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Beneath the bustling City of Waterdeep, a beholder crime lord keeps tabs on everyone and everything—or so the beholder thinks. Known as Xanathar, this bizarre being believes it can gather information on everything in the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse. The beholder desires to know it all! But no matter what the beholder learns and what treasures it acquires, its most prized possession in all the multiverse remains its goldfish, Sylgar.

The first major rules expansion to the fifth edition of D&D, {@i Xanathar's Guide to Everything} provides a wealth of new options for the game. Xanathar might not be able to realize its dream to know everything, but this book does delve into every major part of the game: adventurers, their adventures, and the magic they wield.

Using this Book

Written for both players and Dungeon Masters, this book offers options to enhance campaigns in any world, whether you're adventuring in the Forgotten Realms, another official D&D setting, or a world of your own creation. The options here build on the official rules contained within the player's handbook, the monster manual, and the dungeon master's guide. Think of this book as the companion to those volumes. It builds on their foundation, exploring pathways first laid in those publications. Nothing herein is required for a D&D campaign—this is not a fourth core rulebook—but we hope it will provide you new ways to enjoy the game.

Chapter 1 offers character options that expand on those offered in the player's handbook. Chapter 2 is a toolkit for the DM that provides new resources for running the game and designing adventures, all of it building on the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Master's Guide. Chapter 3 presents new spells for player characters and spellcasting monsters to unleash.

Appendix A provides guidance on running a shared campaign, similar to the activities staged by the D&D Adventurers League, and appendix B contains a host of tables that allow you to quickly generate names for the characters in your D&D stories.

As you peruse the many options herein, you'll come across observations from Xanathar itself. Like the beholder's roving mind, your reading will take you to places in the game familiar and new. May you enjoy the journey!

Unearthed Arcana

Much of the material in this book originally appeared in Unearthed Arcana, a series of online articles we publish to explore rules that might officially become part of the game. Some Unearthed Arcana offerings don't end up resonating with fans and are set aside for the time being. The Unearthed Arcana material that inspired the options in the following chapters was well received and, thanks to feedback from thousands of you, has been refined into the official forms presented here.

The Core Rules

This book relies on the rules in the three core rulebooks. The game especially makes frequent use of the rules in chapters 7-10 of the player's handbook: "Using Ability Scores," "Adventuring," "Combat," and "Spellcasting." That book's appendix A is also crucial; it contains definitions of conditions, like invisible and prone. You don't need to know the rules by heart, but it's helpful to know where to find them when you need them.

If you're a DM, you should also know where to look things up in the dungeon master's guide, especially the rules on how magic items work (see chapter 7 of that book). The introduction of the monster manual is your guide on how to use a monster's stat block.

The DM Adjudicates the Rules

One rule overrides all others: the DM is the final authority on how the rules work in play.

Rules are part of what makes D&D a game, rather than just improvised storytelling. The game's rules are meant to help organize, and even inspire, the action of a D&D campaign. The rules are a tool, and we want our tools to be as effective as possible. No matter how good those tools might be, they need a group of players to bring them to life and a DM to guide their use.

The DM is key. Many unexpected events can occur in a D&D campaign, and no set of rules could reasonably account for every contingency. If the rules tried to do so, the game would become a slog. An alternative would be for the rules to severely limit what characters can do, which would be contrary to the open-endedness of D&D. Here's the path the game takes: it lays a foundation of rules that a DM can build on, and it embraces the DM's role as the bridge between the things the rules address and the things they don't.

Ten Rules to Remember

A few rules in the core rulebooks sometimes trip up a new player or DM. Here are ten of those rules. Keeping them in mind will help you interpret the options in this book.

Exceptions Supersede General Rules

General rules govern each part of the game. For example, the combat rules tell you that melee weapon attacks use Strength and ranged weapon attacks use Dexterity. That's a general rule, and a general rule is in effect as long as something in the game doesn't explicitly say otherwise.

The game also includes elements-class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and the like-that sometimes contradict a general rule. When an exception and a general rule disagree, the exception wins. For example, if a feature says you can make melee weapon attacks using your Charisma, you can do so, even though that statement disagrees with the general rule.

Round Down

Whenever you divide or multiply a number in the game, round down if you end up with a fraction, even if the fraction is one-half or greater.

Advantage and Disadvantage

Even if more than one factor gives you advantage or disadvantage on a roll, you have it only once, and if you have advantage and disadvantage on the same roll, they cancel each other.

Combining Different Effects

Different game effects can affect a target at the same time. For example, two different benefits can give you a bonus to your Armor Class. But when two or more effects have the same proper name, only one of them (the most powerful one if their benefits aren't identical) applies while the durations of the effects overlap. For example, if bless is cast on you when you're still under the effect of an earlier bless, you gain the benefit of only one casting. Similarly, if you're in the radius of more than one Aura of Protection, you benefit only from the one that grants the highest bonus.

Reaction Timing

Certain game features let you take a special action, called a reaction, in response to some event. Making opportunity attacks and casting the shield spell are two typical uses of reactions. If you're unsure when a reaction occurs in relation to its trigger, here's the rule: the reaction happens after its trigger completes, unless the description of the reaction explicitly says otherwise.

Once you take a reaction, you can't take another one until the start of your next turn.

Resistance and Vulnerability

Here's the order that you apply modifiers to damage: (1) any relevant damage immunity, (2) any addition or subtraction to the damage, (3) one relevant damage resistance, and (4) one relevant damage vulnerability.

Even if multiple sources give you resistance to a type of damage you're taking, you can apply resistance to it only once. The same is true of vulnerability.

Proficiency Bonus

If your proficiency bonus applies to a roll, you can add the bonus only once to the roll, even if multiple things in the game say your bonus applies. Moreover, if more than one thing tells you to double or halve your bonus, you double it only once or halve it only once before applying it. Whether multiplied, divided, or left at its normal value, the bonus can be used only once per roll.

Bonus Action Spells

If you want to cast a spell that has a casting time of 1 bonus action, remember that you can't cast any other spells before or after it on the same turn, except for cantrips with a casting time of 1 action.


As soon as you start casting a spell or using a special ability that requires concentration, your concentration on another effect ends instantly.

Temporary Hit Points

Temporary hit points aren't cumulative. If you have temporary hit points and receive more of them, you don't add them together, unless a game feature says you can. Instead, you decide which temporary hit points to keep.

Character Options

The main figures in any D&D campaign are the characters created by the players. The heroics, folly, righteousness, and potential villainy of your characters are at the heart of the story. This chapter provides a variety of new options for them, focusing on additional subclasses for each of the classes in the player's handbook.

Each class offers a character-defining choice at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level that unlocks a series of special features, not available to the class as a whole. That choice is called a subclass. Each class has a collective term that describes its subclasses; in the fighter, for instance, the subclasses are called martial archetypes, and in the paladin, they're sacred oaths. The table below identifies each of the subclasses in this book. In addition, the section for druids presents details on how the Wild Shape feature works, and the warlock receives a collection of new choices for the class's Eldritch Invocations feature.

Each of the class presentations leads off with advice on how to add depth and detail to your character's personality. You can use the tables in these sections as a source of inspiration, or roll a die to randomly determine a result if desired.

Following the subclasses, the section called "this is your life" presents a series of tables for adding detail to your character's backstory.

The chapter concludes with a selection of feats for the races in the player's handbook, offering ways to delve deeper into a character's racial identity.


ClassSubclassLevel AvailableDescription
Barbarian{@class Barbarian|phb|Path of the Ancestral Guardian|Path of the Ancestral Guardian|xge}3rdCalls on the spirits of honored ancestors to protect others
Barbarian{@class Barbarian|phb|Path of the Storm Herald|Path of the Storm Herald|xge}3rdFilled with a rage that channels the primal magic of the storm
Barbarian{@class Barbarian|phb|Path of the Zealot|Path of the Zealot|xge}3rdFueled by a religious zeal that visits destruction on foes
Bard{@class Bard|phb|College of Glamour|College of Glamour|xge}3rdWields the beguiling, glorious magic of the Feywild
Bard{@class Bard|phb|College of Swords|College of Swords|xge}3rdEntertains and slays with daring feats of weapon prowess
Bard{@class Bard|phb|College of Whispers|College of Whispers|xge}3rdPlants fear and doubt in the minds of others
Cleric{@class Cleric|phb|Forge Domain|Forge Domain|xge}1stClad in heavy armor, serves a god of the forge or creation
Cleric{@class Cleric|phb|Grave Domain|Grave Domain|xge}1stOpposes the blight of undeath
Druid{@class Druid|phb|Circle of Dreams|Circle of Dreams|xge}2ndMends wounds, guards the weary, and strides through dreams
Druid{@class Druid|phb|Circle of the Shepherd|Circle of the Shepherd|xge}2ndSummons nature spirits to bolster friends and harry foes
Fighter{@class Fighter|phb|Arcane Archer|Arcane Archer|xge}3rdImbues arrows with spectacular magical effects
Fighter{@class Fighter|phb|Cavalier|Cavalier|xge}3rdDefends allies and knocks down enemies, often on horseback
Fighter{@class Fighter|phb|Samurai|Samurai|xge}3rdCombines resilience with courtly elegance and mighty strikes
Monk{@class Monk|phb|Way of the Drunken Master|Way of the Drunken Master|xge}3rdConfounds foes through a martial arts tradition inspired by the swaying of a drunkard
Monk{@class Monk|phb|Way of the Kensei|Way of the Kensei|xge}3rdChannels ki through a set of mastered weapons
Monk{@class Monk|phb|Way of the Sun Soul|Way of the Sun Soul|xge}3rdTransforms ki into bursts of fire and searing bolts of light
Paladin{@class Paladin|phb|Oath of Conquest|Oath of Conquest|xge}3rdStrikes terror in enemies and crushes the forces of chaos
Paladin{@class Paladin|phb|Oath of Redemption|Oath of Redemption|xge}3rdOffers redemption to the worthy and destruction to those who refuse mercy or righteousness
Ranger{@class Ranger|phb|Gloom Stalker|Gloom Stalker|xge}3rdUnafraid of the dark, relentlessly stalks and ambushes foes
Ranger{@class Ranger|phb|Horizon Walker|Horizon Walker|xge}3rdFinds portals to other worlds and channels planar magic
Ranger{@class Ranger|phb|Monster Slayer|Monster Slayer|xge}3rdHunts down creatures of the night and wielders of grim magic
Rogue{@class Rogue|phb|Inquisitive|Inquisitive|xge}3rdRoots out secrets, akin to a masterful detective
Rogue{@class Rogue|phb|Mastermind|Mastermind|xge}3rdA master tactician, manipulates others
Rogue{@class Rogue|phb|Scout|Scout|xge}3rdCombines stealth with a knack for survival
Rogue{@class Rogue|phb|Swashbuckler|Swashbuckler|xge}3rdDelivers deadly strikes with speed and panache
Sorcerer{@class Sorcerer|phb|Divine Soul|Divine Soul|xge}1stHarnesses magic bestowed by a god or other divine source
Sorcerer{@class Sorcerer|phb|Shadow Magic|Shadow Magic|xge}1stWields the grim magic of the Shadowfell
Sorcerer{@class Sorcerer|phb|Storm Sorcery|Storm Sorcery|xge}1stCrackles with the power of the storm
Warlock{@class Warlock|phb|The Celestial|The Celestial|xge}1stForges a pact with a being from celestial realms
Warlock{@class Warlock|phb|The Hexblade|The Hexblade|xge}1stServes a shadowy entity that bestows dread curses
Wizard{@class Wizard|phb|War Magic|War Magic|xge}2ndMixes evocation and abjuration magic to dominate the battlefield

This is Your Life

{@i Note that an automated version of this exists on the {@5etools This Is Your Life|lifegen.html} page.}

The character creation rules in the player's handbook provide all the information you need to define your character in preparation for a life of adventuring. What they don't do is account for all the circumstances that shaped your character during the years between your birth and the start of your career as a member of a class.

What did your character accomplish or experience before deciding to become an adventurer? What were the circumstances of your birth? How large is your family, and what sorts of relationships do you have with your relatives? Which people were the greatest influences on you during your formative years, for better or worse?

To answer these questions and more, you can use the tables and the advice in this section to compose a well-developed backstory for your character-an autobiography of sorts-that you can use to inform how you roleplay the character. Your DM can draw from this material as the campaign proceeds, creating situations and scenarios that build off your previous life experiences.

Ideas, Not Rules

Even though these pages are full of tables and die rolls, they don't make up a rules system-in fact, the opposite is true. You can use as much or as little of this material as you desire, and you can make decisions in any order you want.

For instance, you might not want these tables to help you decide who your parents and siblings are, because that's among the information you've already come up with. But you can still use other parts, such as the section on life events, to provide added depth and detail.

How and When to Use the Tables

If you're comfortable with letting the dice decide a certain fact about your character, go ahead and roll. If not, you can take charge and make the decision, choosing from among the possibilities on a table. Of course, you also have the option of disregarding the result of a die roll if it conflicts with another result. Likewise, if the text instructs you to roll on a table, that's not meant to be taken literally. You can always make your own choice.

Although these tables are meant to augment the step-by-step character creation process in the player's handbook, they don't occupy a specific place in that process. You can use some of them early on-for instance, it's possible to determine your parents and other family members immediately after deciding your character's race-but you could also wait until later in the process. You might prefer to establish more facts about your character's game identity-such as your class, ability scores, and alignment-before supplementing that information with what's offered here.

Section by Section

This material is divided into four sections, each addressing a different aspect of your character's backstory.


To find out who and where you came from, use the "Origins" section. When you're done, you will have a summary of facts about your parents, your siblings, and the circumstances under which you grew up.

Personal Decisions

After you have selected your character's background and class, use the appropriate tables to determine how you came to make those choices.

Life Events

Your character's existence until now, no matter how brief or uneventful, has been marked by one or more life events-memorable happenings that have had an effect on who you are today.

Supplemental Tables

Your life has intersected with the lives of plenty of other people, all the way from your infancy to today. When a result mentions such a person, you can use the supplemental tables to add needed details-such as race, class, or occupation-to that person. Some tables in the other sections direct you to one or more of the supplemental tables, and you can also use them any other time you see fit.


The usual first step in creating your character's life story is to determine your early circumstances. Who were your parents? Where were you born? Did you have any siblings? Who raised you? You can address these questions by using the following tables.


You had parents, of course, even if they didn't raise you. To determine what you know about these people, use the Parents table. If you want, you can roll separately on the table for your mother and your father. Use the supplemental tables as desired (particularly Class, Occupation, and Alignment) to learn more about your parents.

Nonhuman Parents

If your character is a half-elf, a half-orc, or a tiefling, you can use one of the tables below to determine the race of each of your parents. When you have a result, randomly determine which part of the result refers to your father and which to your mother.


1-95You know who your parents are or were.
96-100You do not know who your parents were.

Half-Elf Parents

Half-Elf Parents
1-5One parent was an elf and the other was a human.
6One parent was an elf and the other was a half-elf.
7One parent was a human and the other was a half-elf.
8Both parents were half-elves.

Half-Orc Parents

Half-Orc Parents
1-3One parent was an orc and the other was a human.
4-5One parent was an orc and the other was a half-orc.
6-7One parent was a human and the other was a half-orc.
8Both parents were half-orcs.

Tiefling Parents

Tiefling Parents
1-4Both parents were humans, their infernal heritage dormant until you came along.
5-6One parent was a tiefling and the other was a human.
7One parent was a tiefling and the other was a devil.
8One parent was a human and the other was a devil.


After establishing your parentage, you can determine where you were born by using the Birthplace table. (Modify the result or roll again if you get a result that's inconsistent with what you know about your parents.) Once you have a result, roll percentile dice. On a roll of 00, a strange event coincided with your birth: the moon briefly turning red, all the milk within a mile spoiling, the water in the area freezing solid in midsummer, all the iron in the home rusting or turning to silver, or some other unusual event of your choice.


51-55Home of a family friend
56-63Home of a healer or midwife
64-65Carriage, cart, or wagon
66-68Barn, shed, or other outbuilding
79-80Alley or street
81-82Brothel, tavern, or inn
83-84Castle, keep, tower, or palace
85Sewer or rubbish heap
86-88Among people of a different race
89-91On board a boat or a ship
92-93In a prison or in the headquarters of a secret organization
94-95In a sage's laboratory
96In the Feywild
97In the Shadowfell
98On the Astral Plane or the Ethereal Plane
99On an Inner Plane of your choice
100On an Outer Plane of your choice


You might be an only child or one of many children. Your siblings could be cherished friends or hated rivals. Roll on the Number of Siblings table to determine how many brothers or sisters you have. If you are a dwarf or an elf, subtract 2 from your roll. Then, roll on the Birth Order table for each sibling to determine that person's age relative to yours (older, younger, or born at the same time).


For each sibling of suitable age, roll on the Occupation supplemental table to determine what that person does for a living.


You can choose your siblings' alignments or roll on the Alignment supplemental table.


By now, each of your siblings might be alive and well, alive and not so well, in dire straits, or dead. Roll on the Status supplemental table.


You can roll on the Relationship supplemental table to determine how your siblings feel about you. They might all have the same attitude toward you, or some might view you differently from how the others do.

Other Details

You can decide any other details you like about each sibling, including gender, personality, and place in the world.

Number of Siblings

Number of Siblings
3-4{@dice 1d3}
5-6{@dice 1d4+1}
7-8{@dice 1d6+2}
9-10{@dice 1d8+3}

Birth Order

Birth Order
2d6Birth Order
2Twin, triplet, or quadruplet

Family and Friends

Who raised you, and what was life like for you when you were growing up? You might have been raised by your parents, by relatives, or in an orphanage. Or you could have spent your childhood on the streets of a crowded city with only your fellow runaways and orphans to keep you company.

Use the Family table to determine who raised you. If you know who your parents are but you get a result that does not mention one or both of them, use the Absent Parent table to determine what happened.

Next, refer to the Family Lifestyle table to determine the general circumstances of your upbringing. (Chapter 5 of the player's handbook has more information about lifestyles.) The result on that table includes a number that is applied to your roll on the Childhood Home table, which tells you where you spent your early years. Wrap up this section by using the Childhood Memories table, which tells you how you were treated by other youngsters as you were growing up.

Supplemental Tables

You can roll on the Relationship table to determine how your family members or other important figures in your life feel about you. You can also use the Race, Occupation, and Alignment tables to learn more about the family members or guardians who raised you. {@b Developer's Note:} Below you will find a link to a {@b Story Template} which uses the tables in this and the sections below to randomly determine your back story. Instructions on how to use the template are given in the template itself.


2Institution, such as an asylum
8-15Paternal or maternal aunt, uncle, or both
16-25Paternal or maternal grandparent(s)
26-35Adoptive family (same or different race)
36-55Single father or stepfather
56-75Single mother or stepmother
76-100Mother and father

Absent Parent

Absent Parent
1Your parent died (roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table).
2Your parent was imprisoned, enslaved, or otherwise taken away.
3Your parent abandoned you
4Your parent disappeared to an unknown fate.

Family Lifestyle

Family Lifestyle
3Wretched (-40)
4-5Squalid (-20)
6-8Poor (-10)
9-12Modest (+0)
13-15Comfortable (+10)
16-17Wealthy (+20)
18Aristocratic (+40)

Childhood Home

Childhood Home
0On the streets
1-20Rundown shack
21-30No permanent residence
31-40Encampment or village in the wilderness
41-50Apartment in a rundown neighborhood
51-70Small house
71-90Large house
111-140Palace or castle

Childhood Memories

Childhood Memories
1-3I am still haunted by my childhood, when I was treated badly by my peers.
4-5I spent most of my childhood alone, with no close friends.
6-8Others saw me as being different or strange, and so I had few companions.
9-12I had a few close friends and lived an ordinary childhood.
13-15I had several friends, and my childhood was generally a happy one.
16-17I always found it easy to make friends, and I loved being around people.
18-25Everyone knew who I was, and I had friends everywhere I went.

Personal Decisions

Your character's life takes a particular course depending on the choices you make for the character's background and class.


Roll on the appropriate table in this section as soon as you decide your background, or at any later time if you choose. If a background includes a special decision point, such as a folk hero's defining event or the specialty of a criminal or a sage, it's best to make that determination before using the pertinent table below.

stdClass Object ( [type] => tableGroup [name] => I became... [tables] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Acolyte [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became an acolyte because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I ran away from home at an early age and found refuge in a temple. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => My family gave me to a temple, since they were unable or unwilling to care for me. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I grew up in a household with strong religious convictions. Entering the service of one or more gods seemed natural. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => An impassioned sermon struck a chord deep in my soul and moved me to serve the faith. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I followed a childhood friend, a respected acquaintance, or someone I loved into religious service. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => After encountering a true servant of the gods, I was so inspired that I immediately entered the service of a religious group. ) ) ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Charlatan [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a charlatan because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I was left to my own devices, and my knack for manipulating others helped me survive. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I learned early on that people are gullible and easy to exploit. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I often got in trouble, but I managed to talk my way out of it every time. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I took up with a confidence artist, from whom I learned my craft. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => After a charlatan fleeced my family, I decided to learn the trade so I would never be fooled by such deception again. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I was poor or I feared becoming poor, so I learned the tricks I needed to keep myself out of poverty. ) ) ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Criminal [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a criminal because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I resented authority in my younger days and saw a life of crime as the best way to fight against tyranny and oppression. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => Necessity forced me to take up the life, since it was the only way I could survive. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I fell in with a gang of reprobates and ne'er-do-wells, and I learned my specialty from them. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => A parent or relative taught me my criminal specialty to prepare me for the family business. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I left home and found a place in a thieves' guild or some other criminal organization. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I was always bored, so I turned to crime to pass the time and discovered I was quite good at it. ) ) ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Entertainer [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became an entertainer because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => Members of my family made ends meet by performing, so it was fitting for me to follow their example. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I always had a keen insight into other people, enough so that I could make them laugh or cry with my stories or songs. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I ran away from home to follow a minstrel troupe. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I saw a bard perform once, and I knew from that moment on what I was born to do. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I earned coin by performing on street corners and eventually made a name for myself. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => A traveling entertainer took me in and taught me the trade. ) ) ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Folk Hero [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a folk hero because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I learned what was right and wrong from my family. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I was always enamored by tales of heroes and wished I could be something more than ordinary. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I hated my mundane life, so when it was time for someone to step up and do the right thing, I took my chance. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => A parent or one of my relatives was an adventurer, and I was inspired by that person's courage. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => A mad old hermit spoke a prophecy when I was born, saying that I would accomplish great things. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I have always stood up for those who are weaker than I am. ) ) ) [5] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Guild Artisan [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a guild artisan because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I was apprenticed to a master who taught me the guild's business. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I helped a guild artisan keep a secret or complete a task, and in return I was taken on as an apprentice. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => One of my family members who belonged to the guild made a place for me. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I was always good with my hands, so I took the opportunity to learn a trade. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I wanted to get away from my home situation and start a new life. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I learned the essentials of my craft from a mentor but had to join the guild to finish my training. ) ) ) [6] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Hermit [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a hermit because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => My enemies ruined my reputation, and I fled to the wilds to avoid further disparagement. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I am comfortable with being isolated, as I seek inner peace. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I never liked the people I called my friends, so it was easy for me to strike out on my own. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I felt compelled to forsake my past, but did so with great reluctance, and sometimes I regret making that decision. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I lost everything-my home, my family, my friends. Going it alone was all I could do. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Society's decadence disgusted me, so I decided to leave it behind. ) ) ) [7] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Noble [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a noble because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I come from an old and storied family, and it fell to me to preserve the family name. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => My family has been disgraced, and I intend to clear our name. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => My family recently came by its title, and that elevation thrust us into a new and strange world. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => My family has a title, but none of my ancestors have distinguished themselves since we gained it. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => My family is filled with remarkable people. I hope to live up to their example. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I hope to increase my family's power and influence. ) ) ) [8] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Outlander [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became an outlander because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I spent a lot of time in the wilderness as a youngster, and I came to love that way of life. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => From a young age, I couldn't abide the stink of the cities and preferred to spend my time in nature. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I came to understand the darkness that lurks in the wilds, and I vowed to combat it. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => My people lived on the edges of civilization, and I learned the methods of survival from my family. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => After a tragedy I retreated to the wilderness, leaving my old life behind. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => My family moved away from civilization, and I learned to adapt to my new environment. ) ) ) [9] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Sage [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a sage because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I was naturally curious, so I packed up and went to a university to learn more about the world. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => My mentor's teachings opened my mind to new possibilities in that field of study. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I was always an avid reader, and I learned much about my favorite topic on my own. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I discovered an old library and pored over the texts I found there. That experience awakened a hunger for more knowledge. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I impressed a wizard who told me I was squandering my talents and should seek out an education to take advantage of my gifts. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => One of my parents or a relative gave me a basic education that whetted my appetite, and I left home to build on what I had learned. ) ) ) [10] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Sailor [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a sailor because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I was press-ganged by pirates and forced to serve on their ship until I finally escaped. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I wanted to see the world, so I signed on as a deck-hand for a merchant ship. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => One of my relatives was a sailor who took me to sea. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I needed to escape my community quickly, so I stowed away on a ship. When the crew found me, I was forced to work for my passage. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => Reavers attacked my community, so I found refuge on a ship until I could seek vengeance. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I had few prospects where I was living, so I left to find my fortune elsewhere. ) ) ) [11] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Soldier [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a soldier because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I joined the militia to help protect my community from monsters. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => A relative of mine was a soldier, and I wanted to carry on the family tradition. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => The local lord forced me to enlist in the army. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => War ravaged my homeland while I was growing up. Fighting was the only life I ever knew. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I wanted fame and fortune, so I joined a mercenary company, selling my sword to the highest bidder. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Invaders attacked my homeland. It was my duty to take up arms in defense of my people. ) ) ) [12] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Urchin [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became an urchin because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => Wanderlust caused me to leave my family to see the world. I look after myself. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I ran away from a bad situation at home and made my own way in the world. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => Monsters wiped out my village, and I was the sole survivor. I had to find a way to survive. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => A notorious thief looked after me and other orphans, and we spied and stole to earn our keep. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => One day I woke up on the streets, alone and hungry, with no memory of my early childhood. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => My parents died, leaving no one to look after me. I raised myself. ) ) ) ) )

Class Training

If you haven't chosen your class yet, do so now, keeping in mind your background and all the other details you have established so far. Once you've made your selection, roll a {@dice d6} and find the number you rolled on the appropriate table in this section, which describes how you came to be a member of that class.

The class sections earlier in this chapter have further story suggestions, which you can use in concert with the material here.

stdClass Object ( [type] => tableGroup [name] => I became... [tables] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Barbarian [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a barbarian because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => My devotion to my people lifted me in battle, making me powerful and dangerous. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => The spirits of my ancestors called on me to carry out a great task. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I lost control in battle one day, and it was as if something else was manipulating my body, forcing it to kill every foe I could reach. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I went on a spiritual journey to find myself and instead found a spirit animal to guide, protect, and inspire me. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I was struck by lightning and lived. Afterward, I found a new strength within me that let me push beyond my limitations. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => My anger needed to be channeled into battle, or I risked becoming an indiscriminate killer. ) ) ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Bard [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a bard because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I awakened my latent bardic abilities through trial and error. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I was a gifted performer and attracted the attention of a master bard who schooled me in the old techniques. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I joined a loose society of scholars and orators to learn new techniques of performance and magic. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I felt a calling to recount the deeds of champions and heroes, to bring them alive in song and story. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I joined one of the great colleges to learn old lore, the secrets of magic, and the art of performance. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I picked up a musical instrument one day and instantly discovered that I could play it. ) ) ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Cleric [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a cleric because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => A supernatural being in service to the gods called me to become a divine agent in the world. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I saw the injustice and horror in the world and felt moved to take a stand against them. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => My god gave me an unmistakable sign. I dropped everything to serve the divine. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => Although I was always devout, it wasn't until I completed a pilgrimage that I knew my true calling. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I used to serve in my religion's bureaucracy but found I needed to work in the world, to bring the message of my faith to the darkest corners of the land. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I realize that my god works through me, and I do as commanded, even though I don't know why I was chosen to serve. ) ) ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Druid [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a druid because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I saw too much devastation in the wild places, too much of nature's splendor ruined by the despoilers. I joined a circle of druids to fight back against the enemies of nature. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I found a place among a group of druids after I fled a catastrophe. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I have always had an affinity for animals, so I explored my talent to see how I could best use it. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I befriended a druid and was moved by druidic teachings. I decided to follow my friend's guidance and give something back to the world. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => While I was growing up, I saw spirits all around me-entities no one else could perceive. I sought out the druids to help me understand the visions and communicate with these beings. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I have always felt disgust for creatures of unnatural origin. For this reason, I immersed myself in the study of the druidic mysteries and became a champion of the natural order. ) ) ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Fighter [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a fighter because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I wanted to hone my combat skills, and so I joined a war college. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I squired for a knight who taught me how to fight, care for a steed, and conduct myself with honor. I decided to take up that path for myself. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => Horrible monsters descended on my community, killing someone I loved. I took up arms to destroy those creatures and others of a similar nature. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I joined the army and learned how to fight as part of a group. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I grew up fighting, and I refined my talents by defending myself against people who crossed me. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I could always pick up just about any weapon and know how to use it effectively. ) ) ) [5] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Monk [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a monk because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I was chosen to study at a secluded monastery. There, I was taught the fundamental techniques required to eventually master a tradition. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I sought instruction to gain a deeper understanding of existence and my place in the world. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I stumbled into a portal to the Shadowfell and took refuge in a strange monastery, where I learned how to defend myself against the forces of darkness. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I was overwhelmed with grief after losing someone close to me, and I sought the advice of philosophers to help me cope with my loss. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I could feel that a special sort of power lay within me, so I sought out those who could help me call it forth and master it. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I was wild and undisciplined as a youngster, but then I realized the error of my ways. I applied to a monastery and became a monk as a way to live a life of discipline. ) ) ) [6] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Paladin [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a paladin because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => A fantastical being appeared before me and called on me to undertake a holy quest. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => One of my ancestors left a holy quest unfulfilled, so I intend to finish that work. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => The world is a dark and terrible place. I decided to serve as a beacon of light shining out against the gathering shadows. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I served as a paladin's squire, learning all I needed to swear my own sacred oath. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => Evil must be opposed on all fronts. I feel compelled to seek out wickedness and purge it from the world. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Becoming a paladin was a natural consequence of my unwavering faith. In taking my vows, I became the holy sword of my religion. ) ) ) [7] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Ranger [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a ranger because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I found purpose while I honed my hunting skills by bringing down dangerous animals at the edge of civilization. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I always had a way with animals, able to calm them with a soothing word and a touch. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I suffer from terrible wanderlust, so being a ranger gave me a reason not to remain in one place for too long. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I have seen what happens when the monsters come out from the dark. I took it upon myself to become the first line of defense against the evils that lie beyond civilization's borders. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I met a grizzled ranger who taught me woodcraft and the secrets of the wild lands. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I served in an army, learning the precepts of my profession while blazing trails and scouting enemy encampments. ) ) ) [8] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Rogue [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a rogue because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I've always been nimble and quick of wit, so I decided to use those talents to help me make my way in the world. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => An assassin or a thief wronged me, so I focused my training on mastering the skills of my enemy to better combat foes of that sort. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => An experienced rogue saw something in me and taught me several useful tricks. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => I decided to turn my natural lucky streak into the basis of a career, though I still realize that improving my skills is essential. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I took up with a group of ruffians who showed me how to get what I want through sneakiness rather than direct confrontation. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I'm a sucker for a shiny bauble or a sack of coins, as long as I can get my hands on it without risking life and limb. ) ) ) [9] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Sorcerer [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a sorcerer because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => When I was born, all the water in the house froze solid, the milk spoiled, or all the iron turned to copper. My family is convinced that this event was a harbinger of stranger things to come for me. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I suffered a terrible emotional or physical strain, which brought forth my latent magical power. I have fought to control it ever since. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => My immediate family never spoke of my ancestors, and when I asked, they would change the subject. It wasn't until I started displaying strange talents that the full truth of my heritage came out. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => When a monster threatened one of my friends, I became filled with anxiety. I lashed out instinctively and blasted the wretched thing with a force that came from within me. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => Sensing something special in me, a stranger taught me how to control my gift. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => After I escaped from a magical conflagration, I realized that though I was unharmed, I was not unchanged. I began to exhibit unusual abilities that I am just beginning to understand. ) ) ) [10] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Warlock [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a warlock because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => While wandering around in a forbidden place, I encountered an otherworldly being that offered to enter into a pact with me. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I was examining a strange tome I found in an abandoned library when the entity that would become my patron suddenly appeared before me. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I stumbled into the clutches of my patron after I accidentally stepped through a magical doorway. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => When I was faced with a terrible crisis, I prayed to any being who would listen, and the creature that answered became my patron. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => My future patron visited me in my dreams and offered great power in exchange for my service. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => One of my ancestors had a pact with my patron, so that entity was determined to bind me to the same agreement. ) ) ) [11] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Wizard [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => I became a wizard because... ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => An old wizard chose me from among several candidates to serve an apprenticeship. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => When I became lost in a forest, a hedge wizard found me, took me in, and taught me the rudiments of magic. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I grew up listening to tales of great wizards and knew I wanted to follow their path. I strove to be accepted at an academy of magic and succeeded. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => One of my relatives was an accomplished wizard who decided I was smart enough to learn the craft. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => While exploring an old tomb, library, or temple, I found a spellbook. I was immediately driven to learn all I could about becoming a wizard. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I was a prodigy who demonstrated mastery of the arcane arts at an early age. When I became old enough to set out on my own, I did so to learn more magic and expand my power. ) ) ) ) )

Life Events

No matter how long you've been alive, you have experienced at least one signature event that has markedly influenced your character. Life events include wondrous happenings and tragedies, conflicts and successes, and encounters with the unusual. They can help to explain why your character became an adventurer, and some might still affect your life even after they are long over.

The older a character is, the greater the chance for multiple life events, as shown on the Life Events by Age table. If you have already chosen your character's starting age, see the entry in the Life Events column that corresponds to how old you are. Otherwise, you can roll dice to determine your current age and number of life events randomly.

After you know the number of life events your character has experienced, roll once on the Life Events table for each of them. Many of the results on that table direct you to one of the secondary tables that follow. Once you have determined all of your character's life events, you can arrange them in any chronological order you see fit.

Life Events by Age

Life Events by Age
d100Current Age
1-2020 years or younger1
21-5921-30 years{@dice 1d4}
60-6931-40 years{@dice 1d6}
70-8941-50 years{@dice 1d8}
90-9951-60 years{@dice 1d10}
10061 years or older{@dice 1d12}

Life Events

Life Events
1-10You suffered a tragedy. Roll on the Tragedies table.
11-20You gained a bit of good fortune. Roll on the Boons table.
21-30You fell in love or got married. If you get this result more than once, you can choose to have a child instead. Work with your DM to determine the identity of your love interest.
31-40You made an enemy of an adventurer. Roll a {@dice d6}. An odd number indicates you are to blame for the rift, and an even number indicates you are blameless. Use the supplemental tables and work with your DM to determine this hostile character's identity and the danger this enemy poses to you.
41-50You made a friend of an adventurer. Use the supplemental tables and work with your DM to add more detail to this friendly character and establish how your friendship began.
51-70You spent time working in a job related to your background. Start the game with an extra {@dice 2d6} gp.
71-75You met someone important. Use the supplemental tables to determine this character's identity and how this individual feels about you. Work out additional details with your DM as needed to fit this character into your backstory.
76-80You went on an adventure. Roll on the Adventures table to see what happened to you. Work with your DM to determine the nature of the adventure and the creatures you encountered.
81-85You had a supernatural experience. Roll on the Supernatural Events table to find out what it was.
86-90You fought in a battle. Roll on the War table to learn what happened to you. Work with your DM to come up with the reason for the battle and the factions involved. It might have been a small conflict between your community and a band of orcs, or it could have been a major battle in a larger war.
91-95You committed a crime or were wrongly accused of doing so. Roll on the Crime table to determine the nature of the offense and on the Punishment table to see what became of you.
96-99You encountered something magical. Roll on the Arcane Matters table.
100Something truly strange happened to you. Roll on the Weird Stuff table.

Secondary Tables

These tables add detail to many of the results on the Life Events table. The tables are in alphabetical order.


1-10You nearly died. You have nasty scars on your body, and you are missing an ear, {@dice 1d3} fingers, or {@dice 1d4} toes.
11-20You suffered a grievous injury. Although the wound healed, it still pains you from time to time.
21-30You were wounded, but in time you fully recovered.
31-40You contracted a disease while exploring a filthy warren. You recovered from the disease, but you have a persistent cough, pockmarks on your skin, or prematurely gray hair.
41-50You were poisoned by a trap or a monster. You recovered, but the next time you must make a saving throw against poison, you make the saving throw with disadvantage.
51-60You lost something of sentimental value to you during your adventure. Remove one trinket from your possessions.
61-70You were terribly frightened by something you encountered and ran away, abandoning your companions to their fate.
71-80You learned a great deal during your adventure. The next time you make an ability check or a saving throw, you have advantage on the roll.
81-90You found some treasure on your adventure. You have {@dice 2d6} gp left from your share of it.
91-99You found a considerable amount of treasure on your adventure. You have {@dice 1d20+50} gp left from your share of it.
100You came across a common magic item (of the DM's choice).

Arcane Matters

Arcane Matters
d10Magical Event
1You were charmed or frightened by a spell.
2You were injured by the effect of a spell.
3You witnessed a powerful spell being cast by a cleric, a druid, a sorcerer, a warlock, or a wizard.
4You drank a potion (of the DM's choice).
5You found a spell scroll (of the DM's choice) and succeeded in casting the spell it contained.
6You were affected by teleportation magic.
7You turned invisible for a time.
8You identified an illusion for what it was.
9You saw a creature being conjured by magic.
10Your fortune was read by a diviner. Roll twice on the Life Events table, but don't apply the results. Instead, the DM picks one event as a portent of your future (which might or might not come true).


1A friendly wizard gave you a spell scroll containing one cantrip (of the DM's choice).
2You saved the life of a commoner, who now owes you a life debt. This individual accompanies you on your travels and performs mundane tasks for you, but will leave if neglected, abused, or imperiled. Determine details about this character by using the supplemental tables and working with your DM.
3You found a riding horse.
4You found some money. You have {@dice 1d20} gp in addition to your regular starting funds.
5A relative bequeathed you a simple weapon of your choice.
6You found something interesting. You gain one additional trinket.
7You once performed a service for a local temple. The next time you visit the temple, you can receive healing up to your hit point maximum.
8A friendly alchemist gifted you with a potion of healing or a flask of acid, as you choose.
9You found a treasure map.
10A distant relative left you a stipend that enables you to live at the comfortable lifestyle for {@dice 1d20} years. If you choose to live at a higher lifestyle, you reduce the price of the lifestyle by 2 gp during that time period.




1-3You did not commit the crime and were exonerated after being accused.
4-6You committed the crime or helped do so, but nonetheless the authorities found you not guilty.
7-8You were nearly caught in the act. You had to flee and are wanted in the community where the crime occurred.
9-12You were caught and convicted. You spent time in jail, chained to an oar, or performing hard labor. You served a sentence of {@dice 1d4} years or succeeded in escaping after that much time.

Supernatural Events

Supernatural Events
1-5You were ensorcelled by a fey and enslaved for {@dice 1d6} years before you escaped.
6-10You saw a demon and ran away before it could do anything to you.
11-15A devil tempted you. Make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, your alignment shifts one step toward evil (if it's not evil already), and you start the game with an additional {@dice 1d20+50} gp.
16-20You woke up one morning miles from your home, with no idea how you got there.
21-30You visited a holy site and felt the presence of the divine there.
31-40You witnessed a falling red star, a face appearing in the frost, or some other bizarre happening. You are certain that it was an omen of some sort.
41-50You escaped certain death and believe it was the intervention of a god that saved you.
51-60You witnessed a minor miracle.
61-70You explored an empty house and found it to be haunted.
71-75You were briefly possessed. Roll a {@dice d6} to determine what kind of creature possessed you: 1, celestial; 2, devil; 3, demon; 4, fey; 5, elemental; 6, undead.
76-80You saw a ghost.
81-85You saw a ghoul feeding on a corpse.
86-90A Celestial or Fiend visited you in your dreams to give a warning of dangers to come.
91-95You briefly visited the Feywild or Shadowfell.
96-100You saw a portal that you believe leads to another plane of existence.


1-2A family member or a close friend died. Roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table to find out how. Roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table to find out how.
3A friendship ended bitterly, and the other person is now hostile to you. The cause might have been a misunderstanding or something you or the former friend did.
4You lost all your possessions in a disaster, and you had to rebuild your life.
5You were imprisoned for a crime you didn't commit and spent {@dice 1d6} years at hard labor, in jail, or shackled to an oar in a slave galley.
6War ravaged your home community, reducing everything to rubble and ruin. In the aftermath, you either helped your town rebuild or moved somewhere else.
7A lover disappeared without a trace. You have been looking for that person ever since.
8A terrible blight in your home community caused crops to fail, and many starved. You lost a sibling or some other family member.
9You did something that brought terrible shame to you in the eyes of your family. You might have been involved in a scandal, dabbled in dark magic, or offended someone important. The attitude of your family members toward you becomes indifferent at best, though they might eventually forgive you.
10For a reason you were never told, you were exiled from your community. You then either wandered in the wilderness for a time or promptly found a new place to live.
11A romantic relationship ended. Roll a {@dice d6}. An odd number means it ended with bad feelings, while an even number means it ended amicably.
12A current or prospective romantic partner of yours died. Roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table to find out how. If the result is murder, roll a {@dice d12}. On a 1, you were responsible, whether directly or indirectly. Roll on the Cause of Death supplemental table to find out how. If the result is murder, roll a {@dice d12}. On a 1, you were responsible, whether directly or indirectly.


d12War Outcome
1You were knocked out and left for dead. You woke up hours later with no recollection of the battle.
2-3You were badly injured in the fight, and you still bear the awful scars of those wounds.
4You ran away from the battle to save your life, but you still feel shame for your cowardice.
5-7You suffered only minor injuries, and the wounds all healed without leaving scars.
8-9You survived the battle, but you suffer from terrible nightmares in which you relive the experience.
10-11You escaped the battle unscathed, though many of your friends were injured or lost.
12You acquitted yourself well in battle and are remembered as a hero. You might have received a medal for your bravery.

Weird Stuff

Weird Stuff
d12What Happened
1You were turned into a toad and remained in that form for {@dice 1d4} weeks.
2You were petrified and remained a stone statue for a time until someone freed you.
3You were enslaved by a hag, a satyr, or some other being and lived in that creature's thrall for {@dice 1d6} years.
4A dragon held you as a prisoner for {@dice 1d4} months until adventurers killed it.
5You were taken captive by a race of evil humanoids such as drow, kuo-toa, or quaggoths. You lived as a slave in the Underdark until you escaped.
6You served a powerful adventurer as a hireling. You have only recently left that service. Use the supplemental tables and work with your DM to determine the basic details about your former employer.
7You went insane for {@dice 1d6} years and recently regained your sanity. A tic or some other bit of odd behavior might linger.
8A lover of yours was secretly a silver dragon.
9You were captured by a cult and nearly sacrificed on an altar to the foul being the cultists served. You escaped, but you fear they will find you.
10You met a demigod, an archdevil, an archfey, a demon lord, or a titan, and you lived to tell the tale.
11You were swallowed by a giant fish and spent a month in its gullet before you escaped.
12A powerful being granted you a wish, but you squandered it on something frivolous.

Supplemental Tables

The supplemental tables below give you a way to randomly determine characteristics and other facts about individuals who are part of your character's life. Use these tables when directed to do so by another table, or when you simply want to come up with a piece of information quickly. The tables are in alphabetical order.


3Chaotic evil (50%) or chaotic neutral (50%)
4-5Lawful evil
6-8Neutral evil
13-15Neutral good
16-17Lawful good (50%) or lawful neutral (50%)
18Chaotic good (50%) or chaotic neutral (50%)

Cause of Death

Cause of Death
d12Cause of Death
3Killed in battle
4Accident related to class or occupation
5Accident unrelated to class or occupation
6-7Natural causes, such as disease or old age
8Apparent suicide
9Torn apart by an animal or a natural disaster
10Consumed by a monster
11Executed for a crime or tortured to death
12Bizarre event, such as being hit by a meteorite, struck down by an angry god, or killed by a hatching slaad egg




6-10Adventurer (roll on the Class table)
12-26Artisan or guild member
37-38Exile, hermit, or refugee
39-43Explorer or wanderer
44-55Farmer or herder
56-60Hunter or trapper
81-85Politician or bureaucrat


96-100DM's choice




3Dead (roll on the Cause of Death table)
4-5Missing or unknown
6-8Alive, but doing poorly due to injury, financial trouble, or relationship difficulties
9-12Alive and well
13-15Alive and quite successful
16-17Alive and infamous
18Alive and famous

What's Next?

When you're finished using these tables, you'll have a collection of facts and notes that-at a minimum-encapsulate what your character has been doing in the world up till now. Sometimes that might be all the information you want, but you don't have to stop there.

By using your creativity to stitch all these bits together into a continuous narrative, you can create a full-fledged autobiography for your character in as little as a few sentences-an excellent example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Did you get a couple of results on the tables that don't outright contradict each other but also don't seem to fit together smoothly? If so, now is your chance to explain what happened to you. For instance, let's say you were born in a castle, but your childhood home was in the wilderness. It could be that your parents traveled from their forest home to seek help from a midwife at the castle when your mother was close to giving birth. Or your parents might have been members of the castle's staff before you were born, but they were released from service soon after you came into the world.

In addition to deepening your own roleplaying experience, your character's history presents your DM with opportunities to weave those elements into the story of the campaign. Any way you look at it, adding definition to your character's pre-adventuring life is time well spent.

Racial Feats

Leveling up in a class is the main way a character evolves during a campaign. Some DMs also allow the use of feats to customize a character. Feats are an optional rule in chapter 6, "Customization Options," of the player's handbook. The DM decides whether they're used and may also decide that some feats are available in a campaign and others aren't.

This section introduces a collection of special feats that allow you to explore your character's race further. These feats are each associated with a race from the Player's Handbook, as summarized in the Racial Feats table. A racial feat represents either a deepening connection to your race's culture or a physical transformation that brings you closer to an aspect of your race's lineage.

The cause of a particular transformation is up to you and your DM. A transformational feat can symbolize a latent quality that has emerged as you age, or a transformation might be the result of an event in the campaign, such as exposure to powerful magic or visiting a place of ancient significance to your race. Transformations are a fundamental motif of fantasy literature and folklore. Figuring out why your character has changed can be a rich addition to your campaign's story.

Racial Feats

Racial Feats
Dragonborn{@feat Dragon Fear|xge}
Dragonborn{@feat Dragon Hide|xge}
Dwarf{@feat Dwarven Fortitude|xge}
Dwarf{@feat Squat Nimbleness|xge}
Elf{@feat Elven Accuracy|xge}
Elf (drow){@feat Drow High Magic|xge}
Elf (high){@feat Fey Teleportation|xge}
Elf (wood){@feat Wood Elf Magic|xge}
Gnome{@feat Fade Away|xge}
Gnome{@feat Squat Nimbleness|xge}
Half-elf{@feat Elven Accuracy|xge}
Half-elf{@feat Prodigy|xge}
Half-orc{@feat Orcish Fury|xge}
Half-orc{@feat Prodigy|xge}
Halfling{@feat Bountiful Luck|xge}
Halfling{@feat Second Chance|xge}
Halfling{@feat Squat Nimbleness|xge}
Human{@feat Prodigy|xge}
Tiefling{@feat Flames of Phlegethos|xge}
Tiefling{@feat Infernal Constitution|xge}

Dungeon Master's Tools

As the Dungeon Master, you oversee the game and weave together the story experienced by your players. You're the one who keeps it all going, and this chapter is for you. It gives you new rules options, as well as some refined tools for creating and running adventures and campaigns. It is a supplement to the tools and advice offered in the dungeon master's guide.

The chapter opens with optional rules meant to help you run certain parts of the game more smoothly. The chapter then goes into greater depth on several topics-encounter building, random encounters, traps, magic items, and downtime-which largely relate to how you create and stage your adventures.

The material in this chapter is meant to make your life easier. Ignore anything you find here that doesn't help you, and don't hesitate to customize the things that you do use. The game's rules exist to serve you and the games you run. As always, make them your own.

Simultaneous Effects

Most effects in the game happen in succession, following an order set by the rules or the DM. In rare cases, effects can happen at the same time, especially at the start or end of a creature's turn. If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster's turn, the person at the game table-whether player or DM-who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character's turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first.


Falling from a great height is a significant risk for adventurers and their foes. The rule given in the player's handbook is simple: at the end of a fall, you take {@dice 1d6} bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet you fell, to a maximum of {@dice 20d6}. You also land {@condition prone}, unless you somehow avoid taking damage from the fall. Here are two optional rules that expand on that simple rule.

Rate of Falling

The rule for falling assumes that a creature immediately drops the entire distance when it falls. But what if a creature is at a high altitude when it falls, perhaps on the back of a {@creature griffon} or on board an {@item airship}? Realistically, a fall from such a height can take more than a few seconds, extending past the end of the turn when the fall occurred. If you'd like high-altitude falls to be properly time-consuming, use the following optional rule.

When you fall from a great height, you instantly descend up to 500 feet. If you're still falling on your next turn, you descend up to 500 feet at the end of that turn. This process continues until the fall ends, either because you hit the ground or the fall is otherwise halted.

Flying Creatures and Falling

A flying creature in flight falls if it is knocked prone, if its speed is reduced to 0 feet, or if it otherwise loses the ability to move, unless it can hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as the {@spell fly} spell.

If you'd like a flying creature to have a better chance of surviving a fall than a non-flying creature does, use this rule: subtract the creature's current flying speed from the distance it fell before calculating falling damage. This rule is helpful to a flier that is knocked prone but is still conscious and has a current flying speed that is greater than 0 feet. The rule is designed to simulate the creature flapping its wings furiously or taking similar measures to slow the velocity of its fall.

If you use the rule for rate of falling in the previous section, a flying creature descends 500 feet on the turn when it falls, just as other creatures do. But if that creature starts any of its later turns still falling and is prone, it can halt the fall on its turn by spending half its flying speed to counter the prone condition (as if it were standing up in midair).


Just as in the real world, D&D characters spend many hours sleeping, most often as part of a long rest. Most monsters also need to sleep. While a creature sleeps, it is subjected to the unconscious condition. Here are a few rules that expand on that basic fact.

Waking Someone

A creature that is naturally sleeping, as opposed to being in a magically or chemically induced sleep, wakes up if it takes any damage or if someone else uses an action to shake or slap the creature awake. A sudden loud noise-such as yelling, thunder, or a ringing bell-also awakens someone that is sleeping naturally.

Whispers don't disturb sleep, unless a sleeper's passive Wisdom (Perception) score is 20 or higher and the whispers are within 10 feet of the sleeper. Speech at a normal volume awakens a sleeper if the environment is otherwise silent (no wind, birdsong, crickets, street sounds, or the like) and the sleeper has a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 15 or higher.

Sleeping in Armor

Sleeping in light armor has no adverse effect on the wearer, but sleeping in medium or heavy armor makes it difficult to recover fully during a long rest.

When you finish a long rest during which you slept in medium or heavy armor, you regain only one quarter of your spent Hit Dice (minimum of one die). If you have any levels of exhaustion, the rest doesn't reduce your exhaustion level.

Going without a Long Rest

A long rest is never mandatory, but going without sleep does have its consequences. If you want to account for the effects of sleep deprivation on characters and creatures, use these rules.

Whenever you end a 24-hour period without finishing a long rest, you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion.

It becomes harder to fight off exhaustion if you stay awake for multiple days. After the first 24 hours, the DC increases by 5 for each consecutive 24-hour period without a long rest. The DC resets to 10 when you finish a long rest.

Adamantine Weapons

Adamantine is an ultrahard metal found in meteorites and extraordinary mineral veins. In addition to being used to craft adamantine armor, the metal is also used for weapons.

Melee weapons and ammunition made of or coated with adamantine are unusually effective when used to break objects. Whenever an adamantine weapon or piece of ammunition hits an object, the hit is a critical hit.

The adamantine version of a melee weapon or of ten pieces of ammunition costs 500 gp more than the normal version, whether the weapon or ammunition is made of the metal or coated with it.

Tying Knots

The rules are purposely open-ended concerning mundane tasks like tying knots, but sometimes knowing how well a knot was fashioned is important in a dramatic scene when someone is trying to untie a knot or slip out of one. Here's an optional rule for determining the effectiveness of a knot.

The creature who ties the knot makes an Intelligence (Sleight of Hand) check when doing so. The total of the check becomes the DC for an attempt to untie the knot with an Intelligence (Sleight of Hand) check or to slip out of it with a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check.

This rule intentionally links Sleight of Hand with Intelligence, rather than Dexterity. This is an example of how to apply the rule in the {@variantrule Skills with Different Abilities|phb|"Variant: Skills with Different Abilities"} section in chapter 7 of the player's handbook.

Tool Proficiencies

Tool proficiencies are a useful way to highlight a character's background and talents. At the game table, though, the use of tools sometimes overlaps with the use of skills, and it can be unclear how to use them together in certain situations. This section offers various ways that tools can be used in the game.

Tools and Skills Together

Tools have more specific applications than skills. The History skill applies to any event in the past. A tool such as a {@item forgery kit|phb} is used to make fake objects and little else. Thus, why would a character who has the opportunity to acquire one or the other want to gain a tool proficiency instead of proficiency in a skill?

To make tool proficiencies more attractive choices for the characters, you can use the methods outlined below.


If the use of a tool and the use of a skill both apply to a check, and a character is proficient with the tool and the skill, consider allowing the character to make the check with advantage. This simple benefit can go a long way toward encouraging players to pick up tool proficiencies. In the tool descriptions that follow, this benefit is often expressed as additional insight (or something similar), which translates into an increased chance that the check will be a success.

Added Benefit

In addition, consider giving characters who have both a relevant skill and a relevant tool proficiency an added benefit on a successful check. This benefit might be in the form of more detailed information or could simulate the effect of a different sort of successful check. For example, a character proficient with {@item mason's tools|phb} makes a successful Wisdom (Perception) check to find a secret door in a stone wall. Not only does the character notice the door's presence, but you decide that the tool proficiency entitles the character to an automatic success on an Intelligence (Investigation) check to determine how to open the door.

Tool Descriptions

The following sections go into detail about the tools presented in the player's handbook, offering advice on how to use them in a campaign.


The first paragraph in each description gives details on what a set of supplies or tools is made up of. A character who is proficient with a tool knows how to use all of its component parts.


Every tool potentially provides advantage on a check when used in conjunction with certain skills, provided a character is proficient with the tool and the skill. As DM, you can allow a character to make a check using the indicated skill with advantage. Paragraphs that begin with skill names discuss these possibilities. In each of these paragraphs, the benefits apply only to someone who has proficiency with the tool, not someone who simply owns it.

With respect to skills, the system is mildly abstract in terms of what a tool proficiency represents; essentially, it assumes that a character who has proficiency with a tool also has learned about facets of the trade or profession that are not necessarily associated with the use of the tool.

In addition, you can consider giving a character extra information or an added benefit on a skill check. The text provides some examples and ideas when this opportunity is relevant.

Special Use

Proficiency with a tool usually brings with it a particular benefit in the form of a special use, as described in this paragraph.

Sample DCs

A table at the end of each section lists activities that a tool can be used to perform, and suggested DCs for the necessary ability checks.

Tools List

See the {@filter Items page|items|source=PHB|type=Gaming Set;Artisan Tool;Tool;Vehicle;Instrument} for details on each tool.


This section expands on the spellcasting rules presented in the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, providing clarifications and new options.

Perceiving a Caster at Work

Many spells create obvious effects: explosions of fire, walls of ice, teleportation, and the like. Other spells, such as charm person, display no visible, audible, or otherwise perceptible sign of their effects, and could easily go unnoticed by someone unaffected by them. As noted in the Player's Handbook, you normally don't know that a spell has been cast unless the spell produces a noticeable effect.

But what about the act of casting a spell? Is it possible for someone to perceive that a spell is being cast in their presence? To be perceptible, the casting of a spell must involve a verbal, somatic, or material component. The form of a material component doesn't matter for the purposes of perception, whether it's an object specified in the spell's description, a component pouch, or a spellcasting focus.

If the need for a spell's components has been removed by a special ability, such as the sorcerer's Subtle Spell feature or the Innate Spellcasting trait possessed by many creatures, the casting of the spell is imperceptible. If an imperceptible casting produces a perceptible effect, it's normally impossible to determine who cast the spell in the absence of other evidence.

Identifying a Spell

Sometimes a character wants to identify a spell that someone else is casting or that was already cast. To do so, a character can use their reaction to identify a spell as it's being cast, or they can use an action on their turn to identify a spell by its effect after it is cast.

If the character perceived the casting, the spell's effect, or both, the character can make an Intelligence (Arcana) check with the reaction or action. The DC equals 15 + the spell's level. If the spell is cast as a class spell and the character is a member of that class, the check is made with advantage. For example, if the spellcaster casts a spell as a cleric, another cleric has advantage on the check to identify the spell. Some spells aren't associated with any class when they're cast, such as when a monster uses its Innate Spellcasting trait.

This Intelligence (Arcana) check represents the fact that identifying a spell requires a quick mind and familiarity with the theory and practice of casting. This is true even for a character whose spellcasting ability is Wisdom or Charisma. Being able to cast spells doesn't by itself make you adept at deducing exactly what others are doing when they cast their spells.

Invalid Spell Targets

A spell specifies what a caster can target with it: any type of creature, a creature of a certain type (humanoid or beast, for instance), an object, an area, the caster, or something else. But what happens if a spell targets something that isn't a valid target? For example, someone might cast charm person on a creature believed to be a humanoid, not knowing that the target is in fact a vampire. If this issue comes up, handle it using the following rule.

If you cast a spell on someone or something that can't be affected by the spell, nothing happens to that target, but if you used a spell slot to cast the spell, the slot is still expended. If the spell normally has no effect on a target that succeeds on a saving throw, the invalid target appears to have succeeded on its saving throw, even though it didn't attempt one (giving no hint that the creature is in fact an invalid target). Otherwise, you perceive that the spell did nothing to the target.

Areas of Effect on a Grid

The Dungeon Master's Guide includes the following short rule for using areas of effect on a grid.

Choose an intersection of squares as the point of origin of an area of effect, then follow the rules for that kind of area as normal (see the "Areas of Effect" section in chapter 10 of the Player's Handbook). If an area of effect is circular and covers at least half a square, it affects that square.

That rule works, but it can require a fair amount of on-the-spot adjudication. This section offers two alternatives for determining the exact location of an area: the template method and the token method. Both of these methods assume you're using a grid and miniatures of some sort. Because these methods can yield different results for the number of squares in a given area, it's not recommended that they be combined at the table—choose whichever method you and your players find easier or more intuitive.

Template Method

The template method uses two-dimensional shapes that represent different areas of effect. The aim of the method is to accurately portray the length and width of each area on the grid and to leave little doubt about which creatures are affected by it. You'll need to make these templates or find premade ones.

Making a Template

Making a template is simple. Get a piece of paper or card stock, and cut it in the shape of the area of effect you're using. Every 5 feet of the area equals 1 inch of the template's size. For example, the 20-foot-radius sphere of the fireball spell, which has a 40-foot diameter, would translate into a circular template with an 8-inch diameter.

Using a Template

To use an area-of-effect template, apply it to the grid. If the terrain is flat, you can lay it on the surface; otherwise, hold the template above the surface and take note of which squares it covers or partially covers. If any part of a square is under the template, that square is included in the area of effect. If a creature's miniature is in an affected square, that creature is in the area. Being adjacent to the edge of the template isn't enough for a square to be included in the area of effect; the square must be entirely or partly covered by the template.

You can also use this method without a grid. If you do so, a creature is included in an area of effect if any part of the miniature's base is overlapped by the template.

When you place a template, follow all the rules in the Player's Handbook for placing the associated area of effect. If an area of effect, such as a cone or a line, originates from a spellcaster, the template should extend out from the caster and be positioned however the caster likes within the bounds of the rules.

Diagrams 2.1 and 2.2 show the template method in action.


Token Method

The token method is meant to make areas of effect tactile and fun. To use this method, grab some dice or other tokens, which you're going to use to represent your areas of effect.

Rather than faithfully representing the shapes of the different areas of effect, this method gives you a way to create square-edged versions of them on a grid easily, as described in the following subsections.

Using Tokens

Every 5-foot square of an area of effect becomes a die or other token that you place on the grid. Each token goes inside a square, not at an intersection of lines. If an area's token is in a square, that square is included in the area of effect. It's that simple.

Diagrams 2.3 through 2.6 show this method in action, using dice as the tokens.



This method depicts everything using squares, and a circular area of effect becomes square in it, whether the area is a sphere, cylinder, or radius. For instance, the 10-foot radius of flame strike, which has a diameter of 20 feet, is expressed as a square that is 20 feet on a side, as shown in diagram 2.3. Diagram 2.4 shows that area with total cover inside it.


A cone is represented by rows of tokens on the grid, extending from the cone's point of origin. In the rows, the squares are adjoining side by side or corner to corner, as shown in diagram 2.5. To determine the number of rows a cone contains, divide its length by 5. For example, a 30-foot cone contains six rows.

Here's how to create the rows. Starting with a square adjacent to the cone's point of origin, place one token. The square can be orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to the point of origin. In every row beyond that one, place as many tokens as you placed in the previous row, plus one more token. Place this row's tokens so that their squares each share a side with a square in the previous row. If the cone is orthogonally adjacent to the point of origin, you'll have one more token to place in the row; place it on one end or the other of the row you just created (you don't have to pick the side chosen in diagram 2.5). Keep placing tokens in this way until you've created all of the cone's rows.


A line can extend from its source orthogonally or diagonally, as shown in diagram 2.6.

Encounter Building

This section introduces new guidelines on building combat encounters for an adventure. They are an alternative to the rules in "Creating Encounters" in chapter 3 of the dungeon master's guide. This approach uses the same math that underlies the rules presented in that book, but it makes a few adjustments to the way that math is presented to produce a more flexible system.

This encounter-building system assumes that, as DM, you want to have a clear understanding of the threat posed by a group of monsters. It will be useful to you if you want to emphasize combat in your adventure, if you want to ensure that a foe isn't too deadly for a group of characters, and if you want to understand the relationship between a character's level and a monster's challenge rating.

Building an encounter using these guidelines follows a series of steps.

Step 1: Assess the Characters

To build an encounter using this system, first take stock of the player characters. This system uses the characters' levels to determine the numbers and challenge ratings of creatures you can pit them against without making a fight too hard or too easy. Even though character level is important, you should also take note of each character's hit point maximum and saving throw modifiers, as well as how much damage the mightiest characters can deal with a single attack. Character level and challenge rating are good for defining the difficulty of an encounter, but they don't tell the whole story. You'll make use of these additional character statistics when you select monsters for an encounter in step 4.

Step 2: Choose Encounter Size

Determine whether you want to create a battle that pits one creature against the characters, or if you want to use multiple monsters. If the fight is against a single opponent, your best candidate for that foe is one of the game's legendary creatures, which are designed to fill this need. If the battle involves multiple monsters, decide roughly how many creatures you want to use before continuing with step 3.

Step 3: Determine Numbers and Challenge Ratings

The process for building fights that feature only one legendary monster is simple. The Solo Monster Challenge Rating table shows you which challenge rating (CR) to use for a legendary creature opposing a party of four to six characters, creating a satisfying but difficult battle. For example, for a party of five 9th-level characters, a CR 12 legendary creature makes an optimal encounter.

For a more perilous battle, match up the characters with a legendary creature whose challenge rating is 1 or 2 higher than optimal. For an easy fight, use a legendary creature whose challenge rating is 3 or more lower than the challenge rating for an optimal encounter.

Solo Monster Challenge Rating

Solo Monster Challenge Rating
Character LevelParty of 6 CharactersParty of 5 CharactersParty of 4 Characters

If your encounter features multiple monsters, balancing it takes a little more work. Refer to the Multiple Monsters tables, which are broken up by level ranges, providing information for how to balance encounters for characters of 1st-5th level, 6th-10th level, 11th-15th level, and 16th-20th level.

First, you need to note the challenge rating for each creature the party will face. Then, to create your encounter, find the level of each character on the appropriate table. Each table shows what a single character of a given level is equivalent to in terms of challenge rating-a value represented by a ratio that compares numbers of characters to a single monster ranked by challenge rating. The first number in each expression is the number of characters of the given level. The second number tells how many monsters of the listed challenge rating those characters are equivalent to.

For example, reading the row for 1st-level characters from the 1st-5th Level table, we see that one 1st-level character is the equivalent of two CR 1/8 monsters or one CR 1/4 monster. The ratio reverses for higher challenge ratings, where a single monster is more powerful than a single 1st-level character. One CR 1/2 creature is equivalent to three 1st-level characters, while one CR 1 opponent is equivalent to five.

Multiple Monsters: 1st-5th Level

Multiple Monsters: 1st-5th Level
Character LevelCR 1/8CR 1/4CR 1/2CR 1CR 2CR 3CR 4CR 5CR 6

Let's say you have a party of four 3rd-level characters. Using the table, you can see that one CR 2 foe is a good match for the entire party, but that the characters will likely have a hard time handling a CR 3 creature.

Using the same guidelines, you can mix and match challenge ratings to put together a group of creatures to oppose four 3rd-level characters. For example, you could select one CR 1 creature. That's worth two 3rd-level characters, leaving you with two characters' worth of monsters to allocate. You could then add two CR 1/4 monsters to account for one other character and one CR 1/2 monster to account for the final character. In total, your encounter has one CR 1, one CR 1/2, and two CR 1/4 creatures.

Multiple Monsters: 6th-10th Level

Multiple Monsters: 6th-10th Level
Character LevelCR 1/8CR 1/4CR 1/2CR 1CR 2CR 3CR 4CR 5CR 6CR 7CR 8CR 9CR 10

For groups in which the characters are of different levels, you have two options. You can group all characters of the same level together, match them with monsters, and then combine all the creatures into one encounter. Alternatively, you can determine the group's average level and treat each character as being of that level for the purpose of selecting appropriate monsters.

Multiple Monsters: 11th-15th Level

Multiple Monsters: 11th-15th Level
Character LevelCR 1CR 2CR 3CR 4CR 5CR 6CR 7CR 8CR 9CR 10CR 11CR 12CR 13CR 14CR 15

The above guidelines are designed to create a fight that will challenge a party while still being winnable. If you want to create an easier encounter that will challenge characters but not threaten to defeat them, you can treat the party as if it were roughly one-third smaller than it is. For example, to make an easy encounter for a party of five characters, put them up against monsters that would be a tough fight for three characters. Likewise, you can treat the party as up to half again larger to build a battle that is potentially deadly, though still not likely to be an automatic defeat. A party of four characters facing an encounter designed for six characters would fall into this category.

Multiple Monsters: 16th-20th Level

Multiple Monsters: 16th-20th Level
Character LevelCR 2CR 3CR 4CR 5CR 6CR 7CR 8CR 9CR 10CR 11CR 12CR 13CR 14CR 15CR 16CR 17CR 18CR 19CR 20

Weak Monsters and High-Level Characters

To save space on the tables and keep them simple, some of the lower challenge ratings are missing from the higher-level tables. For low challenge ratings not appearing on the table, assume a 1:12 ratio, indicating that twelve creatures of those challenge ratings are equivalent to one character of a specific level.

Step 4: Select Monsters

After using the tables from the previous step to determine the challenge ratings of the monsters in your encounter, you're ready to pick individual monsters. This process is more of an art than a science.

In addition to assessing monsters by challenge rating, it's important to look at how certain monsters might stack up against your group. Hit points, attacks, and saving throws are all useful indicators. Compare the damage a monster can deal to the hit point maximum of each character. Be wary of any monster that is capable of dropping a character with a single attack, unless you are designing the fight to be especially deadly.

In the same way, compare the monsters' hit points to the damage output of the party's strongest characters, again looking for targets that can be killed with one blow. Having a significant number of foes drop in the first rounds of combat can make an encounter too easy.

Likewise, look at whether a monster's deadliest abilities call for saving throws that most of the party members are weak with, and compare the characters' offensive abilities to the monsters' saving throws.

If the only creatures you can choose from at the desired challenge rating aren't a good match for the characters' statistics, don't be afraid to go back to step 3. By altering your challenge rating targets and adjusting the number of creatures in the encounter, you can come up with different options for building the encounter.

Step 5: Add Flavor

The events that unfold during an encounter have to do with a lot more than swinging weapons and casting spells. The most interesting confrontations also take into account the personality or behavior of the monsters, perhaps determining whether they can be communicated with or whether they're all acting in concert. Other possible factors include the nature of the physical environment, such as whether it includes obstacles or other features that might come into play, and the ever-present possibility of something unexpected taking place.

If you already have ideas for how to flesh out your encounter in these ways, go right ahead and finish your creation. Otherwise, take a look at the following sections for some basic advice on adding flavor elements to the simple mechanics of the fight.

Monster Personality

To address the question of a monster's personality, you can use the tables in chapter 4 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, use the Monster Personality table below, or simply jot down a few notes based on a creature's Monster Manual description. During the battle, you can use these ideas to inform how you portray the monsters and their actions. To keep things simple, you can assign the same personality traits to an entire group of monsters. For example, one bandit gang might be an unruly mob of braggarts, while the members of another gang are always on edge and ready to flee at the first sign of danger.

Monster Personality

Monster Personality

Monster Relationships

Do rivalries, hatreds, or attachments exist among the monsters in an encounter? If so, you can use such relationships to inform the monsters' behavior during combat. The death of a much-revered leader might throw its followers into a frenzy. On the other hand, a monster might decide to flee if its spouse is killed, or a mistreated toady might be eager to surrender and betray its master in return for its life.

Monster Relationships

Monster Relationships
1Has a rival
2Is abused by others
3Is worshiped
4Is outcast by group
5Is outcast by choice
6Is seen as a bully

Terrain and Traps

A few elements that make a battlefield something other than a large area of flat ground can go a long way toward spicing up an encounter. Consider setting your encounter in an area that would provide challenges even if a fight were not taking place there. What potential perils or other features might draw the characters' attention, either before or during the fight? Why are monsters lurking in this area to begin with-does it offer good hiding places, for instance?

To add details to an encounter area at random, look to the tables in appendix A of the dungeon master's guide to determine room and area features, potential hazards, obstacles, traps, and more.

Random Events

Consider what might happen in an encounter area if the characters were to never enter it. Do the guards serve in shifts? What other characters or monsters might visit? Do creatures gather there to eat or gossip? Are there any natural phenomena-such as strong winds, earth tremors, or rain squalls-that sometimes take place in the area? Random events can add a fun element of the unexpected to an encounter. Just when you think a fight's outcome is evident, an unforeseen event can make things more compelling.

A number of the tables in the dungeon master's guide can suggest random events. The tables used for encounter location, weird locales, and wilderness weather in chapter 5 of that book are a good starting point for outdoor encounters. The tables in appendix A can be useful for indoor and outdoor encounters-especially the tables for obstacles, traps, and tricks. Finally, consult the random encounter tables in the next section of this book for inspiration.

Quick Matchups

The guidelines above assume that you are concerned about balance in your combat encounters and have enough time to prepare them. If you don't have much time, or if you want simpler but less precise guidelines, the Quick Matchups table below offers an alternative.

This table gives you a way to match a character of a certain level with a number of monsters. The table lists the challenge ratings to use for including one, two, and four monsters per character for each level. For instance, looking at the 3rd-level entry on the table, you can see that a CR 1/2 monster is equivalent to one 3rd-level character, as are two CR 1/4 monsters and four CR 1/8 ones.

Quick Matchups

Quick Matchups
Character Level1 Monster2 Monsters4 Monsters

Random Encounters: A World of Possibilities

Chapter 3 of the dungeon master's guide provides guidance on using random encounters in your game. This section builds on that guidance, offering a host of random encounter tables for you to use when you determine that a random encounter is going to take place.

Using the monster lists in appendix B of that book as a basis, we've built a set of tables for each environment category: arctic, coastal, desert, forest, grassland, hill, mountain, swamp, Underdark, underwater, and urban. Within each category, separate tables are provided for each of the four tiers of play: levels 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, and 17-20.

Even though you can use these tables "out of the box," the advice in the dungeon master's guide still holds true: tailoring such tables to your game can reinforce the themes and flavor of your campaign. We encourage you to customize this material to make it your own. In the tables, a name in bold refers to a stat block in the monster manual.

Flight, or Fight, or..?

Each of the results on these tables represents a certain kind of challenge or potential challenge.

If you let the dice have their way and the result is a large number of monsters, the generated encounter might be too difficult or dangerous for the characters in their present circumstances. They might want to flee to avoid contact, or not to approach any closer after perceiving the monsters from a distance.

Of course, you also have the freedom to adjust the numbers, but it's important to remember that not every encounter involving a monster needs to result in combat. An encounter might indeed be the prelude to a battle, a parley, or some other interaction. What happens next depends on what the characters try, or what you decide is bound to occur.

The tables also include entries for what the dungeon master's guide calls "encounters of a less monstrous nature." Many of these results cry out to be customized or detailed, which offers you an opportunity to connect them to the story of your campaign. And in so doing, you've taken a step toward making your own personalized encounter table. Now, keep going!

See the {@5etools Encounter Generator|encountergen.html} for a complete list of all the tables available.

Traps Revisited

The rules for traps in the dungeon master's guide provide the basic information you need to manage traps at the game table. The material here takes a different, more elaborate approach-describing traps in terms of their game mechanics and offering guidance on creating traps of your own using these new rules.

Rather than characterize traps as mechanical or magical, these rules separate traps into two other categories: simple and complex.

Simple Traps

A simple trap activates and is thereafter harmless or easily avoided. A hidden pit dug at the entrance of a goblin lair, a poison needle that pops from a lock, and a crossbow rigged to fire when an intruder steps on a pressure plate are all simple traps.

Elements of a Simple Trap

The description of a simple trap begins with a line that gives the trap's level and the severity of the threat it poses. Following a general note on what the trap looks like and how it functions are three paragraphs that tell how the trap works in the game.

Level and Threat

A trap's level is actually a range of levels, equivalent to one of the tiers of play (levels 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, and 17-20), indicating the appropriate time to use the trap in your campaign. Additionally, each trap poses either a moderate, dangerous, or deadly threat, based on its particular details.


A simple trap activates when an event occurs that triggers it. This entry in a trap's description gives the location of the trigger and the activity that causes the trap to activate.


A trap's effect occurs after it activates. The trap might fire a dart, unleash a cloud of poison gas, cause a hidden enclosure to open, and so on. This entry specifies what the trap targets, its attack bonus or saving throw DC, and what happens on a hit or a failed saving throw.


Traps can be detected or defeated in a variety of ways by using ability checks or magic. This entry in a trap's description gives the means for counteracting the trap. It also specifies what happens, if anything, on a failed attempt to disable it.

Running a Simple Trap

To prepare for using a simple trap in play, start by making note of the characters' passive Wisdom (Perception) scores. Most traps allow Wisdom (Perception) checks to detect their triggers or other elements that can tip off their presence. If you stop to ask players for this information, they might suspect a hidden danger.

When a trap is triggered, apply its effects as specified in its description.

If the characters discover a trap, be open to adjudicating their ideas for defeating it. The trap's description is a starting point for countermeasures, rather than a complete definition.

To make it easier for you to describe what happens next, the players should be specific about how they want to defeat the trap. Simply stating the desire to make a check isn't helpful for you. Ask the players where their characters are positioned and what they intend to do to defeat the trap.

Making Traps Meaningful

If you want to improve the chance that the characters will come up against the traps you've set for them in an encounter or an adventure, it can be tempting to use a large number of traps. Doing so ensures that the characters will have to deal with at least one or two of them, but it's better to fight that urge.

If your encounters or adventures are sown with too many traps, and if the characters are victimized over and over again as a result, they are likely to take steps to prevent further bad things from happening. Because of their recent experience, the characters can become overly cautious, and you run the risk of the action grinding to a halt as the players search every square inch of the dungeon for trip wires and pressure plates.

Traps are most effective when their presence comes as a surprise, not when they appear so often that the characters spend all their effort watching out for the next one.

Example Simple Traps

The following simple traps can be used to populate your adventures or as models for your own creations.

Designing Simple Traps

You can create your own simple traps by using the following guidelines. You can also adapt the example traps for different levels and severity of threat by modifying their DCs and damage values as shown below.


Before diving into the details of your trap, think about its reason for being. Why would someone build such a trap? What is its purpose? Consider the trap's creator (in the adventure), the creator's purpose, and the location the trap protects. Traps have context in the world-they aren't created for no reason-and that context drives the trap's nature and effects.

Described below are a few of the general purposes a trap might have. Use them to inspire the creation of your own traps.


An alarm trap is designed to alert an area's occupants of intruders. It might cause a bell or a gong to sound. This type of trap rarely involves a saving throw, because the alarm can't be avoided when the trap goes off.


Some traps are designed to slow down enemies, giving a dungeon's inhabitants time to mount a defense or flee. The hidden pit is a classic example of this kind of trap. A 10-foot-deep pit usually deals little damage and is easy to escape, but it serves its purpose by impeding intruders. Other examples of delaying traps include collapsing walls, a portcullis that drops from the ceiling, and a locking mechanism that shuts and bars a door.

If a delaying trap has moving parts that directly threaten characters when they operate, the characters are usually required to make Dexterity saving throws to avoid harm.


A restraining trap tries to keep its victims in place, leaving them unable to move. Such traps are often employed in conjunction with regular guard patrols, so that victims are periodically extricated and taken away to be dealt with. But in an ancient dungeon, the guards might be long gone.

Restraining traps usually require a successful Strength saving throw to be avoided, but some don't allow saving throws. In addition to dealing damage, a restraining trap also renders a creature unable to move. Making a subsequent successful Strength check (using the trap's saving throw DC) or dealing damage against the trap can break it and free the captive. Examples include a bear trap, a cage that drops from a ceiling, and a device that flings a net.


Some traps are designed to eliminate intruders, plain and simple. Their effects include poisoned needles that spring out when a lock is tampered with, blasts of fire that fill a room, poison gas, and other lethal measures. Saving throws-usually Dexterity or Constitution-allow creatures to avoid or mitigate the trap's effects.

Level and Lethality

Before creating a trap's effects, think about its level and its lethality.

Traps are divided into four level ranges: 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, and 17-20. The level you choose for a trap gives you a starting point for determining its potency.

To further delineate the trap's strength, decide whether it is a moderate, dangerous, or deadly threat to characters in its level range. A moderate trap is unlikely to kill a character. A dangerous trap typically deals enough damage that a character hit by one is eager for healing. A deadly trap might reduce a creature to 0 hit points in one shot, and leaves most creatures hit by it in need of a short or long rest.

Consult the following tables when determining a trap's effects. The Trap Save DCs and Attack Bonuses table provides guidelines for a trap's saving throw DC, check DC, and attack bonus. The check DC is the default for any check used to interact with the trap.

The Damage Severity by Level table lists the typical damage a trap deals at certain character levels. The damage values given assume that the trap damages one creature. Use d6s for damage in place of d10s for traps that can affect more than one creature at a time.

The Spell Equivalent by Level table shows the spell slot level that is appropriate for a given character level and the severity of danger posed by the trap. A spell is a great foundation to use as the design of a trap, whether the trap duplicates the spell (a mirror that casts charm person on whoever looks into it) or uses its effects (an alchemical device that explodes like a fireball).

The Deadly entry for characters of 17th level or higher suggests combining a 9th-level and a 5th-level spell into one effect. In this case, pick two spells, or combine the effects of a spell cast using a 9th-level and a 5th-level slot. For instance, a fireball spell of this sort would deal {@dice 24d6} fire damage on a failed saving throw.

Trap Save DCs and Attack Bonuses

Trap Save DCs and Attack Bonuses
Trap DangerSave/Check DCAttack Bonus

Damage Severity by Level

Damage Severity by Level
Character LevelModerateDangerousDeadly
1-45 ({@dice 1d10}) 11 ({@dice 2d10}) 22 ({@dice 4d10})
5-1011 ({@dice 2d10}) 22 ({@dice 4d10}) 55 ({@dice 10d10})
11-1622 ({@dice 4d10}) 55 ({@dice 10d10}) 99 ({@dice 18d10})
17-2055 ({@dice 10d10}) 99 ({@dice 18d10}) 132 ({@dice 24d10})

Spell Equivalent by Level

Spell Equivalent by Level
Character Level Moderate Dangerous Deadly
17-206th9th9th + 5th


A trigger is the circumstance that needs to take place to activate the trap.

Decide what causes the trap to activate and determine how the characters can find the trigger. Here are some example triggers:

A trigger usually needs to be hidden to be effective. Otherwise, avoiding the trap is usually easy.

A trigger requires a Wisdom (Perception) check if simply spotting it reveals its nature. The characters can foil a pit trap hidden by a leaf-covered net if they spot the pit through a gap in the leaves. A trip wire is foiled if it is spotted, as is a pressure plate.

Other traps require careful inspection and deduction to notice. A doorknob opens a door when turned to the left, but activates a trap when turned to the right. Such a subtle trap requires a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check to notice. The trigger is obvious. Understanding its nature is not.

The DC of the check, regardless of its type, depends on the skill and care taken to conceal the trap. Most traps can be detected with a successful DC 20 check, but a crudely made or hastily built trap has a DC of 15. Exceptionally devious traps might have a DC of 25.

You must then put some thought into what the characters learn with a successful check. In most cases, the check reveals the trap. In other cases, it uncovers clues, but foiling the trap still requires some deduction. The characters might succeed on the check but still trigger the trap if they don't understand what they have learned.


Designing a trap's effects is a straightforward process. The tables for saving throw DCs, attack bonuses, damage, and the like give you a starting point for most simple traps that deal damage.

For traps with more complex effects, your best starting point is to use the Spell Equivalent by Level table to find the best match for your trap's intended effect. Spells are a good starting point because they are compact pieces of game design that deliver specific effects.

If you are using a spell as a starting point, check to see if you need to tweak its effects to fit the trap's nature. For instance, you can easily change the damage type a spell delivers or the saving throw it requires.

Disarming a Simple Trap

Only one successful ability check is required to disarm a simple trap. Imagine how your trap operates, and then think about how the characters could overcome it. More than one kind of ability check might be possible. Some traps are so poorly concealed that they can be discovered or circumvented without active effort. For instance, a hidden pit trap is effectively disarmed as soon as the characters notice it. After that, they can simply walk around it, or they can climb down one side, walk across the bottom of the pit, and climb up the other side.

Once you determine how a trap can be disarmed or avoided, decide the appropriate ability and skill combinations that characters can use. A Dexterity check using {@item thieves' tools|phb}, a Strength (Athletics) check, and an Intelligence (Arcana) check are all commonly used for this purpose.

A Dexterity check using {@item thieves' tools|phb} can apply to any trap that has a mechanical element. {@item Thieves' tools|phb} can be used to disable a trip wire or a pressure plate, disassemble a poison needle mechanism, or clog a valve that leaks poisonous gas into a room.

A Strength check is often the method for thwarting traps that can be destroyed or prevented from operating through the use of brute force. A scything blade can be broken, a sliding block can be held in place, or a net can be torn apart.

A magic trap can be disabled by someone who can undermine the magic used to power it. Typically, a successful Intelligence (Arcana) check enables a character to figure out how a magic trap functions and how to negate its effect. For instance, the character could discover that a statue that belches a jet of magical flame can be disabled by shattering one of its glass eyes.

Once you know what kind of check is called for, you then determine what happens on a failed attempt to disable the trap. Depending on the kind of check involved and the nature of the trap, you might determine that any failed check has negative consequences-usually involving the triggering of the trap. At other times, you could assign a number that the check must exceed to prevent the trap from going off. If the total of the check is equal to or lower than that number, the trap activates.

Placing a Simple Trap

Context and environment are critical when it comes to properly locating a trap. A swinging log trap that's meant to knock characters aside is a mere inconvenience on a typical forest path, where it can be easily circumvented. But it's a potentially deadly hazard on a narrow trail that hugs the side of a towering cliff face.

Choke points and narrow passages that lead to important places in a dungeon are good spots for traps, especially those that serve as alarms or restraints. The goal is to foil or delay intruders before they can reach a critical location, giving the dungeon's denizens a chance to mount a defense or a counterattack.

A treasure chest, a door leading to a vault, or any other obstacle or container that bars the way to a valuable treasure is the ideal location for a slaying trap. In such instances, the trap is the last line of defense against a thief or intruder.

Alarm traps, since they pose no direct physical threat, are appropriate for areas that are also used by a dungeon's denizens-assuming the residents know about the trap and how to avoid setting it off. Accidents can happen, but if a goblin stumbles inside its den and activates an alarm trap, there's no real harm done. The alarm sounds, the guards arrive, they punish the clumsy goblin, and they reset the trap.

Complex Traps

A complex trap poses multiple dangers to adventurers. After a complex trap activates, it remains dangerous round after round until the characters avoid it or disable it. Some complex traps become more dangerous over time, as they accumulate power or gain speed.

Complex traps are also more difficult to disable than simple ones. A single check is not enough. Instead, a series of checks is required to slowly disengage the trap's components. The trap's effect degrades with each successful check until the characters finally deactivate it.

Most complex traps are designed so that they can be disarmed only by someone who is exposed to the trap's effect. For example, the mechanism that controls a hallway filled with scything blades is on the opposite end from the entrance, or a statue that bathes an area in necrotic energy can be disabled only by someone standing in the affected area.

Describing a Complex Trap

A complex trap has all the elements of a simple trap, plus special characteristics that make the trap a more dynamic threat.

Level and Threat

A complex trap uses the same level and severity designations that a simple trap does.


Just like a simple trap, a complex trap has a trigger. Some complex traps have multiple triggers.


A complex trap takes turns as a creature does, because it functions over a period of time. This part of a trap's description tells whether the trap is slow (acts on initiative count 10), fast (acts on initiative count 20), or very fast (acts on initiative count 20 and also initiative count 10). A trap always acts after creatures that have the same initiative count.

Active Elements

On a trap's turn, it produces specific effects that are detailed in this part of its description. The trap might have multiple active elements, a table you roll on to determine its effect at random, or options for you to choose from.

Dynamic Elements

A dynamic element is a threat that arises or evolves while the trap functions. Usually, changes involving dramatic elements take effect at the end of each of the trap's turns or in response to the characters' actions.

Constant Elements

A complex trap poses a threat even when it is not taking its turn. The constant elements describe how these parts of the trap function. Most make an attack or force a saving throw against any creature that ends its turn within a certain area.


A trap can be defeated in a variety of ways. A trap's description details the checks or spells that can detect or disable it. It also specifies what happens, if anything, on a failed attempt to disable it.

Disabling a complex trap is like disarming a simple trap, except that a complex trap requires more checks. It typically takes three successful checks to disable one of a complex trap's elements. Many of these traps have multiple elements, requiring a lot of work to shut down every part of the trap. Usually, a successful check reduces a trap element's effectiveness even if it doesn't disable the trap.

Running a Complex Trap

A complex trap functions in play much like a legendary monster. When it is activated, the trap's active elements act according to its initiative. On each of its initiative counts, after all creatures with that same initiative count have acted, the trap's features activate. Apply the effects detailed in the trap's description.

After resolving the effects of the trap's active elements, check its dynamic elements to see if anything changes about the trap. Many complex traps have effects that vary during an encounter. A magical aura might do more damage the longer it is active, or a swinging blade might change which area of a chamber it attacks.

The trap's constant elements allow it to have effects when it isn't the trap's turn. At the end of each creature's turn, look at the trap's constant elements to see if any of their effects are triggered.

Experience for Complex Traps

Overcoming a complex trap merits an experience point award, depending on the danger it poses. Judging whether a party has overcome a trap requires some amount of adjudication. As a rule of thumb, if the characters disable a complex trap or are exposed to its effects and survive, award them experience points for the effort according to the table below.

Complex Trap Experience Awards

Complex Trap Experience Awards
Trap LevelExperience Points

Example Complex Traps

The following complex traps can be used to challenge characters or to inspire your own creations.

Designing Complex Traps

Creating a complex trap takes more work than building a simple one, but with some practice, you can learn the process and make it move quickly.

Familiarize yourself with the advice on designing a simple trap before proceeding with the guidelines on complex traps.


Complex traps are typically designed to protect an area by killing or disabling intruders. It is worth your time to consider who made the trap, the trap's purpose, and its desired result. Does the trap protect a treasure? Does it target only certain kinds of intruders?

Level and Lethality

Complex traps use the same level designations and lethality descriptors that simple traps do. Refer to that section for a discussion of how level and lethality help determine saving throw and check DCs, attack bonuses, and other numerical elements of a complex trap.


A complex trap has multiple parts, typically relies on the characters' positions to resolve some of its effects, and can bring several effects to bear in each round. The traps are called complex for a reason! To begin the design process, consider drawing a map of the area to be affected by the trap on graph paper, using a scale of 5 feet per square. This level of detail allows you to develop a clear idea of what the trap can do and how each of its parts interact. Your map is the starting point and context for the rest of the design process.

Don't limit yourself to one room. Look at the passages and rooms around the area of the trap and think about the role they can play. The trap might cause doors to lock and barriers to fall into place to prevent escape. It could cause darts to fire from the walls in one area, forcing characters to enter rooms where other devices trigger and threaten them.

Consider how terrain and furniture can add to the trap's danger. A chasm or a pit might create a buffer that allows a trap to send bolts of magic at the characters, while making it difficult or even impossible for them to reach the runes they must deface to foil that attack.

Think of your map like a script. Where do the characters want to go? What does the trap protect? How can the characters get there? What are their likely escape routes? Answering these questions tells you where the trap's various elements should be placed.

Active Elements

A complex trap's active elements work the same way as a simple trap's effects, except that a complex trap activates in every round. Otherwise, the guidelines for picking saving throw DCs, attack bonuses, and damage are the same. To make your trap logically consistent, make sure the elements you design can activate each round. For instance, ordinary crossbows rigged to fire at the characters would need a mechanism for reloading them between attacks.

In terms of lethality, it's better to have multiple dangerous effects in a trap than a single deadly one. For example, the Path of Blades trap uses two dangerous elements and one moderate element.

It's useful to create multiple active elements, with each affecting a different area. It's also a good idea to use a variety of effects. Some parts of the trap might deal damage, and others might immobilize characters or isolate them from the rest of the party. A bashing lever might knock characters into an area engulfed by jets of flame. Think about how the elements can work together.

Constant Elements

In addition to the active steps a complex trap takes, it should also present a continual hazard. Often, the active and constant effects are the same thing. Imagine a hallway filled with whirling saw blades. On the trap's turn, the blades attack anyone in the hall. In addition, anyone who lingers in the hallway takes damage at the end of each of their turns, accounting for the constant threat that the blades pose.

A constant element should apply its effect to any creature that ends its turn in that element's area. If an active element presents a threat when it isn't the trap's turn, define the threat it poses as a constant element. As a rule of thumb, keep the saving throw DC or attack bonus the same as for the active element but reduce the damage by half.

Avoid filling the entire encounter area with constant elements. Part of the challenge of a complex trap lies in figuring out which areas are safe. A moment's respite can help add an element of pacing to an encounter with a complex trap and give the characters the feeling that they aren't in constant peril. For example, walls that slam together might need to reset between slams, making them harmless when it isn't their turn to act.

Dynamic Elements

Just as a battle is more interesting if the monsters change their tactics or unveil new abilities in later rounds, so too are complex traps more fun if their nature changes in some way. The whirling blades that protect a treasure chest do more damage each round as they speed up. The poison gas in a room grows thicker as more of it floods the chamber, dealing greater damage and affecting line of sight. The necrotic aura around an idol of Demogorgon produces random effects each time its active element is triggered. As water floods a chamber, the characters must swim across areas they could walk through just a round or two earlier.

Since a complex trap remains active over the course of several rounds, it might be possible to predict its future behavior by examining how it functions. This information can give its targets a much better chance of thwarting it. To minimize this possibility, design your trap so that it presents multiple threats that can change each round. The changes can include how a trap targets creatures (different attacks or saving throws), the damage or effects it produces, the areas it covers, and so on. Some traps might have a random effect each round, while others follow a carefully programmed sequence of attacks.

Dynamic elements usually occur according to a schedule.

For a room that floods, you can plan out how the rising water level affects the area each round. The water might be ankle deep at the end of the first round, knee deep the next, and so on. Not only does the water bring a risk of drowning, it also makes it harder to move across the area. On the other hand, the rising water level might allow characters to swim to the upper reaches of the chamber that they couldn't get to from the floor.

Dynamic elements can also come into play in reaction to the characters' actions. Disarming one element of the trap might make the others deadlier. Disabling a rune that triggers a fire-breathing statue might cause the statue to explode.


The advice on triggers given for simple traps also applies to complex traps, with one exception. Complex traps have multiple triggers, or are designed such that avoiding a trigger prevents intruders from reaching the area the trap guards. Other complex traps use magical triggers that activate on specific cues, such as when a door opens or someone enters an area without wearing the correct badge, amulet, or robe.

Look at your map and consider when you want the trap to spring into action. It's best to have a complex trap trigger after the characters have committed to exploring an area. A simple trap might activate when the characters open a door. A complex trap that triggers so early leaves the characters still outside the trapped room, in a place where they could decide to close the door and move on. A simple trap aims to keep intruders out. A complex trap wants to lure them in, so that when it activates, the intruders must deal with the trap before they can escape.

The trigger for a complex trap should be as foolproof as you can make it. A complex trap represents a serious expenditure of effort and magical power. No one builds such a trap and makes it easy to avoid. Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks might be unable to spot a trigger, especially a magical one, but they can still give hints about the trap before it triggers. Bloodstains, ashes, gouges in the floor, and other clues of that sort can serve as evidence of the trap's presence.


A complex trap acts repeatedly, but unlike characters and monsters, traps don't roll for initiative. As mechanical or magical devices, their active elements operate in a periodic manner. When designing a complex trap, you need to decide when and how often its active elements produce their effects.

In a trap with multiple active elements that work in concert, those different elements would act on different initiative counts. For instance, on initiative count 20, blades sweep across a treasure vault, driving the characters back into the hallway. On initiative count 10, magic darts fire from statues in the hallway while a portcullis falls to confine the characters.

Initiative 10

If a trap's active element takes time to build up its effects, then it acts on initiative count 10. This option is good for a trap that functions alongside allied monsters or other guardians; the delay before it acts can give guards the chance to move out of its area or force characters into the area before the trap triggers.

Initiative 20

If an element is designed to surprise intruders and hit them before they can react, then it acts on initiative count 20. This option is generally best for a complex trap. Think of it as the default. Such a trap acts quickly enough to take advantage of most characters, with nimble characters like rogues, rangers, and monks having the best chance to move out of the area before the element activates.

Initiative 20 and 10

Some active elements are incredibly fast acting, laying waste to intruders in a few moments unless countered. They act on initiative count 20 and 10.

Defeating Complex Traps

A complex trap is never defeated with a single check. Instead, each successful check foils some part of it or degrades its performance. Each element of the trap must be overcome individually to defeat the trap as a whole.

As part of determining how your trap can be overcome, look at your map and consider where the characters must be located to attempt an action that can foil part of the trap. As a rule, the characters should need to be near or adjacent to an element to have a chance of affecting it. An element can be designed so that it protects itself. A fighter might be able to break a whirling blade, but moving close enough to attack it requires giving the blade a chance to strike.

What methods are effective against your trap? Obvious candidates are activities covered by the same sorts of checks used to defeat simple traps, but use your knowledge of the trap's design to identify other options. A valve that leaks poison gas into a room can be stopped up. A statue that emits a deadly aura can be pushed over and smashed. Attacks, spells, and special abilities can all play a role in undermining a trap.

Leave room for improvisation by the characters. Don't create a few predetermined solutions and wait for the players to figure out the right approach. If you understand the mechanism behind how a trap works, that makes it much easier for you to respond to the players' ideas. If a character wants to try something you haven't allowed for, pick an ability, assess the chance of success, and ask for a roll.

Shutting down one part of a complex trap usually requires multiple successes. As a default, it takes three successful checks or actions to disable an element. The first successful check might reduce the element's saving throw DC or attack bonus. The second successful check might halve the element's damage, and the final successful check shuts it down.

For elements that don't attack, allow each successful check to reduce that element's effectiveness by one-third. A lock's DC is decreased, or a gate opens wide enough to allow a Small character to squeeze through it. A mechanism pumping poison gas into the room becomes defective, causing the gas's damage to increase more slowly or not at all.

It takes time to disable a complex trap. Three characters can't make checks in rapid succession to disarm a complex trap in a matter of seconds. Each would get in another character's way and disrupt the effort. Once a character succeeds on a check, another character can't attempt the same check against the same trap element until the end of the successful character's next turn.

Not all of the characters' options need to be focused on stopping a trap from operating. Think of what characters can do to mitigate or avoid a trap's effects. Making the trap vulnerable to this sort of effort is a way to engage characters who might be ill-suited to confront the trap directly. A successful Intelligence (Religion) check might provide insight into the imagery displayed by a trap in a temple or shrine, giving other characters a clue about how and where to direct their efforts. A character could stand in front of a dart trap while holding a shield that the darts can target harmlessly, while other characters trigger that element as they work to disable it.

If a character wants to try something you haven't allowed for, pick an ability, assess the chance of success, and ask for a roll.

Shutting down one part of a complex trap usually requires multiple successes. As a default, it takes three successful checks or actions to disable an element. The first successful check might reduce the element's saving throw DC or attack bonus. The second successful check might halve the element's damage, and the final successful check shuts it down.

For elements that don't attack, allow each successful check to reduce that element's effectiveness by one-third. A lock's DC is decreased, or a gate opens wide enough to allow a Small character to squeeze through it. A mechanism pumping poison gas into the room becomes defective, causing the gas's damage to increase more slowly or not at all.

It takes time to disable a complex trap. Three characters can't make checks in rapid succession to disarm a complex trap in a matter of seconds. Each would get in another character's way and disrupt the effort. Once a character succeeds on a check, another character can't attempt the same check against the same trap element until the end of the successful character's next turn.

Not all of the characters' options need to be focused on stopping a trap from operating. Think of what characters can do to mitigate or avoid a trap's effects. Making the trap vulnerable to this sort of effort is a way to engage characters who might be ill-suited to confront the trap directly. A successful Intelligence (Religion) check might provide insight into the imagery displayed by a trap in a temple or shrine, giving other characters a clue about how and where to direct their efforts. A character could stand in front of a dart trap while holding a shield that the darts can target harmlessly, while other characters trigger that element as they work to disable it.

Complex Traps and Legendary Monsters

A complex trap is like a legendary monster in some ways. It has several tricks it can use on its turn, and it remains a threat throughout the round, not just on its turn. The trap's active elements are like a legendary creature's normal actions, and its constant elements are equivalent to legendary actions-except they are tied to specific areas in the trapped room.

Although a legendary creature can move, improvise actions, and so forth, a trap is set to a specific script-an aspect that has the potential to make a complex trap stale and predictable. That's where dynamic elements come in. They keep the players on their toes and make dealing with a complex trap feel like a challenging, evolving situation.

Downtime Revisited

It's possible for the characters to start a campaign at 1st level, dive into an epic story, and reach 10th level and beyond in a short amount of game time. Although that pace works fine for many campaigns, some DMs prefer a campaign story with pauses built into it—times when adventurers are not going on adventures. The downtime rules given in this section can be used as alternatives to the approach in the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, or you can use the material here to inspire the creation of your own options.

By engaging the characters in downtime activities that take weeks or even months to complete, you can give your campaign a longer time line—one in which events in the world play out over years. Wars begin and end, tyrants come and go, and royal lines rise and fall over the course of the story that you and the characters tell.

Downtime rules also provide ways for characters to spend—or be relieved of—the monetary treasure they amass on their adventures.

The system presented here consists of two elements. First, it introduces the concept of rivals. Second, it details a number of downtime activities that characters can undertake.


Rivals are NPCs who oppose the characters and make their presence felt whenever the characters are engaging in downtime. A rival might be a villain you have featured in past adventures or plan to use in the future. Rivals can also include good or neutral folk who are at odds with the characters, whether because they have opposing goals or they simply dislike one another. The cultist of Orcus whose plans the characters have foiled, the ambitious merchant prince who wants to rule the city with an iron fist, and the nosy high priest of Helm who is convinced the characters are up to no good are all examples of rivals.

A rival's agenda changes over time. Though the characters engage in downtime only between adventures, their rivals rarely rest, continuing to spin plots and work against the characters even when the characters are off doing something else.

Creating a Rival

In essence, a rival is a somewhat specialized NPC. You can use chapter 4 of the Dungeon Master's Guide to build a new NPC for this purpose, or pick one from your current cast of supporting characters and embellish that NPC as described below.

It's possible for the characters to have two or three rivals at a time, each with a separate agenda. At least one should be a villain, but the others might be neutral or good; conflicts with those rivals might be social or political, rather than manifesting as direct attacks.

The best rivals have a connection with their adversaries on a personal level. Find links in the characters' back­stories or the events of recent adventures that explain what sparked the rival's actions. The best trouble to put the characters in is trouble they created for themselves.


1Tax collector who is convinced the characters are dodging fees
2Politician who is concerned that the characters are causing more trouble than they solve
3High priest who worries the characters are diminishing the temple's prestige
4Wizard who blames the characters for some recent troubles
5Rival adventuring party
6Bard who loves a scandal enough to spark one
7Childhood rival or member of a rival clan
8Scorned sibling or parent
9Merchant who blames the characters for any business woes
10Newcomer out to make a mark on the world
11Sibling or ally of defeated enemy
12Official seeking to restore a tarnished reputation
13Deadly foe disguised as a social rival
14Fiend seeking to tempt the characters to evil
15Spurned romantic interest
16Political opportunist seeking a scapegoat
17Traitorous noble looking to foment a revolution
18Would-be tyrant who brooks no opposition
19Exiled noble looking for revenge
20Corrupt official worried that recent misdeeds will be revealed

To add the right amount of detail to a rival you want to create, give some thought to what that NPC is trying to accomplish and what resources and methods the rival can bring to bear against the characters.


An effective rival has a clear reason for interfering with the characters' lives. Think about what the rival wants, how and why the characters stand in the way, and how the conflict could be resolved. Ideally, a rival's goal directly involves the characters or something they care about.


Think about the resources the rival can marshal. Does the character have enough money to pay bribes or to hire a small gang of mercenaries? Does the rival hold sway over any guilds, temples, or other groups? Make a list of the rival's assets, and consider how they can be used.


The foundation of a rival's presence in the campaign is the actions the rival takes or the events that occur as a result of that character's goals. Each time you resolve one or more workweeks of downtime, pick one of the ways a rival's plans might be advanced and introduce it into play.

Think about how a rival might operate in order to bring specific plans to fruition, and jot down three or four kinds of actions the rival might undertake. Some of these might be versions of the downtime activities described later in this section, but these are more often efforts that are specific to the rival.

A rival's action might be a direct attack, such as an assassination attempt, that you play out during a session. Or it might be a background activity that you describe as altering the campaign in some way. For example, a rival who wants to increase the prestige of the temple of a war god might hold a festival with drink, food, and gladiatorial games. Even if the characters aren't directly involved, the event becomes the talk of the town.

Some elements of a rival's plans might involve events in the world that aren't under the rival's control. Whether such an event can be easily anticipated or not, the rival's plans might include contingencies for taking advantage of such happenings.

Downtime Activities

Downtime activities are tasks that usually take a workweek (5 days) or longer to perform. These tasks can include buying or creating magic items, pulling off crimes, and working at a job. A character selects a downtime activity from among those available and pays the cost of that activity in time and money. You, as DM, then follow the rules for the activity to resolve it, informing the player of the results and any complications that ensue.

Consider handling downtime away from the game table. For example, you could have the players pick their downtime activities at the end of a session, and then communicate about them by email or text, until you next see them in person.

Resolving Activities

The description of each activity tells you how to resolve it. Many activities require an ability check, so be sure to note the character's relevant ability modifiers. Follow the steps in the activity, and determine the results.

Most downtime activities require a workweek (5 days) to complete. Some activities require days, weeks (7 days), or months (30 days). A character must spend at least 8 hours of each day engaged in the downtime activity for that day to count toward the activity's completion.

The days of an activity don't need to be consecutive; you can spread them over a longer period of time than is required for the activity. But that period of time should be no more than twice as long as the required time; otherwise you should introduce extra complications (see below) and possibly double the activity's costs to represent the inefficiency of the character's progress.


The description of each activity includes a discussion of complications you can throw at the characters. The consequences of a complication might spawn entire adventures, introduce NPCs to vex the party, or give the characters headaches or advantages in any number of other ways.

Each of these sections has a table that offers possible complications. You can roll to determine a complication randomly, pick one from the table, or devise one of your own, and then share it with the player.

Example Downtime Activities

The following activities are suitable for any character who can afford to pursue them. As DM, you have the final say on which activities are available to the characters. The activities you allow might depend on the nature of the area where the characters are located. For example, you might disallow the creation of magic items or decide that the characters are in a town that is too isolated from major markets for them to buy such items.

Buying a Magic Item

Purchasing a magic item requires time and money to seek out and contact people willing to sell items. Even then, there is no guarantee a seller will have the items a character desires.


Finding magic items to purchase requires at least one workweek of effort and 100 gp in expenses. Spending more time and money increases your chance of finding a high-quality item.


A character seeking to buy a magic item makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine the quality of the seller found. The character gains a +1 bonus on the check for every workweek beyond the first that is spent seeking a seller and a +1 bonus for every additional 100 gp spent on the search, up to a maximum bonus of +10. The monetary cost includes a wealthy lifestyle, for a buyer must impress potential business partners.

As shown on the Buying Magic Items table, the total of the check dictates which table in the Dungeon Master's Guide to roll on to determine which items are on the market. Or you can roll for items from any table associated with a lower total on the Buying Magic Items table. As a further option to reflect the availability of items in your campaign, you can apply a -10 penalty for low magic campaigns or a +10 bonus for high magic campaigns. Furthermore, you can double magic item costs in low magic campaigns.

Using the Magic Item Price table, you then assign prices to the available items, based on their rarity. Halve the price of any consumable item, such as a potion or a scroll, when using the table to determine an asking price.

You have final say in determining which items are for sale and their final price, no matter what the tables say.

If the characters seek a specific magic item, first decide if it's an item you want to allow in your game. If so, include the desired item among the items for sale on a check total of 10 or higher if the item is common, 15 or higher if it is uncommon, 20 or higher if it is rare, 25 or higher if it is very rare, and 30 or higher if it is legendary.

Buying Magic Items

Buying Magic Items
Check TotalItems Acquired
1—5Roll {@dice 1d6} times on Magic Item Table A.
6—10Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table B.
11—15Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table C.
16—20Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table D.
21—25Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table E.
26—30Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table F.
31—35Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table G.
36—40Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table H.
41+Roll {@dice 1d4} times on Magic Item Table I.

Magic Item Price

Magic Item Price
RarityAsking Price*
Common{@dice (1d6 + 1) × 10} gp
Uncommon{@dice 1d6 × 100} gp
Rare{@dice 2d10 × 1,000} gp
Very rare{@dice (1d4 + 1) × 10,000} gp
Legendary{@dice 2d6 × 25,000} gp


The magic item trade is fraught with peril. The large sums of money involved and the power offered by magic items attract thieves, con artists, and other villains. If you want to make things more interesting for the characters, roll on the Magic Item Purchase Complications table or invent your own complication.

Magic Item Purchase Complications

Magic Item Purchase Complications
1The item is a fake, planted by an enemy.*
2The item is stolen by the party's enemies.*
3The item is cursed by a god.
4The item's original owner will kill to reclaim it; the party's enemies spread news of its sale.*
5The item is at the center of a dark prophecy.
6The seller is murdered before the sale.*
7The seller is a devil looking to make a bargain.
8The item is the key to freeing an evil entity.
9A third party bids on the item, doubling its price.*
10The item is an enslaved, intelligent entity.
11The item is tied to a cult.
12The party's enemies spread rumors that the item is an artifact of evil.*


Carousing is a default downtime activity for many characters. Between adventures, who doesn't want to relax with a few drinks and a group of friends at a tavern?


Carousing covers a workweek of fine food, strong drink, and socializing. A character can attempt to carouse among lower-, middle-, or upper-class folk. A character can carouse with the lower class for 10 gp to cover expenses, or 50 gp for the middle class. Carousing with the upper class requires 250 gp for the workweek and access to the local nobility.

A character with the noble background can mingle with the upper class, but other characters can do so only if you judge that the character has made sufficient contacts. Alternatively, a character might use a {@item disguise Kit|phb} and the Deception skill to pass as a noble visiting from a distant city.


After a workweek of carousing, a character stands to make contacts within the selected social class. The character makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check using the Carousing table.


Check TotalResult
1—5Character has made a hostile contact.
6—10Character has made no new contacts.
11—15Character has made an allied contact.
16—20Character has made two allied contacts.
21+Character has made three allied contacts.

Contacts are NPCs who now share a bond with the character. Each one either owes the character a favor or has some reason to bear a grudge. A hostile contact works against the character, placing obstacles but stopping short of committing a crime or a violent act. Allied contacts are friends who will render aid to the character, but not at the risk of their lives.

Lower-class contacts include criminals, laborers, mercenaries, the town guard, and any other folk who normally frequent the cheapest taverns in town.

Middle-class contacts include guild members, spellcasters, town officials, and other folk who frequent well-kept establishments.

Upper-class contacts are nobles and their personal servants. Carousing with such folk covers formal banquets, state dinners, and the like.

Once a contact has helped or hindered a character, the character needs to carouse again to get back into the NPC's good graces. A contact provides help once, not help for life. The contact remains friendly, which can influence roleplaying and how the characters interact with them, but doesn't come with a guarantee of help.

You can assign specific NPCs as contacts. You might decide that the barkeep at the Wretched Gorgon and a guard stationed at the western gate are the character's allied contacts. Assigning specific NPCs gives the players concrete options. It brings the campaign to life and seeds the area with NPCs that the characters care about. On the other hand, it can prove difficult to track and might render a contact useless if that character doesn't come into play.

Alternatively, you can allow the player to make an NPC into a contact on the spot, after carousing. When the characters are in the area in which they caroused, a player can expend an allied contact and designate an NPC they meet as a contact, assuming the NPC is of the correct social class based on how the character caroused. The player should provide a reasonable explanation for this relationship and work it into the game.

Using a mix of the two approaches is a good idea, since it gives you the added depth of specific contacts while giving players the freedom to ensure that the contacts they accumulate are useful.

The same process can apply to hostile contacts. You can give the characters a specific NPC they should avoid, or you might introduce one at an inopportune or dramatic moment.

At any time, a character can have a maximum number of unspecified allied contacts equal to 1 + the character's Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). Specific, named contacts don't count toward this limit—only ones that can be used at any time to declare an NPC as a contact.


Characters who carouse risk bar brawls, accumulating a cloud of nasty rumors, and building a bad reputation around town. As a rule of thumb, a character has a 10 percent chance of triggering a complication for each workweek of carousing.

Lower-Class Carousing Complications

Lower-Class Carousing Complications
1A pickpocket lifts {@dice 1d10 × 5} gp from you.*
2A bar brawl leaves you with a scar.*
3You have fuzzy memories of doing something very, very illegal, but can't remember exactly what.
4You are banned from a tavern after some obnoxious behavior.*
5After a few drinks, you swore in the town square to pursue a dangerous quest.
6Surprise! You're married.
7Streaking naked through the streets seemed like a great idea at the time.
8Everyone is calling you by some weird, embarrassing nickname, like Puddle Drinker or Bench Slayer, and no one will say why.*

Middle-Class Carousing Complications

Middle-Class Carousing Complications
1You accidentally insulted a guild master, and only a public apology will let you do business with the guild again.*
2You swore to complete some quest on behalf of a temple or a guild.
3A social gaffe has made you the talk of the town.*
4A particularly obnoxious person has taken an intense romantic interest in you.*
5You have made a foe out of a local spellcaster.*
6You have been recruited to help run a local festival, play, or similar event.
7You made a drunken toast that scandalized the locals.
8You spent an additional 100 gp trying to impress people.

Upper-Class Carousing Complications

Upper-Class Carousing Complications
1A pushy noble family wants to marry off one of their scions to you.*
2You tripped and fell during a dance, and people can't stop talking about it.
3You have agreed to take on a noble's debts.
4You have been challenged to a joust by a knight.*
5You have made a foe out of a local noble.*
6A boring noble insists you visit each day and listen to long, tedious theories of magic.
7You have become the target of a variety of embarrassing rumors.*
8You spent an additional 500 gp trying to impress people.

Crafting an Item

A character who has the time, the money, and the needed tools can use downtime to craft armor, weapons, clothing, or other kinds of nonmagical gear.

Resources and Resolution

In addition to the appropriate tools for the item to be crafted, a character needs raw materials worth half of the item's selling cost. To determine how many workweeks it takes to create an item, divide its gold piece cost by 50. A character can complete multiple items in a workweek if the items' combined cost is 50 gp or lower. Items that cost more than 50 gp can be completed over longer periods of time, as long as the work in progress is stored in a safe location.

Multiple characters can combine their efforts. Divide the time needed to create an item by the number of characters working on it. Use your judgment when determining how many characters can collaborate on an item. A particularly tiny item, like a ring, might allow only one or two workers, whereas a large, complex item might allow four or more workers.

A character needs to be proficient with the tools needed to craft an item and have access to the appropriate equipment. Everyone who collaborates needs to have the appropriate tool proficiency. You need to make any judgment calls regarding whether a character has the correct equipment. The following table provides some examples.

unknown table

{@item Herbalism kit|phb}Antitoxin, potion of healing
{@item Leatherworker's tools|phb}Leather armor, boots
{@item Smith's tools|phb}Armor, weapons
{@item Weaver's tools|phb}Cloaks, robes

If all the above requirements are met, the result of the process is an item of the desired sort. A character can sell an item crafted in this way at its listed price.

Crafting Magic Items

Creating a magic item requires more than just time, effort, and materials. It is a long-term process that involves one or more adventures to track down rare materials and the lore needed to create the item.

Potions of healing and spell scrolls are exceptions to the following rules. For more information, see "Brewing Potions of Healing" later in this section and the "Scribing a Spell Scroll" section, below.

To start with, a character needs a formula for a magic item in order to create it. The formula is like a recipe. It lists the materials needed and steps required to make the item.

An item invariably requires an exotic material to complete it. This material can range from the skin of a yeti to a vial of water taken from a whirlpool on the Elemental Plane of Water. Finding that material should take place as part of an adventure.

The Magic Item Ingredients table suggests the challenge rating of a creature that the characters need to face to acquire the materials for an item. Note that facing a creature does not necessarily mean that the characters must collect items from its corpse. Rather, the creature might guard a location or a resource that the characters need access to.

Magic Item Ingredients

Magic Item Ingredients
Item RarityCR Range
Very rare13—18

If appropriate, pick a monster or a location that is a thematic fit for the item to be crafted. For example, creating mariner's armor might require the essence of a water weird. Crafting a staff of charming might require the cooperation of a specific arcanaloth, who will help only if the characters complete a task for it. Making a staff of power might hinge on acquiring a piece of an ancient stone that was once touched by the god of magic—a stone now guarded by a suspicious androsphinx.

In addition to facing a specific creature, creating an item comes with a gold piece cost covering other materials, tools, and so on, based on the item's rarity. Those values, as well as the time a character needs to work in order to complete the item, are shown on the Magic Item Crafting Time and Cost table. Halve the listed price and creation time for any consumable items.

Magic Item Crafting Time and Cost

Magic Item Crafting Time and Cost
Item RarityWorkweeks*Cost*
Common150 gp
Uncommon2200 gp
Rare102,000 gp
Very rare2520,000 gp
Legendary50100,000 gp

To complete a magic item, a character also needs whatever tool proficiency is appropriate, as for crafting a nonmagical object, or proficiency in the Arcana skill.

If all the above requirements are met, the result of the process is a magic item of the desired sort.


Most of the complications involved in creating something, especially a magic item, are linked to the difficulty in finding rare ingredients or components needed to complete the work. The complications a character might face as byproducts of the creation process are most interesting when the characters are working on a magic item: there's a 10 percent chance for every five workweeks spent on crafting an item that a complication occurs. The Crafting Complications table provides examples of what might happen.

Crafting Complications

Crafting Complications
1Rumors swirl that what you're working on is unstable and a threat to the community.*
2Your tools are stolen, forcing you to buy new ones.*
3A local wizard shows keen interest in your work and insists on observing you.
4A powerful noble offers a hefty price for your work and is not interested in hearing no for an answer.*
5A dwarf clan accuses you of stealing its secret lore to fuel your work.*
6A competitor spreads rumors that your work is shoddy and prone to failure.*

Brewing Potions of Healing

Potions of healing fall into a special category for item crafting, separate from other magic items. A character who has proficiency with the herbalism kit can create these potions. The times and costs for doing so are summarized on the Potion of Healing Creation table.

Potion of Healing Creation

Potion of Healing Creation
Healing1 day25 gp
Greater healing1 workweek100 gp
Superior healing3 workweeks1,000 gp
Supreme healing4 workweeks10,000 gp


Sometimes it pays to be bad. This activity gives a character the chance to make some extra cash, at the risk of arrest.


A character must spend one week and at least 25 gp gathering information on potential targets before committing the intended crime.


The character must make a series of checks, with the DC for all the checks chosen by the character according to the amount of profit sought from the crime.

The chosen DC can be 10, 15, 20, or 25. Successful completion of the crime yields a number of gold pieces, as shown on the Loot Value table.

To attempt a crime, the character makes three checks: Dexterity (Stealth), Dexterity using {@item thieves' tools|phb}, and the player's choice of Intelligence (Investigation), Wisdom (Perception), or Charisma (Deception).

If none of the checks are successful, the character is caught and jailed. The character must pay a fine equal to the profit the crime would have earned and must spend one week in jail for each 25 gp of the fine.

If only one check is successful, the heist fails but the character escapes.

If two checks are successful, the heist is a partial success, netting the character half the payout.

If all three checks are successful, the character earns the full value of the loot.

Loot Value

Loot Value
1050 gp, robbery of a struggling merchant
15100 gp, robbery of a prosperous merchant
20200 gp, robbery of a noble
251,000 gp, robbery of one of the richest figures in town


A life of crime is filled with complications. Roll on the Crime Complications table (or create a complication of your own) if the character succeeds on only one check. If the character's rival is involved in crime or law enforcement, a complication ensues if the character succeeds on only two checks.

Crime Complications

Crime Complications
1A bounty equal to your earnings is offered for information about your crime.*
2An unknown person contacts you, threatening to reveal your crime if you don't render a service.*
3Your victim is financially ruined by your crime.
4Someone who knows of your crime has been arrested on an unrelated matter.*
5Your loot is a single, easily identified item that you can't fence in this region.
6You robbed someone who was under a local crime lord's protection, and who now wants revenge.
7Your victim calls in a favor from a guard, doubling the efforts to solve the case.
8Your victim asks one of your adventuring companions to solve the crime.


Games of chance are a way to make a fortune—and perhaps a better way to lose one.


This activity requires one workweek of effort plus a stake of at least 10 gp, to a maximum of 1,000 gp or more, as you see fit.


The character must make a series of checks, with a DC determined at random based on the quality of the competition that the character runs into. Part of the risk of gambling is that one never knows who might end up sitting across the table.

The character makes three checks: Wisdom (Insight), Charisma (Deception), and Charisma (Intimidation). If the character has proficiency with an appropriate gaming set, that tool proficiency can replace the relevant skill in any of the checks. The DC for each of the checks is {@dice 5 + 2d10}; generate a separate DC for each one. Consult the Gambling Results table to see how the character did.

Gambling Results

Gambling Results
0 successesLose all the money you bet, and accrue a debt equal to that amount.
1 successLose half the money you bet.
2 successesGain the amount you bet plus half again more.
3 successesGain double the amount you bet.


Gambling tends to attract unsavory individuals. The potential complications involved come from run-ins with the law and associations with various criminals tied to the activity. Every workweek spent gambling brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Gambling Complications table.

Gambling Complications

Gambling Complications
1You are accused of cheating. You decide whether you actually did cheat or were framed.*
2The town guards raid the gambling hall and throw you in jail.*
3A noble in town loses badly to you and loudly vows to get revenge.*
4You won a sum from a low-ranking member of a thieves' guild, and the guild wants its money back.
5A local crime boss insists you start frequenting the boss's gambling parlor and no others.
6A high-stakes gambler comes to town and insists that you take part in a game.

Pit Fighting

Pit fighting includes boxing, wrestling, and other nonlethal forms of combat in an organized setting with predetermined matches. If you want to introduce competitive fighting in a battle-to-the-death situation, the standard combat rules apply to that sort of activity.


Engaging in this activity requires one workweek of effort from a character.


The character must make a series of checks, with a DC determined at random based on the quality of the opposition that the character runs into. A big part of the challenge in pit fighting lies in the unknown nature of a character's opponents.

The character makes three checks: Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), and a special Constitution check that has a bonus equal to a roll of the character's largest Hit Die (this roll doesn't spend that die). If desired, the character can replace one of these skill checks with an attack roll using one of the character's weapons. The DC for each of the checks is {@dice 5 + 2d10}; generate a separate DC for each one. Consult the Pit Fighting Results table to see how the character did.

Pit Fighting Results

Pit Fighting Results
0 successesLose your bouts, earning nothing.
1 successWin 50 gp.
2 successesWin 100 gp.
3 successesWin 200 gp.


Characters involved in pit fighting must deal with their opponents, the people who bet on matches, and the matches' promoters. Every workweek spent pit fighting brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Pit Fighting Complications table.

Pit Fighting Complications

Pit Fighting Complications
1An opponent swears to take revenge on you.*
2A crime boss approaches you and offers to pay you to intentionally lose a few matches.*
3You defeat a popular local champion, drawing the crowd's ire.
4You defeat a noble's servant, drawing the wrath of the noble's house.*
5You are accused of cheating. Whether the allegation is true or not, your reputation is tarnished.*
6You accidentally deliver a near-fatal wound to a foe.


Sometimes the best thing to do between adventures is relax. Whether a character wants a hard-earned vacation or needs to recover from injuries, relaxation is the ideal option for adventurers who need a break. This option is also ideal for players who don't want to make use of the downtime system.


Relaxation requires one week. A character needs to maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing to gain the benefit of the activity.


Characters who maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing gain several benefits. While relaxing, a character gains advantage on saving throws to recover from long-acting diseases and poisons. In addition, at the end of the week, a character can end one effect that keeps the character from regaining hit points, or can restore one ability score that has been reduced to less than its normal value. This benefit cannot be used if the harmful effect was caused by a spell or some other magical effect with an ongoing duration.


Relaxation rarely comes with complications. If you want to make life complicated for the characters, introduce an action or an event connected to a rival.

Religious Service

Characters with a religious bent might want to spend downtime in service to a temple, either by attending rites or by proselytizing in the community. Someone who undertakes this activity has a chance of winning the favor of the temple's leaders.


Performing religious service requires access to, and often attendance at, a temple whose beliefs and ethos align with the character's. If such a place is available, the activity takes one workweek of time but involves no gold piece expenditure.


At the end of the required time, the character chooses to make either an Intelligence (Religion) check or a Charisma (Persuasion) check. The total of the check determines the benefits of service, as shown on the Religious Service table.

Religious Service

Religious Service
Check TotalResult
1—10No effect. Your efforts fail to make a lasting impression.
11—20You earn one favor.
21+You earn two favors.

A favor, in broad terms, is a promise of future assistance from a representative of the temple. It can be expended to ask the temple for help in dealing with a specific problem, for general political or social support, or to reduce the cost of cleric spellcasting by 50 percent. A favor could also take the form of a deity's intervention, such as an omen, a vision, or a minor miracle provided at a key moment. This latter sort of favor is expended by the DM, who also determines its nature.

Favors earned need not be expended immediately, but only a certain number can be stored up. A character can have a maximum number of unused favors equal to 1 + the character's Charisma modifier (minimum of one unused favor).


Temples can be labyrinths of political and social scheming. Even the best-intentioned sect can fall prone to rivalries. A character who serves a temple risks becoming embroiled in such struggles. Every workweek spent in religious service brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Religious Service Complications table.

Religious Service Complications

Religious Service Complications
1You have offended a priest through your words or actions.*
2Blasphemy is still blasphemy, even if you did it by accident.
3A secret sect in the temple offers you membership.
4Another temple tries to recruit you as a spy.*
5The temple elders implore you to take up a holy quest.
6You accidentally discover that an important person in the temple is a fiend worshiper.


Forewarned is forearmed. The research downtime activity allows a character to delve into lore concerning a monster, a location, a magic item, or some other particular topic.


Typically, a character needs access to a library or a sage to conduct research. Assuming such access is available, conducting research requires one workweek of effort and at least 50 gp spent on materials, bribes, gifts, and other expenses.


The character declares the focus of the research—a specific person, place, or thing. After one workweek, the character makes an Intelligence check with a +1 bonus per 100 gp spent beyond the initial 100 gp, to a maximum of +6. In addition, a character who has access to a particularly well-stocked library or knowledgeable sages gains advantage on this check. Determine how much lore a character learns using the Research Outcomes table.

Research Outcomes

Research Outcomes
Check TotalOutcome
1—5No effect.
6—10You learn one piece of lore.
11—20You learn two pieces of lore.
21+You learn three pieces of lore.

Each piece of lore is the equivalent of one true statement about a person, place, or thing. Examples include knowledge of a creature's resistances, the password needed to enter a sealed dungeon level, the spells commonly prepared by an order of wizards, and so on.

As DM, you are the final arbiter concerning exactly what a character learns. For a monster or an NPC, you can reveal elements of statistics or personality. For a location, you can reveal secrets about it, such as a hidden entrance, the answer to a riddle, or the nature of a creature that guards the place.


The greatest risk in research is uncovering false information. Not all lore is accurate or truthful, and a rival with a scholarly bent might try to lead the character astray, especially if the object of the research is known to the rival. The rival might plant false information, bribe sages to give bad advice, or steal key tomes needed to find the truth.

In addition, a character might run into other complications during research. Every workweek spent in research brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Research Complications table.

Research Complications

Research Complications
1You accidentally damage a rare book.
2You offend a sage, who demands an extravagant gift.*
3If you had known that book was cursed, you never would have opened it.
4A sage becomes obsessed with convincing you of a number of strange theories about reality.*
5Your actions cause you to be banned from a library until you make reparations.*
6You uncovered useful lore, but only by promising to complete a dangerous task in return.

Scribing a Spell Scroll

With time and patience, a spellcaster can transfer a spell to a scroll, creating a spell scroll.


Scribing a spell scroll takes an amount of time and money related to the level of the spell the character wants to scribe, as shown in the Spell Scroll Costs table. In addition, the character must have proficiency in the Arcana skill and must provide any material components required for the casting of the spell. Moreover, the character must have the spell prepared, or it must be among the character's known spells, in order to scribe a scroll of that spell.

If the scribed spell is a cantrip, the version on the scroll works as if the caster were 1st level.

Spell Scroll Costs

Spell Scroll Costs
Spell LevelTimeCost
Cantrip1 day15 gp
1st1 day25 gp
2nd3 days250 gp
3rd1 workweek500 gp
4th2 workweeks2,500 gp
5th4 workweeks5,000 gp
6th8 workweeks15,000 gp
7th16 workweeks25,000 gp
8th32 workweeks50,000 gp
9th48 workweeks250,000 gp


Crafting a spell scroll is a solitary task, unlikely to attract much attention. The complications that arise are more likely to involve the preparation needed for the activity. Every workweek spent scribing brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Scribe a Scroll Complications table.

Scribe a Scroll Complications

Scribe a Scroll Complications
1You bought up the last of the rare ink used to craft scrolls, angering a wizard in town.
2The priest of a temple of good accuses you of trafficking in dark magic.*
3A wizard eager to collect one of your spells in a book presses you to sell the scroll.
4Due to a strange error in creating the scroll, it is instead a random spell of the same level.
5The rare parchment you bought for your scroll has a barely visible map on it.
6A thief attempts to break into your workroom.*

Selling a Magic Item

Selling a magic item is by no means an easy task. Con artists and thieves are always looking out for an easy score, and there's no guarantee that a character will receive a good offer even if a legitimate buyer is found.


A character can find a buyer for one magic item by spending one workweek and 25 gp, which is used to spread word of the desired sale. A character must pick one item at a time to sell.


A character who wants to sell an item must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine what kind of offer comes in. The character can always opt not to sell, instead forfeiting the workweek of effort and trying again later. Use the Magic Item Base Prices and Magic Item Offer tables to determine the sale price.

Magic Item Base Prices

Magic Item Base Prices
RarityBase Price*
Common100 gp
Uncommon400 gp
Rare4,000 gp
Very rare40,000 gp
Legendary200,000 gp

Magic Item Offer

Magic Item Offer
Check TotalOffer
1—1050% of base price
11—20100% of base price
21+150% of base price


The main risk in selling a magic item lies in attracting thieves and anyone else who wants the item but doesn't want to pay for it. Other folk might try to undermine a deal in order to bolster their own business or seek to discredit the character as a legitimate seller. Every workweek spent trying to sell an item brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Magic Item Sale Complications table.

Magic Item Sale Complications

Magic Item Sale Complications
1Your enemy secretly arranges to buy the item to use it against you.*
2A thieves' guild, alerted to the sale, attempts to steal your item.*
3A foe circulates rumors that your item is a fake.*
4A sorcerer claims your item as a birthright and demands you hand it over.
5Your item's previous owner, or surviving allies of the owner, vow to retake the item by force.
6The buyer is murdered before the sale is finalized.*


Given enough free time and the services of an instructor, a character can learn a language or pick up proficiency with a tool.


Receiving training in a language or tool typically takes at least ten workweeks, but this time is reduced by a number of workweeks equal to the character's Intelligence modifier (an Intelligence penalty doesn't increase the time needed). Training costs 25 gp per workweek.


Complications that arise while training typically involve the teacher. Every ten workweeks spent in training brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Training Complications table.

Training Complications

Training Complications
1Your instructor disappears, forcing you to spend one workweek finding a new one.*
2Your teacher instructs you in rare, archaic methods, which draw comments from others.
3Your teacher is a spy sent to learn your plans.*
4Your teacher is a wanted criminal.
5Your teacher is a cruel taskmaster.
6Your teacher asks for help dealing with a threat.


When all else fails, an adventurer can turn to an honest trade to earn a living. This activity represents a character's attempt to find temporary work, the quality and wages of which are difficult to predict.


Performing a job requires one workweek of effort.


To determine how much money a character earns, the character makes an ability check: Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), Intelligence using a set of tools, Charisma (Performance), or Charisma using a musical instrument. Consult the Wages table to see how much money is generated according to the total of the check.


Check TotalEarnings
9 or lowerPoor lifestyle for the week
10—14Modest lifestyle for the week
15—20Comfortable lifestyle for the week
21+Comfortable lifestyle for the week + 25 gp


Ordinary work is rarely filled with significant complications. Still, the Work Complications table can add some difficulties to a worker's life. Each workweek of activity brings a 10 percent chance that a character encounters a complication.

Work Complications

Work Complications
1A difficult customer or a fight with a coworker reduces the wages you earn by one category.*
2Your employer's financial difficulties result in your not being paid.*
3A coworker with ties to an important family in town takes a dislike to you.*
4Your employer is involved with a dark cult or a criminal enterprise.
5A crime ring targets your business for extortion.*
6You gain a reputation for laziness (unjustified or not, as you choose), giving you disadvantage on checks made for this downtime activity for the next six workweeks you devote to it.*

Awarding Magic Items

Magic items are prized by D&D adventurers of all sorts and are often the main reward in an adventure. The rules for magic items are presented, along with the Treasure Hoard tables, in chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. This section expands on those rules by offering you an alternative way of determining which magic items end up in the characters' possession and by adding a collection of common magic items to the game. The section ends with tables that group magic items according to rarity.

The system in the dungeon master's guide is designed so that you can generate all treasure randomly, and the tables also govern the number of magic items the characters receive. In short, the tables do the work. But a DM who's designing or modifying an adventure might prefer to choose the magic items that come into play. If you're in that situation, you can use the rules in this section to personalize your treasure hoards while staying within the game's limits for how many items the characters should ultimately accumulate.

Distribution by Rarity

This alternative method of treasure determination focuses on choosing magic items based on their rarity, rather than by rolling on the tables in the dungeon master's guide. This method uses two tables: Magic Items Awarded by Tier and Magic Items Awarded by Rarity.

Magic Items Awarded by Tier

Magic Items Awarded by Tier
Character LevelMinor ItemsMajor ItemsAll Items

By Tier

The Magic Items Awarded by Tier table shows the number of magic items a D&D party typically gains during a campaign, culminating in the group's having accumulated one hundred magic items by 20th level. The table shows how many of those items are meant to be handed out during each of the four tiers of play. The emphasis on characters receiving more items during the second tier (levels 5-10) than in other tiers is by design. The second tier is where much of the play occurs in a typical D&D campaign, and the items gained in that tier prepare the characters for higher-level adventures.

By Rarity

The Magic Items Awarded by Rarity table takes the numbers from the Magic Items Awarded by Tier table and breaks them down to show the number of items of each rarity the characters are expected to have when they reach the end of a tier.

Magic Items Awarded by Rarity - Minor

Magic Items Awarded by Rarity - Minor
Level/CRCommonUncommonRareVery RareLegendary

Magic Items Awarded by Rarity - Major

Magic Items Awarded by Rarity - Major
Level/CRUncommonRareVery RareLegendary

Minor and Major Items

Both tables in this section make a distinction between minor magic items and major magic items. This distinction exists in the Dungeon Master's Guide, yet those terms aren't used there. In that book, the minor items are those listed on Magic Item Tables A through E, and the major items are on Magic Item Tables F through I. As you can see from the Treasure Hoard tables in that book, major magic items are meant to be handed out much less frequently than minor items, even at higher levels of play.

Behind the Design: Magic Item Distribution

The dungeon master's guide assumes a certain amount of treasure will be found over the course of a campaign. Over twenty levels of typical play, the game expects forty-five rolls on the Treasure Hoard tables, distributed as follows:

Because many of the table results call for more than one magic item, those forty-five rolls will result in the characters obtaining roughly one hundred items. The optional system described here yields the same number of items, distributed properly throughout the spectrum of rarity, while enabling you to control exactly which items the characters have a chance of acquiring.

Choosing Items Level by Level

You decide when to place an item in an adventure that you're creating or modifying, usually because you think the story calls for a magic item, the characters need one, or the players would be especially pleased to get one.

When you want to select an item as treasure for an encounter, the Magic Items Awarded by Rarity table serves as your item budget. Here's how to use it:

1. Jot down a copy of the table in your notes, so that you can make adjustments to the numbers as you select items to be placed in an adventure.

2. Refer to the line in the Level/CR column that corresponds to one of the following values (your choice): the level of the player characters, the challenge rating of the magic item's owner, or the challenge rating of the group of creatures guarding the item. The entries in that row of the table indicate the total number of items that would be appropriate for the characters to receive by the end of the tier represented by that row.

3. Choose a magic item of any rarity for which the entry in this row is not 0.

4. When the characters obtain an item, modify your notes to indicate which part of your budget this expenditure came from by subtracting 1 from the appropriate entry on the table.

In the future, if you choose an item of a rarity that's not available in the current tier but is still available in a lower tier, deduct the item from the lower tier. If all lower tiers also have no items available of a given rarity, deduct the item from a higher tier.

Choosing Items Piecemeal

If you prefer a more free-form method of choosing magic items, simply select each magic item you want to give out; then, when the characters acquire one, deduct it from the Magic Items Awarded by Rarity table in your notes. Whenever you do so, start with the lowest tier, and deduct the item from the first number you come across in the appropriate rarity column for the item, whether its minor or major. If that tier doesn't have a number greater than 0 for that rarity, go up a tier until you find one that does, and deduct the magic item from that number. Following this process, you will zero out each row of the table in order, going from the lowest levels to the highest.

Overstocking an Adventure

The magic item tables in this section are based on the number of items the characters are expected to receive, not the number of items that are available in an adventure. When creating or modifying an adventure, assume that the characters won't find all the items you place in it, unless most of the loot is in easy-to-find locations. Here's a good rule of thumb: an adventure can include a number of items that's 25 percent higher than the numbers in the tables (round up). For example, an adventure designed to take characters from 1st to 4th level might include fourteen items rather than eleven, in the expectation that three of those items won't be found.

Are Magic Items Necessary in a Campaign?

The D&D game is built on the assumption that magic items appear sporadically and that they are always a boon, unless an item bears a curse. Characters and monsters are built to face each other without the help of magic items, which means that having a magic item always makes a character more powerful or versatile than a generic character of the same level. As DM, you never have to worry about awarding magic items just so the characters can keep up with the campaign's threats. Magic items are truly prizes. Are they useful? Absolutely. Are they necessary? No.

Magic items can go from nice to necessary in the rare group that has no spellcasters, no monk, and no NPCs capable of casting magic weapon. Having no magic makes it extremely difficult for a party to overcome monsters that have resistances or immunity to nonmagical damage. In such a game, you'll want to be generous with magic weapons or else avoid using such monsters.

Common Magic Items

The dungeon master's guide includes many magic items of every rarity. The one exception are common items; that book includes few of them. This section introduces more of them to the game. These items seldom increase a character's power, but they are likely to amuse players and provide fun roleplaying opportunities.

The magic items are presented in alphabetical order.

Magic Item Tables

The items in the {@5etools Items|items.html} page are classified as minor or major according to the tables originally found in this section.

Recharging without a Dawn

Some magic items can be used a limited number of times but are recharged by the arrival of dawn. What if you're on a plane of existence that lacks anything resembling dawn? The DM should choose a time every 24 hours when such magic items recharge on that plane of existence.

Even on a world that experiences dawn each day, the DM is free to choose a different time-perhaps noon, sunset, or midnight-when certain magic items recharge.


Many of the character classes in the player's handbook harness magic in the form of spells. This chapter provides new spells for those classes, as well as for spellcasting monsters. The Dungeon Master decides which of these spells are available in a campaign and how they can be learned. For example, a DM might decide that some of the spells are freely available, that others are unobtainable, and that a handful can be found only after a special quest, perhaps discovered in a long-lost tome of magic. Wizard spells, in particular, can be introduced to a campaign in spellbooks found as treasure.

When a DM adds spells to a campaign, clerics, druids, and paladins require special consideration. When characters of those classes prepare their spells, they have access to the entire spell list for their class. Given that fact, the DM should be cautious about making all of these new spells available to a player who is overwhelmed when presented with many options. For such a player, consider adding only story-appropriate spells to the spell list of that player's character.

See the full list of spells from {@i Xanathar's Guide to Everything} on the {@filter Spells|spells|source=XGE} page.

Shared Campaigns

Coordinating a regular schedule of D&D game sessions, to keep a campaign active and vibrant, can be a challenge. If the campaign's only Dungeon Master or enough players aren't available, the next session might have to be postponed, and repeated problems of this sort can endanger the continuation of the campaign.

In short: in a world filled with distractions, it can be hard to keep a campaign going. Enter the concept of the shared campaign.

In a shared campaign, more than one member of the group can take on the role of DM. A shared campaign is episodic rather than continuous, with each play session comprising a complete adventure.

The largest shared campaigns are administered by the D&D Adventurers League and overseen by Wizards of the Coast. You can also create your own shared campaign for a school D&D club, at a game store, a library, or anywhere else where D&D players and DMs gather.

A shared campaign establishes a framework that allows a player to take a character from one DM's game to another one within the shared campaign. It creates a situation where almost nothing can prevent a scheduled session from happening. The roster of potential players can be quite large, virtually ensuring that any session has at least the minimum number of characters needed to play. If everyone shows up to play at the same time, multiple DMs ensure that everyone can take part.

In order to be successful, a shared campaign needs a champion-someone who takes on the responsibility of organizing and maintaining the group. If you're interested in learning more about how to run a shared campaign and seeing how the Adventurers League handles certain issues, then the rest of this appendix is meant for you.

Code of Conduct

Time and time again, the core rulebooks come back to the point that the most important goal of a D&D play session is for everyone involved to have fun. In keeping with that goal, it's a good idea for a shared campaign to have a code of conduct. Because people who don't normally play together might end up at the same table in a shared campaign, it can be helpful to establish some ground rules for behavior.

On the broadest level, everyone in a shared campaign is responsible for making sure that everyone else has an enjoyable time. If anyone feels offended, belittled, or bullied by the actions of another person, the entire purpose of getting together to play is defeated.

The basic code of conduct for a shared campaign might be modeled on a similar document that another organization or location uses. Beyond that, some special policies might need to be added to account for what might happen at the table when players and DMs interact. As a starting point, consider the following material, which is excerpted from the Adventurers League code of conduct.

During a play session, participants are expected to ?

Designing Adventures

Designing adventures for a shared campaign involves a different set of considerations than designing for a standard group of players. Most important, the adventure must be timed to conclude when the session is scheduled to end. You also need to balance combat encounters for a range of levels, since a wide range of characters might be experiencing the adventure at the same time.

Adventure Duration

Every adventure in a shared campaign begins and ends in the same play session. (If a group of participants wants to take longer to finish and all are willing to do so, they can exceed the time limit.) A session or an event can't end with the adventure unfinished, since there's no way to guarantee that the same players and DM will be available for the next session.

Typically, adventures in a shared campaign are designed to take either 2 hours or 4 hours. In each hour of play, assume the characters can complete the following:

Within these constraints, it can be difficult to create open-ended adventures. A time limit assumes a specific starting point and endpoint. A good way to get around this restriction is to create an adventure with multiple possible endings.

Location-based adventures also work well with this format. A dungeon presents a natural limit on character options, while still giving the players choices. The adventure could be a quest to defeat a creature or recover an item, but the path to achieving that goal can be different for each group.

For more narrative adventures, try to focus on simple but flexible encounters or events. For instance, an adventure requires the characters to protect a high priest of Tyr from assassins. Give the players a chance to plan out how they want to protect the temple, complete with authority over the guards. A few well-fleshed out NPCs, some of whom might be suspected of working with the temple's enemies, add a layer of tension. Consider leaving some details or plot points for the DM to decide. For example, the DM might have the option to pick which member of the temple guards is the traitor, ensuring that the scenario is different for each group.

Combat Encounters

Design your adventure for one of the four tiers, as set forth in chapter 1 of the player's handbook: tier 1 includes levels 1-4, tier 2 is levels 5-10, tier 3 is levels 11-16, and tier 4 includes levels 17-20. Within each tier, it's a good idea to use a specific level as a starting point. Assume a party of five 3rd-level characters for tier 1, five 8th-level characters for tier 2, five 13th-level characters for tier 3, and five 18th-level characters for tier 4. Use that assumption when creating combat encounters, whether you use the encounter-building rules in the dungeon master's guide or are making an estimate.

For each battle, provide guidelines to help DMs adjust the difficulty up or down to match stronger or weaker parties. As a rule of thumb, account for a party two levels higher and for a party two levels lower, and don't worry about balancing the adventure for parties outside the adventure's tier.


Adventures in a shared campaign that uses variant rules for gaining levels and acquiring treasure (such as those described below) don't include experience point awards or specific amounts and kinds of treasure.

Character Creation

A shared campaign's guidelines for character creation might include definition of which races and classes players can choose from, how players generate ability scores, and which alignments players can choose.

Player's Handbook plus One

You should think about which products players can use to create a character. The Adventurers League specifies that a player can use the player's handbook and one other official D&D source, such as a book or a PDF, to create a character. This restriction ensures that players don't need to own a lot of books to make a character and makes it easier for DMs to know how all the characters in the campaign work. Since a DM in a shared campaign must deal with a broad range of characters, rather than the same characters each week, it can be difficult to track all the interactions and abilities possible through mixing options freely. We strongly recommend this rule for any shared campaign.

Ability Scores

For generating ability scores, we recommend allowing players to choose between the standard array-15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8-and the option presented in "Variant: Customizing Ability Scores" in chapter 1 of the player's handbook.

Starting Equipment

For the sake of simplicity and efficiency, it's a good idea to require that beginning characters must take the starting equipment specified by a character's class and background.

Variant Rules

A shared campaign might use some variant rules to handle certain aspects of the game. The Adventurers League, for instance, has variant systems for gaining levels and acquiring treasure. These "house rules," presented below, serve as a sort of common language, ensuring that the rewards all characters receive are equivalent no matter what kind of adventure a character experienced.

See the {@variantrule Shared Campaign Variant Rules|XGE|variant rules} entry for more information.

Character Names

Some players and DMs have a knack for coming up with character names on the fly, while others find that task more of a challenge. The tables in this appendix are designed to make life easier for both kinds of people, whether you're naming a player character, a nonplayer character, a monster, or even a place.

Each table contains names that are associated with a nonhuman character race in the player's handbook or a real-world ethnic or language group, with a focus on groups from antiquity and the Middle Ages. You can select from the possibilities here, or use dice to determine a name.

Even though names are associated with races in this appendix, a character might not have a name from their own race. For instance, a half-orc might have grown up among dwarves and have a dwarven name. Or, as DM, you might decide that dragonborn in your campaign have a culture reminiscent of ancient Rome and therefore use Roman names, rather than the dragonborn names suggested here.

See the {@5etools names|names.html} page for the full collection of name tables.