Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

Category Archives: Reference Material

5E – DM Screen – French Version

Download your free copy here.

Many thanks to Charles Ballerait for providing us with this beautiful French language version of my DM screen. He did mine one better by adding a 4th page with rules for Madness.

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D&D 5E – Magic Items Crafting Formulas

Check out this excellent post with “Formulas for Crafting Magic Items

5e Magic Items Crafting Formulas

D&D 5E – New Class Guides

The people that run Skull Splitter Dice not only sell nice dice but they provide some good information for players of my favorite role playing game.

They have some well written guides for the different D&D classes and some other guides for Fifth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons as well.

Here are some links:

What is Dungeons and Dragons?
How to Play D&D 5E
A Guide to Surviving the Underdark
DnD 5E Character Sheet for Beginners
Five Best Free Places to Find a D&D Dungeon Adventure
Languages
Best DnD Map Making Tools
Alignment
5E Races
Human
Gnome
Elf
Halfling
Dwarf
Half Elf
Half Orc
Dragonborn
Tiefling
Barbarian Class Guide
Wizard Class Guide
Rogue Class Guide
Fighter Class Guide
Monk Class Guide
Sorcerer’s Class Guide
Cleric Class Guide
Paladin Class Guide
Druid Class Guide
Ranger Class Guide
Warlock’s Class Guide
Bard’s Class Guide

I want to send out a big thank you to Skull Splitter Dice for providing all this great content. You may want to get onto their email notification list for future free content. Also, did I mention that they sell dice?

D&D 5E – Online Tools

Here are some useful web sites that I have ran across over the last couple of years. Perhaps you will find some of these useful as well.

ORC PUB version 2. Here you will find an excellent set of tools. These include a Character Builder, Race Builder, Background Builder, Spells, Monsters, Items, Combat Tracker, Encounter Builder, Monster Builder, Spell Builder, Feat Builder, Class Builder and more.

This is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Encounter Calculator.

This is a good 5e Random Generator. It has traps, treasure, lots of different items, magic and downtime events.

Redkat’s 5E D&D Tools also has a great set of random generators.

This is a good 5th edition SRD (System Reference Document).

These are rules that I find very useful for Converting D&D3.5 Monsters to 5e

I found a lot of excellent resources on this donjon site.

Merric’s Musings has an excellent list of Dungeons & Dragons 5E Adventures by Level

I haven’t use this NPC Generator, but it looks like it could be useful.

Here is another spell list. It is great at allowing you to sort this list in many different ways.

Create your own document. This allows you to create beautiful documents that look very professional and very D&D like. It requires a steep learning curve, but the final results can be fantastic.

For background music – here is an excellent playlist for Dungeons and Dragons provided by MightyBenj.

Here is an encounter builder by the Kobold Fight Club.

Here are some great DnD 5e Monster Cards by Almega-3 on DeviantArt.

Speaking of Monster Cards. Not a pretty, but here you can customize and print out what you need.

Here is a “create your own RPG cards” site.

Need an interactive map of Faerun?

I’ll finish this list with a reference page I found useful. All About Scales.

 

PS In case you missed it, I have added a “Buy me a coffee” tab to the page links at the top of the screen.

D&D 5e spells by level

donjon.bin.sh is an online collection of random generators and other tools for pen-and-paper role-playing games. Check out all of these excellent generators. The reason for this post is to recommend their fifth edition spell list that can be accessed here:

5e Spell Sheet

You can quickly sort by class, level, which book it is in, etc. Also, if you click on the spell name you get a pop-up with the spells Casting Time, Range, Components, Duration, and (if it is in the SRD) a description. I find it easy to use and very helpful.

D&D 5E – Combat Cheat Sheet

A thanks to seddonym over at reddit for his original post HERE, and to mikr_ack for putting it in this very useful format HERE.

And a big thanks to Nicholas for turning me on to this. He also wanted me to share these sites that he found useful:
https://orcpub2.com/
http://hardcodex.ru/

D&D 5E – Spellcasting – Components

My thoughts on Components.

First, here is what it says in the Player’s handbook:

Components

A spell’s components are the physical requirements you must meet in order to cast it. Each spell’s description indicates whether it requires verbal (V), somatic (S), or material (M) components. If you can’t provide one or more of a spell’s com ponents, you are unable to cast the spell.

Verbal (V)
Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren’t the source of the spell’s power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion. Thus, a character who is gagged or in an area of silence, such as one created by the silence spell, can’t cast a spell with a verbal component.

Somatic (S)
Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

Material (M)
Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry.
A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell. But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell.
If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell.
A spellcaster must have a hand free to access a spell’s material components — or to hold a spell-casting focus — but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components.

There are some monsters which can cast spells with their innate spellcasting ability they do not have to provide any components. Unless stated otherwise if you cast a spell from an item you can do so without any components.

V – Verbal: Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. Chanting is by definition a clearly audible sound. A sorcerer with the subtle spell meta-magic, or a level 20 druid with the Archdruid class feature can ignore the verbal component when casting a spell. My house rule is that it must clear and a voice that can be heard from at least 20 feet away in normal circumstances. It cannot be whispered.

S – Somatic: Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. This requires a free hand and will be clearly visible. A sorcerer with the subtle spell meta-magic, or a level 20 druid with the Archdruid class feature can ignore the somatic component when casting a spell. Any spellcaster with the War Caster feat can use hands occupied by a weapon or shield.  My house rule is that because of the exaggerated gestures required, you cannot cast a spell that requires a somatic component if your hands bound or tied together.

M – Material: If you have a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (which may be a holy symbol depending on your class), you can ignore all material components which have no indicated costs. The Ranger is notable for not having access to a spellcasting focus, and will always need a component pouch or the specific component. A free hand is needed here. If you cast a spell from a spell scroll you do not have to have the material components. A way of the four elements monk does not have to provide material components for their elemental spells.

My house rules regarding material components:
 1)            Component pouch or spellcasting focus.
                This must be presented boldly.
 
2)            Material component with no cost listed.
                These are not needed if you are using a component pouch or spellcasting focus. If you are using the material component then I will assume that you stock up on these during your downtime but only if you are in a location where you would have access to them.
 
3)            Material component with a listed cost.
                Your PC must have procured the item and have it listed on his character sheet. If not, you cannot cast the spell. I will make an exception for low cost items (typically less than 100gp value). For these I will assume that your character purchased them during his down time and you can simply deduct its value from your character sheet at the time you cast the spell.

4)            Rare or uncommon components.
                There may be, from time to time, a spell that requires a rare, uncommon, or even unique component. You must, of course, have that component before you can cast such a spell.

 

 

D&D 5E – Dinosaurs

5th Edition Dinosaurs

I am looking forward to running a “Tomb of Annihilation” campaign. One of the fun things in that book are the dinosaurs. I like to use miniatures on my battlemat and I thought an inexpensive way to do that was to get some small toy dinosaurs the right size, glue them to a base and paint them. I have some rubber toy dinosaurs and one or two of them may do, but I am finding that most of them are too large. Also I realized that I didn’t know what some of the different dinosaurs look like. Unlike most monsters in the Monster Manuel, it doesn’t have pictures of each different dinosaur type. As usual, Google is my friend. There is no shortage of information regarding dinosaurs.

Here is a compilation of what I have found regarding the Dinosaurs in the Monster Manual (MM), Volo’s Guide to Monsters (VGtM) and Tomb of Annihilation (ToA).

List of Dinosaurs:

Allosaurus (Large) MM page 79
Allosaurus, Young (Medium) ToA in dinosaur races
Ankylosaurus (Huge) MM page 7
Brontosaurus (Gargantuan) VGtM Page 139
Deinonychus (Medium) VGtM Page 139 & ToA page 217
Dimetrodon (Medium) VGtM Page 139 & ToA page 217
Hadrosaurus (Large) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 224
Plesiosaurus (Large)  MM pages 79-80
Pteranodon (Medium)  MM pages 79-80
Quetzalcoatlus (Huge) VGtM Page 139 and 140
Stegosaurus (Huge) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 231
Triceratops (Huge)  MM page 79-80
Triceratops, young (Medium) ToA in dinosaur races
Tyrannosaurus Rex (Huge)  MM page 79-80
Tyrannosaurus Zombie (Huge) ToA page 241
Velociraptor (Tiny) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 235

Dinosaur Size:

Playing on a grid where one inch = 5 feet, I want to mount the miniatures onto round bases. A one inch diameter base will just fit into a one inch square and is the size for a medium creature. This table shows the size of bases I need for my dinosaurs.

Size Base Dia. Dinosaur
Tiny 1/2 in. Velociraptor
Small 1 in. None
Medium 1 in Deinonychus, Dimetrodon, Pteranodon,
Large 2 in. Allosaurus, Hadrosaurus, Plesiosaurus,
Huge 3 in. Ankylosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex
Gargantuan 4 in. or larger Brontosaurus

And here is what they look like:

Allosaurus (Large) MM page 79

Allosaurus, Young(Medium)

Ankylosaurus (Huge) MM page 7

Brontosaurus (Gargantuan) VGtM Page 139

Deinonychus (Medium) VGtM Page 139 & ToA page 217

Dimetrodon (Medium) VGtM Page 139 & ToA page 217

Hadrosaurus (Large) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 224

Plesiosaurus (Large)  MM pages 79-80

Pteranodon (Medium)  MM pages 79-80

Quetzalcoatlus (Huge) VGtM Page 139 and 140

Stegosaurus (Huge) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 231

Triceratops (Huge)  MM page 79-80

Triceratops, young (Medium)

Tyrannosaurus Rex (Huge)  MM page 79-80

Tyrannosaurus Zombie (Huge) ToA page 241

Velociraptor (Tiny) VGtM Page 139 and 140 & ToA page 235

DM Tips

How to be a Better Dungeon Master

Having just finished one campaign and preparing to start another one, I felt that it was time to review my weaknesses as a Dungeon Master. Thanks to an excellent post on “The Angry GM” site, and a candid review of my own DM style by Tim, a former player, I have compiled this list that I intend to re-read before and after each gaming session.

BE PREPARED!

1) Pre-read enough to make the game day run smoothly.
2) Have figures set aside for upcoming encounters.
3) Have monster stats printed out for the inevitable encounter.

RUNNING THE GAME

Running a D&D game is a storytelling craft on top of die rolls, which makes the DM chair the most difficult but often most entertaining of the game.

There’s two aspects of the game to manage, the character experience, and the player experience.  All the players need their characters to have their moment to shine.

Provide variety in how NPCs/monsters interact with PCs.  The encounters need not always be a fight to the death.

Always appeal to the players’ sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound when narrating.

RUNNING COMBAT

TRANSITIONS

Begin and end each players turn with narration.

Each turn follows a simple process.

  1. The GM Transitions Into the Players’ Turn
  2. The Player Asks a Question or Declares an Action
  3. The Action is Resolved
  4. The GM Describes and Applies the Results
  5. The GM Transitions Out of the Players’ Turn

After every transition you need a bit of scene setting. Even if it’s just a single sentence. In fact, that’s all it should be. At the start of every turn in combat, you should say a few words (and NO MORE) about what’s going on in the scene right now, specifically to the person whose turn it is. Even if all you do is remind the player of what just happened.

The transitions out of one turn and into another meld together. The resolution of one action sets the scene for the next.

Create Urgency

As a GM, it’s your job to bring the combat to life. To make it feel like an emergency, like a life or death situation.

At the start of every player’s turn, you need to point out where they are and what emergency is happening right now, either to them, or right near them.

Create Exigency

In a life-or-death battle, the proper feeling for a player is near-panic. Players should feel panicked and rushed in combat because the characters are panicked and rushed in combat. When it is a player’s turn, they need to begin speaking immediately. And if not, you need to prompt them.

“What do you do? You need to decide or you’ll lose the turn to indecision.” Assume they take the Dodge action (attacks against him have disadvantage).

A GOOD EXAMPLE

GM: Alice, four goblins are charging the party. What do you do?”
Alice: I’ll run up and hit the goblin with my mace. 15.
GM: Damage?
Alice: 6 bludgeoning damage.
GM: You charge the goblin and smash it with your mace, bringing it to a stop. It’s allies are hesitating. Bob, you’ve got an opening…

…..

GM: The goblin leaps aside, dodging your axe. He tries to dart past you to close with Dave. You get an opportunity attack. Roll it.
Bob: 11.
GM: The goblin dodges that too and dashes forward, lunging at Dave with his shortsword. Dave, what’s your AC?
Dave: 13.
GM: Ouch. He stabs you in the side for 6 piercing damage, sending you stumbling backwards while the other two goblins draw to a stop and face Alice and Bob head on. Alice, the goblin recovers his breath from your blow and thrusts his shortsword. A crit! You take 12 damage.
Alice: Damn it! I’m really hurt!
GM: The other goblin closes with Bob as he’s trying to stop the one getting past him. But… Bob sees him coming and dodges the blow. That’s a miss.
Bob: Phew.
GM: The goblins range themselves in front of Alice and Bob while a third goblin is ready to strike another blow at Dave. Carol, they seem to be ignoring you. What do you?

D&D 5E – Schools of Magic

Schools of Magic

Here is a cheat sheet for when a PC uses an identify spell on a magical item in your dungeon. You know what it does, but when they ask what school of magic it is, do you know? Remember that some magic, such as some potions, aren’t associated with any school.

Abjuration “Protectin’ stuff” (Abjure: to renounce)

They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes.

Examples: Alarm, Protection from Evil and Good, Arcane Lock, Glyph of Warding

 

Conjuration “Makin’ stuff” (Conjure: to create)

Spells involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some conjurations create objects or effects out of nothing.

Examples: Entangle, Fog Cloud, Dimension Door, Cloudkill, Teleport, Wish

 

Divination “Knowin’ stuff” (Divine: discover or learn)

Spells reveal information.

Examples: Identify, Speak with Animals, Detect Thoughts, See Invisibility, Scrying

 

Enchantment “Convincin’ stuff” (Enchant: to cause someone to act in a way it usually wouldn’t)

Spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.

Examples: Charm Person, Sleep, Hold Person, Zone of Truth, Power Word Kill

 

Evocation “Makin’ energy stuff” (Evoke: cause an effect)

Spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds.

Examples: Fire Bolt, Light, Cure Wounds, Heal, Magic Missile, Spiritual Weapon, Earthquake, Telepathy

 

Illusion “Trickin’ stuff” (Illusion: a deception)

Spells deceive the senses or minds of others.

Examples: Invisibility, Magic Mouth, Simulacrum

 

Necromancy “Dead stuff” (Necro: death)

Spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life.

Examples: Chill Touch, Spare the Dying, False Life, Blindness/Deafness, Gentle Repose, Resurrection

 

Transmutation “Changin’ stuff” (Transmute: to change)

Spells change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to rapidly recover from injury.

Example: Mending, Prestidigitation, Darkvision, Knock, Polymorph, Time Stop