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Category: Adventure Design

Dirty Jobs: An Urban ‘West Marches’ Campaign

If you’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons for any reasonable length of time, you may well have heard the enigmatic phrase ‘West Marches Campaign’ dropped into your D&D discourse. What is a West Marches Campaign? West Marches was the solution of Dungeon Master (and game designer) Ben Robbins to the age-old issue of RPG scheduling […]

Designing & Running Heists in 5e D&D

“Heists don’t work in D&D!” retorted my friend and fellow Dungeon Master, when I announced I was excited to get my hands on Keys from the Golden Vault. It’s a common refrain, usually followed by: “You should try Blades in the Dark!” According to its many detractors Dungeons & Dragons is, in fact, a terrible […]

Lessons from Bond: Designing & Deploying Lieutenants

Last time I was in the UK, I picked up a 1958 edition yellow-leafed pocket-sized paperback of Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming, which I later read on various beaches of the Costa Brava over summer. I was impressed with Fleming’s punchy, authoritative prose and I enjoyed the gritty, down-to-earth plot of Bond exposing a […]

How To Run (Murder) Mystery Adventures in D&D

Last year I researched and wrote Candlekeep Murders: The Deadwinter Prophecy, a murder mystery adventure for 5th edition Dungeon & Dragons that I’m immensely proud of… hey, if Ed Greenwood gives you the thumbs up, you can afford to pat yourself on the back a little, right? My research not only included taking in the […]

Why Don’t We Just Teleport There?

In general teleportation works pretty well in Dungeons & Dragons. At low levels, when the characters don’t have access to spells like teleportation circle, journeys are arduous and fraught with danger. Then, at mid-to-high levels, when the party have exhausted that style of play, and their characters can’t be challenged by bandits, broken bridges and […]

The 9 D&D Quest Types

I’ve seen people argue that there are only three fundamental adventure types in Dungeons & Dragons: Fetch, Kill and Discover. However, you won’t have to wrack your brains too long to think of a story that falls outside those rather narrow restraints. The blog Master The Dungeon proposes seven core quest types: Fetch, Kill, Escort, […]

The Four Ways to Start An Adventure

A while ago, I proposed six alternatives to the overused trope of starting your D&D adventure in a tavern. When M.T. Black recently asked his Twitter followers what fun variations they had seen to the “you all meet in a tavern” adventure beginning, I shared my article and then condensed my six alternatives (plus the […]

Designing Unforgettable Combat Encounters for 5e D&D

I love a good ruck, and while I enjoy all the pillars of Dungeons & Dragons, combat is my favourite part of the game. The more you enjoy something however, the more you crave just the best of that thing. In the same way that a wine connoisseur turns their nose up at cheap plonk, […]

31+ Time Pressures to Put in Your Adventure

The Boon of a Ticking Clock Most experienced DMs and adventure writers are familiar with the concept of time pressure in an adventure, and strive to include them in their storylines. Planting a ticking clock within the narrative really increases the urgency of the adventure (in theory at least… keep reading for when it doesn’t!), […]

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