In the realm of Dungeons & Dragons, the number one rule is that there are no hard-and-fast rules. The Dungeon Master holds the power to change or add any rule that would make the game more fun. We call this the Rule of Cool because, let's face it, who wants to play a game that isn't fun and cool?
While the official 5e Dungeon Master's Guide and other rulebooks offer optional rules, the primary barriers to including them are time and money. Fortunately, third-party publishers, designers, and passionate fans have taken up the mantle and created supplements that embrace the Rule of Cool in all its glory.
Picture this: raising armies, researching spells, and spying on your enemies! These supplements go beyond mere rules and charts; they introduce a style of play that focuses on influencing the world around your character. Sure, you'll still embark on thrilling adventures and battle formidable monsters, but during your downtime, you'll find a plethora of exciting activities to engage in.
One exceptional supplement that embodies the Rule of Cool is "Strongholds & Followers" by MCDM, the brainchild of RPG veteran Matt Coville. This unofficial gem has gained such popularity and admiration that Wizards of the Coast even released an Unearthed Arcana playtest for bastions, a similar concept, in their Dungeon Master's Guide for the 2024 update to Dungeons & Dragons.
Now, let's talk about magic items. D&D players not only love magic items, but they also adore named magic items. Think of Sting from The Hobbit or Raistlin Majere's Staff of Magius—there's something special about items with a rich history. Enter "Ancestral Weapons," one of the bestselling supplements on DMs Guild. This delightful addition provides rules to enhance the weapons players already possess and are emotionally attached to, as well as rules to generate brand-new legendary weapons.
But wait, there's more! Introducing spirit points, a novel system that enables players to craft their own magical artifacts. Random tables ensure that dungeon masters are never short on loot, and with over 130 upgrades, every named weapon the adventurers stumble upon will possess epic abilities and a captivating backstory.
Now, let's shift gears and delve into the realm of cyberpunk. While there are some extraordinary non-D&D cyberpunk TTRPG systems out there, many players were introduced to the hobby through 5e and have grown comfortable with its rules. That's where "Technomancer's Texbook" comes into play, a 275-page cyberpunk supplement created by Reddit user u/Newtond and generously released for free. This comprehensive guide equips both dungeon masters and players with everything they need to experience the neon-stained streets, big guns, fast cars, and low-life scum that define the cyberpunk genre, all within the familiar D&D playstyle.
Now, imagine this: a post-apocalyptic magitech setting where players don mighty mechsuits called Eldtrichtech. Enter "Eldritch Sands," a major Kickstarter success that not only introduces a captivating new setting but also redefines how player classes work. These upgradeable mech suits replace traditional classes like barbarian, rogue, or cleric, granting players access to unique abilities that can only be unleashed while wearing the exosuit. Prepare for an unforgettable experience where power and devastation intertwine.
Ah, Spelljammer, a beloved AD&D setting. Unfortunately, its 5e adaptation received mixed reviews due to its lackluster rules and controversial depictions. Fear not, for Redditor u/SurrealSage comes to the rescue with "Wildjammer." This free rulebook faithfully adapts the original content to the 5e ruleset, including tactical ship combat that breathes new life into interstellar encounters. Say goodbye to abstract ship-to-ship combat and embrace a thrilling and immersive experience that will leave you craving more.
Last but not least, let's talk monsters. The official Monster Manual, a staple of D&D, is undeniably beloved but can grow repetitive. Combat often turns into a monotonous hack-and-slash affair. Enter "Flee, Mortals!" by MCDM. Matt Coville and his team have addressed this concern head-on, revolutionizing monster encounters. With rules that respond to player actions and tactics, new monster types like minions and retainers, and fully fleshed-out named creatures known as villains, this unofficial rulebook breathes new life into every DM's campaign.
Now, let's address an age-old complaint: the inclusion of half-races in RPGs. It seems that humans always take up one-half of the equation. "An Elf and an Orc Had a Little Baby" seeks to rectify this issue with three volumes of over a hundred different parentage options for 5e player characters. But that's not all; this book also introduces upbringings, which shape a character's culture. Whether raised by a frightened mage enclaveor an orc warband, these unique backgrounds provide additional depth and role-playing opportunities.
In conclusion, the world of Dungeons & Dragons is ever-expanding, and thanks to the Rule of Cool, the possibilities are limitless. These epic supplements breathe new life into the game, offering innovative rules, exciting settings, captivating items, and thrilling encounters. Whether you're a dungeon master looking to enhance your campaign or a player yearning for new experiences, these supplements are sure to ignite your imagination and take your D&D adventures to the next level. So grab your dice, gather your friends, and embark on an unforgettable journey into the realms of fantasy and beyond!