Magic: First Steps into Competitive Play

Today, I’m writing something special, outside of the purview of my usual work in the Eye of the Beholder. Today, I’m talking about how to pick up Magic: The Gathering, and begin to play it more actively. As a bit of background, I’m a competitive MTG (Short for Magic: The Gathering) player. I’ve played at quite a few very large events, including GP Vegas, which I wrote a tournament report for. Now, I decided to talk a little about how to get “into” Magic.

5 Ways to Use the Planes as Plot Devices & Settings

The planes are the fundamental dimensions that make up the multiverse in which a typical D&D setting takes place. The planes (typically) describe the creation of the universe, the existence of an afterlife and the breeding ground for half the monsters in the manual. It may be that you don’t want these questions answered already in your setting. It is entirely possible to have your planes be either nonexistent or undiscovered. Today, we are going to put planes in the Eye of the Beholder, and look at when they are appropriate to use as plot devices and settings in a campaign.

Eye of the Beholder: Campaign Continuity

When you sit down at a table to play a pen and paper RPG as a dungeon master, you are there because you want to tell a story. The best dungeon masters are not necessarily gifted with encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, or even with genius talent to create and balance new monsters. The best dungeon masters are those with a good story to tell, and with the skill set to tell it while having your players change it with their actions. Sometimes, a story is just a single adventure, or even a single subplot inside an adventure. But often, you want to tell a bigger story, one in which your characters develop and span multiple adventures. We call these campaigns, and they are a hassle to make, a hassle to run, and also the most fun for DMs and players alike.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Skills

Skills are the things that allow adventurers to succeed where others might fail. The ordinary person might not be able to fling a fireball or swing a sword as well as an adventurer, but the rigors of the road and the depths of the dungeon require crafty, skilled people to navigate. So it was with great surprise that I noticed how abused skills were in the 5e player’s handbook. They have fallen from having a whole chapter about them in 3.5 to having a small section in the ability checks. Now, not every innovation is bad. Skill points are a hassle for players to handle, and it makes much more sense to be proficient in something, rather than to worry about cross-class skills and the level cap for skill points.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Treasure

Glistening piles of coin, an enchanted sword shining with elvish runes, a trinket stolen from a dragon’s hoard, all of these things are treasure to your players, and they are vitally important to making a storyline set in a fantasy world dynamic. This week, we are going to put treasure in the Eye of the Beholder, and discuss when, and how, to give it to your players.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Paladins

Part 1: Roleplaying a Paladin

Last week in the Eye of the Beholder, we looked at evil genies as a tool for dungeon masters running D&D campaigns. This week, we are going to move our lens over to the player’s handbook and inspect one of the classes. In this excellent series of articles, written by Brandes Stoddard, the histories of the classes are explored, with each edition from 1st to 5th given its due. Brandes chose to start with paladins, so this week we are going to explore the game-play side of paladins to complement their extensive lore. Those dungeon masters and players who are inspired by those articles, but are leery of actually roleplaying one of the notoriously difficult class, have only to read on. Those who are looking for a new take on paladins might look at the rules presented for variant 5e paladins at the end of the article.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Evil Genies

Hello and welcome to the Eye of the Beholder. In this new weekly column, I will take a two part approach to a topic, first dissecting the lore and storyline of the weekly topic, as well as any general DM advice about the topic. Secondly, I will provide specific rules examples (usually tuned for 5e, but I may have material referenced from 3.5) based on the topic. My topics will include monsters, treasures, dungeons, factions and all the different tools a Dungeon Master will use when constructing campaigns and adventures. With no further ado, I present the inaugural article of Eye of the Beholder!

A genie is a planar being resulting from the infusion of a human soul with elemental energy. The resulting creature has no recollection of the soul, however it will have similar personality traits and the same gender as the soul. This week, I am going to put evil genies in the Eye of the Beholder and see how we can use them in our campaigns!

Creating an Archipelago World

It’s been a crazy week and I’m only about 50% done my the second entry in the Adventure Building series. I thought this guest post by Ben Latham would be an excellent replacement for me this week and my series will resume next week. – Shawn

In this article, I will reference a great deal of other content available for free at Tribality. There will be links included below, in the description, for anything that I reference.

It is no secret that the readers of Tribality enjoy aquatic campaigns and pirates, ships and their captains, and all the other paraphernalia of the high seas. I too enjoy that exact same style of adventure, so when I started my most recent campaign, I decided to set it in an archipelago world, which is to say, a world made of islands. Browsing Tribality, you should be able to find plenty of articles to get you ready and hyped for an aquatic campaign, full of ideas of adventure, dangerous sea monsters, and more pirates than you can shake a stick at. In addition, I would highly recommend the nautical minded GM to listen to the Dungeon Master’s Block episodes 19 and 26, where you can find an in-depth discussion by Tribality authors of aquatic campaigns and pirate campaigns, respectively. However, these tools are even better when set in a world designed to get the most out of them, so in this article I am going to attempt to lay out how to design an archipelago world in which your aquatic campaigns are destined to take place.

Character Creation: Background Stories

A guest post by Ben J. Latham

My character is a first level wizard. I met my fellow adventurers a bar.

Sometimes, as a DM, you will encounter characters who have written the previous line as a background story. They may come to the table with a character sheet or stat table, but lack any depth to their character. And so it falls to you, as a DM to help players create stories that will put them in the setting. You may need to prod players to create for a story that explains why they are a first level wizard who is going to be an adventurer. And often, I find that many of the players I have interacted with have little idea on where to begin. So I thought I might share some advice with my fellow dungeon masters and players on how to make a character background story, or (for the dungeon master) on how to help your players construct interesting stories. Most of this advice also applies to the creation of NPCs, so this advice can apply to campaigns which have already been started.