Dungeon Master Player Characters. If you’ve played Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder long enough, you might have encountered a time when a Dungeon Master or Game Master tried to run their own character alongside the party. I’ve thought about this topic for awhile, having run DMPCs myself, and since Wizards of the Coast recently published their guide to running Sidekicks in D&D 5e, I figured it made sense to go into detail. Now, whereas the humble Hireling sidekick is a glorified waterboy played by a Player, a DMPC is a more capable character, perhaps even an adventurer in their own right. I figured I’d give my tips for any DM or GM out there who wants to run a DMPC properly. People like Sly Flourish have addressed at length mostly why you shouldn’t run them, and I recommend getting familiar with that reasoning. But, contrarian that I am, I think D&D 5e can actually work decently well with an occasional DMPC. How so? Well, let’s find out!
Rogues at Full Volume. Back from the holidays and having posted my OC D&D memes archive, this week I want to share the initial version of my first homebrew path for D&D 5ePlayers: the Breacher Rogue, who specializes in blasting open dramatic entrances and exits. I’d love your feedback, particularly on damage scaling, so that next week I can do the full NaturalCrit Homebrewery & DndBeyond postings for this homebrew path. Special thanks to Bruno of Neves for the image permission, and to Falibrand for their Sapper path on D&D Beyond, which I drew inspiration from in working on the Breacher.
Monstrous Mindscapes. Have you ever struggled to roleplay intelligent creatures and NPCs in Dungeons & Dragons, or to fully understand their thought processes and strategies? After a brief detour in Tactical Roles & Creature Niches, this week I finish my D&D 5e series tackling guidelines for running hyper-intelligence. I detail various aspects of that and articulate how behavioral traits emerge as INT scores progress, concluding with my Intelligence Index graphic. And I flesh out my Intellect Archetypes system more, beginning to envision monstrous mindsets in detail. Using real D&D 5e creatures, not just conjecture. Let’s dive in!
Tactical Roles and Creature Niches. Want to play your D&D 5e creatures and characters more tactically? Ever wonder what creature archetypes haven’t been filled yet? Look no further. While I continue to work on my series on roleplaying intelligent creatures, I let my Patrons vote on what to cover in the meantime. This week I introduce a system for mapping physical combat roles, and a handy chart of associated creatures. Theory and practice. Check it out!
Monstrous Mindscapes. Have you ever struggled to roleplay creatures in Dungeons & Dragons, or to fully understand their thought processes and strategies? After working on my D&D 5e Resource Compendium the last couple weeks, this week I decided to kick off a D&D 5e series tackling guidelines for running intelligent creatures, starting with low and moderate intelligence then working our way up. I’ve developed an Intelligence Index detailing various aspects of intelligence and articulating how behavioral traits emerge as INT scores progress. And I’ve started an Intellect Archetypes system as well, beginning to envision monstrous mindsets in more detail. Let’s take a look!
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.
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!
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.
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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