There’s a little something for everyone at the Dungeon Masters Guild. A couple of creators got in touch with us to share their work; the Dungeon Masters Guild newsletter shared new stuff for characters, DMs and content designers; and we’re getting back to making stuff for the DM’s Guild ourselves with the Adventurers League Witch Doctor Character Build Guide adding to the marketplace this Friday, Oct. 18. A steady flow of new stuff continues to stock the digital bookshelves at the DM’s Guild, and this week we’re dipping a toe into DriveThruRPG too. The community content coming across my desk this week all had a common thread. Whether it was player-centric in the form of new character options or DM-centric like adventures there are strong worldbuilding opportunities in these products. I appreciate any D&D content that makes me start thinking about how it fits into and enhances a campaign setting.
New DM’s Guild titles
- Step Right Up. By Justice Arman. A milk-themed carnival horror adventure listing dairy puns as a feature is enough for me. In addition to the adventure for 5th-7th level characters this book has tips for instilling horror in D&D, including an important section on respecting boundaries. The adventure background and guide for running it has the kind of information I look for in an adventure. Tips for pacing, NPCs with the kind of info to help roleplay them and some nifty new mechanics for building your own unique version of the carnival setting are specifically valuable for this adventure and also the kind of useful content you can plug into your other campaigns. The adventure itself looks very fun, with all sorts of activities for characters to engage with, a compelling villain and ample opportunities for all sorts of characters to shine. There’s a great sidebar on how to tweak a few details and really tie the plot to the specific characters in your group too. This is exactly the kind of adventure I like to create and run myself. There’s humor, drama and lots of different things for characters to do. Check it out here.
- Bard College of Percussion. By Chad M. Lensch. The creator is themselves a percussion musician, and this is a great example of how new player character options can enrich your campaign setting. A Percussion bard really leans into the musical aspect of the class, and the drama and emotions a musician can evoke. Going beyond presenting simply a new subclass for bards, this DM’s Guild title includes new musical instruments, not one but two new Bard Colleges, new backgrounds, a faction, NPCs, magical items and a short adventure. The last thing is probably my favorite because I love the idea of introducing a new character option through an adventure resulting in characters leveling up. That way there’s a nifty circumstance for any players who choose the subclass. Check it out here.
- Baldur’s Gate Notice Boards. By Christian Eichhorn. I already tend to run both one-shot adventures and longterm campaigns with characters explicitly part of the adventurer culture. A resource like this is a tremendous boon. Players who engage with the setting and begin forming their own goals make a DM’s life much easier! The way these 16 quests, 8 bounty hunts and 57 random encounters are presented, characters decide what to pursue, which makes me think of something like a West Marches campaign. The idea of the notice board helps create a sense of persistent world, and a DM can use this tool as a way to show, not tell, players what is going on in the world around them. If an adventuring party regularly checks the notice board, they’ll find different quests there even if they’re not the ones completing them. I like the way this product introduces a sort of bounty hunting and monster hunting culture. Check it out here.
- Skullport: Dragon Swindle. By Alex Clippinger. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is one of the most fun campaigns I’ve played in so this dark mirror hack hooked me from the get go. A crime-infested city beneath the City of Splendors is an awesome place to start. There’s new factions to interact with and potentially join, like the Kraken Society (personal favorite). New villains vie for treasure and a guide for the whole city of Skullport helps turn this terrific book into resource above and beyond the adventure. Skullport conjures thoughts of Lankhmar in my imagination, and an entire city doubling as a criminal haven sounds too good to pass up. Check it out here.
- Domile’s Wondrous Works. I don’t enjoy drawing and creating my own maps and dungeons. There, I said it. What I do like is taking cool maps I find here and there and using them to guide my descriptions and narration of a characters’ surroundings.. There’s a whole bunch of these map packs. They’re all themed like Ice Wall, Underwater Ruins or Skull Island. The map packs have variations for the map, instantly adding replayability options. These are marketed as battle maps and they most certainly function as such. But I run theater of the mind games and maps like these are still very useful. If nothing else, describing the scene on the map helps paint a picture for the players. Check it out here.
- InDesign Phone PDFs Template. By Nathanaël Roux. DM’s Guild creators will be very interested in this package. A phone template, backgrounds, styles, stat block templates and more provide the tools to create top quality documents optimized for mobile devices. There’s never been a better time to be a content creator! Check it out here.
A different game entirely?
There’s a place, or a non-place, perhaps, where time stands still. Every face is familiar, every place a hazy recollection, and the road goes ever onward, on towards home. You don’t belong here, you know you don’t, so you have to keep moving. Find your meals where you can, rest where its safe, and keep walking that well-worn trail. You’ll get there eventually. But the road isn’t easy. The people often hold secrets, the dead walk in plain sight, dark magic clings like fog to the landscape. The Devil is at your heels, waiting for you to slow, for doubt to build up, for you to lose hope. One day, you’ll make it home. Wherever home is. Whenever home was.
I’m picking up on a lot to like with The Way Home, a game from Newstand Press by Erika Chappell. Powered by the Apocalypse moves are based on the expectations of the game setting, and this game has the look and feel of a whimsical tale where I don’t imagine tactical combat and finding treasure are the focus. I’m a sucker for heartfelt stories about average people taking on extraordinary tasks. Hopelessness and feeling out of place are powerful concepts to explore, and I think it would be a lot of fun to play this game and see what sorts of stories emerge.
On a side note the product page mentions Over the Garden Wall as an inspiration for The Way Home. i’d never heard of the program before, but I foresee myself binge watching it. The art and animation appeals to me, Elijah Wood is part of the cast and I’m what I’m seeing in the trailer tugs on all the heart strings. Young heroes, friendly animals, scary and precarious situations but still family-friendly sounds right up my alley.
This is a rare case for me where I don’t feel like the ideas from this game and genre could be adapted into D&D. The Way Home looks like a better system for the campaign I run for my girlfriend, and I’m definitely looking forward to a deeper dive into this PBtA game. Check it out here.