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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…

Sources of Inspiration

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It’s Thursday night. My surroundings are serene: A lovely lamp emits a faint glow over my paper and pencil, calming, old music plays in the background, and my kitten, Kaya, sleeps beside me, feet in the air, eyes heavy and closed. I’ve sat down to build my world, Aelonis, an ancient landscape rooted in magic, rife with wilderness, and teeming with adventure in dungeon, urban, and rural environs. However, my mind is aching after an arduous day of work; I need a source of inspiration, a helpful key to unlock the thoughts deep within my mind. Luckily for me, inspiration is found everywhere.
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Where do we get inspiration for our Dungeons and Dragons games, campaigns, and worlds? The answer is obvious: Everywhere.

This week, we’ll be discussing the best places to gain inspiration for D&D. Of the myriad of places where we can find it, we’ll take a gander at the top three: D&D sourcebooks, works of art, and our world’s history.

Let’s roll.
Ideas From D&D Sourcebooks If …

All About Monstrous Player Characters

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It’s Saturday night. The players of my Yatar group have gathered around the table, prepared to face the wilds of Zaza Isle: Poisonous plants, cruel creatures, and an insane grung tribe. However, there’s a new face at the table, my friend, Anthony, and he won’t be portraying a normal player character. We’ve planned something special. As everyone settles (for the second time), I recap last session’s events, reminding them of their unpleasant airship crash, dead crewmates, and grung enemies. The party ended the last session in their makeshift camp, constructed between enormous, steady trees and smoldering airship wreckage. As we begin, their characters converse about the next course of action: They need to assault the grung village and recover what remains of their crew. The plan starts to take shape, but then, from the thicket surrounding them, they are attacked by grung! Venomous, wooden arrows fly, red-skinned spear wielding tree-frogfolk charge in, and a burly grung riding a bulbous,…

Acute Adventures: Down the Wishing Well

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Townsfolk who wander near Westport’s wishing well have been experiencing strange occurrences: Feverish dreams, rampant sleepwalking, and more. A wizard of Westport suspects the worst, and calls out for adventurers to delve into the wishing well to discover the source of this peculiarity.

New adventure today, folks. It's based on last week's article all about aboleths.
It involves a crazy halfling wizard, scaling a deep well, and fighting an immature and vengeful aboleth. 
Here's the link to the .pdf of Down the Wishing Well, if you'd like to read/print it.
Enjoy!
Down the Wishing WellTownsfolk who wander near Westport’s wishing well have been experiencing strange occurrences: Feverish dreams, rampant sleepwalking, and more. A wizard of Westport suspects the worst, and calls out for adventurers to delve into the wishing well to discover the source of this peculiarity.
NPCsTalon Windrite: An eccentric halfling wizardTraechnaa-vu: A relatively young but blind aboleth. She…