A DM’s Guide to Treasure

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko
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Treasure is one of the biggest incentives a Dungeon Master can dangle out there in front of the party, the lure of gold and gems being irresistible to adventurers. But in addition to drawing your party into the next dungeon deep, or cavern old, gold and treasure can prove to be a very versatile tool for a Dungeon Master. Today, we will discuss what your gold can get you in D&D Adventurers League play, and how a Dungeon Master could use a player’s fat coin-purse to their advantage. Continue reading

How To Prepare For Your Adventure

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko
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How many times have found yourself realizing that it’s game night and you are not even close to being prepared? So, you start scrambling to get as many things ready in a short time: minis, tiles/maps, & most importantly, having to read through the adventure, scouring through pages and pages of information with no time to research jotting down bits an pieces hoping to retain enough information to make tonight’s game at the very least mildly entertaining. It’s stressful isn’t it?

For all those English majors you already know the verb “prepare” comes from the Latin word: praeparāre which means “to make ready beforehand, to put in proper condition or readiness, or to put things or oneself in readiness”.

Just how important is this for your adventure? What steps do you need to take when preparing for your adventure? and How will this benefit you and your players?

The Importance

So, just how important is preparing for your adventure? In a word: Very! Your players expect it; you owe it to them to be prepared enough so that their gaming experience is well met, enjoyable, challenging, and of course fun. Like you, they have taken time out of their lives, and in most cases their ‘busy lives’, filled with family obligations, work, and/or school. They look to you for a bit of fun and relaxation. If you are not prepared, you are doing them a great disservice.

Additionally, the very success of your campaign itself relies upon it! You want to make sure that the effort and time you have allocated has not gone to waste. Believe it or not, your game is cohesive and cooperative entity filled with interchanges of encouragement and a lifetime of fond memories. I can still remember one-shot games AD&D games from my childhood because we worked together and the DM was prepared enough to ensure it’s success.

If you have the privilege of running an adventure event at a store or larger venue, that much so is it expected of you to be prepared.

How to Prepare

Most pre-printed adventures have a section entitled: “Preparing the Adventure”. It states the following:

• Make sure to have a copy of the most current version of the D&D basic rules or the Player’s Handbook TM.
• Read through the adventure, taking notes of anything you’d like to highlight or remind yourself while running the adventure, such as a way you’d like to portray an NPC or a tactic you’d like to use in a combat.
• Get familiar with the monster statistics in the Appendix.
• Gather together any resources you’d like to use to aid you in Dungeon Mastering, such as note cards, a DM screen, miniatures, battle maps, etc.
• If you know the composition of the group beforehand, you can make adjustments as noted throughout the adventure.

It would be in everyone’s best interest to follow those steps as much as possible. They are just a swell guideline to go by.

Know the Rules

Next, have a copy of the latest rules. You need to ensure you know what is allowed and what isn’t, what has changed and what has stayed the same. In addition, for D&D Adventurers League games make sure you know the rules for running such an adventure.

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko

Know the Adventure

Then read through the adventure completely learning all the little nuances about certain events that happen, secrets, treasure, etc. Nothing says “ill prepared” than not knowing the adventure; it has happened to me on several occasions and I learned my lesson the hard way. It’s embarrassing to have the players know more about the adventure than you do. Gah! Just thinking about it now makes me want to purposely set off a spiked-pit trap and fall in..ouch! On second thought, I’ll just keep writing.

Know the Monsters

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the Monster stats. This is important because, like not knowing the adventure, you won’t be able to properly challenge your players. They might find the session or battle is too easy or in some cases too difficult and then they become bored and/or discouraged.

Know your Players

You must know your players, especially if they are regulars at your home or other games. Adjust your strategy accordingly and be prepared to deal with any issues that may stall or bog the game down. Just the other night during my home game, the players started arguing with one another. They all couldn’t agree whether to take on the mission that was placed before them by a very unscrupulous character, or to just simply rid Faerun of this loathsome character. They knew she was evil and her intent was impure, but they couldn’t decide on a course of action. Their arguing went on for far too long, I had to intervene. You need to be prepared for just an occurrence that may take the game into a direction you didn’t plan and you need to be able to control the situation. Being prepared will assist you in this aspect.

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Gather your resources: any miniatures you will need, maps/tiles, props, your trusty DM Screen, etc. When I have put just a little extra time and effort into preparing my games, the results are amazing and my players leave completely satisfied. Just to see the look of pleasure on their faces with tangible items and special effects is priceless.

Time Management

Again, if you are like me, your daily calendar is filled. Family, a job (or 3), unexpected issues, etc. Where do you find the time to fit it all in on top of playing and preparing your games? Honesty, I don’t have a clear answer for you; each person’s circumstance is different. I am fortunate enough that I have a gamer wife, so she understands. I always make time for my family even including them in playing D&D. In fact, they just rolled up their very first AL legal characters…actually their very first D&D charters ever! But more than that, I just find the time. So, it’s up to you to find the time, but never at the cost of something more important, like family or a career.

Review before your Session

If you are preparing for your home campaign, think about what you want to accomplish this session. Remember where the party left off, what’s next for them. Read through any material you may need to, to re-familiarize yourself with what’s about to take place. Then, gather your resources (See above).

The Payoff

Being prepared leaves you with a sense of being in control, you’ll be able to pride in your work, and you will feel accomplished. At the end of it all you will walk away, knowing you created something extraordinary! Your players can gain the most benefit. They are there to have fun, they each want to share in the story or excitement. They too will feel accomplished, they’ll want to be back to see what happens next, they’ll appreciate you and the time & effort put in. Most of all, they’ll have fun!

If running at a store or a convention, new players will gather as word spreads, the community grows stronger, and the store gains recognition. All of this interchange of encouragement simply because you were prepared. So whatever you’re running, home campaign, store event, or at a convention preparation is essential. It is key to a successful adventure experience. As a chef prepares his food for his customers, let’s make our adventure sessions just as delicious, savoury, and well seasoned. Yum!

 

 

The Safety of a Shattered Mind

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Something is wrong with the world. You can feel it. There have been signs. A darkness hides behind the thin, peeling veneer, slowly eating away at all things good and pure. You can fight it, but eventually you will succumb to its curse and it will consume you. But maybe there is another way. Maybe you can understand enough of it that it might only fracture your mind, instead out of shattering it outright. Then the fight may go on.

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Rage of Demons D&D Encounters season

September 2015 Encouters Expeditions schedule
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September will see the release of the Out of the Abyss, the hardcover adventure for the Rage of Demons storyline season. Each season sees the hardcover adventure cut down into a pdf that’s available for free to game stores as the D&D Encounters adventure. Out of the Abyss is released to stores September 15th. The following are other relevant dates and details for the upcoming D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions season. Continue reading

A Little Inspiration

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The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons has many new rules and mechanics for players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) alike. One rule in particular, seems well suited to encourage players to more actively roleplay during a game session and empower DMs with a tool to reward those players who effectively roleplay, either in home games, or at D&D Adventurers League (AL) tables. Continue reading

D&D Expeditions Premiers for August

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Rage of Demons will debut at GenCon with four Expeditions and an Epic!  Event tickets are still available for those Expeditions in a few select time slots, so get them while they last.

All D&D Expeditions adventures debuting at GenCon will be available for Regional Previews the following weekend (August 7th) and other conventions and stores starting September 1st.

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Bonds and Backgrounds for Hillsfar

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The next season of D&D Adventurers League adventures starts in just a few short weeks at GenCon! For the season you can continue to use the character(s) you’ve been playing or you can create new character(s) from the Hillsfar region of the Moonsea. In the linked PDF you’ll find the State of Hillsfar article released last week, a sets of bonds unique to Hillsfar, and several backgrounds for use with characters from the area of the City of Trade.

Some of the bonds include, Underdark Refugee, Mage Friend, Lliran, Thayan, Red Plume Reject, and more.

Backgrounds include Cormanthor Refugee, Gate Urchin, Hillsfar Merchant, Hillsfar Smuggler, Secret Identity, Shade Fanatic, and Trade Sheriff.

Hillsfar Regional Character Options & History

FAQ Update 7/13/2015

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This article aims to tackle a few of these questions at a time. To see previous questions please review the FAQ Wiki.

Do you have questions about D&D Expeditions or D&D Encounters? There are fan maintained documents with advice and fan suggested errata for all Tyranny of Dragons (published adventures and D&D Expeditions) and Elemental Evil D&D Expeditions, as well as Princes of the Apocalypse.

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Rage of Demons: Hillsfar

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“Listen here lad, Hillsfar, the City of Trade, is a great place to make your way, as long as you’re not an elf… or a dwarf… or a halfling or well pretty much anything but human. But if you’re human, there is no better opportunity!”

-Isthana Ro, Guildmaster of Rogues

The D&D Adventurers League is excited to announce that Hillsfar is the port of call for the Rage of Demons storyline season! Hillsfar is best known for its great port of trade and its rampant racism against non-humans. How will your character fare in the City of Trade? Continue reading