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Sean's Picks of the Week (0410-0414) - 5th Edition Week!

Becoming more fond of Theme Weeks, I decided this week should feature 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons products. While some may feel the release schedule of official Wizards of the Coast products isn't what they're used to (or what they'd prefer), it's important to note that there's a huge amount of material for the latest edition of the World's Most Popular RPG from both established publishers and super-fans with excellent design instincts and an abiding passion for the game.


Years ago, I remarked that Paradigm Concepts – the guys behind Living Arcanis – knew how to build a community and get a living campaign going. Their current Kickstarter, designed to bring Arcanis fully into the 5th Edition, inspires this week’s theme – 5e Week. Though the KS is for the entire Arcanis setting to get translated, they’ve already released on big, useful book for 5e fans to get excited about.

Unlock the Treasures of the Ages…

Legends speak of heroes wielding magical weapons and enchanted relics, battling great evils and righting wrongs throughout the world. Whether created by dwarven master smiths, mage artificers or built by inhuman hands, you’ll find them all here, within this tome.

…And Forge your Legend!

Forged in Magic: REFORGED presents over 400+ magic items for your 5E campaign – from enchanted weapons, armors, rings and shields to mystical potions, magical staffs and a myriad of wondrous items.

You’ll also find a new rules, such as Other Worldly Patrons for Warlocks, new weapons, armors, spells and a Rune Magic system that gives versatility to magic items without unbalancing your game.

This book is an indispensable resource for both players and Game Masters alike.


Day Two of 5e Week here at SPOD (that’s “Sean’s Pick of the Day”) features one of the most famous villains in all of D&D history. This just-released bundle features the entire Adventurer’s League run of the 5e campaign that centers on the dark-bound lands of Barovia and an ancient horror that defies normal adventuring expectations.

(From the Wizards of the Coast press release) –

Written in collaboration with Tracy and Laura Hickman, the authors of the original Ravenloft adventure published in 1983, Curse of Strahd pits players against the vampire Strahd von Zarovich…

“Revisiting the land of Barovia with the creators of the original Ravenloft adventure has been a highlight of my professional career,” said Chris Perkins, principal story designer at Wizards of the Coast. “Tracy and Laura Hickman created a timeless villain whose faults reflect the darkest traits of humanity. I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to walk through the halls of Castle Ravenloft with its creators as your guides.”

Heroes from the Forgotten Realms and other D&D worlds can easily be drawn into Strahd’s cursed land. Once there, they must contend with the horrors of Barovia. Its people are melancholy, misshapen and grotesque, living in fear of the wolves and other creatures that serve Strahd’s evil will. The only hope for the trapped adventurers is to heed the warnings of a mysterious fortune-teller named Madam Eva. Drawing random cards from her tarroka deck, she directs adventurers to search Strahd’s domain for artifacts and allies to help the master of Castle Ravenloft. That is, before he orchestrates your demise for his amusement and feasts on your terror.


As we delve further with 5e Week, seems only natural we take a look at this mega-bundle of the top stuff from the top creators of the DM’s Guild. In case you missed it, this is where DriveThruRPG and Wizards of the Coast teamed up to let any and all creative folks who love Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition create, present, and sell their best ideas. Enough amazing stuff has been crafted and sold to warrant a top thirty bundle at a rather incredible price.

This collection of Fifth Edition D&D material includes titles selected from among the top thirty bestselling community authors who have published their work on DM’s Guild. And to sweeten the deal, with the permission of those authors, it’s all been marked down to 84% off the cover prices!

Players and Dungeon Masters alike, no matter what the setting, are sure to find something useful inside — whether it’s new class options, feats, and magic items, or new monsters, rules, and adventures.

Get the best of the best now, just $9.95, only for a short time, available only on DMsGuild.com!


From the days of yore (when Iron Crown Enterprises introduced their Law series), we’ve had a collective fascination with elaborate random charts for dealing with the extremes of combat. Critical Hit Publishing – aptly named, to be certain – brings you a deck of 75 cards to enhance your 5th Edition game with the insane potential found in a natural 20. Of course, for those who want insanity at the Natural 1 end of the scale, there’s a whole deck for you, too.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye, then it’s a critical hit!

There are many players and GMs out there who feel most role playing games are already quite lethal enough without adding insult to injury. This is obviously not the way we feel at Critical Hit Publishing. In fact, adding an additional layer of risk and lethality to combat can not only enhance the overall excitement of the game, but it can encourage role play in several ways. Firstly, role playing is enhanced by compelling players to consider alternatives to combat. After all, when there is a chance that a lowly orc could slice off a character’s hand in combat, they might want to think twice before simply slaughtering their enemy. Secondly, critical hits can often leave scars or even permanent maimings. It is much more interesting to have a character with an eye patch if you know exactly where and how the eye was lost. Such maimings can offer opportunities for characters to develop prejudices, fears, vendettas, and other personality traits that can become pivotal to the story. And thirdly, critical hits can inspire players to create meaningful descriptions of their actions in combat. So rather than simply saying: “I attack with my sword for 6 points of damage,” they might describe the swing, the look on their face or the face of their opponent, and the result. When the players really start to enjoy describing their scenes, even a massive fumble becomes a fun part of the story, and I guarantee that it will be discussed long after the game is over. “Hey, do you remember that time Borek broke his sword fighting that orc chieftain and he ended up killing him with just the pommel!”

This deck contains 75 unique critical hits that range in severity from simply losing a turn while juggling your weapon to an obliterated head. These large, tarot-sized cards come with instructions, definitions, healing options for critical hits, and a rule variant that allows players to use Inspiration to reduce the effects of the crit. These cards can be used for any weapon, as well as ranged attack spells.


I decided to return to the Dungeon Masters Guild to wrap up 5e Week here on SPOD, and I Picked one of the most popular titles on that site – Heroes of the Orient: Player’s and DM’s Companion. D&D fans have long enjoyed importing mythic, fantastic, and historical elements from cultures of the Pacific Rim and beyond, and the author here decided a strong adaptation of what’s come before to 5e was a great way to use the terms of service for the Dungeon Masters Guild. Good on you, Marc Altfuldisch!

This 75-page handbook contains lore, flavor, and rules for creating adventures in the Orient.

Included are also:

  • 6 new races, a new dwarf subrace and an oriental human variant
  • 2 new classes
  • Kensai – a ki-using warrior with a strong bond to a single weapon (includes 5 archetypes)
  • Shogun – a commander who enables new strategies for his allies (includes 7 archetypes)
  • 27 new archetypes for existing classes
  • 6 new backgrounds
  • 11 new feats
  • 52 new spells.

As I've said before, 5th Edition represents my favorite iteration of our foundation game. Ross Watson's Birthright campaign was a wonderful experience, and I would happily play another 5e game if time and opportunity presents itself. I can't say that about another d20-driven game, and that's "not nuthin'."

Tonight, Dave Forby is running his Superhero 3030 campaign in the latest iteration of Prowlers & Paragons: Ultimate Edition (and that reminds me, I gotta get mine and other characters revised to the newest version). Tomorrow, the folks of the Bitfaced crew are coming here to the Silver Unicorn Pub for us to set up for a monthly livecast game, which should be pretty exciting once we get it going. It starts out as a Freedom Squadron campaign featuring them and the Spyglass Games folks (the creators of VENOM Assault board game that FS is based upon), but we'll probably do other games down the road. Stay tuned for more on that!

Sunday, it looks like a bunch of us are going to see Fate of the Furious (having binged the series lately). I wasn't as thrilled with the first ones, but as they got more "super agent" oriented, I got way more interested.

Here's hoping you have a great weekend ahead!

The Adventure Continues...

Note that I use affiliate links in all my posts as a way to generate additional revenue for my efforts; I make my Picks and other article choices, however, based on the desire to share a wide variety of things with you. Thank you for your support.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!



First Post
I like the look of some of these, however after reading the CoS DDAL04 discussions here (no affiliate link ;) has put me right off. "SPOD"? Anyone care to come to the defense of the CoS AL?


I can't really defend the CoS AL adventures -- I reviewed them all on the AL board, though the reviews before DDAL 04-08 were lost in the Great Crash of Summer 2016. You can look over the surviving reviews below:

DDAL 04-08 The Broken One (3 stars)
DDAL 04-09 The Tempter (5 stars)
DDAL 04-10 The Artifact (3 stars)
DDAL 04-11 The Donjon (2 stars)
DDAL 04-12 The Raven (2 stars)
DDAL 04-13 The Horseman (3 stars)
DDAL 04-14 The Darklord (4 stars)

If you're a completist, you'll do well to get the bundle at the listed savings, but if you plan to run the season, I'd skip nearly all the tier 1 titles (DDAL 04-06 The Ghost, written by a contributor to the Fraternity of Shadows Ravenloft fan site, is the only one I'd consider above-average), and go straight to DDAL 04-08 to begin the season. You miss a number of the clunker adventures (but sadly, not all of them) and the season doesn't take as long to complete that way, which became a real problem for my own local group when I decided to run the entire season for them.

As an experiment in providing a tightly-knit series of adventures revolving around a common meta-plot, Season Four sadly did not live up to expectations.


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