May 27, 2024

Be Prepared For Your Next Night As Dungeon Master

Dungeon Masters often have a reputation for building entire worlds that their players will never fully see. Part of their magic spell is to make every Dungeons & Dragons session feel like a connected narrative that’s playing out exactly as its supposed to be. The Dungeon Master guides the story flawlessly and always has a plan for whatever the players throw at them.

The truth is a bit messier. A good Dungeon Master has a toolbox full of items they can use to inspire when their storyline crashes to a halt. This can mean everything from books full of charts, random encounters, character art and whatever else might spark a way to get the story back on track or to take it in an unexpected direction. Here are some resources that any Dungeon Master can use when the need a new idea.

MORE FROM FORBESEvery Dungeon Master Should Have A Mini Dungeon In Their Pocket

Prepared!

The encounter is the cell around most Fifth Edition games are built. Whether combat, exploration or social interaction these scenes are the tentpoles that hold up campaign storylines. A good encounter can kick off a solid storyline or bring players back into one that’s been flagging.

The new Prepared Expanded Collection brings together two books of encounters can can be dropped into any game. The collection also adds several more for a grand total of 31 short adventures that can be dropped into an evening’s adventure. This includes one of my favorite works from Kobold; The Impegnable Fortress of Dib, where a trash talking goblin makes an overturned wagon into a castle to storm for first level characters.

The Darkest Dream

Character portraits, maps and battle grids help players visualize scenes efficiently. Knowing where the terrain is during a fight makes it run more effectively. Seeing what an inportant character looks like lets players see the discussion in their minds.

The Darkest Dream from GooeyCube includes several examples of evocative art to launch the table into the setting. It also sets up a caravan emcampment for the players to explore and use as an adventuring hub. They can continue the story in later chapters or launch into one of the Dungeon Master’s creation.

The Veiled Dungeon

The Veiled Dungeon, from Loke Battlemats, is an example of a product that offers a full storyline as well as encounters that can be broken apart for indivudal use. Each product in the Encounter Toolbox line comes with a handful of battle maps, a deck of cards with monster and treasure illustrations and a book that the Dungeon Master can flip through for ideas.

Dungeon Masters can pick a map and a random encounter for a quick battle. They can also string together themed encounters for a short storyline. Or they can use all the maps in a single quest taking players in to the Cerulean Ruins to discover what a team of scholars has unintentionally awakened.

Tome of Adventure Design

There are many places where Dungeon Masters can roll on random tables to generate encounters. Some Dungeon Masters like to prep these rolls ahead of time. Others like to roll at the table and rely on their improvisational abilities to make scenes feel more unscripted.

Tome of Adventure Design by Matt Finch contains hundreds of random tables that can be rolled on in succession to develop an idea or individually for those moments when tables need just a little nudge. They cover everything from full plotlines to monster design and world building. The book also included some incisve discussion on how to put the results together into an interesting design.

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