Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat

In a world where we are inundated with information and self-help guides, there is one steadfast truth where it concerns being a good dungeon master: there is no substitute for reading the Dungeon Master’s Guide. There are, however, lots of supplemental books for DMs to hone their craft and elevate themselves from good to great. One such book is Darrin Scott‘s Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat. Don’t get overly excited one way or the other about the titular drow. There is enough of his quotes from Salvatore’s books to keep things interesting but it’s not so thematic as to be a turnoff to anyone who isn’t fond of the dark elf.

Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to CombatDrizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat pairs nicely with an IPA.

Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat

Writer: Darrin Scott
Publisher: DMs Guild
Cost: $7.45
Product Length: 49 pages (not counting the supplemental tokens and squad rules plus stat blocks)
Fantasy Grounds format available here

This book focuses on one of the three pillars of D&D, combat. I have heard many a complaint about combat either taking too long or not long enough. Usually it’s too long. I played a session of Rappan Athuk once where a single combat encounter took 4 hours! We didn’t lose all the players at the table that night. However, there was at least one empty chair in the following session. That player was happy to find another table where the combat was a bit more balanced. I’m sure my experience is not unique and our DM took note of that response and made adjustments to future encounters. Running combat can be challenging. Especially in larger groups or in megadungeons like Rappan Athuk.

This Guide to Combat is here to help you to not only streamline combat but also to make it more memorable. You don’t want to streamline it to the point that it becomes boring and disengaging. “Roll damage…okay, it takes 12 points of bludgeoning damage. Steve, your turn.” After reading Darrin’s latest book, you will be better equipped to create vivid and engaging combat scenarios as well have a keener insight into when it’s appropriate to employ the various techniques he shares.

Originality

There are countless guides across several publishing sites to address more meaningful combat. Whether it’s to teach descriptive vocabulary or tactics and maneuvers there is no shortage of options available. Where Darrin’s guide stands out to me is the research that went into its creation. I don’t have insight into the methodologies Darrin used to gather feedback for top gripes about 5E combat but it is clear he didn’t simply sit down to create this armed with only his opinions and first-hand experience. Addtionally, he draws upon the wisdom of certain influential persons in D&D such as Jeremy Crawford, Sly Flourish, and Matthew Colville.

Writing

It is quite possible you’ll be able to sit and read this in a single sitting. There are no choke points with overly complex text requiring a reread or two. It’s compelling writing and if ever combat guides could be page-turners, this would be one. Not because it’s full of beautiful prose or highbrow humor. Just because it’s great content!

Production

Given that I deal primarily in PDFs for RPG item reviews, I appreciate good production. When a PDF is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing, I’m a happy consumer. The cover art by Omercan Cirit is immediately engaging and inviting. Who isn’t curious to “crack open” this book for a deeper look once they see it? The bookmarked sections are a great help too. I read these on my Kindle a lot but the bookmarks are convenient when I’ve got the document open on my laptop so I don’t have to scroll around looking for something in particular. Additionally, legible font and the usefulness in the ability to search the text with CTRL+F cannot be overstated. Also, the use of Drizzt is not overdone. Those who are drawn to this guide specifically because of the outright allusions to Do’Urden may actually be a little disappointed. I contend those people may be missing the point. Darrin gives a good sampling of various Drizzt quotes for flavor but in this book, content is king.

Design

As I’ve mentioned already, Darrin didn’t just sit down and spew out some opinions on how to make combat more engaging. Sure, he used his experience but he also included the knowledge of authoritative voices from the industry and common issues as reported by several gamers. He states his biases and still gives alternatives lest the reader’s bias sit elsewhere along a given spectrum (i.e. Theater of the Mind vs. Grids and Miniatures). Darrin hasn’t overlooked anyone at the table. He considers the DM as well as the players. He encourages you to familiarize yourself with the rules of combat (players and DMs alike). Additionally, he provides great suggestions on building effective narrative and implementing useful tactics.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the cover set the wrong expectations. This is not a book about Drizzt. This is a book on strengthening the third pillar of D&D. A weakened third pillar is not a problem of disaffected gamers checking their phones in between their turns in combat. Nor is it a problem of ineffective DMs who can’t keep everyone’s attention. It’s just the nature of the beast and Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat can give you advantage on Animal Handling and thereby help you tame that beast. If you’re planning to be a DM, your first step is to read the Dungeon Master’s Guide. If you are already a DM and you haven’t read that core book, you’re doing yourself, and your table, a disservice. Your next step is to pick up this book by Darrin Scott and read it closely. You’ll be glad you did!

Additionally, the squad rules and statblocks are great for simplifying larger combat scenarios in the same way that a swarm of rats is better than tracking individual rats. Make your encounters more epic without bogging yourself down in minutiae!

Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to Combat Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat is available on DMs Guild.


A review copy was provided by the creator.

Author: Patrick

Board gamer, role-player, father, blogger.

29 thoughts on “Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat

  1. Always good to spice u combat. Hard to keep people focussed in turn based combat, especially once mages get involved I”d be eager to try this out

    1. Thanks so much for the insightful review! I’m new to the game and learning by being a DM. These are the resources I’m look for to help me learn. (so many resources haha)
      Without reviews like this, I have no idea what is worth buying.

  2. Very interesting concept. I found that for my group, the length of combat was dependent on the edition we were playing. For 3rd edition, we had average length battles for us. For 4th, it would take 2 hours of repitive motions, but for 5th, it seems like combat is smooth and goes by more efficiently.

    1. Thanks for that feedback, Joshua! 4E is the only edition I haven’t played. 5E is definitely the most streamlined of the ones I have though.

  3. Looking forward to read this as beginning dm I found that my interest is really in the rollplay as combat was a bit boring. Maybe this book can turn that around

    1. Combat can be boring but so can social interactions and explorations. It’s all in how you engage the table. Thanks for reading, Machiel!

  4. It has honestly never occured to me to check out a supplemental book like this before.

    This is definitely going on my “to be read” list.

  5. Great review, I’m definitely looking forward to reading this. Some of our battles seem to take forever and others just a few minutes. I’ve actually had a player playing games on his phone during long combats, smh.
    Thanks again for the review.

  6. I was so fed up while playing Pathfinder that I basically drafted up my own new system to try to make all of it more streamlined. You don’t need the mechanics as heavily for anything else in the Roleplaying experience, most of the rules govern combat. That being said, from the few times I’ve seen 5th edition in action, it does a lot on its own to help! Simple advantage rolling, more basic enemy encounters, etc. (minionizing from 4th edition too if you’re into that sort of thing) but all of these help in minimizing the mechanics- you lose some of the romance as the encounters kind of become easier or more dry. A book based on the excellent descriptions of Salvatore seems like the perfect solution. I suspend my disbelief while watching Drizzt kick between his two scimitars in my head (where is his triangulation!?) but the action in those scenes were always engaging without being drawn out. Duels such as that with Entreri or wider scale battles, the story kept on moving and the characters kept on moving and even as it was one thing after another (roll after roll after roll) there was no stem in the flow. I approve, I think this would be a wonderful aid.

  7. This looks quite interesting. Always up for trying some new ideas to make the game flow more smoothly, especially with combat. One of my hangups seems to be newer players just taking time to figure out what they can/want to do. Does this book address that?

    1. This is geared more towards the DM than towards players. I would encourage you to let the new players express what they want to do in simple terms and then you translate those actions into which mechanics you need to use.

  8. Neat! The Drizzt books informed a lot of my early fantasy combat descriptions. I like to think that I do a pretty good job, but realize now I could use a little more tuning on that part of my game.

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