Wizards of the Coast made its fortune popularizing the defining collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. After its 1997 purchase of TSR, the owner of the beloved Dungeons & Dragons, it was only a matter of time before we saw a D&D setting for Magic. Though it’s taken a few decades, that time has come. As a follow up to releasing a fantastic book of artwork for its Zendikar setting, Wizards has gone ahead and done the totally obvious next step and made 5th edition compatible rules for adventuring there, which you can pick up here.
While it’s not a full-blown boxed-set with a line of splat books and its own Monster Manual, this free, 38 page PDF does showcase the versatility of the system. Also it has all that amazing Magic art to back those rules up. Let’s paw through this thing and go over what looks cool. Who knows, we might even find a few useful bits for our homebrew settings in there.
This PDF covers gaming in Zendikar, which is a very particular world in the larger multiverse that Magic is set within. Zendikar is a constantly evolving landscape; a world containing ancient ruins worth exploring, but tortured by the powerful beings imprisoned within it. It’s a place largely inhabited to be exploited by explorers and their employers, bent of scavenging the world for artifacts. In other words, it’s a D&D party’s dream vacation destination. The PDF goes over the basics of the world before delving into some detail on the types and locations of the various ruins. It’s a good starting place for a DM getting ready to deploy this campaign setting.
The setting book moves on to races, including a bit on Humans before getting to the new stuff. It’s got rules for the brave and noble Kor; stats for Merfolk including those of Water, Wind, and Cosi creed; some really interesting mechanics for Vampires; three dramatically different tribes of Goblins; and three fascinating nations of Elves. It’s impressive how well the subraces work more as cultural distinctions than as physically distinct variations as we see in the D&D corebook.
Now this is where the conversion really shines. What does Magic have to offer D&D? A unique take on monsters. It provides stats for:
Archon of Redemption. An example of Magic‘s white mana take on Archons, largely just built for battle.
Felidar. Ten foot tall tigers with magical teleporting and regeneration.
Kraken. A version of the sea creature closer to a tentacled take on Storm Giants than those Krakens presented in the Monster Manual.
Beyond just those stats, the little supplement provides pages and pages of beautiful artwork and details on the interesting ways in which more familiar monsters play out within Zendikar, including physical changes, as well as important affiliations and motivations. The PDF goes from detailing the more simplistic Red Dragons of the setting, to enumerating the myriad kinds of beasts one might find there. It spends quite a bit of time going over the various permutations of the Eldrazi, which are the ultimate plot-driving force of evil in the setting. Here’s one to give you nightmares:
Overall, the little supplement seems to do the job, giving you what you need to run a fun campaign in the setting, particularly if you’re already a Magic: The Gathering player. It might have been nice to see a bit in the way of actual magic in the book. For the most part this is more of a conversion guide than a real expansion of the D&D rules. Still, it’s a great PDF and food for thought on ways to convert nearly any fantasy setting into the system.
Take a look at the book and tell us what you think in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast