A Fate Worse Than Death

Inevitably, crits and failures add up, forcing you to declare a player’s complete destruction. After all, the chance of death is the underlying game mechanic that makes every action important in D&D. It keeps tension high in combat and gives the party’s decisions more gravitas. There are no resets and no continue screens. However, players can feel trapped in a game that’s too dangerous, too unforgiving. Nevertheless, without even the possibility of death, the game has no meaning and quickly devolves into anarchy, climaxing into utter boredom.

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House Rules for One Offs

One offs are taxing on the DM. Whether you're introducing new players or squeezing in a game with friends too busy for a lengthy campaign, you end up putting a lot of work into a single session. The pressure to impress can be exhausting and the amount of work unrewarding. By simplifying the game mechanics and leaving yourself room for improvisation, you will have a better, more fun game.

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Encounters as Story

The motives to get your party to enter the dungeon are set. Now it’s time to select the encounters. The number of these in a session will ultimately determine the length of the adventure. I consider four hours of gameplay to be everyone’s maximum attention span. In that time period, I strive for no more than two initiative-rolled fights—the mini boss and boss.

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