D&D Survival Tips

In February & March of 2009 a couple of threads started in the Dragonsfoot forums, where people offered survival tips for the dungeon and wilderness. Some of the tips were serious, some less so … some VERY much less so. I took the action to compile the two lists, which I organized into one and republished in the forums. A few days later I decided these were worth preserving elsewhere … elsewhere being my AD&D site.

The list is organized by section with the poster’s Dragonsfoot identity listed.

D&D Survival Tips

Who Tip
Adventure Preparation
mbassoc2003 Don’t go down the hole. Stay up top and work on a farm. If you must ignore Tip No.1 proceed with reading the rest of this book.
Milo Stay out of dungeons whenever possible. You may never come out!
shadowheart469 Plan. Before. You. Go.
Jarlaxle ALWAYS have at least 2 characters with torches.
Jarlaxle Bring a few candles…no reason to announce your presence to everyone with a lantern or torch (as well as spoiling the infravision of the elf bowmen on guard duty) when a MU can read his spell book just fine with an ordinary taper.
Jarlaxle Carry a tent on the pack mule…trying to sleep in the rain sucks.
serleran Always have a roll of twine; its like Medieval duct tape and you’re a Renaissance MacGuyver.
MrNexx Carry weapons of a variety of materials… steel sword, silver dagger, and wooden club.
adidamps2 Carry a weapons of different wounding types: piercing, slashing, bludgeoning (sp)…
Grypharius The cleric is always your best friend otherwise you may not make it out alive, let alone cursed, possessed, level drained, diseased, blinded, poisoned, etc . . .
Grypharius I stress the importance of someone playing the cleric; or in some cases druid.
Town Adventures
Saunatonttu Don’t mess with the Bartender, he’s a retired adventurer of higher level than you.
Grim If its wet and the Bartender didn’t hand it to you in a tankard, it will probably kill you.
Telemachus If it’s wet and the Bartender did hand it to you in a tankard, it will probably also kill you.
Sikil “Come serve me woman!” is NOT a good pick-up line, gents, not even if you’re CE.
NPCs & Animals
shadowheart469 If you find a cute, cuddly animal in the middle of a dreadful dungeon, do not pet it, do not feed it, and do not adopt it. It is probably safest to run away (even attempting to kill it may be a bad idea).
Carnifex Never under any circumstance volunteer information to NPC’s.
adriapaladin Always charm/telepathy a small animal/NPC and find out how they get around the dungeon without getting eaten.
Telemachus Ensure the mule is fully trained.
adriapaladin NPCs mourning the guys you killed in the extra-dimensional space don’t like to hear, “Oh , well, he would have died eventually anyways. We tried.”
shadowheart469 If the Princess can be kidnapped, she can also be charmed/brainwashed.
shadowheart469 You will not achieve a lasting, long-term alliance with the Orc tribe.
adriapaladin If you’re using your awesome charisma on someone, beware of whoever’s standing behind him. It might be all well and good to flirt with Prince Charming, but the guy next to him might offer to raise legions of demons for you. And the girl on his right might have interest too.
Extempus Never, ever, under any circumstances, make a deal with a devil (or a demon, for that matter), unless you are extremely powerful and can track it down and kick it’s ass if it screws you over.
Dragondaddy A suitable sacrifice for the Goblin Underlord goes a long way to establishing your credentials as a serious trade delegation.
Madalch Don’t anger any druids
Saunatonttu If you steal a druid’s ‘shrooms, bad things will happen.
Saunatonttu An illusionist on ‘shrooms is much more dangerous than one not on them.
winemaker81 Never run through an unknown dungeon.
Grim Run away, run away, run away! (See first post)
Celendril Truebow In a dungeon, there is no such thing as “away”. If it ran, you will see it again and it will be angry, more hungry or both and it WILL remember you!
garhkal Don’t go down the dark stairwell until all that is on the current level is dead.
Varl Always make sure there is one member of the party slower than you.
Jarlaxle Remember: you only have to outrun the guy in plate armor, not the monsters.
Distorted Humor if you are the slowest (and of suitable alignment), trip a hireling and then run.
Tricks & Traps
Turanil Don’t pull the lone lever in the empty room.
Extempus If it looks and/or sounds like a damsel in distress (especially out in the middle of nowhere), it’s almost certainly a trap.
shadowheart469 Just because your thief doesn’t find a trap doesn’t mean there isn’t a trap.
shadowheart469 Think before you leap. Seriously … the best way over a pit trap is rarely just jumping across it.
Gradek Always remain 21 feet away from the thief or anyone opening a door/chest.
shadowheart469 Don’t stick your hand into a hole in a dungeon wall, especially if it has a mouth carved around it.
shadowheart469 If you are confronted by an obvious trap, search long and hard for the -unobvious- trap that will really kill you.
Sikil Checking for large scale traps every 10 ft is NOT often enough in Acererack’s abode.
Gord Always hire a couple NPC henchmen to set off traps.
Gord Bring a 10′ pole. (For prodding on the NPCs)
Turanil Prepare for the random encounters even in the wardrobe.
Dragondaddy Spike every door open that you open, and spike all the doors shut that you can’t open.
Dragondaddy Not every underground river leads to an underground lake. Most often they just lead to more underground river without any air pockets.
Dragondaddy Climbing gear is always good, especially rope, pitons, spikes, and a climbing hammer.
Dragondaddy If you insist on freeclimbing, at least tie off to members of the company that aren’t freeclimbing.
Dragondaddy The bridge is as rickety as they come, you are better off lassoing or grappling something a bit more solid on the far side, and rappelling across.
Dragondaddy If there are signs of dragons, you are best off getting out right about now.
shadowheart469 If you are lost in a confusing maze of tunnels, beware of minotaurs.
Distorted Humor Don’t split up the party!
Celendril Truebow LOOK UP!
winemaker81 if you can’t see the ceiling there’s something hungry and/or nasty up there.
winemaker81 if the ceiling is breathing make sure you’re carrying a pole arm, point up!
winemaker81 Don’t spend so much time looking up that you don’t see the pit.
winemaker81 Never let the heaviest character go first, especially if you’re roped to him for his safety.
winemaker81 Keep a knife handy in case you need to cut the rope.
JDJarvis Leave alarms behind yourself. Cups and bottles ready to fall perched on door tops and handles so you know when things are moving on your backtrail.
Premier There’s no such thing as “useless” decoration/furniture. They can be used as barricades, stepping stones, weights, rope anchors and a hundred other helpful things.
shadowheart469 If the bridge/ledge doesn’t look strong enough to support your weight, it probably can’t.
shadowheart469 If an archway, metal or not, contains swirling, colourful gas or mist, it’s probably a safe bet that stepping through it is a fairly bad idea.
winemaker81 Send the new guy/gal in first …
Stik When you’ve used up two-thirds of your consumables (spells, ammunition, potions, torches, hit points) it’s time to turn back.
Stik If you leave something behind, it will not be there when you get back. If it is there when you get back, check it for traps.
adriapaladin Not all extra-dimensional spaces have air in them.
adriapaladin To survive a high-level dungeon, use the phrase “bass ackwards”. Most of the traps are meant to keep people out, not in, so starting at level 10 and going up is a good idea. Not to mention that the boss doesn’t get to coordinate an attack against you.
Generally Good Ideas
Celendril Truebow Combat is noisy. Noise attracts things. After an encounter is not down time, it is full frickin’ red alert Defcon 6,000,000!
garhkal Always remain 21 feet from any mages in the party who love fireballs..
adidamps2 Remember when handling the Holy Hand Grenade to count to 3 and only 3…not 1 or 2 or 4 but 3.
garhkal Don’t stand next to anyone wearing a red shirt!
Distorted Humor There are some creatures, such as Ghasts and Ghouls, which are a walking TPK if you do not do the right thing, there are other creatures such as a Dragon that can be a TPK if you do the wrong thing
Sikil Do not urinate into an open portal while screaming “Take this Asmodeous!” He won’t see the humor, but he WILL hear his name! (Kids do the goofiest stuff)
adidamps2 Shoot 1st, ask questions later…this is especially true when accompanied by a high level cleric, where speak w/dead and resurrection are useful.
Celendril Truebow Don’t waste your spells. I’ve seen CLW used on a 2 HP Giant Rat bite!
Stik Stealth and trickery will get you far.
Stik When all else fails, try “The Big Bluff”
adriapaladin Don’t use unbinding on a highly-contigencied item, especially if your DM has the Great Netbook of Spells, without lots of protection.
adriapaladin Always carry 2 teleports. Reduction, wraithform, gaseous form, and polymorph are very useful as well.
adriapaladin Think way outside the box. If the DM gives you a “HUH?” look, you’re on the right track.
Milo Attack foes from a distance whenever possible.
Turanil Don’t leave your mounts alone at the dungeon’s entrance.
Turanil Don’t leave your henchmen alone at the dungeon’s entrance.
Wilderness, Traveling
Milo Always look for tracks, and try to date them as best you can. Also look good to possibly determine how many.
Milo Do not travel in open terrain whenever possible. Use concealment.
Milo Get some idea of what lairs and travels in the area you are going to.
Milo Hire a guide or have a scout in the party, a ranger will do the trick.
Telemachus Do not leave the path!
Milo There is safety in numbers, never go alone.
Telemachus Trust the instincts of the mule.
TheMorseMoose Travel in single file to conceal your numbers.
Grypharius It would be wise if you traveled in the company of a druid, ranger, or elf.
Grypharius Elves and halfling surprise others on 1-4 when 90′ ahead of friends
Sikil Listen for a lack of sound. If there are no birds chirping, no crickets singing — then you’re in BIG trouble.
Grypharius Remember, gnomes can speak to all burrowing critters. Hey, gather your Intel wherever you can.
Grypharius MU’s with familiars might have them question other critters.
Turanil That crow perched on the tree’s branch, which looks at you… Beware!
Wilderness, Camping
TheMorseMoose Post sentries at night.
JerryB Always post guards in pairs.
Telemachus Careful where you get that firewood!
TheMorseMoose Have at least one PC who can hunt and trap, or be prepared to eat a lot of dog biscuits and bully beef.
TheMorseMoose Always select a defensible spot when selecting a campsite.
TheMorseMoose In northern climes: Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow!
Bochi Build a wall. Surround it with a ditch.
Sikil The deep dark lake is NOT part of our National Parks Program. You WILL meet a hydra, especially if skinny-dipping.
Sikil Check for poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, and carnivorous plants before making a “pit stop” behind the tree.
serleran Always have a shovel. You might need to bury your companions. Or, you might need to whack some zombie upside the head. Maybe in that order.
tallgeese Don’t get separated from your gear. Inclement weather has a way of making adventures not fun if you left your stuff sitting on the other side of the mountain.
Game Mechanics
Distorted Humor if you come to the game session and you see the DM pull out a module that has S1 in the corner, remember the old Roman slogan. “Those Who Are About To Die Salute You”
shadowheart469 If it seems too good to be true, prepare to make a difficult saving throw.
Stik If the DM describes it in detail, it is dangerous.
shadowheart469 If the adventure has been to easy up til now, it’s not.
Celendril Truebow Acquire some knowledge of Small Unit Tactics. I see Military booklets about this at bookstores all the time. I don’t mean be a total geek and take the game too seriously, but an understanding of “Tactical Retreat”, “Evasive Action”, “Shoot and Scoot”, and Ambushes is not a bad idea.
Celendril Truebow Know your character! All your bonuses, abilities, Proficiencies and don’t forget to use your magical items.
The Icemaiden Never eat, lick or prod with your finger anything that looks like Jello
The Icemaiden Ditto for puddings …
adidamps2 Cast Iron skillets can double as clubs
winemaker81 Cast iron skillet makes it simple to cook whatever was just killed.
Sikil Elf pudding is NOT pudding made by elves, but rather made OF elves. Yuccckkkk!
T. Foster Never eat anything in the dungeon you didn’t bring in with you
oralpain You don’t need rations if your opponents are edible. Carry more weapons instead.
winemaker81 Subscribe to the Monster Recipe of the Week early to build a collection of recipes before the adventure.
DM Aggravation
Frank Mentzer Bring extra hammers & chisels for barbaric purposes. Deface/destroy anything that seems valuable and can’t be easily carried.
Frank Mentzer Make the adventure come to you. Find a good defensible room and just camp out. Keep it up for a couple of weeks or until the DM quits in disgust.
Frank Mentzer Carry lots of colored chalk. Write a cryptic symbol on the wall of every room. (Claim that it’s merely ‘in case of teleporters.’) Revisit places just to ask what’s on the wall. (Combine with pouring water in specific parts of some rooms.)
Frank Mentzer Search everything, even insects. Dissect monsters, keeping bits & pieces to attempt to resell later. If it’s mammalian, try for resellable steaks (stowed in large sacks).
Frank Mentzer Try to invent things. Gunpowder, waterproofing, and steam engines are good for starters. Find out whether somebody makes clocks.
Frank Mentzer Set up a ‘guard post’. Charge tolls of passers-by, human or not.
Frank Mentzer Seek places to defecate. Use them every 4 hours. Map them out.
Frank Mentzer Break the hinges on all the doors (or tap out the hinge pins). Lean the doors against nearby walls. Try to use them as “full-party shields”. Move them around and ask the DM regularly where they are.
Frank Mentzer Start a metal collection, removing locks, hasps, and other hardware. Try to resell them in town; any kind of metal should be valuable. Consider hiring flunkies to staff a scrap metal business.
Frank Mentzer When you get back, offer to sell Rumors & Information to NPC adventurers (after all, they have the cash). Fabricate all of it; get whatever you can. If you ever see ’em again, act happy and ask if they succeeded.
DM Survival
phantasm72 For the sake of your sanity, don’t have Frank as a player

This page last updated: 07 May 2009

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