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Game Master Tips

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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.

RPG game master player

D&D Ideas — Being a Better Player

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is Being a Better Player, 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. Out of the Box has arrived! The shipment of the hardcover edition was delivered to our fulfillment center and packages have already begun to go out for delivery. We are sending copies to Kickstarter supporters and late backers first, followed by preorders received through Nerdarchy the Website. There’s still plenty of work to be done shipping books and making sure everyone receives them along with the other accessories like custom Nerdarchy dice and art prints and we’re incredibly excited to reach this point! If you missed the Kickstarter campaign and late backer options never fear — we ordered plenty of extra copies. Now it’s up to you to conjure arcane energy and make them all vanish. Visit Nerdarchy the Website and check out Out of the Box: Encounters for Fifth Edition 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.

Through the Looking Glass | Tool Time with Glassblower’s Tools in 5E D&D

What mineral derived substance is more prevalent in the daily lives of construction workers, jewelers, churches and nearly everyone else in the fantasy world? If you answered glass, congratulations! You got it right, and we’re talking all about glass today when it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. After a hiatus from this series we’ve returned with our coverage of tool proficiencies in 5E D&D to go over what they contain, how to use them and creative applications for your games. As a quick disclaimer, while proficiencies are a core mechanic of 5E D&D, tool proficiencies are distinctly more nebulous than those for skills or weapons and your own Dungeon Master might rule how to apply tools differently from how we present here. With that out of the way let’s talk about glassblower’s tools.

5E D&D yuan-ti snake magic spells

Play Your Next 5E D&D Game with Snakes on the Brain and Cast Snake Magic Spells

Hey folks! Dungeons & Dragons has a long history of really cool spells and Nerdarchy recently went over one of my all time favorites — sticks to snakes — updating it for fifth edition D&D for a second time (once in a recent video and several years before through Lost Lore). This all got me thinking of other old spells I came across in my decades playing D&D. I started looking through old supplements and Dragon Magazines and realized there had been a good number of snake themed spells uncovered from several sources, notably the 3.5E D&D’s Complete Arcana and two issues of Dragon Magazine (Nos. 235 and 330). There are plenty of other snake spells out there but these three sources provided a good sampling of serpentine arcana from previous editions. I have done my best to update them to 5E D&D standards and language. After these updated spells I included a few original spells of my own creation to bring some new among the old. Many of these old spells are likely intended for a Dungeon Master to use against adventurers but, like most spells there is no reason they can’t be used by player characters. I hope you find these spells useful for your adventurers or monsters in your 5E D&D games.

5 Medicine Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

Salutations nerds. We’re back again with another set of flash skill challenges for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and this time we’re talking about Medicine. If you ask me this is one of the more neglected skills in 5E D&D since there are so many healing spells to cast. Of course a couple of these could be solved with a quick healing spell but the vast majority of them require an actual skill check and this is, in fact, the idea. The idea here is to give you a few small encounters based around a skill challenge you can drop into your 5E D&D game to slow the action down and give characters a chance to flex their skills they don’t get to use perhaps as often. Let’s get to it, shall we?

5E D&D winged kobold

D&D Ideas — Fast and Fun Combat

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is fast and fun combat, 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. Creating new material for RPG fans to drop right into your games to help speed combats up, spice up adventures and generally foster more fun at the gaming table is what we’re all about. Stay tuned as we explore a new path soon with exclusive content like magic item cards with custom art and maps for your incredible adventures. Find out more about this new direction and how you might be able to see your own ideas immortalized with custom art and game design 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.

Put the Sparkle on Your 5E D&D Game with WizKids Sapphire Dragon

Dragons are an important part of Dungeons & Dragons. Lets face it — they’re built right into the name of the game I have been playing for almost 30 years. Gem dragons came to my notice in third edition D&D through the Monster Manual 2, an edition with five such books as well as several others with monsters. But when you have something as amazingly powerful as gem dragons do you really want them to be a throw away in a sequel book? Dragons have a rich lore, with metallic dragons being the good ones and chromatic dragons the bad ones. There is a bit of safety built into knowing you can trust the dragon or if it will betray you or eat you because of the scale color. Granted, dragons are individuals who have their own set of ideals and morals, but good is good and evil is evil. So how do you handle neutral gem dragons represented the middle ground like the sapphire dragon in 5E D&D?

5E D&D Deception skill check Stealth skill challenge

5 Investigation Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

Salutations, nerds! Continuing with the theme of five flash encounters for the skills in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, today we’re talking about Investigation. So put your detective hats on, get out your magnifying glasses, because we have some small mysteries to solve today. The idea here is to give you a few small encounters based around a skill challenge you can drop into your 5E D&D game to slow the action down and give characters a chance to flex their skills they don’t get to use perhaps as often. Investigation comes up fairly frequently anyway and sometimes it can be nice to have investigation for investigation’s sake. So with farther ado…

5E D&D myths mythology

D&D Ideas — Lore

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is lore, 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 lore, Standing Warning is one of several Out of the Box encounters with opportunities for customized lore drops baked right into the description for the encounter. 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.

5E D&D bag of beans magic item

Play Your Next 5E D&D Game in the Bag of Beans Magic Item Campaign

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted explore crafting a magic item as a plot device leading to more fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure. During one of our weekly live chats Ted took inspiration from the bag of beans, a magic item that’s been part of D&D since the earliest days and even way back then advised Dungeon Masters how “thought, imagination and judgment are required with this item.” While researching the bag of beans further for this here post I came across a story shared by a player about this magic item’s tremendous impact on their very first 5E D&D campaign. Turns out campaigns and adventures across the history of D&D experienced the ups and downs of this kooky magic item. So let’s get into it and look at some first hand accounts of how the bag of beans affected some D&D players and give you some ideas for your own games.

Play Your Next 5E D&D Game with Exciting Exploration Encounters

When it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons most people agree there are three core types of gameplay experience — combat, social interaction and exploration. These three types are called the Three Pillars of Adventure and the latter of them is often the most forgotten, neglected or misunderstood. When talking with friends who are Dungeon Masters a recurring theme emerges when it comes to exploration. How does a DM make exploration as fun, engaging or suspenseful as social interaction or combat? There’s a severe lack of understanding when it comes to executing the third pillar of the game. A core component I find to exploration is a misunderstanding of when to speed things up vs. slow things down. Sometimes you just want to get characters from point A to point B and all you need is a line or two of narration but sometimes players want to know what’s on the road between places. They want to explore. We’re not addressing what to let them explore at present. For now, let’s focus on how to run an exploration encounter in 5E D&D.

5E D&D history skill check

Show Off Your 5E D&D World Through Magic, Villains and Character Options

Anyone interested in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons can play the game for the rest of their lives and experience unique circumstances in every session without dropping a single penny on the game or accessories. If the only content you incorporate comes from the free Basic Rules there’s still a wealth of possibilities for worldbuilding, character creation and adventures filled with incredible D&D magic, memorable villains and flexible character options. Or, if you’re like us and our friends from Kobold Press you get a kick out of designing your own material like spells, magic items, races, classes and every little nuanced thing you can dream up to drop into your games and share with other players for theirs. At either end of this broad spectrum and everywhere in between your 5E D&D games really come alive as players and their characters discover the campaign world and what makes yours unique. Let’s get into it.

Travel Through the Veil to Discover Fey Adventures for 5E D&D

Several of the most fun and memorable Dungeons & Dragons adventures I’ve participated in involved the Feywild and fey themes. I love the myth and magic of fairy courts in tales from our own world’s history and culture and especially the portrayal of the Twilight Realm of Faerie in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic books. I borrow heavily from that fabled writer and in my own setting the Feywild is represented by the Dreaming World to contrast with the Material Plane called the Waking World. So you can imagine my excitement when Through the Veil: Tales of the Feywild released at Dungeon Masters Guild. Producer and Project Lead Elise Cretel — @DNDElise on Twitter and a Dungeon Master I’ve got great respect for — sent me a copy and I am more than happy to signal boost this terrific book of fey adventures for fifth edition D&D.

dnd cartoon venger

5 Intimidation Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

Salutations, nerds. For context, the past few weeks I’ve presented five flash encounters based around a skill challenge you can drop right into your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game at any point and aren’t meant to take up too much time or serve as longer plot hooks. The idea is to get dice rolling if things get slow, or stretch to give yourself more table time if players are chewing through your material too quickly (not that that ever happens to me…). I’m moving right along with these flash skill challenges and I realized something very important this week — and event for Intimidation is kind of hard to specify. While there are absolutely situations you can color to make it seem like a deceptive or a persuasive statement are the best way to handle them, typically Intimidation is one of those things either a certain kind of person engages in or one characters reach for as a bit of a last resort. In light of this, instead of coming up with situations only Intimidation works for I’ve gathered up five situations where Intimidation is a valid option and won’t make characters come across like jerks! Let’s get to it, shall we?

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