Sly Flourish

Building the better Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master.

Instant NPCs for Fifth Edition D&D

1 February 2016: RPG sage Monte Cook wrote an interesting article called PCs versus NPCs in which he discusses the time we often waste statting out NPCs. These NPCs, he argues, just show up, talk for a bit, and disapp ...

Out of the Abyss Chapter 5: Neverlight Grove

25 January 2016: This article is one of an ongoing series of articles covering the fifth edition D&D adventure, Out of the Abyss. In this article we're going to cover chapter 5: Neverlight Grove. Here is a list of ...

Talent, Experience, and John Baldessari

19 January 2016: My good friend and all-around fantastic D&D guy, Teos Abadia, wrote a thought-provoking article entitled Talent vs. Experience. Before you continue, give his article a read and then come on back. ...

Common Game Master Mistakes

4 January 2016: This article has been updated from the original published in November 2012. It's often better to be positive than negative when thinking about improving our skills as game masters. Sometimes, however, ...

The Default Adventure Skeleton

28 December 2015: We've talked about the importance of pacing but this is a hard concept to understand at a practical level. How can we worry about pacing when we have a pile of friends on their way over and need to ke ...

Let's Learn Together

21 December 2015: "He never assumes that he knows more than you do. He says: 'We'll learn this together.'" Annette Kowalski, Bob Ross's Strange Afterlife Mastery is a weird thing. To some, mastery is an end goal, a ...

2015 RPG Gift Guide

14 December 2015: With the holidays upon us and the end of the year coming soon, there are few better times to talk about the best roleplaying game products for you or your friends. Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Thi ...

Running Rise of Tiamat

7 December 2015: From September 2014 to March 2015 I published a set of articles with tips for running Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the first published Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition adventure. If you haven't seen ...

Fantastic Locatons Kickstarter

30 November 2015: A year ago I began a new project. It was a project that spawned right from the heart of The Lazy Dungeon Master. We have a lot of great tools to build fun adventures but one of the hardest things to i ...

Improving Pacing

23 November 2015: "Good pacing is probably the most important trait a GM can have." - Monte Cook, Weird Discoveries As dungeon masters who take their craft seriously, we must continually sharpen our skills. For some ...

Running Out of the Abyss Chapter 3: The Darklake

16 November 2015: This is the third in an ongoing series of articles aiding dungeon masters in running the D&D 5th edition adventure, Out of the Abyss. You can read the previous two articles here: Running Out of t ...

The Case for Static Monster Damage

9 November 2015: The 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual includes static damage for every damaging effect in every monster stat block. Though we're used to rolling damage for monsters, there are big advant ...

Running Out of the Abyss Chapter 2: Into Darkness

2 November 2015: This is the second in an ongoing series of articles discussing how to best run the D&D adventure, Out of the Abyss. Our series began with Running Out of the Abyss Chapter 1 and it's worth starting ...

The Right Tool for the Right Job: Filling your DM Toolbox

26 October 2015: Something about our human nature wants us to toss aside other people's good ideas and focus on our own. "Not invented here" syndrome lies deep within us, even us dungeon masters. This might be due to ...

A Year with D&D 5e Video

19 October 2015: On Saturday, the 10th of October, I had the opportunity to engage in a discussion on the topic of "One Year with D&D 5th Edition" along with Matt Click and Kirk Wiebe at BrigadeCon, an online gami ...

Running Out of the Abyss Chapter 1

12 October 2015: In September 2015 Wizards of the Coast released Out of the Abyss, their third campaign adventure for the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. This sandbox adventure throws our poor band of PCs into th ...

Sly Flourish's Guide to Narrative Combat in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

5 October 2015: A Sly Flourish Playtest The following guidelines are intended to help DMs run fluid story-focused "theater of the mind" style battles but still define combat rules enough that players feel empowered a ...

A Troll Named Handbag: Player-Driven Monster Identification

28 September 2015: "Four hideous trolls rise from the fetid water. One of them has three arms. One of them has two chattering heads. One of them is badly scarred from fire on one side. What does the fourth look like?" ...

Tying the Threads of Princes of the Apocalypse: Red Larch through Rivergard Keep

21 September 2015: The official D&D 5th Edition adventure Princes of the Apocalyse is built as a large sandbox adventure with a lot of freedom to let the PCs wander within and throughout the physical locations and t ...

Adventure Seeds: The Night of the Decimation

14 September 2015: This is a short adventure summary intended to give DMs the skeleton for a one-shot adventure based loosely on the story of Seven Samurai. This adventure skeleton has loose summaries of events, locati ...

Gems of the Dungeon Master's Guide

8 September 2015: The 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide has a lot of material to love. For those of us who have been playing D&D for years, decades even, we might not give it a full read-throu ...

Empowering the War Mage

31 August 2015: Of all of the monsters in the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, few are as complex as the mage. The bulk of the mage's capabilities lie in their spells. Use the right spells and the mage can be a p ...

Empowering Player-Driven Storytelling

24 August 2015: Note: This article has been updated since the original published in September 2013.* In a D&D Next playtest video from July 2013, Mike Mearls ran the D&D R&D team through the classic adven ...

Dungeons and Dragons Tips From Gencon 2015

17 August 2015: During Gencon 2015, I had the opportunity to play in twelve 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons games over four days. I had ten different dungeon masters of all different skill levels. Many of these game ...

Handling Group Skill Checks

10 August 2015: Skill checks are one of the main interfaces between players and the stories they create. It is the random seed that steers things off course and builds unexpected outcomes. Individual skill checks are ...

Going There

3 August 2015: The older we get the harder it is for us to fall back into our dreams and really go there. As children we seem to be free to let our imaginations run wild. A cardboard box can become the palace from F ...

Unsuck My Vampire

20 July 2015: As a combat opponent, the vampire in the 5th edition Monster Manual doesn't pose a strong threat. Comparing it to the beholder, another challenge rating 13 monster, the beholder is ruining mages with ...

Things Worth Preparing

13 July 2015: In the Lazy Dungeon Master and in the article Five Minute Game Preparation we talk about eliminating less useful activities while preparing for our D&D game. What parts of our preparation is worth ...

Starting Strong

6 July 2015: When we consider the elements we should prepare for our regular D&D session, a list that is considerably smaller than we might think, there is no item more important than understanding where the g ...

Creating High Level Swarms in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

29 June 2015: Even with the fast combat of the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, we might still need some tricks up our sleeves for running large piles of monsters against a number of PCs. Luckily, 5e D&D ha ...

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