Product Spotlight: Arclands
Published on September 3, 2020
This week we review Arclands, a new world and a revolution in magic, spells and powers. Compatible with the world’s best role playing game.
In this product spotlight, we will be reviewing Arclands: The Spellforger’s Companion, sent to us by the team at Verse Studios RPG (Facebook, Twitter). This 150+ page homebrew campaign setting will be available on September 2nd, 2020 at arclands.myshopify.com in digital and hard copy.
What is Arclands?
Arclands is a homebrew campaign setting for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons that features all new magic mechanics, races, classes, items, monsters and an original approach to the world’s greatest role-playing game.
Arclands revolves around a world that has recently been introduced back to magic. During an event called “the Sundering”, the One God ordered the magical energy of the world to be contained within him, eliminating its use from the mortals that roamed Aestis. Magic has now recently returned and coalesced into magical sites known as Spell Forges.
These Spell Forges and the magic that is within them can only be used by those born with Fate, a new mechanic introduced in the campaign setting.
Arclands reads very similarly to a Wizards of the Coast campaign sourcebook (i.e Mythic Odysseys of Theros or Eberron: Rising from the Last War). The 150+ page book is broken into the following sections:
- Travels in Aestis
Let’s break down what’s included in each of these sections.
The Introduction to Arclands is a great combination of story and exposition. You are introduced to Dhevin, an adventurer seeking a power known as Spell Forges. This story reappears numerous times throughout the campaign, creating a great example of how your character can grow in the Arclands system.
This section also briefly introduces the world of Aestis, the primary factions you will be dealing with within this world, major events that have taken place in the past, and current events that take place around the time of their campaign setting.
Chapter 1 contains an extremely robust process to create a character in Arclands. This section contains the Races and Classes available in an Arcland campaign setting, as well as background information to tie your character more deeply to the world.
The first section covers the new playable races of the campaign settings: Humans, the short-lived, industrious race; Half-Firg, half-human, half-giant outcasts that excel at smithing and cracking skulls; Half-Fey, another half-blood race that mixes the curiosity of Humans with the nature-loving of the Fey; Jaraki, frog-like tribespeople of the Oloris jungle; and Chorale, the primal forces of magic that were mutated during the Sundering.
These races are all very unique and the campaign setting has a ton of information on how each of these individual races fit into the world. Much like the races introduced in the Player’s Handbook and other WotC properties, each of these has an Ability Score Increase, differences in how they age, how far they can move, and other unique features and variations.
The classes present in Arclands have a unique spin that encourages multiclassing the “base classes” with the “caster classes”.
The system introduced in this section revolves around Fate Points. If you want to use your character’s Fate Points for magic, you can pick up one of the caster classes, but they also come into play in different aspects of adventuring.
The base classes are what every character will start with until at least 3rd level, at which time they can multiclass into a caster class. These base classes accumulate the Fate Points that the caster classes will be able to use for “forging” spells. Fate Points for non-caster characters can be used as Inspiration and other class abilities. The base classes are as follows:
- Corsair – Corsairs are masters of the sea and lords of the tavern. They are the charismatic and daring adventurers who combine brawling with charm.
- Dragoon – A Dragoon is a hero born in the saddle and their connection with their mount defines them.
- Knight – Knights are martial specialists but understand that a sword is better sheathed than used in dishonor.
- Marauder – The marauder is part outcast, part folk hero. While knights have fixed codes of honor and duty, marauders answer to no one and know that fighting fair is for fools.
The caster classes use the base classes’ Fate Points to craft Glyphs to cast spells. These classes are only available to be multiclassed into when your character hits level 3, but depending on how much casting you want to do, can go all the way up to level 20.
In Arclands’ new magic system spells are all the same level, but casting spells at higher levels multiply their damage. Each caster has access to the same Glyph crafting, but their individual abilities change the way they use them. The caster classes are:
- Fateweaver – Fateweavers are able to imbue everyday objects with magical powers, enhancing and altering their effects.
- Tomebearer – Tomebearers are able to rearrange magic’s building blocks, Glyphs. This ability enables the Tomebearer to create new versions of their spells on the fly.
- Vowbinder – Vowbinders have made a pact with an interdimensional entity that grants them a familiar which grows in power along with its master.
These classes take inspiration from the D&D 5e classes and alter them to fit the new Fate Point system introduced earlier on in this chapter.
These classes all have a unique spin on them and the easy combination of caster classes with base classes looks like a great way to make sure no two characters will play the same.
This section provides a set of optional motivations, calls to adventure, adventuring bands, and backgrounds that integrate your character with the story and deepen the connection to the world around them.
The backgrounds, similar to WotC material, provide skill, language, and equipment proficiencies based on the one you choose. Each background also provides a table of personality traits, ideals, and bonds that can integrate the character further with their past.
This final section takes your fully built character, equipped with a race, class, background, and traits, and gives them an interesting, turbulent personal history.
The Life Path section features a number of tables that will trigger certain events from your character’s past, whether it is a nemesis or creating something of value.
These tables are all tied in some way to the world of Aestis, which is a great way to tie characters more deeply into the world around them.
The second section of this book covers a very new system introduced in Arclands called Spellforging.
From Arcland: The Spellforger’s Companion:
Spells, in Aestis, are Fate energy conjured forth as physical symbols. These symbols are called glyphs. A spell is constructed with the layering of multiple “glyph terms”.
To cast a spell, a caster brings forth the glyph composite that they have forged at a spell forge before them as the symbol of the spell. They then plunge their hand into the symbol, spreading the individual terms down their arm as they channel the essence of fate to power it and select a target.
Essentially, you use Fate Points to create Glyphs at Spell Forges. These Glyphs represent spells you can cast at certain levels, depending on your caster classes.
The effects of these spells are mix-and-matchable via the tables provided:
This system is a huge divergence from 5th Edition, but as exemplified in Chapter 4: Making Magic, you can create tons of spells that exist in 5e using the Spellforging system:
Travels in Aestis
Section 3 takes you on a journey through the continent of Aestis, from the nine cities of the Inner Arclands to the warlike outer kingdoms and the dark realm of Mordikhaan.
It also examines the five dimensions of the universe and the various portals and doorways through which to reach them. This section contains well over 100 pages of locations, adventure hooks, NPCs, and really impressive artwork.
This section is incredibly detailed and provides everything a DM would need to start planning an adventure in the world of Aestis.
Each location has information on the population, the general beliefs and languages of the population, the languages they speak, the location’s geography and weather, and the location’s history and politics.
Arclands has a great, interactive map available on World Anvil. You can check it out here.
The appendix covers 19 new creatures to face off against, 24 magic items, and a chart for creating random magical trinkets.
The monsters available in the campaign setting tend to focus on the low to mid-tier Challenge Ratings. They cap out at CR 16 with the Gorin, a giant monstrosity that uses its horrifying aura to psychically traumatize its prey:
My favorite item from the bunch is definitely the Book of the Wanderer, a book that allows users to read a story featuring themselves as the protagonists. The book provides the ability to skip ahead 10 minutes to see what is coming in the future every 5 days. If a DC 5 INT check is failed, the character has to talk in an obnoxiously loud 3rd party narrative (even if they’re gagged) until the next dawn.
All in all, it seems as though a ton of love and effort has gone into making this campaign setting. The book features fresh, unique mechanics and gorgeous art (I can’t stress this last part enough).
If you are looking for a 5e system that provides a bit more flexibility and less railroad-y character progression, Arclands is certainly a good place to start.
Even if you weren’t planning on using the character options or magic system variations, the amount of detail available in Section 3 alone is a Wizards of the Coast-level campaign setting.
If you are interested in the Arclands: The Spellforger’s Companion you can find it at arclands.myshopify.com on September 2nd, 2020 in digital and hard copy. If you want to learn more about Verse Studios, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.