Launching DM 101 guide

Finally, I found the time to launch my initial DM 101 guide!

When I first started DMing a few months back, I found that the more I read – the more questions I had! Since we were playing the official starter campaign with a group of new players, they had a ton of questions too.

How do I calculate AC? How do I know if a spell hits? How many spells can I learn? What’s a hit dice? My list just kept growing!

Launching my DM 101 guide

Even after four 8 hour sessions, I still find myself having to refer back to some of the mechanics in both the Player’s Handbook and to a lesser extent, the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Rather than keep hunting through my Evernote notebook or bookmarks, I decided to compile these together in a single page called DM 101.

3 polyhedral green dice displaying the numbers one zero one for my DM 101 guide

It certainly took longer to put together than I had expected! But I feel quite satisfied with the result. I intend for the page to evolve over time both as my own knowledge grows and also, as I see questions from new DMs and Players in my social feeds and on the subreddits I subscribe to.

It is my hope that others find it useful. If you have any questions that you think should be included, please just leave me a comment below or drop me an email at admin@thenewdungeonmaster.com.

Lost Mine of Phandelver: Session 3

This post contains spoilers for the D&D Starter Campaign, The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

A human male, a dwarf cleric, a halfling rogue, a high elf wizard and a human female warrior
Our Lost Mine of Phandelver group of adventurers

Session 3: 20 January 2018

In the previous session, we had left Narcoleptics Incorporated camped for the night, where Daemarr had seen ghouls emerging out of the undergrowth and cast Light in order to aid his human companions. Unfortunately, the first object he touched was Gandalf, the mage’s horse…

The band of adventurers dispatched the ghouls and sat down to a breakfast of burnt fish, courtesy of Earnest. It was only polite that no-one mentioned the after-effects of the ghouls’ paralysing poison on Salazar as she chewed her way through the meal. Refreshed, the group headed back out onto the road with Quarion secretly enjoying the few remaining spell sparkles glittering in Gandalf’s mane in the early morning sunshine.

The group seemed to be going through a rather a series of cursed mealtimes, as lunch was rudely interupted by a rampaging owlbear. Quarion finally managed to get one of his higher level of spells to land and after slaughtering the owlbear decided to leave its dejected corpse stuck in the web stretching between the trees as a warning to all non-sentient woodland life that might pass that way in the future.

Conyberry

With a stroke of the luck, and after some dithering around outside of a dome of woven branches, Narcoleptics Incorporated spoke to the banshee, Agatha in exchange for the silver comb. She told them that she had traded the book to a necromancer a hundred years before – much to Quarion’s disgust.

Feeling in an pro-active mood, the group started ticking off the list of ‘to-do’s’ that the lazy inhabitants of Phandalin had given them over the last few weeks.

Old Owl Well

They headed off to Old Owl Well, where they contemplated having a rest in a deserted yet jauntily decorated tent. Thinking better of it, they decided to investigate a ruined watch tower and were suddenly surrounded by 12 zombies. The battle turned in their favour when Daemarr had some divine inspiration and vaguely remembered something about his ability to Turn Undead – which was just as well, as Kosef had managed to lodge his great axe into the wall and was thinking that the javelins were not a viable Plan B. Eventually Narcoleptics Incorporated managed to slay the zombies and stamp the remaining re-animated limbs into dust. Just as they were brushing themselves down, a dubious mage by the name Kost appeared. For someone who routinely lived so close to so many undead, he seemed disproportionately disturbed about the orcs to the south.

Wyvern Tor

Trudging back up more hills, the group headed south to deal with the terrible orcs that lived in a cave in a large hillside. Showing once more a rare caution not usually seen, the discussed something almost approaching a strategy. It involved some boulder jumping, another dose of PTSD for Earnest and Solar had a near miss with a Ray of Frost that made the ends of his hair turn white. Due mostly in part to Salazar’s skill with a longbow, they dispatched the orcs and an ogre with little trouble. Perhaps, they reflected, that there was something in this strategy-milarky.

There, at the back of the cave, almost unnoticed in the gloom, was the skeleton of a poor, hapless barbarian rotting away to dust.

Buoyed up by their success they headed back to Old Owl Well to inform Kost of their triumph. He wasn’t in his tent but strange chanting could be heard from the ruined watch tower and they wisely decided to carry on their way back towards Phandalin.

They rested for the evening and Earnest shakily made a hearty nut soup to restore their energy and soothe their nerves. Kosef thought that the positive side of the ensuing nighttime attack by a pack of wolves, was the prospect of burnt wolf sausages for breakfast.

Phandalin

After updating the denizens of Phandalin as to their victories, Narcoleptics Incorporated decided to invest in some transport. Daemarr named his black pony, Felix and Salazar named her’s Seth. Solar felt inspired to name his mule, Stumpy and Kosef finally conceded to buying a pack mule for the decidedly pale looking Earnest. And most importantly, Barthen was relieved to have his cart and oxen returned but felt he couldn’t say anything about the arrow holes or singe marks he didn’t remember it having before.

Feeling like a proper band of heroes, the group headed out to Cragmaw Castle to see if they could finally save Gundren.

Cragmaw Castle

The band stormed up the front of the keep and for lack of a better plan, headed left into the castle. They managed to grapple one of the goblin sentries, knock him unconcious and tie him up. Whilst rooting through some old sacks and kegs the found a long sword that matched the description Sildar had given them and duly pocketed it. Kosef displayed an unusual gentlemanly manners and let Daemarr go through the door in the hallway and by strange coincidence, straight into a hidden trap.

Finding themselves in a dark hall, they finally realised that this was a defiled temple room to Oghma. Feeling horrified, Quarion cleared all the trappings of Maglubiyet from the altar and begin to reconsecreate it. Part way through the ritual he remembered that he would have to rename the altar, praying for inspiration he uttered in a powerful and booming voice that this would henceforth be known as “Oghma Altar”.

Narcoleptics Incorporated battled through the castle and finally encountered a room with a bugbear, a wolf, a female drow and an unconcious, (suddenly) naked dwarf. In the ensuing melee, they slew their enemies, rescued Gundren and found where King Grol had hidden his map to Wave Echo Cave. The dwarf offered his thanks and asked them to take him back to Phandalin. Again, there appeared to a time distortion which left Gundren more than a little confused, and wondering if he had some kind of sleeping sickness.

Being slightly worse for waear, they healed up at “Oghma Altar” and decide to rest for the night in the room with the still unconcious goblin. As they settled in, Kosef sent Earnest in the dark, past all the corpses of goblins, hobgoblins and a grick to use the braziers in the banquet hall to cook them some dinner. Deep down, His Lordship believes that all Earnest needs is more exposure to blood and gore to help him through his re-occuring nightmares.

In the morning, they headed back to the township with Gundren in tow, and clothed.

So we leave them resting in Phandalin, having reluctantly handed Sildar back his sword – with some well deserved ale and only one thing left on their proverbial to-do list – Wave Echo Cave.

Welcome adventurer !

I am a new Dungeon Master running and playing 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.  I am on a huge learning curve and this site pulls together all the questions, answers, resources that I have had along the way.

Also it documents the campaigns of my pretty much newbie group – how I prepare for them and how the games went.

I hope you find it informative and helpful on your own travels through Faerun.

Lost Mine of Phandelver: Session 2

This post contains spoilers for the D&D Starter Campaign, The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

A human male, a dwarf cleric, a halfling rogue, a high elf wizard and a human female warrior
Our Lost Mine of Phandelver group of adventurers

Session 2: 7 October 2017

In the previous session, we had left the intrepid adventurers in a cave with a waterfall and twin pools…

Narcoleptics Incorporated battled valiantly through Cragmaw hideout and defeated Klarg, the bugbear – with the aid of Quarion’s ever un-realiable crossbow and an unconcious rogue halfling. After a moral debate on whether to feed the dead goblin corpses to the poor feral wolves, the band of adventurers headed back to Phandalin.

Phandalin

Solar’s near brush with death put into perspective the fact that he had been neglecting his family duties (a recurring theme for the group), so the adventurers headed off to see his aunt, Qelline Alderleaf. After a scolding, she suggested that they find Reidoth the druid to help them in their search for Daemarr’s cousin – to which the cleric just shrugged.

After leaving the idyllic farm, there was a lively, informed and erudite discussion of the merits of heading to Thundertree versus Conyberry. After both sides had exhausted their arguments, the adventurers set out for Neverwinter – in their ‘borrowed’ wagon.

Surviving both a hobgoblin and ogre attack on the road, they limped into the capital city of the Sword Coast. New armor and weapons were purchased and with much relief, they were able to palm off the rather ugly frog statue they had found in Klarg’s possession.

After a slight miscommunication concerning the matter of oars versus whores – Salazar was able to convince Alfred, a rather salty sailor, to take them up river to Thundertree. She promised him a dragon’s tooth as part payment for the passage, if she was able to rid Thundertree of a green dragon called Venomfang.

Thundertree

After battling twig blights, the intrepid band found Reidoth the druid, whom told them about the masked people he had seen at the east end of Thundertree. Also he marked on their map, as to the possible location of Cragmaw Castle. Quarion was chuffed with his bartering of Reidoth’s staff – especially when he discovered that the properties of the wooden staff were in fact that it was a staff made of wood.

After fighting their way through ash zombies and giant spiders, the group located the gold pendant hierloom that Mirna Dendrar had tipped them off about in the Herbalist’s shop.

In a novel change of tactics, instead of bludgeoning, burning and slicing all of the Dragon Cultists to death –
Narcoleptics Incorporated made a temporary alliance with Favric – the leader of cultists. The alliance pretty much lasted the 120 feet to the town square. After convincing the cultists to rest, the adventurers slyly laced ration packs with foxglove and then heroically slew their incapacitated allies. Adding to their temporary descent into thuggery, they kicked over the statue in the centre of the square.

The group then headed up to the aptly named Dragon’s Tower, where they engaged in a terrible battle with Venomfang. Salazar sensing her destiny was at hand, leapt forward with a victorious battle cry and struck the killing blow. As her prize, she pulled out six of the dragon’s teeth.

Upon returning the town square, Salazar saw through the piles of bloodied, bled-out corpses and struck her victory pose that one day would be captured as the new statue in the town square. Underneath would be the following inscription: Salazar the Slayer.

The team cleared out the rest of Thundertree, including some acrobatics with zombies that the Neverwinter Circus Troupe would have been proud of and headed on back to Neverwinter.

Being rather bored of their dairy-centric rations, Narcoleptics Incorporated branched out into spear fishing and managed to secure themselves 6lbs of fish – which was the highlight of the trek back. The low light being Quarion’s friendly fire into Salazar during a stirge attack.

Neverwinter

Once back in Neverwinter, Salazar found Alfred in The Tipsy Sailor near the docks and gave him the dragon tooth she had promised.

Eyeing the accommodations of The Tipsy Sailor with some disgust, Kosef requested an audience with King Neverember. After having the ‘honour’ of being made to wait all day, his audience was granted! King Neverember thanked Lord Kosef for all his efforts to maintain peace, law and order throughout the Sword Coast. As a boon, the King granted Kosef his request for a squire – a young man called Earnest Goodfellow. Kosef was mightily relieved to have someone to carry out his more tedious duties – like dressing.

Deciding that riding in a wagon really was not in keeping for either a Lord or an elf – Quarion and Kosef both purchased horses. For Quarion, he named his fine white steed, Gandalf. Kosef named his fine black stallion, Horse.

Feeling like heroes striding through the world, Narcoleptics Incorporated headed back out on the road. We leave them camped for the night, where Daemarr has seen ghouls emerging out of the undergrowth and cast Light in order to aid his human companions. Unfortunately, the first object he touched was Gandalf, the mage’s horse…

Outstanding quests:

– A grumpy old miner named Lanar wants to be left alone in the stables but also mentioned that orc raiders had been seen at the east end of the Triboar Trail

– Daran Edermath, is not only puzzled about missing a few apples from his orchard, but also about reports of undead up the ruins known as Old Owl Well

– Sister Garaele wants the party to give Agatha, the banshee up at Conyberry, a silver comb in exchange for information about a spell book

– Droop informed the adventurers that Cragmaw Castle is up north near the big load of trees. Luckily Reidoth the druid has marked a more accurate location on the map.

– A drow called Black Spider is searching for the long lost Wave Echo Cave to find the Forge of Spells

– Sildar Hallwinter informed the adventurers that the three Rockeseeker brothers recently located an entrance to Wave Echo Cave and Gundren had a map. Klarg, the leader of the goblin band had orders from the Black Spider to waylay Gundren and bring the dwarf to him. Sildar believes it’s most likely Gundren has been taken to the goblin chief at Cragmaw Castle

– And, Elmar Barthen is wondering whether that higfalutin Lord Kosef is ever going to return the wagon and two oxen he borrowed…

Lost Mine of Phandelver: Session 1

This post contains spoilers for the D&D Starter Campaign, The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

A band of adventurers battling a green dragon
The Lost Mine of Phandelver

Session 1: 12 Aug 2017

Starting out

After surviving a goblin ambush on the Triboar trail and following some casual dead horse throwing, Narcoleptics Incorporated headed into Phandalin. Seemingly unconcerned about the fate of Daemarr’s cousin, Gundren Rockseeker and his friend Sildar Hallwinter, they settled into a gallon of fine ale in the Stonehill Inn.

The next morning the intrepid adventurers spoke with several upstanding members of the village, many of whom were concerned about the thuggish Redbrands whom had been terrorising the good people of Phandalin. Also many of these villagers seemed incapable of sorting out their own concerns and were in dire need of assistance on a variety of matters.

Tresendar Manor

Deciding that they had to deal with the Redbrands, the adventurers survived a street brawl before venturing into the ruins of Tresendar Manor. After stocking up in the armoury against the global shortage of crossbow bolts, they overcame a nothic in order to repeatedly review the Redbrands’ choice of bedlinen in the barracks. They had an erudite and enlightening conversation with a beleaguered goblin named Droop, who reminded the adventurers about the poor kidnapped wife and children of Thel Dendrar whose corpse was rotting at the bottom of the nothic’s crevasse.

After an epic battle against a rat, Narcoleptics Incorporated first crippled and then captured Iarno “Glasstaff” Alberk, head of the Redbrands in the area. Whilst Glasstaff was spilling the beans on an ominously named drow called The Black Spider, Solar – the homicidal halfing – decided to exact his revenge and slit Glasstaff’s throat. Covered in arterial blood, the adventures trooped back to the Stonehill Inn for more ale and a better class of bedsheets.

Elmar Barthen was becoming very distressed about Gundren’s failure to arrive in Phandalin and eventually the adventurers agreed to return to the scene of the goblin ambush to search for the dwarf. After a fall, a bruised buttock and pride, Narcoleptics Incorporated headed into a hideout of the Cragmaw goblins. After worrying about feral wolf rights, they managed to save Sildar Hallwinter from the clutches of the goblins. He has returned to Phandalin to speak to his contact Iarno Albrek, whom he was rest assured was alive and well.

We left the intrepid adventurers in a cave with a waterfall and twin pools…

Outstanding quests

– A grumpy old miner named Lanar wants to be left alone in the stables but also mentioned that orc raiders had been seen at the east end of the Triboar Trail

– Daran Edermath, is not only puzzled about missing a few apples from his orchard, but also about reports of undead up the ruins known as Old Owl Well

– Sister Garaele wants the party to give Agatha, the banshee up at Conyberry, a silver comb in exchange for information about a spell book

– Qelline Alderleaf and her son Carp are wondering why her troublesome nephew Solar hasn’t visited her yet

– Droop informed the adventurers that Cragmaw Castle is up north near the big load of trees

– Mirna Dendrar thinks that there might be a valuable heirloom hidden up in the south east part of Thundertree

– A drow called Black Spider is searching for the long lost Wave Echo Cave to find the Forge of Spells

– Sildar Hallwinter informed the adventurers that the three Rockeseeker brothers recently located an entrance to Wave Echo Cave and Gundren had a map. Klarg, the leader of the goblin band had orders from the Black Spider to waylay Gundren and bring the dwarf to him. Sildar believes it’s most likely Gundren has been taken to the goblin chief at Cragmaw Castle

– And, Elmar Barthen is wondering whether that higfalutin Lord Kosef is ever going to return the wagon and two oxen he borrowed…

D&D Character tokens and table cards

This week the players have chosen their pre-generated characters and character names, so I spent the day creating the character tokens and table cards.

Character tokens

So I really wish I was talented enough to be able to draw. Since any attempt looks like something from a primary school art lesson, I found these great character images by searching on Pinterest (links below).

Small laminated pictures of characters
Lost Mine of Phandelver Player Tokens

I scaled them down to be 1.25″ diameter and adjusted the heights to account for the differences between the different races. A check on Reddit advised on the fonts in the D&D 5th Edition Players Handbook and then I googled for free alternatives (see below) – hopefully this means that the name labels look similar.

Then I printed out two copies on photographic paper, SprayMounted them together and laminated them. Unfortunately, they are a little loose in the stands but I was limited to thickness that the laminator would take. That said, I think they look cute.

Character table cards

I saw these character table cards on Reddit and they looked amazing. I thought that these would help our new group understand each other’s stats.

Folded pieces of paper with character images and names on it
Lost Mine of Phandelver table cards

Also, I thought it might help me easily see some of their stats without having to keep flicking through my DM folder. Whilst I think they look nice for the players to see a larger image of their character, I got the font size too small to read across the table ! D’oh !

References

Image links:

Dwarf Cleric
Halfling Rogue
High Elf Wizard
Human Fighter – Male
Human Fighter – Female

I haven’t been able to find the original artist pages for these images on Pinterest. If you know the artist, please let me know and I will link and give credit.

Fonts:

FF Scala Sans was replaced with Fira Sans
Modesto Bold Condensed was replaced with FTY-Skorzhen-NCV
Mrs Eaves Small Caps was replaced with KoPubBatang

D&D Spell Cards, Crib Sheet and Monster Tokens

In a couple of weeks time, I’ll be embarking on running my first D&D campaign – The Lost Mine of Phandelver. Ahead of the session, I’ve started preparing some of the game aids I think we’ll need – namely Spells Cards, a crib sheet and some monster tokens. One of the best things about being a Dungeon Master is what you choose (or not choose) to create for your players. I’m not the most creative person but this probably my favourite part of the job!

Spell Cards

First up, was the Cleric and Wizard spell cards. These cards will make it easier for the players to review their spells, remind them what spells they have memorised and choosing new spells when they level up.

Laminated cards with spell descriptions
Homemade spellcards

I found these excellent free D&D spell cards so I printed out the relevant pages on nice photographic paper, stuck them together with SprayMount and then laminated them. Luckily for me, the starter campaign doesn’t require all the spells available in D&D, which is good considering the Wizard deck runs to 58 pages !

Having a guillotine was a must for ensuring all the cards are the same size. I’m really pleased how nicely they turned out, especially since buying these decks would cost around £30.

Players’ Crib Sheet

Next up, I’ve created a crib sheet for the players from the information in the LMoP Starter Set Rulebook.

LPoM Player Reference Guide

I took the basics from the LMoP Basic Rules. Also, I borrowed bits from the Rules Reference page of morepurplemorebetter’s Character Sheet pack on the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

Monster tokens

I’m expecting that small skirmishes will be conducted in the ‘theatre of the mind’. But I am planning to use a battle map for some of the bigger encounters. So I found some LMoP tokens on Reddit for these monsters.

1" metal discs with monster stickers on top
Homemade monster tokens

These were also printed on photographic paper. Rather than going crazy trying to cut out all these circles, I found a circular punch with exactly the right diameter, which worked brilliantly. In order to give the tokens some weight, I’ve stuck them onto 1″ zinc plated washers that I bought from a craft store. I’ve only shown some regular monsters here, so as not to spoiler the campaign !

Materials

So it’s been a bit of a crafty weekend and I’m really happy with how things have turned out so far. Here is a list of the supplies I used:

Craft materials for creating spellcards and tokens
The craft materials I used for creating the spellcards and monster tokens