• Justin Handlin

Kinds of D&D Games

Listen to Episode 32 Here:

There are many different kinds of Dungeons and Dragons games. Most are a single-DM, ongoing campaigns, where the Dungeon Master creates a series of adventures that link together to form a story arc. But, not all games follow this practice.

Today Crit Academy discusses a variety of formats including, One shot games, Episodic, Multiple DM and Convention games. Listen as we compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each of these different kinds of D&D games.

Single DM: Same DM every session.

  • Mastermind behind the entire adventure, planning all the campaign’s overarching plots.


  • Everyone arrives at the game knowing who’s doing what.

  • Maintains campaign continuity

  • Everyone knows what to expect from the DM-rulings/npc/performance


  • One person has much more work than the rest of the crew for adventure preparation.

  • If DM can’t play, no one does.

  • Cause DM burn out.

Multiple DM’s: Rotating DM

  • Different players take on the role of DM for different sessions. Passing around the responsibility, maybe everyone in the group gets a turn as both player and DM.


  • Adventure preparation work load gets distributed

  • Everyone feels like part of the adventuring party

  • Can help prevent DM absences

  • Can reduce DM burnout

  • DM gets to be a player


  • Continuity sometimes can hit some rough patches

  • Characters moving in out and out of the group can be difficult to explain

  • Adventures may not feel connected

Campaign: Most traditional: A series of connected adventures. Often they share a sense of larger goal or purpose, maybe a reoccurring theme. Returning villains, grand conspiracies, or a single great mastermind behind the entire setting.


  • Fully immersed world can come together as a great fantasy adventure

  • Characters actions and decisions matter and effect the world

  • Allows for fully developed and rich characters

  • Familiarity with characters and players allows easier cooperation

  • Can find a playstyle you like, and stick with it


  • DM burnout can cause campaign to end before finishing

  • Games can run for excessive lengths

  • Lack of character variety

  • Often players aren’t exposed to innovative ideas or different play styles

  • Missing players can sometimes effect the story

Episodic: Games are like a television show, each week a new session is its own contained story. Beginning, middle, and an end.


  • Adventure’s don’t need to fit to some grand scheme or overarching story

  • Published adventures are much easier to use and experience

  • Allows players to experience many different characters and playstyles

  • Missing players don’t impact the game as much


  • Disconnected adventures can start feeling purposeless

  • Can often be more difficult to flush out characters

  • Player decision may appear to not have as much of an impact on the world

  • Games end can be rushed to finish by a set time.

Convention/League: Any game where you sit down and play with a group you don’t normally play with kind of fits under this category. Instructions for your character are predetermined, based on pre-existing rules. The group often plays only for a single session, or through a single adventure and then game is over.


  • Players get to try something different every session

  • You often get to meet new players

  • With new players and new DM’s comes new ideas for your regular game


  • You may not know the people you’re gaming with

  • The game or people may not be to your taste

  • Rule interpretation can change frequently

Unearthed Tips and Tricks: New and reusable D&D content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.

Character Concept: Stumpy

Missing a hand or two.

Creative ways to deal with said issue.

Where he has a missing hand, he has a shield that is strapped to his forearm

A hook or a sword blade is strapped on or magically attached

If caster, uses mage hand in its absence or unseen servant

Monster Variant: Filth Rats

Origin: Swarm of Rats

Feature: When this creature successfully hits a creature with its Bites attack, the target must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or become infected.

It takes 1d4 days for the filth rats infection symptoms to manifest in an infected creature. Symptoms include physical fatigue and muscle cramps. The infected creature suffers one level of exhaustion, and it regains only half the normal number of hit points from spending Hit Dice and doesn’t recover hit points from finishing a long rest.

At the end of each long rest, a creature infected by the filth rats must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature gains one level of exhaustion. On a successful save, the creature’s exhaustion level decreases by one. If a successful saving throw reduces the creature’s level of exhaustion below 1, the creature recovers from the disease.

Encounter: Assault from the Canopy

Encounter focuses on elven assailants or other creatures attacking from cover from above.

Unseen attackers

Difficult to identify enemy

Can be challenging to mount an offensive

Magic Item: Lyre of Helm

Carved from a 1000-year-old orchard tree at the center of a Helm temple. Carved into its beautiful dark burgundy chassis is a staring eye on an upright gauntlet. Finished off with golden strings.

You can use an action to play a soothing hymn of the protector Helm. Its rich music bolsters an ally with Helm’s protection. The target gains 1d4+2 temporary hit points for 1 hour. This item gains 1d4+1 charges at dawn.

Dungeon Master Tip: Go for the NADs!

Dealing with High AC players

Target non-Armor class defenses

Saving throws – mind control – poisoning - fireballs

Contested Checks

Outwit them – High AC isn’t going to do shit if you force the character to float high up and fall!

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick! You can avoid dickitude by...Forming party tactics

  • Create power strategies

  • Come up with ways to combine your powers to be effective

  • Think of unique and clever ways to work as a group to overcome an encounter


  • Rogue throws oil canister on the ground and sorcerer lights it up with firebolt!

  • The fighter charges ahead to grab the enemy’s attention, luring them into a small hallway for the wizard to catch them all funneled together for a fireball.

  • A ranger readies their attack in anticipation of the cleric opening the door and loosens an arrow immediately.

If you have any feedback, unearthed tips and tricks or topics you would like us to discuss, please send them to us. You can email them to us at critacademy@gmail.com or find us on twitter and facebook @critacademy.

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Keep your blades sharp and spells prepared heroes!

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