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New DM Handbook

Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > New DM Handbook

Start Your 5E D&D Campaign with a Single Encounter

How long is a typical session of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons? When I was much younger with many fewer responsibilities my friends and I gathered to play D&D for a lot longer than the game sessions I experience these days. Scheduling and time management are factors in this as well as the influence of online gaming both streamed or simply using communication software to connect with fellow players. Newer Dungeon Masters and those curious about what life is like on the other side of the DM screen already have lots to consider (and feel anxious about) and session length is rarely something I see discussed when it comes to 5E D&D or any other tabletop roleplaying game for that matter. So let’s get into it.


5E D&D Players Gel through Group Patrons from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

All of the Dungeon Master’s Tools wrapped up with a deeper look at Natural Hazards but chapter four in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything holds many more terrific modules of content for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. The book’s second chapter revisits a concept introduced with Eberron: Rising from the Last War and explores Group Patrons for 5E D&D. So let’s get into it.

5E D&D Tasha's Cauldron of Everything natural hazards

Navigating Natural Hazards from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Since the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons I’ve been captivated by the Dungeon Master’s Tools in chapter 4 of the book. Taking time to let new content and concepts roll around in my mind and really consider the value for all 5E D&D players gave me a deep appreciation for the material. Like the other sections — Session Zero, Sidekicks, Parleying With Monsters, Supernatural Regions, Magical Phenomena and Puzzles — this last bit of content to cover isn’t very long but Natural Hazards comes packed with great ideas and inspiration. So let’s get into it.

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.

Magical Phenomena Materialize from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players received an adrenaline shot with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything injecting a huge number of new subclasses and character options. Like its predecessor Xanathar’s Guide to Everything the latest sourcebook includes a wealth of material for Dungeon Masters too. The back half of the book segues into a resources blending concrete rules with guidance for incorporating fun and engaging content into 5E D&D games. Layering adventures and encounters with these elements brings new dynamics to campaigns and this time around I’m taking a closer look at Magical Phenomena. So let’s get into it.

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.

5E D&D Tasha's Cauldron of Everything puzzles

Push Your 5E D&D Skills to the Limit with Puzzles from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted ruminate on all the myriad ways for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players to increase their characters’ chances to succeed on one of the three main kinds of d20 rolls forming the core of the rules of the game. In addition to attack rolls and saving throws the other kind of roll players make are ability checks and sometimes these are further modified with a proficiency bonus to reflect a character’s particular skill. There’s a lot wrapped up in these circumstances. Not long ago I looked at when, how and what particular skills get checked during a 5E D&D game. Today I’m excited about all the ways to challenge these skills through a variety of puzzles found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. So let’s get into it.

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.

5E D&D campaign setting worldbuilding

Create Unforgettable Experiences Through 5E D&D Worldbuilding

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss changing up your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games through worldbuilding and getting weird with your campaign ideas. According to the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook “the many worlds of the Dungeons & Dragons game are places of magic and monsters, of brave warriors and spectacular adventures. They begin with a foundation of medieval fantasy and then add the creatures, places, and magic that make these worlds unique.” With such a succinct description for the Worlds of Adventure where our campaigns take place and stories emerge we’ve got a great starting point for developing our own ideas for nonstandard games. Since we’ve got a tremendous number of posts here on Nerdarchy the Website exploring nonstandard campaign ideas along with tips and suggestions from the video this feels like a terrific opportunity to mash all these things together. So let’s get into it.

D&D alliances

D&D Ideas — Treasures of the DMG

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is treasures of the DMG, which we discussed in our live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of treasures of the DMG, in Dinner Party adventurers unknowingly ingest Truth Serum, a little something in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This and 54 other dynamic encounters ready to drop right into your game come straight Out of the Box here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates, info on how to game with Nerdarchy and ways to save money on RPG stuff by signing up here.

Make Your 5E D&D Combat Action Packed with Action Options

A recent conversation over at Nerdarchy the Discord along with a thread I saw on Twitter today coalesced into this very post you’re reading right now. In both cases players of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons lamented the lack of exciting combat action options represented in the rules of the game. In one case the conversation stemmed from player perspective and the other from a Dungeon Master. I’m here with great news for both these 5E D&D fans — the answers they seek are inside the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

5E D&D Exploration is All Around You — More Than You Think!

Recently I saw a poll online about the pillars of play for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons — combat, exploration and social interaction — introduced in the Player’s Handbook right in the Introduction. The poll refers to exploration as the forgotten third pillar and asks respondents what this part of 5E D&D means to them and why they love or hate it, with answer choices of More Exploration, Pointless or I’m Not Sure. The attached conversation delved deep and answers varied all over the place. Overwhelmingly the poll calls for more exploration (73%). If I’m honest this discussion always bewilders me. Two of the pillars — combat and social interaction (why isn’t it called communication by the way?) — seem clear to players. You’re fighting creatures or talking with them. It stands to reason the rest of the time you’re exploring. As the PHB states, character activities fall into one of the three pillars so when you’re not in combat or conversation it seems pretty obvious the rest of the time you’re exploring, right?

5 Resources to Make Your Online Tabletop Roleplaying Game Epic

Stuck at home? Wallet feeling a little parched? Need a distraction to whittle the time? Then why not try playing a tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons, Fantasy AGE or something else online? Following up our previous article on online gaming let’s talk some more about resources that can bring your online TTRPG to the next level.

5E D&D archer

Survival 101 — 5E D&D Skills and Skill Checks

Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons revolves around ability scores (physical and mental character traits) and how those scores apply to proficiencies (what you’re good at). Both are represented numerically, with modifiers to any number you roll on a d20 whenever you make a skill check. Ability checks are written like this: Ability (proficiency). For example, your Dungeon Master might call for a Wisdom (Survival) check. The reason for this is Wisdom is the applicable ability score, while your Survival proficiency allows you to further modify the skill check. Quick disclaimer: any 5E D&D DM can require or allow any ability check or skill proficiency check for any reason, even outside this purview. This article is meant as a guide for new players and DMs to explain how skill checks work and what they look like, narratively. We’re hitting the outdoors today and hopefully we live through it. I’m not just being cheeky because I have allergies — today’s topic is Survival!

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