• Justin Handlin

10 Dungeons & Dragons World Building Tips

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This article discusses 10 Dungeons & Dragons World Building Tips from CBR.com by Paul Disalvo and give our own thoughts and on these points.

Diversity of Locations

Having a varied range of places for one's party to visit and investigate may keep things interesting and fresh while also shaking things up across a campaign.

Establish world Flavor

Is a campaign like Dark Souls an apparently hopeless bleak and gothic journey, or like most of the Dragon Quest series, a more lighter and magical affair of whimsy?

Manage Geography

A DM should attempt to make the world's topography make at least a semblance of logic in order to make it more immersive. It's best to avoid placing two incompatible sorts of environments next to each other, such as tundra and a jungle.

Don’t Show your Full Hand

As a DM, you have the ability to withhold critical knowledge about the world from your players, allowing them to make their own discoveries.

Provide Wildlife

The inclusion of animals in one's campaign is an easily ignored touch that can go a long way toward setting the scene. The fauna doesn't have to be important to the plot, and it can often be inconsequential, but it can help distinguish regions.

Develop History

By giving a world history, both ancient and recent, allows the world to feel much more lived-in and organic. While it may seem tempting for a DM to give their players information about the world all at once, it can be much more engrossing and rewarding for players to learn this information firsthand.

Subvert Expected Tropes

An easy way for players to immediately get a grasp on the locations they're exploring is to draw from popular and previously established tropes from other forms of media like film and video games. Over-reliance on such tropes may make a world appear to be quite generic.

Related Articles: Dawn of Worlds: Have a blast spending a night building a world rich with lore, civilizations, monsters, and more with friends in a single game night.

Play to the Party’s Interest

While a DM may have a clear vision of what they want to be included in their world, many details are only relevant if players actively seek them out.

Prepare for your Party to Go Anywhere

As any DM would admit, there is no surefire way to predict what a party is going to do in a campaign. DM's giving their players as much freedom and agency as possible is best, and it's wise to avoid railroading them into certain decisions.

Allow events to Unfold with or without the Characters

Time can be a great motivator for players that can make a world feel significantly more real. Allowing the setting to exist and progress without players present truly allows the world to breathe.

While these 10 Dungeons & Dragons World Building Tips just scratch the surface of worldbuilding. Applying these techniques will ensure that your worldbuilding is brought to life to the delight of everyone at your gaming table.

Related Article: Lex Starwalker shares his top world-building techniques that brought the world of Primordia to life

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Character Concept: Thralldin Blackhammer, Male Dwarf

Description: A stout and lanky dwarf with an angular face and bulky smithing arms. He wears simple chainmail with a black tunic with silver stripes complete with a hood. His head is shaved clean and his beard is two massive black braids down to his knees.

Personality: He is a serious man but has no problem using sarcasm and insults to verbally assault those who mistreat others. Despite his formidable appearance, he prefers to end a disagreement with a toss of the dice or with a contest. A challenge of wits or might, he cares not. He believes he will win both in any case.

History: Born to a family of adventurers, he was always traveling once he was old enough to walk. His mother filled his nights with stories of swords, magic, and monsters. While his parents have since retired and returned to the dwarven homeland. His urge to seek his own adventures drives him to travel the world and create his own stories to pass to his children. If he just so happens to put a miscreant in their place while doing so, then his life is joyful.

Motivation: He wants to write a book about the wonders of the world. His experiences with as many people and cultures as he can experience. Something that will stay with the world long after his passing. It always seems the world is always at war. He wants to show the good side of the world, yes, even the monsters. Each creature has a gift to give this world. Thralldin will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to experience it through him.

Monster Variant: Goblin Hexer

(Get over 100 monsters with full statblocks complete with artwork with lore and knowledge for characters)

Origin Statblock: Lamia

Lost Features: Spell list, claws, Swap Strength and Dex Scores, Intoxicating Touch

New Features:

Spell List:

At will: thaumaturgy

3/day each: absorb elements, mirror image

1/day: eyebite

Channel (Recharge 5-6). The goblin uses one of the following channel features. A creature can only be under the effects of one curse at a time. A curse placed on a target already under the effects of a curse has no effect. A remove curse spell ends this effect.

Affliction Hex. The goblin bestows a curse upon a creature within 60 feet. The goblin chooses one ability score. The target must succeed a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or become cursed. While cursed, the target has disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws made with that ability score.

Ebon Hex. The goblin bestows a curse upon a creature of its choice within 60 feet. The target must succeed a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or become cursed. While cursed, the target takes an extra 1d6 necrotic damage whenever it is hit by an attack.

Stupor Hex. The goblin bestows a curse upon a creature within 60 feet. The target must succeed a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or become cursed. While cursed, the target must make another wisdom saving throw at the start of each of its turns. If it fails, it wastes its action that turn doing nothing.

Encounter: Hot Headed

Eveth Ferray, a female half-elf mage is seeking the aid of adventurers. She has been delving into complex lore and history to locate a powerful artifact known simply as “The Spark” (amulet of the planes). The Spark is said to allow any who wield it to shift between the different planes of the multiverse. Eveth wants to explore the multiverse and record the different worlds. This tool will allow her to do just that. She, unfortunately, ran into a small snag. She believes she has located the item in a lost temple hidden in the mountains. While she had no problem deciphering the complex runes and avoiding the traps. She ran into an unexpected challenge. The vault room is barred by magic and defended by two flameskull guardians known as Ten and Peller. A character who succeeds on a DC 18 Intelligence Arcana check, knows that flameskulls regenerate shortly after being destroyed. She is unable to defeat them both in combat and has been unsuccessful at reasoning with them. She needs allies to take down the tiny terrors.

The battle area is littered with scorch marks and rubble. Worst of all, most of the floor has holes and looks to give away at any second. Since the flameskulls fly, it is only a challenge for the party. Below the temple floor is a deep chasm two hundred feet deep. Explosions slowly batter away from the floor during the fight. A character who succeeds on a DC 19 Intelligence Arcana or Religion check knows that the only way to stop the regeneration process is sprinkling its remains with holy water or a dispel magic or remove curse spell.

Magic Item: Feywild Displacer Keyrune

Wondrous Item, rare (requires attunement)

Keyrunes are ceremonial, stylized keys, about a hand-span long, made from carved stone. Not a literal key, the item is similar to a badge or medal.

When you use an action to speak the item's command word and place the keyrune on the ground in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you, the keyrune transforms into a creature. If there isn't enough space for the creature, the keyrune doesn't transform.

The creature is friendly to you, your companions, and other members of your party (unless those party members are hostile to you). It understands your languages and obeys your spoken commands. If you issue no commands, the creature takes the Dodge action and moves to avoid danger.

The creature exists for a duration specific to each keyrune. At the end of the duration, the creature reverts to its keyrune form. It reverts early if it drops to 0 hit points or if you use an action to speak the command word again while touching it. When the creature reverts to its keyrune form, it can't transform again until 36 hours have passed.

Carved from an ancient feywild tree with purple granite elements to resemble a cat with tentacles, this keyrune can become a displacer beast for up to 8 hours. In addition to fighting on your behalf, this displacer beast cheerfully rubs against you purring. Anyone who talks with the transformed keyrune or examines it closely can easily recognize that it is an artificial creature.

Dungeon Master Tip: Organization: Shadowfang Syndicate

Brakka Shadowfang bugbear of some renown founded the syndicate nearly 30 years ago. Today, she still has an active hand in the syndicate’s affairs, but her age has pushed her son Mhurren to take command.

The syndicate dabbles in a variety of criminal enterprises, from gambling, protection rackets, and much more. The Shadowfangs carved their niche in the underworld through a combination of brute force, cash, and access to monstrous allies outside the capital who are eager to do business with their contacts: Orc mercenaries seeking service with evil lords, cultists in search of a safe secret lair or illegal reagents for their dark rituals, and wanted folk eager to turn the goods and coin looted from their victims into fine goods and services. After all, a few hundred coins stashed in a chest beneath the orc chief’s cot are worthless unless he can do something with them.

The Shadowfangs found willing allies on both sides of the supply chain. Their monstrous emissaries buy luxury goods and services, costly ales, and other liquors, and deliver them at ludacris mark-ups. The locals inside the city they deal with are too intimidated to ask for high prices, while the savage kobolds, goblins, and orcs are generally too ignorant to question the exorbitant prices the Shadowfangs exact.

When not making merchant sales running goods between factions, they delve into the seedy underbelly with more nefarious work. A favorite of Brakka’s is investing in short-term loans to those in need. Employing criminals for assassinations to the highest bidder, and of course the more traditional banditry of traveling competitors. Of course, the Brakka and Mhurren are skilled at covering the evidence of their side hustles.

Player Tip: Juggernaut Cleric

This build is really straightforward, choose the Warforged Race from Eberron: Rising From The Last War. It gives you +1 Integrated protection, then pick up chainmail armor (base 16 AC) and shield for the extra +2. Now you have a total of 19 AC, and that's without a class.

The class that makes the build work is Cleric of the Forge from Xanathar's Guide, it allows the Cleric to bless a piece of armor, giving it +1 extra AC. Then taking the spell Shield fo Faith will give you more +2 AC. Suddenly your 22 AC first-level character is wading into hordes of goblins who only have a 10% chance to hit you. This build is considered legal, and shouldn't have too many issues at the table.

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