Full disclosure: I was paid to write a Scroll-io review for both the website and Kickstarter. All views and opinions are my own.
It’s game night: The party just mopped the floor with a gang of orcs like it was nothing, and that was meant to be the tough warmup to the boss fight. Tordek the fighter brags that he’s fought every monster from Chult to Icewind Dale, and you need a unique monster that’ll surprise him and the party. Enter Scroll-io, a D&D 5e homebrew website that features a slew of monsters, magic items, and spells with the tools to find the right element when you need it most.
I love finding homebrew content for D&D. Seeing what kind of creative monsters, magic items, and spells people come up with fills me with joy (and sometimes dread, in case my DM decides to use the monsters on us). I’ve got a few dedicated pages I like to trawl, but the quality can be “hit-or-miss” at times. The art might be good, but the stats seem a little undercooked, or I have to sort through hundreds of Tumblr pages to find what I’m looking for. However, I recently discovered Scroll-io which features a small yet high-quality selection of monsters, magic items, and spells that rivals other better-known websites. Let’s take a look at this up-and-coming platform with our Scroll-io review.
Scroll-io goes the distance to allow users to sort through the catalog and find the items they need effortlessly. Questing DMs can sort by the usual parameters like CR, size, type, rarity, etc., but they’ve also included a few extra options like “highest stats” for monsters and “Attune by” for magic items. Too often I’ve spent hours navigating blocks of pages to find the right monster, but Scroll-io’s simple search layout cuts down on this time significantly.
Every entry gets its own easy-to-read pop-down stat block, while monsters and magic items get high-quality illustrations. In addition to all this, Scroll-io also includes creature habits that help DMs find the right way to introduce these beasts into a game. Creatures like the Owlrex get a detail section that describes their motives but also their behaviors in combat. Having easily-accessible motivations for creatures means seamless insertions that can turn spontaneous encounters into longer campaigns. One aspect that I missed at first is that once you click on a creature, you need to click on a tab that says “Info” in order to see the illustration and to learn more about it beyond its stat blocks. Once you open that tab, however, you’re greeted by gorgeous renderings of these fantastical creatures and inspiration for how to add it into your campaign.
Another feature I was very taken by is the fact that every monster has a built-in auto-roller for their stats and attacks. What does this mean? Let’s take a look at the Owlrex’s beak attack:
You’ll see that the “+11” and the “(4d10 +7)” are underlined. When you click on those numbers, an automatic dice roller pops up on the screen. DMs can simply click on a stat or attack and generate a dice roll that includes proficiencies and bonuses. This auto-roller also works for the creatures’ Hit points and stats as well.
I also appreciate the ability to auto-roll random hit die for the monsters. This helps take the strain out of randomizing health and adds an element of surprise to encounters with multiple of the same monster. Plus, the auto-roller has a nice little die roll animation that sells it for me.
So how does the Kickstarter work?
If you were to look at Scroll-io right now, what you’ll see is just a small slice of the homebrew iceberg. The Cobbler Barrel just launched a Kickstarter intended to drastically increase the amount of content available. The best part about the campaign is that once it’s successfully funded, all of the new monsters, magic items, and spells will be free to all! The main reward for backers is the opportunity to vote upon which content is released first. Voting blocks are set into three categories: Monsters, Items, and website features. One pledge of $5 earns a backer one vote for each of the three categories, while higher tiers increase the number of votes you can use.
Each monster category is themed by monster type, like the “Devastating Dread Knights”, which features a slew of undead opponents, while Magic item categories lean towards their utility, like consumables or fittings. The last category, website features, will allow backers to choose the release priority order. In other words, what should they focus on first: new classes, subclasses, adventures, or maps?
Say you’ve got a great idea for a homebrew monster or spell, and want to help out a burgeoning creator. At higher backer levels, patrons get the opportunity to have their homebrew concept immortalized on the site. The best part is that the price to do this is only $30! I’ve seen other Kickstarter campaigns offer similar rewards at a higher cost, so if you’re a fan of homebrew content, this is a great, low-cost way to enable an artist to create it and share it with the world.
There is one small drawback to the campaign for those of you who prefer more tangible rewards: the primary reward for backers is the chance to vote for a content group to appear on the website quicker. This means that regardless of voting results, everything on offer will go on the website eventually. There’s also the possibility that lesser-voted content blocks don’t see the light of day for quite some time, which may be a bit disheartening for the folks who vote for less popular blocks. This isn’t a major hurdle, but it is something worth considering. However, the competition could be pretty fun to watch if some groups try to rally more friends into voting for their desired features.
If you’re wondering where the funds will go post-campaign, the primary goal is to pay for site hosting fees as well as paying artists to illustrate the creatures and gear. The main creator Cobbler Barrel has stated that all of the written content is ready to go once the campaign finishes, so this is a labor of love for them. I’m impressed by the quality of art and content already up on the site, and I’m eager to see what they come up with next.
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