Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Non-standard weapon/armor materials

Special Weapon Materials

With the exception of Adamantine armor and weapons, and Mithral armor, fifth edition does not (yet) have any official rules for weapons and armor made from other non-standard materials. If your campaign includes primitive lands, you might need rules for stone or bone. Here are some house rules you may want to use.

The metal weapons and armor in the PHB are assumed to be steel. In primitive areas, steel may not be available. In other areas more advanced materials such as Adamantine or Mithral might be available. Some of these materials grant the item the fragile property – a property that can be applied to both weapons and armor.

The Fragile Property

Fragile Weapons
Fragile weapons cannot take the beating that sturdier weapons can. If you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll with a fragile weapon, you must then make a DC(10) Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) save or that weapon is damaged and only does half damage after that. If already damaged, the weapon is destroyed instead.
Fragile Armor
Armor with the fragile property falls apart when hit with heavy blows. If you are wearing fragile armor and are hit with a critical hit, you must make a DC(10) Dexterity (Acrobatics) save or the armor is damaged and the AC bonus it provides is halved. If already damaged, the armor is destroyed instead.


This is one of the hardest substances in existance.
Adamantine armor
Can be any Medium or heavy armor, but not hide. While you’re wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.
Adamantine weapons
Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit.
The adamantine version of a suit of armor, or a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it.


Mithral is a light, flexable metal.
Mithral armor
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. A mithral chain shirt or brestplate can be worn under normal cloths. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the mithral version of the armor doesn’t.
Mithral weapons
An item made from mithral weighs half as much as the same item made from other metals. Mithral is too light to be used for Heavy weapons. If the weapon isn’t Heavy, it becomes Light. If it is already listed as Light it gains the Finesse property. If the weapon is Two-Handed it is now instead Versatile. Mithral ammunition it too light to be effective.
The mithral version of a suit of armor or a melee weapon costs 200 gp more than the normal version.

Cold Iron

This iron, mined deep underground, known for its effectiveness against fey creatures, is forged at a lower temperature to preserve its delicate properties. Items made of cold iron weighs one and one half times as much as the same item made from steel.
Cold Iron armor
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. Medium armor imposes a -1 penalty to the DEX modifier for calculating the Armor Class (AC). Heavy armor requires a Str score 2 points higher than that listed in the PHB. Cold iron armor grants a +2 bonus to armor class against any attacks from fey creatures.
Cold Iron weapons
Items without metal parts cannot be made from cold iron. An arrow could be made of cold iron, but a standard quarterstaff could not. Cold iron weapons lose all Light and Finesse properties.  A cold iron weapon grants a +2 bonus to hit against fey creatures. If the creature wielding it has a strength score of 15 or higher,  and the weapon does bludgeoning damage, a +1 bonus is added to damage rolls.
The cold iron version of a suit of armor or a melee weapon costs twice as much as the normal version.


Steel is the default metal used for weapons and armor.
Steel is iron ore with unwanted impurities removed and other impurities introduced. These impurities strengthen iron, making it far more resilient.


Items made of iron weighs one and one half times as much as the same item made from steel.
Iron armor
Can be any Medium or Heavy armor, but not hide. Medium armor imposes a -1 penalty to the DEX modifier for calculating the Armor Class (AC). Heavy armor requires a Str score 2 points higher than that listed in the PHB.
Iron weapons
Items without metal parts cannot be made from iron. An arrow could be made of iron, but a standard quarterstaff could not. Iron weapons lose all Light and Finesse properties.
Armor and Weapons made from Iron cost the same as those made from steel.


Before the advent of iron and steel, bronze ruled the world. This easily worked metal can be used in place of steel for both weapons and armor. For simplicity’s sake, similar or component metals such as brass, copper, or even tin can use the following rules, even though in reality bronze is both harder and more reliable than those metals.
Bronze Armor
Bronze can be used to create any medium or light armor made entirely of metal or that has metal components. It protects a creature as well as steel armor does, but it has the fragile property. Bronze armor has the same weight as normal steel armor of its type.
Bronze Weapons
Bronze weapons have the same weight and do the same damage as steel weapons of the same type but also have the fragile property.
Armor and Weapons made from bronze cost half as much as those made from steel.


Stone Age weapons almost always utilize stone in some way. From rocks lashed to wooden hafts to create early maces and axes, to flint knives and stone arrowheads, these primitive weapons are still deadly.
Stone Armor
Armor cannot usually be constructed from stone, but advanced, often alchemically enhanced stone armor made by dwarves or other stone-working cultures does exist. They are one third the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property.
Stone Weapons
Light and one-handed bludgeoning weapons, spears, axes, daggers, and arrowheads can all be made of stone. Weapons made of stone are one third the weight of their base weapons, and have the fragile property.
Alchemically enhanced stone armor cost twice its standard cost. Weapons made from stone cost one quarter as much as those made from steel.


Bone can be used in place of wood and steel in weapons and armor. Other animal-based materials like horn, shell, and ivory also use the rules for bone weapon and armor.
Bone Armor
Studded leather, scale mail, breastplates, and wooden shields can all be constructed using bone. Bone either replaces the metal components of the armor, or in the case of wooden shields, large pieces of bone or shell replace the wood. They are one quarter the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property. The armor/shield bonus of bone armor is reduced by 1. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the bone version of the armor doesn’t.
Bone Weapons
Light and one-handed melee weapons, as well as two-handed weapons that deal bludgeoning damage only, can be crafted from bone. Hafted two-handed weapons such as spears can be crafted with bone tips, as can arrowheads. Other two-handed weapons cannot be constructed of bone. Bone weapons have the the fragile property. Bone weapons take a –1 penalty on damage rolls (minimum 1 damage).
Armor and Weapons made from bone cost one tenth as much as those made from steel, but they are not normally available except in those cultures that use them.

Rustic Wood

We are talking here about non-tempered wood that is fashioned by hand with primitive tools into armor or weapons.
Rustic Wood Armor
Studded leather, scale mail, breastplates, and shields can all be constructed using roughly worked wood. Wood replaces the metal components of the armor. They are one quarter the weight of their base armor, and have the fragile property. The armor bonus of rustic wood armor is half that listed in the PHB, except no AC reduction for rustic wood shields. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks or has a Strength requirement, the wood version of the armor doesn’t.
Rustic Wooden Weapons
Light and one-handed melee weapons, as well as two-handed weapons that deal bludgeoning damage only, can be crafted from roughly worked wood. Hafted two-handed weapons such as spears can be crafted entirely of wood, as can arrows. Other two-handed weapons cannot be constructed of wood. Rustic Wood weapons have the the fragile property. Rustic Wood weapons take a –2 penalty on damage rolls (minimum 1 point damage).
Rustic Wood Armor and Weapons are not normally available except in those cultures that use them. A PC might make them himself, or barter for them.


D&D 5E – More Simplified Rules

5.0-EZ Supplement

Download your free copy here. This is a supplement to the simplified fifth edition rules that I previously published here.

I just updated this file. I had left out the Ranger page. It is included in this new version.

The 5.0-EZ book contains rules for using the common Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. This supplement contains rules for the uncommon races: Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Tiefling.

The 5.0-EZ book contains rules for using the classic classes: Fighter, Cleric, Wizard and Thief. This supplement contains rules for these additional classes: Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Ranger, Monk, Paladin, Sorcerer and Warlock

These additional races and classes are by their nature more complicated to play than those included in 5.0-EZ.


D&D 5E – Using Shields as Weapons (House Rule)

Attacking With A Shield

I have addressed the fifth edition rules for using a shield in a previous post (HERE). But I recently had a player ask if he could use a spiked shield. I couldn’t think of a good reason that he shouldn’t be allowed to do that, but the rules as written don’t specifically address the issue.
Time for a new house rule.
I soon realized that to do this I really needed to re-examine all of the rules for attacking with shields. What I came up with is a redefining of a normal shield – when it is used as a weapon – as well as spiked shields and a couple of other issues.

Normal Shields

Simple weapon: Normal shields can be used as simple light melee weapons.
Damage: 1d4 + STR bonus (bashing).
Proficiency: You are only proficient with normal shields used as weapons if you are proficient with all simple weapons.

Spiked Shields

(This shield is constructed with a sharpened spike at its center.)
Martial weapon: A spiked shield is a light martial melee weapon.
Damage: 1d6 + STR bonus (piercing).
Cost: You can add a spike to a normal shield for an additional cost of 2 gp. (Adding more than one spike does not change the damage.)
Proficiency: You are only proficient with spiked shields used as weapons if you are proficient with all martial weapons.

If you lack proficiency:

They can still be used as an improvised weapons, doing 1d4 + STR bonus damage. The damage type will be bashing for normal shields, or piercing if it is a spiked shield.

Two weapon fighting:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a shield that you’re holding in the other hand, but only if you are proficient with using it as a weapon. You don’t add your ability modifier to the shield attack damage, unless that modifier is negative

Effect on armor class:

Using a shield to make an attack doesn’t deprive you of the +2 AC bonus.

Dual wielder feat:

You do not gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a shield (spiked or not).

D&D 5E – Laws of Motion

Laws of Motion

I see the D&D universe as a pre-Newtonian world. Very much controlled by something similar to Aristotle’s Laws of Motion. At least, that is the way that the most intelligent thinkers of the time believe that it works. All spells that affect the target’s speed or location, such as fly, levitate, teleport, etc. cancel all current forces acting on the target and replaces them with the effects of the spell.
So first I will present the laws of motion as known by most magic users in the D&D universe.
This is how it might be explained to you by the smartest man in the kingdom. [Please understand that the ideas below may represent a view of the world similar to that held in 300 BC, but was later replaced by Isaac Newton’s much more accurate laws of motion.]

The Celestial Sphere

“Objects in the heavens (the celestial sphere) move in circular motion, without any external force compelling them to do so. Objects on Earth (the terrestrial sphere) move in straight lines unless forced to move in a curve.
First, although most commoners think that the Earth is flat, it is indeed spherical. You know. Round like a ball. It only appears to be flat because it is so large. The Earth is in the center of the universe. It is surrounded by the celestial sphere, where lie the sun, the moons, all of the planets and the stars. All of these celestial bodies circle the Earth. The apparent motions of the fixed stars and planets are accounted for by the fact that they are embedded in rotating spheres made of an aetherial, transparent fifth element (quintessence), like jewels set in orbs. The fixed stars do not change their positions relative to one another because they are on the surface of this single starry sphere.
The stars, Sun, Moon, and planets are all made of fire. But whilst the stars are fastened on a revolving crystal sphere like nails or studs, the Sun, Moon, and planets, and also the Earth, all just ride on air like leaves because of their breadth. And whilst the fixed stars are carried around in a complete circle by the stellar sphere, the Sun, Moon, and planets do not revolve under the Earth between setting and rising again like the stars do, but rather on setting they go laterally around the Earth like a cap turning halfway around the head until they rise again.”

The Terrestrial Sphere

“To the motion of non-living things, such as a stone dropped from the hand, is explained by two principles; Natural Motion and Violent Motion.”

Natural Motion

“The 4 elements [earth, air, fire and water] tend to seek their natural place in the order of things. So earth moves downwards most strongly, water flows downwards too, but not so strongly, since a stone will fall through water. In contrast, air moves up (bubbles in water), and fire goes upwards most strongly of all since it shoots upward through air. Most materials that you see around you are mixtures of elements. For example, wood has both earth and air in it, since it does not sink in water.
Natural motion causes undisturbed inanimate objects to travel in a straight line either toward the center of the Earth or away from it. Left undisturbed, a pure Earth would consist of an inner ball of earth surrounded by a shell of water over which would be a layer of air and above all would be an outer layer of fire.”

Violent Motion

“Things also move because they are pushed. A stone’s natural tendency, if left alone and unsupported, is to fall, but we can lift it, or even throw it through the air. We call such forced motion “violent” motion as opposed to “natural” motion. The term “violent” just means that some external force is applied to it.
Heavier things fall faster, the speed being proportional to the weight. The speed of fall of a given object depends inversely on the density of the medium it is falling through. So, for example, the same body will fall twice as fast through a medium of half the density.
For violent motion, the speed of the moving object is in direct proportion to the applied force. This means that if you stop pushing, the object will soon stop moving.”

How this Effects Magical Spells

So the magic caster thinks that a body in motion only stays in motion as long as the force causing it to move continues to push it. Otherwise, it will eventually slow to a stop. So for teleportation – when the subject of the spell arrives at its new destination all external forces stop acting on it and it arrives at its destination as intended. External forces, in this case, would include what we refer to as inertia.
This also makes answering questions like this much easier:
“What if the PC walks through a teleportation gate and arrives at another location thousands of miles away?” Think of the actual, physical conditions. The Earth is spinning about 24 thousand miles per hour from West to East. Depending on where on Earth the other portal is located, inertia could be a big problem. Not to mention orientation.
Even something a simple as a feather fall ring. “What if the wearer was shot out of a cannon?” At the top of the arc, he would begin to fall. So feather fall kicks in and he begins to fall slowly. If inertia is still in effect he will travel much farther and still hit the ground at the speed that he was shot out of the cannon. This is obviously not the intention of the feather fall spell. If on the other hand, inertia and gravity are no longer pushing on the PC and are replaced by the magical feather fall rules, he floats gently down from the point where he begins to fall.
“If you are flying through space on a sailing ship that has a magical gravity bubble surrounding it, what happens if you fall overboard?” I would say that you fall as if you were on earth until you reached the edge of the gravity bubble and then slowly stop when the force of the magical gravity stops pulling you down.

D&D5E – Character Sheet [rev7]

7 Page Character Sheet

Download your free copy here.

I cleaned up my 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons auto-fill Character Sheet and added some pages. I received comments that there wasn’t enough room on the old sheets to enter all of the needed information.
The original 4 pages haven’t changed much, other than adding room for a few magic items and for spell descriptions. I added a full sheet for more spells and their descriptions. There is also a sheet for Traits, Feats and Features. And another one for Magic Items.

The biggest addition is below:

Class Feature Sheets

One page for each sub-class for each of the classes in the Player’s Handbook.

I created these for an easier way for the players to remember their class features/abilities without having to write everything down. You can print off a sheet for each sub class so you don’t have to try and remember all the features or fill in your character sheet with features when it eventually becomes overloaded.

Barbarian (includes Berserker an Totem Warrior)
Bard (includes Colleges of Lore and Valor)
Cleric (includes the Domains of Knowledge, Life, Nature, Tempest, Trickery and War)
Druid (includes the Circles of the Land and the Moon)
Fighter (includes Battle Master, Champion and Eldritch Knight)
Monk (includes Ways of Shadow, the Four Elements and the Open Hand)
Paladin (includes Oaths of Devotion, the Ancients and Vengeance)
Ranger (includes Beast Master and Hunter)
Rogue (includes Arcane Trickster, Assassin and Thief)
Sorcerer (includes Draconic Bloodline and Wild Magic)
Warlock (includes the Archfey, the Fiend and the Great Old One Patrons)
Wizard (Includes the Schools Adjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy and Transmutation)

Download your free copies by clicking on the links above.

Each pdf file contains a separate page for each of the sub classes. For the sub classes that don’t require a full sheet, I included spaces for you to add information for more traits, feats or features.

The information on these sheets is intended as a reminder of the major effects of each of the features. As such, the feature descriptions are abbreviated. Please refer to the Player’s Handbook for the full descriptions. One abbreviation I should explain – When it says (1/rest), that indicates that it can be used one time between a long or short rest. (1/long rest) is one per long rest.

DM Tips

How to be a Better Dungeon Master

Having just finished one campaign and preparing to start another one, I felt that it was time to review my weaknesses as a Dungeon Master. Thanks to an excellent post on “The Angry GM” site, and a candid review of my own DM style by Tim, a former player, I have compiled this list that I intend to re-read before and after each gaming session.


1) Pre-read enough to make the game day run smoothly.
2) Have figures set aside for upcoming encounters.
3) Have monster stats printed out for the inevitable encounter.


Running a D&D game is a storytelling craft on top of die rolls, which makes the DM chair the most difficult but often most entertaining of the game.

There’s two aspects of the game to manage, the character experience, and the player experience.  All the players need their characters to have their moment to shine.

Provide variety in how NPCs/monsters interact with PCs.  The encounters need not always be a fight to the death.

Always appeal to the players’ sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound when narrating.



Begin and end each players turn with narration.

Each turn follows a simple process.

  1. The GM Transitions Into the Players’ Turn
  2. The Player Asks a Question or Declares an Action
  3. The Action is Resolved
  4. The GM Describes and Applies the Results
  5. The GM Transitions Out of the Players’ Turn

After every transition you need a bit of scene setting. Even if it’s just a single sentence. In fact, that’s all it should be. At the start of every turn in combat, you should say a few words (and NO MORE) about what’s going on in the scene right now, specifically to the person whose turn it is. Even if all you do is remind the player of what just happened.

The transitions out of one turn and into another meld together. The resolution of one action sets the scene for the next.

Create Urgency

As a GM, it’s your job to bring the combat to life. To make it feel like an emergency, like a life or death situation.

At the start of every player’s turn, you need to point out where they are and what emergency is happening right now, either to them, or right near them.

Create Exigency

In a life-or-death battle, the proper feeling for a player is near-panic. Players should feel panicked and rushed in combat because the characters are panicked and rushed in combat. When it is a player’s turn, they need to begin speaking immediately. And if not, you need to prompt them.

“What do you do? You need to decide or you’ll lose the turn to indecision.” Assume they take the Dodge action (attacks against him have disadvantage).


GM: Alice, four goblins are charging the party. What do you do?”
Alice: I’ll run up and hit the goblin with my mace. 15.
GM: Damage?
Alice: 6 bludgeoning damage.
GM: You charge the goblin and smash it with your mace, bringing it to a stop. It’s allies are hesitating. Bob, you’ve got an opening…


GM: The goblin leaps aside, dodging your axe. He tries to dart past you to close with Dave. You get an opportunity attack. Roll it.
Bob: 11.
GM: The goblin dodges that too and dashes forward, lunging at Dave with his shortsword. Dave, what’s your AC?
Dave: 13.
GM: Ouch. He stabs you in the side for 6 piercing damage, sending you stumbling backwards while the other two goblins draw to a stop and face Alice and Bob head on. Alice, the goblin recovers his breath from your blow and thrusts his shortsword. A crit! You take 12 damage.
Alice: Damn it! I’m really hurt!
GM: The other goblin closes with Bob as he’s trying to stop the one getting past him. But… Bob sees him coming and dodges the blow. That’s a miss.
Bob: Phew.
GM: The goblins range themselves in front of Alice and Bob while a third goblin is ready to strike another blow at Dave. Carol, they seem to be ignoring you. What do you?

D&D 5E – Fillable Spell Cards – by class

Fillable Spell Cards w/ Backs

Each class is on a separate PDF file – download for free here:

Generic  Bard  Cleric  Druid  Paladin  Ranger  Sorcerer  Warlock  Wizard


D&D 5E – Nautical Adventures – Italian

Viaggi, Avventure, Abbordaggi e Combattimenti tra le onde dei sette mari
(Travel, Adventures, Boardings and Fighting between the waves of the Seven Seas)

You can get your free copy of this here: http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/BJL8XcjyZ

Luke translated my D&D 5E – Nautical Adventures into Italian and created this amazing version. It is an excellent example of what can be done with the homebrewery site. http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/


D&D 5E – Simplified Rules


Download your free copy here.

Go here to download a supplement that adds all of the races and classes that are in the Player’s Handbook.

If you sometimes feel that the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules are too complicated, this is for you. I created this set of house rules to simplify character creation and advancement among other things. It also introduces a whole new way to select and track the casting of magic spells.
One thing I tried very hard to do was keep the characters levels and power as close as possible to the Player’s Handbook characters so that if you play using these rules, you can still use published 5th edition adventures, and the monsters will require little or no modifications.

Here is what is on the EZ character sheet.

D&D – War Wagon

Encounter with a Wagon

This blog just reached 300 followers. As a way to thank you I will give you this. It can be used for a quick, non combat, encounter on the road. All of the specifications are left up to you to fill in. Sometimes you just need an idea, so here is one.

Metal workers, recently survived a kobold attack.

Wagon is pulled by 4 large work horses (like Clydesdales).

Horses have poorly made plate mail armor. One horse is tied to the side of the wagon with a bandaged foot (was shot with an arrow).

This large wagon is completely enclosed with wood walls and top that have been reinforced with metal plates and has shuttered arrow slits and a smokestack. It has 6 steel reinforced wheels on three axes. There is a door in the back, another in the front, and a trap door in the top. There are several small arrows sticking into the wagon at various places and at odd angles.

The back door is open and the smell of sausage cooking is coming from that direction.

The wagon contains a large variety of metal items that they are taking to town to sell. These are mainly folding weapons racks, hinges, nails, horse shoes, chains, manacles, and some heavy wire. they have no weapons for sale, but can provide small steel balls to use as sling-shot projectiles. They also have some wooden practice swords for sale.

In addition to the items for sale they have their personal weapons, armor, and items and a portable blacksmith shop, complete with anvil, billows, fire pit, tongs, water barrel, etc. These can all be used within the wagon, or they can be removed and set up elsewhere in just one hour (they have had lots of practice).

“We were attacked last night while traveling here. It was along the road where it passes through the densest part of the forest. We were surrounded by kobolds and held out until daybreak. Then the kobolds that were left all left. We caught one. When it came close and tried to reach in to grab a sausage through an arrow skit, we clapped a manacle on its arm. We are thinking about selling it. During the fight we killed a couple and saw them being eaten by the survivors. At least one of them could speak common. It called out to us to throw out any magic items or magical components we had and they would let us pass. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them we had none.”