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Welcome to the latest installment of my monthly DMs Guild roundup! Before we’d start, just a quick one, if you’ll indulge me.
A few people on Twitter asked why I don’t have a Patreon page, and I didn’t have a satisfactory answer to that question. So, as of today, I now have a Patreon page. If you’re feeling generous and you’d like to help support this site, I’d appreciate it if you took a minute to check out my campaign. Your pocket change goes a long way towards helping to keep this site afloat – including funding posts like this one.
Now, with that out of the way…
Last month featured a lot of people who are regulars in these lists, and a lot of products that I was sent complimentary copies of. I don’t think that devalues the list at all – the titles I featured were genuinely the ones that I thought were the best out of everything that I looked at that month – but it’s nice to be able to say that this month’s roundup features a lot of people whose work I haven’t seen before. It’s also one of the biggest posts yet – simply put, there was a lot of great stuff to pick from.
I was sent a lot of complimentary copies this month, and I’m very grateful to those writers who choose to send me review copies. Compiling this list can be an expensive process, and gestures like that help me afford to keep this site running while still being able to highlight some really great content that I might otherwise have not be able to look at. That said, I obviously can’t include everything that I’m sent for free, so apologies if you sent me something and it didn’t make the list.
Anyway, that’s enough of me blathering on. You’re here for the Best of DMs Guild roundup, so let’s get on with it!
Best of April 2017
Dungeon Masters Guild MegaBundle 2
This offer has now expired. Sorry about that!
Traders & Merchants! by Walrock Homebrew
Published April 6th, 2017
This is, quite simply put, one of the best products I’ve seen on DMs Guild. I’ve seen plenty of tables to generate merchants (and the stuff that they’re carrying), but none have been put together with the obvious care and effort that has gone into this. It’s 35 pages of great writing and beautiful art, and I’m very happy to start this month’s roundup with it.
Traders & Merchants contains tables to use in generating any kind of merchant you could possibly think of, from magic item salesmen, spicers, fashion merchants, and even astral travellers with a host of strange magic items. There’s a section you can use to generate personalities and characteristics, presented in much the same way as the backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook, a ton of charts for loads of different types of merchants of varying levels of wealth and quality, and a really interested section on unique, Legendary Merchants. You’ll even find a lot of new magic items in here, some of which are really interesting.
This has already made its way into my game, and I fully recommend you check it out. Especially as it’s Pay What You Want, which is a steal.
Mystic Monsters: Awakened Adversaries by Jacob Wellman
Published April 5th, 2017
The (relatively) recent Unearthed Arcana presenting the Mystic class was something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, and it’s nice to see some really good content for that class starting to appear on DMs Guild. Awakened Adversaries is my favourite so far. As well as providing some really well thought out Mystic-esque NPCs, this product also provides ideas for different roles that these kinds of characters can fill in your world, along with providing well designed stat blocks for these NPCs that mean you won’t need to have the Mystic class to hand to look up the effects of their abilities.
As a DMs Guild writer myself, the stat block format for psionic characters presented in this book is something I’m definitely going to use in my own products. It’s a really nice piece of design, and it’s great to see a product that is not only useful for DMs but also for DMs Guild content creators. As an added bonus, this is Pay What You Want.
Orcus Paper Miniature by Marshall Short
Published April 8th, 2017
Back in February’s roundup I included the Beholder paper mini, and as soon as I saw the new Orcus mini I knew I was going to have to include this, too. I’m sort of breaking my own rules here, because I try to include things that will actually be useful. Beholders are one of my favourite monsters, and I know I’m not alone in that, but I’m not sure how many groups will ever have a use for an Orcus miniature.
Look at it, though. Can you blame me for including it? It’s beautiful. I never knew I wanted Orcus in my game until I saw this. And it’s Pay What You Want, which is criminal. I might print one out just to have it sit on a shelf looking awesome.
Bags of Flavour: Bottles by Dwarves In A Trenchcoat
Published April 18th, 2017
Last week I had a little bit of a rant on Twitter about how so many products on DMs Guild look the same. The author of this product sent me a screenshot of the Books installment and, not knowing that it was a genuine product, I swore I would immediately buy anything that looked like that based on the cover alone.
Then I found out it’s a real thing – so, true to my word, I bought it. And I’m glad I did. (So glad, in fact, that I bought this one as well – hence its appearance on this list). The Bags of Flavour titles are the only products Dwarves In A Trenchcoat has published so far, but they’re both fantastic and well worth your time. They’re the kind of thing I really like – an easy to use, well-written and well-presented product that breathes some life and variety into your game with a minimum of effort on your part. If you like your treasure hoards to be more than a list of gold piece values, you should definitely check these out. And they’re only a measly $1 each!
Monster Ecology Anthology by Matt H. et al
Published March 30th, 2017
I’m a big fan of the r/dndbehindthescreen subreddit. There are some incredibly talented creators hanging out there, and the mega projects they do are always fantastic.
This massive document – 381 pages! – is the culmination of an 18-month-long project to write ecologies of (I think) every monster in the Monster Manual. Monster Ecologies were one of my favourite parts of Dragon Magazine back in the day, and this book does a wonderful job of emulating them. It’s a big read, but if you like your monsters and you like your fluff, I can’t recommend it enough. Fans of Volo’s Guide To Monsters will find a lot to love here. And, best of all, it’s completely free.
The following titles were provided to me for free by the authors. As always, though, I wouldn’t include them here if I didn’t think they were worth your time.
Goblins – A Tribe Called Pitshadow by Jesse Benjamin
Published April 8th, 2017
I’ll admit I was a little hesistant about including this – not because it isn’t great (it is), but because my next DMs Guild release is also a goblins book, and also contains new variant goblins. That would be entirely self-serving of me, though, and also unfair, because this is a really great product.
It should be stated upfront that this isn’t an adventure – it’s a toolkit around which you can build an adventure (or even a campaign). This book details a specific tribe of goblins, going into their history, their culture, their living habits, their language, and more. And, along with that, you get a map of their territory, stats for new variants specific to the tribe, and plenty of plot hooks to get your party involved with the Pitshadow goblins. Jesse also has an excellent book of 100 goblin trinkets that very nearly made this list on its own merits. A Tribe Called Pitshadow is only $1, and Trinkets is Pay What You Want.
Into The Belly of The Beast by Jeff C. Stevens
Published April 6th, 2017
It wouldn’t be one of my DMs Guild roundups without one of Jeff’s adventures, would it? His work is consistently excellent, though – there’s a very good reason why he’s become of the Guild’s leading writers.
I love a good swamp adventure (in fact, you may remember that one of my encounters in Jeff’s Encounters In The Savage Frontier collection was set in a swamp) and there aren’t enough of them out there, so it’s really nice to see Jeff finally get around to releasing something I know he’s been wanting to do for a while.
This is a solid mid-level adventure that oozes with sticky, swampy atmosphere. There are some really well-crafted set-piece encounters and an excellently designed village that serves as a central hub for the adventure. The book is filled with incredible art by the always-brilliant Daniel Walthall – and there’s a black and white printable version, too, so that all that brilliant art doesn’t empty your printer. The asking price of $2.95 is more than fair for another excellent release.
The Ones That Got Away
Below you’ll find a couple of products that I somehow missed when they were first released.
The Magic of Runes by Mark A. Hart
Published March 14th, 2017
New magic systems are a hard sell – you only need to look at the complaints about Unearthed Arcana: The Mystic being too long for evidence of that!
What Mark Hart has done here is impressive. He’s created a magic system that works alongside the existing system, and is open to most magic-using classes to dip into by taking a feat (rather than having created a new spellcasting class). The mechanics of learning, inscribing, and using runes are well thought out, and it’s nice that the mechanical aspect of the class is supported by and informed by the flavour/fluff that goes with it. The runes provided (which essentially function as new spells) are evocative and flavourful, and – as with all of Mark’s work that I’ve seen – seem very carefully balanced.
As a Pay What You Want title, this is definitely worth your time.
Codex of Waves by Walrock Homebrew
Published March 7th, 2017
I often find that new spells are hidesouly overpowered and unbalanced, even in official products – power creep was one of the things that killed 3rd edition for me. That’s not the case with these water-themed spells, though.
The Codex of Waves is a beautifully presented product that presents 19 spells – some of them new, some of them adapted from Stormwrack (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite 3e sourcebooks). Walrock Homebrew is a name I already know from Reddit’s r/unearthedarcana, and this first foray into DMs Guild is a really solid product. It’s unusual for me to include two products by one author in the same list, but both this and Traders and Merchants are great, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else materialises from Walrock – especially if it’s all going to continue to be Pay What You Want, as this is.
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