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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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 5)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 12, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverWe left the party in the Far Realms Cysts sector of the Doomvault. They’d just cleared out the Caverns of Chaos zone. The Gnome Druid’s soul had been trapped in a potion which she drank… and then shrank since it was a Potion of Diminution.

This week we saw a noticeable drop in the numbers at Hairy T North in Toronto. We expected to lose a few regulars week in and week out over the summer, but not so many in one week. Table 1 (DM: Craig) had four players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had five players, and table 3 (substitute DM: Derek) had five players.

That’s right, I got to DM again this week as our regular DM was out sick. So our party was down a Barbarian, but the five remaining party members at my table were a Warforged Monk, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Gnome Druid (1/10 her normal size), Human Cleric, and Gnome Wizard (currently an undead PC thanks to the Walking Dead option).

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Friday Favourite: Taking a TPK Like a Man

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 6, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 8, 2012, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Taking a TPK Like a Man.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it happens it really sucks – a Total Party Kill or TPK. In 4e it’s incredibly hard for DMs to kill just one character in a party. I’ve seen plenty of PCs fall unconscious but usually the leader has them back in action before they even need to make a death save or an adjacent ally makes a Heal check and triggers their second wind. Worse case scenario they stay down until the encounter is over and then they get the benefits of a short rest. Before you know it they’re on their feet and ready to face more monsters. The only way to guarantee that characters die is for the DM to wipe out everyone with a TPK. After all, if no one’s left to face the remaining monsters once the last guy falls unconscious it stands to reason that those same monsters will take necessary steps to ensure you don’t get back up… ever.

Because the TPK is (or should be) a rarity in D&D it’s understandable that many players are not really sure what do to when they see the writing on the wall. I realized this when we were face-to-face with an inevitable TPK just this week during D&D Encounters. Players can react very different to this situation so I felt it was a good idea to document so ground rules and suggested behaviours that all players should be mindful of when their PC falls unconscious, or worse yet, is just one of the dominos falling in the impending TPK.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 4)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 5, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverLast week the party faced a Red Wizard Lich whom they destroyed, an ooze the size of a room which they managed to talk their way past, and a Red Wizard alchemist from whom they stole a Glyph Key and managed to escape unscathed. Let’s see if they’ll be as fortunate this week.

At Hairy T North in Toronto we ran three tables: table 1 (DM: Craig) had five players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had seven players including one person brand new to D&D, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had eight players including me.

Our party had the following members this week: Tiefling Wizard, Human Cleric, Elf Cleric, Warforged Monk, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Gnome Druid, Gnome Mage (currently Walking Dead) and Dwarf Barbarian (my character).

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Friday Favourite: Embracing The Total Party Kill

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on May 30, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 18, 2010, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Embracing The Total Party Kill.

It’s not something we like to think about, the death of the party, the end of the campaign. On occasion it is the right thing to do. Earlier this week we discussed Avoiding The Total Party Kill. This task falls jointly on the shoulders of the DM and the players. Embracing The Total Party Kill, falls on the players and is a decision that only they can make.

The rational for that is simple, no DM should be deliberately designing encounters that cause a TPK. It just isn’t fair to the players. The exception being if the campaign is a test of survival where the DM and the players are battling it out to see who will prevail. In these instances the PCs are normally disposable and there is little story to the campaign, just combat.

With a normal campaign, one that balances story, role playing and combat together the idea of a TPK is usually in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s locked up in the closest, best forgotten about. However, there are instances when a TPK just makes sense. The occasions are usually related to the story telling and role playing aspect of the game.

There needs to be a compelling reason for the players to justify a TPK and it’s rare that the whole party might agree on the issue. After all several players might really enjoy playing their PCs. After months of playing and levelling up a PC who wants to throw it away just for the sake of the story? I would imagine few players are truly willing to do contemplate this, never mind executing on the idea.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 3)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 29, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverDuring week 2, our first session in the Doomvault, we discovered just how deadly this killer dungeon really is. Our party of seven spent most of the time running form monsters only to be forced into a fight with two Gorgons. The creatures’ breath weapons petrified two PCs leaving us with 5 PCs and two statues.

On the plus side one of the other parties exploring the dungeon found a master Glyph Key that was attuned to all gates (except the Temples of Extraction). They came to us, since the Gorgon fight happened within sight of a Black Gate, and copied their key’s magic into ours giving us complete access to the Doomvault. Now we have to figure out how to proceed.

This week at Hairy T North in Toronto we ran three tables: table 1 (DM: Craig) had four players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had six players, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had seven players including me.

My party consisted of the following PCs: Tiefling Wizard, Human Cleric, Warforged Monk, and Halfling (Kender) Rogue, and Dwarf Barbarian (my character). The Gnome Wizard and Elf Ranger began the session stoned.

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On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From January 5, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Retreat Is Always An Option, At Least It Should Be.

A common belief among many D&D players is that if the party is balanced and the DM is doing his job properly, every encounter is beatable. This kind of thinking among players instills within them with a sense of invulnerability – an invulnerability that they do not in fact possess. However, with the way that the 4e D&D mechanics work, more often than not players should have a pretty reasonable chance of overcoming a balanced encounter. Thus players continue believing that they’re capable of defeating everything they face. It never even occurs to them that in some instances they’ll face an opponent they can’t beat.

Sometime, however, you’re fortunate enough to play with a group that doesn’t mistakenly believe that they can overcome every encounter put before them. When this kind of party senses that they’re in over their head they will consider retreat as a viable option. It’s not something that will come up very often, but when it does it can have a really dramatic effect on the game.

Twice in the past week I’ve had parties toy with the idea of retreat; once during a level 1 game and the other during a level 16 game. I have to admit that I was very surprised at how differently the two groups rationalized the situation and made their choices.

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D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 22, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverLast week’s session finished with a bang – literally. One of the PCs removed the broken blade from Baazka’s heart and the Pit Fiend rewarded the adventurers by destroying the Bloodgate. The PCs heard shrieking filling their minds as the Bloodgate was about to explode. The mental assault caused the PCs to lose consciousness, but those wearing the telepathic circlets heard a woman’s voice. “The nexus is collapsing in a cascade, but we can control it! Hold on!” The heroes were teleported to safety and blacked out.

This week we had a great turnout at Hairy T North in Toronto. We ran three tables: table 1 (DM: Craig) had five players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had seven players including one player new to our store but not new to D&D, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had seven players including me. I also acted as the coordinator.

The table I joined played all of last season together under this DM. They have a shared history and their characters really know each other well. Although one of the other tables only had five players, I really wanted a chance to play with this group. The party consisted of the following PCs: Tiefling Wizard, Elf Ranger, Human Cleric, Human Wizard, Warforged Monk, and Halfling (Kender) Rogue. I played a Dwarf Barbarian, a character I’d brought from level 1-6 during the first three parts of Ghost of Dragonspear Castle.

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