Setting Review: Arkadia (Arcana Games): 4 Stars
In the pages that follow we have endeavoured to create something entirely new: a world informed by the histories and myths of ancient Greece in the context of traditional tabletop roleplaying. It is our hope that many years from now, when a player with their dice, and paper, and dreams of bronze and ruined columns asks how best to play a Greek adventure — the answer will be Arkadia.
Arkadia is the Greece-inspired, psuedo-historical setting for 5e released by Arcana Games. While the setting has gotten some significant criticism for being “sparse” in it’s content, by and large it seems to provide almost everything needed to run the game. With excellent player options and a modest sized bestiary, Arcana delivers on their promise of providing an engaging and vibrant setting. Without the need of new rules sets (albeit with one vital missing piece) that would be needed for something like a Sci-Fi setting, Arkadia should be easy to plug into just about any table, as long as you’re willing to do some of your own world building.
Races. While keeping all the core mechanics of the races, Arkadia updates their lore, names, and behavior to fit the setting thematically. This lends the reader a sense of familiarity with the content, but may leave some people wondering why they don’t just use the Player’s Handbook. There are some additional subraces, like the Volcano Dwarf and more varieties of elves. Additionally, there are new races like the Phaedran, which are excellent in their mechanical, narrative, and thematic elements. I loved reading through both the new and old races, and as the first major thing presented in the book, it paints a wonderfully vibrant picture of how the setting is unique and distinct.
Archetypes. Each class also has a new archetype that is mechanically and thematically tailored to the setting. Many of these archetypes I’ve seen attempted in homebrew products (hoplite, gladiator), but never to the degree of success with which Arkadia has created them. There are a lot of really cool archetypes to choose from–the Path of the Hero, who inspires his allies through herculean feats, and the Circle of Beasts, who can Wildshape her allies are both really cool. However, my favorite has to be the Hoplite fighter, a tactically-minded, distance-closer that is excellent at buffing allies as well. While I’d love to see at least one additional archetype for each class to give players more options, the ones provided are excellent.
Feats. The product comes with roughly a dozen of each general and racial feats. For the most part they cover everything you’d want in feats and are balanced. My one complaint is that some of them are a bit “wordy” in their descriptions.
Magic Items. The setting comes with 30 unique magic items ranging from common to rare. I’d love to see more very rare and legendary magic items (there may be a “low magic” reason for not including them), but the ones that are present give a nice variety between potions, weapons, armor, and wondrous items.
Monsters. In what is probably the most iconic and easily recognizable aspect of the setting, Arkadia delivers a admirable attempt at an all-encompassing bestiary. With different age groups for the hydra, and unique spins on everything from the kraken to orcs to mummies, the product delivers a wide and immersive variety of creatures to throw at characters and build a world filled with many different dangers. Could there be more? Of course, but this is an excellent start.
Ships. There is a small section about ships, a thematically appropriate and potentially exciting to include in campaigns. The mechanics for the ships themselves are relatively simplistic and would be easy to use if there were actually mechanics about how to actually use the ships. But while weapons are provided, there’s no indication of the rules a DM would need to actually use the ships outside of repairing them. Who control’s the ship? Do players on the ship still take turns individually? Are there any sort of different actions you can take while in ship combat? Maybe you can use Saltmarsh rules, but that should at least be referenced in the rule set.
Lore. Arkadia takes place at a time when the god’s are less involved in the affairs of mortals and the heroic acts of mankind are the topic of legend. Even so, I’d like to see more than 8 gods with a small paragraph of history each. The map is pretty good, though some people may want a bit more details. The details of the different cultures are sufficient. The Titans section is good. There could be more lore, especially for people who don’t want to fill in the details themselves, but from a different perspective, the minimalist lore allows the DM to add their own touch to the world.
Overall, Arkadia is a well-done and immersive setting grecophiles will love and others should enjoy provided they aren’t attached to a historical rendering of Greece. Nearly all of the player options are well done and I am really excited to use them in campaigns, even if not within the setting. While some rules are missing and the lore is minimalist, most Dungeon Master’s shouldn’t have trouble easily running a campaign using the setting, especially after purchasing their other products. I am giving it 4 Stars! Pick it up by clicking on the picture below: