Building Better Battles

When playing or dungeon mastering battles in Dungeons and Dragons, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm or formula. However, it’s integral that you don't do this. Ideally, combat encounters in D&D should never be formulaic, which can often cause them to turn into a slog. To avoid this, all you need to do is add a few different aspects to a battle, to think about the components that compose the fight, and make sure they coalesce to form a fantastic combat encounter.

In general, no two battles in your campaign should ever be the same. What do I mean? Let’s take a look!
1: Enemies My premiere tip is to use different types of enemies in every combat. Ensure that the group isn’t simply bashing their heads against a simple hill giant wielding a greatclub with wolf pets, or fighting four spear-wielding goblins in an open field. Instead, spice it up!

The hill giant with a club and wolf allies? He now wields a huge net and greatclub, and he has two wolf pets and one dire hawk pet. The giant…

5E's Premiere Adventure Book: What's Up With Hoard of the Dragon Queen?

Friday night. A group of adventurers approaches the farming village of Greenest, prepared to stay at the local inn for a night of merry-making. But alas, as they crest an especially high hill, they spot Greenest under attack! From the dark, cloudy skies above, a terrifying blue dragon swoops low, breathing electric death upon the village’s militia. In the village’s streets, vagabonds dressed like devout cultists defile any building they see, steal any materials they find, and kill anyone they happen upon. Knowing this is their time to become heroes of the Sword Coast, to become Saviors of Greenest, the adventuring party charges down the hillside and into the devastated village. ______________________________
Wizards of the Coast’s first fifth edition adventure book was Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The adventure assumes the characters wish to be heroes of the Sword Coast and Faerun as a whole, as they fight to stop the vile Cult of the Dragon and their plan to release Tiamat from her pr…

Holding a Successful Session Zero

A Dungeons and Dragons campaign is a collaborative storytelling experience. Sure, as the dungeon master, you’ll be creating the world your group adventures in, but the epic tales of terror and intrigue you tell will be created by folks on both sides of the screen.
Today, we’re discussing the fundamental first step of a successful campaign: Starting with a session zero. Specifically, five tips to maximize the success of your campaign’s baby steps.
Holding a session zero has become far more popular as of late. Perhaps it is the push of character’s being integrated into the story, or maybe it’s to discuss what the campaign should be about. Regardless, I’ve been a fan of sessions zeros for quite awhile. They allow both the players and the DM to set expectations about the campaign before it begins. Most of the time, session zeros can solve any problems that may occur during play before they even arise, and they allow the players to participate in the building of the world.
Without further ad…

Divine Intervention

Friday night. Tonight is the finale of my first, true campaign. Over the course of the epic, thirty-one session adventure, my group saved an entire island from the rampage of a dragon-worshiping orc horde, reforged a legendary pair of phylactery-crushing gauntlets, and convinced the original antagonist of the campaign to become their devout ally. Tonight, their airship flies to a climactic battle between the armies of the lich trio, deemed the Dread Admirals, and the rebels of their conquered archipelago. However, after discussing the possibility of going after the phylacteries of the Dread Admirals as the battle rages, the party changes course. They turn their airship toward the lair of the Dread Admirals, a cove-fortress named Agsur Golad. The Dread Admirals, they decide, are going to die tonight. Their phylacteries are going to be destroyed, or the entirety of the archipelago of Altarin, the group’s home, will lose the war and submit to liches’ rule.

However, as the dungeon master, …

Dungeons, Dragons, and Death

Friday night. The Iskryn group is exploring a tainted sanctuary of Bjornar, the god of stars, location, and urson (bearfolk). Thousands of years ago, Bjornar’s sanctuary was invaded by a force of demons and gnolls, the spawn of Yeenoghu. In a last-ditch effort, the leader of the divine structure, Andromedus, teleported the entire building to the Astral Plane, and created a divine barrier that prevented scrying, and disallowed those within to leave. The demons trapped within quickly slaughtered the remaining celestial and urson defenders and looted the artifact which they came to the sanctuary for, but they were unable to break Andromedus’ barrier or locate the celestial.
Back to Friday night: The party clash with the demons, lead by Neegvym, Faithful of Yeenoghu. The battle is brutal and bloody, yet every demon is slain. Their bodies, though, are unable to return to the Abyss, so they simply lay motionless on the cold, stone floor. The victory comes at a cost: Rob Tully, the party’s ra…

Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is Coming Through the Portal!

Mordenkainen is one of the oldest D&D characters created. Once, he was the wizard player character of one of the RPG’s founders: Gary Gygax. However, once Gygax was ousted from TSR Inc., he lost the rights to his arcane character. Since then, Mordenkainen has played many roles in one of D&D’s first and most famous campaign settings: Greyhawk. The wizard extraordinaire has been on the opposite side of the PCs, voraciously searching for more power, but he’s also assisted party’s across the world for the betterment of Greyhawk (and his own interests, too).

Although a few of his own spells appear in D&D's fifth edition, and the wizard himself finds himself in Curse of Strahd, Wizards of the Coast recently announced that he will be the ‘narrator’ of their next book: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

What’s inside? Well, the official description is as follows:
“This tome is built on the writings of the renowned…

Monsters Abound!

Friday night. The Altarin campaign group is diving into the depths of Highkeep, the stronghold of the eccentric halfling wizard, Kenric Shallowren. Within, they hope to steal from the maniacal wizard’s vaults, which hold two items they need to reforge a legendary artifact. However, between them and the vaults is a labyrinth created by Kenric. Populating the dungeon are cruel traps, unfair puzzles, and mutated monsters taken from the nearby jungle. Unabashedly, they travel into the labyrinth. Inside, they battle a medusa with a serpentine body and a humanoid head, sacrifice valuables to massive-chested, sentient gorillas, and fell a winged, scaly monstrosity with four burly arms and venomous, regenerative flesh. At the end of the night, they emerge from the depths of Highkeep, items in hand, but bodies and minds scarred by these strange, new creatures.

Every battle beneath Highkeep was unique, every interaction new; this was because the creatures encountered were unknown the players. A…