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Two Ready-to-Use Demonic Villains For Your D&D Game

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Who drives our Dungeons & Dragons games forward? Boiled down, the drivers are two conflicting sides: the player characters and the villains. The PCs are usually heroes, though they can be mercenaries, out-of-their-element individuals, soldiers in a great army, or adventurers of necessity. Those that oppose them can be anything from vicious, starving wolves in a dreadful forest to destroyer gods rampaging from world to world.   Every successful D&D campaign contains compelling PCs and interesting villains who conspire against them. Sometimes, our imaginations falter and fail to provide our tales with antagonists. I know mine does. However, today I'm here to help. I used to have problems with villains. Mine weren’t unique or gripping; they were people the PC's needed to fight and kill to end the adventure. That’s uninteresting. Over time, I evolved how my villains interact with the PCs and the world. They live. They breathe. They entice the PCs to pursue not only their ow

The Best Method to Highlight Unique Cultures in Dungeons & Dragons

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It’s Thursday night . No, we’re not watching Critical Role —we’re gathered around our table playing our D&D campaign, Caught in Galen. The party rows a shaky boat to an occupied beach, a host of soldiers from the Zarbou Islets upon it. At their lead is a lithe minotaur dressed in the colors of his fledgling nation, his horned head topped with a jarring red tricorne. Believing him to be a potential ally, the party approaches and speaks to the minotaur, who willingly leaps into conversation. He praises the party, formally introducing himself and his people as Zarbou Isleters. As the talk progresses, he asks what he can do for them, what he can do for the world, where he might fit and why everything ill from the aberration invasions to the barrier crisis might be happening. The minotaur represents what the infant nation of the Zarbou Islets really is: a place hungry to fit in a world much bigger than itself. While we strive to make our worlds' cultures unique, sometimes it is lost

Patterns in D&D

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When we build our worlds and craft our games, we regularly want to shock and impress our players and their characters with dramatic battles, unforeseen twists, and flamboyant personalities. We yearn to see them reel back in their chairs in dismay as the true villain is revealed, shout out in terror as their orc ally decapitates a prisoner, or let out hearty laughs as the stocky halfling innkeeper tosses yet another rude vagrant to the street. Surprising moments are important in D&D, and they are made possible with patterns, something many of us probably utilize without realizing it—and our games are better for it. Understanding what patterns we use allows us to change them up to make our games better and more exciting. First and foremost, patterns help us feel comfortable. After DMing for awhile, we tend to design things in a certain way: dungeons, boss battles, NPCs, etc. The patterns we create allow us to easily improvise at the table, one of the most important skills for DMs. Le

Villain Backgrounds Volume I

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Last year, I released my first Dungeons & Dragons supplement: Villain Backgrounds Volume I , a small book all about creating compelling villains for your D&D campaigns and adventures. About twenty minutes ago, I realized I'd never written an independent article about it on my site. Now's better than never! What is it? Well... In D&D, player characters are the protagonists of the campaign or adventure. They roam the world, explore dungeons, slay monsters, and interact with diverse and interesting characters. Driving the PC's forward and instigating reactions from them are villains, the antagonists of the story. Most PC's are well-thought out and have compelling personalities. Their menacing mirrors should be the same. Villain Backgrounds Volume I is a supplement for D&D 5e and other RPGs designed to assist Dungeon Masters in building villains who are as layered as the PC's. Like the backgrounds initially included in the Player's Handbook and bui

Impossible Situations are Great

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The most recently finished arc of my campaign pitted my players and their characters against multiple impossible situations. Each scenario was highly successful. They raised the stakes, challenged both players and PC's, deeply impacted the story, and grew the lore of my world and the PC's connection to it. DM's who balance encounters via the Dungeon Master's Guide tenets will rarely commit this action, and I think their games will suffer. Why? Impossible situations are great. Miraculously, my group of level six adventurers defeated a crazed ancient gold dragon. Of course, they didn't do it alone. Alongside allies they won over: a small circle of powerful druids, an airship armed with elemental and infernal power, and an archdevil inhabiting a white dragon wyrmling's body, they survived. Against all odds, my disparate party of level seven companions overcame the horrors of an Unholy Avenger of Orcus. This was possible due to expert planning and a terribly risky