Your spouse. Your best friend. Your significant other. Your parent. Your sibling. Your cousin. Have you ever wished someone close to you would give Dungeons and Dragons (or any tabletop RPG) a try?

On Friday night Bonnie, my wife and the person I’ve been romantically involved with for almost six years, is going to play her first game of D&D. I sent out a Tweet about us making her character together and a few people are wondering how I convinced her to give it a try. I’m not sure I did anything other than be open and honest with someone I really trust, and then I returned that trust to make her feel comfortable throughout the preparation process.

Let me get specific. This post will share a few ideas on how you should approach someone close to you about playing D&D for the first time.

Let Them Know How Important It Is To You

When Bonnie and I first started dating, I didn’t have this blog and I didn’t host several D&D podcasts. I was gaming regularly, but we were 700 miles away from one another. The first time I asked her about playing D&D was much later in our relationship (still before the blog and podcasts). I approached it as a half-hearted joke. It was more of a “Hey, you wouldn’t actually be interested in playing D&D with me and all my male friends who have been playing together for years, would you? That’d be crazy!” Of course she declined.

As the podcast and blog have grown, she’s seen how much this game means to me and I finally became more direct and honest in my approach. She said yes to a game after seeing how much time and energy I pour into the hobby. “How could I not after seeing how much this means to you. It’s a huge part of your life I want to know better.” I should have been more honest and direct from the beginning which is good advice for any relationship. That’s step one. Be genuine about what the game means to you and why you want this person to give D&D a try. Be direct with your question as well. You might be surprised at the response you get!

(Side Note: Start using the #SheSaidYes and #HeSaidYes hashtags on Twitter when your significant other agrees to play RPGs with you.)

Let Them Know Why You’d Think They’ll Like It

Don’t make it all about you! Let the person know why you think they’d enjoy the game. In hindsight Bonnie was an easy sell. She loved to play pretend as a little kid, loves fantasy, enjoys other tabletop games, and has a degree in theatre. Now your special someone may not have all those unique qualifications, but if they enjoy Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, RPG video games, or just good story telling, odds are they’ll love RPGs. Tell them that!

Keep the Commitment to One Game

When you ask that special someone to play D&D with you, don’t ask them to commit a six-month campaign that meets once a week right off the bat. Ask them to play a one-shot game for a few hours. Asking someone for four hours each week for six months is more than four days of their life. A smaller commitment is more likely to get a resounding yes and it’s more fair. If they try it and don’t like it, they can tell you without fear.

Pick a Group of Players Together

Remember that D&D is a group activity and in order for that special person in your life to play, it’ll require a few of your friends. Don’t just call over all your regular players. Ask that special person who they want to play a game with. In Bonnie’s case she wanted some other new players so they could learn together and she wouldn’t be the odd person out. She also wanted there to be an equal male to female ratio, again so she wouldn’t be the odd lady out. We came up with a list and asked some friends who had never played before to come over for dinner and a quest!

Design a Character/Pick a Pregen Together (and Let Them Drive)

For Bonnie’s first character I had her tell me what she wanted. She described a few characters in her favorite books and movies (a great place to start) and we settled on a wood elf ranger. Then I asked her a few questions about her characters back story before diving into statistics. We had a long drive on our vacation from San Diego to Los Angeles and had a blast building this character’s backstory. If you can do this and then pick a pregen to match, you’re ready to rock. If not…

Then we sat down to actually build the character. I asked Bonnie questions about her character and then translated that into math, explaining each item as I went. I broke down the difference between Wisdom and Intelligence and let her be the one to decide if her character was more wise or book smart. I didn’t correct her and say things like, “Actually, it’d be better to put your 12 into Constitution and your 13 into Wisdom because of x, y, and z.” I helped her build the character she wants to play because that ensures that Bonnie does actually want to play. Don’t get too bogged down in min maxing, unless the new person who is playing really wants to min max.

Read This Other Post I Wrote

Before it is time to finally get the game playing, read this other post I wrote called “Introducing Adults to D&D.” That will give you some tips and tricks for actually running a new player or group of new players through a game.

Don’t Force The Issue

If that special someone in your life just doesn’t want to play D&D under any circumstances, don’t force the issue. You’re no worse off than you were before you asked and it’s important to respect how other people choose to spend their time. Similarly if that person tries it once and doesn’t want to play again, that’s also ok. Thank them for trying and let them know you’re willing to try something new that’s important to them!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new behind-the-scenes episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

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Aha!  An interview with the man behind Filigrin the Feared and other notable characters – Mr. Sean Curry!  Listen in to hear about cheese rankings, MORE improv talk, and SANDWICHES.

PLUS.  A SUPER SPECIAL OFFER / CONTEST FOR YOU, THE LISTENERS!  Tune in to hear it and find out!

sean-curry.com | thesandwichenthusiast.com
CHEESE RANK

Tweet your Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter! (Note: there wasn’t one this week because we haven’t done any recording recently.)

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


James Introcaso sits down with Topher KohanJoe Lastowski, and James Floyd Kelly to talk about updates to Adventurers League play in game stores. Then it’s an interview with Tome Show favorite Mike Shea about the release of his amazing new book: Sly Flourish’s Fantastic Locations. This podcast was recorded on September 18 and 20, 2016.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It only takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch!


Noble Knight Pick of the Episode: E3 The Prince of Undeath


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: The Naiad’s Revenge


Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, Gamer to Gamer, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Craig Campbell of NerdBurger Games. He’s the mastermind behind Murders & Acquisitions and a designer who left his mark on Dungeons & Dragons. This podcast was recorded on September 8, 2016.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It only takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch!


Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Today’s update may look short, but it’s actually 16 pages of free PDF long. As you may know, for the last two weeks I’ve been expanding Storm King’s Thunder by adding a new giant lord to the adventure. Not just any giant lord either. A desert giant lord from Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts!

In the PDF below you can grab new content for chapters 1-4, plus a whole new chapter, “Pyramid of Desert Giants,” that uses many a denizen from Kobold Press’ latest masterpiece.

LINK TO THE PDF: The Desert Giant’s Plan

I love to play using Roll20, so I’m making the maps available for you below. If you want to grab this expanded content for Storm King’s Thunder and the maps at another time, they’ll live forever on the Free Game Resources section of this site.

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

47ee0-1462462559930

You-Know-Who is still dead, but this is a fantasy world!  There’s an afterlife, of course!  So let’s drop in and learn a little bit about why Andar is so angry, what happened to cause The Saviors to break up, and who exactly Cyrial is.

Tweet your Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter!

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Dan DillonSchuyler EsauTeos Abadia, and Russ Morrissey to discuss the new Unearthed Arcana ranger and wise words from Mike Mearls on Twitter about the RPG industry. This podcast was recorded on September 13, 2016.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch!


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: The Witch of Underwillow


If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Last week I showed off part of my plan to add desert giants from Tome of Beasts into the latest (and in my opinion greatest) fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons adventure, Storm King’s Thunder. I introduced you to the giant lord Emir Ayla Zeif and told you all about her plan to murder other giants and gather their skulls for a ritual that could free a Jotun giant from its pyramid prison. Desert giants were added to chapters 1 – 4 of Storm King’s Thunder.

This week I’m going to begin adding my own chapter to the book. This chapter would fall somewhere between chapters 5 and 9. Let’s call it Chapter 8.5: Pyramid of Desert Giants. This chapter shows off Zeif’s lair, Dorsnarg Pyramid.

First up, some maps I made using Pyromancer’s Dungeon Painter.

Base of Dorsnarg Pyramid

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Top of Dorsnarg Pyramid

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Next week we’ll talk about what exactly happens inside this pyramid, but for now, let’s cover the introductory materials of the chapter.

Chapter 8.5: Pyramid of Desert Giants

In this chapter the characters have an opportunity stop Emir Ayla Zeif before she releases Erlin the Great, an enraged Jotun giant, from his prison. If the characters obtain Zeif’s conch of teleportation, they can use it to teleport to Maelstrom, King Hekaton’s undersea citadel (see chapter 10, “Hold of the Storm Giants”). Obtaining the conch is their main goal here but the characters may take action to free or leave Erlin imprisoned. If characters may choose to let the Jotun out, he is ready for vengeance, but clever adventurers can direct this rage and use it to their benefit.

Desert and Jotun Giants

Before running this part of the adventure, review the information on desert and Jotun giants in the Tome of Beasts. It will help you roleplay the giants in this chapter.

The Obsessed Emir

Ayla Zeif has become obsessed with opening Erlin the Great’s prison ever since she deciphered a hidden meaning in the runes all desert giant inscribe onto their skins. Those inscriptions led her to Dorsnarg Pyramid where the Jotun is imprisoned and also contained instructions for a ritual that would unseal Erlin’s cell. Once the Jotun is free, Ayla hopes to use Erlin’s knowledge and strength to rise to the top of the ordning. She knows he once fought against the gods. During that war Erlin and his kind may have succeeded had not the rest of giants aided the cause of the gods and imprisoned the Jotun in places like Dorsnarg Pyramid. The emir believes freeing such a powerful being would make even the All-Father himself quake with fear and force the gods to crown her queen of all giants.

Since the hunt for giant skulls to power the unsealing ritual began, Ayla has focused on nothing else. Her husband and second-in-command, Calamed, runs the day-to-day operations of the pyramid. He keeps the rest of the desert giants fed, sheltered, and hunting for skulls. Ayla’s neglect has spurred Calamed into an affair with another giant, Mira Burma. What started as a fling has become true love. Calamed wishes to return to the desert giants old way of life as nomads, but he cannot openly challenge his wife or leave her without facing death.

When the characters arrive at Dorsnarg Pyramid, Ayla has all fifty skulls she needs to perform the unsealing ritual.

Farragut the Scribe of the Desert

Desert giants under Ayla’s command captured Farragut, a copper dragon known as the Scribe of the Desert. The dragon’s hobby is collecting pieces of lore with a particular interest in giant culture and history. She has Farragut studying the skin of long dead elder desert giants to decipher the unsealing ritual. Farragut works quickly and unhappily at his task, hoping Ayla’s promise of freedom isn’t a lie. In truth she plans to give the dragon to Erlin as a gift in which case the dragon’s fate would be short and bloody since the Jotun hates dragons.

Erlin the Great

Erlin the Great has been sealed in his prison for thousands of years. The magic of Dorsnarg Pyramid sustains the giant. He has no need for food, water, or air. Years of imprisonment have left the giant boiling with rage. Hatred keeps Erlin focused and sharp. Every minute of every day he curses the giants and gods who put him in the pyramid, sure that one day he will have his vengeance.

Dorsnarg Pyramid

Dosnarg Pyramid was buried by the sands long ago and only recently uncovered by desert giant excavators. The huge pyramid has a large ground level and smaller top level that holds Erlin’s actual prison connected by a hidden staircase. The pyramid’s main entrance is hidden. A false entrance contains traps and a mummified desert giant guardian. Once inside the actual pyramid the characters will have to contend with desert giants, their scorpion pets, and a host of traps and guardians left active within that don’t bother the giants. See the “Dorsnarg Pyramid: General Features” sidebar for more information on the pyramid.

Dorsnarg Pyramid: General Features

The following features are common throughout the pyramid.

Ceilings. Unless otherwise noted, interior chambers have 30-foot-high ceilings, with 20-foot-high passages and doorways connecting them.

Doors. Each of Dorsnarg Pyramid’s doors is 20 feet high and made of stone. Unless otherwise noted, the door is unlocked. Door handles are 10 feet above the floor. A Huge giant has no trouble opening a door. A smaller creature can attempt to open a door, provided that creature or some other helpful creature can reach the door’s handle and unlatch it. While the handle is unlatched, a creature must use an action to push or pull on the heavy door, opening it with a successful DC 16 Strength (Athletics) check. On a failed check, the door doesn’t open.

Illumination. All areas of the pyramid are brightly lit by magical stig runes that glow yellow on the walls. If one of these runes is carved out of the wall it no longer sheds light.

Oversized Furnishings and Objects. Most of the furnishings and other items in Dorsnarg Pyramid are sized for desert giants. Exceptions are noted in the text. Tables, benches, and other room fixtures are typically twice as high, long, and wide as their human-sized equivalents and roughly eight times the weight. Small and Medium creatures can scuttle under and clamber over giant-sized furniture, treating the spaces the furniture occupies as difficult terrain.

Reaching Dorsnarg Pyramid

The characters can travel to Dorsnarg Pyramid on foot or horseback. If the characters have an airship (see the “Airship of a Cult” section in chapter 4), they can land it pretty much anywhere outside the pyramid. The desert giant keeping watch outside the main door (see “Approaching the Pyramid”) spots the airship if it approaches within 1 mile of the stronghold and runs inside, putting the entire pyramid on alert (see “Denizens”). If the characters use the airship’s weaponry to attack Dorsnarg Pyramid, the defenders are smart enough to remain inside its impenetrable walls.

The characters might instead approach on a flying mount. They can obtain griffon mounts in Fireshear or hippogriff mounts in Hawk’s Nest. Neither settlement is close to Dorsnarg Pyramid, requiring the characters and their mounts to rest between flights. Characters mounted on hippogriffs can travel 54 miles per day (three 3-hour flights with 1-hour rests in between). Those mounted on griffons can travel 72 miles in the same amount of time. The desert giant keeping watch outside the main door (see “Approaching the Pyramid”) spot flying mounts that approach within a quarter mile of the stronghold and runs inside, putting the entire den on alert (see “Denizens”).

Approaching the Pyramid

Adventurers can approach Dorsnarg Pyramid from any direction. Those who come near the pyramid without taking efforts to conceal themselves are spotted by the desert giant in waiting in the sand (area 1), who quietly slips inside the hidden main door and alerts the guards in the complex. Characters stand a better chance of infiltrating the pyramid if they approach cautiously, taking advantage of the terrain and using darkness, fog, camouflage, or magic to conceal their movement. Regardless of how the characters approach the den, have them make a group Dexterity (Stealth) check contested by the desert giant’s Wisdom (Perception) check. The giant should make the check with disadvantage as it is buried in the sand.  If the characters take precautions, give them advantage on their checks. If they take none, impose disadvantage on their checks.

The characters may not notice the main door to the pyramid (see area 1). If they cannot detect the door, but remain hidden and watch the pyramid, eventually the guard from area 14C comes out and relieves the guard here. This allows the characters to witness the main entrance being used.

Denizens

The Dorsnarg Pyramid Roster table summarizes the locations of the pyramid’s inhabitants and indicates how those creatures react when intruders are detected. As soon as trespassers are spotted or combat erupts, the entire lower level of the pyramid goes on alert. As a consequence, adventurers might find themselves fighting several encounters’ worth of creatures at once. If Ayla Zeif dies, her husband takes over and leads the giants into the desert to be nomads once again. If Ayla and Calamed both die, the morale of Dorsnarg Pyramid’s other desert giants breaks, and they flee into the desert with their giant scorpion pets. The other guardians of the pyramid remain.

Dorsnarg Pyramid Roster
Area Creature(s) Book Notes
1 1 female desert giant Tome of Beasts The giant is hidden in the sand.
2 2 male desert giants Tome of Beasts The desert giants stay here to defend the skulls.
3 4 giant scorpions Monster Manual The giant scorpions stay here to guard the supplies.
6 1 female desert giant Tome of Beasts Investigates any sounds of combat in areas 1-9.
7 1 male desert giant Tome of Beasts Stays in this room if trouble breaks out and continues eating.
8 1 corpse mound Tome of Beasts The corpse mound omes out of the pit and attacks when non-giants enter the room.
9 Calamed Zeif Tome of Beasts If Calamed hears combat in areas 6-9, he investigates and offers to parlay with the characters.
10 6 dust thirsters Tome of Beasts The dust thirsters rise and attack from the coffins when non-giants enter the room.
11 1 oozasis Tome of Beasts The oozasis attacks any creature that gets near one of the bowls and remains hidden until then.
12 1 female desert giant Tome of Beasts If combat breaks out in areas 10-14 the giant goes to investigate.
13 1 adult copper dragon Monster Manual The dragon is chained to the floor and has only 20 hit points remaining.
14A 1 female desert giant Tome of Beasts If combat breaks out in areas 10-14 the giant goes to investigate.
14B 1 male desert giant Tome of Beasts If combat breaks out in areas 10-14 the giant goes to investigate.
14C 1 female desert giant Tome of Beasts If combat breaks out in areas 10-14 the giant goes to investigate.
16 1 desert giant mummy Appendix B The mummy rises to attack when the trap in area 17 is triggered.
17 Ayla Zeif, 1 fire elemental Tome of Beasts, Monster Manual Ayla remains in this area and summons the elemental if attacked.
18 Erlin the Great Tome of Beasts The Jotun is imprisoned here.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new behind-the-scenes episode of the podcast Rudy Basso and I make, Have Spellbook, Will Travel, is up on the show’s site!

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Rudy and James sit down with Evie King, a noted world traveler and foodie who has stepped away from her busy life to join with the HSWT ensemble.  Hear her talk about her superhero alter ego Smart Girl, growing up with a D&D Dad, and living in South Korea.

Tweet your Levels Question of the Week at us or #levelsq on Twitter! (Note: there wasn’t one this week because we haven’t done any recording recently.)

Send your mailbag questions via the Contact page.

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


I sit down with Joe LastowskiTopher KohanAllison Rossi, and Neal Powell to discuss the D&D survey and a tweet from Mike Mearls about products DMs would like to see from Wizards of the Coast. Then it’s an interview with Hero Lab developer Colen McAlister and adventure designer Steven Helt about the announcement that Hero Lab now supports official Pathfinder adventures.


Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It only takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch.


DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: Fear of the Dark

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!