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Top Tips for the New Player of D&D

Welcome to D&D! You are entering a new world of roleplaying and gaming unlike the video games and tabletop board games you've played in the past. If you have never played a tabletop roleplaying game before, or even if you just haven't played D&D before, this list of tips is for you. I'm not covering mechanics here -- the rulebook and DM will do that. These are the things the rulebook won't cover.

1. Communicate with your DM. Your DM should be giving you information before the game ever starts about what rules to use to build your character. Generally, all you really need is the Player's Handbook (PHB), although other source may be allowed. Talk to your DM about what they expect you to have completed and when they want it done. A good DM will often have a "Session 0" to go over this kind of thing and make sure everyone is on the same page. Often session 0 is where characters are built, together. It is good to work with your DM to establish boundarie…
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5th Edition D&D for DMs of Previous Editions

Having been a player and GM of role playing games for over 35 years, I have played every edition of D&D and a lot of editions of other systems and games. D&D 5th Edition is something different, and it breaks a lot of the expectations that were established in other editions. It also continues the history of many of the core concepts. I have gathered together here 10 tips for experience DMs from older editions that are approaching this new system.

1. Play it by the rules as written first. This is probably the most important advice I can give to a new-to-5E DM. Play the system without any optional rules per the rules as written before adding in optional rules and before making changes. This is how it was designed to be played. Understanding this RAW perspective will ensure that you understand changes and options before you add them in. If you modifiy the system without first understanding it, you will likely break it.

2. Embrace the streamlined nature and reduced detail. 5th Editio…

The Halfling Bard and The Barbarian Hireling

"Stand in Front of Me"
(sung to the tune of Stand By Me)

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand in front of me

So Hireling, Hireling
Stand in front of me, oh, stand in front of me
Oh, stand, stand in front of me
Stand in front of me

If A vampire should swoop in
Or a skeleton should attack
Or a goblin should swing his short sword
I won't cry, I won't cry
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand in front of me

And Hireling, Hireling
Stand in front of me, oh, stand in front of me
Oh, stand now, stand in front of me
Stand in front of me

Hireling, Hireling
Stand in front of me, oh, stand in front of me
Oh, stand now, stand in front of me
Stand in front of me
Whenever I'm in danger, won't you stand in front of me?
Oh, stand in front of me
Won't you stand now?
Oh, stand, stand in front of me

If you do use this …

Skills for Creature Info in 5E

For my own reference, I have put together the following table for skills that can be used to identify information about specific creature types:

TYPE SKILL Aberration Arcana, History Beast Nature, Survival Celestial Arcana, Religion Construct Arcana, Tinker Dragon History, Arcana Elemental Arcana, History Fey Arcana, History Fiend

The Middle Ground on Feats

Feats are an optional rule in 5E. Playing with them can drastically alter the balance of the game. Stacking multiple feats can even generate borderline broken, overpowered characters. To avoid the issues with feats, but keep them in the game, I came up with the following feat classification for 5E that limits characters to feats based on the type. This keeps multiple feats from stacking to maximize only one aspect of a character to the point of being broken. 
This includes the feats I had in play at the time it was written. 5E feats are being added all the time, so new categories (maybe racial feats?) and feats may need to be added.
Drop me a line if you find this useful in your game.
Feats have been divided into 3 categories given below. Each character may take feats through normal RAW, but may take no more than one feat from each category.  Feats marked with * appear in more than one category and count for every category in which they are listed. For example,  taking the Drago…

My Experiment with OSR-style 5E

For those of that have been in the game for a while, there is a certain happy nostalgia that goes with playing earlier editions again. After hearing the ambitious goal that 5th edition would be a complete edition covering every time of game that folks wanted, I was intrigued. Could 5th edition really recreate the old AD&D style game?

After playing 5E for a few years (since it came out), I decided to try an experiment to see if I could run an old-fashioned dungeon crawl. I decided to pick up "Veins of the Earth" by Patrick Stuart with art by Scrap Princess and give it a try. I placed it carefully as a whole new Underdark found under Kara-Tur, the Asian-inspired eastern continent of the Forgotten Realms. The party would be a band of new adventurers sent to explore this deadly new world. It would be dangerous, but the rewards would be many.

I put together a set of modified rules, gather pieces, parts, and ideas from various articles on the internet and my own experiences in…

Avoiding PCs Using the Same Action Every Round

For me, a good combat in D&D 5E involves players engaged, thinking, strategizing, and playing off of each other. Every player hangs on seeing what the other players are doing. The action is intense and varied. PCs work together. Players aren't just waiting on their turn. Not every combat has to be this way, but there are times when I want this level of combat.

For me, as a GM, one thing that breaks this type of combat is a PC simply taking the same exact action over and over. They are on cruise control. They aren't surprising the other players with their actions. They aren't working together as part of the team. Now, I have played with awesome players and I can tell you this isn't a player problem. Some classes do one thing well in combat and they use it. That is the way the class plays out based on its designed. As a GM, I want to help solve this issue in my games. I want players to have options.

The first solution that fixes most of the problems is putting togeth…