D&D 5E Common mistakes I keep making

Voadam

Legend
I've been playing and DMing since the 80s. I've been DMing and playing 5e for a number of years now. I have read the 5e core books cover to cover. I have authored published D&D (OGL) material. I am more than a year into my latest 5e weekly campaign as a DM.

There are 5e mistakes I find myself making again and again.

I realized after my last game session that I keep taking zombies off the combat tracker in fantasy grounds immediately after they go down. I do this with most monsters when they die to keep things less cluttered and distracting and to make things more manageable, but with zombies this means one of their 5e signature features, saving to pop back up the round after dying, does not come into play. I kept forgetting this zombie power in the moment in face to face games as well. Zombies showed up a bunch when running the gothic horror Carrion Crown adventure path converted to 5e, including an add on zombie apocalypse scenario adventure. I have yet to remember to check whether a 5e zombie pops up.

Multiattack. I keep forgetting to look and see if there is a separate entry in actions for multiattack. Thugs having half their normal attacks are about half the mechanical threat they normally would be.

What the warforged PC is and is not immune/resistant to. Ghoul paralysis works on robots? They are half damage resistant not immune to poison?

Most of this works fine in the moment and is mostly invisible to the PC side, but I see it and missed opportunities on cool things like evocative monster mechanics is a bit disappointing.

As a player, my last wizard PC I kept forgetting I had shield. A great reaction spell to block a hit, if you remember to use it.

Any small things that seem to keep tripping you up?
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


Mort

Legend
Supporter
The last time I DM'd it was for a group that REALLY wanted to try out high level play. So I let them build 15th level characters.

None of them had any experience with high level PCs. So I spent much of the session informing/reminding them what they could do.

Problem was, this means I kept forgetting what the BAD GUYS could do and as a result the combats and even the exploration challenge was quite a bit easier than it should have been (for example, in hindsight, the enemy mage should have countered at least 2 of the spells that were key the PCs winning the encounter).
 


pukunui

Legend
I realized after my last game session that I keep taking zombies off the combat tracker in fantasy grounds immediately after they go down. I do this with most monsters when they die to keep things less cluttered and distracting and to make things more manageable, but with zombies this means one of their 5e signature features, saving to pop back up the round after dying, does not come into play. I kept forgetting this zombie power in the moment in face to face games as well. Zombies showed up a bunch when running the gothic horror Carrion Crown adventure path converted to 5e, including an add on zombie apocalypse scenario adventure. I have yet to remember to check whether a 5e zombie pops up.
Technically zombies don’t drop and then pop up again because their Undead Fortitude trait prevents them from going to 0 hp. It keeps them at 1 hp if the save is successful.

I usually pull out the old “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” chestnut when the players are fighting zombies.
 

Voadam

Legend
Just pacing in general. It's my eternal nemesis. Even when I have decent pacing, I feel like I could pace things out better, and I always feel like I linger too long on scenes before moving things along. My players are happy with the game, but pacing is the mental demon that keeps gnawing at my self-analysis.
Switching from four- to five-hour in person games to three-hour online Fantasy Grounds games took a lot of adjustments for my pacing as a DM as well.
 

Remembering my battleplan! With every encounter I have a generalized plan creatures will take. Most creatures only need a vague plan, usually involving when to flee, but some need more. Leadership creatures usually need a 2-3 round layout. Casters potentially require up to 5 rounds, depending on how powerful they are. The problem is that occasionally I'll forget something in the heat of battle that skews it for the players, sometimes drastically so (forgetting about Counterspell can end an encounter).
 



Mort

Legend
Supporter
Remembering my battleplan! With every encounter I have a generalized plan creatures will take. Most creatures only need a vague plan, usually involving when to flee, but some need more. Leadership creatures usually need a 2-3 round layout. Casters potentially require up to 5 rounds, depending on how powerful they are. The problem is that occasionally I'll forget something in the heat of battle that skews it for the players, sometimes drastically so (forgetting about Counterspell can end an encounter).

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face!
 



MarkB

Legend
If I have to run a monster off-the-cuff I'll invariably miss some vital ability for it. If I have time to prepare I'll scour their stat block carefully, but if it shows up as a random encounter or the PCs get to someplace before I thought they would, I'll always miss something on my first scan. If it's not a special attack or ability, it'll be an immunity or vulnerability - and inevitably I'll wind up spotting it immediately after it would have been relevant.
 

pukunui

Legend
I know we shouldn't "sweat the small stuff" but I'm a details kinda guy, and so it irks me whenever I do forget the details. There are just so many in published adventures, though, that it's easy to forget some of them - like the fact that there were four dead bodies around the altar in the room the PCs were fighting in last session. I forgot to mention that until one of the PCs approached the altar and I checked the text again.

I also occasionally skip someone's turn in combat by accident. Easy to do when there are a lot of monsters and the players aren't necessarily paying attention to the initiative order themselves.
 



pukunui

Legend
Forgetting to give out inspiration, then overcompensating by giving out inspiration on the thinnest pretense later in the game.
I only do the first part. I am conceptually aware of inspiration, have no problem with it intellectually, and haven't consciously removed it from my games. But I also 100% forget that it exists when I'm actually DMing.
I was in the same boat, so instead I've been having everyone start each session with inspiration, represented by a gold d20. When a player uses their inspiration, they hand the d20 back to me. They can potentially regain inspiration during the session, but it's on them to point out when they've played to a particular character trait well enough to deserve it.

Most of the time, even with the gold d20 as a reminder, they don't think/bother to use inspiration. And if they do, most of the time they don't think/bother to try and regain it.
 



Dausuul

Legend
I realized after my last game session that I keep taking zombies off the combat tracker in fantasy grounds immediately after they go down. I do this with most monsters when they die to keep things less cluttered and distracting and to make things more manageable, but with zombies this means one of their 5e signature features, saving to pop back up the round after dying, does not come into play. I kept forgetting this zombie power in the moment in face to face games as well.
For the record, I really hate that particular zombie trait in 5E. I get what they were going for, but... if you're going to put zombies in a combat, you're usually going to put in a whole lot of zombies. They should be designed for the absolute minimum of bookkeeping and cognitive overhead. A saving throw with variable DC, possibly multiple times, is way too much mental effort to expend on the fate of a single zombie.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top