The New D&D Statblocks Dropped A Day Too Late To Save My Players

A week ago (the day I’m writing this), a much-discussed Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook was released. Monsters of the Multiverse doesn’t add much brand-new content, instead doing the heavy-lifting to update a bunch of older content that has been out-of-line with the design goals of modern D&D 5e. It made a bunch of changes to spellcaster “monsters” (prepared statblocks for various creatures/NPCs that a Dungeon Master might want to reference) in order to make them easier for DMs to reference in combat scenarios. I’m enjoying the changes so far, along with the way they’ve updated many of the various (older) playable races with new tidbits of lore and abilities to better reflect the general states of said races they’ve released in adventures over the last couple years. All-in-all, I think this represents an improvement to the game that is going to make my life easier and help shift away from depictions of these races as monstrous via thinly veiled racism.

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Creating Myths, Legends, and Informational Pamphlets for my D&D Games

As I’ve been working on a setting for a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign, I’ve been thinking about alternate ways to inform my players and manage various things like lore, legends, myths, and what a person in the world I’m creating would consider the truth of things. There’s a lot of willing-suspension-of-disbelief that happens for most D&D games, so there isn’t a lot most GMs and players need to make it work, but the particular game I’m running is reliant on very specific knowledge and mythology. I can expect my players to ask questions to help fill out what their characters know and I can work to understand what the average person in this world would know so I can avoid making my players roll for the basics, but I can also use my degree in English literature to create mythology and legends for the world in a way that establishes the basics. Plus, then I get to have fun writing stuff and I LOVE writing stuff.

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I Love To Tinker With My D&D Campaign Settings

Lately, I’ve been enjoying making lots of documents for my Dungeons & Dragons games. I know I talk about “understanding can serve you better than knowing” a lot here, but there’s a point where you understand so much you start needing to record it all somewhere so you remember it later. Generally, I like to keep these documents to broad, general strokes without a lot of specifics so I can cleave to my principles as a DM, but it is very helpful to have all the specific, complex systems worked out ahead of time. For instance, in the domain of dread I’ve built for my weekly Sunday D&D, I have a list of the various tiers of effects the players can encounter, the ways various encounters tie into those tiers, how to switch between tiers, and how the world/the people in the world respond to their efforts written down. What I add whenever it comes up are the specific debilities tied to the tiers as my players encounter them. Those I do not have built out ahead of time since I don’t need a name until it’s happening and the name and specific effect should reflect the situation the player character has found themselves in.

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The Secret To My Success As A Game Master

In one of my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I recently leveled up my players and gave them access to some a few magic items each since the next adventure hook they chose was to explore an incredibly dangerous area that can cause magic to go haywire. In the time since that session, I’ve been working with some of them to select the items they want and ensure that they understand their new abilities or powers. It is fairly typical for this group, but it’s something I provide to any player who needs it because I have a fairly broad knowledge of the content and I know enough to find anything if I can’t remember it. It’s a useful skill to have as both a DM and player, and I feel like I’ve managed to present myself as a resource to other players and DMs alike without being overbearing.

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I Got To Play D&D In Person For The First Time In Over Two Years

Thanks to a friend coming into town for the first time in a few years, I was able to run my Sunday night Dungeons and Dragons game in-person for the first time. There is the unfortunate caveat that the game was 4/5ths in person, since one of the players was still remote, but that’s a setup I’ve dealt with many times in the past (it was the default for my pre-pandemic Sunday night game for pretty much the entire time I’ve had a Sunday night game). This time, though, the guy who was usually the remote player got to be there in-person! It was a fun change of pace, even if I had to basically dismantle my computer and office in order to get the whole setup working since most of my notes, resources, and tools are digital these days.

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Together, We All Grow As Storytellers

I’ve been running Dungeons and Dragons games for over a decade now. Twelve years, this summer. For the last six years, I’ve been running Sunday evening games for a group that has changed many times, with the exception of two players. These two people, friends I’ve known to some degree about as long as I’ve been running Dungeons and Dragons, have been an endless source of amusement and fun for me as a dungeon master. From tragic beginnings, moments of hilarity, grave failures, and a general willingness to go wherever I lead them, I don’t think I could ask for more from any players of mine.

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Open-World Situation Building In Dungeons & Dragons

After nearly two months, I got to run my Sunday night Dungeons and Dragons campaign again. After side-sessions, many missed sessions, and a whole lot of tumult in everyone’s life, we were able to gather again and return to the dark fantasy and mild horror stylings of the world I’d spent over a year slowly developing. I had fun, my players had fun, there was a lot of lucky rolls, the player characters survived a lot of nasty damage, there were some clutch reactions and actions, and only one player character died in a boss battle they were absolutely unprepared for! That’s the danger of open-world scenarios, you know. You can accidentally wander into the desecrated temple to the not-evil gods right as a priest of what is essentially malicious entropy completes a ritual that temporarily grants him a huge deal of power in a side-realm. All without any of the information that contextualizes any of that so even when you do win, you’re not sure if it matters or not, or even how to do anything as a result.

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Potential Timeline Hijinks Aren’t a Risk, They’re an Opportunity

I’ve been recycling a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that, in its first run, dramatically changed during the time it was transitioning from the “early introduction to the mechanics, world, and general themes” phase to the “initial major plot threads and character story incorporation” phase. Because of some players withdrawing due to pandemic-related stress and removing a player due to violating table rules and interpersonal conflicts, the scope of the campaign had to be drastically reduced since two of the early-plot-essential player characters were no longer in the campaign. And while I could find a way to make it work without them, the players left weren’t as interested in continuing those story arcs the way they’d been going. So I made some major changes, moved their campaign around in time, and changed how a lot of the story was being told. As a result, I had an entire campaign’s worth of world prep, plot notes/ideas, and cool magic items just sitting around.

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Adaptation Versus Adoption Across TTRPG Genres

I had the idea for a superhero themed D&D game. The idea originated in an idea on how I could adapt the Monk class and the various subclasses, but many of the various other classes and abilities could be represented as super powers if you give them the right flavor. I’ve been stewing over it in my mind for a while, mostly just as a fun thing to think about when I’m not doing anything else, but I haven’t done any concrete work to develop the idea beyond the conceptual stage. See, as someone who is tangential to many circles on Twitter, I usually get a pretty good grasp of the drama that has taken center-stage at any given moment without getting embroiled in it myself. One of the big, long-running pieces of drama is that games other than D&D exist but the popularity of D&D tends to eclipse them in such a way that, when people want to play non-fantasy games, they tend to work on adapting D&D rather than finding a game that was explicitly made for the type of genre they want to play.

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Baldur’s Gate 3 is Better But Still Not Worth Full Price for Early Access

I finally managed to get through a significant chunk of the Baldur’s Gate 3 early access game. There’s clearly still a lot more to go, based on the number of objectives that still remain in my to-do list, but I will admit that some of the fun I had while playing the game has vanished now that I’ve reached the maximum level for this early access version of the game and my power can’t grow ever greater. It’s not that I need to be more powerful to continue playing the game or to get through specific bits of content since I’ve absolutely wrecked every fight I’ve come across by abusing mechanics or stockpiling potions, I just want to keep accumulating experience points and right now I can’t. They just pop up on screen and then vanish into the ether.

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