Games Tabletop

Strongholds and Followers – A D&D Review

This week, many customers who backed D&D Youtube sensation Matthew Colvillle’s Kick-starter for a new supplement book for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition had a chance to finally check it out.

I want to start out by saying how much I love this addition to 5th ed. I have been a fan of Matthew Colville for a while. His content about D&D issues that arise during a game and how he handles them is very diplomatic and well thought out. This book is no different. Strongholds and Followers expands and influences the players to make their own town or city. 

The strongholds are in these four categories:

  • Keeps let you raise armies, and the rules include a new, basic version of forthcoming Warfare rules. 
  • Towers let you conduct spell research, maybe making magic weapons or finding magical weapons good for Wizards and sorcerers. 
  • Temples let you buff armies and towns. 
  • Establishments generate revenue and gather intelligence on your neighbours. 

Something of note that I struggled to find out is that you can mix and match any of these four strongholds with your class.  Ex. a Druid doesn’t have to make a temple. They can make an establishment that generates revenue. It is still a Druids grove, but maybe it sells fruit for income instead of being a place for worship. By doing this, players gain the benefits of the establishment rather than the temple. It surprises me how accommodating it makes the game by allowing different social dynamics.

It makes sense that the strongholds you build attract new NPCs. Much like real life, if you open a new business or meeting place, it will attract new people and new employees. The book also includes tables of followers that are not necessarily new to the game but act like your henchmen. Depending on your class and what stronghold you have, different people will come to your stronghold and give you various benefits.

For example, an establishment could interest an artisan who can trade rare goods (not too rare though, you need to make sure it is level appropriate), or mercenaries have seen your strength and pledge themselves to you (for a price), and now you have an army to defend the town. These NPCs will naturally flock to your place of business because of how renowned you have become in your adventures and want to help you out in any way they can. 

That’s not all though, these fantastic benefits also have a “villain” counterpart. Although not quite as intricate, villains also get Strongholds and benefits from them, well lets call those home-field advantages. If you were sneaking around an enemy lair, it’s safe to say they might get some advantages much like your stronghold now gives you. 

The Villians are broken down into three categories:

  • Necromancer
  • Shaman
  • Warlord

These are the categories that your villain should be to gain the benefit. It doesn’t mean that they have to be a Necromancer to gain Necromancer benefits. It could be broken down into what it represents, which is:

  • Full-Caster
  • Half-Caster
  • Non-Caster

This benefit also applies to the villain’s henchmen, although depending on the type of henchmen, they gain different bonuses. Now, different villains have various henchmen, and I love the way these are broken down: 

  • Mindless servant
  • Savage horde
  • Tactical Phalanx 

You can choose what you think would work best for your encounter. For instance, your Full-Caster realizes he needs extra help and hires a whole Tactical Phalanx or he creates some Oozes to fight instead because maybe he spent all that money on a fresh new stronghold for himself. Who knows! It is up to you to figure out what works best with the story and what’s not too overpowered for your players. 

Speaking of villains, everyone loves new monsters, and while there are far too many to list here, this book brings some “lore” to a few of its new monsters.  So far in Dungeons and Dragons, we have seen the Chromatic (red, blue, green, white and black) Dragons and the Metallic (gold, silver, bronze, copper and brass) Dragons. 

Matthew Introduces us to the GEMSTONE DRAGONS!

I don’t want to spoil anything in the lore because it is a captivating read and worth at least a glance. Following the strongholds area of effect idea, if you are in the range of a dragon’s lair, it manipulates your sleep to show you different things while you are sleeping and this information can be both beneficial and detrimental. 

Once I read through this book and played with the guidelines the book sets, I can confidently say that this book is an excellent addition to dungeons and dragons. I cannot wait to see more of what MCDM creates and maybe next time I’ll spring a little extra to get the cute minis in the Kickstarter campaign. 

TL:DR – New D&D book from Matthew Colville is good, and it gives guidelines for allowing players to become more involved with their city and town affairs within their game. Also, new monsters & Gemstone Dragons = super cool – SZ

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