Review: Strongholds and Followers

text reads review: strongholds and followers
Featured Photo Credit: MCDM

The other Variants here at Variant Ventures were kind enough to procure a copy of MCDM’s Strongholds and Followers rules supplement for Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition. Since getting my copy, I’ve poured through the pages several times to get inspiration for both my game and ideas to share with others. My current campaign is based on the adventure outlined in the book, the Siege of Castle Rend, modified to fit our home-brewed campaign world.

Let’s start with the main rules outlined for strongholds. A stronghold is anywhere the party, or an individual claims as their domain. While primarily intended for player characters to use, this can be adapted for NPCs, aligned, neutral, or opposed to the party. Your standard king in a castle can be a stronghold these rules apply to, but so can a thieves guild, or a pirate ship. Any stronghold takes money, time, and effort to maintain, but in return, the individual or party that controls it gets various boons based on the specific type of hold.

One of the best, in my opinion, benefits of the stronghold is the ability to recruit retainers, or followers as they are called in the rules. Followers can range from individuals with class-based abilities to aid the ruler of the stronghold, to artisans who give benefits to the hold itself, to units for mass combat, rules for which are included in the book, but are going to be built upon in MCDM’s upcoming Kingdoms and Warfare book. I personally love the rules for followers and retainers. It makes running extra NPCs for your party easy, and gives them the ability to stand with the party, supporting them while not outshining the player characters.Simplified rules allows you to focus on making interesting characters, and as my party used them, someone to go do the party’s busy work that would limit their adventuring time.

Strongholds and Followers also contains an adventure, the Siege of Castle Rend, which I am running for a party of four. While modified for my home game, it takes the party through a small town, and to a run down castle meant to serve as an eventual stronghold for a new party. This ruin contains many traps, secrets, and of course, enemies wishing to retain control of the castle themselves. The maps provided have helped myself and my party immensely while exploring Castle Rend.

Overall, I rate Strongholds and Followers very highly, especially for those TTRPG players who like building a place in the game world. It gives your table the option to run a well put together adventure, provide fun and exciting magic items and creatures, and most importantly lets you players leave their mark on the world with a place to call their own. Highly recommended, and cannot wait for more content from MCDM.

Have you read Stongholds and Followers? Do you have any experience keeping a stronghold in your TTRPG setting?

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