Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

Category Archives: Reference Material

d&d 5e – Martial Archetypes


New Fighter Archetypes

WoC released three new Fighter Archetypes (The ‘path’ you can take a level 3 as a fighter).

They include Samurai, Knights and Arcane Archer:


D&D 5E – Metals


Value of Metals in D&D

Metal Cost per lb. Ferrus? AC Description
Adamantine 5,000 gp ferrous 23 An alloy of adamant (a strong but brittle metal), silver and electrum. Adamantine  is black,  but  has  a  clear  green  sheen  in  candlelight – a  sheen  that sharpens  to  purple-white  under  the  light  given  off  by  most  magical  radiances  and  by  will-o-wisps.
Brass 3 sp Non-ferrous 16 A yellow-ish metal that somewhat resembles gold. An alloy of copper and zinc.
Bronze 4 sp Non-ferrous 18 A red-ish brown metal. An alloy of copper and tin
Cold Iron 4 sp ferrous 20 Cold iron is iron found in a pure state (either meteoric iron or an especially rich ore) and is forged at a lower temperature to preserve its delicate properties.
Copper 5 sp Non-ferrous 16 This well-known pure metal has a distinctive pinkish sheen.
Electrum 25 gp Non-ferrous 20 A natural alloy of silver and gold.
Gold 50 gp Non-ferrous 15 This well-known pure metal is the softest of workable metallic substances.
Iron 1 sp ferrous 19 Iron is a silver-white malleable metal that readily rusts in moist air, occurs native in meteorites and combined in most igneous rocks. It is the most used of metals.
Lead 2 sp Non-ferrous 14 Lead is a heavy, grey, soft, malleable, metal.
Mithral 2,500 gp Non-ferrous 21 This silvery-blue, shining metal is derived from soft, glittering, silvery-black ore.
Platinum 500 gp Non-ferrous 20 This light gray metal with very slight bluish tinge is strong, difficult to melt, and resistant to most chemicals.
Silver 5 gp Non-ferrous 17 This relatively common valuable metal is the most associated with and suitable for magic.
Steel 4 gp ferrous 19 Steel is an alloy made out of Iron and Carbon.
Tin 3 sp Non-ferrous 12 A soft, silvery-white metal that is often combined with other metals or used as a layer to protect various metals.

Most of the following information is from “VoLo’s Guide to All Things Magical”.


This is the pure metal form of the hard, jet-black ferro magnetic ore known as adamantite, from which the famous alloy adamantine is made. Adamant is rarely found in nature, but when it is, it is always be in large spherical pockets in hardened volcanic flows. Adamant is one of the hardest substances known, but it is also brittle. A sword made of adamant could slice through most metals but would snap off if struck by another blade or even a smartly wielded wooden cudgel.


This alloy, of five-eighths adamant to two-eighths silver and one-eighth electrum (itself a natural alloy of silver and gold) retains the hardness of adamant, but combines it with a rugged durability that makes adamantine so hard to shatter that it is the favored substance for the making of war hammer heads, the best nonmithral armor, and harbor chains. (By one of the miracles granted by the gods, adamantine can also be derived by combining steel and mithral if one knows how. Adamantine is black, but has a clear green sheen in candlelight a sheen that sharpens to purple-white under the light given off by most magical radiances and by will-o-wisps.

Adamantine is tricky to make, and must be forged and worked at very high temperatures by smiths who know exactly what they are doing and who have access to special oils to slake and temper the hot metal in. Almost all such expert smiths are dwarves, as the Deep Folk guard the secrets of working adamant jealously, but a priest or wizard seeking to enchant items can make use of finished adamantine items and need not necessarily have to work with a smith to create an adamantine work anew.


This well-known pure metal, with its distinctive pinkish sheen, is the best widely available purifier and amalgamator among metals. It is soft and easily worked, widely known. The wizard and especially the priest seeking to work with a substance or item not suited to his or her faith or purpose can make the offending item usable by adding at least half the item’s weight of copper to the item. (For example, by sheathing it in copper or adding a longer handle plated in copper, or similar means.) Holy or unholy water should not be stored for any length of time in copper vessels, because the metal will neutralize either in a few months, changing them to normal water.


This well-known pure metal is the softest of workable metallic substances, and one of the best conductors among them. Despite its high value, it is relatively common and is favored for use in ornamentation in the making of magical items, often being used as an inlay in graven runes or inscriptions, where meld magics can keep it from being damaged or falling out through rough handling. Gold has the important ability to hold multiple enchantments, even conflicting ones, and keep them from affecting each other or the stability of the gold-adorned item.


Known as truemetal to the dwarves, this silvery-blue, shining metal is derived from soft, glittering, silvery-black ore found in rare veins and pockets all over, from the depths of the Underdark to surface rocks. Mithral can be combined with steel (varying alloys of iron and carbon) to derive adamantine if one has no access to adamantite ore, but this process is both difficult and known only to a very few dwarves, who do not perform it for nondwarves unless there is a very good reason.

Mithral is the lightest and most supple of metals hard enough to be used in the making of armor; it is extremely valuable.


This relatively common valuable pure metal is known to the elves as “the sheath and shield of Art” because, of all metals, it is the most associated with and suitable for magic. Many dwarves use silver in various alloy formulae of their own devising or that have been handed down through clans for generations. Most of the beauty of metalwork down through the ages has been associated with the gleam and hue of mirror-polished, untarnished silver, and it has always been associated with the adornment of magical items.

D&D 5E – Picking Locks


How to Pick a Lock

There is some confusion on what the rules are for picking a lock. It all depends on whether or not you have a set of thieves tols and if you know how to use them. There are six different possibilities.

  1. You have Thieves’ Tools and are proficient with them. You can attempt to pick the lock and get to add your proficiency bonus to the (Dex) check.
  2. You have Thieves’ Tools and have expertise with Thieves’ Tools.  You can attempt to pick the lock and get to add twice your proficiency bonus the (Dex) check.
  3. You have Thieves’ Tools but you aren’t proficient with them. You can still attempt to pick the lock but you don’t get to add your proficiency bonus (since it’s a bonus you only get when you are proficient with something).
  4. You don’t have any Thieves’ Tools so you improvise some (with your DM’s approval) but you aren’t proficient with Thieves’ Tools. You can still attempt to pick the lock but with disadvantage.
  5. You have improvised tools and you have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools. You have disadvantage on picking the lock, but you do get to add your proficiency bonus.
  6. No Thieves’ Tools and no improvised tools. Take a strength check to throw the closest party member through the door or crowbar the lock. Basically, look for another way to get past it because you can’t pick it.


D&D 5E – Tracking Time in a Dungeon



I almost didn’t post this for fear of it being misused. Please don’t simply look up the parties travel pace below, determine what was found, mark off the time and move on. This is a role playing game after all. The following is intended as an aid in Dungeon Mastering a game, not as a substitute for it.

Time in a dungeon is measured in minutes – switching to 6 second rounds when there is an encounter.

The following is my interpretation of the official rules and a few of my house rules mixed in, presented here as advice to Dungeon Masters. Where I refer to “you”, I mean the DM. This is specifically for a dungeon crawls, but most of it applies to all similar situations. This is intended as a guide for tracking time passage in a dungeon and also for a guide in deciding when to use a character’s passive perception score or to roll a perception check.

The Dungeon Master describes what the PCs can see, hear, etc. Most of the time you can expect that the PCs are being observant so if they could notice something, they will notice it. So don’t wait for a player to say his character is examining the floor, or looking for footprints to tell them that there’s an obvious set of footprints on the floor in front of him. Players can ask questions or tell you what their PCs are going to do (or attempt to do). Players should never have to refer to skill names to do this. You decide if they need to roll an ability or skill check and which one. To keep the game moving at a reasonable pace, I recommend that you keep the die rolling to a minimum. If a player’s character would most likely notice something or recognize something or understand something based on his abilities and background, no roll is required. Just tell him.

The DM will roll all of the PCs search checks in secret and tell the players what, if anything, their characters found. That way, if they don’t find anything, they won’t know if there wasn’t anything there or if there was something and they didn’t find it. Another advantage of rolling behind your DM screen is that you can ignore the roll when necessary.  If you want them to find something (or not find it), ignore the roll and tell them what they found (or that they didn’t find anything).

Ask them for their marching order, but don’t ask if they are moving at a “fast pace”, “normal pace” or “slow pace”. That makes it sound too much like a computer game. Instead, simply ask them what they are doing. Use their answer to determine their pace and use that to help you determine how long it will take and what they do or do not notice.

In addition to the fast pace, normal pace and slow pace listed in the Player’s Handbook, I have added a “very fast” pace and an  ”extremely slow” pace.


1)         Moving at a very fast pace they automatically fail all perception checks. If they say “We are getting out of here as fast as we can” they are obviously not going to take the time to check for traps or secret doors so they are moving at a very fast pace (600 feet per minute).

2)         Moving at a fast pace uses their passive perception scores with a -5 penalty. If they say “We are going to move through here as quickly as we can and still be on the lookout for traps”, you can say to yourself that that sounds like a fast pace (400 feet per minute).

3)         Moving at a normal pace uses their passive perception scores. If they don’t give you any indication of how fast or cautiously they are moving through corridors, assume that they are moving at this pace. If they say “We are going to be watching for hidden monsters and checking for traps and secret doors as we proceed cautiously down the corridor”, you know that, even though this sounds like it might be a slow pace it is actually the normal way adventurers would explore a dungeon so it is a normal pace (300 feet per minute).

4)         Moving at a slow pace they can be stealthy or search for things. If they don’t give you any indication of how fast they are searching a room, assume that they are moving at this pace. They make a Dexterity (Stealth) check if they are hiding or being stealthy. Make a Wisdom (Perception) check for them if they are searching for secret doors or traps. If not actively searching, they use their passive perception scores. If they say “We are trying not to be noticed as we proceed cautiously down the corridor” they are being stealthy and can only move at a slow pace (200 feet per minute).

5)         Moving at an extremely slowly pace they will automatically find anything that can be found. If they say “We know there must be a secret door in this corridor, so we are going to search until we find it”,  you know that they are going to keep looking until they find it if they can, so they are traveling at a extremely slow pace (30 feet per minute).

The times listed below are the suggested minimum times required. Additional time may be required depending on circumstances and PC actions. Anything found (secret doors, traps, treasures, and especially monsters) will add to the listed times below as they take the time to deal with what they have found.

    • If they find a secret door they may then attempt to find a means to open it.
      • I might have the searcher make an Intelligence (Investigation) check and subtract the results form 20 minutes for low long it takes. I will never let them find a secret door and never find out how to open it!
    • If they find a trap they may then attempt to disarm or avoid it.
      • It takes 5 minutes to disarm traps or pick a lock if proficient with thieves tools; 10 minutes otherwise. This assumes fairly straightforward mechanisms, not complex puzzles
    • If they find a treasure they may then check it for traps.

I typically check for wandering monsters every 10 minutes (dungeon time).



Traversing corridors, stairs, and other passageways:

  • When moving at a very fast pace (600 feet per minute), all attempts to notice any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps will fail. This speed is equivalent to the Dash action.
  • When moving at a fast pace (400 feet per minute), passive Wisdom (Perception) scores, with a -5 penalty, will be used to see if they notice any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps.
  • When moving at a normal pace (300 feet per minute), passive Wisdom (Perception) scores will be used to see if they notice any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps.
  • When moving at a slow pace (200 feet per minute), the characters can attempt to hide or be stealthy. If hiding, Dexterity (Stealth) checks will be used against the Wisdom (Perception) checks of any monsters that are actively searching for them, and against the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of any monsters that aren’t searching. Moving at this pace they can actively search for hidden doors or traps. Roll a Wisdom (Perception) check for the searchers and let them know if they found anything in this 200 foot length of corridor. Let the single roll be for detecting hidden doors and/or traps regardless of what they say they are searching for. Note that if they say they are being stealthy, but don’t express an interest in watching out for traps or finding secret doors, only roll Dexterity (Stealth) checks and use passive Wisdom (Perception) scores. Conversely, if they say that they are looking for traps, or secret doors but don’t seem interested in being stealthy, roll Wisdom (Perception) checks only.
  • If the party intends to take as much time as required to thoroughly search a section of corridor, the party will be moving at an extremely slowly pace (30 feet per minute). This represents that the character is being extremely cautious and diligent in his searching. At this pace that character will automatically succeed at finding any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps that can be found by that character. [The DMG says “In some cases, a character is free to [retry a failed ability check]; the only real cost is the time it takes[…] To speed things up, assume that a character spending ten times the normal amount of time needed to complete a task automatically succeeds at that task.” This is the 5e equivalent to the 3.5e “Taking 20” rule.]
    • One character can search the walls, floor and ceiling of a 5 foot wide passage, or one side of a wider passage out to 5 feet from the wall.
    • 2 characters can cover a 10 foot wide passage.
    • Characters that are searching can perform no other activities.
    • Characters that are not searching can be on the lookout for monsters. For large parties they may need one lookout near the front and another one in the rear. If a monster approaches the group from a direction that is being watched, the Dexterity (Stealth) check of that character will be used against the Wisdom (Perception) checks of any monsters that are actively searching for them, and against the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of any monsters that aren’t searching.

Searching a Room:

If the party opens a door but doesn’t enter a room and only observes it from the doorway it doesn’t take any additional time to be able to map its location and general notes about it, but not its exact size or anything about the room that cannot be quickly seen. A detailed description will require that the party enters the room.

After they enter the room, describe what they see and ask what each character is doing.  Describe the results of their activities. If they say “I am searching the room”. Don’t ask “What are you searching for?” rather say something like “What does searching the room look like? Describe exactly what your character is doing.” If they say “I am looking for secret doors.” Don’t ask which 5 foot section of wall he is searching, rather assume he will search all of the walls and use the travel paces descried below to determine his success or failure. If it makes a difference, or if you simply want him to think it might, you could ask where he is starting his search and which direction he will be searching from there. A room can be memorable and fun if you can get them to describe how they are interacting with the objects in the room.

The party may have a different travel pace for rooms than it does for corridors. Their pace may change in a room if they discover something interesting (or dangerous) but I wouldn’t normally mark off more than 10 minutes per room unless they slow to an extremely slow pace. Your players should be able to search as much as they want. Just warn them of the consequences (time passing, wandering monsters, etc.) ahead of time.

How pace of travel effects checking out rooms:

  • Very fast pace (600 feet per minute – measured from entrance to exit by the shortest path). Treat these rooms like corridors. They are almost running through the rooms and won’t notice anything much more than their size and location. They automatically fail all perception checks. They will be surprised by any monsters waiting for them. They may surprise monsters that aren’t expecting them.
  • Fast pace (1 minute per room). They are mostly just passing through. They can note what is in the room, its size, number and location of its exits. The Passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of the searchers, with a -5 penalty, will be used to see if they notice any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps. They are moving through the room too fast to search for any hidden treasure but will notice things that are in plain sight.
  • Normal pace (5 minutes per room). Use this pace if they want to search the room but want to be quick about it. The passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of the searchers will be used to see if they notice any secret doors, hidden monsters or traps. At this pace they can make a quick search for hidden treasure at a disadvantage using their Wisdom (Perception) scores.
  • Slow pace (10 minutes per room). Use this pace if they don’t give you any other indication of how fast they are searching a room. Use this pace if they want to loot the room, or if they want to be stealthy. Roll the Wisdom (Perception) checks of the searchers to see if they notice any secret doors, hidden monsters, hidden treasure or traps. If they are being stealthy, their Dexterity (Stealth) checks will be used against the Wisdom (Perception) checks of any monsters that are in the room or that enter the room and that are watching for them, and against the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of any monsters that aren’t.
  • Extremely slowly pace (1 hour per room). At this pace they can carefully examine every inch of the room. At this pace they will automatically succeed at finding any secret doors, hidden monsters, hidden treasure or traps that can be found by their characters. If there is something in the room that they wouldn’t be able to find even if they rolled a 20 on an ability check and added all of their bonuses, it is beyond their ability to find so it will remain hidden.
    • The times above represent at least 2 characters searching.
    • Two characters can search the walls, floor and ceiling and everything inside of a room up to 30’ x 30’. Larger rooms, or rooms with a large amount of “stuff” may take longer. Rooms smaller than 30’ x 30’ still take the indicated time to search.
    • A single character searching the same room will take twice as long.
    • More than two characters searching the room do not reduce the time any further unless it is a very large room.
    • Characters that are searching can perform no other activities.
    • Characters that are not searching can be on the lookout for monsters. One character can watch only one entrance without penalty. If a monster approaches the group through an entrance that is being watched, the Dexterity (Stealth) check of that character will be used against the Wisdom (Perception) checks of any monsters that are actively searching for you, and against the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of any monsters that aren’t searching.

D&D 5E – Character Creation Sheet

Character CreationCharacter Creation Cheat Sheet

Download your free pdf copy here.

I found this great character creation help sheet on line. It is poster sized, so I modified it into a 5 page PDF file that will be more useful at the gaming table.

Does anyone know who the original author of this is? I would like to thank him or her and give them credit. This is NOT my original work.

D&D 5E – Advantage/Disadvantage


When to use Advantage/Disadvantage

Essentially, an advantage allows you to roll 2d20, taking the higher roll result, whilst a disadvantage requires you to roll 2d20, taking the lower result. You never roll more than two dice because multiple advantage/disadvantage conditions don’t stack. If you have conditions that give you both advantage and disadvantage, they cancel each other out and you get neither.

It is up to the DM do decide if you get advantage or disadvantage on a roll. When trying to determine if a situation warrants an advantage or disadvantage, it may be helpful to review the specific situation listed in the PHB. This list does not include special abilities or magic spells or magic items.


  • If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.
  • Using a crowbar grants advantage to Strength checks where the crow bar’s leverage can be applied.
  • A magnifying glass grants advantage on any ability check made to appraise or inspect an item that is small or highly detailed.
  • A military saddle gives you advantage on any check you make to remain mounted.
  • When mounted – You have advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature that is smaller than your mount.
  • Helping another with a task (where your assistance could actually be of help) adds advantage to their check.
  • If you are hiding – “the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen.”
  • When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.
  • Attack rolls against a blinded creature have advantage.
  • Invisible creature’s attack rolls have advantage.
  • Attack rolls against paralyzed and petrified creatures have advantage.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.
  • Attack rolls against restrained or stunned or unconscious creatures have advantage.


  • If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity.
  • If the Armor table shows “Disadvantage” in the Stealth column, the wearer has disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons.
  • In lightly obscured areas – creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • When attacking a target beyond normal range, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage when you use a lance to attack a target within 5 feet of you.
  • When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage on a ranged attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitated
  • Blinded creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • Attack rolls against Invisible creatures have disadvantage.
  • Any level of exhaustion gives you a disadvantage on ability checks
  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
  • A prone creature has disadvantage on attack rolls.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has disadvantage if the attacker is more than 5 feet from the creature.
  • Restrained creatures have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls.

D&D – Horse Descriptions



I have been looking through my files and ran across several that you might find useful. I will make adjustments for 5E as necessary and share them. First here is one I ran across a couple of years ago.

You can use these tables to determine exactly how tall, what color, and what distinguishing markings were on the horses at the stables when the characters go shopping.

Hands Light (1d10) Medium (1d8) Heavy (1d6) Draft (1d6)
13-3 (4′-7″) 1
14 (4′-8″) 2
14-1 (4′-9″) 3
14-2 (4’10”) 4
14-3 (4’11”) 5
15 (5′-0″) 6 1
15-1 (5′-1″) 7 2
15-2 (5′-2″) 8 3
15-3 (5′-3″) 9 4
16 (5′-4″) 10 5 1
16-1 (5′-5″) 6 2
16-2 (5′-6″) 7 3
16-3 (5′-7″) 8 4 1
17 (5′-8″) 5 2
17-1 (5′-9″) 6 3
17-2 (5′-10″) 4
17-3 (5′-11″) 5
18 (6′-0″) 6
The height of a horse is measured by hands at the shoulder, with the number of hands followed by the number of fingers.  There are four fingers to a hand, and in modern times each finger is equal to an inch.

It is apparent that horses of the same height may fall into different categories.  The girth and weight of the horse and its overall build and musculature have as much to do with the “size” of a horse as its height.

The color of the horse and its markings may be rolled on this table.  This is not an all-inclusive collection; some horse colors may have black markings (socks and stockings, mostly), and all markings are individual to the horse, but this list gives sufficient variety for play.  1d20 is rolled to determine what color the horse is (the first two columns), and the remaining columns express the probability of the indicated markings.  If the horse has socks or stockings, roll 1d4 to determine how many it has. Socks and stockings are rolled separately and, although a horse may have some socks and some stockings, it can’t have a sock and a stocking on the same foot….

1d20 Horse
Mane &
Mane &
1-2 Brown Pinto  –  –  –  –  –  –
3 Black Pinto  –  –  –  –  –  –
4-6 Chestnut 8 10 6 6  –  –
7-10 Bay 8 10 6 6  –  –
11-12 Buckskin  –  –  –  –  –  –
13-16 Gray  –  –  –  –  – 5-6
17-19 Black 8 10 6 6 20  –
20 White*  –  –  –  –  –  –
*White horses are rather rare; most “white” horses are light-skinned Grays, and the referee may allow a roll to determine whether any particular Gray horse appears white, especially if it does not have dark markings.

But is it a boy or a girl horse?  From an historical perspective, occidental cavalry at the time of the Crusades rode stallions almost exclusively, while their mid-eastern opponents had an equally strong preference for mares; however, the first battle fought in the spring gave both sides an understanding of the disadvantages of this situation, and more geldings appeared (on both sides, I suspect) thereafter.  These balances reflect more the modern situation than the historic ones; the referee might determine that characters of a particular class or race will always ride one or another type.
1 Stallion
2-3 Gelding
4-6 Mare

5E – Writer’s Guide


Style Guide for Dungeon Masters

I was looking for an official writer’s guide, or style sheet, from Wizards of the Coast for the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Perhaps they have one and I just couldn’t find it. So I took the copies I had from 3.5 and 4.0 and updated them for 5th edition. The following is what I came up with.

Format Instructions


Capitalize abilities (Strength, Dexterity, and so on), skill names (Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Survival, and so on), feat names (Crossbow Expert, Healer, and so on), domains (Trickery, War, and so on), schools (Transmutation, Necromancy, and so on), names of languages (Common, Dwarvish, and so on), and sizes (Small, Medium, Large, and so on). The term “Dungeon Master” and the abbreviation “DM” are always capitalized. The term “Difficulty Class” and the abbreviation “DC” are always capitalized. Creatures, classes, alignments, spells, weapons, and magic items that do not include proper nouns are all lower case. Magic items and spell names are italicized. For example, magic weapons, potions, and other items should be fully italicized. If a magic item grants a numerical modifier, treat that modifier as part of the item’s name, placing it at the beginning of the name. Examples: +1 longsword, a potion of healing, +2 cloak of resistance, and a scroll of arcane lock.

Monster names. When you refer to a monster in a sentence, do not capitalize the monster’s name unless it is a proper noun. Example: Baphomet’s minotaur cultists often summon goristros …

Races. When you refer to a race in a sentence, do not capitalize the race’s name (unless English grammar demands capitalization). Example: Love of stories inspires many gnome heroes to become bards.

Character races are to appear in the following singular/plural terminology; dwarf/dwarves, elf/elves, halfling/halflings, human/humans, dragonborn/dragonborn, gnome/gnomes, half-elf/half-elves, half-orc/half-orcs, tiefling/tieflings.


Abbreviations usually use all capital letters and no periods (DM, DC, NPC, HD, XP). The abbreviations for hit points and coins use lower case letters and no periods (hp, gp, sp). The abbreviation for experience points is XP.

Ability scores are abbreviated as follows: STR (Strength), DEX (Dexterity), CON (Constitution), INT (Intelligence), WIS (Wisdom), CHA (Charisma), and are always listed in that order.

Class abbreviations are as follows:
Bbn = Barbarian
Brd = Bard
Clr = Cleric
Drd = Druid
Ftr = Fighter
Mnk = Monk
Pal = Paladin
Rgr = Ranger
Rog = Rogue
Sor = Sorcerer
Wiz = Wizard
Wrk = Warlock

 Race abbreviations are as follows:
Hum = Human
Drb = Dragonborn
Drw = Drow
Dwf = Dwarf
Elf = Elf
Gno = Gnome
1/2Elf = Half-Elf
1/2Orc = Half-Orc
Hlf = Halfling
Tfl = Tiefling

Rule books
PHB = Player’s Handbook
DMG = Dungeon Master’s Guide
MM = Monster Manual

You should type out the entire title the first time it is mentioned. Example: “Use the standard combat rues as described in the Player’s Hand Book (PHB).”


Do not abbreviate standard game units of time; i.e., round (alternatively; melee round may also be used), and turn should be fully spelled out.


When describing temperature, always use a degrees symbol; i.e., 100˚. When describing an angle or slant, always spell out the word ‘degrees’; i.e., 100 degrees.

Inches and feet

Never use ‘hash’ marks. Inches and feet should always be expressed as an abbreviation when used in a table or stat block – otherwise, they should not be abbreviated. When indicating the attribute being measured, insert a hyphen between the number and unit. Examples: 8-in wide, 12-ft deep


Movement rate in feet should always be expressed as an abbreviation. Example: 30 ft.


A creature may “have advantage” (or “have disadvantage”) in certain situations. A roll (saving throw or ability check for instance) may be made “with advantage” (or “with disadvantage”). Examples: The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the spectator is visible to the target. The owl bear has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell.

I recommend that you not abbreviate the words advantage or disadvantage, but when you must – you can abbreviate advantage Adv and disadvantage Disad.


Always hyphenate class and spell levels when they precede a noun (4th-level rogue, 1st-level spell). Hyphenate compound adjectives before nouns (the red-haired, 18-foot-tall fire giant). Do not hyphenate before the suffix “-like” except after double-l endings (for example, snakelike, spell-like).

Die Rolls

How many and what kind; a lowercase d followed by a number (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, %) indicates a specific polyhedral die to be rolled. It is preceded by a number indicates the number of times to roll the indicated die; i.e., 3d6. It is not acceptable say, “three six-sided die,” to achieve the same result.

Die result; when specifying a die roll result that triggers some action, to specify the range of numbers use a dash to separate the low from the high; i.e., 1–2 on 1d6.

Skill Checks

You should list the skill check in the running text with the DC number listed first. Example: Player characters must make a successful DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to climb the wall.

Generally, set DCs for tasks that characters can retry at 5 to 10 points higher than DCs for tasks that PCs can’t retry.


Write in the present tense. Wherever possible, avoid using the future tense “will” to describe NPC or monster actions. For example, do not say “If the player characters open the door, the golem will attack.” Instead say, “If the player characters open the door, the golem attacks.”


Use the phrase “points of damage” when giving damage in numbers or ranges. Always use a die range when giving damage, and always include a numeral before the type of die, even if there is only one. For example: “The skeleton deals 1d3 points of damage with each claw” is correct. Do not use “d3 points of damage,” “1d3 damage,” or “1d3 hp damage.”
Creatures deal or take damage. They do not inflict or suffer damage.
Example: “If the saving throw fails, the character takes 1d6+1 points of damage from the poison.”

D&D 5E – Player’s Handbook Errata

Wizards of the Coast released an official errata to the Player’s Handbook a few days ago. You can get your copy here (Errata_PH.pdf). It has a couple of entries that directly address the issue of PC hiding rules.


Another look at Hiding in combat

The items in the errata that pertain specifically to hiding are these:

Hiding (p. 177). The DM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. Also, the question isn’t whether a creature can see you when you’re hiding. The question is whether it can see you clearly.

Vision and Light (p. 183). A heavily obscured area doesn’t blind you, but you are effectively blinded when you try to see something obscured by it.

Comments on my post on stealth and hiding (here) almost always boil down to one point of contention. The rules for hiding outside of combat are fairly easily understood. The biggest debate always seems to be about hiding during combat. We all agree that surprise can only be on the first round of combat, but what about hiding during combat? Of course a PC can attempt to hide (if he can move to where he can’t be seen clearly) and sneak away with some item, but the main question is this; Can a 2nd level rouge attack and then hide on his turn and then attack with advantage the next round and do it again. OR, more simply, can he use the hide rules to get advantage on tis attack every round?

There are two completely different points of view on this and they can both be easily defended by quoting the rules. The two sides can be expressed thus:

1) Yes, of course the rogue can attack with advantage every round (assuming he has something to hide behind and succeeds in his hide attempt). That is why the rules are written the way they are. That is the whole reason I am playing a rogue. Especially at lower levels, the rogue can deliver more damage, on average, than the fighter. This makes playing him so much fun.

2) No, it makes no logical sense that a character can hide behind a barrel and the opponents not know that he is there. Even if he does succeed in hiding, the moment he sticks his head out to make an attack, he can now be seen so he is no longer hidden and he cannot attack with advantage.

There is no right or wrong here. It all depends on how the group wants to play. Ultimately, it is up to the DM. Even though it has always been the case, the new errata makes it very clear that the DM decides when you can or cannot hide.

I personally prefer to the second option. The rogue can still get advantage anytime an opponent is distracted. Most often this will be because he is being attacked by someone else on the rogue’s team, but I can think of a lot of other things that might distract an opponent. Or, if you are attacking from the shadows I could be persuaded to allow advantage on the attack.

D&D 5E – Character Sheet Instructions

party_smallOkay, now what do we do with this Character Sheet?

Filling in the 5E Character Sheet Box by Box

These instructions are for use with the character sheet you can download HERE. You can print a blank Character Sheet and fill it out by hand using these instructions. If you fill it out on your computer, the boxes that will be filled in for you are shown in red.

You might prefer a character sheet with more pages and class feature sheets. You can download them here. The instructions are the same.

#____ : Character sheet version. If you make multiple copies of your character sheet enter the version number here. For example, if you print a new copy of your character sheet each time  you advance to the next level you may want to put the number 1 here for the first time you print it and change that to a 2 before you print it the next time. Whatever you enter here will also be entered on all of the other sheets.

Player: This is you
Campaign: This is the name of the campaign. Ask the DM.
Character Creation Date: The date that you create this character. [Believe me, years from now, when you find this sheet among your old D&D stuff, you will want to know this.]
Current XP: Your character starts off at first level and with 0 experience points. You will be earning experience points as you adventure. Your DM will tell you how many experience points your character earned at the end of each different adventure, and occasionally more often. You can keep a running total here.
Next Level Goal: This is how many experience points you need to advance to the next level. Refer to the table in the PHB. You need 300 points to advance from first level to second level.
Name: This is your Character’s name. If you can’t think of a name ask the DM for advice. Whatever name you enter here will also be entered on all of the other sheets.
Race: Enter your character’s race here. It can be Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, or Tiefling. Check with the DM first, he may not have all these races in his campaign world.
Class: Enter your character’s class in this box. You may choose from Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock or Wizard.
Alignment: Your character can be any alignment you choose but your DM may not allow evil aligned player characters. The possible alignments are: Lawful good (LG), Neutral good (NG), Chaotic good (CG), Lawful neutral (LN), Neutral (N), Chaotic neutral (CN), Lawful evil (LE), Neutral evil (NE), and Chaotic evil (CE).
Sex: M or F –your choice, there is no in-game advantage to either sex.
Level: This is your character’s current level. You start out at level 1. For multi-class characters, this is the total of all their levels in all of their classes. A character’s level can never exceed 20. If filling this out on your computer, many of the fields on the sheet will be filled in when you enter a number here.
Size: This depends on your character’s race. Gnomes and Halflings are small (S), all other standard races are medium (M).
Age: Enter the age of your character here.
Height: Select any height that is appropriate for your race.
Weight: Select any weight that is appropriate for your race.
Speed: This is the number of feet you can move in one combat round. Dwarf 25 (not reduced by wearing heavy armor), Elf 30, Wood Elf 35, Halfling 25, Human 30, Dragonborn 30, Gnome 25, Half-elf 30, Half-Orc 30, Tiefling 30.
If your character is wearing heavy armor, and his strength score is less than the minimum listed for that armor, his speed is reduced by 10.
Initiative: This is your initiative modifier. When you roll for your character’s initiative at the beginning of combat, you add this to your initiative roll. Unless you have some feature or ability that affects this, your initiative modifier is the same as your Dexterity modifier.
Initiative adjustment: If some feature of the game grants your character a bonus to his initiative modifier (for example the “alert” feat gives you a +5 bonus to initiative) you can click on the word “Dex” below the initiative box and enter a number. This number will be added to your initiative modifier.
Ability Score: Using a method approve by your DM, determine your character’s ability scores, modify them according to your character’s race and enter the scores in the corresponding boxes.
Ability Modifier: For each ability, the modifier is determined by subtracting 10 from the ability score and then dividing the result by 2 (rounding down). Or you can simply look it up on the table in the PHB.
Saving Throws: This is the saving throw modifier for each ability. It is the same as the ability modifier, unless your character is proficient in that ability’s saving throw. This is typically a proficiency you get because of your race. If you are proficient, check the small box and add your proficiency bonus (see below) to the ability modifier to get your saving throw modifier.
Armored (the number you put in the shield): This is typically 10 + armor bonus if wearing armor + shield bonus if using a shield.
If wearing light armor add your Dex modifier.
If wearing medium armor add your Dex modifier up to a maximum of +2
You don’t add your Dex modifier to your armor class if you are wearing heavy armor.
Without Armor: 10 + Dexterity modifier (unless a class feature overrides this). Note that if your Dexterity modifier is negative, it lowers your armor class.
This box is where you list your maximum hit points. At first level this will be the highest roll of your hit dice (see below) plus your Constitution modifier.
Hit Dice: Here you enter the type of hit die your character uses and the number of hit die of that type you have. At first level your character has 1 hit die. The hit die type depends on your character’s class; Barbarian 1d12, Bard 1d8, Cleric 1d8, Druid 1d8, Fighter 1d10, Monk 1d8, Paladin 1d10, Ranger 1d10, Rogue 1d8, Sorcerer 1d6, Warlock 1d8, Wizard 1d6.
Current Hit Points: As your character takes damage, he loses hit points. You can use this box to track the damage.
Temporary Hit Points: Some magic spells or other game effects can grant your character what are called “temporary hit points.” You can list these here and track their loss. You lose these before you lose regular hit points. You lose any remaining temporary hit points after finishing a long rest.
Available Hit Dice: You have one hit die for each level. At the end of a short rest, you can roll one or more of these hit die and, for each die rolled, recover the indicated number of hit points plus your character’s Constitution modifier. You can use this space to keep track of the number of hit die you have left to use for healing. After a long rest, you regain a number of hit die equal to half your total number of them, or a minimum of one hit die.
Death Saves: When you start your turn with 0 hit points you make a death saving throw. You must roll 1d20 and on a roll of 10 or higher you succeed, otherwise you fail. On your third success you become stable, on your third failure you die. A role of 1 counts as two failures. A roll of 20 means that you are no longer dying and you regain 1 hit point. You can use this space to track your progress.
Advantages: List any conditions where you get advantage. For example if you are a dwarf, you have advantage on saving throws against poison.
Disadvantages: List any where you have a disadvantage. For example if your character is small (size S) then you have disadvantage when using heavy weapons.
Place a check in this box when you get inspiration. Remove the check when you use it. You either have inspiration or you don’t. Your DM can award your character inspiration, typically for good (or entertaining) roll playing. If you have inspiration, you can spend it to get advantage on any attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. You can give up your inspiration to another character if you think he deserves is.
You can use this area to keep track of your character’s level of exhaustion. Your DM will tell you when your character is susceptible to a level of exhaustion.
List your proficiency bonus here. It starts out as +2 at first level and increases as you advance in level.
This is your Perception Skill bonus modifier +10.
Passive Perception adjustment: If some feature of the game grants you a bonus to your passive (wisdom) perception modifier (for example the “observant” feat gives you a +5  bonus) you can click on the word “Wis” to the left of the box and enter a number. This number will be added to your passive perception modifier.
Skills: Your character will have proficiency in certain skills. For each skill he is proficient in, place a check in the box by that skill. Add your proficiency bonus to the associated ability modifier to determine the bonus you apply to these skill checks. When he attempts to perform a skill that he is not proficient in, it becomes a simple ability check, so enter the ability modifier for that skill’s ability.
x2: There are some class features with double proficiency bonus on some skills, for example, the Knowledge Domain Cleric and Rogue’s Expertise. For each skill that your character has a double proficiency for, put a check in the little [x2] box to the right of that skill name. Double your proficiency bonus and add that to the associated ability modifier.
1/2: A second level Bard gets the “Jack of all Trades” feature. This adds half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to ability checks you are not proficient in. If your character has this feature, for each skill that your character is not proficient in, put a check in the little [1/2] box to the right of that skill name. Divide your proficiency bonus by 2 (round down)  and add that to the associated ability modifier.
Skill adjustment: If some feature of the game grants you a bonus to skill  (for example a luckstone grants you a +1 bonus to skill checks) you can enter a number on the ability listed to the left of the box. Add this number  to the associated ability modifier.
Saves: List any ability or other saves (such as poison for example) where your character would receive a proficiency bonus to his saving throw.
Tools: If your character is proficient in the use of any types of tools, list them here.
Weapons: List the type of weapons your character is proficient with.
Armor: List the type of armor your character is proficient with. If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity, and you can’t cast spells.
Other: This is a catch-all for anything that your character has proficiency in that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories.
Sneak Attack: If your character is a rogue you can enter extra damage he does on a sneak attack. This will be 1d6 at first level.
Rages: If your character is a barbarian you can enter the number of times he can rage between long rests. This will be 2 at first level.
Ki Points: If your character is a monk you can enter the number of ki points you have available between short or long rests. You don’t have any at 1st level. At 2nd level you get 2.
Martial Arts: If your character is a monk you can enter the amount of damage you do with an unarmed strike or monk weapon. This will be 1d4 at first level.
There is room to list up to 5 different weapons. If you have more weapons than this you can print additional sheets.
Weapon: On the line under the word “WEAPON” enter a description for the weapon. Note that if you are filling this out on a computer, the calculated fields for this weapon will remain blank until you enter some text on this line.
The line to the right of the word “WEAPON” is available for you to add additional information about the weapon if you want. For example, you may want to indicate if it is a Light weapon, or list other weapon properties, or a description, or a name.
Reach or Range: Melee weapons have a reach of 5 ft. unless they have the “reach” property and then it becomes 10 ft. Weapons that can be thrown and all ranged weapons have a normal and maximum range.
Type: The type of damage; bludgeoning (B), Piercing (P), or slashing (S)
Ability (STR or DEX): Most melee weapons use your Strength modifier, and most range weapons use your Dexterity modifier. If it is a melee weapon with the Finesse property, you can choose to use your Dexterity modifier. If it is a range weapon with the Thrown property, you can choose to use your Strength modifier. Check the box next to the ability you will be using.
Proficiency: If you have proficiency with this weapon. Check this small box and enter your proficiency bonus in the large box.
STR/DEX: Enter the appropriate ability modifier in this box. If you are fighting with two weapons, and this is your second light weapon, you don’t get an ability bonus to damage with this weapon so remove the check between the attack and damage boxes and do not enter the ability modifier for damage.
Magic: If the weapon receives a magic adjustment, enter this in both the attack and damage rows.
Misc. Enter any additional bonuses (or penalties) to attack and/or damage.
Attack Bonus: Add up all the attack adjustments and enter the total here. You will add this bonus to your attack rolls.
Damage Bonus: Add up all the damage adjustments and enter the total here. You will add this bonus to your damage rolls.
Damage Dice: Enter the number and type of die to roll for damage. For weapons with the Versatile property, also ether the damage if the weapon is used two handed. For instance, for a Longsword you could enter 1d8 (1d10).
Ammo: For weapons that use ammunition, you can use these boxes to check off your ammunition as it is used. If you take the time after a battle, you can normally recover half of your expended ammunition.
The section on the lower right of the first sheet is for any notes you may want to add to help you remember details about your character. There may not be enough room here to describe all of his special abilities in detail, but you could list them here and keep the details on sheet 4, or look them up in the Players Handbook, until you have used them enough to remember how they work. For example, for a first level Dwarf Fighter you might note that he has Darkvision, Dwarven Resilience, Dueling, and Second Wind.
You may want to use separate cards to keep track of information that won’t fit on this sheet. You can use cards available HERE.
If you are filling this out on your computer, there are two non-printing boxes at the bottom of page one.
Update Calculations: All of the information filled in automatically for you should update whenever you make any change. Sometimes it doesn’t. You can press this button to force the form to update all of the calculated fields.
Clear: Be careful to not press this unless you want to erase everything from all of the fields on all pages. If you press it by accident, you may be able to recover the lost information if you press CTRL Z. This button is useful for clearing all fields and starting over, or before printing a blank form to fill out by hand.

The first page contains everything you may need to reference during combat. The second page contains information about your character’s personality, his physical description, his background and his equipment. There is a wider margin on the left side of the first page and on the right side of the second page, so if you print them on the front and back side of the same sheet there should be room to punch holes for a binder. The sheet version and character name are duplicated  from page 1.
If your character normally wears armor, list the type of armor here.
Armor Class: List the armors armor class (AC) here
Category: This will be Light (L), Medium (M) or Heavy (H)
Don and Doff: The amount of time it takes to put on (don) and take off (doff). Refer to the PHB page 146.
Strength: Only used if the armor is in the heavy category. This is the minimum strength to use this armor without receiving a -10 ft penalty to your speed.
Weight: How much the armor weighs.
If you have a shield, list if it is wood or metal.
Weight: All standard shields weigh 6 lb.
AC: All shields provide +2 to your armor class.
This is where you can keep track of magical items that provide a bonus to your armor class. If the item requires attunement, you can only be attuned to 3 magic items at the same time, so you may want to keep track of attunement here as well.
For tracking items that your character owns. You can get the weight for standard equipment packs HERE. For higher level characters, you may only want to list items here that your character always carries with him.
Carrying Capacity: This is your Strength score X 15.
Push, Dag, or Lift: This is twice your Carrying Capacity.
Total Weight Carried: Simply add up the weight of everything listed above.
Lifestyle: Your downtime, between adventures, lifestyle can be Wretched, Squalid, Poor, Modest, Comfortable, Wealthy, or Aristocratic. If everyone in the party wants to stay together between adventures they should all have the same lifestyle.
Expenses/day: This depends on your lifestyle. Refer to the PHB page 157.
This area is for keeping track of your character’s monetary and magical possessions. You can track the number of Copper Pieces (CP), Silver Pieces (SP), Electrum Pieces (EP), Gold pieces (GP) and Platinum Pieces (PP). [More information on coins in the post HERE.]
There is a space for Jewels & Gems [More information on gems in the post HERE], Magic items, and Other items.
Age, Height, Weight, Eyes, Hair, Skin: Use the description of your character’s race in the Player’s Handbook as a guide. (Age, height and weight are also listed on page 1. Entering the information on one page will also enter it on the other page.)
Gender, Handedness: your choice. There is no game advantage or penalty regardless of your choice.
Physical Description: List distinguishing features- scars, tattoos, etc.
Draw a picture of your character in the frame. If you are using Adobe Reader, you can click on the image area and it will pop-up a “Select Icon” menu. You can use this to browse your computer for an image to place in this area. There are many good character sketches available on-line. The image must be in PDF file format. There are free utilities available that you can use to convert image files into PDF format. You may find A character schetch that you like HERE.
Languages: List the languages your character knows in this box. Unless you choose otherwise, your character can read and write any language that he can speak.
The rest of this page is straight forward. All of this information is useful in role playing your character. You may want to glance over this whenever you are trying to decide what your character would do in a particular situation.

This page is obviously for spellcasters. If your character can’t cast spells, there is no reason for you to print this page.
Primary Ability: This is your character’s primary spellcasting ability. This will be Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma – depending upon your Class. Click on the down arrow and select from the list.
Spell save DC: This is 8 + your proficiency modifier + the ability modifier for your primary spellcasting ability.
Spell attack modifier: This is your proficiency modifier + the ability modifier for your primary spellcasting ability .
Number of Cantrips Known: This number depends on your class and level.
Spells Known or Available: Bards, Rangers, Sorcerers and Warkocks enter the number of spells known. Clerics, Druids, and Paladins enter the number of spells available.
Sorcery Points: Only Sorcerers have sorcery points.
Spell Slots and Castings
Enter the number of spell slots you have available in the space next to each spell level. As you expend spell slots to cast spells, you can check off the used slots in the boxes below.
Spellbook / Known Spells
If your character’s spellcasting class uses a spellbook, you can use this area to list the spells that it contains. If your class requires that you know a certain number of spells, you can list them here.
Use the checkbox next to a spell to indicate a spell that you have prepared. List cantrip’s as Level 0. There isn’t enough room here for full spell descriptions, so you can use the description space to list the major spell effect. For easy reference to the full spell descriptions, you may want to use spell cards, available HERE. If you only have a few spells, you might want to describe them in detail on page 4.

PAGE 4 – Character Background and/or Notes Overflow
This page is for you to use to tell the story of your character. Where he or she came from and why they are here. It can also be used to keep more detailed descriptions of your character’s feats and abilities that don’t fit on the other sheets. If you need more sheets, make multiple copies.

The main thing to remember is that the character sheet is yours. Use it in any way that makes sense to you. You can write outside the boxes, use circles and arrows, scribble in the margins, or use it in any way that you choose. Also, you don’t have to completely fill out every box before you start playing. If you never decide on your character’s eye color, it won’t effect the game. [As a DM, I do strongly recommend that you give your character a name before your second gaming session. I have played too many times with one or more “no name” characters. This can be a distraction.]

Here are a couple of tips:
First, use pencil instead of ink. Many things can happen during an adventure that can cause things to change so keep an eraser handy.
Second, I find it useful to apply 3M brand “magic mending tape” over the areas that I know will be changing often, such as current hit points. You can write on it with a pencil and it stands up to frequent erasures without leaving a hole in the paper.
Now that you have filled out your Character sheet, let the game begin!