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!

D&D Video Gems: Dungeons & Dragons – Hipster Edition

June 30th, 2016

Two of my favorite things in the world: D&D and witty (and crude!) humor – with a heaping helping of pop culture hilarity!  Enjoy!

Want more Mann Shorts?  Check out their whole series of D&D skits!

D&D Humor: Leonine Roar on Pinterest

May 31st, 2016

Favicon-jpgIt’s finally summer, which means more cookouts and more outdoors – but still plenty of gaming, right?!  May was a busy month for me, too.

So this month, like summer, something simple and relaxing!  Check out my D&D board on Pinterest.

It’s mostly humor (who doesn’t love a good laugh on D&D night?!) with a dash of stuff I simply found cool – all D&D related!

My newest favorite?  Toss up – the Chaotic Neutral Simpsons and Great Axe Problems.  Love ’em!  Shout out to all creative gamers and fantasy/sci-fi lovers who pin all this hilarious and/or brilliant stuff.

Happy Summer – enjoy!!


D&D Rules Expansion: Pros & Cons

April 30th, 2016

Favicon-jpgNever has D&D felt so elegant and complete “out of the box.”

The number of character concepts alone the D&D 5e PHB covers compared to its PHB predecessors is astounding.  Somehow, the core D&D rulebooks in 5e – the PHB, DMG and MM – along with several rich and inspired “super-adventures” are holding up and keeping this game strong and seamless since summer of 2014.  That’s nearly two years of tremendous D&D!

But what about more?  More rules options?  An official rules expansion?  It’s a question some veteran D&D gamers – used to the onslaught of supplemental rulebooks from previous editions – and even some of many, many new D&D players are asking.

On one hand, I understand wanting a few more options if that’s all you know from previous editions.  On the other, I don’t feel this urgency to add more rules to a game that is running so elegantly at every level of play, smoothly balancing story and game better than any edition in the last d20 years!  While the the PHB, DMG and MM can’t possibly cover 5-10 years of rules and material from previous editions, we’re still incredibly fortunate how much the 5e core rulebooks do cover.

I know our playgroup recently had a passionate discussion about the pros and cons of rules expansion – has yours?

While new and more choices might be nice for the existing minor content gaps (for example, more feats, though they’re optional anyway; and more classic monsters – my beloved girallon, where are you?!), the big consideration that keeps me on the conservative end of rules expansion is game complexity – something that impacts DMs directly.  Which means it impacts everyone and every D&D session!

As you may have seen in my Faster Combat course and ebook, I’m all about smooth gameplay for players and DMs, and I’m especially for not overburdening the DM.  Why add more game balance elements to manage, rule on and worry about?  The DM has enough to do!

And this is the crux of this brief article from the D&D’s Unearthed Arcana survey series.  Ever wonder why, what to consider, and what the real pros and cons are to rule expansion?  If you haven’t started thinking about these questions yet before pounding the table one way or the other, you will after learning more about it here.

P.S. Miss Faster Combat?  An exciting Faster Combat announcement is coming soon!

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