Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted answer a question from the RPG community. This time around a player looking to play fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons for the first time followed the most classic advice for finding a game — offer to run one yourself! This first time Game Master comes in with a concern almost as old as D&D itself, explaining how a player in their campaign reads ahead in the official adventures they’re playing through and comes to each session with intimate knowledge of what lies ahead. Puzzles are solved with ease, hidden elements lay bare before them and crucial decision points fall in their favor far too often for the player’s claim of getting lucky. In the video Dave and Ted offer several suggestions for handling these situations but I’m curious if there’s any opportunity to make this work in the GM’s favor. Call it metagaming or cheating, can we find a way to turn spoilers into assistors? Let’s get into it and find out.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted explain one of the most often misunderstood options in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons — spell slots and multiclassing. Chapter 6 of the Player’s Handbook is all about Customization Options, which essentially covers multiclassing and feats. (Yes, both of these are optional 5E D&D features — not core to the game!) How many spell slots does your Eldritch Knight fighter/Fiend warlock character have? Can you use Sorcery Points to get back cleric spell slots? Why can’t you cast fireball if your overall character level is 5th and you’ve got 3rd level spell slots?! All of these questions and more are covered in the video so what I’d like to do is side step the discussion but keep the focus on spell slots. These expendable resources determine how, what and how often a character can manipulate and dole out magical energy. But they can also be used for all sorts of other things in 5E D&D too. Every class comes with some feature or resource, and recently Unearthed Arcana playtest documents explore using these resources in new and unusual ways. I like the sound of this very much.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted drill down on what’s known in tabletop roleplaying games at Rule Zero, more specifically as this gaming tradition is described in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. The common understanding of Rule Zero as it pertains to RPGs like 5E D&D is a reminder to players that a Game Master has to exercise common sense and can to supersede the rules when the they would ruin enjoyment and fair play. With this in mind following Rule Zero in practice comes down to one thing: trust. There’s a responsibility from all participants in an RPG, GM and players alike, so this trust goes both ways and the results are fun experiences for everyone involved.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted answer a GM 911 from a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons player looking for guidance. In this case the player plays a high level assassin character and wishes to start their own assassin’s guild. They’ve already spoken with their Dungeon Master who expressed skepticism about the character’s ability to do this. In the video Dave and Ted go over things to consider when it comes to establishing an organization like this in general, with particular focus on an assassin’s guild. Starting a business of any kind is quite an undertaking whether it’s here in the real world or part of your fantasy campaign setting. Creating a business where the product is murder adds quite a few wrinkles depending on the nature of the setting. If you’re a 5E D&D DM or player interested in exploring this sort of scenario in your game you’re in for a treat!
The subject comes up all the time: how much to prepare for a tabletop roleplaying game session and how much a Game Master makes up on the fly in the moment during a game. A recent live chat with Seth Skorkowsky over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel and my own experience running our weekly Nerdarchy team game and others gave me a few ideas to share. Plus, over on our own Nerdarchy the Discord one of our Patreon supporters let us know they’ll be taking a turn behind the GM screen for the first time themselves. They only recently started playing fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and I love these stories! Whenever a new RPG player feels inspired to take their shot running a game I feel re-energized myself. Since I’m a couple of hours away from running our own Nerdarchy monthly one shot, all of these things coalesced this morning and I thought it might be useful to read about how my approach and how running RPGs on the fly proves rewarding and fruitful for the players and me as the GM. So let’s get into it.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted illustrate how Game Masters of roleplaying games make the best players on the other side of the screen too. At the same time there’s plenty of ways for GMs to be the worst players in someone else’s game. Since they thoroughly cover both sides of the coin so well in the video, over here I thought it might be helpful for players and GMs to share a few insights from my own experience on differences between running games and playing in them with player groups of mixed GM experience. We might even discover how to make a drawback into an advantage during a game.
Recently I saw a poll online about the pillars of play for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons — combat, exploration and social interaction — introduced in the Player’s Handbook right in the Introduction. The poll refers to exploration as the forgotten third pillar and asks respondents what this part of 5E D&D means to them and why they love or hate it, with answer choices of More Exploration, Pointless or I’m Not Sure. The attached conversation delved deep and answers varied all over the place. Overwhelmingly the poll calls for more exploration (73%). If I’m honest this discussion always bewilders me. Two of the pillars — combat and social interaction (why isn’t it called communication by the way?) — seem clear to players. You’re fighting creatures or talking with them. It stands to reason the rest of the time you’re exploring. As the PHB states, character activities fall into one of the three pillars so when you’re not in combat or conversation it seems pretty obvious the rest of the time you’re exploring, right?
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted feel compelled by force majeure to take a look at fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons spells involving force. The list of possibilities includes not only 5E D&D spells dealing force damage but also magic that creates a force of some kind as described in the spell description. Out of 521 official spells in 5E D&D narrowing this down was a bit trickier than similar research. Thanks to D&D Beyond we could easily filter spells dealing force damage. For the additional ones we used the search feature and patience. Speaking of DDB there’s another source of spells and that’s what I’m looking at today. Using the tools there, players have created a whopping 1345 homebrew spells dealing force damage. That’s a tremendous amount and since our secondary search method won’t work for homebrew content at DDB we’ll stick with those and see how the force shakes out among 5E D&D players who ranked, rated and added these homebrew spells to their collections. So let’s get into it.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted answer a GM 911 for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. One of the players in their game keeps trying to over impose their backstory into the campaign without considering the party or the ongoing story. The disruptive player adds things on the fly about their backstory and other players feel this hinders the rest of the party. They’re already followed the best advice — a respectful conversation — but it didn’t work and the Game Master doesn’t want to essentially destroy this other character by ignoring an important part of their makeup. In the video Dave and Ted touch on several suggestions and for my 2 cp the best solution isn’t to work on ways to move around or past this scenario. Instead, this seems like a great opportunity to expand on a bit of valuable player advice and rather than avoid this, lean into it.
Over on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted battle with the idea of an all fighter party for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring this popular video series and here on the website I’m sharing my take on the concept of single party composition. An all fighter party in 5E D&D covers combat with aplomb. You might think party composition like this lacks diversity outside a fight though, but you’d be mistaken. Because fighters focus primarily on pure combat this leaves plenty of creative space to round out your fighter with diverse skills and features. In a D&D campaign setting of academia for each particular character class, students at Martial Archetypes receive certified training in combat technique but there’s a wide array of electives to help shape hearts and minds for more than fighting. So let’s get into it.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel we create a lot of video content. There’s thousands of videos celebrating our passion for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games. (But yes, mostly D&D. We love the game!) One of our favorite videos to make are the Adventurers League Character Build Guides. We come up with a character concept and put it together soup to nuts. Along the way we explain why particular choices get made, building a character from 1st-20th level. Mechanical elements certainly factor heavily into decision making but practical reasoning and roleplaying share equal importance. For a little inside baseball it is almost always the latter ideas where a CBG begins. At the moment we’ve got 32 CBGs over at Dungeon Masters Guild, all pay what you want. Nine of them have achieved copper bestseller or better status, and there’s also four other PWYW products over there, which are encounters or adventures you can drop right into your 5E D&D game. Today I’m here to share one of my favorite CBGs, one I’ve been playing in a wonderfully fun game run by Esper the Bard on his YouTube channel.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted compare and contrast racial feats for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Elemental Evil Player’s Companion introduced racial feats to 5E D&D with Svirfneblin Magic, a remarkable feat for one of my personal favorite character options in D&D. Deep gnomes rock y’all and you could do a lot worse than a svirfneblin Abjuration wizard with the Svirfneblin Magic feat. Protip: Pretty awesome for a deep gnome Circle of Spores druid too. It’s a great feat and you’ll note in the video makes the list with Dave and Ted too. But they cover all the ins and outs and ups and downs of racial feats in 5E D&D. My curiosity piqued after noticing of the 17 racial feats divided up among nine races (plus one with a racial size prerequisite) only one of those races meets the criteria for just a single feat. Being human fulfills the prerequisite for Prodigy — another well regarded one in the discussion — and no more. I think we ought to remedy this and create a new 5E D&D feat just for humans. So let’s get into it.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted get back to basics and discuss the paladin class for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. In the video they look across all of the 5E D&D books with paladin content. There are paladin subclasses in the Player’s Handbook, Sword Coast Adventurers Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Dave and Ted share an overview of the character class plus weigh in on their personal gaming experiences. Outside of official sources there are countless Sacred Oaths created by players all over the world. We’ve created one recently for our April early access Patreon rewards. The Oath of Vanity included with Hairable Ideas as a follow up to 2019’s popular Beardomancy will hit the store next month but you can get it now along with all our other supporters at the $2 level plus get immediate access to years worth of previous rewards. Check it out here. Over at Dungeon Master’s Guild there’s currently 681 products tagged as character options with warlock content too. But there is another source of homebrew content I’m looking at today — D&D Beyond, where people have used the homebrew tools there to create 600 Sacred Oaths for 5E D&D paladins. Let’s get into it and take a closer look at some!
During a recent conversation with Nerdarchist Ted he told me about a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game he ran. Each month Ted runs a live stream game sponsored by RPG Crate. Time was a factor for these sessions, which typically run about two and a half hours. Because the adventures included in the monthly subscription box are packed with content Ted streamlines things to adjust for his group and the time constraint but in the most recent session the game threatened to end before the party reached a satisfying conclusion. Ted felt in a pickle. An idea sprang to his mind, and he utilized player agency in a wonderful way as a solution. His DM tale stuck in my mind and I’d like to share some thoughts on how player agency can be an incredibly useful tool for a Dungeon Master. So let’s get into it and as bonus I pulled the video of Ted’s game. Enjoy!
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted share their arcane research into Unearthed Arcana 2020 — Spells and Magic Tattoos. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Unearthed Arcana present something other than subclasses. We saw Class Feature Variants last November, a couple of takes on the artificer around spring 2019 and Sidekicks in Dec. 2018. It’s a terrific treat to see something different! Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing new subclasses (almost as much as designing them) but expanding what fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons can do beyond character class features gives us more tools to explore our worlds as we tell stories of fighting monsters and finding treasure as they progress in power. In the case of \this latest playtest material I’m thinking about interesting ways to add content from the Unearthed Arcana document into 5E D&D campaigns.