Archive for September, 2015

A new episode of my podcast, Bonus Action, is up on The Tome Show’s website.

In this episode Sam and I discuss the rules for movement and travel in D&D. You can find an explanation of this rule in the Player’s Basic Rules D&D PDF on pages 63 and 64 or in the Player’s Handbook on pages 181 and 182.

Sam’s Blog

Play on Target Podcast

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, The Round Table and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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On Thursday last week I posted about the idea of bringing complex rituals into Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition. These rituals are spells of immense power which consume time and expensive resources. They also put the caster and allies at risk. For more on the design ideas behind complex rituals and the way they work check out that blog post or the PDF at the end of this post.

In that post I only posted one complex ritual, conjure greater fiend. I promised more would be coming your way and I’m ready to make good on that promise. Below is the conjure greater celestial complex ritual.

Hey if you need a few more celestials to summon, check out my post on archons.

Sam about to get his summon on.

But First Some Changes…

After getting a lot of feedback, I made a few changes to the way complex rituals work. Anyone can lead a complex ritual, not just a spellcaster. As a result the spell slot consumption number and class and level prerequisites have been eliminated from the process. This should help simplify things. It also opens up the possibility for ANYONE with the right components to attempt to these rituals, which ultimately makes them more attractive to PCs and NPCs alike. After discussing it with folks on forums and Facebook, I think this change allows for some really cool and unique stories. Instead of lead spellcaster, the person leading the ritual’s title has been changed to ritual leader. So thanks so much for all that feedback!

I’ve made the updates to last week’s post and the PDF below. Ok! Onto the ritual.

Conjure Greater Celestial

Casting Time: 4 hours

Environmental Conditions: The ritual must take place after the sun has risen and before it completely sets.

Focuses: A headdress of angel feathers worn by the ritual leader (worth 4000 gp), a brazier made of a pure silver blessed by a celestial being (worth 4000 gp), a decanter carved from a single piece of jade (worth 1000 gp), the horn of a unicorn (worth 1000 gp), and the written holy incantation for this ritual (worth 5000 gp)

Sacrifices: 4 dragontree logs carved with holy symbols (worth 300 gp each), a brick of incense made from ghost orchid flowers (worth 2700 gp), a cask of holy water blessed by a unicorn (worth 1000 gp), and a creature with the fiend type

Recipe
  1. The ritual leader begins chanting the incantation and name of the celestial being conjured. If the ritual leader does not know the celestial’s name, instead the name of a specific type of celestial (e.g. deva) is chanted. This celestial must have a challenge rating 10 or lower.
  2. Light the dragontree logs in the brazier to make a fire.
  3. Pour the holy water into the decanter and place the decanter over the fire.
  4. When the water is boiling pull the decanter off the flames and pour it over the fiend.
  5. Put the holy incense on the fire.
  6. Kill the fiend with the unicorn horn.
  7. Using the fiend’s blood, draw the sacred symbols indicated in the incantation upon the ground. The creature drawing the symbols must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence (Religion) check or the ritual does not work.
  8. Continue to chant. At the end of four hours of total chanting the ritual leader communes with the celestial before it appears and must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check in order to call the being forth. If this check fails the ritual does not work. If it succeeds, the celestial appears under the ritual leader’s control.
Effect

Once the ritual is complete, the celestial is friendly to the ritual leader and its companions. Roll for initiative for the celestial, is has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands the ritual leader issues to it (no action required by the lead caster) as long as they don’t violate its alignment. If the ritual leader issues no commands to the celestial, it defends itself from hostile creatures, but otherwise takes no action.

As an action the ritual leader can release the celestial from its control and return the celestial to the place from which it was summoned.

Every 24 hours the celestial is under the ritual leader’s control, the ritual leader must make a Constitution check (DC 10 + the number of days since the ritual was completed). Failing this Constitution check means the ritual leader suffers one level of exhaustion, which cannot be restored in any way until the celestial is no longer under its control.

If the caster dies before dismissing the celestial, the celestial does might return to the place from where it was summoned, or, depending on what it observed and was made to do during its time of servitude, the DM might decide the creature becomes hostile toward the ritual leader’s allies (and the ritual if returned to life).

Greater Effects

Using this complex ritual you can summon a celestial with a challenge rating higher than 10 up to 20. For every number of the challenge rating higher than 10, add another dragontree log and fiend consumed by the ritual. The DCs for the Intelligence (Religion) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks made during the casting of the ritual increase by 1 for every number of the creature’s challenge rating higher than 10.

PDF

If you’d like a PDF which outlines the basic rules of using complex rituals, contains the ritual above, and contains the conjure greater fiend ritual, simply click on the link below.

Complex Rituals

You can pick up that PDF whenever you like over in the Free Game Resources section of this site. If you go there feel free to also explore the backgroundsmagic itemsmonstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more I have made for fifth edition D&D.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Wolfgang Baur, Kobold in Chief of Kobold Press to talk about the recently released Midgard Heroes for 5th EditionSteven Helt, cofounder of the Four Horsemen to talk about Phase III of his company’s development, and Liz Theis of Lone Wolf Development to talk about Hero Lab‘s new Pathfinder Class Packs. This podcast was recorded on September 9, 10, and 11, 2015.

Four Horsemen Official Site (launches October 1st)

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, Gamer to Gamer, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with game designer Shawn Merwin of Encoded Designs. Shawn has written numerous adventures for Dungeons and Dragons including fourth edition’s Dungeon Delve, Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress, and fifth edition’s Harried in Hillsfar. Shawn is always turning out great content and is one the best adventure writers of our time so follow him to see what he’s doing. This podcast was recorded on September 17, 2015.


Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!


Links:


If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, The Round Table and Bonus Action, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Let’s be buds.

Big time summoning rituals are part of many Dungeons and Dragons games. I’m not talking about the conjure elemental and conjure celestial spells in the Player’s Handbook. Nor am I talking about the summoning spells I created for fifth edition D&D. I’m talking about the magic we read about in novels which bring pit fiends, balors, and more into the Material Plane. This magic is costly, rare, dangerous, and time-consuming. Unfortunately complex rituals like this don’t have rules players can use in fifth edition… until now! These rituals don’t just summon powerful creatures. They could also be used to raise undead armies, grow castles from the earth, or create a frosty, horrible Winter for an entire region of a country.

Why give PCs access to such powerful magic? Well for one thing it gives them a way to spend some of the gold they seem to accidentally stock pile in fifth edition. For another it allows them to go questing for specific ritual ingredients. Most importantly this magic invites players to gain a significant amount of power but only by risking life and limb. I like bringing those kinds of high risk, high reward mechanics into my games.

PCs and NPCs alike can access these complex rituals, but they must have all the components in exactly the right place. This isn’t the kind of spell they can cast each and every day. That’s by design. The rituals are meant to be fun, but not completely break the game.

So without further adieu here’s the rules for the complex fiend summoning ritual in my game. More of these rituals will follow. Stay tuned!

Complex Rituals

Certain magic spells are too powerful to be cast in the normal way. Summoning creatures of great power, raising undead armies, and calling forth castles from the earth are examples of magic that goes beyond a simple spell. This magic is known as a complex ritual.

All complex rituals require certain components, described below.

Casting Time

Most rituals have a casting time of 1 hour or longer. The ritual leader must maintain concentration during this time. If the ritual leader’s concentration is broken, the spell fails and any spent sacrifices at the time of broken concentration are consumed.

Environmental Conditions

Each complex ritual requires specific environmental conditions. These could include time of day, weather, phases of the moon, and location. For instance a ritual to raise an army of the dead might have to take place after the sun goes down in a graveyard during a full moon.

Focuses

Focuses are material items needed to cast the ritual which are not consumed during the process of casting.

Sacrifices

Sacrifices are materials needed to cast the ritual which are consumed during the process of casting.

Recipe

This recipe outlines the specific steps taken to cast the ritual. Any ability checks related to the ritual are mentioned here. It is recommended that the DM make the character’s ability checks for them and keep the result secret.

Effect

The complex ritual’s effects are listed along with its duration. Most rituals have a variable duration.

Greater Effects

Some complex rituals can be cast to greater effect – summoning more powerful creatures, raising larger numbers of undead, etc. Achieving these greater effects often requires more cost and more risk.

Conjure Greater Fiend

Casting Time: 4 hours

Environmental Conditions: The ritual must take place after the sun has completely set and finish being cast before the sun rises.

Focuses: A fiendish mask made of animal bones and gems worn by the ritual leader (worth 4000 gp), a brazier made of a pure gold washed in the blood of fiends (worth 4000 gp), a set of unholy handbells forge from cold iron and rubies (worth 1000 gp), an unholy dagger carved from the bone of a fiend (worth 1000 gp), and the written unholy incantation for this ritual (worth 5000 gp)

Sacrifices: 13 candles made from wax mixed with fiend blood (worth 100 gp each), 13 sticks of incense made from corpse flowers (worth 200 gp each), a cask of celestial blood (worth 1000 gp), and a goat, pig or similar animal

Spell Slot Consumption Number: 10

Recipe
  1. The ritual leader begins chanting the incantation and name of the fiend being called forth. If the ritual leader does not know the fiend’s name, instead the name of a specific type of fiend (e.g. yochlol) is chanted. This fiend must have a challenge rating 10 or lower.
  2. Light and begin burning all the unholy candles in a 30-foot-radius circle. These must burn during the entire ritual or it fails.
  3. Light the incense in the unholy brazier. The incense must burn during the entire ritual or it fails.
  4. In the circle of candles, draw the unholy symbol indicated in the incantation using the celestial blood. The creature who does this must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check. If the creature fails this check the fiend summoned as normal in step 7, but can escape the circle and is not under the ritual leader’s control. The fiend is hostile toward the ritual leader and its allies.
  5. Ring the unholy handbells in the exact sequence indicated by the incantation. The creature ringing the bells must succeed on a DC 10 Charisma (Performance) check. If the creature fails this check, it can try again one more time. A second failure means the ritual fails.
  6. Inside the circle, kill the animal using the unholy dagger. Leave its body there and the ritual leader should continue to chant.
  7. After three hours of chanting, if the other steps were completed correctly, the fiend should appear in the circle. If the circle of celestial blood was made properly, the fiend cannot leave the circle of candles. The ritual leader must continue to chant the incantation for one more hour. If something disrupts the caster’s concentration, the circle of celestial blood, the candles, or the incense during this final hour, the fiend is able to leave the circle and is not under the ritual leader’s control. The fiend is hostile toward the ritual leader and its allies.
Effect

Once the ritual is complete, the fiend is friendly to the ritual leader and its companions. Roll for initiative for the fiend, is has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands the ritual leader issues to it (no action required by the lead caster) as long as they don’t violate its alignment. If the ritual leader issues no commands to the fiend, it defends itself from hostile creatures, but otherwise takes no action.

As an action the ritual leader can release the fiend from its control and return the fiend to the place from which it was summoned.

Every 24 hours the fiend is under the ritual leader’s control, the ritual leader must make a Constitution check (DC 10 + the number of days since the ritual was completed). Failing this Constitution check means the ritual leader suffers one level of exhaustion, which cannot be restored in any way until the fiend is no longer under its control.

If the ritual leader dies before dismissing the fiend, the fiend does not return to the place from where it was summoned and becomes hostile toward the ritual leader’s allies (and the ritual leader if returned to life).

Greater Effects

Using this complex ritual you can summon a fiend with a challenge rating higher than 10 up to 20. For every number of the challenge rating higher than 10, add another candle, stick of incense, cask of celestial blood, and animal consumed by the ritual. The DCs for the Intelligence (Arcana) and Charisma (Performance) checks made during the casting of the ritual increase by 1 for every number of the creature’s challenge rating higher than 10.

PDF

If you’ve been following this blog, you knew this was coming. Take the rules for complex rituals and conjure greater fiend  with you wherever you go in the handy PDF below.

Complex Rituals

You can pick up that PDF whenever you like over in the Free Game Resources section of this site. If you go there feel free to also explore the backgroundsmagic itemsmonstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more I have made for fifth edition D&D.

Feedback please!

What do you think of these complex ritual rules? Do you want to see more of them? What would you change? Sound off in the comments below! I hope to show off more of these at a future date.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

In many Dungeons and Dragons campaigns death is merely a hurdle. In fifth edition PCs and NPCs alike can return from death with a diamond and a 3rd-level or higher spell slot. Creatures can return from death as wights, revenants, ghosts, and other more powerful undead.

Now I know in most D&D worlds returning from death isn’t possible for common folks. One must have the money and the means to return. While the masses may not have access to such means, many adventurers at least have access to someone who can cast revivify by 5th level. In a world where such things are possible, I would assume that even if many have no hope of access to such magic, they have heard of these spells. That awareness would certainly change the way the world interacts with the characters.

Here’s a few tips for you to use in your campaign that make death and returning a more layered and complex story in your campaign world.

PCs Coming Back

The fact that there’s a chance PCs can come back to life after dying is probably not a complete shock to your villains. They know the spells are out there and if they’re aware the PCs have access to other higher level spells, they might assume raise dead is also in the mix. Even if that’s not the case, if the villain or a henchman kill a PC and that character returns to face them again, the game is up. They know that magic is out there now and that the PCs have access to it. What might villains do with a vulnerable character in their clutches to assure they stay out of their hair?

The first option is that enemies may go for what I call the super kill. A simple beheading after a PC has died dramatically increase the resources needed to bring the character back to life. Instead of diamonds worth 300 gp and a 3rd level spell slot for revivify, a single diamond worth 1000 gp (a more difficult find) and a 7th level spell slot for resurrection is required. If the villain disintegrates their body and they tosses it in the wind or throws the corpse into lava, suddenly diamonds worth 25,000 gp and a 9th level spell slot are needed for true resurrection. Heck if the villain absconds with the body of the deceased, the PCs have to go on a mission to get it back if they can’t cast true resurrection. If they hang onto the body for longer than 10 days, raise dead isn’t going to work anymore. Something more powerful is needed.

Of course there might be even craftier villains. PCs can choose to knock a target out with a melee attack instead of kill it. Why can’t villains do the same? They could run, fly, or teleport away with an unconscious PC and lock that person away or torture them for secrets. Suddenly an exciting prison break adventure is on the menu. Or perhaps the bad guys kill that PC, steal the character’s head, and cast resurrection on it as soon as they’re back at their stronghold. They party tries to raise the fellow adventurer only to find the spell doesn’t work because that character is already back from the dead and imprisoned.

There are also otherworldly forces that could stop the return of PCs from coming back from the dead. In a fourth edition D&D campaign I had two characters royally anger The Raven Queen, who was the goddess of death. She did not let them return from the dead when their spirits were called by the magic of their companions. Instead she threw them into a demiplane where time passed differently and her servants tortured them for the equivalent of 100 years. Then she gave them a mission to do in her name and returned them to the Material Plane. Their characters and the story were completely changed by this action.

Death and Returning Modules

If you want character death to have a more debilitating impact on PCs in fifth edition D&D, checkout the modules I created. The first module limits the number of times a PC may return from the dead and has some add-on features which make dying more easy and coming back more difficult after each death. The second module features tables of random effects which might occur when a spell such as raise dead is cast.

You can pick up the PDF of these modules over in the Free Game Resources section of this site anytime. If you go there feel free to also explore the backgroundsmagic itemsmonstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more  I have made for fifth edition D&D.

When Villains Return

Of course in a world where the PCs have access to powerful, death-defying magic, why wouldn’t the villains have access to it as well? Any intelligent, high level NPC is going to have a back-up plan. There’s a cleric friend coming by each week to check in on the villain who can cast raise dead or an invisible druid nearby with a rod of resurrection. Many of our villainous NPCs have many resources at their command. If I was someone with a pile of gold, a high-level cleric or bard would probably be the first person on my retainer. When villains like this come back again and again like the Tyrant in Resident Evil 2, your PCs will be searching for a way to destroy them for good.

I’m baaaaaaack!

Some villains might return as undead instead of their former selves. Vampires, liches, mummies, revenants, and more might seek the characters as vengeance for their deaths. In the same fourth edition game I mentioned above, the PCs were taking on a cult of Orcus-worshipping baddies. Since he is the Demon Lord of Undeath many of the high-ranking members of the cult would be killed by the PCs only to return later as more powerful, undead versions of their living selves. This was great fun for me to role play and gave the PCs a preexisting relationship with the villains they were facing.

Be sure to only bring villainous NPCs back from death when it’s going to make the story more interesting and fun for your group. Doing this with every single villain will get tiresome and become a predictable trope! You don’t want the shock of a returned baddy to lose its surprise.

NPCs Want to Live!

If the PCs require help from an NPC, the NPC might contractually obligate the party to bring him or her back from the dead if the unthinkable happens in the line of duty. The husband of a soldier who died defending the town from orcs might beg the PCs to bring back his wife. A PC’s best friend and sister dies in a dragon attack that was a response to the party raiding its hoard. If word gets out the PCs have the power to return themselves from death other people will be pressuring them to use that power on themselves or those they love.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with five of the six Adventurers League admins – Bill Benham, Resource Manager, Greg Marks, Associate Resource Manager, Travis Woodall, Content Manager, Robert Adducci, Community Manager, and Alan Patrick, Associate Community Manager. We talk about the Rage of Demons storyline and how it affects the D&D Adventurer’s League and looking toward the future. This podcast was recorded on September 13, 2015.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, it helps a boat load!

Links:
If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The partial background found in this article is a preview. It is fully available as a Pay What You Want product on the DMs Guild in a pretty PDF with art and 14 other ready to roll backgrounds.

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I only knew a handful of people my age who were parents, and those folks were fairly new. Now I have many peers proud to call themselves Mom or Dad (or in the case of my brother, who carries on the family tradition, Papa). These friends, some old, some new, are amazing people and heroes in their own right. The life-changing and work-intense experience of parenting is now part of who they are as much or more than any career or heritage. It is through watching these people I realized parent could serve as a fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons background.

2015-08-21 18.29.17

My awesome nephew Roland.

I’d like to make a disclaimer that the descriptions, traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws below are not representative of any single parent or set of parents. You’re all wonderful.

Without further adieu checkout the background below.

Parent

You have spent years as a primary caretaker of a child or children. You might be their biological parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, family friend, older sibling, or cousin. Somehow you ended up with the responsibility and you have been raising and mentoring them in the ways of the world. The frustrations, celebrations, long hours, and happiness of raising a child are all things you know well.

The age of your children and who looks after them while you adventure is up to you. You might have a score of little ones you adopted and a spouse or partner who looks after them. All your children might be grown and can look after themselves while you adventure. Your temple, a neighbor, or the local thieves’ guild could watch over your children while you adventure. Maybe the unthinkable has happened and you lost your children or they were kidnapped or taken from you in some way. The unique relationships with your children are all yours to determine.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A drawing, objects, or craft project your children made for you, an iron pot, a set of bone dice or a deck of cards, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

We’ve all be there. The PCs kill your villain in Act II instead of Act V. The players ignore all your tasty plot hooks and instead head into the forest you haven’t detailed to see if they can catch a pseudodragon to keep as a pet. You planned for them go left and they go right. When surprises come up in your game how can you save the session?

Surprises like these might seem like headaches which destroy your prep time, but I’m here to tell you they’re actually gifts that make your sessions and campaigns memorable. In this post I’ll show you how to take advantage of the opportunities these unexpected turns have to offer. Read on!

First Things First: Throw Nothing Away and Expect the Unexpected

If you do a lot of prep work for a session and then end up not using any of it, don’t tear out those notes and burn them in frustration! Save those notes because you might be able to use them in a future session, even if it’s for another campaign.

It also helps to have some improvisation resources ready to go just in case something pops up. This way you’ll have monsters, NPCs, encounters, and maybe even whole dungeons ready to drop-in at a moment’s notice. I did a whole post on these a while back so check it out.

Speaking of posts I’ve written on this subject it’s ok to take some time to prep when the players throw you for a loop. Check out my blog post that gives you a neat technique of asking players questions to keep them in the game while you prep.

Change in Mindset

Now that you’ve saved your prep work for future sessions and created a safety net of improvisation resources, it’s time to tackle the problem at hand – how can you turn this upset into an event that makes your campaign more layered? The first thing you have to do is not get frustrated. Great improvisers like Stephen Colbert never get frustrated during a scene or an interview, even if the person they’re interacting with is throwing up walls and blocking their every question and suggestion. In fact some of Colbert’s greatest interviews are with his most difficult guests. He can definitely turn surprises into opportunities and that’s because he’s not letting himself get frustrated.

For many people this is easier said than done. In the moment the upset happens, forget about what you planned and focus on moving the story forward. Many of us have heard of the, “Yes and…” technique and that comes out of this mindset. Accept the action of the players. That’s your “Yes.” Then it’s time to build on those actions. That’s your “and…”

Seizing Opportunities

When players go off the rails I can usually figure out where to take the story next by asking myself one of the following questions.

Who Cares? This is a big one that can solve a lot of your problems without asking anything else. Which NPCs and villains will care about the actions of the PCs. For instance if the PCs are asked by a noble to rescue her son from the orcs who kidnapped him and the PCs instead decide to perform a caper to steal potions from the apothecary, who cares? Well probably the apothecary and anybody who works for him, the city guards, and the mother of the child who was snubbed by the PCs in her time of need. Now that you have those three elements you can think up a quick adventure from there.

The apothecary (an NPC mage with stats quickly pulled from your improvisation resources) has a few devious traps ready for any intruders and he also can teleport back to the place in a moment’s notice if an alarm is tripped thanks to a scroll he carries with him at all times. After being robbed the town guard comes looking for the PCs or they might come to the place in the middle of the night if the PCs set off a noisy trap or battle the apothecary. If the PCs pull the caper off without a hitch, there’s still one surprise for them – the mother of the child followed them in the night to beg for help one last time. She instead saw them break into the apothecary and reports them to the town guard who come and confront the PCs the next morning. Blam – a whole session planned just like that by asking a single question, staying cool, and having my improvisation resources at the ready.

What Are the NPCs Doing? While the PCs go off on their own or take an unexpected action, what are the other NPCs up to? If they decide to ignore the quest for a red dragon’s hoard offered by a patron and instead go off in search of magical components for a new spell the wizard is researching, what does the patron do in that time? And the dragon? Maybe they easily find the wizard’s components only to return to town to find the patron hired less-skilled adventurers to go after the hoard only to awaken and anger the dragon who is now burning everything in sight.

This question works for NPCs that the players might have forgotten about or haven’t met. So the PCs want to run off in a random direction to delve into a big complex and you need time to prepare? No problem. Maybe that kobold who got away 10 sessions ago returns with some bigger, badder troll friends which begins a thrilling chase sequence. Maybe the a bunch of bandits stop the PCs on the road and using a handy pre-made map you have a wilderness dungeon brawl. Maybe the PCs kill your villain earlier than you think and the fiend’s mother, brother, friend, or lover attacks during the celebratory feast.

What Else Have I Got? If the PCs throw a wrench in your plans, turn to your published modules or previously unplayed-but-prepared scenarios. Can they be easily adjusted on the fly to fit in your current session? Do they work with the new direction the players have taken the story? If you can pull an adventure right out of a book, PDF, or some old notes then steer the story that way.

You might even consider blowing things up to buy yourself some time. Maybe the ground splits open and they find themselves in one of Princes of the Apocalypse‘s many dungeons or the inn where they decide to stay on the road is actually The Wererat Den and they get wrapped up in an adventure no one realized was happening tonight.

What’s The Most Interesting Event That Could Happen Next? When all else fails this is an excellent question to ask yourself. The players have left you totally stumped with their zig so it’s time for you to really turn this campaign on its head and zag. Did they kill your big bad way too early? Guess who immediately rises as a lich, death knight, vampire, or something else undead and teleports away ominously. Or maybe this big bad’s death serves as a sacrifice to call forth an even bigger bad that begins chasing the characters. PCs galavanting away from a quest you prepared? Throw something entirely new and unexpected in their path like a white dragon wearing a ring of fire elemental command living in a volcano who scoops one of them up as a meal. Feel free to take the story in off on a short side quest for the session while you figure things out. You’ll probably even find a way to tie the side quest into your main campaign story after the session when you’ve had some time to think on it.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Allison RossiDave Gibson, and Round Table newbie Scott Dyer to talk Rage of Demons! We talk Out of the Abyss, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, Sword Coast Legends, the Rage of Demons trailer, Orcus, and more. This podcast was recorded on September 3, 2015.

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