Ghostfire Gaming Creative Content Director Ben Byrne Discusses D&D Beyond, Lairs of Etharis, and Monster Hunter-like Features

In light of Ghostfire Gaming releasing Lairs of Etharis and Dungeons of Drakkenheim on D&D Beyond we spoke with Ben Byrne, Creative Content Director at Ghostfire Gaming, about making these adventures available on the platform

Published: November 30, 2023 11:00 AM /


An image of Ben Byrne with key art and the logo for Lairs of Etharis

This morning D&D Beyond announced that two adventures from Ghostfire Gaming, Lairs of Etharis and Dungeons of Drakkenheim, would be purchasable on their platform. While Dungeons of Drakkenheim is only available as a pre-order, looking to release later in the month of December, you can go and pick up Lairs of Etharis immediately and dive right in.

We had a chance to speak with Ben Byrne, Creative Content Director, at Ghostfire Gaming to hear about how this opportunity came to be, what this could mean for the future of Ghostfire Gaming and D&D Beyond, and what those unfamiliar with Lairs of Etharis should be looking forward to when they dive in.

A Partnership between Ghostfire Gaming and D&D Beyond

After hearing from Dungeons of Drakkenheim creators, Monty Martin and Kelly McLaughlin, that the process had been known to them for a few month I wanted to learn more about just when it started. Byrn explained they've "been in conversation for a while." continuing that "Ghostfire is thrilled and humbled that so many new players are going to be exposed to Grim Hollow through D&D Beyond, and we hope they love it as much as we do!"

WotC is aware of the community love for 3rd party content like Grim Hollow, and are now offering another way for fans to access it.

Byrne said from Ghostfire Gaming's side getting their content loaded into D&D Beyond was very easy and that "D&D Beyond did all of the ingestion themselves, and whenever issues arose it was great fun to work out a solution together. The folks at D&D Beyond are genuine fans of Grim Hollow, so they were enthusiastic about presenting it to players and GM’s in the best light possible."

A screenshot of map support for Lairs of Etharis in D&D Beyond
DMs can use maps and monsters in the D&D Beyond map tool for easy digital gaming

Some examples that he gave to these complications included monsters who have unique spells to the Grim Hollow setting. Instead of creating some complicated workaround the solution was that they "decided why not throw those spells into D&D Beyond as well! That’s great for players who can now also taste some of our more gruesome spells, such as Consume Mind, where a character can learn all an NPC’s knows by literally eating their brain."

High-Level Dungeons In Lairs of Etharis

What many Dungeons & Dragons players might be excited for when diving into Lairs of Etharis is that there's a lot of high-level content. From level 1 up to level 20 these lairs "are definitely modular enough that GM’s can drop them into any campaign they’re running if they want to run a horror-themed session."

Byrne highlighted to me that the "Stories told in Etharis are written to be morally complex, rather than tales where the players will embody heroes punishing evildoers. One lair in particular features an Angel of Empyreus guarding an ancient vampire. The character’s will need to decide whether it’s worth slaying a celestial to free an undead abomination, because information locked in that vampire’s mind could be the key to avoiding a greater catastrophe… "

It's in this way you'll get more out of the Lairs of Etharis than just moving from room to room slaying everything in sight while searching for a MacGuffin.

An example of a terrifying monster from Lairs of Etharis from the D&D Beyond trailer
Each Lair has it's own theme

When asked what his favorite Lair to traverse through was Byrne picked the level-11 Lair, Foulest Truths, written by Greg Marks. When talking about the highlights of this lair Byrne explained that it "sets up a compelling murder mystery in a dank, flooded city. It also features one of my favorite monsters, a Harvester of Lies, who cuts the tongues from anyone who has told a lie nearby its lair. Clues as to the murderers identity are slowly revealed to the party through exploring the lair. This has a distinctly Monster Hunter vibe to it, and Lairs of Etharis provides mechanics for player-characters to try guess at a monster’s identity and learn its lore through ability checks."

He also highlighted the Monster Salvage and crafting system which allows you to take standard pieces of equipment and combine them with pieces salvaged from monsters to grand new bonuses. An example he provided was "An Emperyean Brazen Bull’s hide can be hammered into plate mail that provides resistance to fire and radiant damage. The wax from a Candlelight Daemon’s candle can be distilled into an Oil of Sharpness. This system is designed for players to feel like their character is a professional Monster Hunter who expertly crafts their own tools of the trade."

The Next Steps For Ghostfire Gaming and D&D Beyond

With two adventures on D&D Beyond Byrne stated that he would "love for players to have access to the dark fantasy subclasses presented in Grim Hollow: The Player’s Guide. [...] We’d also love GM’s to unleash even more horrors from Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire. Nothing is set in stone yet, but discussions with Wizards of the Coast are really positive, and this process has been really enjoyable."

A future of further Ghostfire Gaming titles being integrated into D&D Beyond looks like it's on the horizon.

For those who enjoy customizing their character sheets with thematic portraits, backgrounds, and dice Byrne did confirm that there won't be any cosmetic items available at launch but that "D&D Beyond has gone to lengths to ensure the Lairs of Etharis pages themselves evoke the feeling of Grim Hollow through the graphics and textures used "

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