E0M0: Dead Simple (5TDM)

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A basic map for pure combat. Plays on any 5×5 grid.

What is 5TDM?


1-Page Rules

Respawn Terrain Power
If you start your turn dead, dying or begin your first turn of the encounter; then you may regain all hit points and hit die, remove all failed death saves and conditions, refresh any abilities as if you had taken a short rest, and teleport to a random respawn square (1,2).

If the destination teleport square is occupied, that creature dies.

If you were dying, you die before Respawning.

Killing Spree Terrain Power
If you reduce 2 or more enemies with at least 1 hit point each to 0 hit points or fewer on a single turn, gain one of the following:
– Take another Action (as per the Fighter’s Action Surge Class Feature)
– Regain all Ki-points, Bardic Inspiration, and Rages
– Regain your lowest level expended spell slot

A creature rolling a natural 1 on an attack roll or saving throw is knocked prone immediately after the attack roll or saving throw is resolved.



Tower of the Ascendants

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Greetings, dungeoneers!

Today we have a very special treat. Go check out these two videos of Dr. Davy Jones (of Dungeon Oracle fame) laying down the dice and showing people how it’s done! These clips are from our yearly spring retreat, from an adventure we call TOWER OF THE ASCENDANTS: HELL MODE

You, the last descendants of the fallen Ancients, stand broken and bloody at the foot of the primeval Tower. Now, you must ascend its seven levels. Reach the highest chamber, slay the immortal Triumvirate that dwells there, and reclaim your lost godhood.
Or die with the rest of humanity.
A four-hour Dungeon World blitz. Four players enter the Tower at a time, but the audience is a living part of the dungeon, waiting to jump in the game when a crusader dies. The wait will not be long.

Part 1
Part 2

April Break

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April is an insane month for us, as we are buzzing around frantically getting ready for and decompressing from our annual gaming weekend retreat. It is here in this crucible that some of our best ideas are created, but it is an exhausting event. As such, we are on break for the month of April.

See you in May!

RUMORS – March 2017

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by Anthony “Deuce” Franchini

  • The Sixty-Six Brimstone Statues of of Moloch can be found in the fiery Kiln of the King.
  • A Purple Worm Hydra Wraith stalks the time-frozen waters of the Inverted Shores.
  • The salt-hungry Silt Mother will bestow a blessed dowry and the Starmap of 100,000 Worlds upon any who marry one of her thirteen squamous spawn.

Next week, we present a new Design Challenge, as well as announcing the winner to last month’s Design Challenge. Each month, we send a personalized letter out to the winner along with a pair of DEFY DANGER skull stickers so you too can #putaskullonit


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A Reliable Rumor has led the dungeoneers into the dangerous ruins of a once great Dwarven Fortress. Inside, they seek fabulous material wealth and a game-changing magical artifact – the Genesis Tablets of Primordial Stone. These are said to be hidden in the fortress’ treasury vault, accessible only when the 400 lb golem stands before the entrance.

Be sure to convey this information clearly before the player characters enter the room.



  • You enter a vast underground chamber of carved stone. Expertly smoothed hematite floors pave the way.
  • Obsidian pumps and aqueducts bring in a constant flow of roiling lava from a churning lake of fire below. The room is lit in a brilliant, bright glow.
  • The heat and stale air are sweltering and oppressive. Sweat pools off your body in rivulets.
  • A massive bronze pressure plate is embedded in the floor in front of the a massive, 10-foot tall door made of solid lead.
  • The door has no handle or visible hinges, but above the door is a row of four glittering cat’s eye chrysoberyl gems embedded in a plate of shining gold.
  • The door is embossed with the image of a large, mechanical golem. It is making a plaintive gesture.
  • There is a massive iron lever set into the wall adjacent to the door.
  • There are a a pair of small indestructible mithril cauldrons on the floor nearby. One has a trio of jade chips embedded around the lip of the cauldron, the other a group of five glittering black tourmaline gemstones. All work is of the highest craftmanship.


  • When filled with magma, the small mithril cauldrons weigh 300 lbs (jade) and 500 lbs (tourmaline).
  • If the lever is pulled and there is not exactly 400 lb placed on the pressure plate, a hideous trap is triggered. Upon the second time this happens, the vault is filled with magma and sealed forever.


  • Fill the tourmaline cauldron with magma.
  • Empty the tourmaline cauldron into the jade cauldron, leaving about 200 lb of magma left in the tourmaline cauldron.
  • Empty the jade cauldron.
  • Fill the jade cauldron with the 200 lb of lava leftover from the tourmaline cauldron.
  • Fill the tourmaline cauldron with fresh magma.
  • Fill the remaining space (about 100 lb) in the jade cauldron from the tourmaline cauldron, leaving 400 lb of magma in the tourmaline cauldron.

EXPERT CHALLENGE: The dungoeneers must find a missing orthoclase cog in order for the lava pumps to work again. The cog is a puzzle item hidden somewhere else in the dungeon.

MASTER CHALLENGE: The oppressive heat and sulfurous fumes of the area means that this is a timed puzzle and must be completed in 5 minutes of real-time.


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gallerysculpturerhodes3Daughter of Styx and sister to power, force, and zeal; the goddess of Greek mythology Nike is a champion to be revered. Tabletop gaming is not equivalent to television and movies, it is not a passive activity. Each of us, whether as a player or as the lauded Dungeon Master, owns a piece of that table and are responsible for what we make of it. The dynamics of group emotions is a curious thing. People naturally feed off of each other and subtly alter their own state of mind based off of the others around them.

Sieze the day. Set the tone for your adventure. Be the champion of passion at your gaming table. Fight apathy, mediocrity, and laziness. Demand more.

Do this and drag your gaming group onto the path to Nike’s realm – victory.


The Crown of Charon, a massive deathtrap dungeon for both 13th Age and D&D 5E, is proceeding at a nice pace, scheduled to be released sometime in May. Whet thy appetites with this introductory background and table of contents. Tell us in the Comments below which title of the 32 areas just blew your fucking mind!


Since the time when the gods first created mortal life, Charon, the infernal boatman, has ferried the dead across the River Styx and into the afterlife. In exchange, he has collected an eternity’s worth of tolls, ranging from the simple copper coins of peasants to the mythic and mystical relics wielded by those who shaped the land of the living.

It is these treasures that you seek to claim.

Legend holds that those who pass away without a proper burial are cursed to wander the shores of the River Styx, unable to cross into the Exalted Domain of Elysium. It is on this river that Charon’s pyramid exists, a grim monument attracting all who seek to escape their purgatory.

For a share of the spoils, the Dread Priestess of the Ashen Cloister agrees to poison you and lay you out, unburied, in her courtyard for one night. You will die, only to descend into the underworld in an attempt to enter Charon’s lair. You have until sunrise to liberate all that you can carry from his pyramid, chief among the prizes being an artifact known only as the Crown of Charon. With this relic, one can commune with and seize control of the spirit of any mortal that has passed into the kingdoms of the gods.

When morning’s light breaks, the Dread Priestess will use a ritual to call your spirit and any treasures you have claimed back to your living frame.

The adventure begins with the PCs standing at the steps leading into 1. Pauper’s Shrine, standing in the shadow of the great pyramid.


Adventure Background
A Note to the GM
Time Limit
Primary Quest
Secondary Quests
Area Legend
Resting & Recharging
Death & Respawning
Icon Relationship Rolls
Demonic Script
Scattered Treasure
Demon Abilities
Starting the Adventure
Outside the Pyramid

1. Pauper’s Shrine
2. Pyramid of Salt
3. Maw of Erebus
4. Scrying Fire
5. Satellite Control
6. Frost-Bog of the Half-Goristo Froghemoth
7. Gauntlet of Bestial Monoliths
8. Sending Circle
9. The Eviscerator
10. Tomb of Frozen Demigods
11. Hand of the Timekeeper
12. Crematorium of the Five Rivers
13. Moors of the River Styx
14. Nyx’s Gate
15. Candelabrum
16. The Mural in the Mouth
17. The Wheel of Mortals
18. The Scales and the Chasm
19. Crypt of Weeping Hieroglyphics
20. Death’s Trident
20d. Stagnant Ossuary
21. Vile Scriptorium
22. Corridor of Mother Memory
23. Shrine of the Brass Circle
24. Terror Core
25. Resurrection Pool
26. Docking Pool
27. Whirlpool Descent

Interjection: Submarine Descent

28. Submerged Catacomb
29. Catacombs: Fane of Nyx
30. Catacombs: Crucible of Erebus
31. Dome of Charon
32. Maelstrom’s Crater

I. Tournament Scoring
II. List of Items
III. Cards
IV. Stat Blocks
More from DDE Adventures


Game Lab – Convention MetaGame

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by Matthew Surber and C. Steven Ross

This next look behind the curtain of our gaming designs offers a glimpse into the workings of Defy Danger East, our yearly long-weekend get-together. We hesitate to call it a con, as it’s more like a well-organized, nerdy house party, but you can think of it that way if you like.

For this coming year, we were inspired by a definitive gaming convention, namely Big Bad Con out in Bay Area California. The people who run it seem absolutely top notch and have a lot of overlap with us in terms of gaming philosophy. We both have a big focus on being different, being inclusive, and striving to be the best we can. Quality, not quantity.

This past autumn, Big Bad Con developed a meta game, named Big Bad World, that ran in the background of the entire convention as a whole. In it, attendees earned XP by doing various tasks that the con organizers wanted to encourage, generally creating a more welcoming atmosphere in a massive crowd of strangers. This is a great idea, so we stole it.

The Defy Danger East meta game follows a similar pattern as Big Bad World, but splits the focus into three distinct categories and applies a more tangible incentive system. Our differences here do not reflect badly in any way on Big Bad Con – we’re just trying something a little different, because we’re tabletop gamers and we can’t not fiddle around with rules.

Each category of behavior that we wish to encourage comes with an associated title. With that title, we also include the reward of getting a coveted Defy Danger skull die, marked in gold. Though all attendees will get a complementary white die, it is only the elite who earn the gold. The behaviors we wish to encourage can be summarized as:

  • Create an atmosphere of teamwork and inclusiveness outside of games
  • Push players to master the technical aspects of their games
  • Enhance the immersion, storytelling, and roleplaying elements at every table

In order to obtain a title and the associated gold die, an attendee must complete both primary items in each category and at least three of the four bonus items. See below for the detailed descriptions!

You can also read about Big Bad Con’s meta game here.



To become a Master of the Societal Arts one must take care and responsibility of those around them. Gamer life is nasty, brutish, and short so we must seek peaceful cohabitation to create an environment free of angst and garbage.

Primary Items
Champion of the Skullery – Help prepare at least two meals
Warden of the Waste – Help clean up after at least two meals (dishes or trash)
Bonus Items
Butler Of Hope – Help at least three people find their game’s location
Concierge – Help at least two people set up their game
Sommelier – Get a drink for at least five different people
Night’s Watch – Walk someone’s drunk ass back to their house safely


The Munchkin of Destiny seeks to be a master of the mundane and mechanical. They know the ins and outs of the systems they play and work with their group to squeeze as much juice out of every roll possible. But like a rising tide, they seek to bring every one with them and help others see the joy of being a dice-chucking badass.

Primary Items
Arbiter of Justice – Land the killing blow on the BBEG

Resurrectionist – Bring back at least three allies from the brink of death

Bonus Items
Corrective Directive – Help at least three players squeeze out more damage by pointing out extra bonuses they missed

Dealer of Dice – Take an action requiring the rolling of ten or more dice at once

Trilogist – Play at least three separate characters in a single game

Builder of Teams – Devise and coordinate a strategy that requires each member to succeed on their own individual action


The Devotee of Design strives to deepen the story of each and every game around them. Nameless villains and bland descriptions vex them, so they wax fiction around these elements to build a richer, bolder world in which the characters live, fight, and conquer.

Primary Items
No Fate but What We Make – Push the GM outside of the prepared materials

No Words… No Words – Produce actual, physical sketches of characters or scenes within the game world you are playing

Bonus Items
Witness Me! – Deliver a riveting eulogy for the death of a party member

Some Part Yet to Play – Give the BBEG a backstory that makes them pitiable and deliver this to the table

Definitely. Definitely. – Create non-mechanical compulsions for at least three of your characters that help define who they are

A One-Sided Account – Go into detail about a major event in the history of at least one game you’re playing