Friday Favourite: Design Encounters That Reward Cooperative Play

by Dantracker (Kenneth McNay) on July 11, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From October 19, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Design Encounters That Reward Cooperative Play.

D&D has always been a game where players work together to accomplish a common goal rather than compete against each other for a prize. It is a game where the DM provides a backdrop for character conflict. Players are likewise not competing against the DM. Instead everyone should collaborate to create a great story and a fun experience.

In order to provide a backdrop where players can develop their characters, we need to let go of the tendency to design encounters to challenge the party’s damage output. The story should advance by developing such themes as characters actively helping others, conquering foes, and overcoming afflictions or wounds. If we use valid rewards for contributing to a team effort this will inspire others to reciprocate.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 9)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 10, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverThe heroes are still running around the Doomvault dungeon wreaking havoc and killing Red Wizards, but now the PCs know they need to disrupt the black gates if they want to reach the Phylactery Vault and stop the Lich-lord, Szass Tam. Last week my party teleported from gate to gate disrupting them as they went. This week they planned to continue with this plan, but faced tougher obstacles on their journey.

At Hairy T North in Toronto we continue to see new players every week. The release of the D&D Starter Set for 5e and the release of the D&D Basic Rules on the Wizards of the Coast website have peaked the curiosity of many players. We expect to see an influx of new players who want to try the new edition, and this week we got three.

We ran four tables again this week: table 1 (DM Craig) had six players including one of the new players, table 2 (DM Hillel) had five players, table 3 (DM Tim) had six players, and table 4 (DM Derek) had five players including two of the new folks. My group had a Human Cleric/Mage, Gnome Mage, Human Monk, and the two new players used the Elf Mage and Halfling Rogue pre-gens.

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Review: D&D Starter Set (5e)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 4, 2014

starter-set-coverWelcome to D&D 5e. Yesterday Wizards of the Coast officially launched the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons by releasing the D&D Basic Rules online and the D&D Starter Set in select FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Shops). For the past year and a half many D&D enthusiasts participated in the playtest of the new rules dubbed D&D Next. Although the D&D 5e rules look a lot like the final version of the playtest there have been some changes and dare I say improvements made since then. The playtest is over and the real thing is here.

It’s been a long time since Wizards released a new gaming supplement that you could by at your FLGS and hold in your hands. The D&D Starter Set is the first product released in the 5e lineup with the other iconic rulebooks coming out over the next few months.

The D&D Starter Set is like a delicious appetizer. You knew you were hungry when you ordered it but you didn’t realize how hungry until you took your first bite. It’s delicious and it leaves you wanting more. You know that the main course is coming soon, but this will certainly hold you over until then.

Before I go on and talk about what’s in the box, let me tell you that I haven’t yet looked at the D&D Basic Rules available on the Wizards of the Coast website. The D&D Starter Set is supposed to include enough details that you can open the box, read the materials, and begin playing. I wanted to look at this product with that mindset.

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The D&D 5e Disclaimers

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 3, 2014

dnd-logoToday marks the official start of 5e D&D (formerly called D&D Next). The D&D Starter Set is available at some FLGS today and will be available everywhere on July 15. The Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons are now available online at the Wizards of the Coast website where you can download the 110-page PDF for free.

Wizards of the Coast made the following disclaimer on page 1 of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules PDF.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

As I started looking through the D&D Starter Set I found another disclaimer on page 31 of the D&D Starter Set Rulebook.

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throws, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

This clearly sets the tone of 5e. I think I’m going to like this edition.

Watch for our review of the new D&D Starter Set tomorrow on Dungeon’s Master.


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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 8.)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 3, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverAt the end of the last session things got a bit out of hand for one party at our FLGS. They were in heated combat with a Lich and called for help through the telepath circlets. Two PCs from my table ran to the nearest black gate and teleported to assist. They eventually defeated the Lich but the parties were in disarray.

This week at Hairy Tarantula North in Toronto we had so many players we had to add another table. We ended up running four tables for 23 players. For the past couple of weeks we’d been running three very large tables so the DMs got together and decided that we would break off and form a new party this week. That meant my Barbarian disappeared into the ether while I took on the mantle of DM again.

Table 1 (DM: Craig) had six players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had six players, table 3 (DM: Tim) had six players, and table 4 (DM: Derek) had five players. My table had an Elf Druid and Gnome Mage (no longer undead) from table 3, an Elf Cleric/Mage from table 2, and two brand new players who ran the Elf Mage and Human Monk pre-gens. The rest of the tables shuffled players to ensure a suitable balance among the groups and we were off and running.

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Friday Favourite: Dividing Treasure

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 27, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From March 26, 2012, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Dividing Treasure.

DM – You’ve defeated the skeletons. As you search the bodies you realize that one of them was carrying a +1 frost weapon.

Ethan the Rogue – As the striker I should get the magic weapon. The more often I hit the faster I can drop monsters.

Barrack the Fighter – Now hold on a second. I may not be a striker, but as a defender it’s important that I hit monsters ignoring my mark. I think I should get the magic weapon.

Delian the Paladin – Excuse me, guys; this was an item from my wish list. I’m working on a whole cold-theme and already the feats Wintertouched and Student of Moil. Using a frost weapon will give me bonuses when I make cold-based attacks.

Sterling the Warlord – You’re all forgetting that it’s my turn to get the next magic item so I believe the frost weapon is mine.

How often does this happen in your game? As soon as it comes time to divide the treasure everyone tries to lay claim to the best stuff. This is usually a bigger issue when a party is lower levels and there aren’t as many items to go around, but even when the group advances into the paragon tier there can still be some bickering about the division of items.

Over the years I’ve seen many groups handle the division of loot in many different ways. There are certainly pros and cons to all methods and it’s really up to the groups themselves to figure out which method works best for them.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 7)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 26, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverDuring the last session my PC travelled through four different sectors along side two different parties. My original party had a relatively easy time going from the Far Realm Cysts to the Golem Laboratories – one of the other parties at my FLGS did not have such an easy go of things. The party in the Temples of Extraction called for help via the telepathic circlet so I answered their call and joined them. This week we continued onward through the Temples of Extraction.

At Hairy T North we actually had to turn away players for the very first time. It seems that with summer upon us and the new edition of D&D coming out in just a few weeks more and more people are coming out to see what D&D Next is all about.

Table 1 (DM: Craig) had seven players, one new to our FLGS, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had seven players, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had eight players. I was playing at table 2 this week. My party consisted of the following members: Warforged Paladin, Human Monk/Bard, Elf Cleric/Wizard, Elf Cleric/Rogue, Drow Druid/Monk, Elf Ranger, and my Dwarf Barbarian/Rogue.

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On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From August 27, 2012, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: What’s In Your Backpack? A Healthy Dose of Reality.

When it comes to fantasy role-playing there are a lot of things you have to just accept in order for the game to function. Magic exists. Dragons exist. Elves exist. I have no problems with any of these things. They may be fantastic but they’re familiar and acceptable. But when it comes to the amount of gear a typical adventurer can carry in his backpack many players believe that anything goes. This is not a fantasy that I’m willing to accept. There needs to be some common sense applied some of the time to D&D and for me the buck stops with your backpack.

The way I see it there are two real issues when it comes to the reality of your backpack: 1) How much can it hold, and 2) How easily you can grab something out of that backpack in the heat of combat. I have had way too many players push the boundaries of what is actually possible in both cases that I’ve had to introduce a house rule when it comes to equipment the first thing that goes into any character’s backpack is a healthy does of reality.

This month Game Knight Reviews wants to know “What’s in *your* backpack?” as part of the August RPG Blog Carnival. I expect we’ll see a lot of posts where people list off their favourite must-have items. Here at Dungeon’s Master we’ve decided to approach the discussion from a slightly different angle.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 6)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 19, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverDuring our last session the party befriended Otyughs and released them into the Forests of Slaughter. After that we convinced a Beholder that we were not working with the Red Wizards and helped the Eye Tyrant escape the zone in which he was imprisoned.

This week at Hairy T in Toronto we had a great turnout. Table 1 (DM: Craig) had six players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had five players, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had nine players. One of the players at table 3 was new to D&D Next but had extensive experience playing 3.5e.

At table 3 we ended up with the following party members: Human Cleric, Elf Cleric, Gnome Druid, Elf Druid, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Warforged Monk, Tiefling Wizard, Gnome (undead) Wizard, and Dwarf Barbarian (my character).

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Friday Favourite: Embracing the Silly Aspects of Fantasy Gaming

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 13, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From October 25, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Embracing the Silly Aspects of Fantasy Gaming.

Sometimes we focus so much on the serious aspects of D&D that we forget the importance of the humorous and ludicrous. This is a fantasy game in which magic is commonplace. So with that kind of framework doesn’t it seem right that there should be some outrageously silly things that are just accepted as a part of the fantastic world?

That’s not to say that things shouldn’t make sense. There needs to be some explanation for the unbelievable and the unexpected within the established framework, but the players don’t always have to take it so seriously. By throwing in a few humorous things every once and a while the players come to realize that just because they think something seems bizarre and out of place doesn’t mean that their characters feel the same way.

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