D&D 5e: Compelled Duel Issues 2

A couple of months ago, cherished reader Jonathan McGee asked me for my thoughts on the 1st-level spell compelled duel. At the time, my answer could be summed up as, “I’m not sure I’ve thought about it at all,” so I told him I would give it some work when […]


Difficulty in Tabletop Games 1

In a recent blog post, Sly Flourish talks about 1st level as the high-water mark for danger in 5e. This sparked a conversation about danger and difficulty levels in 5e more generally. I also follow the excellent Jennifer Scheurle on Twitter, who wrote this article on difficulty in video games, […]


LARP Design: Wandering Monsters and Active Locations 2

In a boffer LARP campaign, it does a lot of good for the wandering-monster gameplay experience if the players have a steady supply of reasons to move around the game site in small groups. That is, it both improves the experience of being a wandering monster (and yes, people playing […]


D&D 5e: Earth Domain 4

Of all the domains that have seen official support in 5e, there are a few ongoing, surprising gaps compared to the 3.5 list of domains and, for that matter, 4e builds. In this case – as if the title of the post didn’t give it away! – I’m talking about […]


D&D 5e: Four Spells from Fourth Edition

In last year’s 4e megathread, I listed a bunch of awesome spell names and concepts that hadn’t been officially brought into 5e. In this post, I’m offering one possible way of converting four of them. This is likely to become an ongoing series. Summons of Khirad 3rd-level conjuration (warlock) Casting […]


Leveling Up Your Background, Part Three

This is the conclusion of my series on advancing your background. If you’ve forgotten what the heck is going on here, go back to Part One. Part One | Part Two | Part Three Sage The term “sage” typically carries connotations of advanced status – something more like the endpoint […]


Five Magic Items of Sorcerer’s Blood 2

I’ve been listening to a lot of the Court of Swords podcast lately, so I assume that its recent blood-transfusion stories have a lot to do with where the ideas for these magic items came from. Anyway, over in Twitter I wrote: Since wizards can capture spells from enemy wizards […]


LARP Design: Factions and Goals

This post is, in short, absolutely not what I should be working on right now, but I have to get it out of my head and onto your screen before I can make myself work on anything else, so here we are. My friends who have been deeply involved in […]


Leveling Up Your Background, Part Two 2

This is a continuation of the last post. I’m working through more of the Player’s HandbookBackgrounds and official variants. Criminal (Spy) By surviving one or more tests of loyalty, you rise to positions of influence in a royal or freelance intelligence service. You become a spymaster. Spymasters sit at the […]


Leveling Up Your Background 4

I’m a bigtime fan of 5e’s introduction of Backgrounds, particularly as a source of skill and tool proficiencies and noncombat features. Even more than (most) classes and subclasses, Backgrounds also suggest a trajectory of your personal story, beyond zero-to-hero. But within that arc, your Background features don’t change. Inspired by […]