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The DM Treasure Chest

Written by Krystal - Published on May 13, 2010

DnD Treasure ChestMotivating, scaring, enticing, and simply striking awe into the hearts of your players through each and every gaming session. Tantalizing events and deadly puzzles are some things you have in mind, you are impatient, you are excited…you are the Dungeon Master! You see one obstacle before you as this god-like figure though…….your minions are first level.


How ever will you bypass this obstacle? Power level them quickly? No they will see you as weak, weak dungeon master! Shall you ask them to start off at a higher level? Nooo! The Monty inside you will not win this battle! They will get nothing for free, nothing! This power struggle is too much….And then an Angel comes to you, with all the answers….

Low level healing items! Give them hope, feed their anger, and allow them breathe for one more encounter!

For many games I play with my group we have incorporated a few things, depending on who is Dming there are variants of low leveling healing items, these items are used so the DM can send bigger monsters and higher challenge ratings at the party, ESPECIALLY when your players are usually smart enough to OUST whatever smaller minions you send at them, at times it seems like everyone is bored and there is no challenge ahead.  This method is not for all Dms, but can be incorporated as a quick fire starter!

Wolfsbane; Aconite, a toxic plant that can be used for healing in the right dosages and our Fantasy merchants just happen to sell those dosages. We calculate wolfsbane in levels, each level added onto this plant is 1D6 worth of healing (That means Wolfsbane Lvl. 1 heals 1D6, Lvl. 2 Heals 2D6.). Wolfsbane can be found in the wild by Rangers and Druids, skilled in the knowledge of todays boy scouts.

Wolfsbane has been known to change into it’s darker form when taken through various time portals, magical barriers, or simply age drying it out. When wolfs bane becomes dried (these rules apply to a certain magical dnd world,  NOT real life.) it then becomes an extremely toxic poison.

DISCLAIMER: In a fantasy world, anything is possible, as for our rules on Earth today, please do not try to go out and actually eat wolfs bane. It is a very toxic plant and it doesn’t work that way…

Healing Droughts: This works exactly the same as Wolfsbane, only in liquid form. You can pretty much take this same idea, and put any various names on it to make it your own.

Amello Stones: This is my creation, Amello stones are the most versatile magical stones in my world. They are simply clear stones imbued with healing properties, there are variants of these stones that come from it’s weakest form which are “One Use Healing Items”.  Stones that pretty much resemble those marble counters used for magic, decorating fish bowls and more. The stones can be used once and heals 1D4+1, they are small but extremely cheap, and recyclable! After use, the stone turns clear colored and can be given back to merchants and mages to be recharged with healing properties, keep the earth clean!

You can also take it a step further, as I did, and use these healing items to be sewn, added, imbued, implanted, or what have you into armor, weapons, etc. One of the most expensive items in my game is Amello Armor- an armor that allows a one-use resurrection and is activated automatically upon your death. Mind you, this is VERY expensive and has never actually been acquired in my games yet…merely ogled at.

Non Player Characters are a similar gateway and a rather renowned one in which the players get an extra person in their party so you can then up challenges, encounters, or give them an extra skill set they don’t have that you wish to incorporate into the game. NPC’s are just as versatile as anything else in the DnD world, they can be bad guys in disguise, good guys, neutral uncaring mercenaries… Anything your little heart desires! Leaders and followers have all joined our groups in the form of these sometimes pesky or resourceful characters. NPC’s can be any race, any class, any level, and obtain any features the DM so desires. It’s really hard to pin point or tell you how to create the ultimate NPC as each and every one has a different use, it’s just like making a character only in ten seconds and you can make it up as you go if you wish, or you can roll him up before a game and have a full character sheet laid out for him.

The veil of darkness covers your players and sucks them into a world full of wonderment and awe, it makes each encounter an exciting and new experience even if they’ve already fought this monster. The Veil of Darkness is simply the lack of titles and the usage of descriptions, I’ve elected my bf to help write up an example for you guys:

A serpentine creature about eight feet in length slides its way across the cavern floor before you. The darkish green scales on its back have a light metallic sheen. As it lifts its head it reveals a pale underbelly, instead of a mouth it has a large black shining beak nearly a foot and a half in length. Circling this beak are four tentacles, each tipped with a shining black boned claw. It hisses at you loudly and drips mucus on the cavern floor.

Can you guess what it is?

No? Yes?

It’s a Grick! Now some players may be able to figure that out, but others will not and this gives it a feeling of enigma and makes them use their imagination to fight the creature, and when it happens be dynamic about your combat. Remember, details can be lush or vague, not everything needs described in mass detail to be amazing.

And soon to come: How to make your geography seem believable, and better map making! Happy gaming!

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Written by Krystal

At a young age, my mother opened up her own gaming store. We had two game rooms, an office, and the front area which had a ton of miniatures and books. I helped manage that store for several years, my mother teaching me the ropes and treating me like an adult so I could learn. Even beyond that she played games at stores like Haster Hobbies and several other places. In fact, my parents met gaming! DnD kind of runs in my blood, as well as any other gaming you can think of. I’m simply a gamer at heart, an artist, and a jack of all trades. I love to write and that’s why I’m here at Dungeon Mastering! I’m going to be going to school for Video Game Design, and my bf is going to school so he can publish Core Rule Sets. In the short few years I’ve been with him I’ve learned all about how to create my own rule system and create a game from the ground up! But my expertise is not limited to DnD alone. I’ve ventured far into Call of Cthullu, and beyond to games like Shadowrun and some White Wolf games..though I’m not a big fan of dice pools. :)

Anyways! Gaming is my passion and my life. I game constantly, go to conventions, and so much more! Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy Gaming!

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13 Responses to “The DM Treasure Chest”
  1. Kocho says:

    Yay, another great non 4e article!
    Now if only you guys’s banner would work like it’s supposed to and be closable. Apparently if I click the x while it’s over the ad for arete it thinks I want to go to the page for buying arete.
    Sorry about going off topic there, but the banner needs to be fixed so that people like me who don’t use firefox or *shudders* the abomination known as Internet explorer.

  2. Elderon Analas says:

    (tears) I just love all of the articls that I have seen in my time here. You all speak with a sense of pride, honor, and truth that can and should be envied by all. (sniffs) It brings a tear to my eye when I read these and think of all that has gone into them. The thoughts the work all of it. I, I just want to say it is am honor to be with all of you and to read these works of writing like none the which I have seen sense the Draconian Bible. (tears, sniffles) I read these and feel the love and admeration you have that your hard work will truely help someone somewhere and that if you can only help one person, then your mission is complete. But no! You don’t stop there, you go forth and continue writing more and more, ever bent on helping all those in need, and being there for the ones like me who at the very least, (sniff) just need someone to talk to. I swear to you! That for as long as I live I will never leave any of you, I will stand here listening to all that you have to say and will never miss a chance to input something! I will honor your words with the respect they deserve and share them with the world! I will do all of you proud and will never faulter! For your words are those of a god and they shan’t be treated like any less. I look forward to the bright future when I may once have the chance to speak as you do to the great masses of people as you do. I long for the day when my words shall be heard and my mind be spoken! I live to see that day and to see your rise to fame and great honor that your positions and titles truely deserve! For let it be known that from this day forward! You will never see me leave any of your sides and I will stand, head held high, and call myself one of your own! Because, from the day this place was founded it has stood as a place of wisdom, advice, and togetherness of friends and fellow gamers. It is a refuge for all those who feel alone. A place of safety amungst the storm. And it shall never fail us, for this, (crying) this is a place of peace and long standing hope. And, should my life be cut short by god, or sword alike, I want you all to know that I was, am, and always will be a fan, a supporter, a member of this group and will never leave! My heart goes with you as do my blessings.

    Your Dragon,
    Elderon Analas

    May the dragon gods look upon you all with much love as I do and may they always be with you.

  3. Tiorn says:

    Nice post. In the old 1e/2e mix games I played in, we used a salve in place of the basic healing potion. It would come in a basic package of 10-12 applications, instead of just the one potion to drink. It really wasn’t a common item in our games, but it wasn’t rare either. It was just scarce enough to be worth it and didn’t effect our game balance much at all.

  4. Noumenon says:

    What I hate about the banner is how it floats over the last two lines of text, meaning when I page down I never see those two lines unless I hit the up arrow. (On Firefox).

  5. gull2112 says:

    I am an apparent novelty as I played D&D from the seventies on and I liked every interation but 2E. I think 4E is a lot of fun. One thing I notice is that some folks seem to lose their imagination when attempting to deal with 4E, or maybe it is just those who decided they don’t like 4E and start from there.

    I really like the healing surge mechanic because if you actually had to properly heal after combat it would be dull and tedious. I like the idea of hit points as a kind of stored fate that allows you to take “damage” and remain in the game at full effectiveness.

    If you want to illustrate the debilitating effects of combat fatigue, poison, or disease, just have it eat away at healing surges. If you think that isn’t lethal enough, you have to imagine the fear that builds up over time by folks who horde their healing surges. I have a paladin who has maxed his out at like thirteen who goes into panic mode if he finds his healing surges under ten (and yes, I have great fun reducing him to less than ten on a regular basis;-). The tension creates a feeling of suspense and danger with out the inconvenience of actual tedious record keeping.

    Another way to illustrate fatigue or illness is by not allowing a character to recover encounter or daily powers. In my campaign the party is preyed upon by a demon who ambushes them individually in their dreams, if he “kills” them in their dream they awake fatigued with no encounter or daily powers recharged.

  6. kocho says:

    the problem with 4e is the complete simplicity
    while some of the mechanics are amazing, and the ease of making characters and learning the system is great, it lacks the ability to do any more and the classes are too bloated
    and, of course, the level up system is waaaaaaaaaaaay too inconsistent

    this is coming from someone who loved 4e and played it for more than a year, and knows the system better than most who play multiple times a week

    all that was great, and 4e IS great, but 3.5 is much better for it’s versatility

  7. Tiorn says:

    @gull2112… I understand what you’re saying about the healing surges, but I, myself, am a 2e veteran. Sure, those down times in 2e because of injuries could be very dull and tedious. But there were also times when they were flat out stressful. Of course, in our games, we used random encounters heavily, so it wasn’t unusual for us to find ourselves in another fight when we were still licking our wounds from the previous fight. The stress from knowing that we were often not in peak condition would force us to improvise so we could fight as efficiently as possible.

    In 2e, there were the healing and herbalism non-weapon proficiencies, which allowed a small addition to the regular daily healing rate. I forget what the exact additions were, but it was something like +2hp per day, to allow +3hp total. Of course, we had to learn (as a group) that at least one person in the group had to add those nw proficiencies.

    Plus, we allowed the CON bonus to be added to that daily rate, so a +1 from CON would yield +4hp per day. It might seem small, dull, and tedious, but it builds up fairly quickly and was a lot of help… and also helped eliminate some major down time.

    That’s not even going into any healing potions, clerical heal spells, or even a paladin’s lay on hands ability.

  8. Tiorn says:

    I left something out above…

    My point about those stressful times in games was that…. those situations were FUN! (especially when we pulled out of it OK) :)

  9. joe says:

    Well that was all the nicest thing I have herd in a long time. You are a truly a dragon that cares. Goodness flows strong through you. I send my blessings for you. Take care, elderon.

    Your friend, joe


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