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The Cursed Jungles of Yatar

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Ten adventurers, many of them completely new to the profession, prepared to fly by airship to the lower quarter of the great Aphesus. Six deadly dragonborn serving a dragon of undeath ready to stop them. A new curse of death brought about by rituals written in the ancient Book of Vile Darkness. Airship sabotage, primitive halfling tribes, savage grung — what could go wrong in this Dungeons & Dragons campaign? Almost everything, sadly.

Regardless, as Dungeon Masters, we know everything is a learning experience in D&D. A botched boss encounter, a less-than-exciting skill challenge, a screwy plot point — it matters not; we’re always honing our craft. 
When I started the Cursed Jungles of Yatar campaign, a misadventure I’ve labeled Campaign 2.5 in my archives, I had one and a half real campaigns under my belt. Convoluted, I know. The Savage Front was a failed experiment during which I learned a lot. The Dead of Isles of Altarin was a success with a few major failures near the end…

Slaadi: Toads of Turmoil

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Sparks fly as flames melt and ice burns in the elemental chaos around the doomed crystal island. A human ranger and goblin warrior sprint into the island’s toppled tower, evading the blast of crystal spray that shoots out from a nearby field of floating rubies. The duo know they’re coming. The goblin slams the rotted door behind him as a huge, blue-skinned toad creature plummets to the crystalline ground outside. The ranger draws his blade and the goblin clutches his dagger close, shivering. “They’re slaadi,” the ranger says. “More will come. Let’s not make this easy for them.” Seconds later, the ranger peers between a crack in the weak door. Hulking outside is a small army of the giant humanoid toads — all of them grinning maniacally. The ranger looks back inside and breathes slowly as the goblin shakes and the door breaks.

As Dungeon Masters and players, we’ve controlled and encountered a slew of unorthodox creatures. Ravenous owlbears, contemplative sphinxes, self-obsessed beholde…

My Take on Matthew Colville’s 5E Action Oriented Monsters

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Soaring into a manifest zone on their airship, the Misty Tide, the party erupts into a pocket of the Elemental Plane of Fire high above a sea of bubbling lava. Surrounding them are hissing fire newts mounted upon burning birds, prepared to hijack the airship and release the fire elementals powering it. The airship’s captain screams, “Hold out! We’ll escape ‘ere in a minute, I’ll get us through!” In response, the fiery raiders attack, lead by a striking fire newt warlock. The combat begins, and she thrusts her molten scimitar into the broiling air. The blade soars between each party member, scorching them with ease before reforming in her hands. Later in the combat, she deftly descends atop her burning bird below the airship, narrowly avoiding a blast of eldritch energy. In the struggle’s final moments, she dismounts from her tiny phoenix in a whirl, leaping thirty feet to gouge one of the party members with her scimitar and deal tremendous damage. Ultimately, she fails; the rest of h…

How to Build a Simple Settlement for D&D

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Mounted atop their elf-raised pegasi, an adventuring party flies above the walls of Merlint. Accustomed to flying guests, the dragonborn guards atop the battlements wave them down using dancing lights and friendly fireballs. They descend to the city proper, greeted by soaring towers, docked airships, and a quiet city night. Understanding of Asudem’s tricky politics, a group of outsiders rallies to meet with the desert town’s council. They know of a threat to the town that digs beneath its walls and aims to destroy it from within. In the depths below an esteemed port city, dungeoneers navigate sewers overrun with vermin: otyughs, massive rats, and fire beetles. They’re trying to find a discrete way into a lord’s palace, but what to do? Perhaps they can find where the cleanest water runs…
Cities, villages, and towns all fit under the broad term of settlement. They are seen as pockets of safety, locations where the party can rest, resupply, and find a new quest. There are hundreds of th…

The Dead Isles of Altarin

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My first “campaign” was over. The Savage Front campaign, in my eyes, had been a failure caused by me, the Dungeon Master. Under ten sessions long, one total party kill, and a few failed plots was enough for me to end the story and start a new campaign. Did I quit? Yes. Looking back, I could have handled it much better and saved the Savage Front without beginning something new. Alas, that’s not what happened; instead, me and my friends began a new campaign called the Dead Isles of Altarin. This time, I decided against doing mountains of preparation beforehand and instead started with a simple idea: an archipelago ruled over by a trio of three liches called the Dread Admirals. Under them, common folk lived and thrived but a revolution was slowly brewing against the undead. As the party entered the world, they’d have to take a side and decide the fate of the Dead Isles of Altarin. This campaign, I was going to prepare little, improvise a lot, and go with the flow of the story. Well, how…

Connecting Worlds: Charr

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On the continent of Tyria, very few cultures match the ferocity and tenacity of the charr, a race of large, feline creatures whose livelihood is driven by conflict. For hundreds of years, they’ve dominated the continent, waging war against humans, Branded beasts, and even each other. The latter, many think, will cause their eventual collapse. The Iron Legion seeks alliances with other races and organizations: humans and sylvari, the Pact and Vigil. The Ash Legion skirts from shadow to shadow, watching and waiting, their loyalties and goals shrouded in mystery. The Flame Legion is fully split; some seek retribution and reunification with the other legions and others refuse to accept that their time at the top is truly over. And the Blood Legion prepares itself for battle, for with all threats dealt with for the time being, a bloody war is surely on the horizon.

The past month has been rough. My final school semester is well underway and I’m still working, so my mind is usually draine…

Your World’s Creation Myth

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In the beginning, there was only magic. The element floated amidst the vast nothingness of the multiverse until by chance or the power of some creator, magic began to take form. It twisted and combined, cracked and boomed, eventually becoming the first sentient creature of the multiverse: Satyavati, the Magic Primordial. This entity began to weave together magic to create entities like itself, beings that represented Satyavati. They were its children, four Primordials formed of fire, air, water, and earth. Alongside their creator, they started molding the multiverse: deities, the planes of existence, the planet of Eldar, and the moons and stars In this primeval universe, all was beautiful and serene…

How was your world created? It’s an interesting question to pose when making a D&D setting. The origins of the deities, who the first creatures were, and why the planes of existence exist are all big questions. While it might not immediately play a role in your game, it’s definitely …