Plane Shift Your 5E D&D Game Into Magic: The Gathering — Amonkhet
On July 16, 2021 Wizards of the Coast releases Adventures in the Forgotten Realms — the first Dungeons & Dragons themed expansion for Magic: The Gathering. In place of what would be a Core Set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a true collaboration between the two Hasbro teams. But did you know there’s six times MTG crossed over into fifth edition D&D? Amonkhet, Dominaria, Innistrad, Kaladesh, Zendikar and Ixalan all walked the planes over to 5E D&D through highly produced Plane Shift documents available from Dungeon Master’s Guild for free. Let’s get into it.
MTG chocolate in 5E D&D peanut butter
While I’m super excited to see the worlds of D&D crossover with the planes of MTG I’m just as thrilled whenever the crossover moves in the opposite direction too. Next to D&D my favorite tabletop game by far is MTG. Perhaps my love for the seminal CCG equals or even surpasses the world’s greatest roleplaying game. The official entry of MTG into 5E D&D came in the form of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and remains one of my favorite titles for this iteration of the game.
Before the terrific tome released though WotC game designer and writer James Wyatt put together several fantastic digital books as 5E D&D supplements to represent various MTG planes for gamers who love rolling those funny shaped dice. It’s been several years since those releases and with tremendous numbers of new players discovering 5E D&D along with the imminent Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set on the horizon (with a revisit to Innistrad right behind!) it feels like a terrific opportunities to revisit 5E D&D Plane Shift ourselves and rediscover all the awesome material within.
“And now we come to Amonkhet—a desert plane inspired by ancient Egypt, ruled by an evil dragon Planeswalker, and which features one small safe haven from an undead infestation. It is not a traditional D&D setting.”— James Wyatt, Plane Shift: Amonkhet introduction
World of Amonkhet
Along with gorgeous illustrations straight from the MTG cards Plane Shift: Amonkhet leads off with a terrific overview of the plane. The description sounds reminiscent of Theros — another MTG crossover into 5E D&D — with a backdrop of gods and their trials. Evocative writing sells the sizzle for this rich campaign setting. While folks knowledgeable about MTG lore probably find greater meanings and implications in the text there’s still so many great concepts and ideas presented in this section for a Dungeon Master or other player to get a strong sense of things.
Even skimming through the text to refresh myself I came away with several intriguing ideas for adventure hooks and scenarios. For starters the Planeswalker Nicol Bolas features prominently as a God-Pharoh and makes an awesome campaign villain. There’s also the Curse of Wandering, a naturally occurring magical phenomenon on Amonkhet causing any being who dies on the plane to rise again as a desiccated mummy driven to attack the living.
The section on the people of Amonkhet takes the next step by presenting new character options for 5E D&D players. There’s an Initiate background to represent a character devoted to completing the Trials of the Five Gods, a Vizier background for characters who are devoted servants of a god and a Dissenter background because some people rebel against the God-Pharoh.
Races of Amonkhet
The planes of MTG are populated by all manner of creatures. Much like Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysses of Theros in 5E D&D context there’s curated options for playable character races. Sure, most people ignore these and play whatever they want but nevertheless the material does exist for those seeking to stay within the design parameters. In Amonkhet players can choose from the following race options for their 5E D&D characters:
- Human. There’s a wonderful examination of how humans fit into the grand scheme of Amonkhet along with the crunchy parts, which basically match the variant human option in the Player’s Handbook.
- Aven. More flying races — beware! Unlike aarakocra, kenku and similar avian themed races in 5E D&D the aven look like regular humans except for their birdlike heads. Two subraces further distinguish between ibis-headed aven who gain a quasi-Jack of All Trades feature and hawk-headed aven who can fire ranged weapons at long range without disadvantage.
- Khenra. Drawing on the Egyptian inspiration these humanoids have jackal heads and have a super cool quality of being a race of twins. This translates into a wonderful feature shared by both twins whenever they’re near each other. What a great roleplaying hook for players!
- Minotaur. The folks at MTG sure love minotaurs and so do we! These minotaurs are pretty much what you’d expect — strong and tough with natural weapons but they also get the half-orc’s Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks traits.
- Naga. Not dissimilar from yuan-ti these reptilians seem much more spiritual and a lot less eat-the-sun-and-dominate-the-world. Snake people fans whose DMs might not dig the magic resistance yuan-ti purebloods receive may be flexible when it comes to naga who trade the powerful trait for a Speed Burst.
Trials of the Five Gods
I assumed this was a short adventure when I first skimmed through Plane Shift: Amokhet but it turns out these are Divine Domains associated with each of the plane’s five gods. New character options!
- Solidarity Domain. A terrific mix of healing and buffs! Wow, I really dig this Divine Domain. How’s this for a feature too — when a Solidarity cleric takes the Help action to aid an ally’s attack they can make their own weapon attack as a bonus action too.
- Knowledge Domain. This is identical to the one in the 5E D&D PHB.
- Strength Domain. They’re not kidding when it comes to Strength with features granting huge bonuses to rolls and checks made using Strength whether from the cleric or an ally. A truly spectacular Domain Spells list doesn’t hurt either. Oh and they know a druid cantrip, extra skill and heavy armor proficiency to round things out.
- Ambition Domain. If I’m honest I’m not sure what these features have to do with ambition. There’s a mix of stealth enhancing features and debuffs including the Domain Spells list. It’s a cool mix of features I’m just not wrapping my head around this one thematically.
- Zeal Domain. Relentless! These clerics come at enemies with everything they’ve got — and it’s a lot! Comfortable at range or in the thick of things the features and Domain Spells give these clerics lots of great options no matter what the situation.
There’s several sorts of creatures consistent across many of the MTG planes. I like how these Plane Shift documents explain the unique qualities each has depending on their plane of origin.
- Angels. Excellent lore and how to represent Amonkhet angels in 5E D&D using existing monsters with a few tweaks.
- Demons. Used in a more broad way to describe certain kinds of creatures rather than extraplanar entities from the Abyss, like angels there’s great lore and tips for using existing 5E D&D monsters to represent Amonkhet demons.
- Sphinxes. Amazing monsters that don’t get nearly enough credit or use in 5E D&D this entry includes Amonkhet specific lore of course but also introduces a new kind of sphinx with a stat block. A criophinx has the head of a ram but otherwise kinda weaksauce for a CR 13 creature. Punching them up with some action oriented traits would go a long way.
- Dragons. What’s D&D without dragons, right? In Amonkhet dragons aren’t the highly intelligent creatures they are in standard D&D lore. Instead this plane only has red dragons and their Intelligence is reduced.
- Drakes. Basically dinosaurs, which is freaking awesome.
- Curse of Wandering. I wasn’t sure why this section appears in the bestiary. It expands on the concept introduced earlier in the document and includes touchstones for representing the undead creatures affected by this terrible curse. They had me at mummies already and now I see there’s mummy lords too. Mummy lords are amazing y’all.
- Desert Lands. I love a good wasteland in any D&D setting. Amonkhet’s is populated by purple worms and hydras amid the ruins of ancient civilizations and desolate wilderness. Sign me up for adventure!
- Manticore. In Amonkhet these great D&D monsters look more like tigers with scorpion tails and I’m so here for it. There’s a new stat block for a heart-piercer manticore and guidance for incorporating other deadly creatures. The organization for this section is a bit wonky and it continues on to describe serpopards — snakes with cat heads — and cerodons, which are basically aggressive destroyers. The serpopard gets a stat block too.
- Luxa River. The entire plane isn’t a desert after all as evidenced by this abundant source of life. Danger of course lurks in these waters too.
Planeswalkers and the Multiverse
The final section briefly explains how the MTG multiverse operates and how planeswalkers fit into the scheme. There’s a terrific section illustrating how an adventuring party could comprise planeswalkers from several MTG planes. Suggestions for how to achieve this planar travel, what it means and how the MTG multiverse fits together is really great for sparking the imagination.
You can check out our other delves into the Plane Shift documents for 5E D&D through the Plane Shift category. If you’re interested in Amonkhet, any of the other Plane Shift documents or MTG in 5E D&D in general here’s where to find such things. Remember — every Plane Shift document is 100% free at DM’s Guild, which you’ll find here:
- Plane Shift: Amonkhet
- Plane Shift: Dominaria
- Plane Shift: Innistrad
- Plane Shift: Ixalan and X Marks the Spot — A Plane Shift: Ixalan Adventure
- Plane Shift: Kaladesh
- Plane Shift: Zendikar
*Featured image — The eponymous plane of Amonkhet has an ancient Egyptian theme and features concepts like mummies and embalming. [Art by Titus Lunter]