Posts by Basheer Ghouse

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Into the Wilderness: Propulsive Exploration

“The Cavern of Unending Woe? Subtitled ‘Abandon all hope, all who enter here’?” said Yara. “Surely you can’t be serious.” “Yara, I’m always serious,” said Kareem. So your players have explored a region: climbed its highest peaks, overcome its greatest challenges, or at least got all the stuff done that they were interested in getting …

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Into the Wilderness: Random Encounters

However, they can also bog down pacing and damage that verisimilitude just as easily. As such, you want to ensure that your random encounters are making your wilderness a more vibrant, interesting place to adventure in. Your random encounters should accomplish some of the following: Save you time Save you work Push characters toward interesting …

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Into the Wilderness: Characterizing Locations

For our purposes, we’re going to focus on three elements of giving a location character: What defines this place? How does this place interact with your setting? What can characters do in this place? You should start with the first question as it will guide you toward the others. There are exceptions. Such as, if …

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Into the Wilderness: Presenting Choice

Wilderness exploration has always been integral to the game. Even in its earliest forms, Outdoor Survival was considered an important addition while campaign structures like hex crawls and the West Marches setting have kept that tradition alive. In a genre dedicated to diving into the new and unknown, this is no surprise. The wilderness is …

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Art of Skirmishing: Louder than Words

Now that we have our system for creating skirmishes, let’s put it into action. Our hypothetical party is a four-character group at 3rd level, consisting of an elven ranger, a dwarf warlock, a hobgoblin rogue, and a human bard. We know that while they put out a lot of damage and are very mobile, they’re …

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Art of Skirmishing: Synthesis

While manipulating the encounter difficulty chart is a simple way to indicate how factors affect combat difficulty, it’s also imprecise, doesn’t have many gradations, and can be misleading. It still has its uses in adjusting the broad overview of an encounter but is less useful for dealing with more granular modifications, like how NPC roles …

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Art of Skirmishing: The Map is Not the Territory

Fire lanes are a concept from skirmish wargaming that describe concrete areas of line of sight that allow attacks to be performed at range. Line of sight blockers describe terrain elements that block line of sight and therefore attacks and abilities. Movement blockers describe terrain elements that block or impede movement even if they don’t …

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The Art of Skirmishing: The Role of Creatures

A troll in a field is dead. A troll under a bridge is dramatic. A troll in your privy is terrifying. The danger of enemies in 5th edition is based heavily on the circumstances in which they are encountered. Skirmishing doesn’t change this fact but does change the nature of those circumstances. Previously, you’d have …

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The Art of Skirmishing: Bailing Out

Selim’s dagger came free, the high priest’s corpse slumping over the altar. “That’s it then,” he said. “Let’s see what we’re getting out of this mess.” “Boss,” said Faridah, “we may want to nix the looting.” “Why would—” As he turned, Selim saw the ritual turned loose. The temple was falling apart, tendrils of noxious, …

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The Art of Skirmishing: Why We Fight

The first step of creating any successful skirmish is to set compelling stakes and objectives for that skirmish and to communicate them clearly to the players. The worst-case scenario for a skirmish is the players not caring about the outcome of the fight or not understanding what they need to do to effect that outcome.

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The Art of Skirmishing: To the Death

You could not call such bloodshed a victory. Dwarven pike had met draconic spear wall, neither buckling until lines were met. Hradakh had been in the thick of it, stabbing his way through the brutal melee, and when the fighting stopped, he and his dragonborn kin held the field.

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Tools of War: NPC Allies

NPC allies are a reasonably common feature in home campaigns and published adventures. While a decent way to showcase the allies that characters are invested in, characters who are important to the plot, or just friendly combatants too important to be represented as some sort of disposable minion, they can be annoying to use.

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