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Tenets of D&D Settings

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The worlds of the grand DUNGEONS & DUNGEONS multiverse are vast and diverse. One might be spherical in shape, cursed by an apocalyptic deity, and barely populated on the surface. Another could be rife with powerful wizards, gods that walk upon the physical world, and a world-spanning conflict between good and evil. Your setting might be small, contained to a single continent where orcs manipulating blood magic preside over a tired population of humans, dwarves, and elves who can’t decipher what magic is or how to use it. On the other end of the spectrum, my world could entail an enormous continent with hundreds of islands that surround it, on which magic is prominent, the old gods are dead, and monsters lurk in every forest, valley, and river.

These core pillars of your D&D setting are something I call “tenets,” and today we will be establishing the tenets of our D&D settings together.

But before we do, there’s something rather titanic I’d like to briefly discuss: Tomorro…

New Horizons and Powerful Weather

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Happy 2019, folks! 2018 was a fantastic, arduous year for me: I started a blog (this one), married my middle-school sweetheart and love of my life, moved out of my parent’s home, obtained a job writing for my local government, survived two semesters of college, and dungeon mastered three DUNGEONS & DRAGONS campaigns. And so, the new year begins; I’m looking forward to all the good and bad that comes with another year in this world.

As for this blog, RJD20, weekly content will be starting up again beginning today with a Legendary Lessons article. In addition to Legendary Lessons, Musing Over Monsters will be returning and a new series, The Worldforge, will be debuting next week. Therefore, I’ll be hitting all the bases: Player and Dungeon Master tips with Legendary Lessons, classic monster discussion and ideas with Musing Over Monsters, and building a concrete but everchanging fantasy world with The Worldforge. I’ve almost been writing on this blog for a year, and I dearly thank a…

Can't Play? Build.

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Nearly everyone who plays Dungeons and Dragons knows the following truth: The toughest monster to overcome isn’t a rampaging tarrasque, a maniacal pit fiend outfitted with an Unholy Avenger, or a dark and powerful god raising armies of orcs, minotaurs, and more to his service; it’s finding the time to play Dungeons and Dragons.

This is a well-documented phenomenon, from the hundreds of Reddit posts, wishing “I could actually play this amazing character I rolled up/drew/wrote about,” to the grumbling text and Facebook messages between players in my own groups. Especially with the holidays drawing near, those of us who work, go to school, and make time for family lose out on dungeoneering for a few weeks time.

Luckily, there are many ways to appease your inner adventurer during your brief (or long) hiatus from the game you love.
Build Anything Playing Dungeons and Dragons is merely a single facet of the hobby. During intermediary periods, the single greatest activity you can do is buil…

Villains: The Conqueror, The Maniac, and The Corrupted

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Artwork is a fountain of inspiration for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS players and dungeon masters. Countless quests, scenarios, and characters can be spawned from art, just as countless stories can be spawned by our said and written words; this article will showcase the former. On the Internet, one of the most valuable resources of D&D players, I’ve found three pieces of villain art. A desert-dwelling human, a crazed lizardfolk warrior, and a minotaur corrupted by earthen elements. Read on to see how each picture transformed from art to words.
The Conqueror “Most humans are weak. They need someone to command them, to coerce them, to make them do what is right and necessary. I am that man; and no one shall tell me otherwise. To do so is death.”
This is a human man who grew up in the desert of Enoach, among elemental creatures like genasi and salamanders. He was shaped by the maelstrom of war and combat that came with these elemental creatures and the sheer domination they imposed upon hum…

Clearly Portraying NPCs

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It’s Friday night. Into the ancient gnomish outpost (now ruled by a maniacal beholder) the Iskryn group delves, knowing of the brutal ice trolls and sentient soulforged that wait below. Before they are able to descend, a group of the beholder’s minions attacks their fortified resting location, oh no! Alas, they are barely able to fend them off before another squad arrives, led by a distinct soulforged armed with a glowing greatbow and two frosty scimitars. “He’s watched you long enough - Aku, Dani, and Cloud in the Eyes. From afar, he’s witnessed your glorious victories and embarrassing defeats. Now, as you assault one of his lairs, he seeks to speak. You’ll likely want to accept.” The players immediately look to me, asking, “Does he seem sincere? How many soulforged are in his control? Is anyone else coming?” My voice, speaking style, and demeanor all change as I transform from Tamus the soulforged captain to RJ, the dungeon master and deity of this campaign. “First,” I say, “Yes, ye…

No One Is Omniscient

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It’s Friday night.The Iskryn group has spent the past eight sessions on the hunt for a gnomish artifact, device, prison, or person. Every step of the way, the people they’ve met and discussed this ancient gnomish thing with have had conflicting viewpoints on what it is. Gitro, a human researcher from a powerful mage tower claimed it was a relic of the gnome’s first days in Iskryn. Magus Sint, a halfling archmage and warlock was sure it was an entire prison, trapping the souls of long-dead beasts. And Voros, a red dragonborn knowledge-savant, thought this sought after gnomish thing was an actual gnome that’s somehow survived millennia after his race’s apparent extinction. Slowly, they’re delving deeper into the mystery of this gnomish thing, learning of its deadly history and purpose. Still, though, they’re unsure who to trust.

I have my players in a pickle; who do they trust, and how do they determine if what that character thinks is the truth is the actual truth. Well, as the dungeon…

Group Size, Enjoyment, and D&D

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Different dungeon masters have different tolerances. Some can handle ten, fifteen, or even twenty players at a time; others have a maximum of two or three players. Recently, I discovered what my limit was, and had to take a few unfortunate measures to remedy the problem. ‘Twas necessary. Since performing this surgery on one of my Dungeons and Dragons groups, my enjoyment of that particular campaign has gone up immensely. I no longer dread playing with that group, thinking, "I am the one solely responsible for keeping each and every one of my players entertained for four to six hours." Now, I can focus on making each player feel special, among other things.

Regardless of my limits, from my personal experience and conversations with others, there’s a couple of boons from playing with large groups. But truly, small groups reign supreme. This week, we’re exploring group size and how it affects our enjoyment of D&D.

By the end of today’s article, I hope you walk away with a …

Building and Preparing

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Dungeons and Dragons can be a full-time hobby. Sure, most of us spend the majority of our time playing the game with our friends and acquaintances, building the story, world, and characters in real-time, but there are others who arrived at this amazing pastime for a different reason. They didn’t pick-up D&D to simply prepare and play; they started playing D&D because they sought to create a world. I’m one of those folks.

Alas, I’ve learned that those two aspects of dungeon mastering correlate greatly. Building a world helps you prep for a D&D campaign and preparing for D&D helps you build a world. How, exactly? Well, in a few hundred words, you’re going to completely understand why.
Having a Foundation Most dungeon masters, at the very least, have a vague understanding of the world they’re playing in. If you’re exploring a premade setting like the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, or Dark Sun, you have plenty of material to build upon this understanding. However, when you’re…