Author Archives: David Hartlage

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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Winter Fantasy hosted 12 slots of Dungeons & Dragons and I played through them all

At the convention center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the entire Winter Fantasy convention fits into one hall. Despite the event’s compact size, Winter Fantasy delivers as much Dungeons & Dragons as the biggest table-top gaming cons. Imagine the D&D track … Continue reading

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The surprising benefits of giving an adventuring party a guide

When I started gaming, people tended to play Dungeons & Dragons with larger parties than now. When game session fell short of 8 or more players, dungeon masters often added their own character to fill the group. To me, the practice … Continue reading

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Side trek for Storm King’s Thunder: The Giant Ship

Chapter 3 of the Dungeons & Dragons adventure Storm King’s Thunder encourages characters to roam the Savage Frontier, completing quests and facing warring giants. As written, the section could to become a grind, with long marches interrupted by routine encounters. … Continue reading

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New photo guide to dungeon master’s tools

As a dungeon master or game master, you can run a fun game with almost no gear, just a couple of dice, a pen, and some note paper.  I prefer to operate on the other end of the spectrum, with … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Why Gary Gygax claimed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was a different game (Part 6)

The Story of Basic and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 1: The time Dungeons & Dragons split into two games Part 2: Dungeons & Dragons’ new audience versus its original rules Part 3: Dungeon & Dragons goes two directions Part … Continue reading

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