Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

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D&D – DM Screen Reimagined

DMScreen_A

A different type of DM Screen.

As a Dungeon Master, I quit using a DM screen about 5 years ago. I had always used one because I was told that that was the way the game was played. The players can’t see any of your maps or reference books. You can hide the minis of the monsters until you bring them out for an encounter. And you can roll behind the screen so your players can’t see when you fudge your die rolls.

When I stopped using a DM screen, I loved it. My players are all mature enough that they aren’t inclined to cheat, so hiding my books and notes isn’t an issue. I make all of my rolls in the open. At first I thought I might need to make secret rolls from time to time, so I put a couple of dice in a small wooden box with a lid for making secret rolls. In the last 5 years, I have never used it. I have a small cardboard box where I keep the monster minis until time to bring them out. And I really enjoy the game more where I can have a closer connection to the players, not to mention that I hate having to stand up whenever I need a good view of the battle mat.

The only problem has been my maps. My players don’t purposely look at the map, but it is hard not to look at it when it is in the open. So to help keep my honest players honest, a couple of weeks ago I started using a DM screen again. It didn’t take long for me to regret it, for all of the reasons I just mentioned.

Then, one morning I woke up with this idea. If all I was using the DM screen for was to make it easier for my players to not look at my maps, I didn’t need a full sized DM screen. I found an old shoebox that was just the right size for an 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch paper to fit inside. I cut off one end. I cut off two panels from an old DM screen (any 8.5 x 11 sheets of cardboard would do) and taped them to the sides. As I hope you can see from the photos, this is high enough that the players seated on each side of me can’t see the map and players at the other end of the table can’t see the map over the end of the shoe box. I taped a monster picture to the end just for fun. And the best thing of all, it doesn’t obstruct my view of the battle mat.

What do you think of this idea? I have only used it a couple of sessions so far, but I really like it. Also, I can easily set it aside when I don’t need to reference the map.

D&D 5E – ICRPG Conversion Guide

Conversion Book Cover - Small

Looking for ways to adapt more ICRPG into D&D 5e? Perhaps this can help.

Download your free 15 page PDF HERE.

Never heard of ICRPG? I believe that Index Card Role Playing Game (ICRPG) is only a little over 5 years old. The latest version (Master Edition) came out last month. Quoting from the Quick Start “How to use the ICRPG rules? Short answer: don’t.”
“Index Card RPG is a way of thinking. Your players invested in another system? No problem. … Take what is useful for you, and toss the rest!”

The basics are simple. Here are some examples.
Movement and distance are somewhat abstract. Everything is either close, near, or far.
Turns are always taken clockwise around the table.
In combat, your character can either move far, move near and take an action, or take an action and not move.
A target number is set for the room or encounter area. It becomes the AC for all monsters and the DC for anything else you may attempt.

I couldn’t find any good conversion guides, so I wrote this one. If any of this sounds interesting to you, I recommend downloading the free ICRPG Quick Start available on “DriveThru RPG”.

You might want to run an ICRPG session or two using this conversion guide. If you and your players think any of these rules would enhance your D&D 5e game, drop all of the ones you don’t like and just use the ones you like as house rules in your next D&D game.

Let me know how it goes.

Revision #1, 1/8/2022: Removed copyrighted text and images as requested by Alex from Runehammer Games.

D&D – Torch & Lantern Cards

This blog just reached 500 followers. I was looking around for a way to thank you! I haven’t done anything that is ready for posting lately (I have been working on something), but I ran across this. These are from “Dyson’s Dodecahedron” 2017. Both cards are copyright 2017 by Dyson Logos, based on a design by Kirin Robinson, and you can download them to print on 2″ x 3.5″ cards. HERE:

Or you can use this version to print on a letter sized sheet – HERE.

D&D 5E – Epic Level Play

5.0-Epic Cover - Small

Think only being able to go to level 20 in D&D is too restricting? Want to take your characters on truly epic adventures? Then this supplement is for you. Download your free PDF copy HERE.

Using these rules you can take any class, or multiclass character beyond level 20. There is no upper limit! This expands each class’s progression of class features beyond 20th level. And for spellcasters it introduces Epic spells with rules for creating and casting any spell you can think of!

I want to thank Bailey, a reader of this blog, for giving me the inspiration to create this.

Update #1: 10/9/2021 Revised Epic Spell creation rules.

D&D 5E – Effects of Magical Aging

Can my D&D character die of old age?

In 3.5 and earlier editions of D&D your character could die of old age. This is not presented as an option in 5th edition. If you want some rules for how your characters are effected when they are magically aged, with the possibility of dying from old age, this post is for you.

Your character ages normally as time passes in your campaign. Most campaigns won’t represent a long enough time for your character’s advancing age to effect your character’s abilities. But the world of D&D is a world full of magic and anything can happen.

The Player’s Handbook tells you when each race is considered an adult and their expected lifespan. You also learn that the “petrified” condition ceases aging and creatures under the effect of the “imprisonment” spell don’t age. You also learn that the “resurrection”, “true resurrection”, and “revivify” spells don’t work on creatures that died from old age. I would also have to assume that a properly worded “wish” spell could change the age of a creature.

From the Dungeon Master’s Guide you learn that both the “Boots of Immortality” and the epic “Boon of Immortality” both stop you from aging, make you immune to any effect that would age you, and with them you can’t die from old age. You also learn that a creature trapped in an “iron flask” doesn’t age.

The Monster Manuel only has one monster that effects aging. The “Ghost” has a “Horrifying Visage” ability that can age a character 1d4 x 10 years. The aging effect can be reversed with a greater restoration spell, but only within 24 hours of it occurring. [For the following rules to work as intended, change the aging from “1d4 x 10 years” to “one age category”.]

In the magical world of D&D there may be additional spells or magical effects that are not in any of the core books. As the result of some magic, you might be unnaturally changed to any older (or younger) age. I have created the following unofficial rules to provide a framework for the DM to handle these situations.

I have divided the ages into 3 groups: Young, Mature and Old
Each of these groups are further divided into three categories. Although the Player’s Handbook says that you can choose any age for your character, it is assumed that a starting player character would normally be somewhere in the “Mature” group.

The three age groups and the categories for each group are as follows.
Young: Infant, Child, Adolescent
Mature: Young-adult, Adult, Middle-aged
Old: Senior, Elderly, Venerable

When a creature is affected by magic which changes its age, it will typically make it older (or younger depending on the magic effect) by a single age category. When your age is changed in this way your character changes as described below. Please note that, except for Infants, you are NOT changing any ability scores. Also these changes are NOT cumulative. When your age is magically changed to one of these categories you should start by removing any previously applied changes from earlier age changes before applying the new changes.

PC age categories

Infant: Your size becomes tiny, Your speed becomes 0, You loose all ability to communicate. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. All of your ability scores become 3. You automatically fail all ability checks and saves.

Child: Your size becomes small. Your speed becomes 10. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. You have Disadvantage on STR, INT, WIS and DEX checks and saves. You have Advantage on CHA checks and saves.

Adolescent: You loose all weapon and armor proficiencies. You must succeed on a concentration check to cast any spell. You have a -2 on STR, INT and WIS checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA checks and saves.

Young-adult, Adult, and Middle-aged: No changes.

Senior: You have a -2 on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves.

Elderly: You have disadvantage on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA and WIS checks and saves.

Venerable: You automatically fail all STR and DEX checks and saves. You have advantage on CHA and WIS checks and saves. If you fail any CON save you receive one level of exhaustion. If you die from exhaustion, you will have died from old age.

Too young or too old:

If magical ageing makes you younger than the youngest category you die from never having been born. Your body dissipaters and your sole returns to the font on the Positive Energy Plain from whence it came.

If magical ageing makes you older than oldest category you die of old age.

PC Races

For the races that are in the Player’s Handbook.

Dwarf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-49
Mature: Young-adult 50-99, Adult 100-149, Middle-aged 150-199
Old: Senior 200-249, Elderly 250-299, Venerable 300-350

Elf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-99
Mature: Young-adult 100-199, Adult 200-299, Middle-aged 300-399
Old: Senior 400-499, Elderly 500-599, Venerable 600-750

Halfling
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-13, Adolescent 14-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-49, Adult 50-89, Middle-aged 90-129
Old: Senior 130-159, Elderly 160-199, Venerable 200-250

Human
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-79, Elderly 80-99, Venerable 100-120

Dragonborn
Young: Infant 0, Child 1-3, Adolescent 4-14
Mature: Young-adult 15-24, Adult 25-34, Middle-aged 35-44
Old: Senior 45-54, Elderly 55-64, Venerable 65-80

Gnome
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-39
Mature: Young-adult 40-99, Adult 100-159, Middle-aged 160-219
Old: Senior 220-279, Elderly 280-339, Venerable 340-500

Half-Elf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-14, Adolescent 15-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-34, Adult 45-69, Middle-aged 70-94
Old: Senior 95-119, Elderly 120-144, Venerable 145-180

Half-Orc
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-5, Adolescent 6-13
Mature: Young-adult 14-23, Adult 24-33, Middle-aged 34-43
Old: Senior 44-53, Elderly 54-63, Venerable 64-75

Tiefling
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-99, Elderly 100-119, Venerable 120-150

Monster age categories

For NPCs and all Creatures that do not have a class level (monsters) what happens when they are magically aged depends on their type. They will use the age categories that are shown below for the monster type. We can ignore their actual age in years.

Aberrations, Celestials, Constructs, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead are immune to magical aging.

Beasts
Beasts are assumed to start as an Adult.
Beast age categories:
Child: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adolescent: -2 on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adult: Starting age.
Old: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.

Dragons
Dragons have their own age categories. When they magically change to a different age category all of their stats change to those for a dragon of the same color but with the new stat block.
Dragon age categories:
Wyrmling 0-5 years
Young 6-100 years
Adult 101-800 years
Ancient 801+ years

Faerie Dragons
They will change color, and the abilities associated with that color, as they change change age categories.
Faerie Dragon age categories:
Red 0-5 years
Orange 6-10 years
Yellow 11-22 years
Green 21-30 years
Blue 31-40 years
Indigo 41-50 years
Violet 51 years

Giants and Humanoids
Use the same age categories as shown for PCs.
Giants and Humanoids are assumed to start as an Adult.

Plants
Plants are assumed to start as an Adult and they don’t die from old age, they just get larger. Use your common sense, for instance plants that don’t have a speed or move rate don’t get them when they change size.
Plant categories:
Young: Size decreases from Adult by two size categories and reach decreases from Adult by 10′ and speed decreases from Adult by 10′.
Young-adult: Size decreases from Adult by one size category and reach decreases from Adult by 5′ and speed decreases from Adult by 5′.
Adult: Starting age.
Middle-aged: Size increases from Adult by one size category and reach increases from Adult by 5′ and speed increases from Adult by 5′.
Old: Size increases from Adult by two size categories and reach increases from Adult by 10′ and speed increases from Adult by 10′.

D&D 5E – Jump Calculator

I found this great tool to answer the question “How far (or how high) can my character jump”.
[Can someone tell me who created this so I can give them credit?]

https://fexlabs.com/5ejump/

D&D 5E – Magic Item Record Sheet

I have come to realise that my character record sheets (HERE) do not provide enough space to track all of the magic items your character may acquire during your campaign. Rather than adding this sheet to those character record sheets, I am providing this sheet as a separate download. If your character requires more space than available on this page simply copy the file under a different name for each page required.

This is a form-fallible Magic Item Record Sheet for keeping a list with descriptions of your Dungeons and Dragons player character’s magic items.

This was created for use on your monitor during play; you can scroll the text if the magic item description is too long to fit in the box. If you intend to print the page you should abbreviate long descriptions to fit in a single box, or split the description across two or more boxes.

Enjoy!

Truly Different Magic Systems in RPGs

If you are only familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, you may not be aware of the way magic is handled in other RPGs. Here is an excellent overview:

https://restinford.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/magic-systems/

D&D 5E – Dinosaur Minis

My D&D Scale Dinosaurs.

I finely got all of the dinosaur minis that I need for Tomb of Annihilation. The hardest thing to do was to get the models in the correct size for playing on a one inch grid. I was determined to use the sizes they have in the monster stats. The only one that I couldn’t find at the proper scale was a Hadrosaurus.
So here they are:

 

Allosaurus – Painted Toy that I mounted onto a 2″ base.

 

Allosaurus, Young – Painted Toy that I mounted onto a 1″ base.

 

Ankylosaurus – Painted Toy that I mounted onto a 3″ base.

 

Brontosaurus – Toy that I painted and mounted onto a 4″ base.

 

Deinonychus – Prepainted mini by HeroClix.

 

Dimetrodon – Toy that I re-painted and mounted onto a 2″ base. This should have been on a 1″ base, but only smaller one that I could find didn’t look as good.

 

Plesiosaurus – Toy that I re-painted and mounted onto a 2″ base.

 

Pteranodon – Toy that I re-painted and mounted onto a 1″ base.

 

Quetzalcoatlus – Painted Toy that I mounted onto a 3″ base. (I really like this one. Notice that it even has a smaller dinosaur in it’s mouth!)

 

Stegosaurus – Painted Toy that I mounted onto a 3″ base.

 

Triceratops – Toy that I painted and mounted onto a 3″ base.

 

Triceratops, young – Toy that I mounted onto a 1″ base. (I can’t remember if I painted this one or not. I am thinking that I did, but the paint job is really bad.)

 

Tyrannosaurus Rex – Toy that I re-painted and mounted onto a 3″ base.

 

Tyrannosaurus Zombie – A mini by Dungeons & Dragons – Collector’s Series Miniatures that I assembled and painted.

 

Velociraptor – A pre-painted mini by WizKids.

For those of you that are interested, here is where I found these:

Tyrannosaurus Zombie
by Dungeons & Dragons – Collector’s Series Miniatures

Velociraptor
By WizKids

Deinonychus
by HeroClix

Brontosaurus, Allosaurus and Ankylosaurus
by Emorefun

Quetzalcoatlus
by Collecta

Triceratops
by Jesse

For all of the others, I didn’t keep any records. I found them at various local stores.

Thanks to Zee Parks for his “Miniature Lineup (1in=5ft) Scale Template“.

Last Minute Rolls

I ran across this over at “Dark Eagle Games”. I think I will start using this rather than passive perception whenever PCs are checking for traps.

One of my best tricks as a GM is to wait until the last-minute to make any dice roll. I do not pick up the dice until the roll has immediate effects. I cannot always do this, but one place I can is…

Source: Last Minute Rolls