Note: This is a guest post from Ted Cory, Chief Adventurer at Skullsplitter Dice
Epic dungeon crawls lie in the heart of many great D&D campaigns. If your DM has created the deadliest dungeon for you, then you’ve got to be prepared! Read on for the top 10 strategies to gain the upper hand in Dungeons and Dragons!
1. Mastering the RulesClearing a dungeon in D&D almost always involves killing tons of monsters and surviving countless traps. Depending on the size, you will need a minimum of five to six combat encounters to clear a dungeon, and some dungeons are a lot bigger. For example, the mega-dungeon in the Dungeon of the Mad Mage spans more than twenty layers and will take your character from level five all to way to twenty!
That is why you can’t expect to survive unless you know how the game works. You need to master the difference between saving throws, attack rolls, and ability checks, as well as several other nuances that will give you the upper hand.
This can include things like knowing you get a free action, thinking through things like casting cantrips and bonus action spells together, and actions like “Help.”
2. Mastering your ClassEvery class has an arsenal of abilities that allows them to overcome the lethal challenges of a dungeon. Some classes are a lot more complex than others, but all have their own ideal playstyle.
For example, barbarians are some the most robust D&D characters. They have the highest HP pool thanks to their d12 hit die. However, they get limited armor and rely on the damage resistance of their rage feature.
So, to play a barbarian effectively and survive in a dungeon, you will need to reduce incoming damage through raging.
3. Never Split the PartyThis somewhat falls into the next tip, but it’s important enough to mention alone. When you’re split you can end up quickly biting off more than you can chew!
4. Cooperate, Cooperate, CooperateYou can’t clear a dungeon by yourself! Even if you play a self-sufficient class or an abjuration wizard with tons of defensive spells, you will die if you don’t work with your fellow players.
A balanced group will have one full caster, one ranged class, and one bruiser at minimum. More characters give you more flexibility, but you need those three to handle most challenges.
5. Read the SpellsEven if your character knows no spellcasting, you should study the spell list in the Player’s Handbook. There are hundreds of spells in there, and many of these can kill your character in a dungeon.
Most dungeons also have at least one spellcaster enemy who will wield those dangerous spells against you and your party. Thankfully, if you know how a spell works, you may be able to counter it. Most spells rely on vision to be cast, while others have specific conditions that negate them. Certainly you shouldn’t meta game, but if your character is a spell caster, or proficient in Arcana, they’ll potentially know these things.
6. Gear Up Your CharacterGoing into a dungeon unprepared will kill your character faster than anything else. At minimum, and regardless of healers in the party, you should invest some gold into healing potions. Remember, simple items can sometimes be extremely useful. This includes things like a 10 foot pool, rope, rations, and water. Sure, you could spend spells to cover some of these things, but sometimes the simplest solution is the best.
If you are playing in a high magic campaign and you have the gold, you should also seek out magic shops and buy as many magical items and potions as you can afford. Most dungeons are full of treasure, gold, and gems to cover the costs.
7. Don’t Forget Short RestsEven if you’re stocked in healing potions and legendary items, your character will die if you don’t take it slow in a dungeon. Short rests give you a much-needed recharge on many of your abilities.
For example, monks and warlocks need short rest to recharge their ki and spell slots respectively. Other classes, like the wizard, have features like arcane recovery that only works with short rests. Neglect the short rest, and your party will be underpowered for the bigger fights.
8. Go High TechIn addition to pen and paper, you should try some D&D apps and programs like DNDBeyond to supercharge your character. These apps will help you keep track of your abilities and will help you make the right choice in the midst of combat.
9. Don’t Anger Your DMD&D is not a competitive game. Your DM is there to create a story and keep the game moving forward. He is not your enemy, and you should not go out of your way to anger them. Moreover, angering your DM can be fatal in a dungeon where monsters and traps are so plentiful!
10. Mastering the Core Values of D&DFinally, you should never lose focus on the core values of D&D. Dungeons and Dragons is above all a roleplaying game where a bunch of friends come together to tell a story and have fun in a fantastic world.
D&D is neither competition nor a string of math calculations. In order to gain the upper hand in D&D, above all, you should aim to have fun!
Gaining the Upper Hand in Dungeons and DragonsDungeons and Dragons can give you countless hours of fun, but it’s not always easy. Dungeons are perhaps the hardest part of a D&D campaign, and now you know how to clear them!
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