Sly Flourish

Building the better Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master.

The Tyranny of the Grid

27 February 2017: There is no wrong way to play Dungeons & Dragons. If you and your players are having fun, you're playing D&D the right way. Every article, every idea, every tip, and every tool here at Sly Flo ...

D&D 5e Numbers to Keep In Your Head

21 February 2017: Note: This article has been updated since the original written in February 2015. Below is a summary of the numbers you can keep in your head to help you run Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition roleplayin ...

The Dam of the Belsemir Kings

13 February 2017: This is a scenario intended replace the Triboar encounter in Storm King's Thunder in which a pair of fire giants attacks the town seeking a piece of the huge armored war machine they want to use to ga ...

Custom Fronts of Storm King's Thunder

6 February 2017: The roleplaying game Dungeon World gave us many wonderful things, not the least of which is one of the best lists of DM advice ever put on paper: Dungeon World also gave us the idea of "fronts". Fron ...

Reskinning Monsters

30 January 2017: Note: This article is updated from the original published in November 2012. You're about to learn a lazy dungeon master technique that can save you thousands of hours in game preparation time and lets ...

DM's Deep Dive Episode 1: New Dungeon Masters with Enrique Bertran

23 January 2017: On 12 January 2017 I hosted the first of a new series of shows as part of the Don't Split the Podcast network hosted by my friends Rudy Basso and James Introcaso called the DM's Deep Dive. This monthl ...

"Make" Versus "Let"

17 January 2017: As part of the 2016 D&D Dungeon Master Survey, I asked DMs to describe their favorite trick for running a great D&D game. I wrangled the answers a bunch of different ways, all of which you can ...

Twenty Fantastic Features

9 January 2017: Injecting the fantastic into our games can be rough work. Our minds fall to to the cliche, pulling up those goddamned Argonath statues from Lord of the Rings time and again. Unlike a lot of parts of o ...

One Page Dungeon: Chambers of the Dread Titan

3 January 2017: Back in June 2016 I had the great privilege winning a grand prize award for my entry into the one page dungeon contest for a dungeon called the Chambers of the Dread Titan. Download Chambers of the Dr ...

Adding Depth to Storm King's Thunder

27 December 2016: The D&D hardback adventure Storm King's Thunder needs help from the DM to grow into a deep and fulfilling campaign for our groups. As a vast adventure exploring the North, the material in the book ...

2016 Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master Survey Results

19 December 2016: On 28 October 2016 I released a survey for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters to help us all get a better understanding of how DMs prepare for and run their D&D games. This article ...

Creative Mind Exercises for D&D

12 December 2016: In the book The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin, all of the communication of human beings has been compromised by alien supercomputers the size of protons called "sophons". The only way humanity can build a ...

Session Zero of Storm King's Thunder

5 December 2016: Storm King's Thunder marks the fifth hardcover campaign adventure for the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons and it takes quite a departure from previous adventures. In short, Storm King's Thunder ...

Preparation Step Zero: Review the Characters

28 November 2016: Here at Sly Flourish we've often discussed the steps in game preparation that make the biggest difference in running a great D&D game. Starting strong, building a good adventure skeleton, having s ...

The Deadly Lich

21 November 2016: Few creatures in the world of Dungeons & Dragons are as feared as the lich. A wizard of countless ages, a being beyond the morality of good and evil, the lich brings a threat greater than most to ...

Running Curse of Strahd

14 November 2016: When writing about the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen we here at Sly Flourish wrote chapter-by-chapter deep dives of the whole book to help DMs run this adventure. With more recent adventures, Se ...

Embracing D&D's Asymmetrical Balance

7 November 2016: "Love the one you're with." -Crosby, Stills & Nash David Hartlage, friend of Sly Flourish and author of the excellent Dungeons & Dragons blog DM David, wrote an interesting article entitled ...

2016 D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master Questionnaire

31 October 2016: Four years ago, as part of my preparation in writing The Lazy Dungeon Master I surveyed a number of Dungeon Masters that I knew personally and knew held their craft to a high standard. This past summe ...

Running Strahd Von Zarovich

24 October 2016: Goodbye to a Dear Friend On 21 October, I lost a dear friend and the D&D and roleplaying community lost a great man, Randall Walker. Randall Walker was a father, husband, a great roleplaying gamem ...

Thoughts on Unearthed Arcana's Encounter Building Guidelines

17 October 2016: On 10 October 2016, Wizards of the Coast released a new set of Unearthed Arcana encounter building guidelines as part of their series of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition playtest documents. These ne ...

The Stories of Magic Items

11 October 2016: Players love magic items and they are one of the few rewards that we DMs have almost total control over. Whether our games use random loot, an item wishlist, complete DM control, or some hybrid approa ...

Strahd's Negotiation

3 October 2016: Note, this is part one of a multi-part series in running Strahd in the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure Curse of Strahd. In this article we cover Strahd's motivations and attempts to end t ...

Building Set-Piece Battles

26 September 2016: The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons takes us back to a time when combat encounters can be as short or as long as we want. Where many battles in D&D 4e took an hour or longer, 5e's design all ...

Playing D&D Anywhere

19 September 2016: RPG superstar Monte Cook has a new game he's working on called Invisible Sun. A big part of the game is the recognition that it's hard for players to all gather around the table to play an RPG during ...

Building Encounters in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

12 September 2016: Note: This article is a rewrite of the original from March 2015. Recently Wizards of the Coast released a new Unearthed Arcana encounter building rules which gives us a new way to build encounters on ...

James Introcaso on Running Great D&D Games with Roll20

6 September 2016: Nearly all of the D&D games I've run over the years have been at a table with live players, dice, books, and pencils. As we know, however, finding and keeping a good group of players for live home ...

Pool Table Dungeon Mastering in Barovia

28 August 2016: Barovia is a living breathing place. Though the D&D adventure Curse of Strahd sets it all out on paper, when we run our games in this fog-enshrouded sandbox, the world comes alive. Barovia is a pe ...

Sly Flourish's Vampires

22 August 2016: Note, Sly Flourish's Vampires has been updated to include the Vampire Adventurers, three challenge 7 vampires transformed from their original state as adventurers who traveled into the master's lands. ...

What D&D Looks Like

15 August 2016: D&D lead designer Mike Mearls had some interesting things to say about the growth of D&D as we've gone from pre-internet, to forums, to video as a method to discuss and show D&D. Here is ...

Failing Forward on a Banshee TPK

8 August 2016: Actual monster difficulty in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monster Manual varies within challenge ratings. Monsters such as the beholder and the wraith punch well outside of their challenge r ...

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