Exciting journeys in 5th edition engage the party and give them meaningful actions as part of the adventure. Last week I posted Perilous Journey’s Part 1, which turns travel into a series of encounters like any other dungeon. This week, I’ll look at defining some ways that party members can take meaningful actions during journeys. These Journey Actions provide gameplay for the travel experience, as well as create dependencies between members of the party.
Perilous journeys are a mainstay of fantasy literature and adventure, yet 5e provides little game play in the way of travel and discovery. This is primarily because the system focuses on encounters per day, which limits long form narrative game elements. First, the long rest reset means encounters or delays seem little more than annoying distractions. Second, characters have little in the way of meaningful game play to engage them in travel. or interact with one another. These rules present a few simple modifications to add some game play spice back into your journeys to help make the exploration pillar exciting again.
I just opened a discord server for rules discussions, workshops and the like. People interested in thoughtful
discussions on 5e or TTRPG rules, adventures or more are welcome to sign up. Please note that general rules of
good social interactions and good-faith conversations apply. This will likely be a small server but anyone is
welcome who wants to get into a deeper conversation than Twitter allows. Please feel free to share this link.
The server just opened this weekend and is still getting set-up.
Earlier in the week I posted some rules for Gritty Healing & Survival in 5e. These work for group looking for that kind of long-term resource management and play. However, it leaves a bit of a gap when it comes to healing spells and magic. In fact, most gritty mechanics suffer from the problem of setting up a system for persistent injuries, then introduce magic that lets you skip past it. Also, it suffers from the problem of turning the cleric into the heal-bot for a party, making sit out of the action during encounters to heal everyone later. So having some way to align the leaning mechanic with the core idea of recovery as a central design principle is important. Without it, you end up with the same effect as healing overnight but force the healing PC to burn all their resources and sit most encounters out.
The heroic playstyle of 5e D&D is a lot of fun, but it’s focused on the encounter for resource management and pacing. Sometimes players want to break things up with more of a gritty or survivalist style. This means adding gameplay elements that focus on attrition, strategic resource management, mitigation, and lean into the fragile nature of health. In other words, it extends gameplay into longer term campaign elements, rather than containing it to individual encounters. As a result of Matt Colville’s recent twitch hangout, I was inspired to write down my own thoughts on gritty rules for 5e.
I’ve had a few conversations in the passing months about average values on dice and how that relates to hit points in 5e. Word of warning, this is about to lean hard into some nerd stuff. However, as esoteric as this may seem, it directly effects monster design and play frequently. The biggest impact it seems to have is when people try to anticipate the outcome of a roll, worse if they design a rule around it. Also, this can result in either getting player hit points or monster hit points wrong when using average results. The solution isn’t as complex as this is going to make it seem, I’m just laying out the specifics so it’s all apparent.
Our site migration is now complete! This should mean a much better and faster experience for everyone visiting the site. You will have noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here and this has been the reason. The previous wordpress site was just too slow and solutions to make it faster were either too expensive or as difficult as switching hosts. Given this is a content oriented blog and doesn’t need a lot of scripting, I decided to switch over to building the site on Jekyll and hosting in Github Pages.
Like most 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons DMs, I’m constantly tinkering with the rules in hopes of improving the experience at the table. But it takes a bit of time and testing before I consider an idea worthy of officially adding to my game. As such, I’ve been testing out some ideas on Twitter for feedback. These are the various rules I’ve thrown out for feedback during up through the end of April 2021. After a time, if they seem worthwhile I’ll officially add them to my own house rules list.
Handling failure is something people seem to struggle with in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. When to fail, what happens when you do, and how to keep the game moving are constant topics of discussions. In my view, Progressive Failure and Rising Tension is a very useful technique, but it’s just one of many in the DMs toolbox. As a discussion topic, people often seem to misunderstand the role of failure in RPGs. Worse, a small sub-population has begun to take terms like ‘failing-forward’ to mean failure shouldn’t be possible. So taking a moment to consider the options and tools available can make even failure a fun experience in TTRPGs.
I recently started aggregating some data I’ve gathered about spells from 5e Dungeons & Dragons. Primarily, this has been for fun and to see if I’d find anything surprising or interesting. Additionally, I wanted to get some numbers to help me assess additional spells or subclasses for my home game. So I hope you’ll find this fun and interesting yourself and I would love to hear any observations you have.