Dungeon Master's Guide to Liberterra


What is this?

This document is a guide to becoming a Dungeon Master for games set in the Liberterra setting and run on the County Library's Liberterra discord server. The "Player's Guide to Liberterra" and "Crafting in Liberterra" documents are companion documents to this one, and if you plan on running games on the server, we recommend reading both documents in addition to this one. You can also find more information about the Liberterra setting in the "Lore" section of the website, or in discussions on the Liberterra Discord server.

This document covers the basic requirements for becoming a DM for the Liberterra server, as well as the expectations for any adventures you run on the server. All DMs will need to be approved to run games by library staff before their games will be added to the schedule of games on the server.

Part 1: Preparing to be a Dungeon Master

Being a Dungeon Master for Liberterra is an amazing opportunity. You get to help the library staff continue to develop the Liberterra setting and the demiplane's lore. You will also get to prepare and run adventures for players from all over Salt Lake County on the Liberterra discord server.

What You Need to Run a Game

In order to run a game in the Liberterra discord server, you will need the following:

D&D Basic Rules or Player's Handbook. The PDF version of the Basic Rules is available at no cost on the Dungeons and Dragons website and contains all of the basic rules of D&D. For a more complete experience we recommend using the fifth edition Player's Handbook, but it is not necessary if you have the basic rules.

Adventures. One of the most important things to have as a DM is the adventure you want to run. The County Library and library staff are not providing adventures for you to run. You may create your own adventure following the guidelines in this document, or you may use one of the multitude of adventures published online or in print. Adventures do not have to be from official D&D sources or published by Wizard's of the Coast. They can be published by a third party publisher, something you found on a chat forum or blog, or from any other source. However, you may want to look it over and change anything that is not in line with the guidance given for adventures in this document. We have limits on what players can use to keep the power level relatively equal among characters on the server, which may make the group less powerful overall from what you are used to in games outside the server.

Players. Play in published adventures is generally designed for a table of 5 players, but can be adjusted to as few as three and as many as seven players. Keep this in mind if you use a pre-published adventure. On the Liberterra server we limit groups to 6 players. This helps to keep the game moving, especially during combat where play goes in rounds. So you will not have more than 6 players in an adventure, but you may have less than 6. Also, while there is no official rule that groups need to be composed of similarly leveled characters, adventures on the Liberterra server are run for a tier of play, which is a group of levels close to each other. For more information on the tiers, see the "Player's Guide to Liberterra."

Discord. While you can choose to run your game on a virtual table top, such as Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, you will be using discord to connect with your players initially, and we highly suggest using it for voice and text chat for your game as well. It is entirely possible, and highly encouraged, to run your game solely on Discord, to reduce the number of applications players will need access to. The discord server has the Avrae bot installed, to manage dice rolls and initiative in combat. You can find instructions on bot commands on the Liberterra discord server.

Optional Items

The following items are not required, but are nice to have if you have access to them:

Monster Manual. While the statistics for most monsters can be found in the Monster Manual, special monsters created for a published adventure are usually found in that product. Many pre-made adventures will include stat blocks for all of the monsters used in the adventure. Many monster's stats can also be found for free on the internet with a quick google search.

Dungeon Master's Guide. This book contains valuable advice on preparing and running games. It also contains descriptions of magic items that you could award to players during your adventures.

Other Official D&D Source Books. Wizard's of the Coast has published many books containing additional monsters, character options, items, and spells that can be used in the Liberterra setting. See the "Player's Guide to Liberterra" for a list of approved books.

Part 2: Getting Approved to DM on the Liberterra Discord Server

As a safety precaution, before any volunteer DMs are allowed to run games on the Liberterra discord server, they need to be approved by library staff. The approval process helps to ensure that the DM is able to smoothly run a game for players, and allows library staff to get to know the DMs a little bit.

Application

To start the approval process, you will need to fill out the application for Dungeon Master's on this website. It will ask for your contact information and about your experience with D&D. There are no wrong answers to the questions. They are meant to help us know where you are as a DM and player. The application will be reviewed by library staff, and you will be assigned a staff member as a mentor, who will work with you to get you ready to run games on the server.

Mentoring

You will work with your mentor to schedule your first adventure on the server. You will need to run your first game with your library mentor in attendance. This will help your mentor get a better feel for your DM style and experience, and can allow the library mentor to support DMs who may have less experience running games. You may run multiple games with your mentor, until both you and your mentor feel you are ready to run adventures on your own. Once you have been approved by your mentor, you will be able to run adventures on your own on the Liberterra discord server during the server's open hours.

Part 3: Choosing Your Adventures

You can choose to run a pre-made adventure, or create your own adventure to run on the Liberterra discord server. All adventures, pre-made or custom, are meant to be run as one-shot adventures that can be played over the course of 2-4 hours. While it is possible to run a series of adventures that build on each other, be aware that you are likely to get different players for each adventure who will not have recieved key items or information from a previous adventure.

Adapting Pre-made Adventures

When choosing a pre-made adventure to run on the Liberterra Discord server, consider changing the hook of the adventure to fit in with the lore of Liberterra. Perhaps the players heard about the adventure from the Arcane Institute's recruitment boards, or they were personally assigned to the task by a Book Keeper. Consider how events in the outside world might change because of the player's actions in the adventure, or what artifacts or magic items they might be saving from falling into villain's hands by participating in the adventure. If the player's actions will have a large impact on the outside world, mention that to the players.

If you are choosing to run an official published adventure, such as The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, or an adventure from a boxed set, such as Dragon of Icespire Peak from the D&D Essentials Kit, you can find advice for how to adapt it for use in Adventurer's League play on the DM's Guild. This format works well for running these adventures in the Liberterra setting as well, including the advice on level advancement and rewards.

Creating Your Own Adventures

If you choose to create your own adventure, start by choosing the level of play you want to run the adventure for. Remember that players will sign up for games by tier, so if you create a first level adventure, you may have players up to level four joining in as well. Build your encounters around the assumption that you will have six players who may have never player together before. The group may or may not work well together to tackle the encounters, so you will want to aim for easier difficulty levels. Also, make sure to include options for playing the adventure with less than six players. You may have as few as two players in your adventure.

Setting

Liberterra is a demi-plane that exists within the D&D multiverse. It is connected to the various published settings of the D&D multiverse through magical portals. This means that you are free to run your adventures in whatever setting you would like. It also means that your player's races and classes may not be native to the setting in which you set your adventure. Feel free to adapt how NPCs react to characters that are not native to the setting of the adventure, but don't make it too difficult for the players to accomplish their objectives.

Character Rewards

You should reward the players for their accomplishments in your adventure with levels, gold, and magic items for their characters. This is true of both pre-made and custom adventures.

Advancement. Once the players successfully complete an adventure, they will gain a level. A character can gain no more that one level per session. Player's can always decline to have their character gain a level.

Magic Items. Characters can use any magic item they find that is specifically mentioned as found by the characters during play in the adventure. At the end of the adventure, each character can keep any of the magic items found during the adventure unless the adventure describes the item as being lent to the characters, turned in to the Arcane Institute, or being destroyed. Characters are limited on the amount of magic items they can take on an adventure by their tier level. For more information see the "Player's Guide to Liberterra."

Some adventures direct you to roll on a Magic Item Table in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Others direct you or the player to choose the magic item from either the Dungeon Master's Guide or the adventure itself. If the adventure does not specify the rarity of the item (such as most randomly rolled items), it must be appropriate to the tier of the character receiving it, as shown on the following table. Reroll any items that exceed a character's tier.

Unspecified Item Rarity
Tier Maximum Rarity
1 Uncommon
2 Rare
3 Very Rare
4 Legendary

Mundane Equipment and Treasure. Mundane equipment found during the adventure can be used and divided up as the party chooses. Treasure (including items that have a monetary value but are not equipment, such as art objects and gems) is awarded as the adventure directs. It can be spent during the adventure. Any remaining treasure at the end of the adventure is converted to gold pieces and divided equally among the characters. If the adventure does not have treasure awarded in this fashion, you may add a treasure reward as appropriate either during play or at the end of the adventure. Use the following table for guidance:

Unspecified Treasure allowance per Adventure
Tier Minimum Reward Maximum Reward
Tier 1 100 gp 500 gp
Tier 2 1000 gp 5000 gp
Tier 3 10,000 gp 50,000 gp
Tier 4 50,000 gp 100,000 gp

DM Rewards

As the DM of an adventure, you are able to claim the rewards of the adventure as if you had played in it. You can choose to level a character you are playing on the Liberterra Discord server, as well as giving them any magic items included in the adventure and an equal amount of treasure as the player's received. Do not include yourself when dividing up the treasure among the players, instead just give yourself the amount they each received after it was divided.

Part 4: Running Adventures

You will DM one group of players at a time. Each player must have their own character within the adventure's level range.

Facilitator of Fun

You have the most important role. You guide the narrative and bring the words on the pages of the adventure to life. While guiding the players, it is also your responsibility to make everyone at the table feel welcome, to create a fun and fair environment. Here are some things to keep in mind while DMing:

You are Empowered. Make decisions about how the group interacts with the adventure. Adjust and improvise as needed while maintaining the adventure's spirit. Remember, your players will not be having fun if you aren't having fun. Make the game fun for you as well.

Challenge Your Players. Gauge the experience level of your players, as well as what they enjoy in a game and attempt to deliver what they're after. Everyone should get a chance to shine.

You can adjust an encounter's difficulty level by adding or removing thematically appropriate monsters. Be careful of going too far, however. The intent is to have a collaborative and challenging story telling experience. It is not to do everything you can to kill your players' characters. Similarly, destroying equipment generally shouldn't happen unless an encounter specifically directs you to do so. In fact, unless they have conditions detailing their destruction (such as an ioun stone), permanent magic items can't be destroyed.

Keep the Game Moving. If the game gets bogged down, provide hints and clues to players facing puzzles or engaging in combat and roleplaying interactions that get frustrating. This gives players "little victories" for making good choices based on the clues given. When playing within a time constraint, as we do on the server, it is important to gauge the pacing of your game. It's okay to make adjustments when you get bogged down to promote a play experience that feels complete.

Dealing with Disruptive Players. If a player is acting in a disruptive manner during a play session, attempt to address the issue as soon as it becomes clear that someone, including you, might be uncomfortable. Take the player aside, or direct message them, and explain why their behavior might be causing others to feel uncomfortable. If the problem persists, please contact library staff for help with the resolution. A library staff member should always be available while games are being run on the server, though response time may vary.

Disruptive Magic Items. There are a number of magic items, and a few pieces of gear, that might become disruptive to the overall enjoyment of others in some adventures. If a magic item's use in play leads to an uncomfortable play experience, take the player aside, or direct message them, and explain the issue. You may wish to discuss temporarily removing the item from the character's carried magic items and allowing them to choose another magic item to bring along instead. You can review character's magic items prior to beginning play of the adventure to help identify any potential issues, but you should not mandate the removal of magic items or gear solely on your preferences.

Safety Tools

Safety tools help to ensure players aren't pushed beyond their comfort levels. These tools let your players know that you want them to have a positive experience. Some common safety tools are provided below, each with a summary of how they work.

Code of Conduct. This is a group agreement for play. It outlines desired and prohibited behaviors and possible consequences for misbehavior. The Liberterra Discord server has a code of conduct that all players agreed to when they joined the server. If you feel it is necessary, you and your players may agree to additional agreements for your specific game.

Pre-game and Post-game Discussions. Use the time before the game to explain any content warnings and set any needed boundaries. Then decompress and discuss improvements at the end of the game.

Be Welcoming. Welcome the players and encourage respectful and open conversations about issues as they arise. Show that you are listening by avoiding defensive responses.

Confidentiality. Provide contact information for private and confidential conversations between the players and yourself. This may be done through direct messages on Discord, or using a private email. Only disclose another player's name if that player gave unpressured permission for you to do so.

Other Safety Tools. Learn about the safety tools that the TTRPG community members have created and compiled. A broad range of safety tools can be found on the internet. Feel free to share any that you really like on the Liberterra Discord server.

Running the Game

As the DM you are charged with not only guiding the story, but also fairly adjudicating the game's rules and rewarding your players' characters for their accomplishments.

The Rules of the Game

The Liberterra discord server uses the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set. You can issue rulings to your table when the rules of the game are ambiguous or vague, but you must otherwise adhere to the rules as they are provided in the core rulebooks and can't change them or make up your own "house rules". You should always use the most recently published version of a rule.

While they aren't official rules that must be followed, the Sage Advice column from Wizard's of the Coast, tweets from the D&D team on X, or even discussions with other DMs on the Liberterra Discord server can provide good insight on how others have judged a particular issue. The rules as written in the rulebooks always take precedence.

Downtime Activites

As a general rule, characters can participate in downtime activities between or during sessions. However, if you feel that no sufficient periods of inactivity exist to justify it, you can disallow a character using a downtime activity during your adventure. For example, the journey from Phlan to Waterdeep in Faerun is very long, so it's reasonable to assume the characters can spend downtime days copying spells. However, the trip from one end of Waterdeep to the other is much shorter—only hours. Be fair and consistent in exercising this discretion.

Death, Disease, and Curses

Adventuring is a risky job and bad things often happen to adventurers. Diseases, poisons, and other similar effects persist until they're removed, or at the end of an adventure. Characters can spend gold to receive spellcasting services during an adventure to remove negative effects.

Characters can receive spellcasting services from an NPC located anywhere that is at least town-sized (1000 or more residents) or has a specific NPC able to cast the spell needed. In addition, the characters must be able to travel there in order to receive the services during the adventure. Otherwise, characters follow the rules for post-adventure recovery as written in the "Player's Guide to Liberterra". Spellcasting services provided by NPCs are limited to the spells on the list below.

Spellcasting Services Available
Spell Cost per Cast
Cure Wounds 10 gp
Identify 20 gp
Lesser Restoration 40 gp
Prayer of Healing 40 gp
Dispel Magic 90 gp
Remove Curse 90 gp
Speak with Dead 90 gp
Divination 210 gp
Greater Restoration 450 gp
Raise Dead 1000 gp
Resurrection 3000 gp
True Resurrection 30,000 gp

Spell Scrolls. Characters can purchase spell scrolls during an adventure if the NPC has access to the spell. Lower level scrolls (first and second level) may have multiples available to purchase. Higher level scrolls (third to fifth level) are limited to one spell scroll maximum for each spell listed, subject to your discretion. See Appendix A: Shared Campaigns in Xanathar's Guide to Everything for spell scroll purchase prices. Spell scrolls above fifth level are not available to purchase in this manner.

Shelter of the Faithful Background Feature. Characters with the Shelter of the Faithful background can request NPC spellcasting services at a temple dedicated to their chosen deity. While the service of casting the spell is free, the characters must pay the cost of any material component consumed by casting the spell. These characters can't procure free services for others, only themselves. You determine, using the adventure as a guide, if a specific temple devoted to that character's deity exists within the scope of the adventure.


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