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Thread: Recommended 3PP

  1. #1
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    Default Recommended 3PP

    When I recruit for a 5e game, I typically provide the option to use 3rd party publications (3PP). Other DMs often offer similar options. Many times, only one or two people take me up on the opportunity. That's their prerogative, but I can't help but wonder if it's because they're not terribly familiar with what options are out there. Granted, many of the best options do cost money, which might mean that players simply don't have access to many 3PP, but not all of them cost, and most of them are worth it to use multiple times.

    I had originally thought to make a blog post to refer people in my recruitments to (and I may yet do that later), but figured I'd ask the community. What are some great resources for players to use when making characters? Things that provide new races, classes, archetypes, backgrounds, feats, and/or spells? What are some 3PP resources DMs might consider implementing for their game that would be simple and easy for players to add in but that add a fun element to the game?

    A caution to DMs (and players): I would recommend against letting a single player utilize more than 2 or 3 3PP sources at once. The more sources they use, the more likely that there will be some strange (read: broken/OP) mechanics interactions. Even WotC recognizes this and restricts Adventurer's League to PHB+1 other (official) book, though they have additional stated reasons behind this policy.

    I'll begin with some of my favorite options, though these are by no means all the ones I would allow. Please feel free to ask me about any of them. I am not necessarily 100% familiar with them to say for certain there's absolutely nothing about them that might need tweaking, but I generally trust these creators. Maybe I'll get around to posting links one day, but until then, Google is your friend.


    • Pretty much anything from Kobold Press
      • Deep Magic series (currently 14 issues strong), which provides new caster archetypes and spells, as well as feats
      • Heroes series (Midgard Heroes, Southlands Heroes, Unlikely Heroes), which provides new races and backgrounds
      • Beyond Damage Dice, which is a new set of mechanics DMs could implement for weapons, granting each weapon a few alternative uses
      • Midgard Heroes Handbook, which has some crossover from the Heroes and Deep Magic series (and the Beyond Damage Dice supplement), but has a ton of race, archetype, feat, background, and spell options
        • Some options assume the use of the Midgard setting, such as by granting setting-specific languages. You may need to revise these few small things.

    • The Arcanis Campaign Setting book, by Paradigm Concepts
      • There's a free Primer for this setting with a few racial and background options
      • The full book has a ton of racial options, as well as new classes and archetypes, feats, spells, and backgrounds
        • note that some of the standard classes have been slightly reworked in this book (most notably the cleric, barbarian, and monk), so consider requiring players to use the class as presented in this book if they're using one of the archetypes here
        • the book adds in many new languages, as well as a literacy system. You may need to make some slight modifications to the races and backgrounds in regard to language acquisition - the book has a sidebar about how to do this

    • Player's Companion, by M.T. Black, Jeremy Forbing, et al (on the DMs Guild)
      • Races, archetypes, feats, spells, backgrounds, and some new mundane equipment. Has some DM material as well

    • Sylgar's Guide to Everything Else (on the DMs Guild)
      • Archetypes, feats, spells, backgrounds, and some new mundane equipment - set up like Xanathar's Guide, with some DM material as well
      • has some prestige classes that I'm not sure I'd allow
      • has an alternate way to determine racial stats/abilities for the official races. I'd allow this.

    • Xanathar's Lost Notes to Everything Else (on the DMs Guild, part of their Adept program)
      • Archetypes, one race, and a few backgrounds, with some DM material as well

    • En5ider Magazine, from EN Publishing
      • Currently at almost 200 issues, each one typically 3-5 pages long and focusing on a particular theme. Many are for DMs, but there are also quite a few for players.
      • different issues have various races, classes, archetypes, spells, feats, and other options that all fit fairly seamlessly into a standard game
      • Several of the classes were refined and consolidated into one book, titled A Touch of Class.

    • Blood Hunter class, by Matt Mercer (on the DMs Guild)
      • has 3 archetypes in the base version, and one or two additional archetypes by Mercer as a separate produce, and several archetypes by others as their own products. I can't speak to the quality of archetypes made by others

    • Pretty much anything from Middle Finger of Vecna/Mage Hand Press
      • they've created quite a few classes and archetypes, as well as some races and other things. I mostly check them out for their classes - I like their warden, warmage, and witch a lot.

    • Elminster's Guide to Magic, by M.T. Black, Jeremy Forbing, et al
      • a ton of spells, as well as a few archetypes. Also has some magic items and other stuff for the DM
      • has a follow-up by the same creators, titled Elminster's Guide to Divination. Also good stuff


    What would you recommend?



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  2. #2

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    I'm a big fan of 3PP and homebrew material. Sometimes you can find some very interesting stuff in that environment. For instance, this is my favorite approach to Chronomancy that I've found. It's awesome. That link takes you to a subreddit for the best of homebrew 5e material. That's a great spot to look for homebrew and you can see how other people feel about it since each piece is commented on and graded.

    A few notes of encouragement for the DM, one of the easiest ways to make sure that 3PP or homebrew material doesn't wreck your game is to not allow multiclassing if someone is using an option outside of WotC materials. For instance, MFoV/Mage Hand Press often have very interesting designs, but they may tend towards the strong end of things. The Warden that Rellot mentions is a fine class on its own, but is hideously front loaded with features that make it unsuitable for multiclassing. Simply banning multiclassing for 3PP options will nip a lot of abuse in the bud. Think of it this way, you're allowing 3PP options so that a player can more easily play their envisioned character. If they still need to multiclass to make the character they want, then what was the point of the 3PP? Tell them to find an option that lets them play what they want out of the gate.

    The other bit of advice is to just ask your players to tell you what they are hoping to accomplish with it. Sometimes players like to try to sneak one past a DM or spring a combo in mid combat and force the DM to deal with it. That's not a great relationship to have with your DM. Ask your players what is attracting them to the option and what they want to do with it. If there is a particular ability that they are excited about, then you can spend more of your energy looking that over. The same thing goes with spells. You don't need to approve an entire book of spells. Tell your players that if there is a spell from another source that they want to use, to tell you about that and why they want it. Then, just look at that one spell.

    Don't be afraid to say no. As the DM, you need to be comfortable enough with the game to run it. If allowing other options is unsettling for you then don't bother with it. If you want to allow it, have a dialogue with your players. The idea that may be attracting them to a 3PP option may be broken in its implementation there, but you might be able to work with them to tweak it into a usable state for your game. And always (even with Core options) tell your players that you reserve the right to tweak things that disrupt the game later on.

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