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Author: Mike Gould

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by Mike Gould

Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D — City Dwarves

Take something core to the understanding of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and creating something new with it represents one of the joys of worldbuilding. A fresh perspective on an old topic tends to light a fire under other forms of creation. The trick is creating something new without breaking the logic of the setting you’re creating for your 5E D&D games like I’m doing for the City of Anvil. Once your world has a theme or consistency creating within these guidelines is key.

Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D — Quarters and Cultures Part 2

This post continues worldbuilding for the City of Anvil for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons (or any fantasy tabletop roleplaying game really). Part 1 lays out the City of Anvil into four distinct quarters and explores the history and socio-economic circumstances within the walls of the city. Anvil’s Royal Quarter received a closer look too and here I’ll visit each of the other three districts — the Dwarven Quarter, Bazaar and Commons. Taken as a whole the City of Anvil presents a vibrant location for 5E D&D adventurers to call home and with the limitless potential within the city walls they may experience epic quests right at home.

Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D — Quarters and Cultures Part 1

People are defined by their culture. In the fantasy genre species tend to take all of this language, education, wealth, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits into one melting pot and we risk falling into monolithic thinking. In the City of Anvil for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons citizens have their own take on cultural views but it may also be important to consider larger communities tend to break into zones as well. New York City has boroughs, San Francisco is famous for China Town, London has East and West sides as well as different English accents just in the city alone. The City of Anvil is no different.

First Strike of Forging the City of Anvil for 5E D&D

“Where do I begin?” Often this is the biggest question any fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master asks themselves. An idea about a theme, a villain or a narrative conflict they imagine represent common starting points. But in reality where any 5E D&D campaign must begin is a place. This place determines the villain or villains, the environment and the space where characters will first be realized. This part of worldbuilding defines who or what those characters can plausibly be and shapes them as much as they shape the place. This location, no matter how large or small, define its citizens and initial plots. It is the anvil upon which players hammer out a story with the DM.


Dungeon Master Tips for Single Player 5E D&D

There have been recent discussions on a few platforms about the trials and tribulations of running fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons for a single player or two. The concerns are always the same. “How do I set up encounters? How do I challenge them without killing the player characters?” And so on. Low population games tend to have the same solutions. It’s usually the same refrain — less combat and more exploration and social interaction. To be fair this is a viable option but it is by no means the only one. Furthermore it is not necessary to add the dreaded Dungeon Master Player Character. Adding NPCs to the mix is a plan but it risks stealing the spotlight from the players and their characters. What follows are a few suggestions for 5E D&D to add party depth without losing focus on player fun. These options are all potentially NPCs the DM sort of runs but all have player character involvement.

Worldbuilding through Language in 5E D&D

Worldbuilding is a passion for many fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters and many players. Part of what drives this passion is a desire to make a place, a nation, a people or a culture feel alive and turns things like the simple concept of an orc or goblin that player characters sweep aside with swords and spells into cultures deserving of a deeper look. One deeper look to make the world feel more alive is the concept of culture and language to help define a people. Some cultures have a deep understanding of a written language, and others a verbal tradition. They may have customs and beliefs different from ours, but plausible within their own environment. How a people communicate can define how they behave. Their collective understanding of themselves and the world abroad defines itself through language.

Exhaustion Saving Throws in 5E D&D

There is one rule in most roleplaying games that is especially true in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a check or saving throw for everything. Does a character want to jump across the chasm? Athletics check, please. Does a character want to avoid falling over a cliff? Dexterity saving throw, please. This applies to special abilities or spells characters or monsters may have as well. in 5E D&D conditions generated by these spells or abilities have ability checks or saving throws attached to them.

Mashing Up Milestone XP and Inspiration in 5E D&D

It’s a fact of life — there isn’t an tabletop roleplaying game out there someone, somewhere hasn’t tweaked in one way or another. Opinions and perspectives are multitude. The value of these outlooks varies, and their worth only truly judged in a public forum through playtesting. To this end, I would like to offer a few fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons house rules regarding milestone XP and inspiration that have existed at my table for a few years now, with the same expectation other Dungeon Masters further tinker with them to suit their own needs. This is only logical; not every rule fits ever table.

D&D encounters

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #50 – “The Sculptor”

Out of the Box introduction

There’s a song my wife and I hold dear that describes seeing someone differently all of a sudden despite seeing them a thousand times before. This sort of event is all too real. The moment of realization where the one viewing, reading, listening, or interacting with a person, place, song or book in a completely new and surprising way can be a huge flash of creativity. Have you heard a song in a completely new way because the context in which you heard it changed? It’s likely.

Out of the Box D&D Encounter, Series 2, #49 – “Sting of Life”

Out of the Box introduction

I have been remiss in one aspect. I have failed to reveal a villain that has played a role in some of the homebrewed creatures featured in the Out of the Box series. This villain has been mentioned in The Broker, and will be featured in re-writes of The Passenger, Smells Fishy and others. The reasoning for this is clear, and it’s something that happens at more than my table.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #48 – “It’s Raining….Men?”

Out of the Box introduction

Terrain, planning and paranoia can play havoc with a Dungeon Master’s plans. Introducing an encounter becomes an adversarial game of justifying how an encounter could occur while any number of spells, class or racial abilities or magic items render surprise all but impossible. However, there’s always a way.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #47 – “The Stray”

Out of the Box introduction

If there is one thing consistent with nearly every campaign I have played or Dungeon Mastered, at least one player will try to turn something (if not a lot of things) into either mounts or companions. There seems to be a little of “the collector” in all of us, but in these players the collection of creatures or things is king. It can be hard to either justify or facilitate such players, as their choices may be neither logical nor timely. Circumstance and choice often work against these players. Even worse, some groups always have the player who seeks to stir the pot and sabotages such efforts.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #46 – “Your Deal”

Out of the Box introduction

Player characters have tool proficiencies they never use. That’s a fact. I cannot remember the last time any character used a gaming set at my table, either when I was a player or a Dungeon Master. Outside of bards, I cannot remember another character using a musical instrument. Therefore, let’s create a circumstance where at least the gaming set comes into play.

Out of the Box D&D encounters undead

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, series 2, #45 “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

Out of the Box introduction

Different players have different playstyles. this can be a challenge for a Dungeon Master who might be attempting to engage conflicting styles of play at the same time. Failure to do so can lead to player disengagement and boredom. It’s always a risk and tends to be on the mind of many DMs. Therefore this encounter will combine two aspects of the roleplaying game experience. The intention behind this is to get all of the players cooperating in some degree.

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