D&D 5e: Magic Items in a Wizard’s Lab

I’ve been reading a bunch of Ars Magica 5th Edition lately – make sure you check out Samhaine’s Rules Summary posts – and it got me thinking about the interesting Stuff in a wizard’s laboratory. Going on adventures and spending downtime to do nothing but improve your laboratory is a completely valid campaign-long […]


D&D 5e Story Hooks From 4e Realmslore 3

I’ve been digging into Waterdeep: Dragon Heist like a whole lot of 5e fans right now. I think this book acknowledges and incorporates the Spellplague more than any other adventure we’ve seen so far, which is to say any – but I haven’t read every adventure and may have missed things. There’s […]


Instigator Characters and Self-Destructive Arcs 2

“Instigator” may not appear in the seminal Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering, but it has been recognized as a significant player type for a long time all the same. Today I want to talk about how GMs, and especially LARP game runners, can engage this kind of player, and a […]


Design Diary: In the Company of Giants

Sure, In the Company of Giants (5th edition, Revised) has been out for nine months and I’m just now getting around to writing a design diary. Today I’m going to talk about it a bit. The first thing to understand is that I was hired to write a revision of an earlier […]


D&D 5e: Long-Term Pursuit

In a recent conversation with the inimitable Samhaine, we discussed having PCs lead the overland escape of a large group of NPCs – think of it as the Fellowship shepherding the people of Rohan from Meduseld to Helm’s Deep, the travelogue format of zombie horror, or the terrestrial version of […]


D&D 5e: The Inquisitor Background

For the same project as the Cultist background, I’m creating another close variant on the acolyte, but on the opposite, more enforcing side of the social order. Inquisitors work about equally well as crusading heroes or the authority to rebel against. Figure out which side is the underdog in your setting, and […]


Quintessence Design Diary: Light and Dark Tokens 1

From the moment I read about the mechanic of light and dark tokens in Chill 3rd Edition, it had a death-grip on my imagination like few other mechanics before or since. I finally got a copy of Chill 3e for my birthday, so I can examine the game’s implementation in more detail. […]


Character Relationships and Engagement

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the threshold between roleplaying that feels like it’s going through the motions and roleplaying that feels like it takes on a life of its own. That distinction will mean a lot of different things to different people, as much as two people can […]


D&D 5e: Cultist Background 4

For an upcoming project, I felt like the Acolyte background was a little too socially acceptable. The Cultist background presented here is a fairly close cousin to it, but emphasizes an illegal or heretical sect or secret society. As such, I think it’s especially well-suited to warlocks, but I love […]


D&D 5e: Expanded Background Assets 3

In D&D 5e, Backgrounds grant a modest assortment of equipment and a pocketful of starting cash. For many campaigns, this is fine and appropriate. You’re playing wanderers, sellswords, not to say murderhoboes, and a broader base of social and material assets will at best be in a town halfway across the […]