Dan-athar's Guide to Everything (We Use in the Podcast)

Hello Dear Listener! It’s me, your dungeon master Mr Dan Jenkins, with a special blog post. We use a whole bunch of books and supplementary material for The Fellows Bold and it’s high time we spilled the beans on where it all came from.

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The Basics

We play fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), so the first mention should really go to the core books: Dungeon Master’s Guide, Players’ Handbook, and Monster Manual.

Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention to the Starter Set and Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign; these were my introduction to D&D when I bought it in 2015. Since then, this wonderful immersive game has become my most treasured hobby.

Randomly Generating Characters

As you know, all of the characters our players play are generated randomly. Their races, classes and backgrounds are all rolled on tables put together from loads of different sources by me (I love a spreadsheet).

Once we get those foundation bits down, we use the “This Is Your Life” section of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything to generate the character’s backstory. We’re pretty thorough about working our way through these tables, but we try to leave how much it is used up to the players. Some just take a little of their character background for story seasoning (peppering a joke about their absent mother or ex-husband here and there), and others take every detail rolled and weave them into a whole, complex narrative before they arrive for recording.

Xanathar’s also has additional class options and spells for the core classes that we have made use of.

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Our Adventures

With the exception of the upcoming holiday specials, every chapter of The Fellows Bold has taken place in a dungeon from the Tales from the Yawning Portal book.

The idea of a collection of remastered dungeons from previous D&D editions was really interesting to me. I read about the fifth edition update of the infamous Tomb of Horrors in an article on Polygon.com, and immediately ordered the book.

It was the combination of Tales and Xanathar’s that gave my co-host Abi and I the idea for the podcast: a different dungeon each chapter, explored by completely random characters brought to life by players of all experience levels

I’ve also been reading the original texts for some of the dungeons in the book. The notes on how certain rooms/traps/etc work have been streamlined and their descriptions simplified for fifth edition, and the original notes can offer key insights into understanding them just by being a bit more expansive. I know Abi found the original text for White Plume Mountain hugely helpful when trying to explain to us how the waterfall-bubble-crab room worked.

Here are links to some of those:

·        The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

·        White Plume Mountain

·        Tomb of Horrors

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Beyond the Basics & Homebrew

Building on this, then, we use extra supplementary material from different D&D sources:

·        A Guide to Tales from the Yawning Portal

·        Sharpshooter Subclass for a Fighter from Unearthed Arcana (used on the podcast by Saul Woods as Ada Cortez. Catch Ada in Chapters 1, 4, and our Swansea Fringe live show airing New Years Eve)

·        Phoenix Sorcerous Origins for a Sorcerer from Unearthed Arcana (will be in use on the podcast in Chapter 6, airing in January - no spoilers!)

Unearthed Arcana is the name for the set of semi-official rules in testing for future supplementary books like Xanathar’s.

The Dungeon Masters Guild is a truly wonderous repository of D&D homebrewed content. Seeing the things other players and dungeon masters create is really exciting for me, and our adventures have definitely been enriched by traits, skills and quirks homebrew content has given our players to run with:

·        The Pugilist, Benjamin Huffman (used on the podcast by Tom as Kane Turi, Catch Kane in Chapters 1, 2, 5, and our Swansea Fringe live show)

·        The Comprehensive Equipment Manual [Revised], Wraith Wright Productions

I have so much love for Benjamin Huffman’s pugilist class. The abilities are so expertly crafted that they feel balanced but fun, and there are a number of different “fight clubs” you can subscribe to depending on your preferred brawling style: Arena Royale (wrestling), Bloodhound Bruisers (street brawling and detective work), Dog & Hound (a fighter with a dog), Piss and Vinegar (a dirty fighter), The Squared Circle (grappling), The Sweet Science (boxing).

We make a copy of The Comprehensive Guide available to all Fellows when they come to spend their hard-earned adventuring gold. It’s known affectionately as the “Gear Bible”.

Smooth Sailing - Dungeon Master Aids

When I’m running the session, I use Roll20.net. It’s an easy way to keep track of all the information I need to run the dungeon, while simultaneously letting the players see where they are on the map, and keeping an eye on the podcast recording. I’m a big fan of the dynamic lighting - it makes everything just that bit more dramatic for the players, which I think comes across in the way they talk on the recording.

These class-specific character sheets I found on the Dungeon Masters Guild are really cool. They save a lot of typing time!

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Beans spilled, I’d better get back to editing the new episode for you. Catch you on Monday!