160

You need not change anything about the default setting in order to have people "left out" of the benefits of clerical magic. I don't think that clerical spellcasting is as easy to come by as you make it out to be. In other words: you can easily have your harsh and gritty world. In what follows I'll always lean toward the more-utopian interpretation ...


75

It’s all about Agency As long as the party is independent to choose their path, and their actions remain relevant, having mighty NPC’s involved won’t detract from the game. NPC’s that are already in conflict have a great excuse for not “doing the thing.” Suppose the mighty NPC heroes need to recover an item from the Chapel of Nice Things, but the evil dragon ...


59

Combine the Necrotic Cyst line of spells with Hindsight. Investing in items of necrotic cyst, necrotic scrying, and one or two hideously expensive polished steel and diamond blocks (nothing breakable, mind you) of hindsight would make any rather evil but almost annoyingly hard to corrupt police force proud. Start up your reign of spying with listening ...


58

It's ok if it's ok with you. But from your question I'd say you are not 100% cool with it. D&D, like many RPGs, boils down to a conversation between the DM/GM/Narrator and the player(s). The DM describes the scenario. The player describes what his character does. (Possibly dice are rolled) The DM describs the results, how the scenario is changed. This ...


54

First of all: Welcome to DMing! It can be super fun and rewarding, and I hope you enjoy it. One of the things that most DMs learn when they're playing a game that works like 5e is that you don't always have to follow the rules. If it would improve your game, you can totally rewrite or ignore parts of the rules. This is usually referred to as Rule 0, and ...


54

DMs are allowed to have fun And he doesn't see how making the game "enjoyable for him" should be such a hassle for me. It's completely poisoning the game for me, I don't even want to judge it anymore. You have to tell him that and please do not beat about the bush. He needs to have that truth given to him: his behavior has already ruined one game (...


51

This isn't a science, it's an art. You'll get better with practice, and nobody's process will work for you except your own. That said, here's some of my precepts and guidelines. Please keep in mind the order I'm presenting them has no bearing on importance or chronology: it's all a big jumble of sorta-thinking that I let bubble around in my head for a while,...


45

Only the following elements in the core rulebooks use the Astral Plane While it's impossible to list every possible Astral Plane interaction in D&D, the list of things in the three core rulebooks which rely on the Astral Plane is actually very limited. The following spells, items or abilities allow travel to the Astral Plane, and will not have that ...


42

You don't need to change anything As far as the rules are concerned, the alignment of NPCs is under the complete control of the DM. In the DM basic rules, page 3 under alignment, we are told (similar rules can be found in the monster manual): The alignment specified in a monster’s stat block is the default. Feel free to depart from it and change a monster’s ...


39

To have a sense of ancientness either the world needs to have an ancient history to call on, or you'll need strategies to give the impression of one. Pulsehead's answer provides one way to create a history, but many worldbuilders never design so thoroughly and it doesn't stop them at all. Either way you work, I offer specific strategies for evoking that ...


38

True Clerics are rare The Player's Handbook points out that not all a deity's clergy are "clerics" who have magical healing powers. Not every acolyte or officiant at a temple or shrine is a cleric...True clerics are rare in most hierarchies. (Divine Agents, PH, p. 56) "Magic and strength of arms" (also PH 56) are not available to every devotee of a ...


37

Security is always a function of risk mitigation. Specifically, it must cost less to secure the goods than the total value of the goods, and make accessing the goods a cost higher than the total value of the goods. What compounds this problem is that you're talking about doing this in a game that is designed to let "good guys" penetrate the defenses of "bad ...


34

Latin (and to some extent Greek) used to be the lingua franca during the middle ages. Later on, French became the language of diplomacy and nobility. Everyone that mattered(1) speaks a local variation of said language which should still be understandable by another speaker. For example, Quebecois and French or American and English. So, you could have ...


34

The Ranger can take care of the food The goodberry spell, cast once per day, will provide at least enough food for your party. That means that the Ranger has to have chosen that spell, and burns one each day to keep the party fed. There is an opportunity cost to this: at second level, that's one of two spell slots per day that a Ranger has to use for that ...


33

TL&DR: So I'm asking, is this appropriate to disallow this? TL&DR: Yes, it is appropriate to disallow them creating things ex nihilo in the game world. You are the DM, you run the world. D&D is a cooperative story telling effort; the DM and the players have different roles. Ultimately, the Dungeon Master is the authority on the campaign ...


33

I believe the answer would be no, and here's why: I firmly agree with the statement "No major crime committed would go unpunished." Major crimes being public manslaughter, openly aggressive acts of vandalism/robbery, kidnappings, or the like. This is due to two factors. 1: Most persons capable of committing these crimes would likely realize who and what ...


31

I think a good question should be "why are they going off-map?". You're running a sandbox campaign, so you're generally waiting for the characters' own motivations to lead to the next adventure. These motivations can be one of several things: they can be hunger for adventure, gold or power - in which, case, you're in control, since you determine where these ...


31

Give the town unique resources/opportunities. This may seem callous and calculating, but a town that gives discounts to the adventurers has a special place in the heroes' hearts (and pocketbooks). Services and opportunities help disguise the ploy a little better; perhaps the town is unusually good at generating cool quests or provides unusually good legal ...


29

There's two ways that I can think of. If you want a really simple solution? Declare that "Common" is a common second language. It's by no means universal - and as you move further away from major borders and trade routes it can completely disappear - but it's common enough that almost anyone could know it without straining plausibility. In mechanical terms, ...


29

Add brief lore based descriptions to many objects, not just books. Lots of hand crafted objects should have references to the lore of the world. Subtle examples include: Symbols of deities, makers marks of a famous smiths, allusions to heroes or kings of the realm, etc. Keep it simple Providing brief summaries makes information tractable and trackable. ...


28

Obvious note from a theoretical ecologist: if females have several times longer lifespans than males, and nothing else changes to compensate, that's going to significantly skew the sex ratio (several times more living females than males). That suggests that (at least) one of the following options should hold: If the society is monogamous and the birth sex ...


28

You aren't limited by existing mechanics when worldbuilding That's the joy of worldbuilding, the world you build is the world you build. You can explain it narratively however you like and the world just is. However, what you may be looking at mechanically is an enormous antimagic field (PHB, 213) in terms of what happens when they try and utilize magic in ...


28

That player, from your description, is either a small child or shows the behaviour of one. As such, reason is useless. Regarding the major NPC of his favorite character, I would have tried one and only one argument: "Look, here's the thing: That's a pretty cool character, that's why I keep him out of the game. Because like in a chess game, once he is on the ...


27

Someone did write a book about this! It's called Grain Into Gold: A Fantasy World Economy, and it answers all your questions to various degrees. If you're interested in learning more, this review archived by the Wayback Machine is very informative. It most answers your first question, by detailing a fantasy world economic model based on raw materials and ...


27

What's important to the setting? Rude words are rude only because we decide they are. The word and phrases that a society feels are inappropriate say a lot about the people and culture, so you're going to need to start with a solid understanding of the values and beliefs of the society. Consider what is commonplace in your setting, what's sacred or profane,...


27

Eberron has maglev trains Eberron, which was originally written for 3.5, has the so-called Lightning Rail, which is basically a magical maglev train. It’s a fairly major part of the setting, and certainly doesn’t ruin anything. Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk don’t have trains, or, apparently, mages who think As you say, considering the incredible magical ...


25

My background: I've run some adventures using insanity themes. I once had a character who used insanity-magic and was about to go insane, when his player decided the campaign was too dark for him and stopped showing up at my table. I once had a character who used insanity-magic and went insane on purpose because he wanted to kill the party and destroy the ...


24

I was in exactly the same boat as you a year ago: introduced to Fate with Diaspora, loved it, and then wanted to capture than in a fantasy setting. This is where I went with it: Dresden Files RPG has a comprehensive, flavourful, flexible, and very Fate-like magic system that easily translates to a fantasy setting. For an incredibly-good explanation of its ...


24

You have gnolls working with goblins, kobolds, and ogres. Does the party perhaps have a human, elf, dwarf, and gnome? Because that’s exactly the same level of variety. I’m serious, it can help to think of things in those terms: the “bad guys” can be just as cooperative as the “good guys.” There’s nothing wrong with this at all. Best is if there is a good ...


23

Three basic techniques come to mind: keep a "Big Enough" map keep the edges really unpleasant keep the central areas really interesting A couple more are more "corny" but can work... a literal barrier at the edges Wrath of the Gods at the edges End of the world at the edges Have your players agree not to go off the map Some expansion on these ideas... A ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible