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This month was a really good on for the DMs Guild. A hugh number of really high-quality products was released, average prices seem to have begun to rise, and the variety of new products on offer has been astonishing. Paring down this month’s list has been very difficult; I read over 100 products since the beginning of May, and my shortlist of releases to include on this roundup had well over 30 items on it.
I’ve been brutal, and reduced it to just the things that really jumped out at me – the products that I fell in love with immediately, or that I found myself thinking about after I’d moved on to looking at something else. I’ve also limited it (for the most part) to products that haven’t been hugely successful, since that’s the reason I started doing these lists in the first place.
The result of that decision is that there were a few things I really liked that I didn’t end up featuring on the main list, simply because they’ve already done so well for themselves. They still deserve a mention, though – with that said, I’d encourage you to go and check out Tobia Beis’ Critter Compendium ($15), Emirikol’s Guide To Devils by Sean McGovern ($15), Leonaru’s Zakharan Bestiary ($6.99), and Glen Cooper’s Ultimate Fantasy Collection ($9.95).
And now, on to the list itself!
The Best of DMs Guild – May 2017
Racial Options: Tortun by J. L. Brandfas
A beautifully presented product that is also very well written. This is a nice, non-cheesy take on what could be a ridiculous character concept. It's excecuted really well, and makes me want to run an entirely Tortun campaign immediately. I haven't had a chance to playtest it yet, but in comparing the Tortun to standard races it seems well balanced. At Pay What You Want, you should definitely give this your attention.
The Crimson Cask by Broken Knives
This is a really interesting product that I'd love to see more of. Rather than your standard adventure/encounter type product, this is instead a small non-combat diversion for your players in the form of a bard's tale, to be told in a tavern. The tale includes DCs for Perception checks that add an extra layer to the story, along with a payoff at the end to get the game moving again. This is the first in a series of seven tales - the second is also out now - and I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of them. This is another Pay What You Want title.
NPC Adventuring Parties by Juliet Journeywoman
There are tons of rogues galleries on the DMs Guild, but this is one of the best I've seen. This isn't just a list of names and stats - instead, this is a compendium of rival adventuring parties from levels 2 to 20. Each of them comes with well-written, detailed backgrounds for both the groups and their individual members, along with Traits, Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws for each NPC character and - of course - their stats. Think of this as something like a Volo's Guide To NPCs, and keep it to hand in every game you run from now on. It's Pay What You Want, which is a steal.
Lyncus Race by John C. Walborn
Along similar lines as the Tortun, this is another race that could be ruined by poor execution but that is handled really well here. There's some really interesting lore to go with these cat-people, along with a guide to their language and potential reasons for adventuring, and some Lyncus-themed magic items. This is another Pay What You Want title that's definitely worth a look.
Industrialist Class by Braydon Fiveash
This is a really interesting class that reminds me a little of the UA Artificer and a 'The Magic of Incarnum' from 3rd edition. Industrialists have learned the secrets of a specific form of power - be it steam, electricity, or an ancient forgotten technology - and they use it to create spell-like effects without actually tapping in to any magic. There's a very clear system for crafting effects, and good guidelines for DMs and players who want to homebrew their own inventions for the Industrialist. The Industrialist is Pay What You Want.
Way of Spider: the Patient Hunter by Cody Faulk
A new monastic tradition that focuses on patience, defense, and lying in wait before striking hard and fast. I love the theme of this, and the mechanics go a long way towards supporting it. As with all of Cody's products this has been very thoughtfully designed and has clearly been through a lot of playtesting; it's meticulously balanced, and provides an option for monks that your players will actually want to use. It's only $1, and worth every penny.
The authors of the following titles were kind enough to send me copies for free. This month I was sent around 40 titles to look at; these were the best of the bunch.
One Page Dungeon Compendium by Shattered Pike Studio
This year's One Page Dungeon Contest ended last month, and now you can see all of the entries. Spoiler alert: I didn't win, and for good reason - the overall winner is a work of art. I definitely need to up my game next year, and you definitely need to take a look at this. It's $3, and well worth it.
Struggle in Three Horn Valley by Phil Beckwith
It may seem a little disingenuous for me to include this adventure, since I drew some of the maps for it, but I genuinely really enjoyed it and fully intend to run my players through it at some point. This adventure has a lot of the things that I really liked about Tony Petrecca's Killer Kobolds - a unique setting, exciting set-pieces, and a real sense of danger for the players. Plus there are pirates, dinosaurs, and pirates riding dinosaurs. It's $2.95, and you should check it out.
Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak by Hyrda Cooperative
Even before I read this adventure I was in love with it; the cover art is fantastic, and the attention to detail and high quality extends into the interior of the book as well. This is a pulpy, old school adventure that left me with a huge smile on my face after reading it. The difficulty level is pretty high - as with a lot of OSR material, balance isn't really a consideration, so if you prefer a more modern D&D experience you may want to do some balancing before you run this - but for my own game that isn't really an issue. It's quite a complex adventure, but it's not long - a session or two of play should see your group through it - and since it includes pregenerated characters, it seems perfect as a fun, light-hearted one-shot. It's $7.99, which is a high price if you're used to DMs Guild pricing (and low if you're not), but don't let that put you off. It's well worth a look.
The High Moor by Alex Clippinger
The High Moor is a guide to a region of the Forgotten Realms that hasn't had much (if any) attention thus-far in 5th edition. This is well written, drawing on a host of sources from multiple editions of D&D to provide DMs with information about the geography of the High Moor, its flora and fauna, major points of interest environmental hazards, and more. Alongside that, Clippinger presents two new character options for Barbarians and Rangers that are nice an flavourful, and some updated monster stat blocks. This is $2.50, and well worth it if you want to get your players out into a wilderness they haven't seen before.