The growth and accessibility to products, ideas, and content has accelerated the mainstream appeal of tabletop roleplaying games since 2014, which hallmarked the emergence of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. The new ruleset streamlined the difficult process of making and running games for incumbent and inexperienced Dungeon Masters (DMs). For veteran DMs and players, the various editions and supplements gave experience and education that proved invaluable for the new generation of players and DMs.
The most difficult role for any D&D or roleplaying playgroup is being the DM/GM. The amount of preparation includes anything from having a “basic” understanding of the rules, establishing encounters, worldbuilding, player-character focused development, and narrative development. It’s an especially tough task for a new DM who has no prior tabletop RPG experience, let alone any experience with D&D. Often times, the amount of work necessary to run even a decent game can seem daunting and insurmountable.
I recall my first time DMing nearly a decade ago. I was scared, I had no idea what I was doing and I only understood the basics of combat and rules regarding skills. I read plenty of fantasy books and comics, I watched tons of movies and tv shows of various genres. But it was still a daunting and nerve wracking task for me. I wanted to run a good game, I learned many attempts later how to simplify the process and gained confidence in my own abilities. Granted I started DMing while in college with very little responsibilities, now as an adult with a job and multiple endeavors, it can be difficult to juggle all these activities. It became apparent to me that the many new DMs and players were around my age bracket and also had jobs, social and familial obligations, and still wanted to play BUT they had little or no time to prepare.
As a result, many new DMs and players rationalize to themselves that D&D or any RPG is not worth the time and effort. But what if there was a way to streamline the DM preparation process? The Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) for 5th Edition already gives step-by-step assistance in building campaign settings, cities, NPCs, encounters, traps, and monsters. But the amount of time referencing between all three core books (the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, & DMG) can be time consuming and overwhelming.
If you head over to various digital outlets like the DMsGuild or DriveThruRPG, many of the content that remain in the top sellers listings are those that give DMs more options, more material and content, and class options (a player demand that seemingly never ends). Just looking at the demand alone, many dungeon masters seek easier means and methods to craft encounters, quests, and campaigns to run for their players.
Limitless Potential – Infinite Possibilities
Limitless Adventures wants to minimize DM prep time and offer Further AdventureTM add-on to help DMs expand the game and give plot hooks. From random encounters, to story-arcs, towns, and NPCs, these guys cover all the bases to help DMs both new and old.
Let’s break down what the guys at Limitless Adventures offer to DMs.
- Quick & Simple Encounters
When you buy a PDF filled with encounters from Limitless, you get varied difficulties of encounters for various environment terrains, monster blocks using the open SRD for 5th edition. They break down the experience point thresholds and the suggested levels for a standard 4-player party. The fact they have the stats helps DMs from having to refer to the Monster Manual, or rather it makes a DM less reliant on owning one.
All encounters have a short description to read to players. There are also additional notes for treasures and creature behaviors. Every individual encounter offers three Further AdventureTM hooks to help DMs expand the encounters into full fledged arcs either as an immediate continuation or for something to brew later on down the line. It’s entirely up to the DM. Some of the offered encounters even have suggestions to make them more difficult, which is also a nice feature for DMs. It always feels like a DM has to have a Math degree to construct an encounter using XP Thresholds from the DMG. Granted I personally do not have that much difficulty with it, but for new DMs or those short on time, it’s a wonderful addition.
Limitless offers several supplements each with 10 encounters based on terrain/environment, from temperate forests to swamps and deserts. They also offer encounters within noble estates and also have a side quest available for purchase: the Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane. I loved this short side quest, the Further AdventureTM options were insightful and offered plenty of ideas for immediate after the quest or later down the road in the campaign. That is the sort of thing any DM craves, adventure paths that continue to branch out giving them narrative options and avenues so they never get stuck.
- NPCs to help fill the world
Sometimes one of the harder parts for a DM (old or new) often comes down to NPCs, especially for shops and potential adventure hooks. Even in video games, it takes time to craft quests and side quests with NPCs especially if is character progression for them. It can be daunting, there are even times when NPCs grow to become more than what was originally intended for them. That’s the beauty of an cooperative storytelling experience, but it can still take a toll on a DM to keep track of those details. Experience gives a DM the ability to smoothly work an NPC effortlessly into a campaign as if they had planned them all along. For older veterans it may come naturally but sometimes a bit of guidance wouldn’t hurt, as for newer DMs (which I’m thinking about more) it can be challenging and any help is appreciated.
- Simple beginnings, epic returns
When you sign up with Limitless Adventures, they give you a welcome package consisting 5 village shops that can be placed in any village in your campaign with stats, treasure (if any), prices of available goods, and of course more adventure hooks. Secondly, they offer rules for jousting as an alternate game mechanic. Just from the 2 free products alone, I can already start a campaign in midst of a Spring or Autumn festival in a village and the players can participate in a joust if they so desire. It’s a great way to let the players warm up to their characters before setting off into s much bigger world.
Sometimes the hardest part of any campaign, I found, was getting the party together in a way that didn’t seem forced. But in reality, it’ll always look forced unless circumstances tie them all together under a mutual goal or objective. Handy compared to the bigger adventures, even Mines of Phandelver from the D&D 5th Edition Starter Set can be daunting for new DMs and players. Many of the games I’ve heard or seen that play this starting adventure tend to be played by people who have some roleplaying experience, when you get that one group full of first time players, there is a challenge when given so much creative freedom but eventually these players will overcome it and hopefully gain the confidence to be their characters.
That’s all just from the freebies they give to a new user. But you can honestly use any encounter from Limitless Adventures as a jumping off point to a larger campaign or story arc, which will have the players entertained, making the DM focused on moving the story and bringing the world to life. That is one of the reasons why I endorse the 5th edition ruleset so readily, the ease of mechanics and the narrative focus approach to storytelling.
With every product by Limitless Adventures, there are 10 encounters or locales for the DM to utilize based on the environment or setting whether it be it something like a swampy terrain or a small village. There are also something new within each one, it could be a new item, a new spell, a unique creature, a god, or an optional rule. Each previously unpublished material. A nice, and for the most part, worthwhile breath of fresh air compared to similar products.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying other D&D products that offer random encounters or skeleton towns/villages or bountiful lists of NPCs are lousy or bad. Far from it, everyone commits time and effort to these sort of products. But I just love this attention to detail and need for the DM that Limitless Adventures offers in their products. The formatting is clean and aesthetically pleasing, you can download in full-color or as printer-friendly versions when you purchase their products. It’s fantastic!
Assembling the pieces (or constructing additional pylons)
I acquired several of their products, namely: the Founder’s Fen, the Haunted Locales, the Swamp encounters, the Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane sidequest, and having the free village shops supplement. Using the village shops and the Founder’s Fen products, I crafted and expanded the village provided with even more shops and NPCs to give players the opportunity to explore 15 locations. The amount of Further AdventureTM hooks consists of three hooks per NPC/locale which totals to 45 potential quest and story hooks. Some of the hooks are interconnected with other NPCs in the village and some have the party venture outside of the town. I decided to use the Swamp encounters since the flavor for Founder’s Fen has it near or in a swampland. There are a few hooks that utilized finding herbs or something for the various denizens of Founder’s Fen, which offered opportunities to use the Swamp encounters as part of random encounters for the PCs to face. Just like the previous products, there were more hooks, which brought the potential hooks to 75. I love the potentiality of narrative branches, my mind began coming up with more ideas from them.
Here’s the kicker, and this is something of both disclaimer and advice to DMs. You do not have to use any or all of the hooks provided, you may also change and adjust any of the material within the products to fit into your setting and needs.
I used these products as if I was building a one-shot with the potential to expand and grow in the midst of the game if players wished to do so. For the main arc for this one-shot, I went with the “side” quest, Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane product. I changed how the quest began but kept the main elements intact. I used the NPC hooks in Founder’s Fen to give players an chance to familiarize themselves with the various locals and personalities, gain some experience points and maybe items for later use.
Now the Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane has a level range of difficulty of levels 3 to 5. So having the PCs spend some time in town (if starting at 1st level) would give time for development. If you are playing a game where the players maybe start at 2nd or 3rd level, than you can being the main plot for this one-shot I brewed. The Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane has some great adventure hooks for after the quest, I won’t spoil them but I fell in love the guys at Limitless Adventure for it. They are almost as sinister as myself.
Again, rules and published adventures offer templates and guidelines for DMs to run their games, it does not need to be followed by the letter. That’s the point of improv, and also the point of these products. The amount of prep time, if using only theatre of mind, is almost none to maybe an hour. Just for reading and familiarizing myself with the NPCs and notes within the products. If you’re using miniatures and a grid battle map, the prep time exponentially increases to anywhere from two to four hours.
Prep time is subjective based on what materials are at your disposal as a DM. If I decide on a grid map experience, I use miniatures and draw maps ahead of time so I don’t break the flow of my narrative in-game. All of this influences my prep time. The products also provide town maps and dungeon maps (especially for Founder’s Fen & Tomb of the Sorcerer Thane). So right there, Limitless Adventures holds up their mission of reducing DM prep time for their games. It’s always appreciate in any D&D product, the official products do it already so it’s almost expected in more intricate products like quests and city products.
It can be challenging for new DMs or even experienced DMs to craft a campaign or quest at times, especially when that “so what next?” moment arrives. I’ve played in games where the DM has gotten into a narrative hardplace and have no idea how to progress the story. The traditional solution was to use a side quest or adventure to distract the characters so the main plot can play out in the background. But that still requires a bit of savviness and know-how. I adore Limitless Adventures for the Further AdventureTM hooks, they really help the DM with brainstorming ideas even if they do not plan to use them at all. This is a great and amazing feature for DMs, especially for new ones. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about the Mines of Phandelver were the narrative hooks that a DM could take the party afterwards, which were vague at best. This by far, my absolute favorite feature from their products. The new items, spells, and even unique creatures are a testament to their hard work.
It’s not always easy to create new, never-before-seen content. I appreciate the time and effort Limitless Adventures puts into their products, and it shows in their well polished and easy to read encounters and stat-blocks. It is very aesthetically pleasing to read through the products too. A definite labor of love.
That’s what is so wonderful about the online D&D community as a whole. There are countless people, both players and DMs that are very creative and have their own different ideas. If you like an idea, use it. Imitation is the best form of flattery after all. If you don’t like an idea too much, change it to suit your needs. Even for me, an experienced DM, I love these products like these, helps move the gears in my sinister brain of evil D&D torment.
What I’m saying: give Limitless Adventures a shot. Sign-up with them, check out the freebies they offer. If you like what you see, try out a few encounters products from them and see for yourself. Most of them run for $1.99 USD and you pay using PayPal. I bought the ones I mentioned in this article and several more for future games or quick one-shots. The hooks themselves are valuable by a mile and change, but I also appreciate the work and effort they put into making engaging encounters both mechanically useful and flavorful.
They also have a blog, so check them out (here) for updates on new stuff from them. Also follow them on Facebook & Twitter for additional updates. They want to produce more content in the future, so your support, encouragement, and feedback will help them out alot!
I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to Limitless Adventures for giving me the opportunity to review their products. They are awesome guys, check out their blog too! I want to thank you, the readers, it was a long article and I wanted to do them justice. Please like, comment, and share. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and follow Limitless Adventures on Facebook and Twitter. There is a donate button and an Amazon store link for your D&D product needs, a little comes back my way to help fund the blog. I also have an Instagram for behind-the-scenes pics for the Adventures of Team BAJA and board game fun. If you have any feedback or comments to share with me personally, email me at email@example.com! Thanks again and we’ll see you soon!