The 5×5 Method Compendium

Consistently one of our most popular articles here on Critical Hits (for which I couldn’t be prouder), The 5×5 Method is a planning method for GM’s that sits between giving decisions for the party to make so that their choices matter, and at the same time, isn’t so wide open as to make it difficult to plan ahead for those of us who aren’t as great building adventures on the fly. Just in time for GM’s Day, I give you this collection of links about the 5×5 Method.

Designing Using the Method

The 5×5 Method
The original article outlining the method, as well as a number of great comments on other options. Read this first.

Critical Hits Podcast #18: Planning Your Campaign Using the 5×5 Method Seminar
A podcast recording of a seminar from last year’s SynDCon where I not only explain the method, but using audience suggestions, we build a campaign using it.

Using the 5×5 Method for Adventure Design
ChattyDM turns the method into a way to plan out a few adventures rather than a campaign.

Making the 5×5 Method into a Grid
Viriatha Cordova’s alternative method on how to structure your 5×5 in a grid rather than something that branches. (The example image is unfortunately gone, but the rest of the information is solid.)

The 5×5 Method for Antagonists
Sly Flourish talks about using the 5×5 to model out your villain’s plots and schemes.

The 5×5 Dungeon: The Temple of Elemental Evil
How to use the 5×5 Method to change a dungeon into a living, reacting entity based on player decisions, and add more bite to taking rests while in a dungeon.

Examples of the Method in Action

Tales of the City Within: a 5×5 Sandbox Experiment
ChattyDM experiments using the method to make several quests within a city for a series of adventures.

Critical Hits Podcast #26: Lessons from the Paragon Tier
Mike Shea interviews me about my paragon tier campaign, which was the first time I had used the 5×5 method.

5×5 Adventure Plan for Act 2-4 of Courts of the Shadow Fey
Over on the Kobold Quarterly boards, a post describing using the method for the Open Design adventure Courts of the Shadow Fey.

5×5 for Pre-Printed Adventures
On the WotC community forums, questions and suggestions on adapting pre-made adventures to be more like a 5×5 design.

Designing Adventures
From the Green Ronin forums, an example of using the 5×5 method for Dragon Age RPG campaign design.

Hopefully those links will help you in some way to plan out your campaigns and adventures. Did I miss a good link? Leave a comment and I’ll add it here.

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. Jeff Dougan says:

    Radio Free Hommlet talked 5×5 in one of their episodes — in looking up the list, it was either Adventure 35 or Adventure 36. Excellent listening.

  2. Great wrap-up post. Thanks for posting up all of these links!

  3. This sort of design method reminds of this world building/plot tool I found last summer:

  4. PinkRose says:

    Considering I asked about this on the forums, I appreciate all the information in one place.
    Thank you for all the input.

    Oh, and I can’t wait to meet some of my favourite Bloggers at PAXeast.

  5. Sadly most of the images in the original articles are missing. The only problem with the fluid nature of the internet.

  6. @Trey, this is because someone we can’t name here at CH accidentally erased the blog during a routine cleanup of his hosting space about 18 months ago. The old posts were recovered but most of the images weren’t.

    (Whistles innocently)


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