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Author: James Leslie

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by James Leslie

D&D and Roleplaying Games Through Critical Illness

I have been a gamer since the age of 14 when I could understand the rules in the old second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. I’ve played through many editions of D&D without a thought, enjoying the ability to take on a new role or create a new world. Here unfortunately is where things take a drastic turn. On April 18, 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer, which at current date is at stage 4. A lot of people have asked me how I dealt with it, what did I do, etc. I kept gaming. I ran Savage Worlds and D&D games. I also played in D&D and Pathfinder games. I’ve had the good fortune to play in games here on Nerdarchy not to mention unMade Gaming.

Matt Colville

Strongholds and Followers from MCDM

Many of us look back at the old editions of Dungeons & Dragons with rose-colored glasses. Reminiscing about THAC0 and the uniqueness of the old races and classes. One thing I always liked though that slowly died out was strongholds as a level reward. This mostly died off after second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. There was the Strongholds and Builders Guide in 3.5, but I found it more of a Dungeon Master supplement and players never gave it a glance. This goes back to something removed from D&D — politics. Old settings like Birthright, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Ravenloft all had factions that lead to a lot of political intrigue and plots. Due to this it was not uncommon for people to be awarded baronies in these games and used as quest points themselves. As the editions changed, we would see the leadership feat come and go, and followers and cohorts fall to the wayside. Now from the brilliant mind of Matt Colville and the creative staff from MCDM they have returned these things to the light with the 5E D&D supplement Strongholds & Followers. For those of you unfamiliar with Matt Colville you can check out his Running the Game series over here. Let’s take a look at the book.

What’s in a Dungeon Master’s Screen?

We’ve seen them since the dawn of Dungeons & Dragons. For every player, the sight of the Dungeon Master looming mysteriously over the Dungeon Master’s screen telling the precarious plight of the characters. Over the years people have started speculating on why to use the DM screen, it’s cheating to use the DM screen, or you have to use a DM screen to tell the story. Why the attitude change? What is the purpose of it, and why do we use it or not use it?

The North Seat 5E D&D Campaign Setting from Ethan Hudgens

Often, I find myself wandering around different Discords and Twitch channels wondering what other gamers are up too. Recently I’ve been watching something on the UnMadeGaming channel and found Mike in a game being run by Ethan Hudgens, and I watched in fascination as they tried to kill a bear. As usual Mike had a rough night, but I found myself more and more curious about campaign setting. After the game I was chatting with the folks in the Discord channel and found out Ethan has his work up on DriveThruRPG presented by Encounter Roleplay (another great channel I strongly recommend you check out). After buying The North Seat primer and book one titled Hostadd, Our Home, I am completely intrigued by the story and I think you should be too. Today, we’re going to take a look at the primer and do a review of the books. Hostadd is a 5E D&D alternate campaign setting and style. After reading book one and the primer, I think you’ll really enjoy it so let’s take a jump in and start looking at things.

Making a Memorable NPC for Dungeons & Dragons

We’ve all watched Critical Role, it’s a great show. Matt Mercer does an exceptional job of creating memorable characters far too numerous to recount. I talked a bit in another article about how to place spells on an nonplayer chracter wizard depending on their roles but let’s talk about NPCs in general. NPCs are a staple of every roleplaying game. From Dungeons & Dragons to GURPS, to Star Wars. Not every NPC should be a boss. If you build every NPC as a boss, the players will try and kill it every time. There is the old D&D adage if you don’t stat it they can’t kill it. This is a true statement, but they’ll still try, then they just sulk building new characters. Personally, I prefer to stat out NPCs, so I can get a better idea of what they’re capable of. If you want to make a dwarven forge master, great. How did he learn his trade, where did he come from? Is he gifted? There are all kinds of things to consider. We’re going to look at some options today about how to make NPCs a little more memorable and how to fit them into you story.

Rappan Athuk 5E Kickstarter

D&D Dungeon Design: How big is too big?

It’s right in the name of the game Dungeons & Dragons. For decades we’ve all sat there with our graph paper or loose leaf and sketched out maps for terrifying dungeons. Some dungeons now even have a place in the game history like Tomb of Horrors. Over time dungeons have even evolved to a thing called the megadungeon, much like Rappan Athuk from Frog God Games or Undermountain as featured in the upcoming Dungeon of the Mad Mage. These super dungeons are huge and go on for days, with shortcuts through out just to get back to the surface occasionally. These aren’t designed for your typical “Go in, kill the goblins, loot and run out” adventures. The big question for dungeon design now is, how big is too big? You don’t want the party to say they’re done part way through, and you don’t want to be designing it and toss the map aside in exhaustion. Let’s look at some things that should help you mentally with dungeon design and how it relates to your story.

Character Creation in Pathfinder Playtest

Paizo said it would all happen on August 2, 2018 and it did. Pathfinder Playtest arrived online and in stores and the wave of hype, confusion, excitement, and hatred has started. That said, I’ll start by saying new isn’t bad folks, it’s just different. As I slowly pick my way through the book while trying to avoid family obligations, I find myself playing with the character creation a lot. For those Pathfinder fans who haven’t picked up the book yet in some form…why? It’s free at the Paizo site — go download it then come back to this. You can also get yourself a physical copy of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook on Amazon, available in both standard and deluxe hardcover editions. For those who have the Pathfinder Playtest, let’s continue.

Digital Cartography and RPG Map Maker Software

With the internet slowly being taken over by RPG nerds and geeks we are seeing many more streams of various roleplaying games. Lots of people out there want to join the club, but many don’t know how to make something more digital. When they start with digital cartography to make the maps they go to Photoshop or its less expensive counterpart Gimp. After a few hours of frustration and confusion the idea is given up on and the stream never comes to life. I thought it a good idea to take a look at three sets of RPG map maker software: Campaign Cartographer 3, Dungeon Painter Studio, and Dungeonographer/Cityographer. These programs vary in price, sometimes drastically. These are all programs I personally use. There is no paid endorsement for these products, but I believe in them and strongly recommend them.

Building a D&D Character Soup to Nuts From Farmer to Folk Hero

Today’s D&D focuses a lot on one shots or West Marches or Adventurers League, and these are fine. However, this can sometimes leave characters with an empty void where once would be story and personality creating a delightful persona. Today I want to borrow some of your time to help you correct this. Let’s focus on bringing a D&D character to life and look at how I recommend building a D&D character. Whether a first-time player or a veteran, I find this method makes a good platform for an evolving character, something that can grow, change and shape itself as you play it.

5 Tips for Avoiding RPG Frustration

Hello folks. Your friendly neighborhood nerd here with some thoughts and tips for gaming during the summer. When you start a Dungeons & Dragons or other RPG you don’t always have a concept for timeline. The length of a game or availability to play can change drastically depending on players, work, school, or other things that could affect play. I’m here with 5 tips to help you with avoiding frustration that can come with gaming during the summer.

Pathfinder Paizo PaizoCon

Paizo delivers with all new adventures, cards, pawns and maps

With PaizoCon just ending it seem there is no rest for the wicked. Paizo is going strong towards the end of spring with 8 new releases. We have pawns and a new flip map for our universe-exploring Starfinder friends and more pawns, adventure, cards and flipmats for our Pathfinders still delving the jungles. These are all already out in stores so if you haven’t gotten any of these treasures feel free to drop in on the links below to pick them up. For those still trying to catch up on the events at PaizoCon, follow the giggling goblin over to the Paizo Twitch.tv channel for all the live streams. For those of you scrambling for more Pathfinder Second Edition info you can check out the Paizo Blog, which has new content every Monday and Friday.

Savage Worlds: Exploring RPG Options Past the D&D Gateway

As you play Dungeons & Dragons, several things will enter your thoughts. One of the more common among them is “I wonder if …” A lot of the time those if’s run along the lines of “can I play Star Wars with this?” or “can I do a sci-fi setting?” With any roleplaying game system you can put in some time, make some tweaks and you can do those things. That said, there are many generic RPG systems out there with a variety of source material. Savage Worlds from Pinnacle Entertainment Group is one such system

Extend your 5E Game World with Limitless Adventures 5th Evolution

Andy Hand and his team at Limitless Adventures have heard your frustrated call. These top creators in the gaming community have assembled under the Limitless Adventures banner and have brought to you 5th Evolution (5Evo). The intrepid band of writers have sat down and given your favorite Fifth Edition rules new life in three fantastic genres: 80’s Horror, Super Heroes, and World War II. They’ve taken their favorite genres, added new equipment, rule supplements, and monsters, and made pregenerated characters and an 8-page introductory comic with an epic cliffhanger to start players right into the adventures, with the 5Evo Kickstarter set to launch on June 4, 2018. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: Updated June 6 with link to live Kickstarter]

Pathfinder Paizo PaizoCon

PaizoCon Celebrates Pathfinder, Starfinder and All Things Paizo

Paizo continues making headlines in the RPG world. The publishing company got everyone talking with news on their Pathfinder Second Edition, and new programming on their Twitch channel. Gamers are eager for any new information they can find. On May 25-28, fans have a great opportunity to see firsthand the Pathfinder Playtest in action at PaizoCon in Seattle.
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