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Beyond D&D 5e Challenge Rating: 20 Traits of Difficulty, Danger, and Death

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Meme by DungeonMemer
Difficulty, Danger, and Death. Have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons, like D&D 5e, and noticed how Monster Encounter Difficulty becomes increasingly unpredictable at high-level? Ever wondered why? Conversely, ever had a low-level Total Party Kill (TPK)? The traits that really make encounters in D&D 5e difficult or dangerous, don’t always boil down to Challenge Rating. What makes for Deadly Encounters? Using this guide, you as a Dungeon Master can better balance encounters, or just adjust difficulty up or down dramatically. And you as a D&D Player can approach the game more tactically. I contrast Apparent Challenge Rating and Actual Challenge Rating, and discuss Challenge Rating Instability. Beyond just Action Economy Parity, inspired by projects like The Monsters Know, I examine how Supplies, Schema, Status, Space, Structure, and Strategy all shape Game Balance.

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Concept Art From Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire

The Ancients: Tips on Mythic Worldbuilding For Past Ages

Lost Worlds and Hidden Legacies. Ancient Ages and Entities. Prophecies and Relics. This week I want to delve into the mythology of “the Ancients”, an ancestral ur-myth common throughout cultures and fiction. A topic that fills the air with mystery and intrigue, wonder and excitement. So here’s a deep dive for all you worldbuilders, Dungeon Masters, and Game Masters developing fictional cultures. For all you players in tabletop RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder working on your character backstories. And for storytellers and mythology fans more generally too. Anyone building cultural backdrops and character backstories relating to an antique age, building either lore or plot. Check it out!

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30 Gnomish Industrial Weapons For D&D 5e

Otherworldly Incantations gnomes are redneck steampunk mages
Gnomish Industrial Weapons. One part steampunk, one part mage, and one part redneck, Gnomes have captured the imagination of many a worldbuilder. After my post on Evil Overlord Lairs I wanted to make some new weapons for Dungeons & Dragons, D&D 5e specifically, that fit with my homebrew world of Yridia, where reclusive mountain Gnomes hide a latent post-cataclysmic industrialism. Occasionally, their recon and expeditionary forces encounter adventuring parties! Not intended for normal vendors or perfect game balance, Dungeon Masters can use these items against D&D players, or let them access some as unique magic weapons.

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Top 20 Elements of Evil Overlord Lairs

Otherworldly Incantations Evil Overlord Lairs

Evil. Overlord. Lairs. Happy Spooktober everyone! Following my post on Gritty Gaming, I’ve brewed up a nice little recipe for Dungeon Masters and worldbuilders who want to design the most dastardly of dungeons: an Evil Overlord Lair! And I’ve included some simple notes on narrative exposition and encounter ideas for each element too. With this I plan to kick off a periodic series on Villainry. Enjoy!

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The 12 G’s of Gritty Gaming For D&D 5e

Otherworldly Incantations D&D 5e gritty gaming
Grimdark. Grit. Glory. Welcome back, Outlander. Now that I’ve finished my series on the Occult, I want to share with you some thoughts I’ve stewed on for awhile on how Dungeon Masters can use aesthetics, settings, and themes for grittier gaming in D&D 5e, as well as mechanics and monsters that further this. Grittier worldbuilding and roleplaying. For this piece, I’ve focused on a dozen elements. Aesthetics: Garbage, Grime, Germs, and Gore. Settings: Goth, Ghosts, Gristle, and Grease. Themes: Grief, Gloom, Guts, and Glory. Many of these relate to one another, and the divisions may sometimes seem arbitrary, but stick with me here, you’ll find a lot to work with!

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Otherworldly Incantations D&D 5e Occult Plot Hooks

100 Esoteric & Occult Plot Hooks Generator For D&D 5e

Plots and Schemes. Hopes and Dreams. Welcome back, Outlander, for this bonus installment in my series on D&D 5e Plot Hooks from the Western Esoteric and Occult traditions, how they shaped Dungeons & Dragons (particularly D&D 5e) over time, and how Dungeon Masters, worldbuilders, and D&D players can incorporate Occult themes. This week I’ve compiled a 100 Plot Hooks Generator Tool and the Full 100 Plot Hooks List for you. I’ve also revamped the formatting for Parts 1-4, and I plan on adding a Meme Gallery page later this week, before I move on to a new series next Tuesday. Special thanks to my friend Mike for HTML & JavaScript help!

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Mystical Motives 2

Mystical Motives: 100 Esoteric & Occult Plot Hooks For D&D 5e, Part 2

Reality. Miracles. Infinity. Ascension. Welcome back, Outlander, for Part 2 of my series on D&D 5e Plot Hooks from the Western Esoteric and Occult traditions, how they shaped Dungeons & Dragons (particularly D&D 5e) over time, and how Dungeon Masters, worldbuilders, and D&D players can incorporate Occult themes. This week we kick down the door straight through Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages into the Renaissance and Early Modern Period. Let’s talk about Gnosticism, Thaumaturgy, Kabbalah, Cunning Folk, and Theosophy!

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Mystic Motives Part 1

Mystical Motives: 100 Esoteric & Occult Plot Hooks For D&D 5e, Part 1

Signs. Spirits. Sigils. Secrets. For my first blog post on Otherworldly Incantations I want to open with a longer-than-average series in four parts on Western Esoteric and Occult traditions, their relation to Dungeons & Dragons (particularly D&D 5e), and topical Plot Hooks to inspire Dungeon Masters, worldbuilders, and D&D players to incorporate Occult themes. Let’s learn about Therianthropy, the Old Norse Magickal Tradition, Apotropaic Magick, Hermeticism, and Alchemy!

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Otherworldly Incantations