TCC D&D: Rules to DM by

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Welcome to the second entry in “Playing the Dungeon Master.” The Crusaders have survived what turned out to be more than they bargained for in the second part of our adventure, but I am getting ahead of myself. First, lets talk about another aspect of being a Dungeon Master, the rules!

The DM and the Rules

D&D has a lot of rules, some cover the entire game play, others are for specific classes or races. If you have ever played or just looked at the different compendiums for the game, a DM will at least need to reference the Players handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Additionally there is the Monster’s Manual and a slew of other books to the compendium. How does one person memorize the rules? Spoiler: we don’t! 

The main role of the DM is to make the game fun and the story interesting enough to continue. If you get bogged down by rules, this  can become difficult. My advice? Toss the rules out the window! This isn’t to say that you just make it up as you go along. If you have watched our D&D streams, I have rules that I hold myself and the players to, but I don’t reference the books every time I don’t know something. I make what I believe is the most fair and fun call in the moment. If it feels like it works for the group, then I keep that as our “house rule.” This can save time and keep the story flowing.

As an example, with The Azorean One joining us as “Bat-Citizen” this week I made up a few rules to make it more fun for him. His character is a Monk class, which does get bonuses for unarmed attacks. On his first successful attack, I made a call in the moment to also grant bonus damage to his unarmed attack in addition to the damage his class naturally does. In all the research I have done with the Monk class I didn’t see anywhere that an unarmed attack would roll a damage dice plus a damage modifier. I thought, well if he only rolls a d6 on each attack, that could be not fun if he is fighting henchmen, and rolls a 1, then he gets stabbed to death. So I told him to add +2 to each attack. As he levels up I will probably add to this so that “Bat-Citizen” still feels as awesome as his comic book based counterpart.

Rules are important to maintaining the structure of the game. When it comes to combat it helps the flow happen in an organized fashion. When it comes to characters attempting to solve a puzzle, identify a message, or find something hidden, the rules can help to keep these checks fair.

If you are just starting out, get the basic rules down and make sure you have structure. But remember, getting bogged down in certain rules can make it no fun for your players. If you have players who want an extreme challenge, maybe using more of the rules like exhaustion or encumbrance, or even keeping track of XP (which I don’t in any of my games) is what you need to do. If your players are there for fun, to get into the role play and combat aspects, and just enjoy the story, toss some rules out. Find what works, and don’t be afraid to adjust in the middle of a game, or even from week to week. 

Summary of our adventure so far:

After defeating the wolves in our previous adventure, Alex and Diane settle in for a nights rest to prepare themselves for the next day. However, nightmares plague their sleep. Alex sees a disfigured and horrifying face that he recognizes, and flashes of ravens and a horrifying monstrosity. Diane’s dreams start serene and peaceful, images of a lush jungle flash in her mind. However, the dream is soon overrun with undead and the image of the same face that Alex sees.

After they awake the begin their journey to the wolves cave. Bryce surprises them by dropping in unannounced, which is really his way. After catching Bryce up they are ambushed by a group of Kenku, a raven like humanoid species. They dispatch three out of their four ambushers, but the last one escapes down the path and into the forest.

After several hours of travel they come upon a cave. As it comes into view the escaped Kenku is seen entering. Our adventurers follow him in, initially not being discovered, but their moment of indecision allows the Kenku in the cave to find them. Being “superheroes” our adventurers have no trouble finishing off these last Kenku. Further exploration of the cave reveals a passage to another chamber.

In this chamber they encounter what appears to be a Demigorgon. When they attack it turns out that a mage has cast an illusion on himself. However, while conversing with this mage his mind is invaded by Alex’s nemesis Antonio Arcano! Arcano proceeds to threaten the group, kill the mage, which releases a large monstrosity from a chrysalis in the room. Despite the heroic attacks of our adventurers they discover that this monster has regenerative capabilities. Thanks to the monk training of Bryce, who is able to use his Ki to stun the creature, they counteract this ability and defeat the beast. 

They return to Leilon where Ra’s Nsi is awaiting their return. Ra’s is disturbed by their report, yet he honors their agreement, and gives a bonus for the added trouble. Our heroes stay in Leilon to safeguard it against, if anything, Ra’s and his army.

What evils await our heroic adventurers? Will we encounter Gimp the three legged berserking wolf? What of the images in Diane’s nightmare? For answers to these questions and more, continue to follow the D&D adventures of The Capeless Crusaders!

-Manderson, the Son of Mander

Curious about our adventures? Check out the replay of the episode below!