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Author: Robin Miller

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by Robin Miller (Page 11)
game master hobby

Roleplaying Character Moments Within the Party

roleplaying character momentsSalutations, nerds, today we’re going to talk about some fluffier stuff but by now I’m sure you know to expect that from me more often than not. I want to get into talking about the roleplaying moments between player characters within the party. RP with the PCs.

Dungeons & Dragons is typically a lot of back and forth between the characters and the Dungeon Master. At least 75 percent of the game should be like this, absolutely. It’s what drives the plot forward. We wouldn’t have any action without it. I’ve been thinking a lot, though, about the other 25 percent and what that entails. These are the parts that the players do that, in my opinion, can make or break whether a campaign is memorable.

This is something that has nothing to do with the DM and everything to do with the characters and it’s how you talk to each other during those downtime moments. D&D isn’t just about going on a quest and doing what the DM lays down for you – it’s about making a real connection between characters too.

Speak With Dead #07: Undeath Support

Maxillae the Mad

Dear Maxillae the Mad,


Dear BETH,

This is not The Google. This is Maxillae. I understand you are having some trouble with your connective device and I also understand you are nearing the end of your natural life cycle and your bones and musculature are no longer supple and resistant to the wear and tear of decay, so allow me to offer some support.

Speak With Dead #06: Withering Willies

Dear Maxillae the Mad,

speak with dead Maxillae the Mad necromancer

A hand of glory was a hanged man’s hand which was used as a macabre candle holder by burglars to evade discovery. When alight, it was said to put all the sleeping people in a house into a trance from which they couldn’t be awakened. Sometimes the fingers of the hand itself were lit. It was believed that if the thumb refused to light, it signified that someone in the house was still awake. This hand was discovered in the early 20th century on the roof wallpate of Hawthorn Cottage in Danby. It is thought that it might have originated from Gibbet Howe, Castleton and been in use as late as 1820.

As I’m sure you are aware, it is common practice for civilians to remove the body parts (hands, eyes, genitals, etc) of hanged criminals in order to create macabre charms and trinkets. What do you think of such practices? Does it dissuade you from raising such corpses or do they still have their uses?

RPG Trickster Character NPCs: When and Where to Use Them

NPC trickster

John de Lancie portrayed Q in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Salutations, nerds.

I’m willing to bet, at one point or another, a lot of you have come into contact with a roleplaying game nonplayer character who played a little bit like Q from Star Trek.

The trickster NPC sweeps into your RPG, snaps their fingers, causes a boatload of trouble for the player characters and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

If it happened with a good Game Master, you were probably able to kick their butt afterward, but most of the time that isn’t the case and the only person who has fun is the GM sitting behind the screen going “haha look how frustrated you guys are.”

Yeah, it pretty much sucks. Except for when it doesn’t.

Speak With Dead #05: In the Spirit of Good Counsel

Dear Maxillae the Mad,

speak with dead

Portrait of a Lady, by Gustave Jean Jacquet (1846-1909)

My dear uncle passed away a fortnight ago and left his estate split between myself and two other cousins as he had no children himself. I received among other things a framed portrait of a beautiful woman that had been hanging in his personal study. No idea who she is but it is a beautiful painting.

However, since receiving said painting, this woman has started appearing in my dreams and at night when I’m woken I can hear a woman screaming outside my house. Three days ago my chickens were dead. Two days ago, some wild dogs. This morning I found two men dressed in black dead on my front porch whom I took to be attempted burglars. Their faces were twisted in silent screams of horror.

Do I get rid of the painting? I feel there’s a spirit at unrest but at the same time she has shown me no harm or ill will aside from lack of sleep and walking my dreams.

Please help!


Restless Dreaming

Gaming Has Changed My Media Expectations

Gaming media characters

Jon Heder, as the titular Napoleon Dynamite, and Aaron Ruell as Kip engage in a nerd battle in the independent film “Napoleon Dynamite.”

Arguing about media is a staple of the nerd subculture. We spend an inordinate amount of time going over our favorite shows, movies and books with a fine-toothed comb picking out small details and jabbing at each other with them, because as nerds it’s just what we do. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise, then, that my friend group is no exception to this.

I’m not going to lie, much of the time it’s my fault. I am a total killjoy to watch a movie or anime with, because I absolutely hate it when the main character does everything.

No Campaign for Old Men: Shout Out to Older Protagonists

Hey, nerds. Today we’re going to talk about character ages. Most people go for younger protagonists, younger D&D characters. Twenty-somethings tend to be the staple in most games I’ve been involved in, and that makes sense to a degree. Part of the allure is wanting to watch a character mature, play them from an early age and see them grow into someone else, especially if you’re starting at Level 1 and don’t have a lot of room for back story.

But not every campaign starts at Level 1 and that’s to say nothing for NPCs and other works of fiction. There’s a place for older characters; it’s something I don’t see done often, but I’d like to see it done more.

Speak With Dead #03: The Nature of Evil

evil necromancer

Dear Maxillae the Mad,

My druid circle disagrees with my use of undead in the line of duty. Death is just as much a part of nature as life, and I only raise those whose spirits I have communicated with and that have consented to helping me. How can I make the others see that I am not evil just because my practices are unconventional?


Dear Departed,

As a practicing necromancer, I do some pretty evil things and I’m all right with that. So believe me when I say, I wouldn’t be judging you if what you were doing was evil, but if the spirits are all right with it, I don’t see how it qualifies. People just get really iffy about dead things walking around for some reason.

The thing is, if they’re bound and determined to think what you’re doing is bad, they’re going to think so no matter how you frame it. And all of the spells designed to detect that sort of thing are currently calibrated to both by default.

Unfortunately, there is no way for you to prove your goodness. The people around you don’t trust you, plain and simple. In that case, you need to decide what means more to you: the ability to be yourself, or the seeming respect of those around you. I know which I would pick if it were me. Respecting you on the conditions of your being someone you are not is in no way real respect.


Maxillae the Mad

A Little Rant About Stupid Armor


An example of not-so-stupid armor.

Stupid armor

Hey, nerds, today we’re going to talk about something stupid. Specifically, stupid armor.

There are a few quick ways to get my jimmies rustled, and putting a character in a skimpy outfit and trying to claim it’s somehow battle armor is one of the big ones. There is a time and a place for drawing something kind of outrageous and enticing, and what is supposed to be full plate is not that.

D&D Dwarves

30 Fantasy Gaming Flash Encounter Ideas

Sometimes games don’t flow like we expected them to. You planned to take three hours, and your players get through most of the quest in one. Not everything that happens at the Dungeons & Dragons table has to be part of some epic happenstance, however. Sometimes, small things stand on their own and aren’t at all part of the bigger picture. We as Dungeon Masters need them because it helps us control the pacing of the game.

So here are 30 quick and simple small scenarios you can throw at your players in a flash when things are a little bit slow or you think you’re going to run out of game before you run out of game time.

Going Out In a Blaze of Glory: Thoughts on Character Death

more to your classHey nerds! You may already know some of us met up this past weekend at Origins, and I’ve got to say it was a blast. I was so excited to get to meet Nerdarchist Dave and Staff Editors Ty and Doug in person. Getting to hang out together was really awesome, and one of the things we got to do was play in a one-shot together, DMed by Kobold Press’s Stephen Rowe (who was coincidentally just in a daily live chat).

Let me lead off by saying it was pretty amazing and I have legitimately never been that into a combat before. But something else happened. That was my little brother, Max, experienced his very first character death.

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