Author Archives: David Hartlage

The Adventurers League Campaign Rules Offered a Game. How Gamers Played to Win.

Starting on August 30, the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League will introduce a sweeping overhaul of the campaign rules. These changes affect how characters in the campaign advance levels, gain gold, and win magic items. The new level-advancement system aims … Continue reading

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Would Dungeons & Dragons Play Better If It Stayed Loyal to How Gary Gygax Awarded Hit Points?

In a typical fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure, characters will reach every battle with full hit points. Healing comes too easily to enter a battle at less than full health. Above level 10 or so, spells like Aid and Heroes … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game design, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

How the Dungeon Powered the Success of D&D and the First Role-Playing Games

When home computers seemed like rare gadgets, a killer app was a program so compelling that people purchased the computer just to run the application. VisiCalc became the Apple II’s killer app, and then Lotus 1-2-3 drove customers to the … Continue reading

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How to Get D&D Players to Make Unforgettable Character Introductions That Take a Minute or Less

Whenever I serve as a dungeon master for strangers at conventions, I learn things that improve my game. But the games where I play Dungeons & Dragons teach me too. I try to start convention games by giving players a … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

D&D’s Designers Can’t Decide Whether Characters Must Rest for Hit Points and Healing, but You Can Choose

In the original Dungeons & Dragons game, ordinary monster attacks inflicted just 1d6 damage. Yet characters still died, frequently. Clerics gained far fewer spells and much less healing than today, so most damage took a trip out of the dungeon … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

Avoiding the Awkward D&D Moment When a Priest, a Wizard, and a Dwarf Enter a Bar and Nothing Happens

A few recurring types of adventure scenes make me want to fast forward the game. For instance, I dislike when an scenario starts a party in a tavern, masquerade, or other social gathering, and then expects them to spend an … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Unintended Consequence That Ruined Fourth Edition D&D’s Chance of Success, But Proved Great for Gamers

Publicly, members of Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons team never discuss sales numbers. Privately, they dispute the notion that the Pathfinder role-playing game ever outsold fourth-edition D&D. But at Gen Con, late in the short life of fourth … Continue reading

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The Grand Campaign, Dungeon Master Gear, Fourth Edition D&D, and Other Reactions From the Comment Section

I’m ready for another trip into the comment section. The Grand Campaign My post on the grand campaign prompted a couple of commenters to tell of their long-running grand campaigns. Michael “Chgowiz” Shorten’s game has run more than 10 years. Rick … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Dungeon master's tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

5 Reasons Someone Might Build a Dungeon Filled With Clues, Tests, and Riddles

Dungeons & Dragons features a long tradition of dungeons built with tricks and puzzles to test and confound intruders. Funhouse dungeons filled with odd challenges such as White Plume Mountain and Ghost Tower of Inverness rate as some of the … Continue reading

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Why Fourth Edition Never Saved Dungeons & Dragons

“Fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons is all about taking that things that work in D&D, keeping them in the game, and fixing everything else,” designer Mike Mearls wrote after the edition’s announcement in 2007. “That’s the goal, and I think … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments