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    What better day than today, the release date of the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual, to list ten great blogs guaranteed to improve your 5E game? In the second of his guest articles here on EN World (his first was Ten RPG Blogs Everyone Should Be Reading), blogger Charles Akins of Dyvers Campaign presents us with a list of ten blogs which will make your D&D 5th Edition game even better than it undoubtedly already is. And - unbidden, I hasten to add! - he very kindly mentions EN World on his list. But that's enough from me; what follows are Charles' words.

    There is always something new to be found coming from the blog-o-sphere and with the advent of Dungeons and Dragons' latest edition it seems that we're seeing a nearly unprecedented level of creativity and activity coming across the board. Since the launch of 5e we've watched more new blogs popping up and more bloggers taking these rules as their own than at any time in recent memory. With so much content appearing every day it's hard to narrow down your reading list to any ten blogs but the ones I've picked to share with you today have done their best to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. In this group we've got bloggers creating new settings, monsters, adventures, and exploring the rules and the boundaries of what's possible with the system. With so much content being produced it's hard to know where to start looking when it comes to improving your own 5e games; and with that in mind I've gone out to find ten gaming blogs that will make your 5e games better!



    10. Harbinger of Doom by Brandes Stoddard

    Since the beginning of Brandes' blog he has made a real effort to design his own game and to document his process; but with the release of 5e he has shifted his focus to designing for the new edition of D&D. This has resulted in a lot of well thought out ideas coming from one of the longer running design blogs out there. Like Rob Conley and Derek Myles from earlier in this list, Brandes breaks down his game play with the new edition but where he differs is that instead of running these huge, expansive scenarios that can take months and months to fully explore (if ever) he tends to focus on smaller, 2-4 session dungeons that allow him to quickly test his ideas. When he breaks these down, as he did recently in Postmortem: Monastery of the Blessed Scroll post, it's easy to see lots of things that can be taken into your own games (like that map prop he used). But what makes this blog even more exceptional though is that the further you dig into the archives, beyond the great 5e stuff, the more you'll find concepts and rules to implement into your own game that will help you shape your gaming experience into the one you've always envisioned.



    9. Detect Magic by Daniel Davis

    As you're probably aware by now the first product in the Tyranny of Dragons adventure path, Horde of the Dragon Queen, has some issues that have caused many people to find fault with it. But while there are some issues present in the product it has enough potential that many people are actively working to make it the product they had hoped for rather than the product they got. One of those people on the forefront of reshaping the Horde of the Dragon Queen is Daniel Davis. His work on the adventure has been a steady stream of improvements based on his actual play experiences and on his expectations for the product when he picked it up.

    Detect Magic is a new blog but Daniel Davis has consistently shown himself to be producing the sort of great content that has made it one of my regular reads - and there is a lot here worth reading. Whether you're looking for more fantastic 5e content or just looking a new way to start a scandal, Detect Magic is going to have something for you.



    8. Newbie DM by the Newbie DM

    The Newbie DM is a blog that has spent years working to be the go to source for aspiring Dungeon Masters and in many ways it has succeeded. The tutorials are great, the advice is often puissant and intelligently written in the style of an old friend talking about your problems at a local bar. What makes it so great now, with the release of 5e, is how calming the Newbie DM's voice can be when all around you it seems like so many other bloggers and online personalities are racing about to be the first to tell you about the next big thing coming out of Wizards of the Coast. It's fascinating that he's able to maintain that steady tone as he engages with the Wizards' design team on twitter and is often the first person asking the important questions about the new edition. As the Newbie DM has continued to make his own 5e Dungeon Master's Screen and to craft his own version of the Second Edition Forgotten Realms I'm excited to see where he goes in the future and to watch how he helps shape the next generation of Dungeon Masters.



    7. Dungeon's Master by Derek Myers (main), Neil Ellis, and Liam Gallagher

    It's a rare thing to find a great role-playing blog with multiple authors but when it works you find an exceptional place develop. Like Gnome Stew and Critical Hits before it, Dungeon's Master has steadily carved out a distinctive place within the rpg blogging scene. Where the others tend to provide either non-system specific content or attempt to focus on a wider breadth of topics Dungeon's Master has steadily focused its content on the D&D Encounters program (and now transitioning over to the newly renamed Adventure League program); with the end result of this narrow focus making it the go to place for anyone interested in playing the official adventure program.

    The primary force behind this content focus has been Derek Myers. He has steadily been producing a long-running series of posts exploring each of the adventures within the D&D Encounters program (and the now the Adventure League program) and within these posts he has dissected the strengths and weaknesses of each part of the adventures. Yet he rarely stops with simply declaring that there is a problem. Instead he will provide you with his thought process on how to correct the problem and ways to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. With the addition of an audio recording of his actual sessions he has taken this one step further and allowed the readers to fully experience the adventures in a way that many who have no other opportunity to join in could never have hoped for in the past.

    Even if you have no interest in following along with the D&D Encounters / Adventure League programs Dungeon's Master has a wide range of content available for you. This blog's archives are filled with everything from book reviews, to adventure hooks, to countless great ideas to help you move your home campaigns forward; and every Friday they dig through their archives to find some of their best content from the past and present it to their readers.



    6. DM David by DM David

    With each new edition of the game there are countless rules questions and moments where players find themselves scratching their heads in bewilderment with the decisions of Wizards of the Coast's design team. When I run across those points one of the first placed I check (after Wizards' official site) for answers is DM David.

    David has the exceptional ability to take the esoteric ephemera of this hobby and make it interesting to anyone. With an analytical mind that will dissect each facet of the game and explore not only where it came from but what it brings to the game in its current form, and if you should change it, he has steadily made his blog into one of the better rpg blogs of today. His explorations into 5e and of older editions have allowed him to carve out a unique place in the blog-o-sphere where his voice is a constant reassurance that even if things aren't the way that you would like in the game of today, you can change it for the better by critically thinking about the problem and finding a solution that rectifies it.



    5. Bat in the Attic by Rob Conley

    Rob Conley has spent the last six and a half years carving out a distinctive niche for himself in the gaming blog-o-sphere. Where other bloggers tend to talk about building their campaigns with the sort of secrecy generally reserved for nuclear secrets and hiding pornography from their parents Rob has proudly set his campaigns and style of play out for the world to see. He's a staunch proponent of sandbox gaming - even going so far as to write a free pdf explaining how to create a Fantasy Sandbox - and Old School gaming; but what has given his voice such resonance within the community is his consistent effort think about the effects of his decisions as a game master on the games he runs. Regardless of the edition or the game his thoughtful dissection of his rulings is often a great trigger for helping you understand the results of your own actions as a Game Master.

    No where on the blog do his reflections carry more weight than in his session write-ups. There he attempts to recreate the game as it happened with an eye towards dissecting what helped and failed him during play. In his current series, the Majestic Wilderlands, he's running 5e with six other players (which should be read in conjunction with Chris C.'s, of the blog Clash of Spear on Shield, hilarious Adventure Soundbites from the same campaign). Reading his use of the system is a fascinating way to explore the potential of the new edition and to see its weaknesses in actual play. With his decades of experience behind him, seeing him deal with the new edition and coming to grips with what works for his style of play has been a real treat.



    4. Blog of Holding by Paul Hughes and Rory Madden

    Paul Hughes and Rory Madden are always looking for new ways to improve their current games - whether they're playing 4e, 5e, or anything else under the sun - and as a result they have produced a blog that has continued to improve over time. At times it seems like Paul and Rory's maxim for their blog has been, "See a Need, Fill a Need," as they have produced an Index by Challenge Rating for the 5e Monster Manual, plundered the Dragonlance books for all their wonders, and used every book they come across as a D&D Sourcebook.

    In recent weeks Paul and Rory have continued to press themselves forward with the launch of the new edition and their reveal as 'Alpha' testers for the new Monster Manual. After having read them for years I can only add that their inclusion as testers for any book is a good thing. Whether you're looking for an exploration of rituals in 5e, additional trinkets, or are just looking for a great place to find new ways to improve your game this is a great blog to explore.



    3. Wrathofzombie's Blog by Mike Evans ADULT CONTENT WARNING

    In this hobby there are a lot of people out there who will tell you that doing things yourself is a waste of time when you could just wait for the next official product to do it for you. If you'd rather let someone else do your thinking and creating for you then that's fine; but if you want to find someone in this hobby to tell you that not only can you create your own content for your favorite game, but that you absolutely should, then look no further than the heart and soul of the do-it-yourself movement: Mike Evans. Mike's brazen approach to the hobby is infectious and will have you asking yourself why you aren't making a gigantic, three-armed dwarf with a beard made of fire that shoots lasers from its eyes and spits curses with every breath. Yet even if he never gets you to produce the crazy thoughts that have been bouncing about your brain since third grade he puts out some of the most fantastic free content for 5e that you're going to find. Whether you're looking for new oaths for the Paladin, new class archetypes, or if you're just looking to find inspiration for your next Dungeons and Dragons villain this blog will give you everything you're looking for and more.



    2. Hack & Slash by Courtney Campbell

    Like Mike Evans before him Courtney Campbell is is a do-it-yourself master who's constantly shaping every game that he touches to reflect his inner vision for where the hobby can go and the possibilities that his own games can accomplish. Over the years he's reshaped numerous monsters through his Monstrous Ecology series and now he's putting out some brilliant 5e Backgrounds where he has gone out of his way to bring in his favorite old school elements for the new edition in an effort to sculpt it to his own vision for the game he's running.

    In recent week's Courtney has updated On the Non-Player Character and the Hack & Slash Compendium I for 5e and has continued to help define what the monsters in 5e are capable of by never allowing his creativity to stop where the lines on the page end. If you're looking for someone to help you see the possibilities for where the new edition can go then this blog is a great place to start exploring (a great place to start is this handy Hack & Slash Index).



    1. EN World by Russ Morrissey

    Nowhere online has there been better coverage of what's going on with the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons than on EN World. Morrus has consistently beaten every blog and every news outlet to the punch time and time again. He has been able to gather all the scattered responses coming out of Wizards of the Coast's social networking outlets into useable form and to consistently bring attention to lots of great content coming from across the wide swath of websites, blogs, and news outlets. It's hard to have a discussion about 5e in any way without bringing up EN World as the first place to check for what's coming next, what's happened, and what's going on right now.

    Tuesday, 30th September, 2014
    The Monster Manual is HERE! 
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    Today's the day - the day that the Monster Manual hits stores around the world! While certain preferred stores have had the book for a couple of weeks, you can now go down to your local game store or book shop and pick it up anywhere. I've talked about it plenty on this page over the last few weeks and months, so I'm sure you know exactly what the Monster Manual looks like but here's a reminder:


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    Dungeons & Dragons News



    Other News

    • Sean K Reynolds has blogged about how his upcoming Five Moons RPG does not use Vancian Magic. Vancian Magic is the traditinal "fire-and-forget" spell system used in many editions of D&D, and in Pathfinder.


    Spell Cards & D&D Character Tokens Are Arriving




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    Apologies for the slow-news tail end of this week. With all the background upgrading and patching, there hasn't been chance to post much news. Back to normal this weekend, I promise! In the meantime, Sacrosanct's Graz'zt conversion has gotten itself an awesome web comic at Greyhawkery.

    In that article, I mentioned that one of the signs of a healthy game is the amount of fan-created content that appears for it. I take that back. The sign of a healthy game is the number of web-comics based on fan-created content that appears for the game. There's an extra level there!



    Skeptical Dungeons & Dragons

    From The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.



    Wednesday, 24th September, 2014
    GRAZZT and a BARGHEST! 5E Style! 
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    EN World member Sacrosanct is trying his hand at creating some 5E fan creation monsters. There's a bunch already in the fan database, but Sacrosanct is going above and beyond in terms of effort, so I felt I had to highlight them. First we have the demon prince GRAZ'ZT followed by a BARGHEST! Plus the CAVE FISHER I mentioned in previous news. [61 comments]






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    Dungeons & Dragons News

    • People are reporting that they are receiving the DungeonScape Beta Invitations. Apparently so far it's just character creation, and the beta is for the web version. Testers are allowed to answer questions -- DungeonScape says "There is a beta test agreement but no, it is not a strict NDA - we would prefer testers not share unfinished screen shots!"


    D&D Community News

    Click for more about D&DMore D&D resources have been springing up around the web! As always, I search the web so you don't have to! One of the surest signs of a new game's appeal is the amount of fan content it generates; this feels to me similar to the early days of D&D 3E back in 2000.



    Schwalb Entertainment

    You may be familiar with the name Robert J. Schwalb. He's a writer who has worked for D&D, Green Ronin, and more, and was one of the lead designers in 2012 for D&D Next.

    He's started up his own company, Schwalb Entertainment, LLC., and there's some kind of upcoming secret game in development which he's currently calling Codename: Potato. He has a Facebook page for the company.
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    Board Games a'Coming!

    According to ICv2, a since-removed pre-order sell sheet revealed the existence of a new upcoming D&D board game. The title is unknown, and the game is to be designed by WotC but produced by WizKids (who currently produce the D&D Attack Wing and Icons of the Realms miniatures). The sell-sheet revealed a bunch of information:

    • 40 figures, 8 Hero cards, 4 Villain cards, 200 cards, 55 interlocking tiles, 4 double-sized interlocking tiles, 168 tokens, a 20-sided die, an adventure book and a rulebook.
    • 1-5 players, ages 14 and up
    • Plays in an hour.
    • $64.99.
    • March 16th, 2015

    Previous D&D board games include Wrath of Ashardalon, Castle Ravenloft, and The Legend of Drizzt. WotC's Mike Mearls told Clever Move that future games will maintain a similar rule set to those games.

    The sell-sheet has since been removed, and WotC didn't comment when ICv2 contacted them. [14 comments]

    D&D Spell Cards Available to Order! [UPDATE - Apparently Not]

    Thanks to Jeremy, who noticed that Gale Force 9's character tokens and the first three Spell Cards sets (Arcane, Paladin, and Ranger) are finally available to order! The Arcane deck is $19.99, while the Paladin and Ranger decks are $6.99. Click on the image below for more!

    Update - scooper JR Sanchez says "just called them directly and they said they are NOT for sale yet. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news."


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    New Functionality!

    You may have noticed EN World was closed for a couple of days over the weekend. That's because the Communities software was undergoing a much needed upgrade. It's been buggy for a long time, and I finally had chance to attack it.

    Create a private space or a public group, big or small. You can create your own communities here on EN World, both public and private. Whether that's for a gaming subject not well-catered for in the main forums, or a tiny private forum for your own game, creating your own community just takes a click. There are already over 300 communities right here on EN World.

    Dungeons & Dragons News

    A whole bunch of D&D 5E articles/reviews has popped up over the last few days.


    "Disclaimer: Any similarities between monsters depicted in this book and monsters that actually exist are purely coincidental. That goes double for mind flayers, which absolutely, utterly, and completely do not exist, nor do they secretly run the D&D team. Do we really need a disclaimer to tell you that? You shouldn't use your brain to consider such irrational thoughts. They only make the mind cluttered, confused, and unpleasantly chewy. A good brain is nice, tender, and rarely used. Go ahead, put down this book and watch some reality TV or internet cat videos. They're really funny these days. You won't regret it. We say this only because we love you and your juicy, succulent gamer brain.

    Sean K Reynold's Five Moons RPG

    Sean K Reynolds is working on a new RPG called Five Moons (previously known as Project Pentagon). There's a Kickstarter launching today. Sean says "Its play style will be familiar to fans of D&D and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but colored by my experiences in the tabletop, card, and video game industry over the past 19 years." Below is a preview of a Stone Giant stat block. Click on it for more information!



    Other News

    • iO9 reviewed Steve Kenson's ICONS: Assembled Edition, saying it "Will Have You Playing Your Own Superhero In 15 Minutes".
    • Art theft & copyright violation? Bleeding Cool has an article about an outfit called Outlaw Press which apparently has a habit of stealing art and other content and selling it. Owner James Shipman responds to takedown requests with things like "I really don’t care. Your item(s) will remain there forever. Copies are selling very good. Over 50 copies sold to date." [43 comments]

    Monday, 22nd September, 2014
    Unofficial D&D 5th Edition Products 
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    While WotC has indicated that any third-party licensing announcements (if any) will be coming in early 2015, some publishers have moved ahead with D&D 5E compatible projects of their own. Some have used the Open Game License to access terms and phrases associated with D&D, while others have taken a different approach to the legalities. This article isn't about those legalities, because I'm not a lawyer. But if you're looking for additional content I've highlighted some stuff currently available.

    DriveThruRPG (and RPGNow) has a selection of D&D 5E products in their own section on the site, some from WotC, others from third party publishers including Mithgarthr Entertainment, Genius Loci Games (which refers to "5Next Edition"), Goodman Games, Hack & Slash Publishing, Silver Gryphon Games, Tripod Machine, and Sacrosanct Games. In total there are 11 5E products there; I haven't tried any of them, though, so I can't comment on their quality (I do have hardcopy versions of the two Goodman Games books, though, which Joseph Goodman kindly gave me at Gen Con).

    I asked Steve Wieck of DTRPG about the site's policy on third party products and licenses, who kindly answered:

    "Publishers who upload titles with us may select any rule system category for their titles they feel are appropriate.

    To date we have received no requests to take any action related to any titles available on DriveThruRPG that are listed in the 5e rule system category.

    Our "policy" on most things related to operating DriveThruRPG is to have as few policies as possible."


    Third party PDFs at DTRPG

    Kickstarter is another place to find third party products for D&D 5E. I have reported a few times on Necromancer Games' successful "Back for 5th Edition" Kickstarter which ended a while ago. This Kickstarter funded three 5E books in total - a monster book, a book of short adventures, and a book of spells.



    Necromancer Games' Kickstarter

    Saturday, 20th September, 2014
    Printing Errors in Some Monster Manuals 
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    Games Plus of Mt. Prospect, IL, is reporting that some Monster Manuals have a printing issue. It's probably worth glancing at pages 140-141 before picking up your book from your FLGS, just to be sure. This only affects some books. [14 comments]

    "We were notified by WotC today that some of the Monster Manuals have a printers error that caused smudging on pages 140 and 141. They seem to show up in batches, so it looks like there will be some shortages as some stores discover they have many books with the problem."


    Pic from matthileo on Imgur

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  • 16 more D&D fan resources! Plus Sean K...

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    The Monster Manual is HERE!

    Today's the day - the day that the Monster Manual hits stores around the world! While certain preferred stores have had the book for a couple of weeks, you can now go down to your local game store or book shop and pick it up anywhere. I've talked about it plenty on this page over the last few weeks and months, so I'm sure you know exactly what the Monster Manual looks like but...

    Read More

    Ten Gaming Blogs That Will Make Your 5e Games...

    What better day than today, the release date of the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual, to list ten great blogs guaranteed to improve your 5E game? In the second of his guest articles here on EN World (his first was Ten RPG Blogs Everyone Should Be Reading),...

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    Details of official D&D 5th Edition products coming in 2014 - rulebooks, boxed sets, adventures, miniatures, digital tools, PDFs, and more!

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    One trope that has been around since the earliest myths, but is only rarely pursued in role-playing games is the one where a hero does not necessarily have to be a human. And by that one should not include humanoid creatures like elves and dwarves and aliens and vampires, for they are variations on the human-theme, but true non-human entities such as animals, robots, and...

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