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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide - Master of Adventures

Welcome back to part 2 of an extensive look at the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide. Part one is here.

I am trying to write these to give you an idea of what is in the book so that you can decide if it is something you like. It is tricky to figure out how much is OK to show you. I could fill this column with photos of the charts (because I love them) but I shouldn't be giving the content away. So basically I am trying to say that I took a bunch of pictures of charts and then deleted them.

Part 2: Master of Adventures

This section kicks off with a full page image of the tarrasque, which is awesome. I was sure it was re-used art from the cover of a 4e issue of Dragon magazine, but it's not. I have them both here for the sake of comparison. How weird - they are very similar and they appear to be by the same artist, but it's a different piece. I like it, it's just weird.
On the very next page is a full page piece of art of Baba Yaga's hut! How crazy is that? I just finished running that adventure. They even included the skull fence and their glowing eyes (who shot down my DCC RPG players' spaceship... long story).

Chapter 3: Creating Adventures

I need to wear gloves when I read these books. There's something gross about my thumbs that causes the ink in these books to just rub right off. The 4e books were much worse than these in that regard, though.

This chapter starts off by detailing the basic concepts of making an adventure, and then gives piles of charts with ideas for you to use. I love charts. These are great. There's lists of goals for dungeon adventures, types of villains, adventure introductions... amazing. One that is especially useful to me is the list of adventure climaxes. I am terrible at making interesting final encounters.

There's lists for event-based adventures, and discussion of how to run a mystery. There's even a great chart of plot twists!

Combat Encounters

Then we get into an important area. Combat Encounter difficulty. Basically, the book gives you an XP value per PC. So, a medium challenge for a 1st level PC would be a monster or monsters worth 50 XP. If you have a party of 4 1st level PCs, a medium difficulty encounter would have monsters worth 200 XP. If you are throwing 1 monster at this party worth 200 XP, that's fine. But if it's four 50 XP monsters, that's a little tougher, so there's a formula to know what is a challenge.

According to the DMG, the average band of heroes can handle 6 to 8 encounters in a day, and will take two short rests.

There's a few pages on when to use random encounters that feels spot-on. There' a nice sylvan forest random encounter chart, complete with a picture of an owlbear with blood on its' beak. Someone at Wizards really has a thing for owlbears, huh?

Chapter 4: Creating Non-Player Characters

I love NPCs! We get piles o' charts to help detail your NPCs, from appearance to abilities. I especially like the charts on ideals and the one on secrets. A lot of this stuff is right out of Chris Perkins' DM Experience columns.

We get into NPC party members. Here is a golden rule for you which is laid out right away: "Any NPC that accompanies the adventurers acts as a party member and earns a full share of experience points." This comes up a lot, especially if the PCs have rescued prisoners in a dungeon or are working on a pirate ship or something. It does make sense that the PCs would have their pirates follow them into combat. Sharing XP will put a halt to that in a big hurry and you won't have to run these gigantic, unwieldy encounters.

There's a cool optional rule for loyalty. An NPC has a secret loyalty score that the DM tracks. The max score is equal to the highest CHA score among the PCs.

The section on villains is phenomenal. So many ideas! The list of villainous schemes alone is enough to get you all fired up.

Then we get in to some character concepts for villains or evil clerics. There's a cleric of death and an oathbreaker paladin (a paladin who betrayed his god's cause and now serves evil).

Chapter 5: Adventure Environments

This is another great section, featuring stuff for dungeons and wilderness adventures. There's almost a full page devoted to slimes and molds. At the end is a few pages of traps, which are all the classics.

There's also more settlement material, including a tavern name generator. I rolled "The Barking Satyr".

I love the section on foraging. If you look through the AD&D Wilderness Explorer's Guide, Gary Gygax made this ridiculously intricate system for fishing, hunting and foraging which was just way too unwieldy to implement (I tried). Foraging in 5th edition is simple. Make a Wisdom(Survival) check. The DC varies depending on where you are, obviously. On a success, toll d6+WIS. That's how much food in pounds you find. Roll again for water, which you find in gallons. A small or medium creature needs 1 pound of food and one gallon of water per day.

We get prices for vehicles. A sailing ship is 10,000 gp. There's some great notes about owning a ship. Each crew member must be paid 2 gp per day, and a ship has a damage threshold. A sailing ship has a threshold of 15, which means you have to do more than 15 damage in a single shot to damage it at all.

Repairing a ship costs 20 gp per day, and you can fix 1 hit point per day. A sailing ship has 300 hit points, so wow that might take a long time. I like it!

Chapter 6: Between Adventures

This chapter deals with the "Downtime" system, a handy way to do stuff that's always been a royal pain to do in D&D. We're talking stuff like running a business (which has an epic chart), building a stronghold and even CAROUSING.

The stronghold part makes me very happy, as in previous editions I've often felt completely at a loss as to what to charge PCs for building a castle. Now we know: building a tower costs 15,000 gp and building a large castle costs a cool 500,000 gp.

There's upkeep costs involved in owning buildings, and it's per day! Farms will run you only 5 sp per day, plus you'll need 5 skilled hirelings and 3 unskilled. Running an inn (which sounds like a lot of fun) costs 5 gp per day, and requires one skilled hireling and 5 untrained ones.

There's also simple rules for crafting and even selling magic items. What an awesome, succinct chapter.

Speaking of magic items, there's so much to say I am going to discuss Chapter 7 in an entirely separate blog post. I hope this has been informative in some way for you.

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