This week, i’m trying something different. I’ll be doing a writeup of a class variant for my own D&D 5e game. One of the characters is (was) a member of an exclusive sect so it seems only fitting that they’d get a unique class variant.
And as an added bonus, I get to use these sweet powers for my adversaries, her former sisters in arms, when they inevitably come for her.
A bit of backstory on these ladies (and rarely men). The Hands of Tenzin are a group of spellcasters who serve the king of Aracea. They are responsible for keeping the magical energies of the world in check and as representatives of the god Tenzin, are expected to guide the seasons where neccesary.
One of the challenges I’ve been encountering in my D&D game is the placement of treasure. Even in 5th edition, D&D still thrives on a steady drip of gold, gems, artwork and magical or semi-magical items. And placing those items in a natural-feeling way is hard.
Sure, you could just roll on the treasure tables for every enemy the PCs search but that will quickly get weird. As an experiment, I rolled on that table for every feasible encounter in my game so far. (That is: I didn’t roll for creatures like wolves or rats, but I did roll for everything that was at least smart enough to recognize that gold = value).
Had I used those results, the PCs would’ve entered an abandoned mine and gotten out with a magical scale mail (resists fire damage), 6 paintings, each worth a good chunk of cash, a small pile of gens, a few hundred gold pieces along with whatever weapons and armor they stole from their enemies. That would be for first level adventurers.
As I mentioned in my previous post on mega-dungeons, it’s vitally important to have the dungeon seem like a living space that the adventurers. Monsters need lairs, locations where they hang out, places even they avoid and so on.
Similarly, the PCs also need a lair; a location to hang out, sell their treasure, purchase new gear, get healed from the horrific injuries sustained within the dungeon and so on.
In video games these sorts of location are commonly referred to as hub location, because they function as a central location that the players can return to periodically. These are places like Dark Souls’ Firelink Shrine, Mass Effect’s Normandy (and the Citadel to a lesser extent) or the eponymous keep in the classic adventure ‘Keep on the Borderlands’.
The key to a good hub location is making it feel safe, making it feel welcoming and making it feel useful. I’ll be going over some of the things I’ve figured out and providing you with a few tips and tricks here to make your own hubs feel alive.
This will be the first post in a series on game mastering dungeons and specifically mega-dungeons.
First, a definition. A mega-dungeon is, in my eyes, any adventure that takes place in a boxed-in environment (such as a dungeon, cave, virtual maze) where the player’s primary goal is interacting with and exploring said boxed-in environment. The environment is a set environment, usually with some random encounters mixed in for variety but it generally acts as a walled-off sandbox.
This definition is intentionally fairly broad and many adventures could be described as a mega-dungeon. To me, the most important aspects of a mega-dungeon are the set environment and the focus on exploring that environment.
It’s also something that, until recently, I had never run. I’d run D&D before. I’ve run games focused on exploration and games that were heavily combat-focused. But having read the 5th edition D&D rules and having seen the discourse online on this new edition, I figured I’d give it a try.