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Showing posts from April, 2018

Player Agency Post Mortem : The Interrogation

"Zone of Truth forbids you from lying, but it certainly does not prevent you from deceiving." - Anonymous DM To the players of this game, my heart goes out to you. This is the kind of DM'ing that ruins D&D for people. Let me give you a little context about what actually happened here. The Setup "They survived Cragmaw Castle and got out with Gundren and the doppelgänger disguised as a drow woman." - Anonymous DM So this group is playing the excellent 'Lost Mine of Phandelver' from the 5e starter set. The main thing to notice here is that the players have had a huge win. They saved Gundren (your patron from the outset of the adventure), and they captured the doppelgänger Vyerlith. Great job team! "I was ready to have her craft a story, make a deal with the party to lead them to a shrine she claimed could help them but really it was useless and actually dangerous, and get away from there." - Anonymous DM Ok, so here's where th

Alternatives to flanking in 5e

Straight from the DMG, Chapter 8 "Optional Rule: Flanking" Read that? Optional! Well isn't that something?! Somewhere in the transition between editions I got something mixed up. This wouldn't be the first time I've unintentionally grafted something from a previous edition onto this one... "ME: Can I have a Diplomacy check? PLAYER: Wat?" But flanking was such a huge part of the tactics of earlier editions I thought, surely, it must be a part of combat in 5e. Nope! It's an optional rule tucked away in the DMG rather than in the core RAW (Rules as Written). Now, I don't plan on changing how I'm running our current campaign at all. My players have internalized flanking as part of how they play their characters. These tactics are core to their combat strategies, and I don't plan on yanking the rug out from under them. However, this got me curious about how you actually play the game without it. Flanking is such a powerful optiona

Unbridled Power!

On the dndnext subreddit  today user,  Ronocnz  was brainstorming a mechanic for simulating that moment in fantasy fiction where the hero uses some last-ditch effort to summon some great inner power from the depths of his psyche and annihilate his enemies in a wave of unbridled magic as yet unavailable to the hero. This is a fun idea, and incredibly flavorful... and I love fun flavorful stuff. Ronocnz's suggestion was to take a spell they already know and cast it as a higher level spell that the player doesn't have access to. Also a great idea, but what he didn't have was a cost for this. A resource that the player could use that would make this mechanic solid, unabusable, and fun for everyone at the table. "How many turns until I have to cast cure light wounds on you again?" My suggestion was this... Unbridled Power Any spell-casting class has access to the unbridled power ability. This ability lets you cast any spell you know as if it were cast


The diagram showed detailed dynamics of how a fighting man, armed with a bow and arrow, could storm a keep by leaping over a castle wall on the back of a unicorn. This was one part physics text book and one part Micheal Moorcock. Angles of attack over parapets drawn out in exacting detail; isometric dungeon-scapes like unsolved mazes waiting to be solved. I dismissed the weighty impenetrable document and sat down to play some Dungeons and Dragons. Over the next 4 hours, at my best friends dinner table, he, me and his older brothers delved into the depths of some unremembered dungeon. I picked up an unused character, already stocked to the gills with magic items and proceeded to blast chain lightning javelins through hordes of undead while simultaneously annihilating my poor dwarf's groin on a balance beam high above the cavern floor. This game had me by the balls. Still my favorite cover of any D&D supplement ever. We could rarely get my friends older brothers to run fo