Cake is in the Eye of the Beholder – D&D Inspirations

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What makes D&D great? Beholder Cakes and imagination.

Friday is here at last, so we should all thank Gruumsh that it’s the end of the week, and brace yourself for a weekend of adventure, excitement, and hopefully a statistically insignificant number of accidental TPKs. Purposeful ones, on the other hand…

At any rate, as we head into the weekend, here’s a little bit from the dev team as to what makes D&D so great.

This exchange captures one of the cool things about 5th Edition, there’s no one way to play it right. Whether you’re more into roleplaying, tactical combat, silly situations, or serious business, the game can support it. Sometimes all at once which can leave you with a grim and brooding Ranger who is very into roleplaying, while your positioning-and-tactics driven wizard shouts a catchphrase and casts spells–but it all kind of works. It’s the secret truth to the old crunch vs. fluff argument, that it doesn’t ultimately matter. Without the narrative holding up D&D, the rules lose a lot of the feel of what they’re representing, and without the rules to back up what you’re doing, the game just isn’t as fun.

And none of it matter at all with you. Yes you. And you. Maybe you. D&D adapts though–it fits what you need it to. Especially with 5th Edition, which is why you’re seeing so many more people playing it now than ever. The most important part is you. That and being able to TPK your friends.

Then of course we have a little more advice from Mike Mearls on how to get started in the RPG industry if that’s something you’re looking to do. It’s also good advice for creating your own modules and figuring out new adventures to throw around at your friends. Especially useful when you combo this with the “running a campaign tips” that Mike Mearls sat down to talk about with the D&D Beyond folks.

Honestly I feel like he, along with Jeremy Crawford and Chris Perkins could put on an amazing “Campaign Design Tutorial Level” panel and anyone’d benefit from it, whether a total nooblet or an old hand who has folders full of custom monsters. And speaking of custom monsters…

One monster comes to life? Well, not exactly life, but the Beholder breaks free from the Monster Manual and invades reality courtesy of Dina Cimarusti, who baked this incredibly gorgeous Beholder for the Level Eater 8.88 Event this past week. You can see it’s progress from unholy monstrosity…

…to delicious monstrosity. Now you can slay (or be slain by) your cake and eat it too. And speaking of cooking contests:

That’s a pretty cool concept. Since it’s Friday, and in honor of this amazing cake, I thought we’d send you off with a sample Cooking Challenge encounter. Take a look.

Gather Secret Ingredients – No dish is complete without a special ingredient. Characters can make either a Knowledge (Nature) check or if you want to delve into some more Eldritch territory a Knowledge (Arcana) check to try and mix in the Forbidden Herbs and Spices.

Competition?! – You aren’t the only ones in the competition. What are your opponents doing? Maybe a bit of Persuasion or Stealth can help them figure out what the enemy is planning. And how best to thwart them. After all, if you can figure out what they’re doing and when the judges are eating their food–maybe you can prepare something that will either ruin their palettes or how to sneak in an ingredient that will sabotage them.

You Are Not Prepared – Then finally of course there’s the cooking itself. A Proficiency (Cooking Utensils) check is just the thing to win over the fight.

I really like the philosophy here, of running this event like an encounter. This is a quick stab based on what Mearls suggested–but with a little more thought I could easily see this applying to other encounters. Break them into components and figure out how players can accomplish each of them. Of course, once you have that established, your players will no doubt surprise you with whatever scheme they come up with on their own (what if we just Charm the judges into awarding us the prize), but you’ll at least have had that skeletal structure to deviate from.

In any case, enjoy a little look at the game we love to get the weekend started off right. Happy Adventuring folks!

What are you playing this weekend?

  • Aurion Shidhe

    Wizards had a writer’s workshop in the late 90s that I was able to attend. We went to their HQ in Seattle for a few days and had classes and workgroups. We were working on adventures and having them critiqued in real time by actual game designers. This was soon after the TSR purchase. Alternity was making its flash in the pan. Some of us actually went on to become successful game designers (Owen Stephens was one of our alumni). Life got in the way and I wasn’t able to capitalize on that information, but I wish that they’d do something like that again.