The Lazy Dungeon Master w/Sly Flourish
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Crit Academy is joined by the legendary Dungeons and Dragons writer and content creator Mike Shea, aka Sly Flourish. Mike shares some of his greatest techniques for being a great Dungeon Master, with as little time investment as possible! Perfect for busy adults! All from his invaluable books "The Lazy Dungeon Master."
Mike, for those who don’t know you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the world of Dungeons and Dragons??
What is your most memorable D&D moment?
Do you have any moments where you failed as a DM/Player?
What did you learn from that moment?
What can you tell us about the Lazy Dungeon Master book and who is it for?
In your book, you discuss you have a quote from Robin D. Laws. “How little can I possibly prepare and still have a satisfying and interesting game?” Can you tell us a little bit about this quote and the Five-Minute Adventure Preparation?
In chapter ten ‘Keeping the End in Sight’ you mention there is a big problem with character-focused open-ended stories – they often fall apart at the end. Even great writers like Stephen King and George R.R. Marten can suffer from these loose endings. Their stories are brilliant, thought-provoking, and unpredictable, yet often at the end, they completely unravel. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the book, and why it's so important for the lazy DM?
Arguably one of the time-consuming aspects of DnD is combat and combat design. How does a lazy DM tackle such a pivotal aspect of the game?
Aside from the amazing Dungeon Mastering advice. You’ve tossed in some fantastic inspiration in the form of the Lazy Dungeon Master Toolkit. Can you tell us a little bit about it and its contents?
Before we close out here. We have one last thing that just really spiked our interest. In your follow up book “Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master” you talk about conducting GM brain exercises. For those listening, what kind of exercises are we talking about?
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Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.
A Ghostly Bargain - Patron: Charles Koontz
“Uh...sorry about that. A good scrap gets him a little excited.”
Your character was just a normal person such as farmer, merchant, or some other mundane calling. Stumbling into a graveyard, burial chamber, or some other potential residence of spirits and all things ghostly. Your character is overcome with fear after meeting an honorable warrior spirit who seeks retribution for a betrayal during their life, which leads to remorse and regret. You were promised that in exchange for allowing the spirit to possess you to finish delivering their retribution. It will grant you its service, skills, and powers.
Monster Variant: Mike to create
The Void Maiden
While the characters are wandering through a dungeon, they come across a particularly strange looking upright iron maiden. A woman with a horrified and tormented look cast upon its front. From inside the coffin, they can hear screams of someone, or something begging to be released. Outside the coffin is an impression of a handprint surrounded by runes on its front. With a successful DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana) check, a character can identify the runes as material components for a teleportation circle. If the character succeeds the check by 5 or higher, they are able to decipher variant markings distorting the spell, making it a one-way trip.
If a character places their hand on the handprint impression, the character is zapped away with magic and swaps places with the person inside the iron maiden. While inside, a creature requires no food or water to live. Standing in their place is an elderly pale elf named Delsaran Thelen (M, NG, veteran). He has been locked in the iron maiden’s total darkness for 312 years. His band of adventurers had entered the dungeon previously and stumbled into this trap. None of his allies could find a way to free him, and none were willing to trade places with him.
The magic of the iron maiden is treated as 9th-level for the purposes of dispel magic or similar effects.
Wondrous, Rare (requires attunement by a Tiefling)
Shaped in the likeness of a devil and adorned with infernal etchings, this monstrous amulet is a boon to those with hellish blood.
This amulet has 3 charades and regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.
While attuned to this amulet your blood warms with its infernal power. Spells that use your Infernal Legacy have their saving throw DC increased by 1. Additionally, if an enemy damages you with an attack within 60 feet of you, you can use your reaction to expend 1 charge to cast hellish rebuke at its lowest level.
Dungeon Master Tip:
The Three Paths - The Lazy Dungeon Master
“Once you have our game’s beginning seed written down on the top of your 3x5 card, write underneath it the three paths your game might take. Sometimes these paths might be linear – the three scenes that will occur as the party navigates a relatively linear dungeon. Other times, they might represent the three main choices the group might make to decide where they’re headed next.
Professional improvisation actor and Dungeons and Dragons freelancer Steve Townshend, refers to this idea as his “three things”. He begins planning his adventure by deciding first where the PCs will end up, then decides where they begin, and then what they might find in the middle.”
The versatility here is that your three paths don’t have to be strict locations, but events as well. While they should be simple, don’t leave them too vague, otherwise, you don’t have enough detail to drive you forward.
Here are some options with enough details to guide you at the table:
The party chases the evil priest Ralthor to the nearby corrupt town of Nyn.
The party travels to the nearby ruins where gnolls have set up their slave camp.
Through either subtlety or direct force, the party enters the thieves’ den below the sewers of Ashton.
Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick
Roleplaying an Eladrin
Eladrin society straddles the boundary between the Feywild and the natural world. Eladrin build their elegant cities and towers in places of striking natural splendor, especially where the veil between the worlds is thin.
Long-lived and strongly tied to the Feywild, Eladrin have a detached view of the world. Eladrin often have difficulty believing that events in the world have much importance to them. Their general detachment from the world can make eladrin seem distant and intimidating to other races. Their fey nature also makes them simultaneously alluring and a little frightening. However, Eladrin take friendships and alliances to heart and can react with swift fury when their friends are endangered.
Eladrin live by an aesthetic philosophy common to the Feywild and personified by Corellon, the god of beauty and patron of the fey. Eladrin seeks to exemplify grace, skill, and learning in every part of life, from dance and song to swordplay and magic. Eladrin are close cousins to the elves and are occasionally called high elves or gray elves. The two races hold each other in high regard. They share a burning hatred for the third branch of their race—the drow.
A masked menace terrifies the region. The adventurers stumble into her scheme: the kidnapping of a famous performer known as Devon Artis. Their mission is to deliver a ransom and collect Devon.
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