are catered to different characters and schools of magic, making for more interesting spellcasters. The alternate preview of the product shows the amazing production quality within.

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Her Majesty’s Contingent

Jay Africa

Giff. They’re great and there should be more in your game. This product contains a one-shot adventure focused around a Giff mercenary company whose lair can be found on the HMS Hunger, their airship. The product contains four new statblocks for the Giff mercenaries, and advice on how to throw them into your game. Small, easily usable statblocks like this are great for DMs to throw into their games on short notice, and I’d highly recommend this one!

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The Tome of Cartography

Arturo Garcia

This product helps new DMs make the best use of maps in their games. It provides guidelines on drawing dungeon, town and kingdom maps, instructions on how to make your own battlemats at home and advice to help with NPC and story creation based on the maps. I imagine this will be extremely useful for new DMs who are trying to create their own homebrew campaign settings!

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The Tower Golem

Christian Eichhorn

As you all know, I have a soft spot for adventures! The Tower Golem is designed for 2nd to 4th level characters that follows on from the first adventure called The Soulmonger. You don’t need to have played the first for The Tower Golem to make sense, but there are some great recurring villains that you can keep your eyes peeled for! The layout and cartography in this product looks incredible, and the adventure already has 5 ratings putting it at 4.5 stars!

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Treasures of the Underdark

Dungeon Rollers

This epic supplement contains 40 new magical trinkets from everyone’s favourite drow-infested cave system, the Underdark! These are all organised into 7 tables which should help a DM distribute them, as well as 3 extra tables which can help you create Underdark themed items on the fly! For only $2.95, that’s amazing value!

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Special Mention – The Faithful of Eberron (Fantasy Grounds)

Rob Twohy

He’s back again! This time, the King of Fantasy Grounds has converted one of the Guild’s most popular titles, The Faithful of Eberron. This is definitely one to pick up for all you VTT users out there.

Remember, if you want to help support my blog and my writing, you can buy my adventures on DMsGuild, or join my Patreon. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.