Sly Flourish

Building the better D&D Dungeon Master.

Running Descent into Avernus Chapter 3

30 November 2020: Note: this article contains spoilers for Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. This article is one of a series of articles covering the D&D hardcover campaign adventure Baldur's Gate: Descent into Aver ...

Owlbear Rodeo: A Simple D&D Virtual Tabletop

23 November 2020: If you're seeking a lightweight virtual tabletop, try out Owlbear Rodeo. It's awesome. Covid-19 forced many DMs to move games from in-person to online. For a lot of us, running games online is an enti ...

Paths for DM Expertise

16 November 2020: John B., a Sly Flourish patron, sent me a note describing an awesome video series by Wired on levels of complexity. Two of them really grabbed my attention, the levels of complexity of origami and Ton ...

Building Lazy Dungeons

9 November 2020: The eight steps from Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master mentions little about maps. The expectation is that the "develop fantastic locations" step covers locations big and small and stick-figure diagra ...

Building a Great D&D Character

2 November 2020: Here at Sly Flourish I focus on advice for D&D dungeon masters. Today I'm breaking away and offer some advice for players. This is, however, advice for player from the perspective of a dungeon master. ...

D&D Prep: Write Down Ten Things

26 October 2020: Everyone has creative habits that work well for them. Today I'm going to share one of mine. Write down ten things. Write down ten notable locations in your fantasy city. Write down ten dungeons the ch ...

Running Ravenloft / Curse of Strahd in a Single Session

19 October 2020: Note: This article has been updated since its original version published in November 2012. Published in 1983, the classic D&D adventure I6 Ravenloft, was ranked in 2004 by Dungeon magazine as the seco ...

Using the Guilds of Ravnica in Eberron

12 October 2020: Mashing up the ideas from published D&D books is one of the best ways to capitalize off of the massive benefit from published books while, at the same time, turning published worlds into one of our ow ...

Thinking Two Horizons Out

5 October 2020: In Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master I recommend focusing attention on what we need to run our next game. This mostly comes down to the eight steps of lazy DM prep: Review the characters Create a st ...

Average Hit Points of a D&D Character

28 September 2020: Sometimes it's useful to have a rough gauge of how many hit points we can expect D&D characters to have at any given level. Will our deadly trap be truly deadly? Will the dragon's breath weapon TPK th ...

Dreamscape Investigations

21 September 2020: What if we combined the reverse-clues of Memento, the dreamscapes of Inception, and in-media-res clue-gathering scenes from the video game Return of the Obra Dinn into a model for dream-based investig ...

Running D&D Games in Eberron

14 September 2020: I love Eberron. D&D's fantasy world of high magic, noir intrigue, and swashbuckling adventure manages to be fresh and new and still hold true to the core of D&D. Everything in D&D is in Eberron but no ...

A Framework for One-on-One D&D Games: Sherlock Holmes and Watson

6 September 2020: Playing D&D with one player and one DM is a wonderful way to play the game. With one player and one dungeon master, we can truely focus our stories on the character. Playing D&D one-on-one is not a le ...

The Most Valuable DM Tool: A Good List of Names

31 August 2020: For a video on this topic, take a look at the Most Important Lazy D&D DM Tool: A Good List of Names on Youtube. Names are hard. It's hard to come up with them. It's hard to remember them. Throughout o ...

Improving Pacing

24 August 2020: "The key to becoming a great GM, more than anything else, is an understanding of pacing." - Monte Cook and Shanna Germain, Your Best Game Ever As dungeon masters who take their craft seriously, we c ...

Running Descent into Avernus Chapter 2

17 August 2020: Note: This article contains spoilers for the adventure Descent into Avernus. This article is one of a series that covers tips and tricks for running the hardback D&D adventure Descent into Avernus. Th ...

Instant NPCs for Fifth Edition D&D

10 August 2020: Note, this article has been updated from the original posted in February 2016. When improvising an NPC or custom monster during the game, you can often start with a base DC between 10 (easy) and 20 (h ...

Zone-based Combat in D&D

3 August 2020: D&D is a game of action and high adventure yet sometimes we lose the sense of wonder and excitement when we fall into the minutia of the mechanics. We also may want a combat system that doesn't requir ...

1d100 Forgotten Realms Factions

27 July 2020: In previous articles on Sly Flourish I wrote about the value of randomness in our D&D games and offered random tables to help inspire your own adventures such as those in the Lazy DM's Workbook, Rando ...

Text-based Combat Tracking for D&D on Discord

20 July 2020: Since all of my in-person games have moved online in 2020 I've become fascinated with the best practices for playing D&D online. While there are many solutions out there, I've found that playing D&D o ...

1d20 D&D Adventure Hooks from Movies

13 July 2020: Few movie plots work well for our D&D games, often for one big reason: the movie's story depends on how the characters act and we can't count on that in D&D. Instead, the movie plots that work well in ...

Using Notion.so for Lazy D&D Campaign Planning

6 July 2020: For the last few years, while using the steps from Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master to prepare for my game, I'd write my prep notes in a text file using markdown and saved my files to a campaign dire ...

Building Situations in D&D

29 June 2020: Our D&D games can become more fluid, flexible, and easier to improvise when we DMs focus on larger situations and less on specific scenes and encounters. At it's core, D&D can be broken down into the ...

Running Chapter 1 of Descent into Avernus

22 June 2020: Note: this article contains spoilers for the hardback campaign adventure Descent into Avernus. If you take nothing else from this article, heed these words: the biggest improvement you can make to you ...

West Marches Campaigns in Grendleroot

15 June 2020: A west marches campaign is a particular style of RPG campaign, easily transported to D&D, that has some of the following criteria: There's no regular scheduled time. There's no fixed group of players ...

Fantastic Lairs Kickstarter is Live!

8 June 2020: Boss battles are hard. That's the first four words in Fantastic Lairs: Boss battles and Villainous Encounters for 5e. While we can build solid tools to improvise a lot of our D&D games as the stories ...

1d100 Eberron Factions

1 June 2020: Below is a list of 1d100 Eberron factions. Use these factions in combination with other random lists from the Dungeon Master's Guide or these generators for monuments, relics, items, locations, or any ...

Running Hordes: The Lazy Way to Run Lots of D&D Monsters

26 May 2020: The heroes stand atop a mountain of bones with one hundred skeletons swarming in. The cleric holds her holy symbol aloft and waves of radiant energy tear through the skeletons, shattering dozens of th ...

The Grendleroot in Eberron

18 May 2020: In a previous article, we looked at how to place Blackclaw Mountain, the primary location in Fantastic Adventures, Ruins of the Grendleroot, into Avernus, to expand the hardback adventure Descent into ...

Running Descent into Avernus: The Fall of Elturel

11 May 2020: Note, this article contains spoilers for Descent into Avernus. In the popular D&D hardcover adventure Descent into Avernus the characters travel into the first layer of hell to save the city of Elture ...

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