Being a Dungeon Master can be tough–between telling a story, roleplaying NPCs, tracking combat, and (quickly) improvising all three when your players throw you curve balls that almost cross the line called Alignment Violation, DMs have a lot going on at the table. Have you looked through that 300+ page Dungeon Master’s Guide? There’s a LOT of rules in there, folks! I gave up a long time ago trying to ever come close at memorizing rules. Instead, I try to share the load with my players, asking them to refresh my memory about spells and feats, for example. I have no desire to know how much damage a fireball does using a 6th level spell slot–I trust my players (who are hopefully being honest or at least giving me answers that don’t push the boundaries of believability) to fill in the character/class/race-related details when they are needed. This doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally have to open the DM’s Guide and flip some pages to try and find a particular ruling. It happens.
Not counting my numerous attempts at creating the perfect custom DM screen (currently in its 8th version and I’m still not happy with it), I’m always on the lookout for aids to make my life easier on game night. I’ve got some various tracking sheets for initiative and combat that I’ve either downloaded or modified to fit my own needs. I’m still occasionally experimenting with Trello, based on fellow GeekDad Michael Harrison’s post. And I always carry some folded blank sheets of 1″ gridded paper. And I’m always looking for more ideas. (Please feel free to share your own in the comments below.)
Recently, Crit Games reached out to me about their new Kickstarter–they’re printing a set of cards that track a character’s condition. One one side of the cards is some great artwork for the following conditions: Blinded, Charmed, Deafened, Frightened, Grappled, Incapacitated, Invisible, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned, Restrained, Stunned, Unconscious.
On the flipside of the card is a summary of the 5e rules for that condition. Should a player find herself blinded, the card will remind both player and DM that the player is at disadvantage on attack rolls and fails any ability checks that use sight.
The remaining cards all have short and fast summaries of the penalties for a condition… have your players lean that card against their name plate or simply place it in front of the player and it can serve as a helpful reminder to a DM trying to keep track of a dozen or more elements related to the evening’s adventure. There are 52 cards in all, with four of each of the thirteen conditions tucked into each deck.
You can grab yourself a single copy of the Condition Deck for $12 while the Kickstarter is live. If the desired funding level is reached, there are also stretch goals that will build towards a second deck called the Combat Deck. The Combat Deck’s final card count is unknown right now, but will start out by including six Initiative Tracking cards. Stretch goals that are reached will add additional cards to the Combat Deck such as Dying cards to track a dying character, Exhaustion cards for tracking exhaustion, Prone cards to signify someone knocked down… and many more. There are thirteen stretch goals in all that will create the 52-card Combat Deck that can also be purchased for $12.
Both decks are simple but effective aids… and I’ll take them. Anything that can help streamline a game and keep the story moving with fewer interruptions from rule consultations will be appreciated by the players AND the busy Dungeon Master.
The Kickstarter will run until July 8, 2016. You can get all the details (including more specifics on the stretch goals) on the Crit Games official Kickstarter page.
Note: I’d like to thank Crit Games for providing me with a Condition Deck demo for me to try out at my gaming table.