When last we left our heroes, they had just rested after a grueling fight with some flame skulls.
After their rest outside of the glacier, the party was approached by a group of the Elk Tribe of the Reghed tribes. Their chieftain, had a vision a party, wish to help them end the everlasting of Icewind Dale. They weren’t party that the tiger tribe was on their way to stop them as the tiger tribe worships Auril. The party realized that this was the same group they had helped during the Trial of Endurance back in Auril’s abode!
The party accepted their help, and decided to stay and help the Elk Tribe fend off the Tiger Tribe.
The Tiger Tribe arrived soon afterwards, their chieftain accompanied by a large sabertooth tiger! This was the same tribe that they dealt with during the trial of cruelty, and that made the battle that much easier to fight. The battle was fierce, but the party was able to cut down a large portion of the force before they closed for hand to hand combat, the party, mostly with the help of their paladin/barbarian companion, cutting down their chieftain with withering blows. It helped that the party’s cleric had cut off the sabertooth tiger from the initial fight with an Otiluke’s resilient sphere spell, allowing them to deal with it after the rest of the battle had been won.
Parting ways with the surviving Elk Tribe members, the party entered back into the glacier.
Wandering further in, they came across a cavern with ice mephits along the ceiling and battle ensued.
After that fight, the party found a part of a Netherese tower that had become detached from the main city of Ythryn. Talking to their professor orb Professor Skant, the party found that they would be able to recover spell slots after spending even a short rest in that room! After said rest, they continued on, further into the caves…
The next chamber they came across brought a curious sight. A giant iron golem head! Detached from its body when the city of Ythryn fell, the powerful magics that created it kept it functional even after these many years.
Looking at other adjacent caverns, the party found a stone slab covered in ice and frost. Getting the frost off, the party found a strange device that allowed them to cast the spell arcane eye, which took the ranger (for this was the person that activated it) to the city of Ythryn!
Deciding to help themselves, the ranger used the eye to backtrack and help find a way through the maze of caverns towards the city.
It was when the majority of the party moved on that it attacked: a vampire gnoll attacked the party’s tabaxi rogue from behind!
This fearsome beast feasted on the rogue and others of the party as they fought it. The battle was tense, but again the paladin/barbarian’s raging smites won the fight, driving the foul beast away as a mist, likely towards its resting place in its lair.
Moving onward after resting, the party followed the ranger’s lead to a large cavern with another felled tower, finding two potions of superior healing! Seeing a large gaping hole in the floor, the ranger indicated that they must climb down, warning the party that something had melted its way through to make such a hole….
Will the party make it to Ythryn? What awaits them in the rest of the Caves of Hunger? Was that the last they will see of the gnoll vampire?
Join us next week to find out!
Don’t forget to hit that like and subscribe button, and as always…
When last we left off, our Acererak mini looked like this:
We were quietly drying on a dry cloth.
Now let’s assemble this mini like the Avengers!
I decided to use the Citadel Plastic Glue, a reliable miniature glue, but you could have used just about any miniature glue. It’s what I have on hand, not having purchased any of the Army Painter brand.
It seemed to do the trick, as we’ll see next.
I started with sanding. This is an important step, so we can get off all of those pesky bits that didn’t quite come off with the snippers.
I am using a super fine grain modeling sandpaper that I got in a modeling kit a few years ago when I got back into doing miniatures.
Laying the sandpaper flat, I rubbed the area across the sandpaper, trying to ensure that the spot became flat, or I bent a corner to rub the specific part to a smooth edge.
Here are the results:
Also notice the marks I sanded on the bottom. It didn’t have to be too neat, as it’s going to seat into the base and be invisible.
Each of the pieces turned out well, so there was no need to use Green Stuff or any such materials to fix anything. If you do need to fix anything, Army Painter has a wonderful Green Stuff set that will fix you right up.
I’ve used it before and it works very well. For crack filling, thought, you want something a little more fluid, and I found that Vallejo has a wonderful acrylic resin plastic putty that is for that job.
In any case, I decided to start with the smallest pieces to assemble, the head and crown and then the body:
I then added the face, as you can see above. Not lying, it was a beast to do, as I have large hands and these pieces are tiny as all get out.
Next I worked on the body. Notice that I am not putting it on the base at this time. I intend to do the base for Acererak much like I did for Xanathar, and paint it separately.
Lastly, I used the Citadel Chaos Black spray primer to prime him.
As he’s going to be a bit darker in shade, I wanted to use a darker primer to get him going:
And that’s as far as I’ve gone, folks. Next time, we’ll begin the painting process.
Oh, and before I forget, a bonus for all of you wondering about the giveaway miniature I did when we met our 25 subscriber milestone!
Let me know what you think in the comment section below! And, as always, hit that like and subscribe buttons! We still have our subscriber goal giveaway going on and once we hit the 100 subscriber milestone, we’ll be giving away a Daily DM T-shirt to one lucky subscriber.
It was the early 90’s, and my group had moved away from heroic fantasy and charged headlong into the new hotness – Vampire the Masquerade. We absolutely loved this game and played it exclusively for several years. It was edgy. It was different. And it made your characters seem powerful, even when you were just starting out. At least until you started figuring out how much more powerful everyone else was…
So it was my first campaign as a Vampire Storyteller, so I picked up the only city sourcebook available in the beginning, Chicago By Night. It was glorious. My group all started out with newly Embraced vampires who literally knew next to nothing about what the hell was going on in the World of Darkness – which is just how we liked it. So, as can be expected, these first characters were pretty much wish-fulfillment-type vamps that pretty much brought out the crazy in every single one of my friends – often to hilarious results.
One of my players was a guy named Matt. Now Matt in real life definitely has the gift of the gab. In another life, he had to have been an Arab horse trader. He’s got more than a little wannabe-gangster in him, so Chicago was right up his ally. By the second session, he went full-on criminal, and, as usual, dragged the rest of the group along with him. He also has a different attitude towards role-playing games and survival. “I don’t care if I die, as long as I die smooth” pretty much sums it up.
He chose to play a Caitiff vampire – an outcast Kindred whose Sire abandoned him shortly after Embracing him and dumping him in an alleyway. Matt’s character knew absolutely nothing about being a vampire and certainly knew nothing about vampire society – especially the fact that his very existence was a crime. So armed with his new form and powers, he bravely (and immediately) sets off to become the vampire Al Capone.
He talks the group into doing street rips on drug dealers to get cash and weapons. Now Vampires vs. Humans wasn’t much of a competition in the game, and they all swiftly became drunk with power.
Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that everything in Chicago – every gang, every institution – that could provide a vampire with some power or influence was already controlled by vampire, and those vampires generally took a dim view of other vampires taking their stuff. So, after hitting some of the local Bloods one too many times, the vampire who controlled the Bloods decided to get involved.
It’s Saturday night in Chicago. The group’s out cruising for a new target and trying to find other vampires because they haven’t seen any others yet. It never occurred to them that everyone else was avoiding them like the time bomb the group obviously was. They attack a corner and quickly find themselves gunned down by AK-47 fire. When they wake up, they’re all staked out on the rooftop of Cabrini Green waiting for the sun to come up. Oh, and there’s a vampire whom they’ve never seen before interrogating them one by one about who they’re working for.
Of course they can really answer any of these questions because they have no idea whatsoever who any of these potential employers are.
So…four sessions in…in a game where their characters are effectively immortal…they are facing final death by suntan on a rooftop.
But wait! Matt comes to the rescue by agreeing to return all the money and drugs they stole and offers up himself (and everyone else) to work for this vampire in exchange for their lives. The vampire accepts as long as they all agree to become Blood-bonded to him which of course they agree to (because they have no idea what that means), and now they’re all slaves to this guy.
It could be hard in V:TM to come up with a reason why four, solitary, undead, predatory strangers would team up as a party. Umm…not so much this time thanks to Matt Capone.
Hello everyone! In this week’s installment of How To DM, I’d like to talk about railroading.
I’m sure everyone understands the term, but – just in case – let’s define the term. Railroading is a form of adventure design that essentially eliminates, or seriously limits, player choice. In reality, what we’re doing when we railroad players is playing the game for them. Our story has become more important than their participation.
Now to be fair, a certain level of railroading is inevitable because we are creating the bones of the story. This is unavoidable and not a bad thing. It is what is; so don’t stress too much about it. We’re never going to be able to design an adventure completely devoid of this level of railroading unless we’re prepared to run an entirely plot-less scenario (which can be done and can be super fun btw).
So today I’d like to talk about how to design a low-level adventuring area with the least amount of railroad tracks possible. Proper acknowledgement to D. Vincent and Meguey Baker’s Apocalypse World game whose philosophy on adventure design seriously changed the way I approach my games. I believe you can still buy pdf of the game on DriveThru, and I highly recommend them for the story design alone.
I’ll also include an example of a low-level area I designed for my new campaign as we go. You are certainly welcome to use all or part of this area as you see fit!
So, let’s talk about railroading in this week’s How To DM!
Designing the Antagonists: We talked a bit about this in previous posts, but, without forces of antagonism, your players have nothing to do. Sometimes this is where I begin because I have a clear idea of what I want to put the players up against. There’s a vampire in the countryside killing people, so go get him. However, sometimes a particular location is forefront in my mind, and you can certainly start there too. In fact, that’s what happened with this particular start to my new campaign.
Example: I sketched out a small town (mostly human), a nearby village (all Halfling) and an inn/caravan stop between the two run by a prosperous Halfling family. This was a frontier type area bordered on the north by forested hills leading into wild mountains with an extensive bog to the west. With just this amount of information, I could start thinking about what problems or dangers this area could face. I started a brain-storming list and picked a few that I thought looked interesting.
Don’t Overplan at the Start: Seriously, the more planning you do in the beginning, the more railroady your adventure is likely to be. I slapped some names on the above areas and left it at that for the start. Don’t plan out every innkeeper or every shopkeeper and their inventory. None of this is particularly important or interesting. I only include goods or services that are either necessary to the story or special in some way, and I’m not far enough along in the design to make those kinds of decisions yet. If some clear NPC’s come to mind that are interesting, jot their names down and a few words of description. It’s a waste of time to populate a whole village of Halflings if only four of them are really important.
This will drastically cut down on your prep time, as well as the number of things you have to remember and juggle as DM. Think of it like this – every time you have to stop the game to look through your notes to find the name and description of Bumbleberry Sparkle-nuts the Gnome shopkeeper who sells basic supplies and farming implements, you’re holding up the game and you’re pulling them out of the moment.
Take Lots of Notes: At least in my design efforts, I get lots of ideas sort of willy-nilly, so I take lots of notes on what hits my mind at the moment. Not all of them will be gold, but I write them down as they come and go back and edit later. Ultimately, only those items or people who add to the story – who help propel the story forward – will make it in, but, at this stage, you don’t really know enough about what’s going on to make those judgment calls.
That’s it for today. Come back next week where I’ll talk more about taking adventures off those rails!
What tips, tricks, and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!
We find our traveling band of adventures beginning their perilous investigation into the platinum mine of Vermeillon after being ambushed and finding information on the creatures plaguing the town: Meenlocks. They searched several dead end shafts and paths, and they also found some very alive portions inhabited by swarms of bats. The party continued further and further into the mine, until at one point they found their situation even more dire than before!
The adventurers were going through a maze of shafts when in one instant they were surrounded on all sides by Meenlocks thirsting for their demise! At first the creatures were not able to grab the party members, but then the beloved changeling ranger was paralyzed and taken away by several meenlocks. The meenlocks also took away the aasimar cleric away before the dwarf artificer and grung warlock/monk were able to break up the ambushers and go searching for their friends.
The magical duo desperately searched for their companions, and were initially successful at finding their cleric who had freed himself from several meenlocks. The group decided to split up to cover more ground in their search of their ranger. Luckily, several seconds passed when the warlock discovers Ari upon an altar with several meenlocks looking to convert the ranger. However, soon the artificer and and cleric joined in on the rescue attempt, but the companions were beset by a large black ooze!
As the party battled the meenlocks, black ooze, and trying to save Ari, the meenlocks earned their name by going near several pillars holding up the room, and they subsequently ignited some magical contraption that caused the pillars to collapse as well as the room! To throw more fuel to the fire, the Talian the cleric was knocked down by the ooze, the artificer and ranger were trapped under rock debris, and the ooze split in two after being struck by lightning. Can our adventures survive this absolutely dire situation to stop the meenlock menace? Find out in next time!
Dear Readers, I bring you today my newest project, having finished almost all of my “minis of shame:” Acererak the dread lich of the Tomb of Horrors and Tomb of Annihilation. Acererak, one of the most feared creatures to haunt D&D.
You remember this, right?
Well, here he is on the back of the box:
So what’s the project? Well, he came out of the box looking like…well…this:
So…some assembly is required.
And that’s my new project for all of you! Let’s build and paint Acererak!
Setting Him Free
First things first, we have to get him out of the plastic mold.
This requires snippers of some kind. I used the Citadel brand because they were handy and the first ones I pulled from my box. They work very well and have a comfortable grip. I don’t currently own an Army Painter brand one, but if I ever get one, I’ll definitely do a product review of them!
That said, having seen the plastic cutters that Army Painter has, I wish I owned a pair as they apparently have additional safety features, which I love, having a toddler in my home.
If you end up with a set, let me know how they work for you in the comment section below!
Speaking of modeling…what do you do while you are snipping, gluing, assembling, and painting your miniatures?
Me? I listen to Audiobooks. They are great ways to pass the time. Right now, Amazon’s Audible is having a sale with their Audible Plus subscription, giving you access to thousands upon thousands of audio books you can listen to any time, while doing minis, in the car, or wherever! I love my subscription and have really enjoyed listening to the D&D books like the one about the Tomb of Horrors!
We need to snip these bits out. As a technique, I use the flat end towards the model to get the cleanest cut and enable me to have to do the least amount of sanding later!
After all of this, I lay out all the pieces and count them.
Next, I proceed to get a small container and fill it with lukewarm water and a small amount of a mild detergent.
I use a particularly mild dish soap.
Using a soft bristle toothbrush, I gently wash each piece, cleaning it of oils and other stuff. It should be noted that you should wash your hands before this process, but that’s just so I don’t re-dirty anything I’ve just washed.
Next, I lay out each piece on a clean surface and rinse the container out, putting in cool and clean water, putting the pieces back in to rinse them well.
Lastly, I lay them out on a towel, one by one (remember counting? this is why…make sure you have ALL the pieces!) on a clean towel to air dry. This is a super important step to ensure that everything is sufficiently dry to begin the gluing process later.
Well, seeing as I have to let them dry, and I generally do so for at least a day, we’ll leave things here! Next week, we’ll go about sanding and assembling Acererak, as well as hitting him with his primer coat!
It’s sure to be a treat, so if you want to see more, hit that subscribe and subscribe to The Blog! If you would like to get even more content, subscribe for our Premium Content to get access to the podcast, exclusive giveaways, and other projects! If you enjoyed this, hit the like button below, and let us know how we are doing in the comment section below!
This summer adventure is from the convention game I ran on sunday. I ran the same adventure on friday, but didn’t take enough notes. Also, I have given a summary, partial and otherwise, for other groups that have run this adventure. It’s a favorite of mine. It’ll likely be the last time I blog about a group running it. I have other materials, I promise!
For those interested, this adventure can be found in Dungeon Magazine issue #53, beginning on page 20. The adventure was written by a Mr. Willie Walsh.
The party, newly formed and just getting to know one another, I just been betting down for the night when they were interrupted by the hooting of a large owl that began speaking to them!
It claimed that it’s employer was offering a lucrative contract with a flat fee plus a percentage of found treasure. The party acknowledged their interest and followed the owl to its employer.
What they found there boggled the mind. They found a 12 ft tall Giant in well tailored clothing with a deep baritone voice declaring its name to be Sereen. Sereen was an arcane, one of a mystical travelling race, who traversed the very planes of existence!
Sereen offered them a contract: 1000 gold pieces reward each plus 20% of all monetary treasure found and the loan of a magical weapon, in exchange for bringing out a cube of force from the sepulcher. He refused to disclose the location, to avoid the prospect of claim jumpers.
The party agreed and set out the following morning, traveling with Serene on his wagon to the town of Lammdon. It was here that the party was told there’s location was north of this town, about 50 miles and further up the trail where Sereen would give them the final clues to find the entrance to the sepulcher.
Gearing up for any last minute equipment, the party anxiously went to bed to wait their travel the next day.
Heading out, the party forded a river (A), and later came to a road marker (B), with a symbol of Nergal, an evil god of the dead. This depiction was of a man wielding a shield in front of himself, his other arm stretched behind and above him.
The party continued onward eventually coming to the ruined town. It is here that Serene gave the clues that he found to find the location of the sepulcher entrance.
The party had many encounters during their search of the town and attempts at deciphering the clues. They fought stirges in the old inn (5), a giant toad in the old butcher shop (7), an illusionary troll in a hovel (17), shadows while looking up a chimney (16), and a rattlesnake outside of a tailor’s shop (2). They also cleaned out and purified a fountain (11), accidentally broke a spigot (14) to the cistern (10) and flooded the bathhouse (14). They upturned barrels to find a key in the cooper’s place (12), and found some long dead adventurers with a decorative belt buckle and a helm of comprehend languages (13).
The party gathered the necessary items and spread them in the correct gatehouse, opening the trapdoor that was magically hidden, leading to the sepulcher.
Going down, they had a brief combat with an ooze before finding, through a series of a trap puzzle involving a descending ceiling, a hallway mausoleum for esteemed members of the cult. Unfortunately, one of the members had been turned into a ghast!
Making short work of that, the party continued on through a series of secret doors until they finally came across the true entrance to the sarcophagus of Clarshh.
Guarding it was a strange creature known as a crypt thing that would not let them pass. After initiating combat, which caused the crypt thing to activate its ability to teleport mass numbers of people to away from the dungeon (in actuality at the beginning of the dungeon had an attempt to tell them to leave), the party fought valiantly, and survived, taking the loot and winning the module.
All in all, it was a wonderful game experience, made better by the ability to play in person with a good chunk of my normal Sunday group.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of a game summary! If you want to continue getting updates and keep up with other awesome things we do here, go ahead and follow us for more updates! While you’re at it, go ahead and hit that like button and comment below.
It’s been a long day, and the convention weekend is now over.
I know it looks sparse, but that’s because they were only letting in the people with the VIP passes. As a GM for the game room, I was allowed Early Access into the game room only. That said, I was able to get some good pictures of the convention hall floor.
Here are some pictures of Sunday!
Good sized room with lots of stuff going down! Lots of games being played.
Then there was my table!
Good game, mission complete, treasure looted!
It was a great time and next time I’ll take more pictures of the Convention hall!
Tomorrow, I’ll have a summary of our game, as we didn’t have a normal Sunday game, although… everyone but the guy in the ‘BAMA shirt and the woman in the pink sweater are actually part of my Sunday table! From left to right (Skipping the woman and the guy in the ‘BAMA shirt), Horris the Cleric, Allrick the Ranger, Entir the Wizard, and Hendel the Paladin/Barbarian. Also, the woman in the top picture, on the top far right ina red shirt is Eldeth, the Sorceress (was volunteering and not playing).
We’re back again, Dear Readers, with another unboxing! Today’s unboxing is one of Army Painter’s D&D specific box of paints.
Taking a look at the box, I’m already excited…soon you’ll see why.
First things first, let’s see what we have: 10 paints exlusive to the D&D Nolzur’s line!! It makes me happy that I have paints unable to be found elsewhere, but we’ll get to that. It also comes with…Acererak?! I cannot WAIT to get this bad boy open!
Pretty standard for Army Painter products. You have the Hobby Products guide, the warranty card (which, for those just joining us, is absolutely amazing; I have NEVER had an issue getting a warranty replacement, from new paint nozzles to replacing a wargame tape measure!), as well as the stuff that is specific to the Nolzur’s line of paints, namely the card advertising the other paint sets in that line. Notice, too, there is a card with a list of their entire palette of paints, less the exclusive ones of course.
Now, though, I am curious…
So we have 9 new paints here, as well as an exclusive wash/shader. Neat! But what’s this in the center?
Well…that was…unexpected. When I got the beginner set that comes with Minsc and Boo, the miniature was already put together. It just needed painting. Now we have an Acererak that…well…some assembly required. Yay! New project to showcase here on The Blog! I just hope I don’t mess it up somehow…
Now back to the paints…
It looks like the perfect set of paints to paint our favorite lich from Tomb of Annihilation! I’m really looking forward, specifically, to the Bleached Skull and the Wraith Black. The Cursed Blade is going to be really great when I eventually paint myself a blackguard/oath breaker paladin! Heck, I may pull out my dad’s old Strahd miniature and repaint him with these. He could use a repaint…
So, what do you think, Dear Readers? Do you have any ideas on what else, aside from Acererak that I could get to paint with these? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.
As always, don’t forget to hit that Like button, and if you aren’t already, subscribe to The Blog to get all of our updates and wonderful content! Additionally, consider joining our Premium Subscriber list, where you get access to Premium giveaways, a preview of our podcast, “The Hopeful Dopes,” and premium miniature painting projects. It’s only $5.00 a month, so subscribe and get even more content!
Until next time, Dear Readers…
P.S. – Keep putting the word out there and help me build my subscriber base! Once we hit that 100 subscriber mark, one lucky subscriber will be getting a free DM Blog T-Shirt!
When we last saw the Hopeful Dopes, they were on a northern route to the foreboding town of Vermeillon when they found themselves assisting a caravan under an ogre attack. The group quickly dispatched the lumbering monsters, and successfully recruited some more brave souls to help settle around their keep, Dope’s Hope. After administering burial rites to some of the fallen caravan guards, the party continued on to Vermeillon, until they laid their eyes on the eerily quite and deserted town around dusk.
Our adventurers slowly and deliberately made their way into the heart of the town at which point a large dead tree stood in the plaza in front of a sizeable manor. Several members felt this imposing presence as if though they were being watched, but whenever they turned to the source of the staring, there was no-one to be found. The group honored their promise to Lucas and found the necklace he had given to his deceased wife Lorna inside the tree, and the group also placed flowers on her grave. After doing what was asked of them, the group made their way through the abandoned houses to check for lost treasure or traces of what happened to the residents, but soon they found themselves right back at the manor near the plaza.
It was rather dark by the time the group found itself inside the manor, but they wanted to know more information about what could have possibly caused the town to become so abandoned. They quickly discovered that this manor was likely the home/meeting place for the town’s leadership based upon the several fine meeting rooms and documents. Though, as soon as they began to gain a better grasp of what happened, Ari vanished, and the group didn’t know where she could have gone. Luckily, Ari was able to make a sound to let the group know she was downstairs, and the group found itself face-to-face with the likely culprits who had terrorized the town… Meenlocks!
The party found two of these fey creatures trying to tear at Ari, but the party was able to slay these monstrosities before they could do further harm. The appearance of these monsters, and some further investigation by the team revealed these Meenlocks were actually townsfolk who had been turned into the fowl creatures after being subjected to fear. They also discovered that these type of fey beings spontaneously appear where the the border between the Fey and the material plane is weak especially right after a calamity. The timing of these creatures’ appearance happened to coincide with a mine shaft collapse that happened, and it seemed likely the source of fear that drew these creatures to Vermeillon was at that mine. Thus, our adventures prepared themselves as they headed straight into the belly of this monstrous mystery…
Dear Readers, I was so excited about finishing her, I couldn’t contain myself, and had to post about her today!
Behold, the night hag…
I used Bright Gold to do the “beads” in her hair, as well as her bracelets, and then used one of the Effect paints, Glistening blood, to color the skull and spine.
Then I worked on shading her…
I decided to go with much darker colors due to what she is and how I imagine a night hag dresses. This is one of the few times I didn’t go with Army Painter and instead went with Citidel (I just don’t have the washes/shades from Army Painter on these) and used Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade.
You can see that I also did the base. That was Army Painter’s Spattered Mud color. This is NOT to be confused with Wet Mud. The Spattered Mud is a paint color, where Wet Mud is an Effect paint.
Then I used the Army Painter Brown Battleground to make the base better looking.
The ground effects basing materials really bring a miniature together, and the other stuff I have are mosses and grasses, so I avoided using those, opting for a more rubble-type effect.
All in all, I think she turned out very well.
What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you think that I should have done something differently? Let me know in the comment section below.
I want to tell you all a story about how I got all mixed up giving character creation details to the wrong party.
It happens to the best of us: you’re running multiple campaigns a week or month, and one for both of them is beginning brand new. In my case, it was both of them. As a result, I am starting two brand new campaigns: my Tuesday group and I’m resurrecting my monthly group. It’s a long story on both but just know that the group makeup on my monthly group is half different and my monthly group is mostly different.
I’ve been doing a lot of work on my Tuesday game since it seems to be the more pressing of the two campaigns I’m chatting on an online message platform with my monthly group. It should be noted that membership in these two groups overlaps. in any case, I forget which group I’m talking to as I start giving character creation guidelines for my Tuesday group to my monthly group. This is got to be frustrating as I know half of my group were planning characters based on the criteria I laid down for my Tuesday group.
Two different kingdoms. Two different towns. Two different character creation guidelines!
When you are running multiple campaigns, how do you keep track of everything and avoid the pitfall I found myself in?
This can take multiple forms.
I tend to use different notebooks to keep track of different campaigns. I make sure that I use notebooks that have pockets in them. This way, I have all of my notes printed off or written out (as the case maybe), maps drawn or printed, etc… I also tend to use graph paper notebooks over standard notebooks.
Another option is using software to separate everything. You can use different computer file folders, different thumb drives, different removable hard drives, whatever suits you. I actually have a file folder on my hard drive called Campaign Folders, containing a separate file for each campaign I’m running holding much of the same kinds of things I put in my physical folders. oftentimes, I’m printing off what is in the electronic file to put my physical file.
Cloud storage is another option, and although also electronic storage, I differentiate, as it’s not stored on your PC generally. There are multiple websites that have the ability to create and maintain campaign information. I could list off all of them, but this website does a great job already. I would only add dndbeyond.com, which has similar tools, as well as resource sharing for all of your DnD Beyond purchases. it also make sure that you have a place for each of your players to keep their characters handy for you to reference when needed. I cannot tell you how nice this particular option is when trying to create adventures based on your player characters back stories. It’s kind of funny, as Sam Riegel, a player on Critical Role, actually did a song for D&D Beyond that sums this up.
There are several ways of keeping track of your games. You can do it electronically, via hard drive, thumb drives, or even via website or other cloud computing methods. Of course, you can also go “old school” and just keep old fashioned notes and graph paper maps. Whatever method or methods you choose, keeping track of your various games is integral to ensuring your games are well tracked and organized.
Until next time, Dear Readers…
P.S. – if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may get a small commission
My Tuesday group, having migrated online, has changed some. We added two online players that add a lot to the game. In any case, it is, like my Sunday game, all online.
Due to the limited nature of the campaign, meaning the length, I made it rather episodic, so that there was no pressure of any long-running stories, maybe a couple of recurring story arcs, but nothing big.
In one of these stories, one player, Arizona the changeling ranger, had gotten a missive that her uncle, Jacob Everstein, had died, and that if she and her companions could but avenge him by taking back the castle from the hobgoblins that had taken over it and shot him, she would inherit the keep.
During this whole debacle, they found a rather cowardly hobgoblin, not like any of his brethren, named Grinkle. Grinkle was a coward only by hobgoblin standards, and the party realized soon that he had been bullied enough that he was willing to turn on his companions and give the party information about the rest of the troop only if they were willing to take him with them. Chaos ensued, the party won, the party now has a keep, dubbed Dope’s Hope, after the group, the Hopeful Dopes.
Fast forward, the party is at a different keep, called Fort First Watch. They were on their way to another place, and, having previously left Grinkle at their keep, picked him up to take him along on their grand adventure.
Little did they know that one of the guards had been bitten by a werewolf that was in league with an orc war chief that had been assaulting Fort First Watch. At the most inopportune time, namely the transformation of this guard into a werewolf, the orcs assaulted the keep!
The battle was pitched and the party fought hard, with Grinkle, the hobgoblin rogue that had saved them from his own comrades before, struck down. Grinkle had failed a death save at that point, and Arizona, the changeling ranger, who absolutely adored Grinkle, watched in horror as the orc Eye of Grummsh stabbed Grinkle in the heart with his spear, twisting the spear. She tried to fell the foul creature, but to no avail, as the war chief sounded the retreat and they got away. To make matters worse? The war chief collected Grinkle’s body to have as a trophy of his victory over Fort First Watch’s defenders.
To this day, Arizona has sworn vengeance against that Eye of Grummsh…
Did you enjoy this DM story? Well, if you become a Premium Subscriber, you get access to the Podcast Preview, the actual game that we play on Tuesdays, and can see how this story ends!
Don’t forget to hit that like, and subscribe to The Blog so you don’t miss out on our great content!
First and foremost, before I get into anything else, or do anything else, here he is, in all of his hateful and dreadful glory, The Xanathar:
Isn’t he just the cutest?!
Just…that way he looks like he’s going to either not kill you outright or disintegrate you?
And even from the rear, you just KNOW one of those eye stalks are going to turn any moment and hit you with…I don’t know…SOMETHING…and it’s going to be bad either way…ahem.
SO! That’s The Xanathar. He’s done. Finally. It’s been a journey, Dear Readers, but he is totally done, and I’m mostly happy with the job I did. Sure, I could have done a better job with the shading, and I likely will go back with a light gloss over him later, but for all intents and purposes, he’s done. Speaking of which, did you like the base? I was particularly proud of how I did on the base, and will likely paint the edge around it black. If I do, I’ll post pictures, I promise.
Now, for the “How-To DM”!
There are a lot of ways and means to make a character. But what ways do you allow your players to do so for your characters?
Which resources do you allow? For some venues, the Player’s Handbook may be all that is needed. For some players, though, that’s never enough! And there are a plethora of resources, just from Wizards of the Coast.
Popular ones include (links to buy online at the end!):
The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide
Volo’s Guide to Monsters
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (very popular nowadays)
The Upcoming Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft (available for preorder only at the moment)
On top of that, there are other entire settings with character options:
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica
Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Add to that, Wizards of the Coast published several things with just racial options:
One Grung Above
The Tortle Package
So what do you allow? Well, depending on your individual campaign, you may allow some, none, or all of it. Do be wary, however, of what you allow. Something balanced for one campaign setting may not be so balanced for yours…you’ve been warned.
Ability Score Generation
I feel like I’m wandering into controversial territory here, but I shall wade the waters carefully…
There are several ways of doing character creation that I have seen.
Standard array: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 then put them where you want them. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.
Point Buy – A semi-complicated system in which all stats begin as 8’s and you have a pool of points with which to buy increases to each stat. You get 27 points and it’s one point per increase. So if you wanted to increase one stat to a 10, it would cost you two points. It nets you the same as the standard array, but gives you a little more customization.
Roll 4d6 dropping the lowest, and do this six times. Easily the oldest and one of the most popular methods of rolling stats, in my opinion. This one goes back many editions. Granted, it used to be sometimes as bad as 3d6 six times, leave them where they lay, in other words, you roll strength first. Roll 3d6. Got a 15? you’re likely playing a fighter-type. Then Intelligence (that used to come straight after Str back in the day). Got a lucky 18 Intelligence? Hoo-boy! Guess who’s playing the wizard! That method fell out of style, but it was interesting.
Some modified form of above. I’ve seen some DMs use a stat array that is higher, like 18, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 to make his player characters truly superhuman (and scaling everything accordingly), and then another making a small modification: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10 because he felt that no hero should have even one stat below that of a commoner. You do you but be prepared for the potential consequences.
With Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything racial ability score changes don’t really matter any more. Now you can play a half-orc with an Intelligence bonus if you like. And that’s fine.
Me? I’m a traditionalist. That’s why I generally don’t allow that option. Heck, it was a while before I even allowed the variant human!
Again, you do you, but beware the homebrew. It is very easy to introduce an overbalanced hombrew race, and I cannot stress this enough. Learn from my mistakes…
Having class options is important. What those class options are, even moreso.
There is a famous bunch of voice actors that play D&D on a streaming service I follow. The first campaign season of these folks had one player playing a fighter subtype class called the gunslinger. The original needed a bit of work, due to the nature of how powerful the class was, and was revised to where it stands now.
Now, they were playing in a homebrew world with this new homebrew class. If you want your party/allow your players to test new homebrew materials to see how well they work, that’s perfectly fine. That said, the caveat should be that, if things don’t balance very well, then everyone should be willing to reassess the class and try to balance it out more.
These are always fun, especially with players that put some effort into their character’s backstories. There are many and varied backgrounds, even some tailored to fit with a class.
Then there are those that were made for specific campaigns, but fit well in just about any campaign. Some examples include:
Anthropologist/Archeologist (out of Tomb of Annihilation)
Boros Legionnaire (Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica)
Celebrity Adventurer’s Scion (Adventurers Inc.)
Entertainer (Player’s Handbook)
Note that each background comes from a different type of source. The first comes out of an adventure module, in which the players are exploring a near-forgotten jungle land. The next comes out of a completely different campaign world where the whole world is a giant city, the next from a book detailing how to turn your adventuring campaign into a business. The last comes straight out of the Player’s Handbook. You can find background options in many sources, and not all are balanced for the average campaign setting, or, for that matter, even fit into every campaign setting.
Again, beware of homebrew here. It’s very easy to break a background. Remember that a background is not a class nor a race, and shouldn’t be treated as such. If your homebrew background is giving you stat increases, a hundred gold (after equipment purchases), and major class-features, it’s probably not a good idea to use it…
If there is one takeaway I want you to have from this, it would likely be to beware of hombrew unless your goal is to specifically test a homebrew race/class/background when doing character creation guidelines for your players. I’m not saying homebrew is bad, or that you should never use it, and far from it. Homebrew is one of the ways we got the current incarnation of the gunslinger, and why the blood hunter class is still being tested. Make sure you keep balance.
What do you think, Dear Readers? Was I way off the mark, or was I spot on? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to hit that like if you enjoyed this article, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to The Blog to keep getting regular updates!
Until next time, Dear Readers…
P.S. – If you purchase something from one of the links in my blog, I may get a small commission.