How to Defend Your Lair, Available for Pre-order

The world is a dangerous place—especially when you’re up to no good.

But even a person of unblemished character and sterling repute may make enemies, especially among those of more blemished character and more tarnished repute. Perhaps your deeds have intruded on someone else’s interests, or soon will, and they’ve resolved to stop you. Perhaps the wealth you’ve amassed is becoming an irresistible temptation to larcenous minds. Perhaps you’re making discoveries that others would prefer to keep under wraps—or would appropriate for purposes of their own.

Whether you’re a rampaging monster, a renowned hero, a despised tyrant, an ambitious schemer, a paranoid recluse, or the current possessor of the Golden MacGuffin, someone’s going to come at you. Probably more than one someone. You need to be ready.

You need a lair.

Cover Illustration by Lio Pressland

Coming Nov. 29 from Saga Press, How to Defend Your Lair pulls back the curtain on an underrated but crucial part of any tabletop roleplaying game: drawing the maps. Say goodbye to encounters between PCs and baddies in randomly generated dungeons and hello to a game in which where the fight takes place is just as important as the fight itself.

In How to Defend Your Lair, I discuss real-world principles of building security and area defense and how to use them to to create strongholds infused with flavor, informed by narrative, and complex enough to force your players to think strategically. Keep out ordinary intruders—and provide a thrilling challenge to extraordinary ones!

How to Defend Your Lair includes sections on fundamental principles of defense, terrain, magic, lair staffing, battle strategy and interrogation, along with 16 illustrative scenarios, from a grung village in the rainforest to the mountaintop redoubt of a wily lich.

Click here to preorder today from your favorite independent bookseller, or follow one of these links:

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If you’d prefer to support your friendly local game store with your purchase, ask the buyer to contact Simon & Schuster Distribution or ACD Distribution to order wholesale.

Monsters of the Multiverse

I’ve been sitting on Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (hereinafter referred to as Monsters of the Multiverse or simply Multiverse, because Mordenkainen’s got his name on another book already, and now he’s just attention-seeking) since January, as I’d been hoping to make more headway through some of the other books on my shelf. But, well, it’s just been released as a freestanding volume, and everyone’s talking about it, so I can’t let it sit any longer.

Monsters of the Multiverse collects 260 monsters—all the ones from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, as far as I can tell (ETA: Nope—the orc stat blocks from Volo’s are omitted, probably because they’re tied directly to the Forgotten Realms pantheon), plus the new dolphin delighter—and collects them in one volume, with revamped stat blocks. (Multiverse also collects all the post–Player’s Handbook race options that aren’t inextricably associated with some other specific setting, such as Ravnica or Ravenloft. Curiously, Eberron’s changelings and shifters are included, but kalashtar and warforged aren’t. PC options are outside the purview of this blog, anyway, so that’s all I’ll say on the topic.)

Multiverse is getting savaged by Amazon customers, although not as badly this week as it was last week, with the top recurring complaint being that it’s just a cash grab, selling Dungeon Masters content they already have. No. 1, I’m pretty sure that Wizards of the Coast never represented it as anything other than a revision of previous content, so don’t get mad at your own poor reading comprehension, and No. 2, I’m not sure that reviews of the product (the articulate, multi-paragraph kind, appearing in what we call “the media”) have made it clear just how much revision went into it.

Going through every stat block, a to z, I count only 60 that either aren’t changed at all or are changed only cosmetically. That leaves 200 that have received significant updates based on public opinion, playtesting or both.

Since I do happen to be pushing a book of tactical recommendations based on the stat blocks as they appear in Volo’s and Mordenkainen’s, I’m sure readers are wondering (a) what I think of the changes in Multiverse and (b) whether my tactical recommendations hold up after the changes.

In brief:

  • Mostly, I think the changes are very good. They’ll certainly make your job as a DM a lot easier. I do have a couple of quibbles, but they’re subjective in nature.
  • It depends on the monster.

Now to elaborate. Continue reading “Monsters of the Multiverse”

Well, That Took a Long Time

I honestly did not expect writing my latest book to eat the entire year. My bad.

I’m happy to report, however, that it’s now finally done, and I’ll have more to say about it soon. Quite a bit more.

In the meantime, MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing is just a week away from release—huzzah!—and I’ll return to blog writing in the new year, picking up where I left off. Wizards of the Coast has kindly provided us with several new books for me to look at monsters from, including Van Richten’s Ezmerelda’s Guide to Ravenloft (she did the work, Racist Uncle stole the credit—that’s my headcanon, and I’m sticking to it), Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. I’ve got my work cut out for me in 2022 (and probably 2023 as well)!

See you all after the odometer rollover.

Where I’ve Been

Hey, readers. I owe you an update! Yeah, it’s been a while since I posted any new tactical analyses, and I apologize for that. Since I became a parent, my available time to work on projects has gotten pared way back. For the past couple of months, what time I’ve had has been claimed by getting my next two (!) books ready to deliver to my publisher, and it’s going to be the same for at least the next couple of months as well. The holidays weren’t much of a break, either, since my wife is hard at work on the illustrations for book No. 3 (you know her work from book No. 1), meaning I’ve been picking up slack for her rather than vice versa. A lot of things have fallen by the wayside, writing blog posts among them. I’ll still slip in a post here and there when my workload permits, and once I’m further along on book No. 4, I’ll try to make up for lost time. But it’s probably going to remain somewhat quiet for a while.