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28 February 2020

How to Run Allies in D&D

 

Mazner unleashes a fury of lightning upon the battlefield, electrocuting the sword-wielding pyrotrolls and massive magmapotamus. Schmee struggles to find his footing, surrounded by the pyrotrolls, taking slash after slash for his companions. Rhozur slams his clawed fists into a particularly nasty pyrotroll, but it’s red flesh instantly regenerates. Two more pyrotrolls emerge from a nearby pool of bubbling lava, threatening to completely overwhelm the party. Far in the back, Synri, the group’s cambion guide, cowers behind a crumbled tower. The party are the adventurers, the combatants — he’ll leave the heroics to them.


I’ve run quite a few Dungeons & Dragons games in my time. Early on, I began subscribing to the idea that the players and their characters are the stars of the story. They should get the gold & glory, not their allies that assist them in their travels.

How do we make sure that happens?

Make Them Co-Stars


When a nonplayer character (NPC) joins the party, you need to ensure it doesn’t become an outright star. Think of them as a co-star, there to assist the primary characters, shed more light upon them, and keep the story moving.

In my above example, Synri is the party’s guide. He rarely assists them in fights and only pipes up when it’s necessary. However, none of this is convoluted; this is important. He’s a scout who specializes in stealth and recon, not battle. In addition, he suffers from trauma, remnants of his time in the Nine Hells. This also contributes to his rare contributions to conversations and liking to keep quiet when confronted on any issues. Lastly, he’s not a permanent addition because he has a reason to leave. He’s helping the party reach the lair of Lazarus the Glutton for their mutual friend Tribune Garrik of Ignum and then he is done, especially since they’ve treated him poorly.

So, on top of ensuring they act like a co-star, give them valid reasons to act that way. If your party is guided by an ogre warlord who refuses to fight, that’d be ridiculous. If they’re being guided by a timid halfling trickster who won’t fight, that’s understandable.

Let Them Fight, For a Time


Sometimes, your party recruits powerful allies like renowned rangers, deadly assassins, or gold dragons. When that happens and there’s no reasonable excuse for them to not participate in battle, let them join in. This might create more chaos and work on your side of the screen but it should end eventually. Players understand that they’re supposed to be the adventurers and if they become reliant or expectant of an NPC for help, try to remove them as soon as possible. Contrarily, keep them in the group and build tougher combat encounters. I’d recommend that former over the latter, though.

I was stuck in that situation for a few weeks during my weekly campaign. My group forged an alliance with gold dragons twins and traversed the mortal world and Feywild with them. For the first few sessions, the dragons were in recovery after being tortured by a vile faction for months on end, but eventually they regained their strength and assisted the party in battle & travel.

Before the group became reliant on them, they departed the group for understandable reasons. Regardless, I was getting dangerously close to allowing my group to be dependent on the dragons. Don’t make the same mistake as me. Sure, it’s awesome to ally with dragons for a bit but the excitement dies down in due time.

Use Them as Prods


NPCs give the Dungeon Master a voice in the party. If you sense the story is slamming to a halt, use them NPC to prod the characters along. They might make the difference between four hours of debate about going down the left or right corridor and battling the voracious phase spiders who await in the tunnels' junction. Alongside this, you can use NPCs to give usually silent players a voice. If you notice someone is being quiet and no one is interacting with them, have the NPC address them. Sometimes all a player needs is a poke and they're invested in the world again.

In Summary


Allied NPCs can make a good addition to a party as long as they’re played correctly. As you play allied NPCs, remember the following:

  1. NPCs are the PCs' co-stars. They should make them shine and help the story progress, not steal the players’ spotlight and hinder the story’s growth.
  2. NPCs should have believable reasons to not assist the group in combat or make decisions for them.
  3. It’s okay for an NPC to join a battle or weigh in, but ensure they leave the group before the party becomes reliant on them.
  4. Use NPCs as prods to progress the story, spark characters to action, or invite a quiet player to join the conversation.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this shorter article, let me know in the comments below.

Remember to check back every Friday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time for a new article and every Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time for a new video!

Until next time, stay creative!

Eager for more RJD20? Begin here, subscribe to the RJD20 newsletter, and explore RJD20 videos on YouTube.

Check out Villain Backgrounds Volume I, a supplement that crafts compelling villains.

Please send inquiries to rjd20writes@gmail.com.

23 February 2020

Field Notes 5E Character Journal Review


I pack mountains of information in my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns that my players can choose to latch onto or let loose into the great sea that is our campaign’s narrative. Who is the emperor of the Kothian Empire? How did he reach the throne? Why did the Obsidian Circle want to eliminate the Choqiti wood elves? Where did the Choqiti retreat to in their time of need? Some players love to keep track of this sort of knowledge, keen that it will make an impact later in the campaign; others don’t, either because they’re uninterested or don’t have somewhere clean to write it down.

In all scenarios, invested player and not, I have an excellent solution: the Field Notes 5E Character Journal.


The Field Notes 5E Character journal is a newly released product of Field Notes, a company dedicated to providing tabletop roleplaying game players with clean mediums to keep track of their characters and campaigns. This particular item, the 5E Character Journal, specializes in organizing everything a player in a D&D campaign could ever need or want for their character.

If you’re interested, continue reading. Before you consider ordering this product, check out everything it has to offer — all 64 pages — below.

Quick Overview


In short: this journal is great for players who play a single character for a long stretch of time; it's not the best for someone who plays a variety of characters. However, it’s compact and has pages for any information a player would want to have in a campaign. There’s room for any mechanical detail you might want to note about your character. What does my Champion fighter receive at level 9? How does my warlock’s Hurl Through Hell ability work again? Why is eldritch blast my favorite spell to use? In addition, there’s a plethora of pages 100% dedicated to storing information about your character’s personality and history, not a measly six lines like a normal character sheet. From their backstory to any factions they might be a part of, there’s a page for it. Campaign knowledge has spots too, sprinkled throughout the book. If you’re still not sure about the journal, read the deep delve below!

In-Depth Exploration


The journal begins with a page dedicated to detailing the owner of the little booklet: who they are, how to contact them, and other miscellany. It also explores important D&D rules like exhaustion, area of effect, and size categories. An index also lines the left hand side of the page, explaining where everything in the journal is located. I like this part, especially the index and area of effect pictures. The former helps people navigate the booklet with ease and the latter explains something often lost on players in the midst of battle.


The next page is meant to be a broad overview of your character. Their name towers above everything else, including class, subclass, age, faith, a large box for a sketch of them, and much more. It’s great. This is what I love to focus on, after all. At a glance, you can really get an image of your character without anything truly mechanical invading your vision. I’ve noticed these tidbits have disappeared from the standard character sheets of fifth edition, especially the weight, height, and eye color details; I’m glad this included them.

The next two pages are titled Race Details and Ancestry details. They let you delve into your character’s history, giving you plenty of space. Who are their parents? Do they still live? Where did your race come from? Is your land still thriving? This page is fully dedicated to building on the story of your character, driving home the importance of the fluff & narrative side of your character and not the mechanics of it. Again, lovely.

The next two pages allow room for your character’s bonds, flaws, personality traits, and ideals — a facet of every 5E D&D character sheet. However, these pages give lots of space to build out multiples of each or allow you to really dive in on a single one. A regular 5E character sheet does not allow this at all, giving a measly line or two for each. That’s not enough space for a character who might survive and evolve for 50 sessions.

The next few pages are for your backstory and background, alongside your class and subclass details. The pages after that are your mechanical character sheet. Your stats are there, alongside everything you get at every level so you don’t need to reference the Player’s Handbook constantly; another great addition for players who don’t have a PHB. There’s also a fantastic section on languages your character knows and whether or not they can read, write, speak, or recognize them.

Spells and profiencies line the next chunk of pages in the journal and end with a plethora of pages on equipment, coins, and treasure. This is easily enough room for a 40+ session campaign. There’s even an “Attuned” column for you along the left hand side.

After items, there’s a section on downtime activities. These pages allow you to keep track of any deals you might have going on during the adventure. Are the Greenblades performing a sacred ritual in a faraway grove for you? Are your minions constructing a grand citadel on the edge of a demon-infested gorge? Is the great Handil Iliun forging an artifact in the far-off reaches of Scyth? Everything and anything that might be happening outside the adventure can be kept here.

Next up are 20 pages dedicated to notes on each and every level, including how many hit points you gained at any particular level. This means you can remember specific things that happened across the campaign, including events, monsters slain, and even the time you rolled minimum hit points four times in a row.

Near the tail end of the journal is tons of space for specific pieces of campaign-specific knowledge. There’s room for NPCs, sidekicks, and other important characters in the story. After, there are six dedicated pages to faction notes. You have lots of space to detail the members of a specific faction, any alliance you might have with them, or any prominent goals of the organization. After that is room for campaign specific quotes. We all want to remember what the first big bad villain said as they fell to the ground, lifeless, right? Finally, there is a section for meta theories and a complete session log. These both help you keep track of the progression of the campaign in the long-term.

The journal ends with another information page, containing a detailed alignment chart and table of ability score modifier bonuses, among other things. Another great detail for those who don’t own a PHB.

In Summary


The Field Notes 5E Character Journal is a fantastic resource for folks who love to take notes during a campaign, detail their character, and keep a working history of their character’s journey in the campaign. The journal contains a bounty of mechanical information important to players as well, and plenty of room to detail each and every mechanic your character might have. At the end of a campaign, you’ll have a complete history of it from start to finish from your character’s perspective. Not only is this a great way to stay invested in a campaign, it’s a great way to remember an epic story long after it has ended. Truly, for anyone who plays in a D&D campaign and is dedicated to a single character, this is a fantastic pick-up. If you play lots of different characters or aren't dedicated to a single campaign, this might not be the purchase for you.

I hope this review helped inform your decision on the Field Notes 5E Character Journal. If you’d like to pick one up, make sure to visit their site and let them know I sent you!

Until next time, farewell.

Eager for more RJD20? Begin here, subscribe to the RJD20 newsletter, and explore RJD20 videos on YouTube.

Check out Villain Backgrounds Volume I, a supplement that crafts compelling villains.

Please send inquiries to rjd20writes@gmail.com.

21 February 2020

How to Play an Archfey in D&D

Image result for dnd archfey art

Archfey are part of the god-like trio: archfiends, archfey, and great old ones. Each member of this class is unique, from Mephistopheles the Lord of No Mercy and Orcus the Prince of Undeath, to Hyrsam the Prince of Fools to Dendar the Night Serpent. Distinct from even these unique examples, archfey live on the Plane of Faerie, or the Feywild, where they play court and war amongst each other in a land of impossible flora and fauna.

Most of the time, they won’t appear directly in your campaign. They’ll be faraway actors, pulling the strings in the background as your party traverses the world. However, what if you would like an archfey or three to become major players? What if you’d like to use Oberon the Green Lord as a villain? Maybe Titania the Summer Queen as an ally? How about your warlock forms a pact with Hyrsam the Prince of Fools?

Well, you’ll need to know how to play one.

Outlined below are how I see archfey in my world, Eldar. They might be different in your setting or you might want to steal my outlook. That’s what I want! The ideas below should inspire you and give you a firm grasp on how to portray one of these beautifully terrifying masters of the Feywild in a fulfilling way.

Let’s roll.

Predictably Unpredictable


Interacting with an archfey should be dramatic and unnerving, especially since they constantly change moods. They might be extremely happy one moment and on the verge of deep despair in the next. Ensure you make this known to your party. Establish two moods for the archfey you’re playing and swap between them every so often. If they’re clever, your party might be able to manipulate the archfey because of their powerful emotions. If they’re not careful, they might jeopardize their existence. Here are a few examples of archfey with their moods attached.
  1. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools: Comedic, Savage
  2. Titania the Summer Queen: Flirty, Pragmatic
  3. Oberon the Green Lord: Insane, Intelligent
  4. Funghoul the Beast Queen: Vicious, Cordial
  5. Relkath of the Infinite Branches: Ominous, Stressed
  6. Verenestra the Oak Princess: Bubbly, Dramatic
  7. Kannoth the Vampire Lord: Dark, Respectful
  8. Baba Yaga the Mother of All Witches: Murderous, Unnerving
  9. Lurue the Unicorn Queen: Helpful, Confused
  10. Neifion the Lord of Bats: Crazy, Flighty

Minions Upon Minions


Serving under any given archfey are a plethora of minions. These minions are fiercely loyal to their leader, but are also striving to surmount their position — remember this. In addition, because of the vast number of different types of fey, it’s possible to ensure no two archfeys’ minions are alike. Explore the domains of the archfey you’re using and enlist certain fey beings beneath them. This by no means is a hard rule, but it gives flavor to the hundreds of creatures who serve the archfey. It’s more interesting if Lurue the Unicorn Queen works with unicorns and elves if there are very few unicorns or elves aligned with other archfey. Here is a list of archfey with their example minions.
  1. Hyrsam: Satyrs, Centaurs
  2. Titania: Pixies, Dryads
  3. Oberon: Eladrin, Sprites
  4. Funghoul: Animals, Awakened Beasts
  5. Relkath: Faerie Dragons, Redcaps
  6. Verenestra: Nymphs, Quicklings
  7. Kannoth: Vampires, Undead
  8. Baba Yaga: Hags, Formorians
  9. Lurue: Unicorns, Elves
  10. Neifion: Werebats, Goblins

Part of a Court Hierarchy


Every archfey is a member of one of the fey courts. Whether it’s the Court of Stars, the Court of Gloam, the Court of Doom, or a lesser known body, each archfey plays a role in their court’s hierarchy. For example, Hyrsam the Prince of Fools is the jester of the Court of Stars and Titania the Summer Queen is its leader. The Court of Stars is primarily comprised of seelie fey and of all of them, Titania is the most powerful, placing her at the top of the hierarchy. Most archfey are constantly striving for that ultimate position. When you’re playing an archfey, always keep that in mind. That archfey’s interaction with the party should help advance or fortify their position in the hierarchy. Here are a few ideas of how to implement an archfey’s machinations to advance in their court.

Image result for dnd archfey art
  1. A member of the party has a pact with Titania the Summer Queen, so a lower ranking member of the Court of Stars tries to assist the party to curry favor with her.
  2. The archfey thinks the group can help them take out another archfey competitor.
  3. The archfey thinks the party will make perfect presents to propose an alliance with another archfey at court.
  4. The archfey seeks to eliminate the party in a show of power, impressing other fey. 

Extreme Power and Influence


Archfey hold god-like powers, especially on the Plane of Faerie. Don’t treat them like a super-juiced fey. Spend time on their appearance, domain, abilities, and artifacts. 

Each archfey has a unique appearance; Relkath of the Infinite Branches looks like a massive black dragon made of bark. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools is a tall, handsome satyr with gazelle horns and a lovely purple & yellow vest. 

Each archfey lives in a fantastic place that sticks out from the rest of the Feywild. Hyrsam’s home, the Grove of Laughing Goats, is a gargantuan tree with eight wooden platforms, each dotted with glowing lanterns, kegs of never ending wine, and tents for resting between days of partying. 

As a powerful ability, Relkath might be able to grow enough limbs from his dragon-like form to grapple the entire party and inject them with venomous thorns! As for artifacts, well, Hyrsam has collected quite a few in his time such as a Staff of Annihilation — it has the mechanics of a vorpal sword but on a bludgeoning weapon. 

Here are a few other ideas to give your archfey extreme power and influence.
  1. Funghoul the Beast Queen is an amalgamation of the beasts she dominates, save for her face which is twisted, warty, and humanoid. Elk antlers sprout from her misshapen head, bat wings spring from her back, and thick bear claws protrude from her hands. Her lower body is that of a massive serpent whose tail ends in a stinger dripping with black venom.
  2. Verenestra can immediately morph into any mortal creature she’s ever seen.
  3. Baba Yaga inflicts a curse upon her enemies, causing damage felt by one of them to be transferred among her other enemies equally.
  4. Lurue the Unicorn Queen and her people live upon a solid rainbow that arcs through the twilight sky of the Feywild.
  5. Kannoth can see through the eyes of every bat on the Plane of Faerie and take control of them at any time.
  6. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools can tell a story that causes almost any being to laugh and dance comedically without fail.
Image result for dnd archfey art

In Summary


By now, you should have an in-depth understanding of how to play an archfey at your table. However, you won’t know you’re ready until you try it. When you do, keep in mind the following points.
  1. All archfey are predictably unpredictable, you just have to place them somewhere on the spectrum. They can be happy one moment and depressed the next. Murderous and bloodthirsty then peaceful and huggy ten seconds later.
  2. Each archfey has a distinct pool of minions to pull from. Don’t continue to reuse the same monster over and over when playing them.
  3. All archfey are members of one of the fey courts and they have a particular position in that court. Despite this, they are always yearning to ascend.
  4. Archfey are god-like beings. Their power level and influence should not be scoffed at.
That’s all for today, everyone. If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest across my site or my channel on YouTube. Of particular note is a lore video on the video game Path of Exile that went up last Sunday; I’m proud of it and think most lore-minded folks might enjoy the mystery I discuss in it.

Until next time, stay creative.

Eager for more RJD20? Begin here, subscribe to the RJD20 newsletter, and explore RJD20 videos on YouTube.

Check out Villain Backgrounds Volume I, a supplement that crafts compelling villains.

Please send inquiries to rjd20writes@gmail.com.

14 February 2020

How to Make Magic Prominent in Your D&D Setting


Galen, City of Magic, is known for its eccentric populace, innovative spellcasting, and sky-reaching towers. Of great renown to all outside the city are its sorcery parlors. These establishments are run by magic-users who augment customers with arcane power. Some customers seek more strength, others want to change their body permanently. The parlors comply and make changes using various forms of arcane magic. Part of the time, the change is permanent. The rest of the time, the magical enchantment fades…

I’m preparing for my next Dungeons & Dragons campaign that’s probably going to be set in Galen, City of Magic. It’s the capital of a newly-established magocratic nation and the center of innovation, learning, and study of magic in my homegrown world. Arcana oozes into everyone’s life, whether they’re a peasant of unfortunate circumstance, a magewright fixing everlit lanterns, a half-orc bodyguard, or a goblin bandit posing as a halfling circus performer. In Galen, magic is everywhere — it’s integrated into everyday life.

If that’s the case, I need to ensure that is how the city feels to my players and their characters. If your world is also high magic and you want to instill the same feeling in your players, then this article is for you.
Let’s discuss how to make magic prominent in your D&D setting.

Include “Everyday Magic”


If our setting is high magic, it should be used in everyday life. It shouldn’t be a craft only studied by wizards, utilized by sorcerers, and gifted to clerics. It should be a tool wielded by the common man, feared by the soldier, and used by the populace. There are plenty of ways to include “everyday magic” in your high magic setting.
  1. Everlit lanterns line the streets of high magic societies, ensuring the roads are safe & bright.
  2. Explorers, armies, and merchants use airships to traverse massive distances in a short amount of time.
  3. Golems serve as eternal guardians, protecting banks, museums, and mansions from assault during all times of day.
  4. The city watch utilize divination magic to solve cases of murder, robbery, and espionage.
  5. Rich guilds and notable organizations carve teleportation circles into their headquarters, allowing easy access between outposts.
  6. Taverns and inns implement cleansing stones in their latrines, leading to increased cleanliness.
  7. Magewrights, also called working class wizards, maintain everyday magical devices, they’re as prevalent as stonemasons and more prevalent than armorsmiths.
  8. Street performers clearly use magic in their acts but claim it’s just their raw talent.
  9. Armies of melee and ranged combatants are bolstered by war wizards who act as the artillery of the force.
  10. Shop owners create traps to protect their store and goods that dissuade poor thieves and encourage rogues to learn about the arcane.
By implementing even a few of these, magic will feel much more prominent in your world. However, there are ways to make it even more real.

Let People Talk About Magic


Humans, halflings, elves, dragonborn, dwarves, and other races who live in an extremely magical society most likely talk about it as if it’s normal to them. They’re not fascinated by displays of arcane practice or magic-users draped in an otherworldly cloak of stars. Instead, they brush it off as a commonality. Most folks inundated with magic aren’t scared of iron golems roaming the streets; in fact, it bolsters their sense of security! If magic is an everyday occurrence, don’t let your people deeply respect or fear merely competent spellcasters. Ensure the populace only shows reverence for the most powerful magic-users, ensure they are only mystified by the most awesome display of magic. All other times, they talk about magic like it’s a tool. As walkers of Earth, we often forget magic is quite common in many high fantasy worlds. We must treat let our people treat it properly. Understand this: people in your world care about magic. As outlined above, it betters their lives in a variety of ways. It lets them travel across continents and solve murders with ease. However, it’s not as fascinating as it would be to commoners in a rural village. Context is key.

An Example: Parlors of Sorcery


Earlier, I mentioned parlors of sorcery. They can be interesting additions to any D&D campaign and excellent opportunities for the party to interact with magic in your setting. 

Spread across Galen are establishments called parlors of sorcery. In exchange for favour or coin, the spellcasters within augment customers with arcane power. Some customers seek more strength, others want to change their body permanently. The parlors comply and make the changes using various forms of arcane magic and witchery.

5% of the time, the change is permanent. The rest of the time, it fades.



Rich folk may be inclined to purchase multiple augmentations but that comes with possible side effects. These range from disfigurement and inability to use augmentations to permanent health issues or death. The number of augmentations increases the chance to experience a terrible side effect.

After one augmentation, the chance of something going wrong during the process is 60%. Every augmentation above one adds 5%.



Thus, one augmentation leads to no side effects, but every augmentation after that can be extremely dangerous. Parlors of sorcery add flavor to your world and provide your group with a chance to mechanically interact with magic. This might incentivize those who only seek mechanical gain to immerse themselves in your setting.

In Summary


High magic settings need to feel like they’re magical. A wizard here and a magic item there won’t suffice.
  1. Include everyday magic in your campaign. Show your players that magic drives your setting’s society forward.
  2. Ensure people talk about magic but aren’t too fascinated about it. They see it everyday, they’re not in a rural village where a mere firebolt will be the talk on the streets for days on end.
  3. Try using parlors of sorcery in your campaigns to immerse your players in magic. It’s mechanical and flavorful!
That’s all for today, folks. I’ll see you next week! If you’re interested in a different type of content, I’ll be releasing a lore-centric video on Path of Exile later this weekend. I’m proud of it and it’s a super interesting topic, if you’re into mysteries...

Stay creative!

Eager for more RJD20? Begin here, subscribe to the RJD20 newsletter, and explore RJD20 videos on YouTube.

Check out Villain Backgrounds Volume I, a supplement that crafts compelling villains.

Please send inquiries to rjd20writes@gmail.com.

07 February 2020

How to Keep Track of Your D&D Campaign


When did the party receive four pegasi as a gift from the Choqiti wood elf tribe? Where did they cause a volcanic eruption and accidentally massacre a clan of peaceful fire genasi druids? What kind of creature was Kifirith? Who infiltrated the party as a doppelganger and fed Lord Elyas Embong all the information about the missing gold dragon? Where did the party begin their adventure?

These are all questions that arise during a Dungeons & Dragons campaign or between sessions. Players — and Dungeon Masters — aren’t always able to recall key details. That’s okay! D&D is a complicated, vast game during which unpredictable and confusing situations can arise. 

Dragon lords spy on dwarf settlements while polymorphed into an elf. The Hand of Vecna hides in the backpack of one of the adventurers. An army of hobgoblins marches on the city of Galen. Draagad Dalamissent was the storm giant who died at the hands of his brothers. We’re only human, how can we remember all of this information in our mortal minds?

Using our campaign compendium, of course!

What is a Campaign Compendium?


A campaign compendium is a file that helps us keep track of our campaign. Preferably, it’s a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, allowing us to keep track of specific information in a clean and concise medium. In this file, we store tons of important knowledge such as:
  1. Session names, synopses, summaries, and dates in the world and on earth.
  2. Names and descriptions of nonplayer characters, as well as when they were introduced.
  3. Player character names, descriptions, players, party status, mortality status, and notes.
  4. Maps of the region, continent, and world.
All of the information in our campaign compendium is available to our players at all times if we use a sharing service like Google Drive. This fact allows our players to read about or catch up on the campaign between sessions and even look up key knowledge on the spot during an actual session. Before we explore how to manage our campaign compendium, take a look at one of mine for either the Karlith Straits or Caught in Galen.

Unlike our campaign guide, our campaign compendium might be utilized by both dedicated and more relaxed players. People who are invested in the characters and story of the campaign might pore through our compendium, memorizing every character they've met, every event in our campaign, and every place they've visited. People who don't remember as much or don't care as much might be motivated to glance over our compendium before a session starts, eager to show off their enhanced memory or contribute more to the narrative. It's a win-win for us!

How to Manage Our Campaign Compendium


We don’t want our campaign compendium to be a confusing sheet. It needs to contain clear information that can communicate broad ideas about the story or important characteristics about the people quickly. So, before we do anything else, we need to set up the compendium.

Create three tabs and one tab for every key campaign map (most likely a region, continent, and world map). Name the first tab Journal, the second tab Dramatis Personae, and the third tab Party Members.

In the Journal tab, create a column for each of the following headers: Session Name, S# (Session Number), Session Synopsis, Session Summary, Date (World), and Date (Earth). The first column contains the names of each of our campaign’s sessions while the second column contains its number. The third column briefly alludes to the events of the session before it happens and the fourth column summarizes the events of that session. Only detail the most important events of the session, we don’t want this cell to take up more than one row of space. The final two columns hold the date the session took place in game and in reality.


In the Dramatis Personae tab, make a column for each of the following headers: Name, S# (Session Number), Description, and Status. The first column holds the name of a nonplayer character, excluding titles, and the second column shows the session they were introduced. The third column quickly dives into the NPC, outlining their primary role in the world. The final column alerts readers whether or not the character is still alive.

In the Party Members tab, build a column for each of the following headers: PC Name, Played By, S#, Description, In Party, Status, and Notes. The first column holds the name of the character, excluding titles, while the second column shows who they are played by in the real world. The third column shows when they entered the campaign and the fourth column details important traits like race, class, and background. The fifth column explains whether or not the character is still in the party and the sixth column shows if they’re still alive. The final column is for any extra notes, such as their current goals or aspirations.

In the Map tabs, simply expand the map to its maximum size. These tabs serve as a way for our players to navigate the region, continent, or world on their phones or computers if we don’t have printed out maps.

After our compendium is created, all we must do is manage it. Before every session, we update it with the session’s name, number, and synopsis. After every session, we update it with the session’s summary, any new nonplayer characters, and any changes to existing characters — both player and nonplayer. Remember, we need to keep everything concise; this compendium isn’t for fiction or long-winded discussions on our campaign. It’s meant to serve as a tool for us and our players to glance over and remember key events and characters of our campaign.

Different Ideas for Our Campaign Compendium


We can infinitely customize our compendium. Detailed below are a few of my ideas that might inspire a better campaign compendium.

Let the Players Handle the Compendium


While we are usually the ones who maintain its accuracy, we could give that responsibility to our players. All we must do is ensure our compendium is editable and explain to our players their new opportunity. If they want to, they can detail the events of the campaign themselves, summarizing key encounters and characters in our compendium. This will only work if our players agree to it, so make sure they’re on board before deciding this idea is the way to go.

Add Outlets for Deeper Knowledge


While we want our compendium to remain concise, we can still give players the opportunity to easily access more information about the campaign and world in it. For example, I include the link to my campaign-specific region guide in my campaign compendium for the Karlith Straits. This lets my players quickly see more in-depth lore about that region. In addition, I link to an in-depth campaign journal. This journal details the events of the campaign as if they were fiction being read in a novel. I love writing so it’s a special, interesting aspect I can add to my compendium — it’s not for everyone!

Campaign Achievements and Statistics


This one might be controversial and I might not ever utilize it in my own game. D&D isn’t a video game, of course, but one of the best features of video games that D&D doesn’t have that it could is achievements and statistics. Our campaign compendium could hold two more tabs named Achievements and Statistics. The Achievements tab could include an array of different challenges & goals for our party, especially if they’re goal-driven but refuse to come up with goals for their characters. Examples include: convince Lord Ambriosa to side with the rebels; slay Lazarus the Glutton using the terrain of his lair intelligently; stay in the Nine Hells for one week without making a deal with a devil; polymorph into monster of every type. These Achievements might inspire our players to approach social interactions, exploration, and combat encounters in unique and interesting ways. The second new tab, Statistics, could house awesome or pointless facts about our D&D campaign. How many dungeons has the party entered? How many monsters have they killed? Who’s casted the most spells? When did the party level up? Information like this might not have any direct benefit, but it’d be interesting to track.

In Summary


A campaign compendium can only help our D&D game. Utilizing it, we can:
  1. Keep all of our campaign information such as important events and iconic characters in a compiled yet concise location.
  2. Ensure our players remain engaged in our campaign by having knowledge obtained readily available.
  3. Give players the chance to immerse themselves in the campaign by keeping track of information.
  4. Add more outlets for advanced knowledge of our campaign and world.
  5. Try out radical ideas such as achievements and statistics in our game.
That’s all, folks. I hope you try out a campaign compendium in your own game. Let me know if this was helpful in the comments below, link your compendium, too! If you're interested, here are links to my campaign compendiums:
  1. The Enoach Desert: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qVcAV53HKkM9IiYTpttBs5RdR2f9DLj13IxoVFHmtKQ/edit?usp=sharing 
  2. The Karlith Straits: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JscU_4NDsT9lqIhA6aXZaOkFQp7HB5sgMLgne2PmDrQ/edit?usp=sharing
Stay inspired, friend.

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