5e Improv Cheat Sheet
Improv just got easier! We’ve updated the Oh Sh!t Sheet for D&D fifth edition. This handout contains several useful charts to help a DM trapped in an “oh shit” moment, when the players take you in a direction you weren’t expecting and you need to come up with something on the fly.
Pretty self-explanatory. This is usually the first place a DM gets tripped up at improv. Your PC’s interact with a seemingly unremarkable NPC that you’ve written nothing about and for some reason they ask for his/her name, you can grab one quickly off your sheet and it will seem planned.You may also be interested in our longer name list posted a few years back: Names.
We’ve added a few “mostly” non-combat encounters that could be dropped into a session that runs short or goes off the rails entirely. Be sure to check out our 5e Skills challenge conversion sheet: Skills Cheat Sheet
I love the simplicity of the 5e trap system. Just slap a common trap archetype on the table like a pit, chest, rigged door, etc and the chart does the rest. This chart can be used for unintentional traps as well; like removing someone from a burning building, falling debris or a weak floor in an abandoned building.
This is a list of possible urban locations when you need a business or place name on the fly. They are generic enough to drop in any city of village.
This area works like the Urban section, all the names are generic enough to be used in any setting. Additionally, the geographic features are small enough to explain their absence from a campaign map. We avoided rivers, mountains, oceans, etc. that would seem conspicuously absent from lore and instead used creeks, hills, and ponds that will provide you an instant location for your impromptu quest.
Hard Encounter Cheat Chart
This handy gem comes to us directly from Slyflourish.com. Mike Shea is all about making a DM’s life easier and is known best for his book, The Lazy Dungeon Master. Shea’s chart is the quickest and simplest way to create an encounter on the fly. Mike was kind enough to allow us to replicate his work so check out his site; there are a lot of amazing articles over there.
These three NPCs are the most common you’ll need in village or city setting and are taken directly from the D&D 5e PDF’s on Wizards.com each stat block has a few possible quirks to make the NPC memorable.
It is impossible to plan for every possible scenario in a D&D session, but hopefully this handout will help when your players taken you off the planned path. Now when they ask about an NPC you didn’t plan for, you can quickly reply with a name and a quirk and even have stats should you need them.
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