The Dungeon Master’s Handbook: Tips from January 2023

Here is a list of the top ten dungeon master tips that I posted to various social media channels in January 2023. These tips can apply to more than just Dungeons & Dragon adventures but also other TTRPGs like Pathfinder or Dungeon Crawl Classics.

  • Have players roll skill checks off of their turn to discover bits of information during a battle and keep them involved.
  • Try running random encounters without a battle map. Just use descriptions. Mix them with skill challenges and chase scenes.
  • Small poker chips can work as monster tokens in a pinch. Get different colors and write on them with a marker.
  • For an extra challenge, put unholy relics in a room that prevents the use of healing surges until destroyed. 
  • Give a monster a grab-and-toss ability to make use of interesting environmental effects. 
  • Defending an area can make for a fun multi-battle encounter. Give the PCs a chance to build up their defenses. 
  • Pay attention to the choke points in your battle space. They can be challenging or totally boring if misused.
  • Add some normal minions two or three rounds into your big solo battle.
  • Avoid the “destiny” plot motivator. It’s no fun to think you have no control over the outcome. 
  • Be specific when roleplaying. Write down key notes for any NPC you’re going to step into. Goals and attitude are key.

These tips are courtesy of Mike Shea at

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. Cheers!

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