Category Archives: Tabletop

3D Print Logging Catchup

I’m trying to catch up on logging some of my 3D prints.  This isn’t all of them, but it’s an update.

wall face 2.jpg

My wizard found one of these as an item on the wall a while back, and took it with him.  I thought I should print one to have on hand for roleplaying.

Wall Face (Acererak)

cat familiars.jpg

Cat Familiar


That is totally just a normal chest.  What could go wrong?


goblin wolf.jpg

Dog/Wolf Mini for D&D

flatminis guards

I needed more guardsmen for urban encounters.

FlatMinis: Town Guard

pretty woman mini3.jpg

I needed a druid mini for an urban encounter, so I slightly remixed one to add a base.

Pretty Woman


The Homebrewery: DM Module Template

Recently I was looking for a template so that I could write my notes for an upcoming homebrew game in a format similar to modules.  If I want to share it later it would be easier, and in any case I thought it might help me to organize my thoughts on the adventure… at least until the party inevitably takes it off the planned rails.

Enter The Homebrewery.

I did a quick search online for a helpful tool, and came across a recommendation to use this site:

Upon inspection, I was impressed.  It uses a CSS editor on the left side of the screen and a live preview of the document you are writing on the right.   The formatting is very similar to what the D&D hardcover adventures use.  It looks nice and professional, and just takes a little bit of paying attention to their frontpage introduction example.  The information in it is useful, and you can use the editing side of the page to learn how to make the effects on the right side of the page.

I’m looking forward to continuing using it.  It’s helping me keep in mind the methods used in professional adventure writing to ease the flow of the campaign.  Box text, subheadings for developments within the same encounter, etc.  It even does the fancy calligraphic letter for the first text on the page at a certain header level.

D&D AL Tips Part 3: One-Time Prep

One-Time Homework

Know Your Character Sheet

Take the time between to learn where things are on character sheets.  As long as you are using the same format character sheet, no matter which character of yours you are playing, you should know where to look when the DM asks for AC, initiative, your scores, your modifiers, your attack rolls and damage, etc.  You don’t by any stretch of the imagination need to have the contents of the sheets memorized, but you should take the time to learn where to look.  Knowing where to quickly find information is just as important if not more so than knowing the information itself.  I’ve covered these parts in a separate post; link is below.

Get To Know Your Character Sheet: Overview


Read Chapter 9: Combat, in the Player’s Handbook

This section of the rulebook is applicable to all players and the DM.  This section of the book covers most of the generic elements that you are going to be doing in combat, or at least the general mechanics of them.  Actions, bonus actions, movements, reactions, etc. are covered here.  Information relating to the specifics of spellcasting are in Chapter 10.

While I’m on the subject, turn to page 195 in your Player’s Handbook.  Please.  Look in the lower left corner, and read the section on Opportunity Attacks.  Come back to my blog post when you are finished.

Done?  Good.  Now read it again, please.  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this one misused or misquoted. We all tend to remember simplified versions of rules as they were first explained to us.  I’ve seen a lot of people (myself included) who had a rule told to them at the table, explained as it pertained to the specific situation at hand, and then misapply that to other situations because they hadn’t ever read the actual rule themselves.


Spellcasters, read Chapter 10: Spellcasting, in the Player’s Handbook

Spellcasters, you really need to read this section once.  It explains how magic works.  Components required, casting times, preparing spells, rituals, etc.  It’s not that long of a chapter, and you don’t have to memorize it, but if you don’t read it you’re going to keep butting heads with your DM as you attempt to do things that aren’t legal in D&D.

Now, turn to page 202.  In about the middle of the page, there is a section labelled Casting Time.  Please read this section now.  Please read the Bonus Action subsection again.  This one trips a lot of us up.  It seems that everytime I or someone else at the table tries to quote it, we get it wrong in mechanically significant ways.


Read the Adventure League Player’s Guide

Each season of D&D Adventurer’s League they update the rules that exist solely for Adventurer’s League.  The main rules for players are currently 4 pages long.  Please read them before playing.  This cover the basics for Adventurers League.  If it doesn’t answer your questions, the FAQ and the Dungeonmaster’s Guide to Adventurers League are also available for free online.  Feel free to ask questions, but you are expected to at least read the player’s guide at some point.  I recommend printing it out and carrying a copy with you for reference, since it’s so short, but be aware that it will change periodically.  They can be found here:

Adventurer’s League Rule Pack


Tab the chapters of your Player’s Handbook

Few things are more frustrating than having to stop a session for a few minutes to look up a bit of information.  I find that putting easy to use, labelled tabs on my player’s handbook greatly speeds up my ability to find information.  I put tabs on each chapter on the side, and occasionally I’ll put temporary ones at the top of the rulebook for things that I use frequently, such as the wizard class section when I’m playing a wizard.  Tabbing the rulebook isn’t a requirement, and is usually considered above and beyond the normal prep expected, but being able to quickly find information can be almost as good as already knowing the answer.  We can’t all have photographic memory.  I’ve found this so useful that I’ve tabbed ALL my rulebooks this way (YMMV on the other rulebooks, they aren’t all as neatly delineated as the player’s handbook).

Tabbed Book

Get To Know Your Character Sheet: Overview

Knowing where to find information quickly on you character sheet is vitally important.  I highly recommend taking a bit of time getting familiar with where things are located on character sheets, so no matter which character you play you can quickly get to slaying goblins rather than get lost on the way to your combat stats.  I was originally going to include this as a portion of D&D AL Tips Part 3, but it was making the whole post too long.  That post will include a link back to this one for reference.

Here’s the character sheet as a whole, so you can find your way around my cropping in the later sections.

Character Sheet Image.png

Note:  Particularly with Adventurers League the top of the page will change visually from sheet to sheet as the seasons progress, but the location of the information should remain the same.

General Information

Location: Top of the page

General Information.png

This section gives the basic identity of your character; name, class, level, background, race, and alignment.  The information people usually want to know when you introduce the character.  It also includes a space for player name and a spot for tracking your experience points (note: in AL you mostly keep track of your experience on your logsheet).

Ability Scores

Location: Left edge

Ability Scores.png

This is where the 6 basic stats are kept.  If the dungeonmaster calls for an ability check, this is where you look.

Inspiration and Proficiency

Location: Upper left, just to the right of the ability scores.

Inspiration and Proficiency.png

You can mark whether or not you have an inspiration use given from the DM.  You can only have one at a time.  The proficiency bonus is a stat that slowly changes as you level, and factors into everything you have proficiency with (specific saving throws, skill checks, attacks, and spellcasting).  If you’ve kept your sheet up to date as you level, you won’t normally have to reference it at the table.

Saving Throws

Location:  Left side, just to the right of the ability scores and below the proficiency bonus

Saving Throws.png

Anytime a trap gets triggered, and often when a spell is cast on you, you’ll have to look here for your saving throws.  I hope you roll well, because if the DM is calling for one of these, a failure usually means more pain for your character… or the party at large if something is trying to control you.

Skill Checks

Location:  Left side, below the saving throws

Saving throws and Skill Checks.png

These are going to get referenced a lot.  Anytime you do that has a chance of failure, other than an attack, will use one of these scores.  Note that at the bottom there is a specific blank for your passive perception.  The DM will often ask for this at the beginning of the session, so they’ll know whether you notice things if your character isn’t specifically looking around at a given time.


Location: Center of the page


This section is in the center of your character sheet for a reason, as you are going to use it a lot.  A lot of players seem to get lost trying to find information in this section, so I’ll probably do another mini article on it at some point.  Generally, though if it’s combat related , it’s in the center.

Your attacks are in the box at the center of the page.

Other Proficiencies and Languages

Location: Bottom left corner

Proficiencies and Languages.png

If the DM asks if your character knows certain languages, or is proficient in various armors, weapons, tools, or vehicles, it will be listed here.

Character Traits

Location:  Upper right, just below the general information

Character Traits.png

These are here mostly for roleplaying purposes.  They have no direct mechanical effect on gameplay or rolls (at least in Adventurers League), but DMs sometimes hand out inspiration if you do things that particularly adhere to these traits.  This is here so your characters have more life and personality at the table, instead of being cardboard cutouts with stats.

Note:  If you play at a non-AL table, DMs may factor these into the gameplay more, and start wrapping parts of the story elements around the various characters’ character traits.  I’ve known some to use the flaws section against you… which can be highly entertaining if done well.


Location: Bottom center


At least when you first make your character, all equipment you are carrying should be listed here.  I highly recommend getting or making a separate inventory sheet.

Features and Traits

Location: Bottom right corner

Features and Traits.png

This is where all of your class abilities should be listed.  I highly recommend listing the book’s abbreviation and page number for each one, as a lot of them are too wordy to write out here.

D&D AL Tips Part 2: Between Sessions

This section is focused on recommended time with your character sheet between sessions.  As you gain experience (as a player, not as a character), you likely won’t need to spend quite as much time on this, but you should still probably check back on these every so often, particularly with:  new characters, levelling up, and coming back from a long absence.

Note:  Some of the notes I’ll make will refer to using the rulebooks under the assumption that you have your own.  I understand that not everyone can readily obtain their own copies of rulebooks, particularly when they are deciding whether they like the game.  If you don’t have your own rulebook, I recommend doing what you can to arrive early and go through these steps by asking to borrow a book from one of the other early arrivals at the table until the session gets going.  I’m making a note here so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.

Between Sessions:

Take Time to Learn Your Character

Take time to look over your character’s abilities and make sure you understand how they work.  If you have questions, write them down and ask the DM for clarification after you’ve tried to look up answers for them in the rulebook first.  If your group has a discord or other way of communicating out of game, ask on there between sessions if you can.  I hesitate to recommend using sources further from the table, as some are good and some are full of bovine excrement.  Overall, remember Rule Zero: the DM has final say and judgment about the game they are running.

For a lot of abilities that would be tedious to write out in the abilities section of the character sheet, I recommend reading over the full ability in the book, and marking your character sheet with the ability name, book it came from, and page number.  ESPECIALLY if you are using a +1 rulebook to go with the standard PHB rules for characters.

Spellcasters, Prepare Your Spellbooks

I HIGHLY recommend that you find or create a reference for your spells if you play a spellcaster. And have that reference open to the correct spell BEFORE your turn comes around.  Waiting for people to look up spells after someone has already said what spell they plan to cast drives the rest of the table bonkers.  Starting out, I highly recommend keeping a copy of the Player’s Handbook nearby when gaming, so you don’t have to hunt down a book in the middle of the game.  Lately, I mostly use the spell cards Wizard’s of the Coast makes for convenience (though they are frustratingly expensive).  In some cases I go a bit overboard, trading time in place of money.  I wrote my current character’s spellbook out, only writing down the spells the character had and keeping them sorted by spell level.  If you build your own reference like I did, I highly recommend keeping notes for the correct book and page number.  There are often times when the DM will call into question the exact wording of a spell description and ask you to look it up in the official rulebook.

Normal Wizardry:

normal wizardry.jpg

Expensive Wizardry:

expensive wizardry.jpg




Keep Your Character Sheet Up To Date

If your character is supposed to level up, make sure you level it up between sessions (if possible) so you don’t lose valuable play time to level your character.  This is a lot more flexible in homebrew, but in Adventurer’s League we’re on the clock, particularly with Season 8’s rules.  Also, game stores throw us out at closing time.  Their employees need sleep too.
Oh, and make sure your inventory is right.  I’m banging my head against a wall myself for not having kept some stuff up to date as I went along.  I was recently trying to make sure my character stable was ready for the next game night, and I didn’t appear to have transcribed some of the inventory from the logsheets to the actual inventory page.  D’oh!

Reflect on the last session

This feels a bit odd to put in here, but I recommend thinking about the last session at some point before the next one.  What worked, and what didn’t work?  If there were player/character conflicts at the table, think on why they happened, and if there is anything you can do to resolve it or work around it.  I won’t harp on this too much, but I think it can be productive to at least think about sessions in between.


Someone with a low AC was ambushed from behind.  Would changing the party marching order help?

The party was blindsided by a trap.  How could you increase your chances of finding and disabling that kind of trap in the future?


Spending a little time between sessions helps us all maximize our gaming time, and reduces headaches.

MTG Deck Rebuilding

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I play Magic: The Gathering, often going in to play casually at the game store, particularly in the Commander format (formerly known as EDH).  I pick a theme for a deck, and assemble 100 cards to build that deck according to that theme and the rules.

One of the decks I’ve always wanted to build, partly because it was one of the first things I ever heard about in Magic when my brother told me about it when we were kids, is a sliver deck.  Slivers are creatures within the world of Magic that mutate and share their mutations with other slivers (thematically).  Gameplay-wise, whenever you play a new sliver, it has some ability that it then shares with all the other slivers (more or less).  One sliver you play might give them all +1/+1, another might give them first strike or deathtouch, etc.  I finally built that deck recently, and had ordered some more cards to fine-tune it.  Yesterday, some of those cards came in, and I planned to start integrating them into the deck.

The deck is gone.

I’ve looked all over my house, my car, the game store, the bag I carried them in, the deck is not there.  It’s been driving me nuts for the past 24 hours.  I finally built what I wanted, and now it’s gone, possibly through carelessness on my part, and that irks me.  I’m going start carrying my decks in a more reliable setup, and take inventory of which ones I have on me much more frequently to prevent this from happening.  I put too much time (and yes, money) into this hobby to start losing things because i tried to carry too many decks in a bag that can’t hold them all without them falling out, or forgetting them behind a box or bag or something at the game table.

So, I’m rebuilding.   Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone found it, or maybe it’s in some weird place that I put it for some unfathomable reason and forgot.  But, I’ve always wanted to play this deck, and I’m going to.  And I’m going to build it better this time.

To help with that, I’m keeping in mind the things I learned from building it the first time.  It’s technically a five-color deck, but trying to truly play five colors, particularly in the Commander format that prevents you from using multiples of anything other than non-basic lands, is a recipe for getting stuck with the wrong mana at the wrong time.  I’m making it mostly tri-color, with a splash of the other two colors.  I’m also cutting out most of the non-basic lands that I used before that came into play tapped, and some of the not-so-great mana rocks that always came out at the worst possible time.

Also, this time I’m using this site:

By putting my decklist in, I’m getting an analysis of the mana curve, mana color distribution, mana production distribution, test draws, and more to help me tweak the deck before I purchase (or in my case, repurchase) a single card.  I’m sad that I lost my cards, and it’s gonna cost me, but I’m going to build a better deck.


Hopefully none of you will make the same mistake.  Always keep track of your decks, and if your bag seems like stuff might drop out, you should carry less or get a more appropriate bag.

DM Tools: DM’s Toolbox of Holding

I thought it was time to share some of my tools of the trade.  This toolbox was supposed to be the first post in that series, but I realized the section with Flatminis wouldn’t make much sense without doing the Flatminis article first.

Anyway, I would like to start by making it clear that this is just my toolbox, what I’ve decided to put together and what works for me.  This is by no means saying that this is “THE” way to put a DM’s toolbox together, this is just what works for me.  I know many other DMs who use almost completely different and often much smaller sets of tools/ game aids and run games as good or better than mine.  I also bring in the toolbox regardless of whether I’m running or playing, as a DM can always have a bad day when they forgot to bring something, or a player might have forgotten stuff for the character they are playing that night.  I must note that I’ve only been running Adventure League games with this toolbox, so the items I might need are more predictable and the NPC characters are premade, so there are some items that homebrew DMs might use to help with a more spontaneous game that are not included in the toolbox in it’s present form.

I’ve included hyperlinks in this article to the appropriate Thingiverse pages for most of the items in the box.

For my toolbox, I got a standard crafting toolbox from a hobby store, since it has a bunch of compartments for small objects.  I customized it a bit for my own use.


Translation of the runes:

“I prepared explosive runes this morning”

I finally found a place for a bumper sticker I’ve always wanted to use.  I thought it was appropriate for DMing.


One of the top compartments holds a couple of spare sets of dice, in case of a new player or someone forgetting their dice.  The other holds a couple dozen goblin Flatminis.  You can never really have enough goblins.


Here’s the inside of the toolbox.  As you can see most of the items in my toolbox are 3D printed.  I won’t go into everything in the box, but I  will cover some of the highlights.

Toolbox Open.png

At the top of the toolbox are minis I keep for a lot of common enemies, mostly the Flatminis kind.


This toolbox has minis for groups of:

For use with those, I have numbered bases to make DM monster accounting simpler, and unnumbered bases for more distinct minis that I covered in another post.  For enemies I don’t have specific minis of, I have ninjas.  Because… why not ninjas?


FlatMinis: Ninja

I have doors for when we want to mark open or closed doors on the game mat.  When I made these I scaled them up so they’d match a 1 inch grid.


Mansions of Madness Doors

I even have a kicked in door that someone designed on Thingiverse shortly after I put a general inquiry out on one of the groups.

Kicked In Door.jpg

Broken Door Miniature

For when I don’t have a distinctly different mini for a chieftain or other leader of a group of enemies, I have some different colored marker bases to indicate them.

Minis Leader Marker.jpg

Minis Leader Marker

For creatures that are enlarged from medium to large, or to hold some of the larger minis I have, I have these bases which I modified to be compatible with a few different things.

Numbered Multicompatible Base.jpgNumbered Multicompatible Enlarger Base

I also have a few templates for various spell effects, and markers for effects.  The easiest to do one are the status effect indicators, which are just rings from plastic soda bottles.  I keep them on a carabiner clip for ease of storage.


Some of the most fun/useful items to me are the tokens I use.  I have tokens to remind people of various effects they have access to.  Inspiration tokens for DMs to hand out, bardic inspiration tokens for my bard to use, a token to mark enemies who failed to save against vicious mockery, and death save success and failure tokens.

tokens.jpgThere are many other odds and ends in here such as scatter terrain, and minis that I rotate in and out of usage when I feel I need them (or not).  I often don’t use more than a fraction of the box when I’m not DMing, but I’ve also had situations where it ended up saving the game that night because the DM forgot to pack most of their minis or didn’t have a collection of their own yet.  That (and all the stuff I tend to make for my own characters) makes it worth it to me to carry it around every game night.

Oh, and I can’t forget this guy:



Sometimes you just need somebody to represent a large creature.


Here is how I pack the new backpack for DMing D&D 5E.

Starting at the top of the pack, there is a small compartment, meant for earbuds, chargers, etc.  I don’t really use it much.

earbud compartment earbud compartment open.jpg

Next is the large upper compartment of the pack.

top compartment.jpgI keep the dice case in the dice tray, held in place with provided elastic straps.

dice case.jpgdice case and tray.jpg

dice case in straps.jpg

On the right in an internal pocket, I keep my “Healer’s Kit”

health dice in pocket.jpg

I kept getting annoyed trying to find how much healing each healing potion did, and finding sufficient d4s for it, so I made this kit.  On the inside of the lid it has the values for each healing potion category, and an important reminder:  It takes an action to quaff a potion!

health potion kit.jpg

health potion kit inside.jpg

On top of the healer’s kit, and in the upper left mesh pouch, I keep some sets of spell cards.  In the upper right mesh pouch I keep a set of extra d6s, because it is the one die that uses multiples the most often.  Fireballs, anyone?  Green for green flame.

top compartment mesh pockets closed.jpg

top compartment mesh pockets.jpg

Moving out of the upper compartment in the side compartments I keep more sets of spell cards (for different types of characters.  In the bottom right compartment I keep a bottle of water for cleaning wet erase markers off of game mats.  I also strap my game mat to the side of the pack inside a dry bag.

right side of pack.jpg left side of pack.jpg

left side.jpg

In the pocket on the outside of the main compartment “door”, I keep my folders and character folios.

folders and folios 2.jpg

In the mesh pockets on the inside of the main compartment “door”, I keep the spellbook for my wizard (I made it before I really started collecting spell cards), wet erase markers, other writing utensils, a laser pointer, and some paper towels for cleaning the game mat.

mesh door.jpg

Now, for the main event, I have the main compartment fully expanded.

main compartment.jpg

I keep a lot of rulebooks with me, the core 3 + Xanathar’s Guide + whatever hardcover I’m running are the main ones I keep with me.  I use the Dungeon Master’s Screen (Reincarnated version), with a few notes that I’ve attached to it.

rulebooks and screen.jpgI also keep the toolbox and flatminis case in there for minis and tokens.

flatminis and toolbox.jpg

I also have a small card folio that I use whenever I need to compile a spellbook for a character from my spell cards.

spellcard folio.jpg spellcard folio inside.jpg

And, there you have it.  My massive DMing bag of holding set up for Adventurers League nights.  There is more I will probably throw in here if I run homebrew games, but this is going to be it’s usual configuration.

Starting Gear: Items for New 5E D&D Players

Some new players may find the amount of stuff that some people bring to D&D games intimidating, because we make it look like you “need” a lot of things to play, and a lot of these items can be expensive.

However, you don’t really “need” a lot.  In fact, for your first session, many players at the game table will have spares of the essentials, so they might be able to help you out the first game or two, but if you stick with the hobby there are a few things you should get at some point.

For your first session, if you are just trying out the game, I recommend printing out a couple of blank character sheets, bring a mechanical pencil with a good eraser, and bring something to write on.  Someone will usually have spare dice they can loan you for the night, some generic mini for on the battlemat, and you can usually find someone who will loan you their player’s handbook for the night and help you create your first character.

Character Sheets

If it’s an adventure league game, like what is often run at game stores, you will also need some log sheets.  You can make a free account at to get access to the documentation and additional rules for Adventurers League.

Adventurers League Player & DM Pack

If you continue with the hobby, though, I recommend putting together the following kit as “Starting Gear.”

  1. Player’s Handbook (often shortened as PHB).  This contains all the essential rules that a player will generally need to make characters and play the game.  There are many other books out there, but you only really need this one, the others are optional for players.
    • Note: for the short term you can get away with using the basic rules document, but it is missing a lot of the information and options available in the full book.  You can find the document here. 5th Edition D&D Basic Rules
    • Here’s the rulebook you’ll want to get.  If it doesn’t have this cover, you’re probably getting the rulebook for a different edition, and the rules are NOT cross-compatible.Image result for player's handbook
  2. Pocket folder.  There will be a lot of papers (character sheets, logsheets, handouts) and you’ll need a way to carry them.  You might want to mark the folder clearly so that it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s.
  3. Tabletop RPG dice set.  Dice are denoted with a d followed by the number of sides of dice (example:  a d6 is a standard 6-sided die).   The exception is that d% indicates that you roll two ten-sided dice, with the one of them labeled for the tens digit, and you use them to get a number between 1 and 100.  A complete set includes a d4, d6, d8, d10, d% (the tens digit die), d12, and a d20.  You can find these easily at your friendly local game store (FLGS for short) or online.  There are dice sets available cheaply on Amazon, just search for “rpg dice.”
    • Some people (myself included) like to get fancy sets of dice, but I highly recommend starting out by getting a simple set of dice that are highly readable from a distance, like the bottom set.  More often you find sets that look like the top set, which look nicer, but the tradeoff is that they can be harder to read.dice sets.jpg
  4. An extra d20.  Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons often uses mechanics called advantage and disadvantage.  If the dungeonmaster says you have advantage on an attack or other d20 roll, you roll two d20s, and take the higher result.  If they say you have disadvantage you roll two d20s and take the lower result.  In either case, it’s handier to have a second d20 rather than borrow one or rolling the same die consecutively.
  5. Your current character sheet (and corresponding log sheets, if it’s an Adventurers League game), in the folder.  If you lose your character sheet, you might be allowed to rebuild it, but that is up to the DM and playstyle of the table.  You might have to make an entirely new character, or borrow one, and nobody really wants to do that.
  6. Blank character sheets, log sheets, any printable references you use.  It’s always good to have backups, because you never know when you’ll need a new character.
  7. Mechanical pencils with good erasers.  Pencils seem to roam and disappear at tables, so I recommend spares.
  8. Something to represent your character on a 1-inch gaming grid.  You need either a miniature or token of some kind that clearly marks where you are on the battle map, and fits inside a 1-inch square when upright.  There are a lot of miniatures you can buy or 3D print (if you have access to that), but there are a lot of crafty solutions I’ve seen online and at the game store for cheap minis.  I’ve seen people print out images and fold them up to stand up with a coin, pictures in small stands, pictures glued to corks; there are many options that don’t break the bank.
  9. A bag to keep all of this together and be able to grab and go.  If you let your stuff mix in with other stuff at home, you might find that you don’t have everything you need at game night.
  10. A dice bag.  Just something to hold your dice together in the larger bag.  Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and one usually comes with the dice that you buy.

That’s it!

Anything past that is optional for players, though I know many players (myself definitely included) who carry much more, but this is all you really need to get started.  Have fun!