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Heated Disagreements at a D&D Table

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It’s Saturday afternoon. The members of my Eldar II Campaign have just successfully defended a monk monastery against a small horde of red dragonborn, thri-kreen, and yuan-ti. In doing so, they discovered a dark, ancient secret of what is buried beneath the monastery. It complicates things. The party as a whole has a clear path forward. This defense was merely a pit stop, a side quest. But now, one of its members, a blue dragonborn barbarian named Rovan, is against traveling onward to Imixia, a realm of burning rivers and charred wastes. This secret, the battle, and its fallout have changed Rovan’s perspective on two of his party members. Thus, the once clear path is muddled and murky. Rovan doesn’t think his party has his best interests in mind anymore. Unfortunately for the rest of the party, this disagreement stalls the party in the peaceful monastery. So, what happens when a once unified force is no longer of the same state of mind?

Last Saturday, I experienced the most heated pla…

Building a D&D Pantheon - Part 3

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“The ancient texts, you’ve not read them?” the robed figure asked. Her voice sounded accusatory, angry even, but the minotaur shook his head. “Then the time, it has not come.” The robed figure turned to leave but paused beneath the worn stone doorframe. “Understand this: Our way is not the only way. Before us, there have been many, and still today, there are people different than us.” Her voice quieted. “The Azurian Order rarely acknowledges it. The only way, polytheism is not. Elves of the wood worship spirits of old beasts, bearfolk only the stars. All power rests in the trapped primordials, firbolg think, and kenku think a single god rules all.” At this, the minotaur scoffed and the robed figure appeared before him in a moment, somehow looking down upon him even though he stood a good four feet above her. “I knew, ready you were not. How?” Her eyes locked with his, “...because respect, respect for other religions, you lack.”

Welcome back to the Worldforge, a series in which we buil…

Building a D&D Pantheon - Part 2

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The minotaur, Alovnek, shut the door in his face. The robed man had better leave now, the minotaur thought. Three denials, a feigned gore, and a face full of minotaur spit would drive him away. To Alovnek’s surprise, he still heard breathing on the other side of the thin, wood door a few moments later. He waited longer. The breathing continued. “You’re stubborn. You’re good and stubborn. The Azurian Order likes those kinds of people.” The voice was muffled but still rung in Alovnek’s ears. “You and I both know you’ve felt it- the call of Ispiria; it’s the only reason you let me, a diminutive man wearing strange white robes speak to you.” The minotaur groaned. He knew the man was right, he’d felt the call days earlier...but he was so young. Why would Ispiria rob him of his youth? Life was good here, among his people- “Come on, Alovnek. We need fighters like you. And trust me, in good time, you’ll need us. The goddess’ call might not come again. I’ve risked much in coming here.” There w…

Building a D&D Pantheon - Part 1

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It’s Wednesday night. My Eldar I group sails out of a cove filled with undead and pearls that they’ve just raided. They break into the beautiful light of the day, hear the sounds of the sea - and spot a boat on the horizon. Desperate to see its sails, Alovnek, the party’s rogue cleric of Ispiria, perches on the edge of the ship. He lets out a heavy sigh as the sigil the ship is flying becomes apparent: An enormous, dark circle, the symbol of Takhsis, draconic goddess of order, cruelty, and manipulation. And, of course, the arch-nemesis of his goddess, Ispiria. Simply seeing the symbol invokes a feeling of foreboding doom inside him...and the rest of his companions on the ship...

The presence or lack thereof of gods and goddesses in a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS setting can tell you a lot about a world. Deities also give Dungeon Masters and players alike myriad ideas to base characters, stories, adventures, items, monsters, and more on. 
That’s why the next part of The Worldforge series wil…

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…