There is oh, so much talk floating around about evil characters and good characters in tabletop RPGs and how you should or shouldn’t mix them in parties. Every time you get people together talking about Dungeons & Dragons, this is something that’s going to come...
Stranger Things, for those of you who have been living under a rock, is a Netflix original series and a charming throwback to the sci-fi/horror stylings of the ’80s with the special effects capabilities of the modern day. If you haven’t already seen it, you are honestly missing out.
This show is phenomenal. It captures the essence of the ’80s and the vibe of the stories that came out of that era, taking a stylistic lend from old Stephen King movies and others. The characters are all fleshed out and believable, and on a particularly relevant note to our community in particular, the very first full scene in the show features a group of kids playing Dungeons & Dragons.
There’s no lie that we nerds have our own little niche subculture. Get a couple of us together and we will just start geeking out and enthusing about things we love, and for those not in the know, it can sound as though we’re speaking an entirely different language. Sometimes, we have whole conversations in letters.
“Let me tell you about this amazing RPG experience I had where we almost TPK’d and I was hanging on by like 1 HP and we won anyway. The loot drop was amazing ftw.”
Greetings, denizens of the Internet! I got into a conversation earlier this week about emojis. Namely, my fiancé said they made him feel less credible and he was trying to cut back on them. I know quite a few people who feel similarly, as though shortening words or dropping faces into your text somehow makes you less professional in everyday conversation.
There’s a certain kind of player, and I myself am one, who just wants to know everything about their character and has a tendency to overthink it. If you’re one of those, this article is for you. None of these are things you absolutely have to know the answers to, but they can be fun to think about. So if you’re the kind of player who spends way too much away-from-table time thinking about your PC, have fun with this.
1 – What does your character smell like?
In Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons, healing works a little bit differently. Each class, as usual, has a certain type of hit die that you can roll to get more hit points at higher levels. What isn’t quite so usual is the idea that you have a pool of these dice you can use to heal yourself during short rests. The reason for this is to allow parties to keep moving longer without having to camp inside dungeons. Spend some hit dice, recover your health, and keep moving.
Recovery Dice Options ([amazon_link asins=’1545236488′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’nerdarchy-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d4c37b80-209b-11e7-8ec2-75f53789e3bc’] from Amazon) is about alternative ways to use these dice. Conceptually, the idea of being able to use your recovery dice for things other than recovering hit points is intriguing. After all, you are quite literally using your own life force to fuel some of what you can do with this, and it is taking a resource that is, otherwise, very limited, and giving it more purpose.
I’ve talked about naming characters before in a previous article (the second one was about places, in case you were wondering), but I neglected to cover last names, so that’s what we’re going to talk about right now. Mind you, my advice before regarding making up names still applies if you want something super fantasy sounding like “Arthainas” or “Cerdoth,” but this one is all for the more naturally occurring names.
Most of us come to the game to play it. Your players want to get involved in your world and your story, Game Masters, or they wouldn’t have come in the first place. Even so, though, you know the difference between a game people come to play out of habit and one they spend time away from the table thinking about. And let’s be honest, you really want that latter one, don’t you?
Of course, it takes more than just a couple of tips and tricks to run a great game, but having some of the right tools can’t hurt you. So let’s talk about a few ways to keep your players wanting more.
It’s probably safe to say most of us have been in that moment where you go around the table at the beginning of the game and introduce your character. You talk about what they look like. Some people go into detail about what their character is wearing, their mannerisms, some might grab sensory details like how the smell of smoke clings to her when she passes by. Others leave it at “I’m an elven rogue”, and that’s okay, too. Regardless, the party still sees how they generally conduct themselves after a few hours of game time.
Mysteries are one of my favorite things in tabletops. It’s like a big puzzle to solve, but with talking to people and assessing their motives. Sometimes there’s even a little larceny involved. I have to admit, I’m a fan. Then again, I have to be, I write mystery novels.
In D&D, mysteries can be really difficult to run with spells in the game like “Detect Thoughts” and “Zone of Truth.” The thing is, the characters have to know whose mind to read before they can be effective with either of these things, and even the highest level wizard can only do it so many times a day.
Running a DMPC (Dungeon Master's Player Character) is not an easy thing to balance, I will give you that. The DMPC is a tricky and unique animal. But it’s not fair to say "never do this, not ever." I’ve seen them done well, and as someone...
For those of us Dungeon Masters who care more about the narrative than the combat parts of the game, trading blows can be a total drag. But I’m about to tell you, the narrative doesn’t have to stop just because combat started.
There is no doubt that a huge part of Dungeons & Dragons is combat. You open the Player’s Handbook and a huge chunk of it is dedicated to the combat rules. Most of the feats are combat related. A great number of spells were written with dealing damage and whomping bad guys in mind (or good guys, if that’s your preferred flavor).
What 5e D&D lacks
Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons is a wonderful thing, but there is something it’s missing. Something that’s a big deal to a few of us, even as others don’t even notice it’s missing. That thing is an official crafting system. Of course, there are fan rules up on the internet for this kind of thing, and some of them are really great. That’s what I want to talk about today.
Making things is fun. There is something undeniably cool about having your character in one campaign craft an item or a weapon and then three campaigns later having a character find that item in a dungeon and you as a player getting to feel the rush of excitement that comes with remembering that thing.
We’ve covered character names, but this part is more to do with the names of locations, and as a result is going to be more for Dungeon Masters than for players. Not completely, though! I’ve been in many a campaign where at some point the PCs clear a town of zombies and have to name it. It happens. That said, still mostly for DMs, and we’re going to go from the top down.
One of the huge problems I see most often, both in players and Dungeon Masters, is naming things. Everything else comes easily, you’ve got a character or an idea and it all comes flooding out, and then you’re left staring at this blank space on the page labeled “name.”
So, I’m going to share some of what works for me when it comes to naming things, and hopefully it will find its way to the hands of someone for whom it will be useful.