G. Stephanie Morey is the nom-de-plume of science fiction writer, DM, and Diceometer creator, Gina. Follow her and her novel’s progress on gstephaniemorey.wordpress.com: Future Imperfect, Growth of a Novel.
Interview with Chris Perkins for D&D Beyond.
In an interview with D&D Beyond, Chris Perkins, as usual, drops pearls of wisdom for DM success. This time in the area of dungeon design.
“I think the secret to keep a dungeon from just becoming a slog or just boring is, first, identifying the character of the dungeon.”
He identifies three elements every good dungeon design
- What is [the dungeon’s] personality?
- What is the personality of its architect.
- How do you marry those things together?
“In other words, a dungeon design takes more than a pencil and piece of graph paper. The DM needs to have a plot and build a story around it.”
“The other key is you have to make it like pealing an onion, in a way a good narrative kind of unfolds before your eyes over time. A dungeon has to reveal itself gradually and, as [characters] peel away layers, [their] understanding of why the dungeon is the way it is, as [they] gets deeper and deeper.”
As to why this is important, Mr. Perkins suggests that:
“The mysteries have to unveil themselves slowly so that [the adventurers] feel like, as they advance, they are not just doing the same thing every time. [They’re] learning something more about the story line…and there is an impetus to want to continue. Not just continue simply for the sake of getting to the end, but [because] there are mysteries and things that have answers lying ahead. I think a cleverly constructed dungeon can reveal things as you go along and never get boring in that way.”
Classic subterranean “dungeon crawls” are particularly prone to this problem, but when Chris speaks of a “dungeon” he is also referring to your adventure writ large, wherever it may take place. And like any great story of heroic deeds, yours must have a well-crafted story arc.
A quick internet search will bring up dozens of different types. The best known is “The Hero’s Journey.” Used all the time in movies, and made famous by George Lucas who used it for StarWars IV-VII. The Hero’s Journey is perhaps one of the best for RPG adventures. Use it as a litmus test on your designs.
“Insert lighter elements to off-set the deadliness; the mean-ness of the adventure.”
Humor is a tricky thing, but inserting a little lightness is not. The easiest way is to introduce it is with a quirky, off-beat NPC. An optimistic orc with OCD for example, a hydrophobic kobold with a hoarding habit, or an ill-tempered troll trying to become a pescatarian.
We conclude next time, in Part II of this article.
Meanwhile, here: Have some advertisements not of my choosing. That’s right. These are carefully curated by WordPress’ robust ad targeting algorithm. Weee!
Medium sized humanoids like humans, elves and orcs have a movement speed of 30′ / turn and can dash to 60′ / turn. Because this is game movement, several questions pop into mind:
- How does this compare to people walking through the mall?
- If a woman carrying groceries dashed to catch an elevator, would her speed really be around 60′ / turn?
- What is a human’s run speed?
- Is a dash faster or slower than a run?
- What about a sprint?
- 1 turn = 6 seconds
- 30’/turn = 30 feet/6 seconds or 300 feet/minute = 18,000 feet/hour
- 1 miles = 5280 feet
- 18,000/5000 = 3.4
- A movement speed of 30’/turn is equal to 3.4 mph (5.8 kph)
- 100 meters = 328 feet
Examples of various movements converted into D&D 5e feet per turn
A typical person carrying a backpack full of books could:
- walk briskly at a movement speed of 30′ / turn.
- jog (dash) at 60′ /turn.
An athletic runner carrying nothing could:
- sprint (top speed) at a movement of 200′ / turn for 2 turns max (a little more than a 100m sprint).
- sustain a movement of 150′ / turn for 1 minute (400m sprint).
- run at a movement speed of 120′ / turn for 1 mile (4 1/2 minute mile)
- jog long distance at a rate of 60′ / turn for 26 miles (a full marathon in 4 hours)
- Note: these speeds are not those of top Olympians but rather those of a typical high school trained athlete running against competition. As such, at the end of each of these distances, the runner would be winded and could not continue to move at the same speed. Similar to the Haste spell, I’d say the runner could not take an action and move at 1/2 speed until after their next turn or more.
A soldier wearing body armor and carrying weapons, ammo, water, and other gear as they conduct patrols and missions should:
- be able to march at a speed of 35′ / turn for 3 miles before resting.
I love D&D. Have since 19… something or other. Took a hiatus for a while, played some other games, but you never forget your first love. Even then, you never throw away his books ,or dice, or anything, even occasionally still look at them. Okay, that’s probably just me. Still, you know what I mean.
Now I’m back! And geeking out on a level so deep, so meta that it frightens even me.
Enjoy my illness,
P.S. Advertisements show up at the desecration of WordPress, not me. It’s the price I pay for a “free” website *shrug*. My apologies.
Meltdown, the store, was quiet this past Thursday, but I had still had a packed table.* Two regulars and four newcomers. No way to continue the story arc, so I pulled something out of my hat. In other words I had to break the story.
As a DM, I often found it challenging to integrate gods (deities) and the worship of gods (piety) into a campaign. As a result, I found it easiest to just ignore both. Recently however, after giving it more thought, I came up with a framework that integrates both quite nicely into my campaign… and maybe yours. Below you will find my thoughts on how a god might reward a player’s devotion in the areas of:
Short and Long Rests
On page 186 of the Players Handbook, you’ll find the rules regarding rest. On a short rest it says characters can regain a portion of their hit points and on a long rest they can regain all their hit points (and spell slots too!). What it doesn’t explain is ‘why’ or ‘who’.
Why does a player character heal so quickly? After a battle, a fighter could go from dozens of hit points to only a few yet after an 8 hour rest, all wounds are healed.
Who gets this healing ability? Is it everyone and every creature, monsters and beasts included? Of course not. This would make the world a Utopia where a kid could break their arm and by morning have it all restored. So much for a dirty, gritty medieval atmosphere!
Perhaps now you can see why I am writing this post. We need to clear up the ‘why’ and the ‘who’.
Deities and Piety are the answer! Why can you heal so quickly? Because it is a blessing from the god you worship. It’s not for the common person or common creature but for the special, god-touched creatures of the world.
This blessing is given only to the pious chosen few. For my campaign, this means player characters, select NPCs and important monsters or beasts. The common thread between these groups are that they are chosen by a god to champion their will and do their bidding. In game terms, each character has a god that they worship. When the adventure begins, something in the characters back story has influenced their god to adopt them as a champion in the making. I see this relationship similar to a shoe company sponsoring a basketball player. As such, the first benefit in this relationship is the ability to heal quickly. Others in world are not so lucky and must heal though traditional or magical means. So for the typical villager or woodland animal, they could restore 1 hit point per day, week or month, depending on the injury. They would need herbs, medicine and a lot of time.
Note however that this god/champion relationship is not restricted to just player characters. There could be many NPCs who have this relationship including evil creatures who worship evil gods. So in an adventure, some monsters may come back healed if allowed to escape. All dragons and legendary creatures would have a god blessing them for sure, but it could be any significant plot creature or boss at the DM’s discretion.
Thus concludes my framework for explaining WHY a rest restores so much health and WHO can benefit from this powerful blessing.
Another option for integrating the gods into the character’s adventuring life is through experience points and leveling. Page 15 of the PHB explains merely that leveling happens but not how it happens. For NPCs in my campaign, leveling occurs after months of hard work with a trainer. For the player character however, advancement is much more swift and they are able to level in an instant through the blessings of their god.
In many campaigns where gods play a minor role, praying is something that is regarded as something cleric mainly does. In my god-centric campaign however, I’d like the players to pray more often and to encourage this activity, I give them the possibility of a blessing. Once per day, the character may pray to their god for 1 hour. At the end of the hour, they can roll a religion check. The DC is always 20 or higher with a bonus or negative given depending on the place where the character prayed. If the character is in a temple there would be a large bonus but if their were in the forest or deep in a dungeon, there could be a negative. A failure would mean that there is no response from their god while a success would signify that the god has heard the prayers. The reward? It’s up to the DM or course but some examples would be the answer to a question, healing or restoration or maybe a buff like Aid, False Life or a super Bless that would last for a day instead of just a minute.
Breaking the Contract
The example of a basketball player who is sponsored by a shoe company is really the perfect analogy for player character’s role with their deity. It’s a partnership where both entities benefit. The player gets powerful blessings for working hard and staying true to the teachings of their god and the deity gets a champion to go on quests and as their champion gains levels and performs great deeds, the god gains renown amongst the pantheon of fellow deities as well as more followers.
But just like a famous basketball player who is dropped by their sponsor for committing a crime or becoming an embarrassment, so too can a god end the relationship with a character who changes alignments or acts in a way that does not please the deity. When this happens, the player may lose the benefit of gaining hit points through resting, instant leveling without going to a trainer and the possibility of a blessing by praying at a temple. For example, a druid that burns down a forest may lose favor with their god until restitution through penance is made.
From an interview with expert DM and WotC’s lead D&D designer, Jeremy Crawford.
1. Mix & Match: Proficiencies and Ability
How many of you thought that a Proficiency gets used with a specific Ability score? Wrong, Crawford corrects us. “A lot of people think, for instance, ‘Oh, whenever I use Persuasion, it’s always paired with Charisma,” said Crawford in an interview with journalist Cecilia D’Anastasio, for news and opinion site Kotaku.com. But he reminds us that there’s a variant rule allowing players to pair any skill they’re proficient in with any ability score. What the mix and match looks like depends on what’s happening in the story. (Player’s Handbook p174, “Variant: Skills with Different Abilities” —Gina)
Fantasy writers love maps. D&D loves maps. Ergo…
This is not a sponsored post.
Happy Saturday, my lovely bookaholics! As you know, earlier this month I started writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, which means I have to write a novel at least 50.000 words long before the month ends. And, as I mentioned in my latest post, I don’t want to do a half-hearted job: a tremendous artist, Hellyon White, is designing the cover and the character’s portraits, and I have started drawing a map for the story.
And this is what I want to tell you about right now: the map.How is a writer with no drawing skills whatsoever undertaking so big a project?
Well, let me tell you how I’m doing it.
Let me tell you about Ortelius.
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