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In D&D, splitting the party means dividing players into smaller groups to achieve different goals. It can boost the story and efficiency, but should be avoided if it harms group cohesion or overwhelms the DM. DMs can manage splits with balanced encounters, focus shifts, and planning.
Premade adventures—modules—are a great resource for everyone from inexperienced DMs to veterans who could occasionally use lighter fare or enjoy remixing source material. My tips: skim the module, ask players their plans, make a cheat sheet, modify as you please, and religiously keep track of changes.
A tank is a character who can absorb damage without dying and deal consistent damage. They are front liners and protectors. They should be the most accessible target and keep foes from reaching the more fragile party members. Ideally, they can draw fire through abilities and spells.
Skill books can provide short- or long-term benefits, but to avoid power differences between players, it’s best to provide short-term ones with limitations. One book per long rest; bonuses last 24h; avoid numerical bonuses, opting for advantage/proficiency in narrow areas. Read on for more detail.
According to 5e’s basic rules, natural 1s and 20s—before adding modifiers—are the only triggers for critical successes or failures on attack rolls (PBH, pg 195) and death saving throws (DMG, pg 197). Critical success/failure for other rolls is an optional rule.
5e doesn’t have an official framework for damage done by objects falling on creatures—only damage done to the object itself. We propose a system using size category and weight of falling objects, and proposed Str/Dex saves for each. See below.
RAW, there is no official rules for how mundane fire acts or does damage. Currently, DMs either control the fire narratively or use homebrewed rules. Our suggestion: Embers have 50% to become small fires. Small fires become large after one round. Large fires are more complex. Read on!
A round of 5e combat takes 6 in-game seconds; ten rounds make a minute. Outside combat, short rests take an hour; long rests, 8 hours. Chunking time into hours is useful for wilderness exploration and urban activities. For longer trips, days are best. Beyond that, narrative beats set the pace.
Roleplaying is inhabiting a fictional world through a character, taking charge of their actions and expressing their personhood through action. D&D roleplay is a mix of freeform storytelling and mechanical gameplay (aka “rollplay”). Even freeform roleplay doesn’t necessarily equal acting.
D&D Madness isn’t about accurately portraying mental illness. It’s about a fantastical shattering of the mind by the uncanny, weird, or magical. This manifests as short or long-term Madness effects or more-or-less permanent character flaws. There are even variant rules concerning a Sanity Score.
D&D 5e allows you to make a powerful combatant with no arms or armor, and it doesn’t have to be a monk. Fighter and barbarian are terrific options, too, if built right. It takes multiple good ability scores to manage it, though, more so than most builds.