Category Archives: Advice

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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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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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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What game masters (and their monsters) should say during a combat encounter

During a combat encounters, I focus on keeping play moving. A faster tempo means players spend less time waiting between turns. Waiting never adds fun. Despite my focus on tempo, I do more than count initiative and tell players when … Continue reading

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Never split the party—except when it adds fun

Everyone who plays role-playing games learns the Dungeons & Dragons adage never split the party. In the hobby’s early days, when dungeon masters were referees and players chose difficulty by dungeon level, never splitting the party always made good strategy. … Continue reading

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Confidence game: Why faking confidence makes you a better game master

Some game masters boast unshakable confidence in their skill, even though their games only attract players because no one else wants the DM’s chair. Confidence leaves these GMs blind to their flaws. I should know. As a GM, I have … Continue reading

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How to end combat encounters before they become a grind

Every Dungeons & Dragons player experiences a battle that drags near the end, when the monsters have spent their best attacks and lack the numbers to threaten the PCs. As a dungeon master, I want to cut to the next … Continue reading

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Create better encounters by considering what your monsters want

Sometimes Dungeons & Dragons worlds seem split in two. In the towns and hamlets, players exercise charm and guile. In dungeons and lairs, every creature attacks on sight and battles continue to the death. When TSR printed Dungeon magazine, the … Continue reading

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