Author Archives: David Hartlage

How to Create Wire Spell Templates for Dungeons & Dragons

Nothing stalls a fight on a grid like a circular or conical area-effect spell. Everyone waits while someone counts and recounts squares, and then figures angles like a pool shark. For fireballs and other circles, macrame rings trim minutes from … Continue reading

Posted in Dungeon master's tools | Tagged | 5 Comments

If D&D Play Styles Could Talk, the One I Hate Would Say, “I Won D&D for You. You’re Welcome.”

As I wrote last week’s post about players who gamed the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League rules, I feared misleading folks. Years before I started participating in organized play, players told me stories about the Living City and Living Greyhawk … Continue reading

Posted in Adventurers League | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

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

Posted in Adventurers League | Tagged , | 32 Comments

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 , , , , | 22 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

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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 , , , , , , | 4 Comments