By - June 27, 2015 - Leave a comment

3 More Adventure Starters for your D&D games »

Get your own custom art: http://www.AvatarArt.com

Get your own custom art: http://www.AvatarArt.com

We’ve talked before about how there’s a middle ground of having to buy a module or creating absolutely everything yourself.  While there’s an advantage in time saving to simply running a pre-published thing and there’s an advantage in customization with making everything up, it can help to take an idea, use it as a springboard for your imagination, then make it best fit your group. So here are 3 more Adventure Starters for you to make as your own.

4.) Save a Kingdom, Get a Kingdom

A prince in a nearby kingdom has made an enticing offer to anyone brave enough to assist him. Last year a mysterious figure united previously divided goblinoid tribes and they conquered, then settled the land’s mountainous region. Once home to  prospectors, miners and hunters, most of the citizenry were enslaved. However, a small resistance has started and the prince wants to aid this underground. Especially after conventional attempts to reclaim proved ineffective; the monster’s mystery leader is surprisingly strategic and the combined tribes routed the royal army.  As a reward for successfully freeing the people, the prince is offering not only titles of nobility but also titles to that same land.

…This concept takes a straightforward goal in which the players are attempting to clear evil. How they accomplish this is up to them: stealth, guile, diplomacy are all possible tactics.  The success of the mission can be far from simple; perhaps the Prince isn’t telling the party the whole story. And who is this mysterious leader?  Furthermore, the prospect of being able to own land in a frontier area adds the possibility of establishing their own base of operations. That is if they can keep it.

5.) The Darker Sides

The players are secretly meeting each other in a grandiose tower near the center of their underground city. Below, a mix of aristocrats, slaves and warriors bustle through the streets. The community is divided even architecturally amongst various noble houses vying for power, with each character connected to one. In the center of the metropolis is an enormous spire, which eclipses all neighboring buildings. But more insidiously, it serves as a perennial reminder to the citizenry that their diety is always watching. Suddenly, the players notice intruders behind them. A group of Surface Dwellers! They warn of an ancient evil lurking under the city, and have learned that of a sinister ritual soon being performed. If not stopped, this ceremony will summon an unspeakable being- even for Drow. They propose a temporary partnership to prevent the entity being unleashed.  But can they trust these humans? Can they even trust each other?

…This adventure revolves around a different concept: an-all Dark Elf group with each player having both the main shared goal as well as personal private ones. I’ve previously written about such individual motivations and what better way to try some subterfuge than with Drow?! This political web could take the players into a plethora of drama; not only must they discover the culprits behind this ritual and stop it before it’s to late, they also need to navigate through a deeply divided city, with factions that have been embroiled in conflict for years. All while working with- or against- a party of typical PC adventurers.

6.) Sail Away, Sail Away

On the first full moon of the month the adventures set sail to a far away rival city. Aboard a stocked galley, the party is entrusted with the timely transportation of a giant egg as a condition of a carefully negotiated treaty. But as they hastily journey to the exotic destination, a strong storm and a blistering current throw the vessel far off course. When a sudden burst of wind tears the sails, and pushes the vessel ashore onto an unknown island, calamity strikes. The captain of the ship and several of the crew are badly injured so command falls to the adventurers. Will they be able to repair the ship and still sail to their goal? Or at least to safety? And what’s that sound coming from the egg?

…This adventure is built around the idea of a more open-world exploration such as a sand box style play in which the characters investigate their strange island surroundings. With numerous hurdles for the adventurers to overcome (repair the  damaged ship, stabilize the injured crew, deliver the treasure in time etc.), such a scenario will require quiet a bit of planning and innovative thinking if they hope to all make it off alive. Yet the cracking egg is a reminder that they have a looming eadline. One that could be lethal if it hatches too soon.

What do you guys think of this round?  What would you do to customize these ones?  Do you think any would make good fully finished adventures? Let us know in the comments.

If you liked my Adventure Starters, please check out my module: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/147044/Khatogon-5th-Edition-Dungeons-and-Dragons-Adventure which is still on sale for just $2.99 for a few turns longer.  Thanks!

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By - June 22, 2015 - 2 Comments

Lessons for D&D from the GoT season 5 finale »

game-thrones-season-5Since GoT isn’t just great TV, but also the closest thing to D&D that there will ever be on TV, we here at DungeonMastering assume our readers watch it regularly, even if they don’t subscribe to HBO.  So previously we’ve looked at the Season 5 Premiere “The Wars to Come,” as well as the 2nd S5 episode, “The House of Black and White.”  From these we came up with lists of ideas that could be used in D&D games with suggestions such as asking players to enact what their characters are saying for an Intimidate check, having magical power visibly manifest itself, and demonstrate just how angry hungry Dragons become.  Since it’s been a full week now since the finale “Mother’s Mercy” hopefully any of these won’t be spoilers, but yeah, spoilers coming.  Here we go.

imgres-1“Send me to Oldtown to become a Maester.”  Sam implores his friend Jon to permit him to leave his duty to guarding the Wall and be able to journey South (to the opposite end of the continent) to an old city where he can formally pursue become a healer/scholar.  Sam explains that by doing this study he will not only immediately save his family, but later on possibly his comrades as well.   HOW TO USE THIS: if a PC wants to learn a new spell, Feat or even ‘just’ a skill, they may have to travel quite far simply to find the opportunity for that to happen; whether from a tutor or at the “world’s greatest library.”  Going from the Wall to Old Town is approximately 2,000 miles.  While you don’t necessarily have to place a whole map in front of your players to go across, there should definitely be some obstacles to overcome before they can gain what they want.  And the greater the knowledge, the greater the obstacle.  At the very least, a player wanting their character to learn something new is now an opportunity for you as the DM to introduce a side quest or at the very least a cool NPC tutor.

images“A sinner comes before you.”  Outmaneuvered by a religious leader, to escape imprisonment Cersei is forced to take a literal walk of shame, slowly marched back to her keep while the city jeers on.  Adding injuries to insult, the Queen Mother undergoes a barrage of both disrespect and garbage (a cat carcass?!), hurled at her while she is escorted home by the same people she put into power.  HOW TO USE THIS: worthwhile villains- those who might be recurring bad guys instead of one & dones- deserve a good backstory.  Something sympathetic to help ‘humanize’ them or at least explain their malicious motivations.  i.e. why is this evil NPC evil.  In Cersei’s case this one scene of complete humiliation sets the stage for what is sure to be a very bloody revenge.  If you’ve created their background well (i.e. given the antagonist realistic reasons for their behaviors and goals) then they will cease to simply be a collection of stats and instead become a truly believable character.  Albeit one that your players may love to hate.

imgres-2“For the watch.” It should be no surprise by now that in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world, no character is safe from the specter of death.  Not even Jon Snow, who seemed to be the one person who could possibly rally a defense against the White Walkers.  Yet Valyrian Steel can’t protect against a surprise betrayal, and fan favorite Jon dies Caesar-like in a trap set by some of his own comrades.  Worse, the final Brutus Blow is delivered by a young boy he had befriended.  HOW TO USE THIS: one of the great things about roleplaying games is that the pure randomness that dice add to the story.  So although Jon’s death was ignominious, it was believable because the reality is that not every hero dies a heroic death.  If a villain, NPC, or Player Character should ever get killed from a freak die roll- in combat whether with a kid or with a kobold- then that’s a dramatic surprise that should get worked into the story rather than avoided with a Deus Ex Machina.

Well that’s what we got out of the last few shows.  What about you- have any suggestions of your own from watching this season?  Think of anything else from what we suggested? Let us know in the comments below.

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By - June 17, 2015 - 5 Comments

5 Ways Dice Wreck Your D&D Game (and how to fix them) »

Dumb Dice

The Prime Directive should be to not let dice mess games.

Gamers have a Love/Hate relationship with our funny-shaped polyhedrals.  One minute they’re amazingly awesome.  Then they suddenly suck, transforming into amazingly aggravating things.  Dice are the cats of gaming accessories. But regardless of which way Lady Luck leans, we should not let these bits of hard plastic muck up the collaborative storytelling of RPG.  Here are 5 ways dice wreck things and how you can prevent that.

PROBLEM #5: Not having enough of the kind required to complete a roll; causing a pause while the necessary amount are borrowed from others or they reroll a bunch, forced to remember and do math on the fly.  SOLUTION: this usually happens with d6s but it can affect any die, especially at higher levels.  Ask everyone to determine what the max amount of each die they character could possibly need at their current Level. Then work together to meet all these quotas, sharing amongst your group or buying extras as needed. DMs are no exception, so plan ahead to have a full stack of everything yourself.

PROBLEM #4: Letting them fall off the table; they bounce all around the playing surface, scattering off to parts unknown which stops the action until they’re found.  SOLUTION: Simply insist that for any roll to officially count, it must be made inside the dice tray.  No exceptions. This tray can also double as a turn marker, where it is placed in front of the current player, then passed to the next person in the initiative order.  Handing the tray off formally ends their turn for that round. Do this little thing and you’ll solve multiple problems at once.

PROBLEM #3: Constantly blaming dice for rolling poorly, to the point where they’re ‘shamed’ or yelled at or placed in a freezer, rather than just calmly set aside. Or the opposite, overtly publicly praising them.  SOLUTION: make it known in advance that these delay of game distractions will have a reasonable negative penalty. Just like those in professional sports.  [insert your favorite sport example here] Have players police themselves but don’t be afraid to enforce the group rule either. The idea is that it isn’t a punitive punishment, but rather a serious reminder to keep the focus where it belongs and act like adults.

PROBLEM #2: Allowing them to dictate illogical outcomes; such as the example from the 3.5 DMG where “the lowliest kobold can strike the most magically protected, armored, dexterous character on a roll of 20.”  SOLUTION: Implement the variant from the bottom of page 25 of that same DMG where a natural 20 is instead treated as a result of a 30, and conversely a natural 1 is treated as a result of -10.  These modifiers will still help the success/failure of these rolls without the incredulity of 5% of the time anyone is always succeeding while 5% of the time anyone is always failing.

And the #1 PROBLEM of dice: Allowing any dice that are hard-to-read whether because of their funky coloring, small size, or unmarked numbers; having to stop and squint to see what the results are. Then there is actually misreading them, accidentally or otherwise.  SOLUTION: Look, D&D is a group game, but another label for whomever is behind the screen is ‘referee.’  DMs absolutely not only have the right to veto any dice they feel could hinder the story, but they can also push players to only use dice with clear, visible numbers. If people can’t quickly see a definitive result after a roll, then that’s not a good die and it should be taken out of rotation.

So those are the 5 that we came up with.  Ironically they all came up last game ssession, which makes me wonder how many times these dice problems mess up other people’s games. Or if there are other problems we didn’t include in the list.  Let us know in the comments below.

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By - June 11, 2015 - 2 Comments

3 Adventure Starters for your D&D Campaigns »

By Mates Laurentiu, http://www.AvatarArt.com

By Mates Laurentiu, professional fantasy artist. Get your own custom images at http://www.AvatarArt.com

Sometimes you as a Dungeon Master want to run an adventure somewhere between ‘Just buying someone else’s idea’ and ‘Making it all up on my own.’  With that in mind, here are 3 Adventure Starters that will provide you with creative material to go from while still letting you fill in most of the blanks using your own creativity.

1. Allegiances for Adventurers

While staying in one of the wealthy mercantile towns of Tashalar, nestled along the coast of the southern Shining Sea, the adventurers awake one morning to a surprise. Large platoons of armed soldiers from the town are performing drills in public view. A mentor of the heroes, a well-known blacksmith by the name of Artemis, informs them that the recently elected leader of the city, a young prince named Josel, who just took over for his deceased father, has plans for war. The cities soldiers are preparing to be mobilized for an offensive invasion into some key territories in the nearby Hazuk Mountains, home of the resource wealthy dwarves.

Josel addresses the citizenry in person that morning, summoning everyone to the town square. He informs the masses of his plans and states that the dwarves of the Hazuk Mountains have been seizing and capturing trade caravans and causing economic disturbances. The sentiment resonates with many of the town’s people, merchants and middle class whom have personally felt increased economic hardship in the past several months. Artemis tells the heroes he worries some rich nobles may be behind the scenes influencing Josel’s decisions.

…This adventure will begin with the heroes’ attempting to find out more information about the ensuing events and then having to make some pivotal decisions about where their allegiances lay.

 

2. Debauchery in Drexal

Something is clearly amiss in Calimshan, a large region in southern Faerun. In the misty town of Drexal, an unknown spike in murders, kidnappings and thefts is terrorizing the population.  Rumors of sinister figures and shapes in the night have percolated throughout the citizenry. Some claim the acts are the doing of the Black Raiders, an infamous group of bandits whose acts of violence and thuggery have plagued the area for decades. Others assert that the bandits were all but eliminated nearly fifteen years ago under the imperial edict of the sultan Joseph, who led a campaign to purge the many towns of Calimshan of mercenaries and bandits. Many middle class merchants and craftsmen point to the spike in affluence of the Northern Grove region of the city, whose nobles have increasingly been flanked by larger details of security and whose gaudy opulence has been flaunted more then usual in the recent months, as the rest of the city grapples with despair and hardship. Still others have made note that a number of potential future magistrates in the city council have recently been murdered.

…. This adventure will begin with the hero’s attempting to find the cause of these debaucheries and bring back safety and peace of mind to Drexal.

 

3. Invisible Alchemist 

It was night in Havenwood, but one could hardly tell. The houses and streets were covered in thick, luminous coral that the town had implemented to create continual light. Unlike most towns, the activities on the streets had not died down at sunset. Merchants and wizards crowded the thin streets and worked tirelessly into the late night. Although not particularly affluent, Havenwood was a town of magic. Nearly one in five members of the city were either a wizard or sorcerer.  Many were drawn to the city to study under Magus Reginilus, who taught at a small but prestigious arcane magic academy.  The heroes are summoned my Reginilius one cool and ominous evening to discuss some urgent affairs. One of the towns leading alchemists and scholars has gone missing. His lab was found completely trashed, vials smashed, and the door to his store collapsed in two and many important texts missing. Reginilius beseeches the adventures to help recover the alchemist and find and bring back the texts. He warns that the implications of not bringing him back soon, could be grim

…This adventure will begin with the heroes trying to grapple through the puzzle of why the alchemist went missing and the significance behind his disappearance.

What do you guys think of these?  What else would you like to have before trying one, or, would you yourself add to make them complete?  Let us know in the comments below.

And if you liked any of my Adventure Starters, please check out my self-published adventure: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/147044/Khatogon-5th-Edition-Dungeons-and-Dragons-Adventure which is on sale for $2.99 for a limited time.

 

 

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By - May 25, 2015 - 1 Comment

Lessons from Memorializing D&D characters »

DeathHappy Memorial Day from all of us here at DungeonMastering.com & we hope it was a good ‘long weekend’ for everyone.  Previously we’ve written a somewhat solemn tribute to those in the Armed Forces, past & present.  Since we’ve talked about death so much lately, (and my unlucky Halfing Bard just got swallowed by a Dragon) this year for the holiday we’re going to jump right into the D&D aspects of memorializing characters.

Keep a tally: You’re doing this not to have a Toughest DM Record, but to help provide yourself with actual feedback about the difficulty (lethality-wise) of how you referee your games.  Write down the Level of the PC(s), how exactly they died, & what they might have done to prevent it. This is useful information to everyone.  If there are any obvious repeating patterns, try to adjust your approach.   A bunch of kills by poison would suggest that the party needs to look for or buy magic/alchemical items to help or otherwise improve their Fortitude saves.  Being constantly zapped by Touch attacks means they need better Dodge bonuses or Force armor effects.  Without having this documentation you won’t know if there are actual problems, & without fixing serious problems the campaign can quickly become unfun.

Help the frequently dead:  If there is anyone in your group who seems to continually lose characters, then they could benefit from some suggestions.  Certain editions of D&D are far more tactical than others, & its quite possible that players who die often simply aren’t being strategic enough.  For example, they might have 3 Ranks in Acrobatics yet are not Fight Defensively despite that +3 bonus to AC.  Or they might not remember the various conditions that cause AoO, constantly provoking free attacks.  Assist these Players both in-game as well as out with things that might help them not die quite as often.  Perhaps an NPC fighting tutor grants them with a much-needed lesson, or you provide a real life player aid/tutorial.  Nobody wants to constantly be taken out.  Too much death for a particular player kills more than character, it kills their fun.

Use Hero Points: I know that we’ve recently written about the Pathfinder rules for Hero Points.  But talking about character death is the perfect moment to plug this official Paizo variant again.  There are also Old School AD&D Hero Points, as well as Unearthed Arcana Action Points, & Savage Worlds Bennies.  But basically, you want to have some sort of game design mechanic in place that can allow the minimization of randomness at critical moments.  There is a strategic way to spend these, but unless you want your group only miserly hoarding them for the Cheat Death benefit, reward Hero Points or their equivalent to encourage roleplaying, great in-character actions, & contributions/service.  At the least, they serve as a cushion for bad rolls.  However, with RAW for Hero Points, “When a character dies, she does not lose any hero points she has accumulated. If she died with no hero points remaining, she gains 1 hero point when she is brought back.”  This can help them avoid a similar fate in the future.

Death is vital: I’ve spoken before about how its important to have genuine death in your games.  Reward without risk isn’t worthwhile reward.  But also the importance of it for the sake of the collective storytelling.  An adventure where none of the good guys dies is an unbelievable adventure.  Not to mention boring- you don’t have to go to George R.R. Martin extremes & have a Red Wedding, but even Tolkien killed off Fíli and Kili.  If a character does die, hopefully their death has some meaning for the group.  Perhaps even a lesson for all of the players.  Try to have the death scene be dramatic, & the afterward not be anti-climatic.

So those are some of the things related to memorializing a dead D&D character.  What ones could we have included?  Any tips on character death from your experience DMing?  Tell us in the comments below.

≥≥

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By - May 21, 2015 - 1 Comment

In honor of Letterman: Top 10 Funniest Things PC’s Said »

ls_topten_20090616Tonight, David Letterman (along with the help of the irreplaceable Bill Murray) read his very last Top Ten List.  In homage to Dave & the countless laughs he caused, here is a D&D list of the funniest things Players have said.  It’s based on the Dragon magazine article by Gregg Sharp appropriately titled “The Last Word: Adventurers say the darndest things before you squash them,” from January, 1988.  Despite having no illustration as well as being buried at the very end of the issue, it nevertheless brought us such timeless gems as, “I go up to the lich and try to pick its pocket.”  And, “Nothing ever happens on the first level.” And, “Does a 3 save?”  Plus who could ever forget the karmic, “What? No, I wasn’t reading your module. I was just looking at the pictures.”

This meme of course caused Dragon’s readers to write in their own Last Words where we were later treated to “We don’t need to post guards at night. We’re too powerful.“ from #134, then “I’ll snap the staff!” & “Who’s the chick with the spiders?” from #138.

The DungeonMastering.com version is from December 2007, & remains our reigning champ when it comes to reader responses.  Racking up an inconceivable 143 Comments, we’ve gone through each & every one of them to bring you the absolute Ten Best.  We’re using comment names to identify their owners.  And also because we wouldn’t otherwise get to write such things as ‘TroublesomeBard.’  Here we go.

10. “I’ll offer him 2 gold pieces for his daughter’s honor.”  by Rob on August  11, 2010

9. “Which way does the giant fall?” by Donk on December 27, 2007

8.  “I can’t get rid of the cursed sword so I might as well use it.” by Mike on March 30, 2008

7. “How deep does the lava look?” by Shadowrunner, July 11, 2010

6. “Ok, fine, I’ll help you kill it.”  by Origami on March 15, 2010

5. “We’re all the same alignment here.” by Dr. Strangelove on January 24, 2009

4. “I’ll hold it off.  It won’t be able to hit my AC.” by AlgaeHydra on March 14, 2009

3. “Oh Yeah, YOU and what army?!” by Maelifisis on June 07, 2008

2.  “That thing is made of water…I drink the water!” by Scion on January 10, 2008

And the #1 Funniest Thing Players Said Before SHTF:

What do you mean you ‘need more dice for this one’?” by child of a smart orc and stupid illithid, (no, we’re not making that name up, how could we?!) on May 21, 2008

Take a bow guys, you did Gregg Sharp proud.  Ok, any of those 143 comments should have made the list instead?  Got any ‘Last Words’ from your own games?  Yell at us below.

 

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By - May 18, 2015 - 7 Comments

8 ways to make PC’s somewhat ‘super’ with Hero Points »

got2So Superheroes are pretty much everywhere & are only going to become more widespread.   In addition to the plethora of these movies that have already come out, (seriously, we kept losing track trying to count) there are almost 30 confirmed release dates just through 2020.  It would be silly to imagine that as these films continue to permeate our culture, their influence won’t further impact gaming.  But in a way, some of that heroic impact is already available for use in D&D games: Hero Points.

Now at least in Pathfinder, Hero Points will make most characters more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D heroic than amazingly awesome Avengers heroic.  But they are a mechanic that will help characters accomplish impressive things at important times- a characteristic common to all hero media.  Simply put, they give players a small measure of control over the randomness of critical die rolls while at the same time providing a mechanism for the GM to offer a useful in-game award for super role playing or for making real life helpful contributions to the group.

Here’s the link to the full rules of the Paizo version: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/advancedNewRules.html …but we’ll go through the 8 possible uses for this official option as well as the reason why that particular use will better your game.

1) WHAT- Act Out of Turn:  “take your turn immediately. Treat this as a readied action, moving your initiative to just before the currently acting creature. You may only take a move or a standard action on this turn.”  WHY- allows players who have come up with a time-based plan to try to go when they need to go to get that plan to happen.

2) WHAT- Bonus: “used before any d20 roll, get a +8 luck bonus. If used after, this bonus is +4.  Grant 1/2 this bonus(+4 before, +2 after) to another character, as long as your character can reasonably affect the outcome.”  WHY- rewards risk taking as well as selflessness through teamwork.  Possibly both on a single crucial roll!

3) WHAT- Extra Action:  “gain an additional standard or move action this turn.”  WHY- assists in allowing cool tactics or possibilities that require some oomph to make possible.

4) WHAT- Inspiration:  “petition the GM for a hint about what to do.”  WHY- the easiest way to unstick a stuck party & get the game moving again.  If you allow only 1 use of Hero Points, allow this one as it will help you help your players, which in turn only helps you.

5) WHAT- Recall:  “recall a spell you have already cast or to gain another use of a special ability that is otherwise limited.”  WHY- solves the classic case of player frustration at having used a character resource when it would have better been utilized later on.  Let your players do a MtG untap & watch their unhappiness at a mistake fade.

6) WHAT- Reroll: “reroll any one d20 roll; take the results of the second roll, even if worse.”  WHY- a replication of a casino table, trusting in Lady Luck for an all or nothing shot.  Memorable drama from a die roll.

7) WHAT- Special: “attempt nearly anything that would normally be almost impossible; cast a higher level spell, make an attack that blinds a foe or bypasses its DR, use Diplomacy to convince a creature to stop attacking.”  WHY- encourages creativity, by letting the player put forth possibilities that might not otherwise come up in the games.  Their imagination is still in check by GM, but as long as their Special use has a basis in background, it should be considered.  i.e. the Try to Say ‘Yes’ goal for GM’s

8) WHAT- Cheat Death:  “spend 2 hero points to prevent dying; be left alive, with negative hit points but stable.”  WHY- powerful, but balanced since the rules only allow for a maximum of 3 Hero Points (not counting spells or magic items).  If like us you feel that constant Raise Deads/Resurrections are removing tension from your campaign yet want the PC’s to have a safety soul net, then Cheating Death is a workable option.

So those are the 8 uses of Hero Points.  What do you guys think- is your game ready for some of their uses?  Or do you feel that heroes are already everywhere & becoming cliche?  Tell us in the comments below.

 

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By - May 6, 2015 - Leave a comment

Revenge of the 5th: Ideas from Star Wars for D&D games »

vaderWe all love Star Wars, & let’s face it, Lucas letting others pilot the spaceships have given everyone a new hope that we will once again cheer when John Williams comes out of the speakers and giant words start marching across the movie screen.  In the meantime, there are at least 3,720 ideas you can mine from the various SW movies for you D&D games.  In honor of May 4th or May 5th holiday, here are 4 we liked:

Power is not Force

In the original film, there’s a great scene in a Death Star conference room where Darth Vader is force choking an Imperial Officer (Conan Antonio Motti) for disrespecting him & his ‘ancient religion.’  Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, aka Governor Tarkin (1 of only 12 Grand Moffs) orders, “Enough of this – Vader release him.”  And Darth complies.   Now there’s a ton of speculation/analysis as to why Vader did this; i.e. was he actually obeying a command or simply being diplomatic.  In any case, the stereotypical BBG is a supped up villain with tons of HP, rocking ability scores, & all sorts of deadly power.  Not to mention some sick weapons or attacks. Basically, they’re a Vader.  But a real BBG could also be a Tarkin.  Hardly a threat in direct combat, but still a threat with what they could do.  And that, is actual power.  Not the dog, but like Leia pointed out the one holding the leash.  Create some BBG’s who hold leashes yet still instill fear & make PC’s cringe at their foul stench.

Have your own version of a black Stormtrooper

In the new trailer there is a quick shot of actor John Boyega, which caused parts of the Internet to lose their minds.  Setting aside the ‘clones of Jango Fett’ argument, let’s  assume that yes, there are in fact Imperial soldiers with darker skin.  Yes, it was somewhat unexpected- which is a good thing.  So model something in your games after that.  That is, have an element that initially appears one way & than reveals itself to be something else.  An actual example of this in official D&D is Thaqualm.  Who’s Thaqualm you ask?  Why she’s a Lawful Good Monk 8 from the Book of Exalted Deeds.  More on point, she’s a redeemed illithid aka a mind flayer.  Meaning that per D&D canon, there are LG brain eaters.   And if there can be time traveling LG aberrations that originated from the Far Realm and there can be black Stormtroopers, then what else can there be?  Find something equally surprising & surprise your players with it.

Bounty Hunters are the DMs kind of scum

Probably one of the coolest scenes takes place on the Star Destroyer, Executor during Empire Strikes Back.  Vader is hiring an eye candy of various bad-ass bounty hunters offering a “substantial reward” to the one who finds the Millennium Falcon without any disintegrations.  The idea being that the Empire was too big/slow to capture the smuggler, so to catch a thief hire a bunch of thieves.  In D&D, the PC’s can quickly rise in power to the point where the Town Watch or even local militia isn’t a threat.  So if the party breaks or even bends any laws, various NPC bounty hunters could be sent on their trail.  After all, most adventuring parties are loaded with treasure and magical items.  But make the hunters fearless and inventive rather than scream cowardly as they ineffectively fly into things before dropping into monster mouths.

If you have a Death Star, give it a thermal exhaust port

It gets mocked all the time, but the two meter wide opening with a shaft leading directly to the reactor system was crucial to the movie’s plot.  Without this Achilles’ Heel, the fully operational  weapon could indeed crush rebellions in swift strokes.  Basically, if there is going to be a Sauron, there has to a One Ring and then a Mount Doom to chuck it into.  If you make up a crazy monster, give it SOME weakness, even if not immediately obvious.  Whether by research or trial by error, let the PCs eventually discover it.  If they can’t figure out for themselves, then make the D&D equivalent of many Bothan spies, die to bring them that information.  But if they waste too much time, then feel free to have some metaphorical plywood put over that opening to cover that .1% weakness.

 

Ok, that was a quick take on how things from Star Wars can help your D&D games.  What else should make this list?  Let us know in the comments below.

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