Alternate Cantrips in 5th edition (Guest post by William C. Pfaff)

My man Brian Fitzpatrick is seeking some balance between 5E (and 4E’s) at-will damaging cantrips and the poor wizard of yesteryear who would cast sleep and then beg the party to do the same so he could get his lone spell back. I gave this some serious thought and then realized the answer may be…

Revisiting the Past: Insight Checks in OSR

Anybody used to playing older versions of D&D (pre-4e) is probably wondering what the heck an Insight check is. Imagine for a moment that your PC is interacting with a NPC and you want to know whether the NPC’s motives are pure. Are they lying to you? Are they hiding something? Are they being forthright?…

Revisiting the Past: Squishy Wizards

Apparently my last post struck a nerve with some folks. I had a great conversation on Facebook with a bunch of folks with comments like: “It’s a different world. The sooner you come to grips with that, the easier it’ll get for you.” (Rob) “But can be used to cause damage. Like to light a…

Revisiting the Past: Why Cantrips Bug Me in 5e

Way back when the world was flat and I was playing 1e AD&D in the mid 1980s, a book came out that threw a number of monkey wrenches into our nice, ordered existence… Unearthed Arcana. There were some cool things like Cavaliers and extended item lists. There were some weird things like the new stat…

Revisiting the Past: The Old School Mindset and Roll-Playing

When I started playing D&D in 1982, we were young, naive, and enthusiastic. We took on every dungeon with glee and even fought a few major figures like Orcus and Tiamat as I recall. But it wasn’t “Old School” then — it was just playing D&D with friends every weekend we could get together. By…

Pondering What It Means to Be Old School

Last week I had the opportunity to get into a chat with my good friend Mike. I played as part of Mike’s group for a few years in a couple of campaigns. The first one started in Fantasy Hero and shifted to D&D 3.5. The second one was D&D 3.5 with some Pathfinder elements thrown…

What makes a good spell?

Magic is such an intrinsic part of much of the fantasy genre that I decided to pull together a few thoughts on what it is that makes a spell a spell. Though most of what I’ve been writing is aimed at Mazes & Perils these days, I usually play 5e or 4e D&D with my main…

A Random Start To Random Dungeon Design

Whether you go with analog randomizers such as physical dice or coins or their digital counterparts, I’ve been fascinated by the flexibility of the traditional random table. Ever since reading Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide way back in the early 1980s, I was hooked. And I didn’t really realize how…

EncounteRX… More than just 2d4 wolves…

Session planning is more of an art than a science sometimes. If you like coming up with stuff on the fly, it can be as simple as pulling together some basic maps, encounter descriptions, monster stats, and treasure into a pile and you’re off to the races. But sometimes you want a bit more, even…

Want to earn some Brownie Points with your GM?

Sure, I know we all like going with simple combat cues sometimes. I’ve been playing a ton of 4th edition D&D and my Fighter relies on moves like “Shield Feint” and “Tide of Iron” and “Steel Serpent Strike” for his combat abilities. But I have to say this gets a bit old after a while.…

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