GMs: Take A Walk On The Dark Side of Dawn Command’s Dread

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The heroes of Phoenix: Dawn Command feel like the legends of yore. They have unbelievable powers. They have powerful motivations. Death is not the end, but the beginning of another chance to save the world. What could possibly stand in the way of a Phoenix? The answer is The Dread. This is the more common name of the forces that serve Omen, a Phoenix whose drive for power pushed him into forbidden magic and the Hektarch, a powerful magic weapon that seeks to consume all magic until there is no more. The Dread, despite its name, is not a monolithic entity. We look at some of your favorite challenges that Marshalls can use on their players in this article.

The Bones

Many fantasy worlds feature an unconquered army of the dead. The Bones are a classic riff in the archetype that do plenty of creepy things like march in silence. What makes them unique is that they are connected to the dreams of their fallen commander. Spirits of vengeance are one thing, but nearly every leader of a war that died would jump at the chance to try and win again.

The Phoenix are the only ones that can put down the Bones by acquiring Ghostlight. This energy gives the Phoenix insight on how to kill the commander. The closer they can come to repeating the details of the first death, the more damage they can do to the leader.

The Chant

Ever get a song stuck in your head? The Chant is a mystical song that combines the worst part of a catchy meme with a zombie virus.

It can be resisted by the Phoenix but not completely; they add an Affliction to their deck and start singing along when the card comes up. They can use their own magic to heal anyone caught up in the chant, but that won’t help on the massive scale needed to wipe out an outbreak of The Chant. For that, the infected must be taken away from the sphere of influence of the song. If a chanter can’t hear it, they slowly return to normal. The more permanent way to do it is by Anchor of The Chant that set it off, often a small shard of the original magic tablet upon which it was written. Of course, that Anchor is protected by everyone infected, so that will be easier said than sung.

The Curse Ewer


The Phoenix are created to protect the people of the Daylit World. Some mortals took that desire to protect into their own hands through an ancient style of blood magic called The Curse Ewer. The Curse Ewer absorbs black magic into their own body and soul to protect their village and pass these curses on to an apprentice to keep the darkness at bay. If they die before training an apprentice, the magic takes over and turns the Ewer into a leaking nexus of black magic.

A Phoenix confronted with one of these members of the Dread might fight them carefully, because whenever the Ewer is hurt, it curses somebody, either an innocent mortal or the Phoenix. The Phoenix can must make a terrible choice to completely defeat a Curse Ewer; teach a mortal how to absorb the magic and potentially become one, or take the black magic back to the Crucible upon death and be reborn with a powerful curse on their remaining lives.

Marshalls: don’t worry about your players reading this article. The Phoenix: Dawn Command boxed set comes with plenty of advice and suggestions on how to customize and modify your game to keep these and the other challenges of The Dread fresh. Next week, we’ll look at some of the clever card-based RPGs that inspired this game’s design.

Have you played a game for charity? Share your tips with tackling this challenge in the comments! And be sure to tune into Starter Kit to learn to get into Phoenix Dawn Command yourself – you can catch the show exclusively on with a free 60-day trial using the code “Phoenix”.

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Images Credits: Twogether Press

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional  Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is  here. You can watch him livestream RPGs  here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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