Author Archives: David Hartlage

8 Thoughts About D&D From Winter Fantasy

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

Posted in Conventions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways to Build a Character That Will Earn the Love of Your Party

In Dungeons & Dragons, rolling handfuls of damage dice feels like a good way to shine among party members, but know this secret: Other players usually overlook the damage you do. If you really want to shine, find ways to … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Should Charm Person Work Like a Jedi Mind Trick?

In three original, brown Dungeons & Dragons books, what spell ranks as the most powerful? At 6th level, disintegrate could turn someone to dust, but charm person could put someone “completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such time … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

My Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League Quick Reference Sheet

The end of a session in my local game store brings the worst part of my role as a dungeon master. Then, I inevitability struggle to explain the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League advancement and reward system to casual players … Continue reading

Posted in Adventurers League | Tagged | 9 Comments

Three Reasons the Ecology of Monsters Can Make Creatures Worse

During the early years of Dungeons & Dragons, speculative fiction enjoyed something of a fashion for combining science and fantasy, so the popular Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey and Darkover novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley provided scientific explanations for fantasy-flavored worlds … Continue reading

Posted in Inspiration, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The True Story of the Cthulhu and Elric Sections Removed from Deities & Demigods

Just a couple of years after its release, the original Deities & Demigods from 1980 became legend. The first copies included sections featuring the Melnibonéan mythos from the Elric stories by Michael Moorcock and the Cthulhu mythos from the tales … Continue reading

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

A Dungeons & Dragons Summoning Spell Reference

Many summoning spells in fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons explicitly allow the player to choose the creatures summoned. Others only let the player choose from broad options. Typically players choose the quantity and challenge rating of creatures. This reference lists typical … Continue reading

Posted in Dungeon master's tools | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Should a Dungeon Master Invite Players to Help Create the D&D World Beyond Their Characters?

In 1970, Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson joined the Castles & Crusades Society, a group of miniature gamers formed by D&D co-creator Gary Gygax. The group imagined a Great Kingdom and parceled out territories to players to develop for … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Unfrozen DMs, Annoying Spells, Dynamic Battles, and More Insights from the Comment Section

Time for another trip to the comment section. The unfrozen dungeon master In The Plight of the Unfrozen Dungeon Master, I wrote about DMs returning to Dungeons & Dragons and adapting the changes in the way folks play the game. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Use the Players’ Metagaming to Mess With Their Heads (and Improve Your Game)

In the original Dungeon Master’s Guide, Dungeon & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax suggested speeding overcautious players by rolling “huge handfuls of dice” to raise fears of nearby monsters. Of course, the characters in the game world never hear the die … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments