Plane Shift Your 5E D&D Game Into Magic: The Gathering — Ixalan
Are you looking for more fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons content to add to your game? Do you like free stuff? Are you a fan of Magic: The Gathering? Chances are you answered yes to at least one of these questions. Nerdarchy the Website readers know on July 16, 2021 Wizards of the Coast releases Adventures in the Forgotten Realms — the first D&D themed expansion for MTG. This expansion represents a true collaboration between these two Hasbro teams. But MTG crossed over into 5E D&D six times even before Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros. Amonkhet, Dominaria, Innistrad, Kaladesh, Zendikar and Ixalan all Plane Shift-ed over to 5E D&D through titles available free from Dungeon Master’s Guild. I am here to share with you Plane Shift: Ixalan.
Crossing over MTG and 5E D&D
Plane Shift: Ixalan presents a 47 page PDF jam packed with loads of great stuff. In preparation for Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica release back in 2016 and 2017 WotC game designer and writer James Wyatt put together several fantastic 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 an MTG 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.
“This is a pretty special installment of the Plane Shift series for me, because I was the creative lead for Ixalan world building. Perhaps betraying my fourteen-year history working on Dungeons & Dragons, Ixalan is a world of exploration and treasure, marked by ancient sites waiting to be explored by intrepid heroes. One of those sites, shown on a card in the Ixalan set, is obviously inspired by a classic D&D adventure, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. This plane lacks only dragons to be a fully realized D&D milieu—there’s even a world map!”— James Wyatt, Plane Shift: Ixalan introduction
The World of Ixalan
Ixalan provides four groups of people to identify with. This section offers who these people are along with their affinity towards certain 5E D&D classes and even offers up a nice chart of bonds and ideals for each one for you to choose or roll on a chart to determine.
- Sun Empire. Human priests from the coast who want to reclaim the interior lands interior they once held. They use and control dinosaurs to make their life easier. Come on — who does not want to control dinosaurs?
- River Heralds. Merfolk who live in harmony with nature and tend to live in small bands rather than large cities. They controlled the land before the Sun Empire came along.
- Legion of Dusk. Vampires and humans who seek domination of all around them. They are conquerors who not only seek to control territory but seek immortality so they can hold the land forever.
- Brazen Coalition. A mixed group of mariners who after being driven from their land have turned to a life on the seas and a life of piracy while they are at it. ARRR!! What’s a pirates favorite letter? You would think it would be R, but in fact a pirate will always love the C!
Races of Ixalan
Plane Shift: Ixalan presents several options for characters to choose from. These are all balanced for players in the MTG setting and can fit into the greater 5E D&D worlds should you so desire to add these into your regular game. You can also take them as they are and reflavor them to be interesting new races in your homebrew world. Each option includes mechanical aspects along with lore and perspective for how they fit in the setting. There’s an addendum at the end of this section indicating traits from other Plane Shift supplements applicable to races found from those places and Ixalan. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: This is a klunky layout decision! Including these traits separate from the main entry is confusing so if you check out Plane Shift: Ixalan don’t skip this page!]
- Human. Humans are treated just as they are in the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook.
- Merfolk. A race of very tall humanoids with a swim speed. You get two options whether you want to go green or blue with your subrace.
- Vampire. Blood sucking traits you’d expect plus there’s a special feat exclusively available to vampires granting a transformation into a form capable of limited flight.
- Orc. The orcs of Ixalan are mechanically identical to the half-orcs in the PHB.
- Goblin. These creatures show up in many MTG worlds with their own particular variations. The goblins of Ixalan are expert climbers and that’s about it as far as traits go.
- Siren. A winged race capable of flight and also their Siren’s Song is represented by innately knowing the friends cantrip.
Land of the Great River
Along with a wonderful map of the continent of Ixalan this section contains evocative descriptions of the land and its amazing vistas, secret places and mysteries to discover. There’s a great collection of treasure tables representing the valuable art objects found throughout the land. Each table covers a value level of treasure from 25 gp up to 7,500 gp value art objects. At the end there’s also an additional table for Who Created It or Was Intended to Use It? What a great idea!
An Ixalan Bestiary
This always is my favorite section of the MTG Plane Shift supplements WotC put out. Not only is it filled with pages and pages of great art and lore but also suggestions for how to take already existing 5E D&D creatures and use them to represent the already rich culture and lore within the MTG universe. There are of course stat blocks for new monsters you can use to expand your arsenal too. So you’ll find new monsters for your creature catalog all for free. And if you like dinosaurs as much as I do Ixalan is a great setting. The art alone is worth grabbing a copy.
- Dinosaurs. The dominant form of animal life in Ixalan. New creature stat blocks included for Frilled Deathspitter, Gishath: Sun’s Avatar and Elder Dinosaur. The Elder Dinosaur also includes six variations for individual entities — Zetalpa, Primal Dawn; Nezahal, Primal Tide; Etali, Primal Storm; Tetzimoc, Primal Death; Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Zacama, Primal Calamity.
- Coatls. Immortal guardrians of the sky who dwell among the clouds.
- Sunbirds. Fiery phoenixes called sunbirds are thought to be messengers of Tilonalli. New creature stat block included for Sunbird.
- Night Terrors. Real monsters with supernatural power lurking in the darkness of night and the shadows of ancient ruins and crypts. New trait included for the harpy from the Monster Manual and new creature stat block for Chupacabra.
- Nature Embodied. In the space between plants and animals — or perhaps encompassing both — are strange creatures that embody life itself. These creatures include dryads, elementals and a huge variety of beasts representing Life of the Forest and Life of the Waters. Alongside these are Stone Guardians crafted to protect the Sun Empire’s cities and temples.
Appendix: The Colors of Magic
This section goes into depth into how to incorporate the concepts of the colors of MTG into the realm of 5E D&D game play. It goes further giving roll charts for personality, class suggestions as well as backgrounds and alignments as well as allowing for color combinations familiar to MTG players. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: For even deeper MTG crossover into 5E D&D check out the 5 Color Mana system created within Tap Untap Burn, another DM’s Guild product we covered in depth on the website here.]
Final thoughts on Plane Shift: Ixalan for 5E D&D
I very much appreciate Plane Shift: Ixalan and at the cost of free how can you beat it? But it goes further. I see this and I ask how best can I use it. The entire 47 pages is hardly a campaign setting, right? You could easily use this along with the other Plane Shift supplements to take standard 5E D&D characters hopping through the MTG planes seeking something or someone. You can dive into Ixalan and explore the wide world working in the cards and characters people at your table would be familiar with. You can take it one step further and make a world of your own rich with dinosaurs. If you know me you know I love dinosaurs and have for as long as I remember. If you made a world filled with dinos you could even take into account the Saurial races I created on this site quite some time ago. They were made in the early part of 5E D&D and might need some tweaking but you can find them here.
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 Ixalan, 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
Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay nerdy!
*Featured image — Ixalan is a Mesoamerican-inspired plane full of uncharted jungles where dangerous beasts, magnificent ruins, and lost treasures lie waiting to be discovered. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]