Sly Flourish

Building the better Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master.

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 ...

The Case For Published Adventures

1 August 2016: As long as there have been published Dungeons & Dragons adventures, there have been debates over whether we're better off running published adventures or running our own homebrew adventures. There ...

Player-Generated Secrets

25 July 2016: Here at Sly Flourish we're big fans of game preparation through secrets, small tweet-sized bits of lore, plot, or information that the PCs discover in many different ways such as a strange mosaic on t ...

Patience

18 July 2016: Take note that this article has been updated since the original dated March 2012. In particular, you'll notice the topic of combat length coming up more than once in the article. This original article ...

A Focus On Locations

11 July 2016: In typical published adventures, locations and the creatures within them are tied closely together. There is no Castle Ravenloft without Strahd and his strange menagerie of followers. There is no Velk ...

Making Counterspell Awesome

5 July 2016: Of all of the spells in the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, there are few that suck the fun out of the story more than counterspell. Counterspell pulls the flames out of fireballs. It sucks the ...

Character-Focused Encounters

24 June 2016: Here at Sly Flourish we talk a lot about focusing our games around the backgrounds and motivations of the PCs. We think this is the best way to draw players into the game and build cooperative collabo ...

Tarokka-based Random Encounter Effects

20 June 2016: What is this about? Scroll below the card list to read more about these Tarokka-based encounter effects. cards = [{card: "Abjurer", description: "A magical sheild of protection surrounds those pro ...

Discovering Stories through Skills and Backgrounds

13 June 2016: We game masters love to tell stories. We have big tales we want to share. We have 3-ring binders filled with worlds waiting to explode out into our games. When PCs enter a new location and study their ...

Writing Great Flash Fiction

6 June 2016: Note: This article has been republished from the original published in June 2012. Flash fiction, small focused stories running usually less than three hundred words, have a great place in Dungeons and ...

Running Death House

31 May 2016: With the release of Curse of Strahd, the latest rewrite of the excellent Dungeons & Dragons adventure, I6 Ravenloft; Wizards of the Coast also released the book's introductory adventure, Death Hou ...

Finding Players

23 May 2016: Note: This article has been updated from the original published in September 2012. Of all the difficulties facing our desire to run D&D games, the greatest difficulty will always be finding and ke ...

Looking Back on Dungeon World Fronts

16 May 2016: We here in the Sly Flourish laboratories continually look at where GMs can get the most from their effort and time. This all led to the book The Lazy Dungeon Master where we propose that limiting the ...

View All Articles