I was sitting with the Nerdarchists talking about effective monster combinations for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and we came up with a lot of really cool ideas. Some of those ideas were displayed in the recent Monster BFF video, but my thoughts kept racing, creating all manner of scenes I really need to share with all of you to calm my turbulent mind. So, together we will go through a few more ideas for monster combinations in D&D that were brought up during the discussion and put them together into a scene I hope you’ll use in your campaign, or at least just find some inspiration and enjoyment.
Nerdarchists Dave and Ted are at it again, and they’ve jumped back into Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. This time we’re looking at a curious fifth edition D&D monster entry, the stone cursed. The Nerdarchists threw out some great ideas that got me thinking how I would use this entry. I’m a sucker for using under appreciated monster entries and I intend on throwing a creature of two that you might not have seen or used yet. Let’s get into the Stone Cursed and their presence in this encounter line.
I started talking about using the mind flayer and beholder in our homebrew campaign setting in a previous article. Mainly I covered the beholder re-imagined as dread spheres. In the previous article I talked about the idea of a Chaos Realm and powerful beings known as Travelers. One of these creatures took control of an elven city named Karsha Luceen.
The beholder was introduced with the first Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Greyhawk in 1975. The mind flayer first appeared in the official newsletter of TSR Games, The Strategic Review No. 1 in spring 1975. These are two of the most iconic Dungeons & Dragons monsters in the game. I’d love to know how many players have met their end to one of these two baddies. Of course D&D is rife with monsters what makes the beholder and mind flayer so special. I think it’s because they are so alien and bizarre that they really capture the imagination of players and Dungeon Masters alike in a way that very few other Dungeons and Dragons Monsters do.
Nerdarchists Dave and Ted are talking about bandits in D&D and giving out lots of great ideas and examples. However, the segment is intended to be monster replacements and it got me thinking about how I would replace bandits without simply going right back to something commonly used like goblins and kobolds. I got to flipping through the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, looking for creatures I’d never used to replicate the feeling and challenge of bandits. I came to a rather odd inspiration: giant weasels. How do we use weasels in place of bandits? Let’s explore some ideas together!
Nerdarchy plays fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons in the our own campaign setting Chimes of Discordia. The world is Ulthe-Ganya, a hodgepodge one of our early campaigns we are currently doing in D&D games. In that world there is our god of war Stromguard, the lord of battle, bloodshed, and warfare. He is a brutal being that lives for strife and conflict. It is only fitting he has champions to match his demeanor. His followers are drawn from warriors, soldiers, and more primitive tribal peoples. Mechanically his followers in our campaign setting will be drawn from the barbarian, fighter, and War Domain cleric character classes. Some outliers would be bard (skalds), ranger, monk (brawlers), and paladin. Paladins in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons have become holy warriors dedicated to a particular oath. The most violent and warlike of these might find that oath sworn before the altar of Stromguard. Two oaths in particular stand out for Stromguard — Oath of Conquest and Oath of Vengeance. These champions are both revered and feared even among the faithful of Stromguard.
There can be no denying that dragons are a huge part of D&D. After all, they’re half the name. Most of the time they function as adversaries: a monster to slay in order to save a princess or town. In a few cases, good-aligned dragons can function as mentors or allies to a party of adventurers. However, interest in playing a character of draconic descent must have increased in recent years, because the last three editions of Dungeons & Dragons have had playable races of draconic descent, with the dragonborn even being featured in the fourth edition and fifth edition Player’s Handbooks. Dragonborn have continued to be a popular selection for many players. But their inclusion as a mainstream race has always baffled me, because even before they were introduced, there was another great candidate for a playable D&D race of draconic descent: half-dragons, the children of true dragons and their mortal lovers.
Now that we’ve seen the insidious and torturous nature of the black dragon and the windy torrent of the wind dragon and their D&D dragon lairs, I think we need to cool off. Let’s take this party to the frozen tundra of the north where, shockingly enough, I have no shirtless savages. Instead, there be dragons. Well, just the one really. Let’s talk about introducing a dragon with the vicious, cold, and animalistic white dragon. What do these frost wyrms have to offer, what do white dragon lairs look like, and what servants, if at all do they have? We’re going to jump into my take on this lesser used dragon and try to make a unique adventure.
If you’re a frequent reader, you know I like to jump onto whatever topic the Nerdarchists are talking about any given week and throw in my 2 cp. Recently, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted are covered the gith chapter from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and I simply gave a soft sigh. The gith are a combination of just about everything I find uninteresting in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Living in a plane of existence beyond the material, psionics, and being a monstrous race. Let’s dive into why I dislike D&D monstrous races and ways that disdain has made my game better. Well, at least I think it’s better.
I can’t be held down friends. You thought I was going to keep it going on the chromatic spectrum for introducing a dragon, but here we go doing a pivot to elemental dragons enclosed in the wonderful Tome of Beasts. While I have a deep love for the chromatic dragons, I do find them a bit restrictive at times. Because they are so iconic and interesting, it feels wrong to step outside their prescribed niches. The additional types of dragons and drakes in the Tome of Beasts allow for not only a wider range in dragon types and D&D dragon lairs but built-in personalities running a much wider gamut. Let’s roll into the bullies of the sky: the wind dragons and wind dragon lairs.
Another month comes with it another wonderful Nerdarchy Patreon reward. For July 2018, Critical Hit Publishing brings us a wonderful supplement by the name of The Wyestone Horror. This document is packed with interesting items, new monsters, and a great adventure appropriate for a spooky one-shot. Let’s go into some of the aspects I really enjoyed about this Patreon reward and where it has legs beyond just the one-shot held within.
There are two aspects of Dungeons & Dragons history that I love to include as often as I can in my campaigns. I find dungeons so important to D&D that it’s rare I will run even short arcs without them. The iconic nature or sheer power that comes with introducing a dragon into the narrative and the reaction you get from players when they find out there are rumors of a dragon… To me, these separate are wonderful, but together make for the set piece that brings D&D to firing on all cylinders. Let’s explore the different D&D dragons and the lairs they might make in a world where dungeons are reality. Let’s start out with one of my favorites: the Black Dragon.
Monster talks at Nerdarchy?! I’m there. Illithids and beholders in Dungeons & Dragons are super iconic and really weird foes for your players to be pitted against. Both of these creatures tend to be Underdark denizens, but its not unheard of for beholders to create lairs closer to the surface or in some instances, near or within cities. I have quite a bit of experience with beholders, so I’d like to walk you through my method for bringing D&D beholders to life and making their alien nature really shine through creating a beholder lair that its mere existence is a puzzle for the players to deal with.
The Nerdarchists are at it again but this time they’re talking about something that I truly love — kobolds in Dungeons & Dragons. Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a mechanical bend, talking about negative effects and conditions you can place on your player characters to make fights tactically harder. I enjoyed that angle, but I want to talk about what D&D kobolds mean to me and how I use kobold encounters. In doing this, I hope to convert those who don’t see the joy of kobold dungeons and maybe inspire those that already do.
Sometimes, adventures in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons take you away from dry land and the comfort of familiar tropes. When ancient evil threatens the world from the ocean floor, when rumors of a sunken city offer the prospects of rewards untouched by man, or simply when a transport ship sinks, then its time to dive below the waves. Aquatic adventures in D&D can offer a fresh new experience for players and give the Dungeon Master an opportunity to play with some creatures and locations that tend to go untouched. So, strap on your swim cap as we dive into running an adventure underwater.