Author Archives: David Hartlage

Why Dungeons & Dragons (and Role Playing) Took Years to Leave the Dungeon

The Dungeons & Dragons game’s original 1974 version offered two types of adventure: dungeons and wilderness. In such site-based adventures, players’ decisions about where to go set the course of the adventure. These adventures revolve around on a map with a … Continue reading

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What I Wish the Player’s Handbook Had Explained About Some More D&D Spells

In my last post, I offered some extra explanation for common spells that called for it. This post covers more spells. Hex Until Hex ends, the caster deals an extra d6 damage every time they hit the hexed creature with … Continue reading

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What the Player’s Handbook Should Have Explained about 6 Popular D&D Spells

Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons features popular spells like fireball that leave little room for interpretation, but others that require extra help. Some spells only become clear after you chase rules in other parts of the book, others make key … Continue reading

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How to Say Yes Without Turning Your D&D Game Into a Joke

In my last post, I explained how challenging myself to say yes to players made me a better dungeon master, even though I sometimes said no. Sometime in the 90s, I returned gaming conventions after more than a decade away. … Continue reading

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Sometimes I Tell Players No, but “Say Yes” Made Me a Better Dungeon Master

As the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax set an example that seemed to encourage dungeon masters to battle players. As soon as players gained an edge, Gygax created something to foil them. When players started listening at doors, … Continue reading

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4 Simple Tactics that Make Cunning D&D Foes Seem More Dangerous

Are you a dungeon master? Tired losing every fight? Tired of player characters beating your monsters like pinatas? Get used to it. For DMs and for the Washington Generals basketball team, losing fits the job description. Still, if the monsters … Continue reading

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What to do when a player interrupts a role-playing scene to start a battle

Every dungeon master sees an impatient player spoil a scene sooner or later. Or sooner. The party talks with the Viper Queen when a player grows restless and blurts out, “I hit her with my axe!” If you have yet to … Continue reading

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Ask this question to create ideas and mysteries that grab players’ attention

I like to generate ideas by taking two notions that strike my interest, but that seem impossible together, and then inventing ways to put the two notions together logically. Angry GM calls this game How Can this be True? Like … Continue reading

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Side trek for Storm King’s Thunder: To Steal a Primordial

At the Dwarven stronghold of Gauntlgrym, a trapped primordial called Maegera the Dawn Titan fires the forges. In Storm King’s Thunder, a party of drow raids the forges to steal the godling. If the player characters happen to visit Gauntlgrym, … Continue reading

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Number your monsters to stop wasting time finding them on the battle map

Many game masters boast an ability that I can’t match. I can’t stick to a character accent, but not that ability. During combat encounters, many GM’s remember which monster corresponds to which damage total on a sheet of paper. I … Continue reading

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