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The Tone, Change It!

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It’s Wednesday night. The intrepid adventurers of my Aphesus I group are in the middle of a forest delve. They’re caught between a web of conflict and intrigue between an arrogant human lord with a dragon-complex, a wood elf tribe near extinction, and the human lord’s lizardfolk allies. Thus far in the campaign, they’ve experienced victory after victory with small losses scattered throughout - they feel like they can conquer the world, eventually. The gods will be theirs one day, as these lizardfolk and Lord Ambriosa will be in a few days time. Well, from my viewpoint, their expectations were about to change.

As they near their destination in the forest, the smell of smoke sails on the light wind. They grow nearer, and they see smoke flowing in the air, coming from the village’s direction. They pick up the pace and their wood elf ally flies ahead on his pegasus. Wait awaits them? The wood elf tribe’s capital village, massacred. Bodies young and old are strewn about, huts torn down or …

Lizardfolk: Alien and Familiar

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The day was sultry, if it was daytime. For a long period of time, we’d been trudging through the dense Komodo Forest, searching for the Hidden Shrine of Timikta, yet there were no signs of the shrine of its reptilian caretakers. The normal signs of lizardfolk presence were gone: crude tools scattered about, crocodiles peering from the dirty water, and constant hissing. Had they disappeared since Pearl’s last visit? Did something chase them away? Or, possibly the scariest prospect, did they know we were coming? I didn’t understand lizardfolk; I’d never encountered one in the wild, I’d only heard tales and spoke with survivors about their markings. If I had done more research, I would have known then that my final prospect was true; and thusly saved the lives of Pearl, Corrin, and Jeremiah. I’ll never step into those accursed reptilians’ disguised trap again.

More dungeon masters (and players) should use and play lizardfolk. These scaly creatures are alien but familiar; most of the tim…

Building a Dungeon's Relevant History

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It’s Wednesday night. The Aphesus I group is about to sail south toward a cove filled with pearls - and the living dead. At the moment, that’s all they know about it because that’s what their patron, a minotaur captain named Harak, told them. However, as they delve deeper and deeper into the dungeon, they discover more. The undead they’re encountering are huge, 10 feet in size and sport odd, dark blue skin; runes dot the walls, unreadable by anyone in the party; the passages inside are tall and wide; moss-covered, marble statues lay collapsed on the ground, most of a beautiful, lithe woman with a necklace of pearls. As they continue, they find another statue of a huge human holding hands with this same woman; clasped in their molded hands is a giant pearl with a five-pointed star inscribed on it. What could this mean?

That’s a lot, you might be saying. You’re right, but it’s all relevant and adds a ton of depth to the dungeon and its eventual end. Dungeons should be rife with secrets …

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…