Blame It On the Rain (Yeah, Yeah); and, Because I Like Stephen King…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.

Baleful Rains

The Atrium—at least, that’s what Kassie thought of it as—was broad and tall and long and rich with foliage. Down here, in the murk and mire of the undercaverns of the city, it was like finding a rose amongst the ashes of a campfire—out of place, wonderous. The others felt comforted by it, the ground was a dark and rich soil, the sounds they made were swallowed by the green; it was a nice change from the miles of hard stone tunnels they’d come through.

But, something wasn’t right. Kassie couldn’t put her finger on it. There was a light misting rain trickling down and tripping from leaves and palms, a musty and moist smell from the fallen plants and trees, even the hint of a breeze here… all of it seemed right, but something made the young rogue unsettled.

It wasn’t until Kavor Kain raised his waterskin to his lips, having caught some run off from a garnled oak’s leaves in it, and the disgusted look on his face that she put it together. She remembered screaming. She remembered hell itself coming for them.

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Chris Hanson’s Move and Why “Initiative” is Just a Word…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.

Weddlestaer Fauteuil

They came in, one by one. Unused to the grandeur, no doubt. The brutish fellow looked for all the world like a cross-between a well beaten leather scarecrow and some Tomsuan engraving that should be entitled “The Noble Savage”. And he smelled.

The others were cleaner, having obviously taken opportunity of the hot baths down the hill in his town. Despite Inglestadt never having spent so much as an hour in any of those taverns nor ever having drawn a bath himself, he took a pride that at least some of the travellers had enjoyed what he thought of as “his” accommodations in the town at the base of his manse.

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Building a Campaign From the Ground Up

So you want to be a DM. You want to craft the ultimate adventure. There’s a craving deep inside of you that wants to develop nightmare inducing monsters and memorable NPCs in a campaign that keeps players playing until 4 AM and obsessively plotting for their next encounter. Well, I have the same desire.

So what do you say we team up? Sound good? Great.

Over the next few months, we will build a campaign of epic proportions. Not just the story, or the world, or the NPCs, or a few encounters; but the entire campaign from the ground up. We’ll rely heavily on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual, and Player’s Handbook of course; but we’ll also pull ideas and whatever else we can get our hands on from the super helpful internet. If there’s anything I’ve learned as a writer, it’s to utilize the world around you, and luckily there’s a very healthy and helpful DnD community out there.

The goal of this series is to create a great playable campaign for the DnD community. Along the way we will stumble. We’ll run full speed into the mouth of a red dragon and find ourselves in terrible developing predicaments. At times, we’ll even think the entire thing is ogre poo. But we will prevail. It’ll take time and dedication, but by the time we’re done we’ll have a campaign that’ll rock this world and the Sword Coast!

Now, I could ramble on and pump you up about what we’re going to do for thousands and thousands of words and that’s all good and could be a grand ol’ time, but the fact of the matter is nothing gets done that way. So instead of wasting any more of our precious minutes on this earth babbling about it, let’s just hit the books.

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See You Next Fall, and Taking the Plunge…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.

The Clutch

The end of the canyon was all hard-packed dirt, bleached almost white by the sun. If Kurt had a team of ditch-diggers he might have been able to form a defense–but they were coming too fast. Seven, eight… it was hard to get a count, with them bobbing and weaving between the rocks. Their whoops and growls carried through the hard stone valley, an echo of coming and certain brutality.

They were herding him. That was certain. He’d been around too long and escaped too many ambushes to miss that, but knowing didn’t do a thing except worry him more. They wanted him in this dead-end. They wanted to nudge him to do something that would end up being phenomenally unwise.

His eyes darted around, hard dirt… sand… a sheer rocky face and hell of a climb up it… no trees… no doors… he was halfway up the cliff before he realized just how screwed he really was.

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I Warned You, But You Didn’t Listen; and, When Its Time To Kill the Party…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.

Weaker Mark

Squick was very, very tired of this place. Whatever mad bastard this Conqueror fellow was, the old delver was about one more violently exploding door away from giving up and going the hell home. Even if it mean a week in the cold going down the mountain. Even if it meant having to sneak past that great beast in the valley. Even if it meant foregoing his share of–

Squick sighed. All those lonely coins. No, he couldn’t abandoned them. Not after all the hard work he’d put into imagining how he’d spend them. As the rest of his cadre, with their proper armor and fine ideals, stood about clutching wooden hafts and fidgeting nervously waiting for another horror, Squick studied the plain wooden door ahead of them.

A solid half-hour of cautious tradecraft and he’d found the latch above the jam intended to drop the roof on the unwary and disabled it. This would be the fourth door he’d found like this in a row. Picking the lock, effortlessly, he opened it up to take a little peak and after regaining consciousness, Sqiuck quietly stole everyone’s purse and went the hell home.

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Asking Why: How to Put PCs In a Tight Spot Without A Railroad

“Railroad” is a dirty word for many people who play roleplaying games.

From a wide-angle view its use probably just means that the person running the game and the player making the complaint haven’t been on the same page about what makes the game fun. It could be everything from the players rebelling against their controlling frustrated-novelist DM to a single player who balks at the fact that he can’t bail on the adventure that everyone sat down to play, and it wouldn’t have gotten to that point if everyone was on the same page.

A clash of expectations, then, and something that in many cases can be avoided with communication between or experience with the members of a group.

Specifically, though? It refers to the player experience of discovering that the world their character inhabits has hard, sometimes arbitrary-seeming, boundaries that they’re unable to overcome.

“The sword-fighter knows that there is no way he can win this fight.”

“You find yourself chained to the oar of a slave galley.”

“This prison has been your home for three months.”

“You can’t leave the city, the ways south are blocked.”

I can’t tell you how to get rid of railroading in your games, because what one group considers a wide open adventure might look like a straightjacket to the group that often ends up building strong relationships with random – previously unnamed – NPCs.

But I can share one trick that helps mitigate what I think is a major source of the “Railroad” accusation.

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat, and Like Star Trek But Worse…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.

Badwater

Baldwin carried Kallie over his shoulder, like a sack of barley, pumping his legs and wildly scrabbling to keep his footing and handhold on this and that piece of wall. The creature was mad–really, really mad. It howled and screamed behind them, the whooping noise growing more distinct and close.

Over a low pile of boulders and up the passage he went, banging her shoulder or his knee every dozen feet or so. It was nearly pitch black down here, and he started feeling the weight of earth above and around him closing in—he was lost, or near enough. Shit. And still, the thing was coming on behind them.

A luminescent cavern opened up before him, a stream of some kind half flooding the center. The other side had a number of passages and he felt like he might be able to give the creature the slip. Kallie groaned something, barely rousing to a self of awareness while he carried her. As he splashed his way across the shallow stream, he felt his legs go cold.

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