How to make a D&D boss fight memorable

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Nothing is quite as disappointing as a bad boss fight.

The DM knows the finale wasn’t as epic as she had planned. The players are sitting around wondering if that’s it or if there’s something more coming.

Everyone's a little bummed it didn’t go well.

So, change things up. Make your boss fights epic! We can help.

These ideas can be used any time you have a boss fight, whether it’s the final battle of a years-long campaign, the first bad guy a party ever faces or a mini-boss that lords over a single dungeon.

Pick out the proper location. The setting — a castle’s throne room, a dungeon’s torture chamber, the top of a cliff, an ancient ruined temple — is as important as the villain. The more epic the locale, the more epic the fight will feel.

Give the bad guy something to say. Come up with a few things the boss might say. Maybe it’s a threat. Maybe it’s an allusion to previous encounters or events. Maybe it’s some sort of battle cry. But you’ll make the character more real if it has something to shout in the heat of battle.

Make the boss intimidating and ruthless. This should not be a walk in the park. The boss should be powerful, and it should not pull its punches. The dragon shouldn’t forget to use its breath weapon, and you shouldn’t fudge your rolls.

Make sure it’s fair. The boss should be ruthless (he’s not trying to lose, right?), but he also shouldn’t be ridiculously powerful to the point where it’s an impossible encounter.

Plan out how the villain will fight. A lot of high-level villains have actions, bonus actions, reactions and even legendary actions. The more you study how the monster’s powers work, the more effective it will be.

Keep a few surprises up your sleeve. When the heroes think they have the upper hand, that’s the time to bust out a surprising power or summon some allies. It gives the battle a bit of back and forth drama.

Know your players’ strategies. And counter them. If you know how the party always fights — the rogue and fighter go in for the kill while the wizard and ranger hang back and do damage from afar — disrupt their usual plans. Tie up the rogue before it can get close. Send in minions to occupy the ranged attackers.

Escape. Consider whether the boss would fight to the death or live to fight another day. If they’re the kind of villain who would rather bide their time and make another bid for resurgence, then give them an escape plan. When and how will they get out? Then execute it. It’ll give the players something to hunt in the future.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook (Wayne does a live Coffee & Contemplation every Tuesday & Friday morning), Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play Roll20 on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.

 

New at the Table: Where to get dice, maps, minis and more

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You’re playing in a D&D group. You’ve created a character. You’ve decided on a game to play.

But then you look around the table, and maybe you feel your trove of precious loot is a little lacking. There’s the guy with a sack full of dice. There’s the DM with miniatures for every occasion. There’s the player with the sweet dice tray. There’s the girl who has a kickass character sheet.

Where are they getting all this stuff?

It should come as no surprise that with the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy RPGs, there are loads of accessories floating around out there.

And we can help you find them.

Your friendly local game store. Also known as an FLGS, a local shop is the best place to start. They usually offer space to play games, so supporting them by buying minis, dice, books and whatever is a great way to go.

Dungeon Crate. Can we recommend that? Every month, get dice, miniatures, adventures, maps, tokens, coins and all kinds of other stuff delivered to your door. Seriously. You wouldn’t even have to go shop. Curated by a team of gamers, the box will just show up every month. Subscribe.

Go straight to the manufacturer. Many of the companies that make RPG accessories sell directly to their customers. You don’t have to own a shop or a website to buy from them. Get dice from Chessex. Get miniatures from Reaper.

Etsy. There’s a lot of great handmade and original stuff out there like this spell tracker or this plush dice set. Do a search for D&D or Pathfinder and watch the results pour in.

Ask your friends. Love their dice bag? That sweet dragonborn miniature? The notebook that has their character sheet inside? Ask them where they got it and get your own. If it’s cool, everyone should have one.

If you’re looking for miniatures, it’s worth checking out places like Miniature Market, Troll and Toad or Cool Mini Or Not. They deal in all kinds of minis: Pre-painted and unpainted minis from dozens of different manufacturers. Looking for something very specific? Check out HeroForge, which lets you make a custom figure, which they 3D print for you.

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Now that you’re ready to go, be sure to keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook (Wayne does a live Coffee & Contemplation every Tuesday & Friday morning), Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play Roll20 on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.

How to use every item in September's Dungeon Crate

Has there ever been a Dungeon Crate more packed than this one?

Upon opening September’s Dungeon Crate, it felt like the box was bursting with items. This month, there’s lots to use on the tabletop as well as a few things to keep you organized and show off your love of the game.

As usual, Dungeon Crate featured a full Dungeons & Dragons-compatible adventure, maps, miniatures, dice and other accessories.

Let’s dig into our crate full of loot, shall we?

Hell and High Water

Written by Floyd Cocklin, this adventure takes you inside a family’s ancestral keep. The problem? The whole place has been flooded. The water filling the ancient building is just as scary as the monsters hiding within. Just remember, this one has a Floyd Warning! It ranks a little higher on the difficulty scale than you might be used to.

Dungeon Tile

The insert that describes the content of the crate? The reverse side is a dungeon tile from Dungeon Doodles. How cool is that?

Shadow Demon – Reaper

A winged monster bursting from the shadows? Scary stuff. This one’s cast in translucent purple plastic, and it’s usable on the table as-is or with a quick coat of paint.

Banshee — Reaper

This haunted and howling spirit seems to swirl straight out of the table. Cast in green translucent plastic, this ghostly monster miniature is ready to play on the table right now.

Sarcophogus — Reaper

A great piece of dungeon dressing, this sarcophagus, tomb or grave makes a great centerpiece for any room in your dungeon.

Healing Potion Vial – Dungeon Crate Creations

Keep this one in your bag of holding until you need it. Each vial contains several d4, which is perfect for whenever your character needs to down a potion. Just pull out your vial, pop off the top and roll the proper amount of dice to get back those much-needed hit points.

Tiefling Art Print - Josh Ketchen

Josh Ketchen makes some really beautiful art. This piece of a noble but defiant looking tiefling is great to represent your character, a demonic NPC or, maybe the best idea yet, for framing and displaying in your game room.

Bookmarks — Dungeon Doodles

How many times do you flip to the index to find spells or abilities or rules or whatever? Save some time with these nifty bookmarks, which are compatible with dry erase markers. Mark ‘em up and stuff them in your favorite rulebooks and adventure modules. And if you need them, you can flip them over and use the backs as map tiles. (They work great with the map tiles on the back of the crate insert.)

Stickers — Dungeon Doodles

Show off your love of all things RPG by slapping up one of these stickers.

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play games on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.



New at the Table: What kind of D&D game do you want to play?

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When we think of D&D, we all think of a pretty standard medieval fantasy world.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you’re picking your next game, you have some choices on what sort of game you’d like to play. You can alter the rules of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder or really any tabletop RPG to fit with the kind of world you’d like to play in.

Right here, we’ll explain your options and give suggestions for adventures that fit each genre.

High fantasy

This is your standard RPG fantasy world. There’s a world. There are multiple types of humanoids and monsters roaming. There’s magic.

You should check out: Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Epic fantasy

Very similar to high fantasy, epic fantasy often deals with much bigger stakes. The entire world, nay the universe, may be in peril, and it’s up to you to stop it.

You should check out: Storm King’s Thunder

Low magic

Again, like those above, low magic campaigns typically have little to no magic. Magic might be rare or a limited resource. It might even be completely absent. Certain magical abilities could be translated into innate special abilities, but wizards and sorcerers and spellcasters of any kind would be rare.

You should check out: Adventures in Middle Earth

High tech

In most fantasy RPGs, the technology is stuck in medieval times. But in a high-tech campaign, you drop some more advanced technology into the game for extra flavor. That could mean adding steampunk elements, finding an alien ship that crash lands in your campaign world or simply adding pistols and cannons to a standard fantasy setting.

You should check out: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks or the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron

Dungeon delve

Dungeon delving campaigns don’t care so much about the larger world. They are typically a mega dungeon built underground, in a mountain or whatever. They’re absolutely filled with monsters. You go ever deeper (or ever higher) into the complex and face stronger enemies as you go.

You should check out: Emerald Spire

Hex mapping

A hex campaign revolves around a map. It’s usually divided into hexes (hence the name). The campaign involves exploring the world or region one hex at a time. The party could be seeking an artifact, searching an undiscovered island or on a conquest.

You should check out: Kingmaker

Post-apocalypse

A hybrid of fantasy and high-tech campaigns, the post-apocalyptic campaign usually has elements of magic as well as elements of tech. One is left over from the destroyed civilization and the other is blooming in the world around.

You should check out: Dark Sun

Horror

Horrifying things are all around you. Evil. Monstrous. Disgusting. A horror campaign is all about the evil waiting around the corner, so it’s all about fear and the unknown.

You should check out: Curse of Strahd

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Keep up with everything we’re doing. Find and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and watch us play games on Twitch. Listen to our free DnD5e and Dungeon Crate podcasts. You can also score some sweet loot if you check out our online store.