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Do You Use A DM Screen For Dungeons and Dragons?

Last night at Dungeons and Dragons Encounters I had a player bring the new Fifth Edition DM Screen which I was able to use. That thing is absolutely beautiful! Feels very durable and I felt as though it had some very useful information on it. Too many times a DM Screen is packed with information you will never use or beyond the 1st or 2nd time you won't ever use again. I loved the low profile of it allowing me to see over the screen.

Recently in video responses on YouTube many people have discussed their own thoughts on using DM Screens or not. I am surprised at how many people choose not to use any. For me I find them useful because I like to have all my miniatures hidden behind the screen especially the bigger encounters.

Having the screen also allows me to keep my notes and maps hidden from the players. Players eyes will wander down and look in a lot of cases which can ruin some surprises. One of the greatest things about this hobby is the randomness and surprises of the game. Isn't that why we use dice?

Speaking of dice I have seen a lot of people mention rolling in the open. When you roll dice in the open there is no denying that the players around the table begin to meta game. They will start figuring out the to hit bonus of the monster and things like that. I sometimes roll in the open and have noticed this happens all of the time. When I run D&D Encounters the players there seem to do it a lot more than my other groups. While that is fine I can't imagine as a player it would be fun knowing these things.

Speaking of the 5e screen the things I would have liked to see on it would be XP for Leveling. The CR/XP by offense and defense of monsters from the DMG. Also quick rules on how to make an encounter with modifiers based on # of enemies and such. This would have helped with being able to run the game on the fly but it is still a very good screen.

The highlights of the screen for me are the conditions because those will be used pretty frequently. I like the name generator, NPC generators, and random things on the far right section of the screen like random events.

If you run games primarily online there is no need to use a screen but if you run games in person I highly recommend it for the reasons above. I will be picking up my own 5e screen very soon because it is really well done I think. Even though I feel they could have added more to really make it great this screen is one I could see myself using for other games even. The system neutral things are the main reason for that.

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House Rules for Dungeons and Dragons

Lately with the release of the new Dungeon Master's Guide it seems like the talk of house rules has come up a lot more. Personally I do try to run my games by the book but some games are more fun with some minor changes here and there. For instance Lloyd of the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook began asking about initiative the other day. This has started a whole conversation about this and how other games handle it. 5e even has some variant rules for it in the DMG.

Some things I have thought about house ruling personally are critical hits and critical fails. We have talked about creating our own tables for our games to help with this in future games. If I do this you better believe I will have them up for download here on the website too. What sort of things would be on this? Well I would probably have things like max damage is dealt on a critical hit. Other things might be disadvantage for that enemy in the next round. Obviously this is using 5e's system too. Then critical fails could be things like slipping and hurting self. Could also break your weapon on a critical fail.

Some other common things to house rule are things like downtime activities. Personally I will always allow my players to learn more skills if that is how they choose to spend their downtime. I am also only going to allow multi-classing based on backstories before a game, and downtime studies.

I try to make it possible for my players to make the concept they want. If I have to bend some rules for that then so be it sometimes. If I feel like the concept is just for power gaming reasons and them taking advantage of how flexible I am though I will not allow it. Sometimes I just won't allow things based on principle alone.

There are a lot of things that can be house ruled to make a game more fun. So with this blog post I would love to hear more about your thoughts on house rules. Leave a comment below please.

What Is The Tabletop RPG One Shot Group On Facebook?

The Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook is hands down the best place to go in order to find games to play in online. Within hours of posting what you are looking to run or play you will probably have a full group. This group has only been around a few months and is near the 500 member mark. The group could hit 600 members by the end of the year and as more people grow comfortable running online games it will only continue to grow.

Right now there are more than 8 games scheduled to be played in the near future. Some people have campaigns running because of the Tabletop RPG One Shot group. I have ran two Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition games so far. I've played in at least three Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition games,  Call of Cthulhu d20, Ninjas and Superspies, and a Heroes Unlimited game.

I am scheduled to run a Heroes Unlimited game and may run some D&D games soon. I am supposed to play in in a Heroes Unlimited game coming up soon as well. Really hoping someone runs Mutants and Masterminds soon because that is a game I have been curious about for awhile. The Dragon Age game might be fun to try out in the near future and I hear that someone may run it soon.

The amount of friends I have made from the group has been amazing! Everyone there has been great and there hasn't been any drama. Everyone is on the same page about being there to play games and just have some fun. Never before have I been part of a community that was so nice and appreciative of each other.

Looking forward to seeing how the group grows and the types of games that get ran there. Don't be afraid to try and play or run a niche game because there are a lot of people who always want to try something new. The group formed out of people wanting to try new games. You can play the same game over and over again or try that game on your shelf that your home group refuses to play. That is the true beauty of the One Shot Group. It is there for everyone and their interests!

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Dungeon Master Guide PREVIEW Downtime

Wizards of the Coast supplied this preview of the Other Downtime page in the new DMG set to release on December 9, 2014.

Wizards of the Coast supplied this preview of the Other Downtime page in the new DMG set to release on December 9, 2014.

Wizards of the Coast has been giving us previews of the books before released and this time they gave us a preview of the Dungeon Master Guide with an excerpt of Downtime Activities. It is only one page but on it you can get a glimpse into building a stronghold, carousing, and the intro to crafting a magic item.

The first thing covered under Other Downtime Activities is Building a Stronghold. Personally I have never had an opportunity in a game to build a stronghold or even have players that chose to build a stronghold. It has always been interesting to me as a DM because it would open up all new types of sessions. Some of the things you can buy are extremely expensive and I am not sure how the players would come up with all of that money. Either way I am glad this was included and I am looking forward to one day either doing this as a player or having a player do this in one of my games.

Then there is the Carousing section which is actually quite favorable it seems. You have a 60% chance of making a profit from the random table. The premise behind the carousing section is your player partakes in parties, gambling, and/or heavy drinking. Once again though this section offers the DM good seeds for campaigns. Not sure if anyone in my current campaigns would be willing to try out a carousing type of character. Still though this is pretty good.

What would a Dungeon Master Guide be without Crafting a Magic Item rules? We only get a short glimpse into the intro but it does remind everyone that it is up to the DM what is and isn’t allowed. Players will need to get approval for their crafting of magic items. That is how it should be though. One problem I have always had with magic items is if everyone can craft them then they become common. What fun is it if magic items are common? Personally not a fan of magic items on every corner. It makes them not magical for me. Still glad they give us these rules even if I won’t be using these and will only let a player use them sparingly.

There you have it the Dungeon Master Guide Downtime excerpt covered in my personal opinion. Really excited to get this book. Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition is shaping up to be my favorite game to run and play. As someone who runs the game frequently this is a must have for me. If you run a lot of D&D5e then you should consider picking it up too. Remember on Amazon you can get it for a huge discount at $30 so click the Amazon link and order yours today.