Review: D&D5e 3rd Party Content Compatibility

Over the years there have been a few uses of D&D5e SRD to generate some great products, adapt beloved worlds and lore, and sometimes to try and get the money from fandoms.

What follows are a few of the products I have read that are commercially available.

Adventures in Middle-Earth (2016) by Cubicle 7

The first variant version of 5e uses the DnD5e SRD. Cultures replace Races. Of 11 cultures, 8 of them are human. You gain Virtues, like half-feats, that you choose from ‘open virtues’ and cultural lists to add to characters.

There are no spell-casting classes, only six(6) martial and expert classes.

Key Concepts: Middle-Earth lore, exploration, characterization in the world.

Core Compatability: Having only read the book and never created a character I believe characters would be balanced, but perhaps a bit underpowered with the lack of spellcasting.

Impression: Great if you’re a Middle-Earth fan, but outside that realm it’s got some nice ideas that have never been used by myself or anyone I know.

Ultramodern5 (2016) by Dias Ex Machina

Ultramodern5 Redux (2020) by Dias Ex Machina

U5 is one of the more unique and versatile systems using a ladder system to allow players to customize their character – all characters are “human” but with a plethora of “genetic” benefits and shortcomings, from skills, night eyes, poison resistance, and others that just the start of being able to customize your character. For a Background you can role or choose a Lifepath. Then you choose one(1) of seven(7) Ladders; one(1) of the ten(10) classes; and one(1) of twentyfive(25) Archetypes.

Yes, truly a very versatile system that’s not overly complex so it’s not hard to understand.

The DM decides the tech level of the game, which allows for several various choices for equipment and situations: (a) Gun-slingers, pirates, and samurai on a train in the 1900s. (b) rival gangs, police, and detectives in car chases in the early 2000s. (c) mech battles on the hulls of space stations as battleships fight over resources in a distant solar system.

Unlike other modern fantasy, there are no spellcasting classes. Ultramodern5 Redux (2020) does have non-Vancian magic using natural sources of energy, psionics, and technology.

Key Concepts: Character customization, modern world-building, Advanced Technology

Core Compatability: Using Dnd5e as the core system, U5 expands on firearms and adds technology. In a mixed game, a U5 character would be balanced with a standard character made using the PHB.

Impression: I enjoy U5 and have played a U5 character within a standard D&D5e game. I made the character with a very specific theme (gun dancer) and found it worked well, but was underpowered compared to a ranger with a longbow and sharpshooter feat. The biggest issue was synergy with the other party members.

[Ultramodern5-SRD/OGL (5th Edition)]( )

Anime 5e (August 2021) by Dyskami Publishing

Anime powers with D&D! I was looking forward to something great, having been in love of U5 and seen some concepts from other people I was looking forward to this. It breaks down power concepts into points – not powers, the concepts. There’s a lot but because of the very loose concepts on powers and how they work, every character is in a conversation with the DM on how things will work at the DM’s table.

Key Concepts: Complex character creation, lose character structure

Core Compatability: They spent time breaking down core races and classes into the point system used in this book, but it’s not compatible.

Impression: This isn’t the system for me. It’s far to lose for my tastes, if I wanted a loose system, I’d happily play Fate.

I had U5 for a while and loved it, and was reading content being generated for Level Up 5e so I was just disappointed.

[Anime 5E: System Reference Document (SRD)]( )

Level Up Advanced 5th Edition (2021) by EN Publishing

A5e is a slightly more crunchy version of DnD5e that many people were waiting for, and it delivered. Heritage, Culture, Background, and Destiny replaced Core Race and Background; Changes to classes (including name changes) added more variety and versatility mainly through Combat Maneuvers available to warriors; and expanded rules, including Conditions.

Key Concepts: Core variety with additional rules on core D&D5e.

Core Compatability: A5e is compatible with 5E if Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is compatible with 5E. Changes to races, classes, etc. but at its core it’s compatible.

Impression: I like what A5e does, and I’m happy that it’s compatible. The one thing I was looking forward to, and then was disappointed in, was that they built a game system within my preferred VTT, FoundryVTT. But instead of a module that added onto the FoundryVTT DnD5e system, they made an entirely new game system – which meant any module, adventure, or world created is not compatible with the Level Up 5e System – and that made me abandon it.

The LevelUp monsters are great. They’re better balanced and add the punch that mid to high-level parties (using Core or LevelUp) need.

[Level Up System Reference Documents]( )

Adventures in Rokugan (March 2022) by Edge Studio

Edge Studio took the RPG Legend of the Five Rings and made Adventures in Rokugan (AiR). Changing the system completely changed the concept of the RPG. There are all new Species, Classes, and Backgrounds. Backgrounds are based on what clan the character is a part of, which is a major part of everybody’s identity in the world of Rokugan.

Key Concepts: World immersion, character options, versatility

Core Compatability: Core compatible, if a little weak at levels 1-3. Marials don’t have the same damage output Core materials have from turn 1, it takes a few rounds for their abilities to charge up and start synergizing.

Impression: I love Martial Techniques and Combat Stances, they add something to martial classes that Combat Maneuvers just didn’t fill. I do not like the Dueling rules – I find them overly complex and is a key feature failure of the Duelist class and the Danger Dice system is just a complex variation on Sneak Attack Dice.

Superheroic Roleplaying for 5th Edition (2022) by Sigil Entertainment

S5e character creation is fairly straightforward, Ancestry & Culture, unique classes to create superheroes, technology, new feats, and modern to futuristic equipment. Characters start with double their HP, and as they gain powers, some powers go from using a few times a day to infinite usage at higher levels. Powers as organized like spells – by level, but character classes can get infinite first-level spells by level 3. Imagine infinite Fireballs from PCs by level 11.

Key Concepts: Modern, superpowers, superheroes

Core Compatability: Because the characters are superheroes and the system is designed to make them powerful, any S5e character will be overpowered compared to Core DnD.

Impression: Easy to understand and flexible character creation, powerful abilities. I’m looking forward to finding a group to play this with.

[S5E: Superheroic Roleplaying for 5th Edition]( )

Arcanis 5e Runic Edition (2022) by Paradigm Concepts

The World of Arcanis has been around for some time. I had heard about it but know less about it than Kobold Press’ World of Midgard. There are a few races, backgrounds, changes to Core classes, and new classes; Clerics’ Divine Aspects (Divine Domain) gain Tenets of Faith, something I think has been missing from Clerics for some time. The main new class I’m excited about is the Psion and Psionic Powers.

Key Concepts: Character Options, World building, Psionics

Core Compatability: Highly compatible. Everything seems balanced, no game-breaking powers on the read I’ve taken.

Impression: I’m excited to see Psionics and a Psionic class that feels like Psionics, and not just a variation on a spellcaster. I hope that they take content from this book and create an SRD.


Playing online I find it difficult to get players interested in other 3rd party systems as they commonly don’t have access to the books, have time to read about them, and a list of other reasons. Online tends to be Core D&D5e for PCs.

For in-person games, the DM can let players know what’s happening and show up with pre-generated characters.

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