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Showing posts from May, 2020

Dream Sequences in D&D

Throughout the world, the use of dreams as a plot device is prominent. It does not matter whether the material is truth or fiction, a story from Africa or a fairy tale from Germany. Dreams are everywhere because they are an effective way to relay information to readers and listeners, or, in our case, players. Have you ever used a dream to set the stage for an event to come? To tell your PC’s something integral to the plot? To throw them off the trail of a vile enemy?
In D&D, dreams are an effective tool for Dungeon Masters.
In yet another prelude session for my upcoming Caught in Galen campaign, I used a dream to unite some of the player characters together. During the dream, they explored environs impossible to find in the location the campaign begins, so it gave every a taste of other parts of the world. Their city-based characters slid down a dune in a windy desert and battled scorpions there. They fought the rapids of a raging river, nearly dropping down a massive waterfall whil…

Dungeons & Dragons: A Lifetime For Improvement

Dungeons & Dragons is a hobby one can have over a lifetime. From a person’s first foray into the world of dice-rolling and dungeon-delving, to their hundredth encounter with a dragon, D&D does not get stale and it constantly evolves. It is a game in which people are meant to have a grand adventure, interact with flamboyant characters, and leave the worries of the real world behind. However, that does not mean one cannot continue to improve session after session, campaign after campaign. In fact, becoming “better” at D&D covers a wide berth of definitions and it is something every player and Dungeon Master should aspire to do.
As I am looking at starting my fifth D&D campaign, I’m jotting down everything I think I can improve at. It’s a long list. I recognize that there’s plenty I’m not great at, some stuff I do quite well, and a select few things I excel at. Nonetheless, I can improve on each and every one of those things, and make my D&D experience better as a re…

Player Character Cameos from Previous D&D Campaigns

It's Saturday afternoon. The powerful party enters the icy caverns. They are confident the final key to the gnome prison hides within, a leftover of the deceased beholder who once held it close. As they stride across the slippery stone, there’s a flash! A creature whizzes past them, experts of combat and perception, without being seen. Their eyes track its blurred movement as it dashes up the wall and onto a stalactite high above them. It stops, holding a colorful orb — the final key — in its palm. As fast as it reached the stalactite, it drops to the ground in a single movement, landing in front of the party. The creature is a pale-skinned elf with deep purple eyes and stark white hair. “Friends of Primedordus, are you?” the elf asks. The party nods, still stunned at the elf’s dexterity. “Well, then you must be looking for this.” he says, lifting the orb up toward them. He takes a step forward and gives the orb to the warlock, who asks the elf for his name. “White Crow, a very ol…

The Most Important Parts of D&D Session Zeros

Before beginning a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, it’s important to hold at least one session zero. During this prologue session, the Dungeon Master should collaborate with the players to mold the world to them, their characters to the world, and the characters to each other. However, before running this group-wide session zero, there is another type of session that can greatly contribute to the success of the campaign: one-on-ones. This type of session zero is held between a single player and the Dungeon Master. During it, they collaborate and create the player’s character and introduce the character to the world.

Group session zeros and one-on-one session zeros are stellar ways to ensure the success of a D&D campaign. As I am in the process of beginning my next D&D campaign, a campaign I want to be the best I’ve ever run, I’m taking the opportunity to gaze back at the lessons I’ve learned from campaigns past. The following sections explore the most important parts of each…

Caught in Galen Approaches...

Caught in Galen is approaching. I’m nervous and excited about it. Every week, I’ve been running a session zero with a different player. All of them have gone well and there’s only one remaining before the altogether session zero. With every session, I’m learning more and more about each player, even though I’ve already played with all of them before. When you play D&D alone with someone, you really see how they think and what they enjoy, at least in the context of their current character. Thanks to this, each session is helping me prepare the burning sandbox that Caught in Galen will be, one step at a time.
In between each session, I’ve been building out my array of tools for this campaign as well.
I created a region guide that details the campaign, the central tension, some iconic NPCs, and the starting point, following the advice I laid out in this article from last year. 
I’m keeping track of a campaign compendium, a spreadsheet that stores information on each session, all NPCs i…

The Frozen Expanses of Iskryn

After the success of the Dead Isles of Altarin, my group was prepared to undertake a new adventure in a radically different climate. We said our goodbyes to the tropical and sunny archipelago where undead monstrosities once ruled and greeted the icy tundras and snowy forests of the far north with a warm embrace. The second campaign in the world of Eldar was the Frozen Expanses of Iskryn. At the time of the campaign’s genesis, I was wholly unaware of the struggles it would have to overcome and the new lessons about Dungeon Mastering, planning, and management I’d learn during it.

Here’s the compendium for the campaign:

It’s less detailed than my other compendiums because I started the entire campaign compendium concept long after this campaign began. Still, it contains some information about the campaign.

This article is an introspective and retrospective of the campaign. It explores th…