Author Archives: David Hartlage

How Character Death Lands D&D in a Tug-of-War Between Game and Story

Character death has always torn Dungeons & Dragons between game and story. The threat of death makes the game exciting, but actual death brings a character’s story to an unsatisfying end that can disrupt a campaign. Without characters facing the … Continue reading

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10 Favorite Nuggets From Monte Cook’s Your Best Game Ever

Roleplaying games have benefited from decades of advice for players and game masters. Every year, several new books offering help to roleplaying gamers reach print. Meanwhile, bloggers like me and countless others post advice and hope someone finds it useful. … Continue reading

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8 Fast Facts About D&D’s Magic Missile Spell

1. Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax introduced the Magic Missile spell in the original game’s first supplement, Greyhawk (1975). “This is a conjured missile equivalent to a magic arrow, and it does full damage (2-7 points) to any creature … Continue reading

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Insight Played Wrong Can Become the Most Unrealistic Thing In D&D, a Game With Djinns In Bottles Who Grant Wishes

In Dungeons & Dragons Wisdom (Insight) checks commonly lead players to pile-on checks. One character talks to someone, asks to roll insight, and then everyone adds their roll. The group supposes that just one success will spot a lie. If … Continue reading

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In D&D, Letting Everyone Roll Certain Checks Guarantees Success, So Why Bother Rolling?

As a dungeon master, I rarely ask everyone in the party to make perception, investigation, or knowledge checks, because someone almost always rolls high. With these checks, just one high roll yields the information the players want. Why bother rolling … Continue reading

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How to Run Better D&D Games By Doing Less

If you are a dungeon master, the easiest way to improve your game sessions might be to do less. Rather than doing all the tasks of running the game, delegate some to the players. This lesson took me a long … Continue reading

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Why You Should Play in the D&D Adventurers League (and a New 1-Sheet Quick Start)

If you want to play more Dungeons & Dragons, but can’t find opportunities, then you must try the D&D Adventurers League. The League runs an ongoing, official campaign for D&D. This campaign lets you create a character and bring it … Continue reading

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How Dungeons & Dragons Got Its Ability Scores

The earliest character sheet for the game that inspired Dungeons & Dragons includes 8 character traits: Brains, Looks, Credibility, Sex, Health, Strength, Courage, and Cunning. The character comes from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign, which launched in 1971. See A History … Continue reading

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Steal This Rule: Flashbacks and Heists in Dungeons & Dragons

In a heist film, a group of experts team to overcome elaborate security measures using a carefully planned series of steps. Much of the fun comes from seeing the ingenuity of the heroes as they crack seemingly impenetrable obstacles as … Continue reading

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How Much Talk at Your Game Table Reaches Into the Game World?

Suppose your players aim to stop raiders somehow able to slip past the town’s defenses. They meet the woman who leads the city guard. Mid conversation, the rogue’s player says, “I’m sure she’s behind the raids. We should just kill … Continue reading

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