Cinematic Combat: How to Move on from the Battle Grid

April 30th, 2017

Did you know battle grids, battle maps, tiles and minis are optional in D&D 5th edition?

That’s right, D&D has no assumed battle grid.  For lots of players transitioning from 4e to 5e, it may come as a surprise.  It has to some of my players who “got use to” the minis and maps that 4e essentially required due to 4e’s over-the-top combat complexity, duration and focus.

D&D’s balance of combat and storytelling is finally back in 5th edition, so you don’t need maps and minis anymore.  In my group, with this year’s brand new Eberron campaign, I committed to using a mix of grid maps, tiles, minis, graph paper, basic sketches and pure narrative combat in an attempt to move away from the battle grid.

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Cinematic Combat: Presentation & Narration

March 31st, 2017

Three sessions into DMing our new D&D 5e Eberron campaign, awesome cinematic combat remains one of my greatest goals.

What’s amazing is how much there is to consider.  At the highest level, excellent presentation and narration of the action is critical.

So how do you get there?  More on this in future updates, but for now, here are some things to ask yourself and think about for any heavily cinematic-style D&D campaign you might run: Read the rest of this entry »

Our New 5e Campaign: Eberron

February 28th, 2017

Finally!  My playgroup is jumping into our first Eberron campaign! 

My brother’s recent Ravenloft campaign was a blast, and lasted quite a while.  I’m not sure how our first Eberron campaign experience will go, but I’m excited to be back DMing again after a refreshing break as a player.

I’ve had a few of the Eberron core books from 3e and 4e a while now.  And finally, this past week I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching and enjoying the fresh feel and content of a new world.  The creative juices are already off the hook and ideas have been flying!

It’s also exciting to take a break from the dominant dark fantasy themes and/or classic fantasy of recent campaigns (Dragon Age, Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft) and even fantasy CRPG gaming (like Neverwinter) and do something slightly – but not too crazy – different in Eberron. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Power: How DMs and PCs Create it Together

January 31st, 2017

As we near the end of our epic D&D 5th edition Ravenloft campaign (spanning 2 real-time years!) and near the start of a new 5e home brew, I can’t help but want to share one simple yet paramount tip when it comes to starting  a new campaign:

Make sure your PCs are the stars.

Sounds simple, right?  Of course, you say, no-brainer.

The real question is how you accomplish this.  One of the best answers starts with the party’s (updated and clear!) character sheets.  Breathe life into your campaign by exploring character strengths, weaknesses and quirks.  Start simple with something like proficient languages.

After several sessions or months, whether I play or DM – sometimes I say or hear: boy, I wish I would’ve had a chance to speak this language, use this skill, cast this spell or use this cool magic item.  With so many cool ideas in your head or on paper as DM, it’s easy to forget the volumes of inspiration and adventure staring back at you from your players’ character sheets.

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D&D Unearthed Arcana: Playtest Now!

December 31st, 2016

One of the best parts of D&D Next was our ability – as passionate players, DMs and fans – to contribute to the shaping of the final D&D 5e game.

And one of the most underrated (or perhaps unknown?) parts of D&D 5e right now is its Unearthed Arcana article and survey series – where playtesting for any potential 5e rules expansion continues to this day.

(Side note: I love how careful the designers are being with any official rules expansion.  They’ve said they don’t want to overwhelm anyone, especially the DM, and risk the awful rules bloat and power creep so common in past editions.  So plenty of caution and playtesting – by all of us – makes sense.  Quality over quantity?  Yes, please!)

The many new class archetypes alone in Unearthed Arcana will win most D&D gamers over, and a survey accompanies each of these playtest options so you – as the players and DMs running the characters and campaigns – can tell the D&D designers what works ok, what you love and what you hate!

So if you’ve missed Unearthed Arcana since its dawn in February 2015, check it out now!  While the proposed new class archetypes are arguably the most exciting content (and most frequent in recent months), you’ll find new rules and ideas for mass combat, feats, quicker characters, the Underdark, Eberron and much more.

New bard colleges?  Weapon-master monks?  The cleric domains of Grave and Forge?  Oaths of Conquest or Treachery – yes, Treachery! – for paladins?  How about some beloved classics like the Arcane Archer, Knight or Samurai?  (Oriental Adventures fans, I know you’re out there!)  They’re all here for us to playtest – right now!

So find something you’d like to try in your games, talk to your DM, test drive it a while, and send in your feedback through its matching Unearthed Arcana survey.

Help shape the future of 5e!

D&D Video Gems: #WaffleCrew D&D Funny Moments

November 30th, 2016

Favicon-jpgCurse of Strahd is an excellent adventure – I should know, my playgroup has been playing it all year and more!

Whether it’s my brother’s campaign, yours, or DM Chris Perkins and the #WaffleCrew playing, there are still moments of laughter in the otherwise perfectly dark and deadly Ravenloft setting.  Enjoy!

My favorite part starts at 3:10… now that’s a memorable performance!

 

D&D Video Gems: Nights at the Round Table!

October 31st, 2016

Favicon-jpgNeed a few belly laughs?  Check this tremendous motley crew out:

What a find!  I must have rolled a 20 on my check!

D&D Video Gems: An Epic Quest!

September 30th, 2016

Favicon-jpgWhat happens when the Fellowship of the Ring goes on the Quest for the Holy Grail?

D&D: Expectation vs. Reality of course!  Enjoy!

 

D&D’s Best Settings: Play Ravenloft!

August 31st, 2016

Favicon-jpgCurseofStrahd_ProductImageAs our current 5e campaign in Ravenloft (as a player, yay!) nears a close, I can’t help but highly recommend every D&D player, new or vet, play in this setting.  Yes, again!

My brother’s done brilliant work running us through 20 levels of Ravenloft D&D horror goodness.  It’s a classic world and classic RPG genre.

Whether it’s a quick, nostalgic return to the Castle Ravenloft module or leaping into the Curse of Strahd D&D 5e superadventure, or a homebrew campaign in the setting drawing on the metric ton of awesome Ravenloft material throughout D&D’s editions – or all three, like my brother’s doing! – you’ll love to dread and fear your time Ravenloft.

P.S. Is it Storm King’s Thunder time yet??  I can’t wait to DM this!!

 

D&D Video Gems: Force Grey, Giant Hunters

July 28th, 2016

Favicon-jpgI’ve always loved giants in D&D… dare I say as much or sometimes more than dragons!

So I’m really excited for the Storm King’s Thunder D&D superadventure coming out just in time for football!  (Such a glorious combination of awesome forces!)

Plus it gives me a reason to actually want to reach for minis occasionally in 5e – my collection of giant minis is enormous.  Hmm, accidental bad pun GO!

I typically hate spoilers of books, movies or adventures.  But since I’m planning on DMing and not playing as a PC in this one, I’m actually checking out the Storm King’s Thunder preview *right now* by our favorite DM Matthew Mercer and friends.  Miss it?  Don’t!  Enjoy!