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.
Get all up in the face of the week that was with foxy feats, tricky tests and tips on being the dirtiest fighter in the game plus of course new live chats with creative folks and actual plays round out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
As a veteran Dungeon Master I don’t refer to the Dungeon Master’s Guide as often as I used to but when I do I always find something I forgot about. There is so much good information inside whether you want to use those treasures of the DMG whole cloth or you allow them to inspire you in new directions. For instance you might wish to recreate random tables with your specific campaign in mind whether it’s homebrew or a published Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting.
Chapter 7: Treasure has a section called special features for magic items. There are four random roll charts in that section:
- Who Created It or Was Intended to Use It?
- What Is a Detail from Its History?
- What Minor Property Does It Have?
- What Quirk Does It Have?
Instead of just giving out magic items from the DMG you can use this table to infuse a little personality into your standard longsword +1. You can take it a step further. I recently started a new campaign where most of the races are reptilian in nature and humans aren’t a dominant race. Other races like elves, dwarves and halflings would have to be from somewhere else.
Looking at the four tables I can take that longsword +1 and create something different. Revisiting the charts and questions from above lets make our longsword +1 shine.
Who created it or was intended to use it?
Dragon. This item is made from scales and talons shed by a dragon. Perhaps it incorporates precious metals and gems from the dragon’s hoard. It grows slightly warm when within 120 feet of a dragon.
Since this game revolves around dragons and reptilian themes we are just going to go with it was forged of the cast off scales of the first dragon emperor Drasusgino. In addition Drasusgino gifted one of their favorite gems, a rare emerald, to be set in the pommel of the sword.
What is a detail from its history?
Symbol of Power. This item was once used as part of royal regalia or as a badge of high office. Its former owner or that person’s descendants might desire it, or someone might mistakenly assume its new owner is the item’s legitimate inheritor.
This sword was bestowed upon the first knight of dragon emperor Drasusgino. Members of this knightly order may recognize this legendary blade and seek it out to be placed within the care of their order.
What minor property does it have?
Guardian. The item whispers warnings to its bearer, granting a +2 bonus to initiative if the bearer isn’t incapacitated.
The blade once crafted was so imbued with purpose to safeguard the realm and it’s emperor that it enhances the wielder’s ability to react to danger.
What quirk does it have?
Loud. The item makes a loud noise — such as a clang, a shout, or a resonating gong — when used.
When drawn the blade remembers the glory of being a dragon. It roars with the ferocity of a dragon when unsheathed.
Drukal the Fang of Drasusgino
Longsword +1 forged of the scales of the Dragon Emperor Drasusgino. Set upon the pommel is a large emerald from Drasusgino’s hoard. Whenever danger is near and action is required Drukal the Fang of Drasusgino invigorates it’s wielder to action granting them a +2 bonus to initiative. More than that Drukal the Fang of Drasusgino knows its own and pulses with warmth when another dragon is within 120 feet of it. Drukal the Fang of Drasusgino was first gifted to Drasusgino’s first knight and may be recognized as a significant relic from that organization’s history. The sword seeks to serve it’s realm and master with enthusiasm. So much so upon unsheathing of this fine blade is accompanied by the roaring of a dragon.
From Ted’s Head
The Dungeon Masters Guide is a veritable treasure trove of useful information for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. The real treasure of the book is the ability to randomly design NPCs from the ground up giving them everything they need to be used in a game. Going into this I have done no preparation for this chart. I am going to roll and see what I get and I will use what I randomly get and how it can best be used for a campaign.
- NPC Appearance. Unusual Hair Color
- NPC High Ability Score. Dexterity
- NPC Low Ability Score. Constitution
- NPC Talents. Expert Cook
- NPC Mannerisms. Paces
- NPC Interaction Traits. Argumentative
- NPC Ideals. Evil — Might
- NPC Ideal. Chaos – Creativity
- NPC Ideals Other. Nation
- NPC Bonds. Captivated by romantic Interest
- NPC Flaws and Secrets. Secret crime or misdeed
- Villain’s Scheme. Magic — Open a gate to another world
- Villain’s Methods. Agricultural devastation — Blight
- Villain’s Weakness. Hidden object holds the villains soul
Okay, I have to admit this is a very bizarre concept. Ideas began forming as I began typing what I rolled. When I got to high Dexterity and expert cook I started a crazy idea. As I rolled “argumentative” I began picturing an evil version of Gordon Ramsey. My wife and I watch some cooking shows despite neither of us having a diverse pallet or any desire to be good cooks.
The further down this chart I got I began formulating amazing ideas. His unusual hair color is because this creature is secretly from another plane. He dabbles in magic and is not the best at it. He claims the off color hair is from failed magical experiments, but he plays it off as part of the curse that sent him here.
He makes his life as a cook considering his expert skills and his trusty knife work, which he excels at with that high Dexterity. He could even do those knife skills as a performance to further hide his evil plan.
That evil plan comes in two ways. He has a secret crime or misdeed. Totally stealing from Soylent Green, he totally has no morals and his delicacy the nobles love is that he cooks up people. Very few know his actual source of this amazing protein. His knowledge of magic is known but he plays it off as a connection to his home plane and that is where he gets the strange meat. His connection to his homeworld comes in here as he is the one scouting out this location for planar allies who wish to come in and cause a blight on the farmland.
The knife he uses for cooking holds his soul, fuels his magic and connects him to his home plane of existence. Once the blight takes hold across the farmlands the people will turn to him to feed them and then they will be his puppets. People will do anything for food.
In this campaign you have loads of amazing different plot hooks that could be explored.
- People having gone missing
- Body parts removed from people
- Strange humanoid sightings around the city
- Blight in the farmlands
- Magical portals appearing around the countryside
And once you finally get to the cook being the culprit he will not be an easy foe as with his soul locked in the chef knife he can easily come back, similar to lich’s phylactery. Imagine if a player takes the knife to increase their own cooking skills and then has to have a battle of wills against their foe.
Bizarre, yes! But I have to say, I think this would be a fun game to run.
From the Nerditor’s desk
Pretty much any time we do anything related to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons around here my first stop is the Dungeon Master’s Guide. As you can imagine, I stop there quite a bit. There are answers to so, so, so many questions inside and every time I hear or read someone say they wish 5E D&D had X or handled Y better more often than not there’s an answer in the DMG.
When you consider the bare bones rules of 5E D&D you realize the DMG is precisely what it says on the tin: a guide. It is not filled with rules but instead with guidance to help a DM interpret the rules if they need or want the help. This is an important distinction to make and 5E D&D’s mandate of rulings, not rules can become a source of tension. The rules of the game are in the Player’s Handbook. Material in the DMG are like little treasures for DMs to find when they aren’t sure how to make a ruling.
I’ll give you an example. In chapter 8 there’s a section called Resolving Interactions under the Social Interaction heading. (Yeah, that’s right — there’s “rules” for this pillar too.)
- The DM describes the party’s entrance into a throne room and presentation before a king.
- A character with high Charisma character tries to persuade the king to hand over their kingdom.
- Now what?!
The game’s most basic rules leave it to the DM to determine the results of this interaction. They may simply describe the incredulous response from the king to this ridiculous course of action. But they might ask for a check and take guidance from this treasure of the DMG, in this case a Charisma check with possibly Persuasion, Deception or Intimidation coming into play.
On the Conversation Reaction chart the DM considers if the king is friendly, indifferent or hostile, finding the outcome for the character’s check depending on their results. A friendly king against a check of 20 or more would accept “significant risk or sacrifice to do as asked.” In contrast a hostile king against a check of 20 or more would do as asked “as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.”
Many people would argue this is too outrageous of a scenario to even consider the possibility of success, and that’s kind of the point right? If such a circumstance is completely beyond the realm of possibility, rolling dice never comes up. Maybe this king is friendly to the party, and for whatever reason does hand over the kingdom after being successfully persuaded. And if the king is hostile, it doesn’t matter how high the check is because handing over the kingdom involves risk and sacrifice.
These kinds of circumstances illustrate the value of all these little treasures of the DMG. I believe it is in fact valuable to the health of 5E D&D to keep these rules and rulings guides separate from the players too. The more complex hard rules a game has, the more difficult it becomes to run a game. Instead, a resource like the DMG lives up to its name as a repository of guidance on how you could make rulings.