105

Those are "breaks" indicating that the cave keeps on going generally in the same way for X feet (' being the abbreviation for "feet"). Drawing that all out would make for scale problems on the interesting parts of the map, so long runs of identical cave are elided and those notations added. Real world e.g. cave maps have similar devices, though not always ...


86

Your party isn't what the campaign was designed for Honestly, the problem is simply that Lost Mines of Phandelver is balanced for a party of roughly 5 players, so you're already struggling because you are outnumbered. The action economy is pretty rough in 5e, if you are outnumbered, you'll likely struggle. Likewise, a single boss monster is usually far ...


75

They are (arguably) Hill dwarves There's nothing to go on in the module book. You're right, it is never stated explicitly anywhere in the module what kind of dwarf the Rockseeker brothers are. Whenever they are mentioned in the narrative they are just referred to generically as dwarves. If you ever need stats for them in the game, the module suggests ...


75

What is expected? To have fun. Obviously, you aren't having fun if you are writing up posts like this. What you are missing The major thing that it sounds like you are missing is a big chunk of early content. The DM should have directed you to deal with a problem in Phandalin, before you set out to deal with threats and issues elsewhere. If your DM has ...


69

Blackrazor wins ... probably Ring If you die while wearing the ring, your soul enters it Blackrazor If this necrotic damage reduces you to 0 hit points, Blackrazor devours your soul. Since being reduced to 0 hit points doesn't usually kill you, then Blackrazor would devour your soul. PHB, p. 197: When you drop to 0 hit points, you either die ...


66

Let them not go on quests. I'm a big fan of letting the natural rhythm of the setting take care of this issue. That is, if your group of unemployed ne'er-do-well's won't clear the way to the old well, someone else will. While the PCs are loafing around things are happening. The world doesn't stop just because they're not looking. To this end I create a ...


66

You tell or show the party why they need to move on It is always better to show rather than tell, so I would do something like this: 2 goblins appear coming down the cave, the party ambushes them, and mid-way through that ambush a straggler appears running to catch up to his friends. He sees the fight and runs back into the cave screaming that they are ...


62

Tomb of Horrors is an Old School Adventure Tomb of Horrors has a long and storied history. It was originally developed by Gary Gygax the co-creator of D&D specifically to kill high-level PCs: First, Gygax explains, "There were several very expert players in my campaign, and this was meant as yet another challenge to their skill—and the persistence of ...


55

Each of the seven doors is opened by one method, not all seven. The text in the 5th edition is ambigious, and may be interpreted that each door requires a seven-step process to open. However, if you look at the map, each door is lettered, making it clearer that, for example, step "A" is the method for opening the door "A", step "B" the second door, and so ...


55

I'm going to challenge your premise a bit - why not drop XP-based levelling altogether and use milestone levelling instead? In my time as a DM and a player, I've found milestone has a few advantages: Less resource management. Counting all your XP is a bit tedious. Less DM work. You can tailor encounters that are fun and play to your party's strengths, and ...


54

Failure is an option Players, through playing, can and should be able to meaningfully interact with the world. Usually they make the world better; sometimes they make it worse. Don’t rob your players of the opportunity and the consequences of a massive cock-up that they sincerely earned. How to DM these consequences I will start by saying that I haven’t ...


53

There are quite a few things that the Cleric can do ... This cleric requires his holy symbol to really do anything. That's not quite true. What cantrips does the cleric have? The following cleric cantrips do not require material components (and thus do not require a holy symbol). Guidance, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying, Thaumaturgy, Toll the Dead The ...


51

It's referencing any spell, item, class feature, monster ability, or effect that allows you to magically unlock a door. In part, this is future-proofing -- you don't want some spell or magic item published in the future to fail here just because it isn't specifically a knock spell. By including "similar magic", it's left up to the DM to decide if a given ...


48

Roleplay Let's assume you play an elf (which you are not in real life). And you play a ranger (which you are not in real life). The character can shoot a moving target without fail (which you cannot in real life). And has a bunch of friends that can cast spells and lay on hands (your friends in real life only eat pizza at astonishing speed). Your ...


47

D&D 5e is not as lethal as you think. The rules on dropping to 0 hit points are on page 13 of the Starter Set rulebook. I won't write them all out here, but I'll summarise the important points: When you drop to 0 hit points, you're not dead yet. Every time you begin your turn with 0 hit points, you make a death saving throw, which is a d20 roll with no ...


46

Maintaining the AD&D Feel If you want to maintain the AD&D feel of this module you have to keep the following in mind: it's a death-trap. I have played it, I have DMed it and I have spoken to many people who fondly remember the way their characters died in it; I have never spoken to anyone who finished it although I and a few others have escaped ...


46

The rules don't say that player characters need to kill enemies to earn XP. From the Core Rulebook, chapter 12 "Gamemastering" gives an overview of how to run combats and combat rewards. The text says that the players must "defeat" monsters or "overcome" the challenge in some way, but does not explicitly say that the enemy creatures must be killed by the ...


45

Take a back seat While this might be hard to implement advice when you're already a few sessions in, the best thing would be to play a character who does not wish to lead or make decisions. This does not mean the character has to be passive: They will help out the group, gather information and offer advice. But they will never have the last word in any ...


44

Width is the Shorter Side According to 5e's lead designer: "Unless the rules explicitly expand, narrow, or completely redefine a word, that word retains the meaning it has in idiomatic English". What is "Width" in English? In geometry, length pertains to the longest side of the rectangle while width is the shorter side. Per Dictonary.com's definition of ...


43

Sure, you're the DM The books listed on the back are the books you will absolutely need, because Storm King's Thunder references monsters and rules found in those three books. Other than that, you're perfectly capable of changing things and using more books to run the campaign. In theory, all races (except for some in Volo's) and all classes should be on a ...


42

11k gp renovation; 10gp/day upkeep/operating costs, or maybe less. Renovation/Rebuilding I'll tell you what's reasonable: referencing 2e's The Castle Guide. In previous years I've done comparisons between the 5e DMG's "big ticket" items--keep/small castle, large castle, and tower--and the costs of constructing such buildings as described in The Castle ...


41

Let Waterdeep take care of it. I had a similar situation where a player got into a chase in broad daylight, started falling behind their quarry, and pulled out a scroll of fireball. SCREEECH went the brakes. "Um, you're going to rip off a fireball?" [grinning] "Yup." "In Waterdeep." [grinning] "Yup." "In broad daylight." [...


41

It means that the elementals will have 144 Hit Points If the designers instead wanted the air elementals to have rolled or average hit points they could have said: Summoned elementals have their normal hit points But instead they've specified that they have "maximum hit points". This comes down to an English reading then, and to me this would mean the ...


40

Yes, you can reuse characters. There is nothing particular or special to Lost Mines of Phandelver that requires handling differently from any other content. Characters are not implicitly one-and-done - you don't throw away the character when you finish the book. Just because many of the hardcover adventures are designed to start at L1, doesn't mean they ...


40

Not in Adventurer's League. This is from the Tomb of Annihilation Primer, found here. This document is a guide put out by Wizards of the Coast for players and DM intending to take part in Tomb of Annihilation, and lays down the rules of play for this adventure. Do note that this quote is from the DM-only section of that document. Proceed with caution if you'...


39

Failure is an option A mistake that many people make is thinking there are only 2 end states for an adventure: the party wins or the party dies. In fact, there are a multitude of outcomes and some of them represent failure and failure has consequences. Having Sildar die makes things much harder for the players in subsequent stages of the campaign. So, the ...


38

This is an exception to the general rule, the PC takes one death save failure. You've accurately quoted the relevant general rules. RAW two death save failures would normally be taken by a PC from an attacker within 5 feet while that PC is unconscious (as correctly reasoned in the question). So, if no one successfully intervenes before the PC's next turn (...


38

Specific trumps general The general rule for Dexterity-based attacks is that you add your Dexterity modifier to the damage if you hit. The rules for weapons list the basic damage for each, and you add your Strength or Dexterity bonus when applicable. That specific longbow, however, states that the damage it does is 2d6 + the wielder's Strength modifier. ...


38

NPCs (and the DMs who run them) are not bound by the same rules that PCs (and the players who run them) are. For the skeletons in the Redbrand Hideout, the two possibilities are: The skeletons were created by Glasstaff or the Black Spider, or The skeletons preexisted the Redbrands, and Glasstaff or the Black Spider bent them to their will. The adventure ...


37

The other answers seem to think that the PCs have the Goblins trapped. The map tells another story.


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