Sufficiently challenging your players at higher levels can be a difficult task for any DM/GM. With players of 15th level or higher who can take out creatures like dragons with relative ease, making encounters that are both interesting and a challenge can be tricky but ultimately worthwhile, if done well.
Below I have prepared a number of encounters using 3 different sets of monsters, two of which are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, that have been designed to both be a challenge to a party and be interesting and unique encounters.
Information is a valuable commodity to an adventuring party, no matter the setting. Whether the group are seeking information on a quest they’re already involved in, or looking for a job to keep them in gold and hot meals, keeping an ear to the ground in taverns or out in the street can be an excellent source of information, but only once they have separated out all of the misinformation from the truth.
Among the rumours listed below is a mixture of truth, half-truth, and out and out lies, and within that information there are hooks for two quests, the location of a dungeon, and one piece of mundane gossip. It is up to your players how they will learn which is which, and up to you where the truth is.
Among the many weapons in the DMs arsenal, often we overlook the idea of curses. Monsters and traps aplenty, puzzles and challenges, sure, but a curse is something wholly other. Disease is frequently too random, we rarely use disease because it is not something earned through foolish action, but a curse can be laid upon a player who does something foolish, or stumbles across something terrible.
These curses broadly use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but can easily be adjusted for other systems and settings.
Right, where were we? Travelling companions eleven through twenty. Here’s one through ten if you missed them.
The softly spoken halfling dresses in soft leathers and expensive looking silks, but without much by way of ornamentation or showy colours. Her hair is a thick bundle of dun dreadlocks tied with a chord, and she goes barefoot most places while travelling. She’s hard to hear in the midst of heavy conversation, but happy enough to listen and participate only when she feels it’s her “turn” to speak, waiting for lulls where she might be heard clearly. (more…)
Ahhh… this may have to be a two-parter. This is going to be a two-parter. Having hit 1600+ words with only half of my wandering NPCs written, I shall save another ten for next Thursday.
Here below I offer you ten NPCs who may travel with your party. Some may help, others may hinder, all were created using random tables and generators for race, gender, jobs and roles, although the names and details are all my own. Thanks to the Hyper Halfling’s Book of Lists, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Fantasy Name Generators for giving the bare bones of the characters brought to life below.
Allow these fine folk to join the party for their next journey to help bridge the gaps between civilisation and adventure. If nothing else… it’ll be memorable. (more…)
There are days when the grind of combat becomes a simple matter of pointing and declaring “I hit that one” or “I cast this spell”. Sometimes what is required is a combat so utterly challenging that players are forced to think outside the box, get creative, and push themselves to the very limit. It need not be the bigbad, the final villain, the single enemy to which all other narratives have been merely a pursuit. It might be something stumbled upon in the course of exploration, something rumoured, but never sought, or something simply in the way of something else…
The raid boss, or nemesis villain, is more a staple of the hack-and-slash style RPG than the narratively driven tabletop role-play, but it’s fair to admit sometimes that we’re gamers of a new generation, who want a break from talking around a campfire, and just want the deadly thrill of facing a foe designed to kill. (more…)
Let us suppose a variation of magic that does not manipulate a natural force ever-present in the world. Instead let us consider a school of magi who pull their power from the realms beyond the material, reaching into the turning gears of Mechanus, the glorious light of Celestia, the feral twilight of Ysgard, or – as presented here – the twisting tunnels, the ever blowing gales mingled with the howls of souls as they shred and dissolve into the headwaters of the Styx, Pandemonium.
The spells here are selected with a view to their aesthetic relation to Pandemonium, which borders the roiling chaos of Limbo and the demonic halls of the Abyss. Pandemonium itself is predominantly home to demons, a handful of damned souls that endure the winds, and a few evil or mad gods who have come to build their realms within. The spells are heavy on necrotic forces, death, madness, and eternally howling winds. (more…)
Sphinxes are divine, extraplanar entities, mostly good, but exacting and demanding, and pitiless to the unworthy. The catlike beings are highly intelligent, powerful both physically, and mystically, they are trusted by the gods to ward places of power from the corrupt who might seek to use divine power to terrible ends. Leonine paws are ill-adapted to weapons that we might recognise, and their arcane majesty relies more upon their innate divinity, rather than arcane learnings, so what kind of items might a sphinx craft, or even need?
As in all previous Dungeon Situational articles, the following ideas use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but should be easily modified for other systems and settings. Here are some items, crafted by, and for the use of sphinxes… (more…)
Most parties, upon entering a new town, have a simple shopping list: blacksmith for weapons, alchemist for potions, anyone dealing in magic items, and onwards to food and booze. And if any of that intro sounds familiar to you, you may have already read a previous Dungeon Situational in which I presented a list of unusual traders and merchants. A fun trader or NPC can lend life to a town, but what if the very shop and all its contents are a fascination in themselves? Enough useful items can bring the players back again and again, and an entire story may unravel therein.
I will expand on the notion of a herbalist and perfumer I mentioned in the Unusual Traders article. As usual, the information below is designed for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but is readily modified for other editions and systems. (more…)
As promised a while back, it’s time to bring back Dungeon Situational; a weekly series where I present content designed for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but broadly adaptable for other editions and systems.
This week, as promised in a previous article, I will be creating five levels of a new class that reflects a few minor grievances and absences I find in the D&D class system. None of the material is play-tested, so if you try out this class or any of the class features please do let me know how it goes. At the bottom of the article you can also vote on what you’d like me to create next week. (more…)