When Last We Left Our Heroes

Published on 27 November 2023

Velkommen! I'm Jon de Nor and this is Goblin Points - a podcast covering MCDM, the MCDM community, and whatever else MCDM related.

In this first proper outing of the podcast, I thought it'd be a good idea to sum up where MCDM is at the moment, and where it started. So strap in for a quick history of everything, MCDM. I guess.


Running the Game - February 2016

Staring with February 2016. Matt Colville uploads the first videos of Running the Game, his video series on tips on how to become, and become a better, game master. The aim of the series is to convince more people to run their own games, to make people go from wanting to play in a game, to wanting to run a game.

The videos show that running D&D, or any tabletop RPG, is not as scary as one might think, not only that - it's easy! Matt has said, that after that first handful of videos, you've basically learned everything you need to know to get started. The following 100+ videos are just lessons Matt's learned during his many years DM-ing. By watching those, you'll learn from his mistakes and become a better game master faster.

Stronghold & Followers - February 2018

Two years later, in February 2018, Matt launches the crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter that really sets things in motion. The Strongholds & Followers campaign goes gangbusters! It overfunds multiple times over and ends up being one of the biggest campaigns on Kickstarter of all time.

Strongholds & Followers introduces rules for building strongholds. Strongholds let the characters spend gold on building a headquarter which grants them different benefits based on their class, and the type of stronghold they build. It also introduced rules for recruiting followers like combat forces, workers for your stronghold, ambassadors to other factions and other allies.

In addition to the book, the campaign also funds the plans to lease a location to stream Matt's next campaign. Having already experimented with streaming his previous campaign, Matt really want the next campaign to be planned with streaming in mind, and he wants to do it right. Do it properly. Professionally.

It's from the amount of work that went into this first crowdfunding campaign, that MCDM emerges. Producing, printing and shipping the book; setting up for a professional level stream; and fulfilling the stretch goals of the campaign, which included minis, something he'd never done before, is too much to handle as a side gig. MCDM becomes Matt's full time job.

The Chain - February 2019

In February of 2019 the first episode of The Chain is streamed. On a beautiful set, with a majestic table and a impressive camera and lighting rig, Matt and five friends sit down weekly, to further the adventures of The Chain of Acheron, a mercenary company with colorful members and centuries of history.

The setting was primarily Capital - The Greatest City In This Or Any Age. It's a huge, sprawling metropolis with multiple warrens controlled by powerful noble families and organizations. It's a city of power play, intrigue and sometimes outright battles. The Chain arrives in Capital severely beaten from their previous battle, come here to lick their wounds and rebuild their company. They quickly find themselves entangled in the politics of the city.

The streams went for 27 episodes after which, they decide to take a break from The Chain for a little while. The work of streaming every week was too taxing on the people involved and a break was in order. As of writing this, The Chain has sadly not returned, but hasn't been outright "canceled" either.

Kingdoms & Warfare - October 2019

But Strongholds & Followers were only the beginning. The second crowdfunding campaign kicks off in October 2019. Now it's time for Kingdoms & Warfare. While it doesn't reach the same numbers as the previous campaign, it's still a huge success. Overfunded multiple times over and all stretch goals unlocked. This meant a bunch of minis, a dedicated DM screen and more.

Kingdoms & Warfare introduces rules for running your stronghold. Your stronghold takes turns doing actions that are appropriate for a desmene to do: spy on other desmenes or mustering troops, for example. There are also other factions and leaders, with their own strongholds, you can defeat or ally with.

And once you've built a formidable force with troops of your own and from allies, you'll engage the Big Bad on the field of battle, in a game of warfare. A set of rules and whole minigame where you play strategically against an opponent.

But one thing no-one involved saw coming was COVID-19. What had started as a very successful campaign ended up being a fustercluck of a problem when it came to shipping the physical goods.

To make a long and painful story short Kingdoms & Warfare was delayed by paper shortages, then by a printing error, and then by shipping delays. On top of that shipping prices skyrocketed; we're talking double, triple prices compared to before the pandemic. The shipping cost had already been charged as part of the pledge and there was now a huge difference between the cost of shipping and the amount charged for shipping.

To their amazing credit, MCDM ended up covering the vast majority of that extra cost. Spending at least a literal million dollars covering the difference. All in all it took over a year from the release of the PDF, to the shipping of the final physical books.

Arcadia - January 2021

On to happier times. In January 2021 MCDM launches Arcadia, a magazine featuring adventures, items and additional rules for your D&D game. The magazine releases monthly for free to members of the MCDM Patreon, and can be bought in bulk from the MCDM shop.

Initially it was a three issue trial run, released in January, February and March, respectively. After this trial run the magazine had a one month hiatus to get the production pipeline going, and after that it was released monthly, without fail, for it's entire run.

Arcadia ended with it's 30th issue in July 2023. At this point MCDM had started to shift their focus to the development of their new RPG, and would not devote any more resources to developing content for D&D 5E.

The Illrigger - April 2021

During Arcadia's one month hiatus in April 2021, MCDM released The Illrigger, a completely new, custom class for D&D 5E. The Illrigger was released for free to members of the Patreon, and it can be bought in the MCDM shop.

The Illrigger is based on the custom class made by Matt and Anna, for Anna to play in The Chain campaign. The Illrigger is a hell knight, and might remind you of a paladin at first glance, but reading the class you'll quickly understand that Illriggers are, as Matt has said, "a dark reflection of a paladin".

Illriggers can place seals on their enemies to make the enemy interdicted. When the Illrigger attacks the interdicted enemy, they can consume the seal to do extra damage. They are also masters of deceit and deception and excel at manipulating other for their own means.

The Beastheart - December 2021

Decemeber 2021 saw the launch of MCDM's second custom class for D&D fifth edition: The Beasthart. This was also released for free to members of the Patreon, and is also available in the MCDM shop.

The Beastheart delivers on the fantasy of having a pet, fighting alongside you in combat. The PDF includes rules for how to make pet version of basically any monster, and rules for how to bring that pet into combat. These rules are not specific to the beastheart, but can be used by any class. Now anyone could have a displacer beast as their companion.

The Beatheart themselves, though, they have a special link with their pet. While pets can aid their owner in combat, a beastheart and their pet work together as a deadly duo, unmatched by others.

Flee Mortals! - April 2022

In April of 2022 the crowdfunding for Flee Mortals - The MCDM Monster Book started. The aim of Flee Mortals is to give dungeon masters monsters that are more fun to run.

The monster book reimagines a lot of the monster you find the in 5E Monster Manual, but with more personality, simpler stat blocks, and abilities that better reflect the nature of the monster. The stat blocks and action design is based on the Action Oriented Monsters concept that Matt outlined in a video in the Running the Game series.

Lot's of the monsters have multiple stat blocks where each stat block have different roles in combat. You've goblin stat blocks for high DPS goblins, artillery goblins, spellcasting goblins, crowd control goblins and assassin goblins. In addition the book includes enemy parties, with special abilities; and rules for retainers, a follower that tags along with the party.

Where Evil Lives - August 2023

In August 2023, right after the release of Flee Mortals, the crowdfunding campaign for the physical release of Where Evil Lives went live. The campaign only ran for two weeks and was for physical copies of the book only. The book itself was funded through a stretch goal in the Flee Mortals crowdfunding campaign, and was provided as a free PDF to backers of Flee Mortals.

Where Evil Lives is a collection of lairs where evil enemies and their lackeys preside. The book has complete maps and complete monster stat blocks for 22 lairs, appropriate for levels 2-20. The book is fully self-contained and does not require the purchase of Flee Mortals or the Monster Manual.

The Now

And that's were we are right now. MCDM is nearly done with all their D&D products and their main focus is on their own RPG.

The RPG was officially announced in January of 2023, following a major blunder by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast. They tried to change the license used by creators to publish D&D content. Under the suggested license, companies like MCDM would not be able to operate.

For years, Matt had talked about creating and designing his own RPG with a ruleset not beholden to 50 years of traditions. What had up until January 2023 been on the backburner, immediately jumped to the front burner. If there ever was a sign to start development for real, this must be it.

Sign off

You're now more than sufficiently caught up with the history of MCDM. From here we'll look at present.

Until next time. Snakkes.