Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

About Me

My name is Ronny Hart. I was born in 1948. I have been a dungeon master for over 30 years.

I have accumulated a lot of information and created some rules for situations that I would like to share. I thought that this would be a good place to put some of this. You are welcome to use anything you find here in your own games. Hopefully you will share your experiences. Most of the material here can be used with little modification for any gaming system.

I am hoping to start a dialog with other dungeon masters and players of the game.

68 responses to “About Me

  1. Twitchy Witch April 17, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Would you like to play a game? I’ve started a game and decided to invite table top bloggers to get in on it. It’s not what you think it is though….

  2. BIG RICH June 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I started with D&D in 1987. Been the DM most of the time.

  3. Tb Bt December 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Hi Ronny, I got a lot of value out of your Blog. I am starting back to playing PNP after playing for many years on PC. Your site was great in helping me with the Combat actions/moves with 5e. Additionally, it help a ton with the prepopulated Character sheet. Keep posting. I hope soon to be playing more regularly.

    • Ronny December 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I am glad this will be of some help with your game. Please let me know how your game goes. Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything else I could do to help.

  4. Tb Bt December 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Ronny, game went well and I used your prefill character sheets for Human Paladin that I built. We ran an expeditions run in 5e for about 2 hours at a local game shop in Washington DC. It went pretty well and I chipped away some rust from my old gaming days with the red box. With your history of DMing, you must have run countless campaigns? The imagery presented by the DM can really make the whole adventure.
    You have a lot of good images on your Blog. I think you even had some links to a Forgotten Map site that I checked out today as well that I thought was cool.

    • Ronny December 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Excellent! My wife always pays a Human Paladin.You are right, I have run a lot of campaigns.I am in Colorado Springs and am currently a DM without any players. You may have seen my “Fires of Hell” module posted here. I am currently updating it to the new 5th edition rules and am eagerly awaiting the release of the new Dungeon Master’s Guide. I will continue to add prefilled first level character sheets for the rest of the races, as I get time.
      Keep me posted as your campaign progresses. I am not interested in all of the details of the adventure, but I would love it if you could share some of the highlights.

  5. Tim DeCapio December 20, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Just wanted to say that I love your website. I am an old D&D player who has recently begun to explore 5th edition and I really like the information that you have here.

  6. skullshaped January 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Just happened to discover your blog through random searching for dm help, and have spent the last hour reading every one of your posts, so thank you for that! i have to ask though, for someone who has been playing for so long, what is your absolute favorite module/adventure/campaign that you have ever ran? any memorable highlights to have happened to make it so special? thanks again!

    • Ronny January 19, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Boy does that question bring back memories! It’s hard to say. I have almost always ran published adventures, sometimes called modules. I ran a lot of the ones that were published on Dungeon Magazine. I would only modify them as needed to string them together in a continuing adventure.
      I remember really enjoying the Aerie Series: A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords and A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. I ran them back-to-back. They may have been the first published adventures that I ran.
      An adventure path that I really enjoyed running was the Giants Series: G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King.
      My favourite individual modules would have to include the original Tomb of Horrors. That can be very deadly, but lots of fun. At the end of that one, my wife’s Paladin ended up trapped in a crystal. It took her several more adventures before she could get him released. Oh yeah, He also changes his sex for a time. Good fun.
      I liked White Plume Mountain. I’m a sucker for well designed “physical” dungeons. This one had flooded corridors, sloped passages and all kinds of stuff like that. If I remember right, that one also contained the sword “blackrazor”. Put that in the hands of a lawful good paladin and you will have a ball.
      One of my very favorite modules of all time has to be the Isle of Dread. I have ran that one a couple of times. What could be better than sailing a ship to an island. Fighting pirates and sea monsters, meeting the natives and fighting zombies. The island is like the one where discovered King Kong. It is divided by a huge wall to keep the monsters on the other side. Cross over and fight dinosaurs and other monsters. Traverse jungles, tar pits, and swamps to find the plateau in the center. Climb it. Cross a rope bridge while fighting Pterodactyls. To finally explore a dungeon, find the treasure and return.
      Tell me. Are you a new DM? Tell me your story.

      • skullshaped January 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

        In a sense yes, i would always run random one shot games for my friends when we were younger after finding the 3.5 core books at a flea market, but i don’t think a single rule was followed haha! 5e has pulled me back in, and with a new group we are chewing through content twice a week! we are almost finished with a homebrew spin on the tyranny of dragons campaign and im eagerly looking for new campaigns to launch. The majority of people i talk to say the temple of elemental evil and the tomb of horrors are the absolute classic “must play” series’ and i think you may have just sold me on the isle of dread! Have you ever created an entire campaign from scratch? i made a short four game campaign as a test for my world building skills, as well as a way to introduce some new people to role-playing games as a whole, and to the group.

      • Ronny January 20, 2015 at 8:18 am

        I wish I was playing with you. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun.
        Yes. I ran a homebrew campaign a couple of times. They started with a Dungeon I made that took them through third or forth level and then strung together various modules after that. I am not currently running a game, but I have wanted to run a group through the “Age of Worms” campaign. I Started it once, but the group fell apart. Reading through it, I think it could make for a great campaign. You might be able to find it on-line somewhere. It is a 3.5 adventure, but I think it would be easy to convert to 5E. It was published as a series of modules in Dungeon Magazine a few years ago.

  7. Anonymous February 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for all the helpful material you’ve posted up here – I’m new to this so I found it all very useful and clearly laid out (for middle-aged old fart like me!)

    • Ronny February 28, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you very much. You don’t know how important comments like yours are to me. It is the only way I have of knowing if any of this is worthwhile.

  8. Miztres June 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Hi Ronny, Love keeping up with all your insights into the game. I wanted your thoughts on drunkenness as a condition in the game. I have a character that may well need sedation to get them aboard a ship and one solution that was offered was getting the character drunk. Unfortunately, there are no rules for being drunk under “Conditions” in the 5e Players Handbook. There is a lively discussion about appropriate rules at Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2ew9lm/5e_drunkeness_a_quick_unintrusive_homebrew_ruleset/) but I would still be interested in yours and your readers’ thoughts.

    • Ronny June 29, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Miztres. The poisoned condition works well for the occasional drunken character that you run across. But for your situation I think I would want something that reflects different degrees of drunkenness. How about a “Drunkenness Table”? This will be identical to the “Exhaustion Level Table” with the 6th level being “unconscious” instead of “death”. For strong drinks the character makes a Constitution save after every drink. Failure adds one to their level of drunkenness. For social drinking they make a save every hour (or every half hour for stronger drinks). Finishing a long rest reduces a creature’s drunkenness level by 2, provided that the creature has also ingested some food and drink. Perhaps a constitution saving throw after a short rest could reduce it by 1. A save after a long rest could remove all effects. The DC for the save will depend on how strong the alcohol is. I would typically set it at 15. I would also allow any magical healing to remove all effects.
      To get a character drunk enough to Shanghai him, he will have to be level 5. With a speed of 0, you could drag him if he wasn’t too strong. Otherwise he would have to get to level 6, unconscious, before you could carry him away. To trick him into drinking that much in the first place you would need to win a Charisma (Deception) vs. Wisdom (Perception) contest. Loosing that will clue him in to the fact that you are trying to deceive him in some way. Even if you win, you must still have some plausible reason for him to drink so much.
      This could be a lot of fun. Let me know what you end up doing and how it all works out.

  9. Robert Tucker August 5, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Hello there Ronny I just landed on your site as I was surfing the web. Great content and it brings back a lot of good memories, I started DM’ing in 1980 though with my current job I have not played in 10 years though that is going to change at the start of the new year. I marked your site as a favorite and will be dropping in on a regular basis, it is good to see your still gaming.

    • Ronny August 6, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Thank you Robert and welcome to my site.
      After moving back to Colorado a little more than 3 years ago, I haven’t played in a game either. My wife is in poor health which keeps me home and even if I could find enough gamers to invite over, I don’t have a table large enough to play on. Perhaps that will all change soon. I fell in love with the game and am a big fan of the latest version (5E). I spend a lot of my free time reading, studying, and writing about it, so stay tuned. But nothing replaces actual game play.
      Let me know when you are playing again send me reports on your game – what works and what doesn’t. Also if there is any topic that you would like me to post about, please let me know.

  10. Miztres September 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I want to ask a question of you and your community. With my next game falling on Halloween I’m looking for a ghost template I can add to any creature, animal, monster or humanoid. I understand there WAS one but an unable to find it. Any tips for creating ghost NPCs?

  11. Lerxst October 26, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Wow. A lot of good stuff and insight. Appreciate your long dedication to the game. I’m back playing a little over a year after a 25 year hiatus. Stumbled on your site as I was pressed into DM duty recently and have been checking out the internet for resources to use. Stuff like what you got going here was unheard of back then.We pretty much only had the book and Dragon magazine. Keep that DnD flag flying!

  12. maximhellbell November 22, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Stopped to say some kind words and show huge respect to your work Ronny, you’ve put a lot of energy and your love for the game in all this. Thank you for this. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your blog helps me a lot as a newbie DM, it helps in different aspects: summaries of rules, cool freebies like spell cards, your thoughts on handling the different controversial situations, and various ideas. You are definitely helps me to becoming a better DM. Best wishes from Belarus!

    • Ronny November 22, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Thank you for all the wonderful things you said. This makes my day.
      One of the biggest things that I have learned after starting this site is how the appeal of D&D has spread around the wold. One of the most basic aspects of the game, the idea that appealed to me the most, even before I ever played, was that the players don’t “win” by defeating the other players, but all the players work together to accomplish a common goal. Perhaps in our small way we can spread this concept to all of the nations and make world a better place.
      Best wishes from Colorado, USA.!

  13. HayzeeJnr December 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    My friends and i started playing a few months back. its more for shits and giggles. My friend and I alternate as DM. Really loving your rulebook. Thanks 😀

  14. nam lim xanh quang nam tien phuoc December 22, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but
    after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  15. Miztres April 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Ronny

    I’m asking a few places. I’m wanting to build a blind monk character and am interested in your opinion of how the character would work. I’ve seen some ideas for 3.5 and 4 but I would be building in 5e.

    • Ronny April 8, 2016 at 8:27 am

      This sounds like a great fun character. If I was DM in the game I would assume that the monks other senses were sharpened to the extent that he had blindsight like blind monsters have. It would increase as the monk increased in level so that the blindsight radius was equal to double the monks “unarmored movement” as shown on the monk table in the player’s handbook. I might let it be 10 ft. at 1st level, then it would be 20 ft. at 2nd up to 60 ft. at 18th level. I would not allow the use of “Deflect Missiles” that were fired from beyond his blindsight range, and any missile the monk fired beyond that range would be treated as if the target were hidden. Any missile fired at the monk from beyond his blindsight range would be fired with advantage. He also can’t use blindsight if he is is deafened.
      If you were playing a different class, I would not use these same house rules.
      Good luck, and let me know what you end up doing.

      • Miztres April 26, 2016 at 7:20 pm

        After taking your advice and asking around it was pointed out to me there is a blind monk NPC called Helenrae in Princes of the Apocalypse which uses the same idea of blindsight range you mention above. It would be that character that I would base my character on.

        Thanks for the tips once again.

      • Ronny April 27, 2016 at 7:59 am

        I haven’t looked at “Princes of the Apocalypse”. I guess great minds think alike.
        Glad to be of help.

  16. Michael McArthur June 16, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Ronny – you have created some fantastic material here! I am really glad that I found your blog.

    I have a question for you about DMing – do you use any specific aids (either paper or electronic) to keep track of encounters?

    • Ronny June 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Michael,
      If by tracking encounters, you mean running combat encounters, yes.I have always used figures on a battlemat, where I draw the encounter area on a 1″ grid. I have each player roll for their PC’s initiative and write the results on an initiative card. I do the same for the monsters. I typically prepare the monster cards before the game, so they have everything I need to know about the monster attacks or special abilities. I then gather all the cards and sort them in initiative order before the start of combat. I can then refer to the stats on the cards during combat. I only roll once for all of the monsters and I have all of the monsters act at the same point in initiative order. I track initiative order this way and I have one of the players keep track of damage for each of the monsters. I typically number them if there are more than one of any monster type. I don’t tell them how many hit points the monsters start off with, they simply tell me how many hit points damage they have received and I tell them when they are dead. Players keep track of their own character’s damage. If any characters (PC or monster) has any on-going condition I have the player put a card with that condition printed on it in front of them to help us all remember. That is about it.
      In the past, I have tried different software programs to track combat, but (for me) they tend to be more of a distraction than a help.
      You can download my initiative cards here: https://olddungeonmaster.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/dd-5e-initiative-cards/
      You can download my condition cards here: https://olddungeonmaster.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/dd-5e-condition-cards-2/

  17. cards humanity July 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm


    Guys, need your help or advice just. Question for those who play table games.
    What game cann you recommend for a child with a view to its
    development? Thank you.

  18. Andrew July 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Hi Ronny. You are great player as well as DM. Your condition cards and character sheet have been a great help. So lets hear your real thoughts on the zero-level character funnel. 🙂

    • Ronny July 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Thanks Andrew,
      For others that may read this, you should describe what the zero-level character funnel is.
      I have two minds on it. First, I thoroughly enjoyed it when you put my character through it. I really did! There is no way I would have chosen to play a Bard otherwise, but I am glad that I did. On the other hand, I won’t be using it in my own games. If, like me, you are a player with no preconceived idea of what character you want to play it is great. But if you come to the table wanting to play a specific race and class, especially if you have a picture in your head of what you want your character to be and how you would like to play him (or her) it is too restricting. I think that part of it may have to do with having your game on Matchup. You are always having new players come and go. I prefer to have a more stable group that intends to play through an entire campaign (wishful thinking I know). So I encourage my players to give a lot of thought into what type of character they will be playing.
      Your mileage may vary.

      • Andrew August 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm

        For those other readers: The zero-level character funnel idea is taken from the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG rules. In summary you have 4 characters which have a name, stats, 1d4 hit points (plus con mod), one piece of equipment, a “job description” like Farmer, one weapon, a few coins of money and an item that goes along with the job description … like a pitch-fork for a Farmer. Race and class are not chosen until 1st level is reached. Stats are rolled 3d6 for each stat. The stats are not rolled and then assigned as you would like rather they are rolled and put into the stat “straight down” the sheet.

        The idea is that 3 of the 4 characters will be taken out of the game right away and in a random sense. And that has proven to be true within the first hour of play. The remaining character is then promoted to level 1 and filled out via the rules you are using in the game; ours is 5th Edition D&D right now.

        The process seems to work very well in ‘choosing’ the right character of the 4. There is something about doing it this way that seems to get the right character for the player; as if the process knows somehow which will be best. When Ronny started, his character that is now a Bard was for some ‘random’ reason almost impossible to hit. I think I rolled something like three 1’s trying to take that character out. It just survived and the rest didn’t.

        Now Ronny’s Bard has a major impact on the game; mostly due to Ronny’s play experience and how he plays the Bard. There are times however that his Bard makes a check or eludes some trap or attack that I can’t explain ‘why’. The character just makes it and keeps on going.

        And yes, there is quite the turn-over of players in the game we have. I started the game almost a year ago, via post on Craig’s List, before you had joined Ronny, and there has always been a high turn-over. People come and go for various reasons. It is somewhat frustrating because it seems we are constantly rolling up new characters during a session. Plus, a group of players are consistent for like a month or two and they get used to having ‘so-and-so’s’ fighter in the group. Then, they drop out and the dynamic has to be re-established.

        I have a feeling the high turn-over has more to do with the number of military personnel than the game being on Meetup. I’ve lost 4 players to military, one to an illness, another because they didn’t like my style and one because of a family issue. I also think the Adventures League game down the hall just gets too many people and they offload some of them on us. It is what it is for now and I think I would also like a consistent group; just not that hopeful of finding it even if the game were a ‘home’ game.

        Maybe I’ll have to be more strict on entry to the game. Not sure, but if it bothers you a lot we can talk it over to find a way to at least make it different (in the sense of better). 🙂

        I’m glad though that you are enjoying the game and the group. I appreciate your input and your consistency.

      • Ronny August 1, 2016 at 6:02 pm

        Thanks Andrew,
        I appreciate the recap. I didn’t know you had first started the group on Craigs List.
        No, nothing about the way you are running your game bothers me at all. The turnover in players doesn’t bother me – I am just a player after all 🙂 . I just think that it makes the DMs job a lot harder. You are probably right that a consistent group that will last for more than a few weeks is an impossible dream here in Colorado Springs. I would hate, for instance, to not allow military into the game. They make some of the best players. Perhaps we can share ideas on how to best run a game where there is a large turnover in players.
        If anyone reading this has any tips to share, please chime in.

  19. Andrew August 3, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    After thinking it over a bit I think the turn-over might actually be a good thing; in some respects. It certainly keeps everyone from getting on each other’s nerves. I think your idea of having short scenarios to play is a great idea. I’d like to finish the Rise of Tiamat first before switching to the short adventure style. I think there are like 1,000 free adventures for 5th edition out there so finding one to run shouldn’t be that hard. And, if we want to run a longer adventure of say 4 more sessions then I think establishing a ‘pool’ of characters to choose from for the players (and new people, and visitors) each time would be a good partial solution for now. Well, so long as the consistent players can use their own character and keep it week to week.

    Actually, the ‘pool’ of characters I think is a good idea even for the short adventures. The pool can be of various levels so, if someone’s regular character is restricted from playing due to level being to high/low then the person could choose one from the pool. I also think establishing a tavern or something to start the game would be neat; who knows, they may not even leave the tavern and will have an adventure right there.

    So do you have any new ideas about this?

    • Ronny August 4, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Yes, I have been thinking about this a lot. I don’t know if this will work for your campaign, but what I have come up with so far is this;
      First, if we assume there will be a lot of turnovers then the easiest way to handle it will be to have every session end back at the tavern (or some other busy place).
      It solves most of the problems and creates some new ones. It solves any leveling-up in the midst of play problems, all leveling up will occur between sessions. It makes it easy to accommodate missing players, their PC simply doesn’t play but can play next session. It also makes adding new players easy, their character simply joins the group for the new session.
      It also creates some problems. The first is how can you do that, especially when higher level characters may be traveling far and wide? Even low-level characters that are adventuring close to home may have a problem leaving the dungeon and coming back in any reasonable time frame. (I think I have a solution to that problem, see below.) It also restricts somewhat which adventures you can run. For example, any “ticking-clock” adventure where the characters must finish in a set time frame would be hard to run. Also, you couldn’t stop an adventure in the middle of an encounter, which isn’t a big problem but it does limit you somewhat. You could still run episodic adventure arcs, but this would lend itself well to short (not necessarily one session) adventures too.
      Here is how I would do this. Give the PCs a magical artifact (maybe the tavern owner gives it to them or they save a stranger’s life and he gives it to them). At first level, they take this with them and when they activate it, they are all returned to the tavern. When activated again, it returns them to wherever they were before. I picture the artifact as a rod that is activated with a ritual (requiring it to take 10 minutes to activate would prevent it being used to escape in the middle of an encounter). When returned to a secret back room in the inn it couldn’t be activated again for 8 hours (I am not firm on this – perhaps it only works once a day, what you think?).
      To introduce it into an existing campaign, the PCs could find it wherever they are adventuring. When activated it sends them to the tavern. The tavern owner can be a sympathetic NPC who lets them continue to use it.
      I have some ideas on handling Experience Points and on using a pool of characters, but I need to get back to work now 

      • Ronny August 4, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        Thoughts on the artifact:
        I don’t want to restrict when they can return to the Inn. For instance, someone could be dying and in need of immediate healing, or resurrecting – or they may have ended the adventure and are ready to return home – or they may have forgotten something (or someone) important. So to keep it from being overly abused I need to restrict how often it can be used. I would like to restrict it to only being used once every 24 hours, but I think that would be too restrictive. I am trying to prevent 10 minute adventuring days, where you return for an 8-hour rest after each encounter. When you return to the Inn, the next time it can be used (to return you to the dungeon) is either 12 hours since the last time you used it to leave the inn, or 8 hours since you arrived back at the inn, whichever is greater. I would like a simpler mechanic, but that is the best I can come up with at the moment.
        Thoughts on avoiding large differences in levels:
        I like the idea of posting the XP gained each week (total for all monsters divided by the number of PCs that were there) and every character that played gets that same XP. A player whose character played each week would have more XP and possibly higher level than one who didn’t. But if a player won’t be able to make it from time to time. But how do you keep their character caught up with the rest of the group? And what about new players joining the group?
        Some might use the system of group-XP. This means that you don’t track XP individually, rather as a group. When a new PC (re)joins the party, make sure it has the same level as the rest of the party. This doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like it is not treating players who come and play all of the time fairly. Surely they deserve something for all of their efforts.
        How about using group-XP but NOT group loot? Only let PCs receive any treasure including magic items if they were there when it was found? Returning to home base at the end of each session would make this easy enough. They just divide any treasure found however they decide to and lock it up back at home. I suppose this would be the best way.
        I think group-XP is the way to go. That keeps all of the group at the same level, even if you join late, or miss a few sessions. Perhaps we can think of other ways (other than XP) to reward consistent players.

  20. Mark Charke August 4, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I am, was, and am going to have commented on the fact you quoted directly from my book. I suppose it’s possible you got all your material from the place I got a chunk of my material which is the AD&D Chronomancer. But I’m just thrilled to see it being touched upon again. Love your bit on Time Travel for 5th. I’m not a big fan of restricting time travel. I consider time travel no different than traversing the other dimensions. We would never say, you can walk over there and pick something up, but it’s impossible to bring it back here. But you do have to turn your head sideways and think about the rules for doing that. We have laws and systems for catching thieves but we time we only don’t have those systems in place because no one time travels. I could go on for hours. It was a fun read. Here’s a link to my work, in case you actually haven’t seen it.


    • Ronny August 4, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Mike,
      It looks like you took time travel a whole lot further than I did. No, I was not familiar with your book, but it doesn’t surprise me if you found portions of it quoted. If you tell me which passages specifically were quoted and want me to, I will gladly take them out, reword them, or better still – give you credit and a link to your books site. Mine is just fan-created material and I have a bad habit when researching to go a lot of Google searches and cutting interesting ideas into a scrap document that I then use to organise my thoughts and some of the words I copy end up unaltered in my final document. I only wish that I had been more diligent in tracking the sources. It was never my intention to represent your words as my own.
      If I had an extra $20.00 I would get a copy of your book. It looks very good.
      Although I spent a lot of time thinking about a time travel campaign, I never got the opportunity to play-test any of it.
      If you ever publish a revision of your work updated for the 5th edition rules, please let me know.

  21. Andrew August 4, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Your idea about the staff has given me an idea. Maybe the characters do not control this staff. Maybe it isn’t a staff at all. But let’s take the general idea that there is a portal (either created by a staff or created by some unknown thing/person/creature). The portal is not at all controlled by the characters. This portal is like the public bus system. If you are not there to catch it then good luck finding a ride home. The portal can be there on a set schedule; as often as the DM likes for the session. I’m inclined to make it once a day.

    This would be an excellent way to motivate the players to focus on the important issues of the session, get them done, and don’t miss the bus home! It could even be the case that if they miss the bus (portal) very bad things happen to them. And so, that would be a reward to get their butts back to the tavern; they don’t want to get eaten or whatever. This way, even if it is a long campaign type adventure, the characters would be very willing to go back to the tavern.

    Instead of specifying ‘when’ the portal opens they can only specify ‘where’ the portal opens. maybe the staff is simply a gps position device that specifies the location the portal opens. And it could be the case that there is a matching set such that one staff could be left in spot A and the other taken with them to spot B so that when they return to spot A they can still get back to spot B when the portal opens. We could create a whole new magic item instead of a staff. This new magic item has two pieces to it. We could even make the first set of adventures be focused on the characters finding the portal and/or this new magic item.

    Now if they have trouble and it is not yet time for the portal to open to save them … well …. I guess their on their own until it does. That scenario adds even more danger and suspense. If they survive and make it through the portal then they can pat themselves on the back and live another day to tell about it. If not then ‘the pool’ has a rescue mission to perform for those who did not make it back; possibly to rescue the whole party and on a shorter time frame with much higher stakes.

    I’m thinking the XP issue and having characters of varying levels won’t actually be an issue. Since new adventures can be thrown at ‘the pool’ at every session the players will need characters of different levels to play. Not every adventure is at the same level. And the players would need to understand that they are going to need to utilize the pool of characters and not be allegiant to only one character. Not only that but we can then run multiple adventures and switch back and forth these active adventures; players play a different set of characters in each adventure. If someone is leaving the game forever then we can just plop their character back into the pool.

    This means that we just don’t keep characters caught up with the rest of the group. They are what they are. It’s the players’ responsibility to play them to keep them caught up. Can the character still go out with a higher level group? Sure they can but it’ll be risky. Can the character go out with a lower level group? Sure they can but it’ll be boring. New players joining the group can just pick one of the characters in the pool. If they don’t like any of the characters then they can play one for the session and bring one in to add to the pool.

    I don’t think we should prevent characters from being killed in these adventures. In fact, that is a good way to keep the pool freshly stocked with 1st level targets…I mean characters.

    • Ronny August 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      That sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but WOW. This is kinda complicated (or maybe it’s just me). I am going to have to think this over a bit.

      • Ronny August 4, 2016 at 6:31 pm

        Okay, hear’s the first thing I am thinking. If it only opens on a set time once a day, that means that each session has to last exactly one game day. That is what I am not sure about. All of the rest has real possibilities.I am not sure about requiring everyone to play a character from the pool.
        Again, I am going to have to think this over a bit.

    • Andrew August 4, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      I only said that the portal would be open once a day because you had mentioned that they would need to end the session in the tavern. It isn’t imperative that they come back; they can catch the portal the next day if they so choose. I was just trying to build off of your idea and part of that was to have them in the tavern after each session. That was in my mind when I wrote it.

      If the players do not want to play characters from the pool because they don’t like them then they could make a character and put it into the pool. They can still take that character with them to other games and such. So, they could load up a bunch of characters to the pool that they like. Or, they can choose one that is there already.

      • Ronny August 5, 2016 at 9:52 am

        Let’s move this conversation off the blog. As our ideas progress, I would prefer that potential new players not have access to all of our ideas. If you will email me at “hartr@pcisys.net” I will respond with further thoughts on this. If that is not convenient, I’ll understand and we can continue here.

  22. Andrew August 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    P.S. I’m already working on a pool of characters. More on that later.

  23. Tim Solomon October 31, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Hi Ronny do you use Roll20 by any chance?

    • Ronny October 31, 2016 at 7:54 am

      No, I do not. I was looking at using something like that a while back, but I now have a good face-to-face group. I don’t see a lot of need for it unless you need to play remotely.
      Why do you ask?

  24. cjwalters7 November 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Do you live in Colorado Springs?

  25. Barry November 13, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I played D&D when Elf was a class 🙂 (1979)
    I stopped playing about 10 years ago and after reading about 5th Ed getting back to the story / player centered fun, I have climbed back in.

    Your clarity and simple guides are already useful.

    Thank you. keep it up.

    • Ronny November 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Thanks Barry,
      Elf as a class. I remember those days. I haven’t posted much here lately. I have been kinda busy. I am now running a game again after a long hiatus. Stay tuned though. I have some ideas and am running into real gaming situations that I will share.

  26. Keith December 21, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Hi Ronny,
    Just wondering/hoping you might have some Kingdom building/ruling rules? If not, would you consider doing some?
    Keep up the great work in any case!

    • Ronny December 21, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Hi Keith,
      No, I don’t have any suggestions for building or ruling a kingdom. That’s not a bad idea, though. I will give it some thought.
      In the meantime, there have been several good guides published over the years. Perhaps I could compile a list of what I think are the best ideas.
      If you need something before I can do that (if I ever get around to it) you would be served well by starting with a google search.

  27. Zeb January 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Like a lot of guys I DM’d for years then took a break for a decade or 2 after 2e came out, now I am back in the game and loving it.
    I am so glad I discovered your site last year. You are the best, thank you!
    Wizards bother me. 2 ways, to be more concise…
    1) Keeping track of all the schools and their extra features and quirks. It’s like I need a quick reference chart that reminds me the Evoker NPC fighting my group in the bar has that spell shaping thing he can do and the necromancer coming up behind them has that whole quasi vampire thing going for him. Do you know of such a chart? Should I just make one? If that is the answer, I’ll be glad to share.
    2) Spell availability. When they level up and get to add a couple to their book for free, that’s cool. But if I were a wiz kid, I would be seeking out other wizards to bargain with or libraries to dig through to copy as much as I could. It’s my bread and butter. Gotta catch’em all. I throw in scrolls for my guys in their loot, but I kind of like that to be for the obscure ones. How about the standard ones for each level that anyone should be able to find in a decent sized town? i.e… a large city’s public mage’s library would have these 15 first level spells, these 10 second level, etc. Any abjurer’s spell book you acquire may have these spells. A quick list to start from would be nice, so we have something to modify from. Know what I mean? The spell list is massive and overwhelming and this kind of a thing would help a lot. Know of anything?

    • Ronny January 18, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Thanks for the compliment.
      As for your questions:
      1) I don’t know of any such chart. I have the same problems. If you can put together a good chart I would be glad to post it here (if it is any good). As an update to my character sheet, I am currently adding a separate sheet for each class, with all of that classes features, each feature in a separate box with a brief description, organized per level. When finished, these could be used. They could be a quick reference, but I still feel like there should be something better. Something that lets you make quick decisions at the gaming table. If I come up with anything, I will post it here.
      2) I don’t know of a short list of most common spells by level, but I agree that could be very useful. Right now, I have to go through and pick out the spells I want them to have access to, but it is time-consuming. As far as going to a library to get them; that is a good Idea as long as you still make it cost them in some way. Either assign a gp cost to copy them or make it difficult in some other way (a quest?). Make sure that there are wizard spellbooks included in some of the treasures they find.

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