Posts

Dungeon Masters, Study Your Players' Characters

Image
It’s Wednesday night. The Karlith Straits group is flying away from an erupting volcano where their hexblade’s clan once resided. Once he awakens from unconsciousness, there will surely be a hostile confrontation between him and the unintentional vanquishers of his vanquished clan. Later that same night, the party fights Taris Xaglomandra, a black half-dragon enforcer of the Obsidian Circle and cleric of Takhsis. They’re battling atop a partially-singed grassy knoll and Taris is near death and on the ground; he calls out to his shadow wyvern to grasp him in his talons and retreat. Not so fast! As the wyvern rises into the air with Taris, the order domain cleric Alovnek narrowly slams it with his maul. As the weapon connects, misty blue chains appear from its head and shackle the wyvern to the ground. After fifteen sessions, Taris would finally fall to the group (even though he took down a likable NPC and a PC with him).

Characters drive Dungeons & Dragons games forward. The most i…

Build With, Not Without, 5E's Books

Image
Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons books are phenomenal. Wizards of the Coast are focusing on quality, not quantity with this edition and it’s showing. The books are useful to all folk, from Players and Dungeon Masters to readers and worldbuilders. That last word, worldbuilders, is what we’ll be focusing on right now. I’ve recently experienced an epiphany: worldbuilders should build on D&D 5E’s books, instead of constantly, completely reinventing them. This might seem obvious or simple, but I’ve been dumb to the concept for quite awhile. Let me explain…
A Solid Foundation I’ve started rereading the core rulebooks for 5E, starting with the Player’s Handbook, while building my world. As I was whizzing through the chapter on race, I realized how much work has gone into all of these creatures: what they look like, their cosmic histories, common characteristics, hooks for Players or Dungeon Masters, and much more. And while I love my D&D world being unique, if all of the races o…

Wizards of the Coast's Latest Adventure is Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus

Image
I've always toyed with the idea of beginning a campaign not on the Material Plane: slaves of a mad efreeti in the City of Brass, randomly lost in the depths of a grove in the Feywild, or sailing on a ship on the endless seas of the Elemental Plane of Water. The designers of Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition basically beat me to it. Wizards of the Coast just announced their next adventure and it's an interesting one. Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus is coming to stores and online shops soon. Here's what you need to know about it:

The adventure releases on September 17, 2019.It begins at 1st level and ends at 13th.It begins in the port city Baldur's Gate in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.Player characters will quickly delve into the first layer of the Nine Hells, Avernus.The adventure deals with the Blood War.It looks and sounds amazing. "Mad Max mixed with Dante's Inferno" is how Jeremy Crawford describes it.Chris Perkins says, "This …

Your D&D Campaign's Starting Point

Image
The point where you start your campaign can say a lot about what it will become: a run-down town on the edge of a rocky wasteland crawling with bulette-taming goblins; a tropical archipelago controlled by a trio of powerful lich-lords; a settlement in the frozen north overrun by vile lycanthropic creatures; a hub of trade and commerce in an otherwise desolate desert; a port recently annexed by a dragon empire. Those were all the locations I chose to begin my various Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. It’s time we built a new one, together.

Thus far in the Worldforge series, we’ve established a set of tenets for our world, designed a pantheon, created a setting map, and fleshed out a few of our world’s major powers. Those were all broad strokes meant to give you an idea of how your world will work. Now, we’re going to zoom in on a small piece of our setting: where our next adventure or campaign will begin. Once we’ve completed this step, we can begin our actual campaigns!

After this arti…

Five Facets of a Compelling D&D Character

Image
It’s Wednesday night. The Eldar I campaign is about to begin and a new story is about to unfold in this new world. I set the scene, describing a port town in the early hours of night being hit by a fierce storm. As powerful waves buffet against the docks and rain creates muddy puddles in the streets, I ask the Players to introduce each of their characters. Who are they, where are they, and what are they doing? I ensure that my own entrance into the campaign does not overshadow their’s; after all, they are the stars of this story.

In Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon Masters are not the protagonists. Neither are their myriad monsters, nonplayer characters, fantastical locations, might deities, or mystical magic items. Instead, the spotlight shines on the pieces the Players brought with them to the table: the Player Characters. These venerable heroes, wily looters, and lucky adventurers are the centerpiece of all that happens. Every battle, every conversation, and every exploration is car…

Article Readings on YouTube

Image
Today is a splendid day, folks! I just finished my penultimate semester of college and that valuable Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science is a measly three courses away. I also was hired on for an internship at a marketing firm here in Michigan. Between finalizing the latter, studying for finals, and life in general, I didn't have enough time to edit my article for this week, so it's been pushed back to next Monday. In the meantime, I thought I'd promote something new I've been doing on my YouTube channel. Article Readings Every Friday, I'll be uploading a video to my channel. It'll simply be me reading aloud the articles I've written, from Legendary Lessons to Worldforge. In addition to giving my readers and viewers another outlet to see my work, it's a good exercise for me to read content aloud; my speaking or improv voice is fine, but I've found that my "reading" voice could use improvement.
In the videos, I'll review what I&#…

The Major Powers in Your D&D Setting

Image
The dry chamber was silent. All the grand chairs were filled, the table was littered with maps, pins, papers, and quills; yet no one spoke. They were all here, representatives from the greatest powers across Aphesus: A mighty dwarven battlemaster from Utgarda; a bloodthirsty gnoll warlock from Dol Dohur; a shy, enigmatic wood elf from Daioda; a zealotos life cleric from Lorinth; a wild halfling atop his raptor from Zinae. Yet no sound emerged from any of them. They all knew the severity of the disaster that brought them together — the decimation of the gnome country Klavangra — but none could muster the courage to speak. In this sultry, remote outpost, they sat, stunned and unsure of what to say or how to approach the matter at hand. Eventually, the silence would break; these are powerful people after all. Surely they’d know what to do. Here in this arid desert hideout, peace would be brokered...or war declared.

Thus far in the worldbuilding process, we’ve formed core tenets, establish…

Great Ways to Use Spell Components in D&D

Image
Desperate for a companion in this haunted forest, a shy elf druid pulls out a charred fish and motions toward the crouched lion as green, shining magic courses between her and the animal. In the midst of battle, a near-death halfling wizard pulls out and uncorks a wooden flask, shouting an arcane phrase as water flows from the flask and forms an icy haze around his being. With the only way out the size of a small goblin, a human sorcerer splashes a pinch of powdered iron across the glowing glyphs on her face as she recites an ancient spell and begins to shrink in size.

By many folks, combat is seen as simply a tactical battle, a confrontation between foes, a bloody skirmish. Turn by turn, we go around the table and portray our characters who battle against a squad of squirming goblins, a raging dragon, or a mess of elementals. We hit them, they hit us back, and when someone falls, friend or foe, there’s usually a chance to cast some roleplaying and narration into the battle. Some peop…