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D&D Dungeon Masters Level Up Too

Hey nerds! This weekend I had the unique experience of getting to play in a party being helmed by a player I taught the game to in the first place. It’s his first big fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and I am filled with the twin senses of overwhelming pride and absolute horror.

If you’ve been in this situation there’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’m going to do my best to illustrate this for you.


D&D Dungeon Master do’s and don’ts

D&D Dungeon Master
Cover of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. [Art by Jeff Easley]
First, let me start by saying he did a lot right. He touched base with every single player before the game started, asked us for backstories, and prepared how he was going to get us into the game in advance. He was animated, on his feet, speaking in the voice of his NPCs. He had clever, engaging names for his locations and a well-constructed backstory for his setting and what was going on in it.

On the other hand, he also completely railroaded the party. He dragged us into another plane of existence and made it clear this game was going to be about hopping into different dimensions, that we didn’t get to keep the money we earned there, that there wouldn’t be any recurring NPCs but the obnoxious one who pulled us into this hub world to begin with and said “yeah you’re going to do this or you just die.”

Inexperienced vs. seasoned D&D players

I noticed something, though, while we were playing. There were three new players at the table, and four experienced ones. The experienced players were not into it at all. One of them even left early, but the new players absolutely loved it.

The thing is, I can remember being that boosted Dungeon Master, once upon a time. I remember having a lot of fun doing some very stupid things back in high school, and I feel like a player who had been at it for a while wouldn’t have liked that nearly as much. The thing is, he’s going to learn. He is going to get better. But only if he has players who are willing to stick with him and see it happen.

We talked about it after the game, he and I. We ran a postmortem about what he could have done better, and also what I thought he did really well (because let’s face it, you learn as much hearing what you’re doing right as you do hearing what you’ve done wrong) and he took it much better than I anticipated he would.

New =/= bad

What I’m getting at here is he isn’t a bad DM, he’s a new DM, and I cannot wait to see the kind of DM he becomes when he has a little bit more experience under his belt. I’m really glad he has some newer players who are willing to take that journey with him and I think, even though there were some real holes in what happened that night, I’ll probably keep attending his sessions.

When I was new and taking my first turn behind the DM screen for more than one or two players, I had this guy George who played with us. I was terrible starting out. I didn’t know all the rules for combat, sometimes there were moments that I’d get frustrated and deus ex them instead of rolling with the punches or just being honest that I’d slipped up, but he stuck with me. This guy had been playing for years, and I know he didn’t miss some of the obvious mistakes I was making but he was always there with a little smile and a bit of advice after the sessions ended. It usually got marked up to “do a little more research next time,” but that comes with experience too.

I’ve seen the conversation come up a lot that this is a game that requires a DM to play but we don’t have a good mentor system for making new DMs. Learning the game is difficult, especially when you don’t have a lot of people to play with in the first place. That is why I feel this is an important experience to share, because in this one’s humble opinion, this is how we do it.

The right stuff

What a good DM needs to get started is a love of the game and a lot of enthusiasm. The guy I’m talking about has that in spades. You can tell he is really into the game he’s running. All that other stuff, the articulation, the crunchy bits, will come to him in time, but only if he has players who stick with him until he gets to that.

So that’s my suggestion for the week. If you have a D&D Dungeon Master who’s just starting out and is frustrating you or other players with details or lack thereof, try to remember we all have to start somewhere. The best DM’s were newbs once too, and the best tool we have to teach them to get better is just to support and play with them in the first place.


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E62 YR1- From Madness to Spell Points Another Dive into the 5E DMG Podcast



Episode 62 of Nerdarchy the Podcast Year One

We continue our delve into the Dungeon Masters Guide for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Yup we are going right in order so we end up with madness paired with the option rule for spell points.

Madness in D&D Straight from the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeons Masters Guide

Madness in D&D Straight from the 5th Edition Dungeons Masters Guide
This one has been request several times so far madness in 5th edition dungeons and dragons. Nerdarchy plunges right into the depths of madness that awaiting us in the DMG.

We talk about how to use it as a game master or how it can effect you as a player in the game. No discussion from the new dungeon master’s guide would be complete without talking plot points for any dungeon masters looking for another spin on things.

Has madness creeped into your games? Has anyone had one of their characters driven mad by the wild schemes of their DM?

D&D Optional Rules Spell Points|Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide

D&D Optional Rules Spell Points| 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide
PG- 288 DMG Variant Spell Options

Nerdarchy tears once more into the DMG of 5e to talk optional rules for 5th edition dungeons and dragons. I didn’t think I’d see this one but here it is- Spell Points.

It’s really nice that wizards of the coast put this one in here. Especially for the 5e D&D sorcerer this pretty awesome it completely fixes what I see as being the sorcerer’s problems in this edition of dungeons and dragons.

Things get a little complex when you start to add multi-class spell casting into the mix. So spell points what you guys think?



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30 Fantasy Gaming Flash Encounter Ideas

Sometimes games don’t flow like we expected them to. You planned to take three hours, and your players get through most of the quest in one. Not everything that happens at the Dungeons & Dragons table has to be part of some epic happenstance, however. Sometimes, small things stand on their own and aren’t at all part of the bigger picture. We as Dungeon Masters need them because it helps us control the pacing of the game.

So here are 30 quick and simple small scenarios you can throw at your players in a flash when things are a little bit slow or you think you’re going to run out of game before you run out of game time. Continue reading 30 Fantasy Gaming Flash Encounter Ideas

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E57 YR1- 5E D&D DMG Villainous Class Options| Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide Podcast



Episode 57 of Nerdarchy the podcast Year One

So the deep dive into the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide begins. We start with the darker side of player options and NPCs.

5E D&D DMG Villainous Class Options| Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide

5E D&D DMG Villainous Class Options| 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide

Nerdarchy has begun dissecting the new 5th edition DMG by wizards of the coast. We’ve already done our 1st impression video of the Dungeon Masters Guide now it is time to tear into the meat and potatoes of it.

This is a great looking D&D book full useful things for running the game whether you’re a new gamer or an experienced Game Master. In this video we look at the villainous options available for non player character, but would work just as easily for a player character.



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E56 YR1- 5E DMG Nerdarchy’s 1st Impression of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide Podcast



Episode 56 of Nerdarchy the Podcast Year One

Here is our 1st impression vid and podcast of the 5E DMG. We spent quite a bit of time doing micro break downs of the DMG from here on out. We cover each section individually. Going forward I’ll probably combine two or more sections for the podcast.

5E DMG Nerdarchy’s 1st Impression of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide

5E DMG Nerdarchy’s 1st Impression of the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide

We take a look at the D&D 5E Dungeon Masters Guide and give an over view about how we feel about it. Collectively we have looked at a lot DMG’s over the years. I must sat the 5th edition D&D dungeon masters guide is shaping uf to be one of my favorites. It contains a lot of the great stuff from all the previous editions of dungeons and dragons plus some new material as well. This book is essential to the new DM, but I feel more experienced Dungeon Masters and Game Masters will also find it a very useful RPG toolbox. Feel free to let us know down in the comments how this book is adding to your game.


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In defense of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons and its streamlined approach

D&D books
Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons Role-playing Game
Several Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures. The grid mat underneath uses one-inch squares. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Considering for decades Dungeons & Dragons has been the most recognizable name of all tabletop role-playing games, and considering the popularity of Fifth Edition D&D, it might seem the game itself needs no defending. However, from time to time I have noticed online forums with various concerns or complaints raised against the game.

The most common complaint I’ve read is that in Fifth Edition a player cannot make the type of character he or she wants, that more rules are needed in order for there to be more character diversity, that currently only similar, cookie-cutter characters can be created because of the limited number of classes and rules.

I understand. I disagree, but I understand. Continue reading In defense of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons and its streamlined approach

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Convention Goers Save the World – A Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern One-Shot




Nerdarchy Fan Kurt Garwood recently posted on Facebook that he would be taking the Nerdarchy Saves the World Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern Campaign (Intro Session 1 Session 2 Session 3) that took place in Fall of 2015 and running it is as a one-shot at the U-Con Gaming Convention based off the concept.

The concept for the Nerdarchy Saves the World Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern Campaign  was that the Dungeons & Dragons world of Faerun was connected to Earth in the year 2015 and the Nerdarchy Founders (David Friant, Ted Adams and Ryan Friant) would help the people of 2015 Earth navigate the chaos that ensued.

The players would play themselves in a game world combining the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons Faerun and the risks of 2015 Earth. Machine-guns and Rocket Launchers versus Demigorgons and Liches. (This game was made possible from a rules perspective by the fantastic free Dungeons & Dragons Unearthed Arcana Material (Modern Armor and Weapons and Modern Magic) and the Modern Material in the Dungeon Master Guide. Continue reading Convention Goers Save the World – A Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern One-Shot

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“The Menagerie”- Out of The D&D Encounters Box #20

Introduction:out of the box encounters polymorph
  It’s always important to read the flavor text. For monsters, magic items, and spells, the flavor text can turn a blase encounter into something more. This very encounter is based upon the little details of one spell – Polymorph. (Page 266 of the Player’s Handbook) However, instead of just using that spell as written, what if you created a special region affected by the spell, and tweaked it in such a way as to give the players more agency within the confines of this encounter? What if that special region was a Wild Magic zone? Mayhem!
Environment: Wilderness.
Suggested level: any, but it should be high enough to justify the possible treasure.
  The party might be travelling along a lonely road or twisting path through dense woods, and the foliage seems to abruptly open into a single but large glade. The glade is enormous, and appears for all intents and purposes to be roughly circular. At the centre of this glade is a thick and tangled copse of trees, vines, and brambles. The central tree is an ancient oak, twisted and enormous. It’s branches both reach to the sky and bend to the ground like an umbrella. Woven within these branches, innumerable vines twist and turn like a green tangle of webs, dotted by large white lily-like flowers. Shooting from the ground and entangled among the vines and trees are an equally abundant number of thorny brambles.

Continue reading “The Menagerie”- Out of The D&D Encounters Box #20

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Want more 5e D&D potions? Look no further

D&D 5e potionsFor those who played Dungeons & Dragons prior to Fifth Edition, they might have noticed some old, favorite potions no longer appearing in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide. This makes sense as Fifth Edition is the most streamlined version of the game so far.

What to do, then, if you want to include those potions in your current 5e game? Simple. You turn to The Emporium of Uncanny Magic – Lost Potions from Insane Angel Studios, available at the DMs Guild in pdf format for only 99 cents.

What you get within this 8-page file are 27 potions which once shined in earlier versions of D&D. Not only that, but you also get rules for four potion curses and some information about the League of the White Lotus.

Many old favorites can be found here, such as the Oil of Impact, the Potion of Polymorph Self, and the Elixir of Hiding, all with rules for Fifth Edition D&D. Continue reading Want more 5e D&D potions? Look no further

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“The Albatross”- Out of the Box #18

I can’t speak for other players or DM’s, but I get a lot of my inspiration from music. The simple act of thri-kreen encounterslistening to the radio in my car, or a playlist on my phone while showering, can lead to outbursts of “I have to write that down!” Songs inspire character concepts, back stories, encounters, scenes I want to lay out for my players, or images that lead to character sketches and other artwork. This encounter was inspired when I heard “Albatross” by Big Wreck.
  In this encounter, “The Albatross” is a metaphor. Since “Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner”, the concept of “wearing the albatross” (aside from one Monty Python sketch) as come to mean being saddled with a burden or a debt to be repaid. It could mean being wrongfully vilified, perhaps even willingly so, just to serve a greater good. It could mean bearing an immense responsibility, or taking on a curse to save another from it.
  In this case, “The Albatross” will create a burden, and in an environment or setting not normally expressed in a tabletop game, but which occurs frequently in an online RPG setting – the escort mission. The intent is to test the resolve of the party, as well as the willingness to share a burden.
Environment: Wilderness, but it could be anywhere travel is required.
Suggested level: variable.
Perhaps as the party travels through the wilderness  in a twisting forest road,  a hazardous mountain trail, or fog-covered tangled swamp passage, the party will hear the faint cries for help. A successful Perception (DC: 12) will determine it to be female, but in a voice that doesn’t sound human. If the party would like to find the source of this voice, they will need to make either a successful Survival (DC: 13) or Investigation (same DC) roll.

Continue reading “The Albatross”- Out of the Box #18

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Can’t find a local D&D game? Check your library

D&D books

Dungeons & DragonsIf you’re struggling to find a game of Dungeons & Dragons in your area, you might try your local library. For some time a number of libraries have been offering room and time for D&D, sometimes even providing Dungeon Masters for those who want to play.

librariesFor the last three years, the Durham County Library in North Carolina has held D&D games on Saturday afternoons. The program has become so popular that recently the library added another gaming session once a month on Tuesday nights. If that should prove successful, maybe those Tuesday nights will become regular weekly sessions, or maybe the program will expand with other nights.

Granville Public Library of Granville, Ohio, is now offering instruction in how to play Dungeons & Dragons on three Tuesday nights each month. Geared toward teens and younger people, this could be a great way for them to learn the game. Obviously this could turn into a regular gaming session if enough people attend regularly.

For those living in California, the San Bernardino County Library has a teen gamers lounge every Friday afternoon. Any kind of gaming is possible, from video games to D&D and more, so it could be worth checking out if you are in the area.

The Keene Public Library in New Hampshire is so interested in D&D that it has published a pamphlet titled “A Parent’s Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only is this publication great for parents who want to learn about the game and role playing, but it even offers advice to parents on how to explain the game to their children.

D & DAlso, don’t think for a second that D&D in libraries is limited to the United States. A growing number of libraries throughout the world have provided tables and times for gaming, including the Guildford Library in the UK, and the Waverley Council Library in New South Wales, Australia.

Many school libraries also have times for D&D or other tabletop games, so if you’re in school or live near one, it would not hurt to look there.

Even if your library doesn’t host a regular time for tabletop gaming, perhaps there is a monthly or annual event that focuses upon games, possibly even D&D specifically. If not, maybe you should suggest it to the head librarian. Who knows? Perhaps you could even be in charge of such an event, or help guide its creation.

As always, remember to Stay Nerdy!

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“Down on the Farm” Out of the Box D&D Encounters #6

out of the boxIntroduction:
Often, the most basic of settings can be a great place to put an encounter. What will seem like another boring problem will turn out to be more. When missing goods, livestock and the like become a problem, players always assume that goblins, kobolds, or the usual rogues gallery of villains is to blame. Switching that up from time to time is a good idea, as it keeps the players guessing.
  Additionally, players tend to forget that others operate as a team too. Players will use scouts, terrain, spells and the like to their best potential. They will seek to flank their foes or find some way to gain Advantage. Some monsters like to do this too, but the list is short. What if a monster has another monster as a pet? What if the players assume that typically solo monsters surprise them by acting like a team?
Environment: Wilderness/Forested/Farmland.
Suggested level: 3
A local village or farmer of renown has a problem with an increasing loss of farm animals. Chickens geese, small goats, and even domestic dogs or cats has gone missing of late. What started as a suspicion of a coyote problem has been made more mysterious, as no howls have been heard and no large tracks have been found. What has been really disturbing is the lack of cricket song in the evenings, giving nightfall an eerie silence.
The farm borders on a large forest that has been avoided by local hunters because of rumors of a haunting. To reinforce this foreboding sense, an increase of large webs has been noticed deep in the forest, and a prized hunting dog has gone missing in pursuit of a deer very recently while exploring this area.
In reality, a “Fengus” the Ettercap has begun a spider farm.
  “Fengus” has been breeding spiders bigger and bigger, creating a new species in the process. His D&D encountersfavorite spider is “Beatrice”, a giant spider and very protective companion. On the way to Beatrice, he has bred a species of dog-sized Large Spiders, as well as fostering an entire swarm of tiny spiders who have recently hatched.
  For them, he has created a “fenced in” spiral series of webbed walls leading to a large central pen. This is where he’s been breeding spiders to be bigger and bigger. These spiders then hunt for him and are for sale to many nefarious sorts as guards and pets. The “farm” can be as big as desired, but should have webbed walls clinging to strong trees tall enough to discourage climbing. Anyone still trying to do so should be treated as if under the effect of a “Web” spell, DC:14. Within this spiral maze of webs, the walls will be crawling with Large Spiders (see below), a swarm of tiny spiders from which they were bred. In the center of the maze will be the open area where “Fengus” and Beatrice will be.
  Once the players find their way inside the labyrinth of webs, they will see the “farm” in all it’s glory. The carcasses of dead animals, wrapped in gossamer, will cling to the inside walls or dangle from the trees. Fengus and Beatrice will be here and ready, having seen the trembling of the webs as the players either fought their way through, burned a hole through, or got caught in the webbing. They will fight as a pair. Beatrice will have been with Fengus since she was born, so they are very familiar with each others tactics.

Continue reading “Down on the Farm” Out of the Box D&D Encounters #6

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Easy Roller Dice Company KickStarter Shout Out and Weekly Wrap 4-17-2016

Hello and well met traveler of the Internet,

Nerdarchist Dave here with another Weekly Wrap. First off I wanna give a quick shout out to our secret Facebook group The Company of the N.A.G. They held their first game in there, awesome! I hope to see more games going on in the N.A.G. Not only that, but great conversations about RPGs specifically 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons are happening daily.

We’ve got the game with fans coming up tonight 4-24-2016 @ 7PM Eastern Time.

Croak Hollow 5E D&D Play Through Live

Continue reading Easy Roller Dice Company KickStarter Shout Out and Weekly Wrap 4-17-2016

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Junk Goblins and The Inspiration Train

How do you make the old seem new again in your Dungeons and Dragons game? This can be a huge struggle for a Dungeon Master. Any and every Dungeons and Dragons player worth his D20 knows a goblin or kobold when the DM starts describing them.

How often as the Dungeon Master have you gotten half way through your monster description when your players are calling out the monster name and maybe even the page number of it’s Monster Manual entry?

So how do we fix this in our games to avoid it? One things is to shake up your game a bit and let yourself be inspired from unlikely sources. Come with me my friend along this inspiration train of thought that has lead us to the Junk Goblin. Continue reading Junk Goblins and The Inspiration Train

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Dungeons and Dragons Player and Game Master Tips Plus Our Weekly Wrap Up 3-06-2016

Game Master Tips
Dungeons and Dragons Player
Sweet swag from our friend DMGInfo!

Hello and Well Met traveler of the internet,

Nerdarchist Dave here with another weekly wrap up. During our wrap up video we unboxed a little care package from down under. Our good buddy Gareth from the YouTube Channel DMGInfo. A couple DVDs plus his cool fantasy adventure Under the Tavern. The pic above shows our cool haul. Which you can pick up all of over on his website- Here Continue reading Dungeons and Dragons Player and Game Master Tips Plus Our Weekly Wrap Up 3-06-2016