D&D: In Ixalan Dinosaurs Fight Vampires
Plane Shift: Ixalan trakes D&D to the best possible Plane for Adventure. Why aren’t you playing now?
In an ancient jungle, overrun with wild growing vines and brilliant flowers, a squad of vampires in breastplate fight against a band of pirates–suddenly, there’s a deafening roar. Crashing through the verdant growth comes a monstrous titan–a tyrant of the Immortal Sun. It crashes into view, golden spines and rainbow feathers all but shining in the sunlight. With a single bite it swallows the leader of the vampires, and a bone-shaking roar, sends the pirates screaming into the darkness of the jungle. A golden temple, undiscovered, rests just out of sight.
And that’s just one of many possible scenarios you can find in the latest Plane Shift, the series that blends Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. We’ve seen a few of these before–Zendikar and Innistrad, but holy cow, this one is something special gang. At 47 pages, it’s the longest one yet. I’ll say right now it feels like a splat book you’d pay money for. I could easily see forking over somewhere between $9-14.99 for this–but it’s free. And it’s glorious.
Perhaps because it’s written by James Wyatt, who was both the lead on Ixalan, so not only does he know it well but also his name can be found throughout the last decade of D&D, from this like the Draconomicon and Book of Exalted Deeds, to the Sunless Citadel and the City of Spiders. Oh yeah, and he wrote the 4th Edition DMG, and that’s the edition that really feels like a DM-friendly system, and you can see why.
Or perhaps it’s the interesting take on an Era of history that isn’t often explored in Fantasy. The Legion of Dusk are straight up Spanish Conquistadors and the Ixalan empire of the Sun is a sprawling Mesoamerican analogue–and it says some interesting things about exploration, exploitation, conquest, and adventure–all the while mixing factions that have every reason to fight each other while at the same time needing each other. It’s a melting/boiling pot, and it just delivers in the best ways.
There’s a lot to dig through in this book. You get a lot to sink your teeth into, both narrative-wise and in terms of mechanics. There’s four factions, each with tables of ideals and bonds and suggested classes. There are four new races: Vampires, Merfolk, Goblins, and Sirens, along with Ixalan versions of Humans and Orcs.
Then there’s the world itself. Ixalan is ripen for adventure, and the geography of it shares the same beckoning feel of the unexplored map of Tomb of Annihilation. This is a world full of old ruins, new empires, and all manner of things in between. Even the Empire of the Sun has different factions within it. And it really nails down the feel of the Magic setting as well, complete with guides and tables for creating a hero/npc aligned with one of the colors, and how they intreact with each other and the world.
And of course there are the dinosaurs. It would have been enough just to say Hey Dinos. But thereally are new ones, including a legendary T. Rex, and the Elder Dinosaurs that are all CR 30 beasts and a heck of an encounter.
There’s a real interesting idea on display here. Because this is just the starting block–each of the Elder Dinosaurs has its own mini-block that details any extra movement or special abilities, and the particular dinosaur’s attacks. It makes them all feel related, but not the same–I like this idea for creating monsters around a theme.
In fact, if there’s one thing this supplement nails it’s theme. The rules and the world complement each other and really reach out to show you how to adventure in this world. Whether it’s fantastic locations, or unique monsters like the not-elder-but-still-legendary Gishath, a T. Rex with a few tweaks to make him feel unique:
This supplement knows how to help players and DMs discover the fun. This Plane Shift really gets where D&D and Magic collide–and especially since it’s free, you should check it out. Right now. What are you waiting for?
“Four mighty peoples face off in a desperate search for a legendary city of gold, hidden deep in the heart of Ixalan. Will you join the vampires of the Legion of Dusk in their march of conquest? Will you stand with the folk of the Sun Empire—and the dinosaurs that serve them—in defending their lands and heritage? Will you join the cunning merfolk of the River Heralds to trick and misdirect the invaders within the great forests? Or will you sail the Stormwreck Sea with the pirates of the Brazen Coalition, seeking plunder and power?
If The Art of Magic: The Gathering—Ixalan sparked your taste for adventure, you can experience it in these pages. Let author James Wyatt be your guide to the lost cities, dense forests, high seas, and ancient ruins of this world, as you bring Ixalan to life at your Dungeons & Dragons gaming table. New races, new monsters, and tons of roleplaying advice await inside this treasure chest of rules and lore.”