Critical Misses and Weapon Durability in 5e D&D

In this post, I start with a discussion of critical misses as they’ve been designed and received in previous editions of D&D. 5e is notable in that it has almost no mention of them in the official rules, likely because of notorious problems that can arise in play when critical misses or fumbles are added to the game. I then propose a new critical miss system that makes use of a weapon durability track. This system is partly inspired by the well-received abstract ammunition system used in Dungeon World. I explain how the durability system works for weapons, spell foci, spell components, and magic items; how it integrates with critical misses; how characters can restore their damaged or depleted items, including three homebrew spells for doing so; and highlight how my proposal avoids the usual problems for critical misses in D&D. Continue reading “Critical Misses and Weapon Durability in 5e D&D”

Monster Tactics and the Pillars of Play

In this post, I suggest that 5e’s “DM Empowerment” approach as applied to monster descriptions has made it more difficult for DMs to quickly find important information needed for preparing encounters and adventures using off-the-shelf creatures. What we need is a more structured, game-focused style of laying out monster descriptions, which emphasizes all three pillars of play, providing tactical plans for running the monster in Exploration, Social Interaction, and Combat encounters. I outline what this structure for writing monster descriptions might look like, and illustrate using the Stone Giant. Continue reading “Monster Tactics and the Pillars of Play”

Enemy & Ally NPCs in D&D 5e

As I mentioned last week in my walkthrough for how to build a monster in 5e D&D, really getting into the process of designing enemies for the game taught me something important about 5e D&D that contrasts with other recent editions of the game. Namely, there are two completely different systems for designing and advancing PCs and NPC allies, on the one hand, and monsters and NPC enemies, on the other. Continue reading “Enemy & Ally NPCs in D&D 5e”

How to Design a Monster for D&D 5e

In this post we’re going to go through my process for creating monsters in D&D 5e. Throughout, I’m going to refer back to the updated version of the huecuva that I published on the DM’s Guild last month—so you may want to pop over there and download yourself a copy. Making homebrew monsters in 5e can seem pretty daunting, even with the helpful advice in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. While some other bloggers have produced walkthroughs of their own, I haven’t found a process that was straightforwardly laid out step-by-step with an example, including page references to the DMG, and without rambling asides. Next week, I’m going to continue this discussion by talking about the higher-challenge huecuva that I also designed, and what that process taught me about NPCs with class levels and monster templates in 5e, as well as some things I had to un-learn from 3e, 3.5e/Pathfinder, and 4e. Continue reading “How to Design a Monster for D&D 5e”