MCDM on D&D Beyond, Character Creation and Encounter Design | May Roundup

Published on 5 June 2024


Velkommen! I'm Jon de Nor and this is Goblin Points.

May has been an exciting month for the MCDM community. The design team has expanded, MCDM products have launched on D&D Beyond, MCDM is going to Gen Con and the new stuff for the RPG is really interesting. Let's dive in!

New Hires

MCDM has made some new hires recently. In total it's one executive producer, and two designers. The producer and one of the designers have already started, while the last designer is slated to start in June.

From what Matt and James has mentioned in streams, the addition of the extra people is already helping with the amount of work that gets done, and the number of great ideas contributed. I think this is also part of the reason we've seen so much new stuff this month, with more people working on the RPG.

MCDM on D&D Beyond

In other news: Flee Mortals! and Where Evil Lives are now officially available on D&D Beyond. You're now able to purchase a digital version of both products. All monsters and maps have been added into the D&D Beyond system, making them easily accessible.

D&D Beyond has also published multiple articles on what you can find in the books and how to best utilize the contents. They've done a writeup on companion creatures and the rules for companions that are included in Flee, Mortals!; an article on creature roles on how to utilize the roles introduced in Flee, Mortals! for better combats; and an article on Lady Emer and her Cloud Fang Keep.

There's also two YouTube videos published by D&D Beyond of interviews with James. In the videos he talks about the motivations behind the designs in Flee, Mortals! and what kind of creatures you can find in there. And he explains a bit about what kind of book Where Evil Lives is.

While you may have purchased the books before, you'll have to purchase them again if you want them on D&D Beyond. D&D Beyond functions like a separate publisher and won't be able to gift books to existing owners. But, if you decide to get the books, there's a $10 discount at check-out if you pick up both of them.

James shared that it was D&D Beyond that contacted MCDM about the possibility of having Flee, Mortals! and Where Evil Lives on the platform. The team suspects it's the requests from fans of MCDM that have driven this action from D&D Beyond.

Both Matt and James were asked whether more MCDM products could show up on D&D Beyond. To that they both answered that they didn't know. It apparently was a bit of work getting Flee, Mortals! and Where Evil Lives to work properly, and those are perhaps the least "weird" products MCDM has. Getting something like the Talent to work, might not be worth it to D&D Beyond.

MCDM at Gen Con

MCDM also announced that they are going to Gen Con this year. It's not going to be a big operation, and there won't be a booth with MCDM employees. What's been scheduled are play tests of the RPG. Tickets to the test went live at the start of May, and are already sold out.


Now let's move on to the RPG. This month has been packed with new details about the RPG. With the expanded team, work seems to have picked up speed, and it probably also helps that the foundational systems have settled and can now be built on top of.


As I mentioned in last month's roundup, the RPG now uses 2d10 instead of 2d6. Some details about the change was shared by the team this past month.

Adding a plus or minus one to a 2d6 roll have major impact on the result. This means that you have to keep bonuses pretty small to prevent them from ruining the tier system. A plus four bonus had the power to carry a result from tier one to tier three, or from a tier three to a tier one with a negative bonus. This ended up being too limiting and the team decided to move to more sided dice - skipping d8s and going straight to d10s.

It's unlikely they are going to change dice again. James said that they've started preparing for the physical rewards on the crowdfunder campaign, and the dice need to be locked in. Changing the dice now would be very costly.

The new tier ranges for the 2d10s are: eleven or less is tier one; twelve through 16 is tier two; and 17 or more is tier three. The probabilities of each tier is roughly the same as before, but a plus one is not as overwhelming to the dice math anymore.

They want to keep crits in the game, and currently crits happen on natural 19s and 20s. It seems players are able to remember that when playing D&D, so the team hopes that's also the case when playing the MCDM RPG.

As I also mentioned last month, positive and negative bonuses are back to being called edges and banes. An edge represents an advantage a hero has in combat, in a social encounter or any other situation. A bane represents a disadvantage.

Instead of giving a plus or minus one, edges and banes now give plus or minus two, which are added after all other bonuses to the result of the power roll. Feedback from testers showed that players weren't really excited by a plus one, and kept spending time searching for a way to make it a plus two instead. While a plus two isn't twice as good, it feels that way to players.

The incessant searching for another bonus is also why edges and banes are limited to a maximum of two. You can only have two edges or two banes maximum. These are called double edges and double banes. A double edge does not add a value to the power roll, but automatically moves the result up one tier. If a player rolls for power, adds together the result of the dice, any other potenial bonuses from characteristics and/or skills, and gets a result in tier two; a double edge would automatically make that a tier three result, regardless of what result within tier two was rolled. Double banes work the same way, but moves the result down a tier.


There's also been some tweaks to how tests are done. Previously a test could be one of two difficulties, this has now been expanded to three levels. Each difficulty level has an associated result table with three tiers.

For easy tests, tier two is success, while tier three is success "with style". With style means that the hero receives an extra reward. If the hero was trying to swim across a river, the reward might be that they manage to swim across in less time; or if the hero is climbing a rockface, the extra reward might be that they're able to assist another hero with their climbing test.

The two other difficulties are easier to fail and also makes it possible to fail with consequences. In those cases the hero not only fails at their test, but something bad happens too.

Montage Tests

From individual tests to montage tests: Matt suggested that montage tests should have specific problems for the players to solve. Montage tests tend to stagnate because the players don't know what to do or which skills to use. With pointed questions that prompts the players with problems to solve, it relieves the burden of coming with both problems and solutions from the players.

If the heroes are trying to climb a sheer rockface, the director might prompt them "it's been raining, the rock is wet, how do you prevent slipping?"; "how do you make sure to prevent falls in case of loose rocks or handholds?"; "there are some birds with nests halfway up the wall, how do you prevent them from making you fall?"

If the heroes fail to handle one of the prompts from the director, they loose a bit of stamina. When they've tried to handle all the prompts, the test is over. If the heroes failed the overall test, there might also be some extra consequences.

This prompt system makes it easier for players to engage and prevents a single player from coming up with all the answers. With specific obstacles to overcome, the creative juices flow easier for all players.

Encounters and Monsters

Next, we're looking at encounters and monsters.

With a random initiative order, like the one you get in D&D, the director can't decide when a monster gets to go. That means that every monster needs to be a little versatile to account for every situation it might find itself in. If it goes early, it might need a ranged attack, but if it goes late it might need a melee attack. This leads to pretty big stat blocks, as the monsters try to be adaptable to every situation.

With the looser initiative order of the RPG, where the director decides which order their monster goes in, the need for highly adaptable monsters isn't present. That means that every monster does fewer things, but they do those few things very well. When it's the director's turn, they can activate the monsters with the most appropriate abilities.

When each monster has a slimmer stat block, it also means that you can put more of them on a piece of paper. And have room to spare. In that room to spare, you can put other information about the encounter that might be useful, like environmental hazards, the heroes' objective for the encounter and more. And this, is what constitutes an encounter sheet.

Matt and James both had ideas for how such an encounter sheet could look and what information it should contain. Matt shared some of these ideas in a post on Patreon at the beginning of the month. He also shared some experiences with using the encounter sheets when testing the game internally.

While those initial tests internally where promising, the contract testers were a bit split on the encounter sheet. One of the advantages of the monsters in Flee, Mortals! is that they are inherently tactical. The monsters' abilities are designed to make the monster tactical without needing the GM to think too much about it. The encounter sheet design, along with the streamlined monsters, moved that tactical burden back on the director.

The goal of the encounter sheet was to make combats easier to run for directors, so they set about to fix this new issue: they introduced phases and encounter events.


A phase is a director's turn in combat: phase one is the director's first turn in a round, phase two is the director's second turn in a round, etc. For each phase there is a recommended category of unit that it's advised to activate, and they are as follows.

Phase one. Activate artillery. These are the monsters with ranged attacks. Their goal is to soften up the enemy from afar.

Phase two. Activate controllers. These are the monsters that debuff the enemy and make them vulnerable. The controllers also might move enemies around, to put them in the optimal position.

Phase three. Activate melee. These are the monsters with melee attacks. At this point the enemies are getting close and melee monsters are now in range.

Phase four. Activate support and ambushers. The support monsters heal and buff their allies, while ambusher lie in wait for the enemies to get close before they pop out and ambush them.

It's not necessary to include monsters for every phase in every combat. If you don't have any controllers or supports in an encounter, it's no trouble skipping that phase. The director is also free to rearrange the phases as they like. No plan survives contact with the enemy, so the director might need to use the support phase first to heal up their allies.

To aid with remembering which monsters go when, there will be some visual guides that indicates which phase each monster belongs in.

Encounter Events

An encounter event is a special event that happens on a directors turn. They are inspired by villain actions, from action-oriented monsters design. The encounter event activates many monsters at once and aim to shake up the combat. When building an encounter, the director picks on of each of three event types: an opener, a reversal, and a closer.

The opener goes in phase one of the first round. This is to assist the monsters to get into position. This makes the director's side ready to for combat.

The reversal goes in any phase after the first round. The reversal shakes up the battle field and helps the monsters regain ground or even get the upper hand. A reversal could be that reinforcements arrive, or the unexpected reveal of hostages that the heroes now must save.

The closer goes at the end of combat. The closer does a lot of damage to a lot of enemies. This last action is big, and makes the monster memorable to the heroes.

The rules will include a list of encounter events that can be included in any encounter. The director can then easily pick an opener, a reversal and a closer from the different lists to include in their encounter. There might also be encounter event lists for specific monsters, that are tailored to the lore or features of that monster.

Bringing Tactics Back

With these two tools, the design team hopes to aid directors in running tactical combat, whithout overburdening the director.


And speaking of new monster designs: the minion design has been tweaked again. The new design group minions in groups of up to five. A group of minions have a shared stamina pool. The size of the stamina pools is the combined stamina of all the minions in the group.

So, if a golbin minion has four stamina, and there's a group of five goblin minions, that group has 20 stamina in their stamina pool. Whenever any of the goblins in the group takes damage, that damage is subtracted from the group's stamina pool.

When the group has taken damage equal to the stamina of single minion, one of the minions die. If one of the goblins in the group takes six damage, the group's stamina pool goes from 20 to 14. A single minion's contribution to the pool is four, and the pool has taken more than four damage, so one of the minions die. If another minion takes six damage, the group's stamina drops to eight. At this point two more minions die because the collective damage equals the stamina of two more goblins. At eight stamina, three of the five minions have died.

There are some edge cases in this design, but James seems confident those can be ironed out.

Hope Tokens

One last thing to mention about combat is hope tokens. They are a way for the director to "put a finger on the scale" in favor of the heroes. The hope tokens can be spent when a hero takes damage. As a free action, the hero regain stamina equal to one recovery, without spending a recovery.

Hope tokens can be awarded by the director for good role play by the players, or as a reward when rolling well on tests. The rules indicate that when rolling a tier three result on certain tests, the hero succeeds and get an extra reward. Usually the reward is in the line of "you succeed and something good happens", but if the director can't come up with anything in the moment, they can award a hope token instead.

Character Creation

Character creation is currently under testing by the contract testers, and the team shared details on how character creation currently works. There might be tweaks to the specifics, but it looks like the framework is pretty solid.


After picking an ancestry, like human, dwarf or memonek; the player creates a culture for their hero. The culture represents how a hero grew up. While the hero might be a human, they might've grown up among dwarves. They don't share a dwarves' physical traits, but they share their extensive knowledge of geology and knack for quaffing.

When creating a hero's culture, the player decides several aspects of the culture:

First is language. All heroes know the common tongue by default, but they might also know an additional language that was used at home or in their community.

Next the player chooses an environment. Where did the hero grow up? In the city? On a farm? Or maybe in the woods? Based on the environment, the hero receives a skill.

Then the player chooses how the culture is organized or run. Is it bureaucratic, or maybe more communal in nature? The hero receives a relevant skill.

Lastly, it's the upbringing. This is how the hero experienced their day-to-day life. They might've led a creative life creating art, or an illegal life working as a pickpocket. The hero also gets a skill relevant to this.


After building a culture for the hero, the player selects a career. This is what the hero did for money, before becoming a hero. Like the culture, the career grants some extra features to the hero. The point of the career is to make the player think more complexly about their hero.

After picking a career, the player needs to answer a few questions about the hero and their career. If the hero was an artisan, what kind of works did they make, who taught them, did they have any specialties and how did they sell their work? These questions don't have any mechanical impact, but aids in creating a more complex hero.

Mechanically the career grants two or three skills, depending on the career; sometimes an extra language; sometimes increased renown, a "currency" of sorts that can be used to cash in favors; sometimes some project points, which are used to research and craft; and a title, which grants a small feature or two to the hero.

Common Title

Titles in the RPG are a bit like feats in D&D; they are a small feature or two that's added to the hero's class. Titles, in contrast to feats, are usually bestowed to the hero by the director. This is usually when the hero accomplishes a heroic deed by slaying the fearsome dragon, and is granted the title of Dragonslayer.

The hero's career grants a "common title" which is a bit more reserved than other titles. The common title is relevant to the career and gives a non-combat feature. An artisan gets a bonus to crafting, while a mage's apprentice gets small arcane trick to show off with.

Inciting Incident

But why does a mage's apprentice become a hero? An inciting incident! Something happens in their life that transforms them from a commoner, to a hero of the ages.

Inciting incidents are tied to the hero's class. Why did the hero become a conduit, or a shadow? Each class will have a table of incidents, which players can either roll on, or just pick an option they like. They're also encouraged to customize it a bit for their hero too.

The inciting incident contains a personal quest for the hero. James had an example of person that blocked a summon elemental spell with their body, and now they have the spirit of an earth elemental in their body. While it grants them a bonus of extra stamina, the earth elemental takes over when the hero reaches zero stamina and starts attacking friend and foe alike. How can the hero get rid of the spirit?

Ancestry: Memonek

Speaking of ancestries: Matt published a post on Patreon with details about one of the ancestries they intend to include in the Heroes book. They want to include twelve different ancestries, where some of them are the the old familiars like elves, humans and dwarves. But they also want to include some completely novel ancestries that intrigues players looking through the book.

The Memonek are the native inhabitants of Axiom, the plane of utter law. It's a place that's perfectly ordered. The Memonek are not organic creatures, but consists of inorganic materials like metals, ceramics and glass. They are not robots, they don't have programming or think in zeros and ones, but they are machine people, in that inorganic way.

Matt compares them to Vulkans in Star Trek, that are completely devoid of emotions, and this is how they act when home in Axiom, but when visiting Orden, the "regular" plane, they get a sicknes, a worldsickness, they call emotions. While the Memonek usually only indulge in emtions when they want to, like a fashion trend that comes and goes, they start feeling emotions involuntarily when in Orden. And the effect gets worse over time.

To be able to function properly in Orden, a Memonek person must learn to regulate their emotions, and funnel them into something useful.


From machine people, to digital machines. The virtual table top is actively being worked on and the developers have shared multiple videos of the VTT in action. They're both implementing rules and showing off some pretty slick animation, lighting and foliage effects. Links to the demonstrations in the episode description.

While not generally available to test, the VTT has been tested by testers in the community and the feedback looks to be very positive.

Denivarius, one of the developers of the VTT, also said that VTT might be a misleading term. Many will think of a VTT as a digital playmat, but the MCDM RPG VTT is more of a digital toolset. It will include tools for character creation and management, and a proper map builder.

There has also been a few questions around pricing. When purchasing products from MCDM today, you always receive a digital copy. If you buy a physical book, you get the PDF too. The goal is for that to be true of the VTT too. If you buy something from MCDM you get access to the VTT and the stuff you bought.

The VTT will not be free though, but the specifics of the pricing is yet to be determined. If we're to go by statements from the general manager of MCDM, it looks like they are trying to find a golden middle ground that makes sense for both them and customers.

Twitch Playtest

Speaking of tests. They weren't using the VTT, but Matt streamed a play test James ran for the employees at MCDM. It showed off some new abilities, a reversal and the 2d10 power roll in action.

Backer Play Test Packet

If you're a backer of the crowdfunding campaign and want to try the 2d10 power roll for yourself, know that the backer play test will only be available to backers that pledged at a tier that includes the game in some way. If you only pledged a dollar or just for the t-shirt, you will not receive the play test packet.

Also, there are some Ajax editions from the crowdfunder campaign that has not been claimed. These will be made available to purchase at a later date.


And last: MCDM published two Q&As this month. First an edited down version of the Patreon exclusive Q&A from March was made publicly available. Second they had another Patreon exclusive Q&A at the end of May. The latter is only available to patrons. For now.

From the Community

And now, some goodies from the community. These are creations from the good people of the MCDM community. If your podcast player supports chapters, the chapter title links directly to the creation.


AikenNinja has created an action oriented stat block for the dinosaur Terakhelon. It's main biome is the tundra, so it's abilities focus on ice and being a hunter.

Modular wilderness side quests you can drop in your campaign

TheNatureGM has created six side quests to drop into your campaign to make wilderness travel a bit more fun. They are designed to be setting and level agnostic.

MCDM RPG Character Creation

The Dice Society has a new episode out. This time they go over the character creation details that's been revealed this last month.

A sample of the MCDM VTT in action!

Denivarius from the DMHub team shared a forty second clip of the VTT in action. The video shows off dynamic fog of war and transitioning between environments, among other things.

Skald (The Bardbarian we never got)

DameonVee has created a mashup class of the barbarian and bard in D&D. The Skald class is, according to its creator, the bardbarian class we never got.

The Tactician v1.5

Beck As Heck has created a tactician class for fifth edition D&D. It's designed to be a more complex and interesting fighter, and a direct replacement for the Battle Master subclass.

From Around the Web

May had more mentions of MCDM outside of the community than usual. Most of the coverage was on the fact that MCDM's products now are available on D&D Beyond, but there were also a couple of videos in response to the "How Long Should an Adventure Be" video Matt published last month.

I've collected links to everything in the description.


And that's it for this time. If you know of anything that should be included next time, send me an e-mail on [email protected].

Links to everything, including this script can be found on

Until next time. Snakkes.


MCDM on D&D Beyond

MCDM at Gen Con


From the Community

From Around the Web