DM Tips and Opinions

A Quick Review of Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

I do a lot of homebrewing and I often have to come up with ideas on the fly… which can sometimes be more taxing than I really like. This is especially true after a long week of writing for my day job. That’s why I really appreciate products like Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May. This book is fun and filled to the brim with useful information.

Available on the DM’s Guild, this .pdf is filled with easy to use, fun activities/ideas that you can throw into your Dungeons & Dragons games for when the characters have a little bit of downtime. There will be plenty of fun interactive activities, which you can incorporate into more than just fairs and festivals.

Although the book is only about 40 pages, it is full of great information that makes it easy to create holiday celebrations for a town or city, to create a carnival or circus, to create festivals, feasts, fairs, and to round them out with a wealth of activities.

You will even find rules for archery contests, arm wrestling, drinking contests, eating contests, jousting, milking cows, pig calling, carnival games, and… so much more. It gets even better. The book has information about vendors of different types, fortune telling, different types of items that can be found around a carnival or fair, six new magic items, two new backgrounds – carnie and mummer.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

The book gives you plenty of information to put a festival or event (or even an entire traveling carnival) together relatively quickly and easily, which is a huge benefit to me. You will even find sample festivals that can be quickly re-skinned and slipped right into your campaign.

I’ve already used information from the book a couple of times, and I will be doing so in the future, as well. It’s one of my favorite purchases from the DM’s Guild thus far.

For less than $4, I highly recommend this for any overworked DMs who might want to have a simple way to put together some fast, fun things for the players to do. And like I said, it’s likely to ignite your imagination and provide you with some interesting story ideas. Check it out.

Finding Monsters: Going Beyond the Monster Manual for Your D&D Baddies with these 4 Monster Tomes

5E D&D Monster Books from Kobold Press, Frog God Games, and Petersen Games

5E D&D Monster Books from Kobold Press, Frog God Games, and Petersen Games

If you’ve been DMing for a while, you’ve probably already used quite a few of the monsters from the good old Monster Manual. If your players have been around for any length of time, then they probably have had characters face off against many of the horrors in that book (and their previous incarnations), as well as some of the subsequent books that have been put out by Wizards of the Coast over the last few years.

The monsters in those books are great, and you do have quite a bit of variety. But, as a DM, you know that monsters are just like dice… you can never have too many. At least that’s the way I feel.

So, I have collected a range of other monster manuals that have helped to add plenty of additional monsters and even NPCs to the mix, including the Creature Codex and Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press, both of which are great and quite popular. However, there are a couple of other books that you might not have heard of that could be nice if you need an influx of new critters and options to add to your games.

Tome of Horrors from Frog God Games

Frog God Games is a popular third-party publisher that has put out quite a few interesting books for Pathfinder, as well as Dungeons & Dragons 5E. This book has 338 pages and a variety of monsters that does a nice job of building onto the options that are available in the Monster Manual.

Some of my favorites include the Phooka, a small fey creature that could make for an interesting NPC. There are a variety of types or orcs, oozes, gremlins, elemental goblins, and some really interesting creatures. For example, there is a Mouse Dragon and a Giant Hamster. You read those names right, and there’s plenty of other strangeness and greatness in the book. You can find the hardcover version on Amazon currently, and the PDF version through DriveThruRPG.com at this link.

Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos 5E from Petersen Games

The name Sandy Petersen is likely familiar to a lot of you. After all, it was Petersen who is the author of the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game that is certainly one of the most beloved properties of all time. Here, he’s bringing the horrors of Lovecraft to the realms of Dungeons & Dragons in a way that only he can. You will get information on the cults, including the Cult of Great Cthulhu and the Cult of the Black Goat. You will learn about the culture of the Deep Ones, more about various Mythos entities and how traditional fantasy races fit into the scheme of things.

Of course, it also includes stats for the various creatures that you will find in the Cthulhu stories including those written by Lovecraft and other authors who have worked on Mythos stories over the years.

One of the nice things about this book is the fact that it is more than just a collection of monsters that you can use. You will also find some great information on running horror games and using insanity and dread, along with mythos spellcasting, new player character options and backgrounds, and even several new player character races. You could even play as a Dreamlands Cat or a Mythos-style ghoul. There are a lot of weird possibilities here.

This is a massive 433-page book that’s well worth the price. The physical edition of the book should be out in August of 2019, but you can currently get in on the PDF action now at their website. I have the PDF, and it is gorgeous, but I can’t wait to get the hardcover.

If this product sounds familiar, it might be because there is a Pathfinder version that is already out in the wild. However, the 5E version does feature a bit more, including dozens of additional monsters, additional backgrounds and character options, and more than 70 new illustrations.

Kobold Press – Tome of Beasts and the Creature Codex

Kobold Press tends to put out a lot of good quality content, and that’s certainly true when it comes to their 5E monster compendiums. Both the Creature Codex and the Tome of Beasts are filled to the brim with all manner of monstrous goodness to throw at adventuring parties. My favorite, even though I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, is the ooze with a shark inside of it… the whole thing looks like a fishbowl. In fact, there are a lot of weird and wild creations inside of these monster collections. You can check them out on Amazon by clicking on Creature Codex or Tome of Beasts. They are also available on DriveThruRPG.com at Creature Codex and Tome of Beasts.

What About You?

These are just a few of the books that I have used or that I will be using in addition to the WotC books going forward, but I’m always looking for more.

Let me know if you have any books of 5E monsters that we should check out.

Northeastern Olandara: My First Map for the New Campaign World With Inkarnate Pro

I haven’t had much of a chance to put up as many posts as I would like, and a big part of that is due to the amount of work I’ve been putting into a massive Dungeons & Dragons project that will eventually (hopefully) see the light of day – we’re pushing for fall of 2018. Of course, this will all depend on a range of factors, and one of those is my ability to take care of a bunch or preproduction and production stuff. But that’s not really the focus of this article. This is about my experience with Inkarnate, an online map making tool.

5 Things Game Masters Wish Players Did

If you love playing Dungeons & Dragons, Starfinder, and other tabletop roleplaying games, you are going to want to help keep your game master sane and happy. After all, they are doing all of the behind the scenes work to help make the game as fun as possible. While I’ve been quite lucky with the players that I’ve had (at least over the past year or so), not all GMs are quite so fortunate. So, players out there, if you want to make sure your GM is happy, there are a few things that you can do.

Don’t Be a Backseat DM: Let the Dungeon Master Handle the Game

In the last article, I talked about some tips for those who were new to DMing and gamemastering. I thought it was appropriate to follow up with a quick bit of advice for Dungeon Masters who are now players in campaigns whether they are run by experienced or novice DMs. As the title states, don’t be a backseat DM. What does this mean though?

Don’t Be Afraid to DM! 6 Tips to Help You Get Ready to Take on the Dungeon Master’s Seat

Since the dawn of roleplaying games, there has always been a shortage of gamemasters. Everyone loves to play, but people tend to be somewhat reticent when it comes to sitting in the DM’s chair for one reason or another. Sure, there’s more work that goes into planning a session on the DM’s part than the players’, but it is also highly rewarding. Watching people partake in stories that you’ve created, and watching their characters grow and develop is fantastic.

You get to create storylines and adventures, become the NPCs and the monsters, and develop your own world if you wish (or play in one of the campaign settings already in place, such as Forgotten Realms, Eberron, or Tal’Dorei from Critical Role.)

Of course, there’s also the elements of fear and doubt that creep into the mind when you’ve never been a DM before. You are afraid of getting it wrong.

Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think. I’ve written about this sort of thing before, but it bears repeating. Being a DM is honestly not that difficult once you get rolling, and the tips below can help to make it even easier.

DM Tips and Opinions: Running a Small Group for D&D and Other RPGs

Back in the day, the crew I used to play with would be six or seven strong most of the time, and that’s what I was accustomed to. Today, I generally run much smaller groups for D&D, Star Wars, and other RPGs. In fact, it’s often just four in total, including me as the DM. There are both good and bad things about running a small group. Let's look into it.

D&D Random Tables: What’s for Dinner at the Tavern Tonight?

Tables can make the life of a Dungeon Master a lot easier, and I have always been a big fan. They can allow the GM to come up with exactly what they need on the fly

Since I feel there can never be too many tables, I thought I might put up a very simple table from time to time that you can take and use in your own games. Depending on whether people find these handy or now, I will try to add a new table of some sort every couple of weeks, and I will try to switch things up a bit with different types of tables for different sorts of games (modern, horror, etc.). For now, though…

DM Tips and Opinions: 10 Benefits of Kids Playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games Like Dungeons & Dragons

Roleplaying games, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Starfinder, Cypher System or anything else, really can be for just about everyone. If you are on this site, then there’s a good chance you feel the same way or you at least want to learn more about how RPGs can affect kids.

There’s something magic about these types of games. They pull you away into a new world or into the setting of your favorite book or movie. I feel that they can be great for people of just about every age (why not have people in retirement homes start playing to keep sharp? It's better than sitting and staring at the television). Let's check out some of the best reasons kids should play.

DM Tips and Opinions: Tips for Creating Horror and Suspense in Your Tabletop RPG

Perhaps you are creating a full campaign in a horror setting, such as Ravenloft, Call of Cthulhu, or Shadow of the Demon Lord, or maybe you are just getting a one-shot ready to give your players something new to experience that’s outside of the normal sci-fi and fantasy genre. Horror in tabletop RPGs has a lot of potential… however, it doesn’t often go as planned, and the fear doesn’t really get under your player’s skin. There are some things you can do to change this.

DM Tips and Opinions: Repurposing Scenarios from Call of Cthulhu for D&D

While I generally make up my own campaigns and adventures for Dungeons & Dragons, I know that it’s not always possible to keep coming up with stories. Sometimes, you want a bit of a break, an easier way of doing things. Many DMs will then turn to D&D modules or campaign books, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I often mine ideas from those books to reinterpret in my own campaigns.

However, I suggest moving outside of the realm of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder and looking at modules from other games. For example, many of the Call of Cthulhu modules/adventures over the years have been very good. With just a little bit of work, it is possible to take those adventures and “D&Dify” them. I’m not saying that you should use it as is, but take the framework and then turn it into something that will work with your type of campaign.

DM Tips and Opinions: Different Ways to Start Off Your Campaign

The tavern is brightly lit and filled with patrons, eagerly drinking from their tankards. The dwarf at the bar is serving drinks left and right, not breaking a sweat. As the crowd begins to simmer, the door is slammed open. People shout as they are being set upon by two bloody figures…

DM Tips and Opinions: A Little Help from Your Friends

The role of the Dungeon Master or Game Master can be difficult due to the sheer number of things you need to remember. Even those who have been DMing for years are going to forget things from time to time – it happens. I’ve found that having at least one of the players at the table help with certain aspects of running the game can be very freeing for your mind as a DM. Here are a couple of ways your players might be able to give you a hand.

DM Tips and Opinions: Heroism, Heart, and Humor

When it comes to running a campaign that your players will enjoy and want to keep coming back to time and again, I believe that incorporating what I called the Triumvirate of Hs can help. As you can tell from the title, these are Heroism, Heart, and Humor. I will briefly explain what I mean by each of these things.

DM Tips and Opinions: Expect the Unexpected and Roll (Role) with It

When new and even some more experienced DMs encounter the unexpected due to what their players decide to do or say in a game, they panic. They try to get what they believe is the story back on track. The problem with tracks is that they are often used as a railroad, and that’s not something the players like very much. They want to have more freedom, and they want their actions to mean something.

When a character wants to try something, I believe that it’s always a good idea to at least let them try. You never know what incredible things might happen, and it could help to make the campaign story, and even the campaign world, more interesting. This goes for all the pillars of D&D play – roleplaying, investigation, and combat. It’s often fun to let things happen and see how they play out.

Let’s look at how this might work by checking out an actual example from the first session of the current D&D campaign I’m running. I’ll write down what happened as best memory serves.

Keeping Organized as a GM

As of a few weeks ago I was able to run my own campaign for the first time. I was very nervous, though I am sure that is how everyone feels for the first few times. Luckily everything went smoothly and there were no hiccups! This was thanks in part to how I kept my notes and sheets organized.

Keeping Organized as a Player

I enjoy keeping things organized so it's no surprise to anyone (more specifically Kayla and Jason) when I suggested a few tips. Kayla wasn't too interested, so I more or less got her organized by myself and hoped she liked the outcome. She hasn't complained yet and I'm calling that a win!