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Author: Robin Miller

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by Robin Miller (Page 7)

Disrupting the Status Quo in Established Campaign Settings

Salutations, nerds. Today I want to talk to you about playing in tabletop roleplaying games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons in established campaign settings and disrupting the status quo. Not clinging by wrist and ankle to the cannon so you don’t get fired across the playmat — it’s canon? Hmm. Okay, well, that metaphor’s over, now, moving on.

The One Thing You Want to Know About NPCs in RPGs

Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to be talking about character motivations, particularly of the NPC variety, in tabletop roleplaying games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. We Game Masters know we’re not supposed to get too invested in these characters because they are not spotlight characters. Not really. The game should focus on the player characters. But there’s an art to NPCs, and not being the focus doesn’t mean they don’t have to be complete characters. No, I’m not saying you need a dozen notes for the backstory of Bob the Baker. What I’m saying is, you should know what his goals are, what he wants, and how to leverage him.

Portraying History as Cultural Point of View in Collaborative Storytelling

Salutations, nerds. Today we’re going to be talking about cultural point of view and the way history is recorded. Particularly, we’re going to be talking about how that applies to your gaming setting and the things you present to your players in games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons or whatever your favorite game happens to be. One of my absolute things in games is the effect you get where you know “x” happened, but everyone who was around to talk about it after believes it happened differently.

wizards of the coast

NPC Relationships and Reputation in D&D Factions

Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to be talking about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons NPC relationships and reputation in D&D, something some player characters are very good at and others…not so much. Some PCs take the attitude that NPCs are basically just Popsicle sticks with faces painted on them who are supposed to vend gold because they were charming enough. Your job as the Dungeon Master is to make those NPCs feel like real people, and sometimes real people aren’t going to pay you more no matter how well you rolled because they just don’t have it.

Credible D&D Threats and Challenges — Raising the Stakes Without Being a Killer DM

Salutations, nerds! I’m talking to the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters, today in particular, so strap in. We’re going on an adventure that has to do with creating credible D&D threats and challenges without being labeled a “killer DM.” We want our players to feel like the game has stakes. We want them to feel like death is a possibility without feeling like that is specifically what we have in mind for them. After all, what fun is it if it’s too easy, right? But it’s also no fun to feel like the DM is actually trying to kill you on purpose. And as DMs it’s our job to strike that balance.

5 Reasons for Your D&D Adventurer to… Adventure?

Salutations, nerds! One of the big things that comes up a lot in terms of characterization is, “What reason could your character possibly have for wanting to risk their life in a dungeon?” And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I give you five reasons a character might want to be an adventurer.

5E D&D social villains

5E D&D Villains: Social Villains

Salutations, nerds! We’ve reached the end of my list of kinds of villains to talk about finally, and we’re bringing it to a close with social villains. These are going to be best if you’re playing something that leans more toward political intrigue, like Houses of the Blooded or Vampire: the Masquerade, but they can add some spice to any social heavy situation whether it’s 5E D&D or whatever tabletop roleplaying game suits your fancy.

5E D&D Villains: Rivals and Frenemies

Salutations, nerds! Continuing on with talking about 5E D&D villains, this time I want to take a moment for one of my favorite kinds of bad guys, and the kind that tend to go over the best at my table personally. I’m talking rivals. Also known as frenemies. Players love this type of villain because it doesn’t get more personal. If you do it right, a rival can be an incredibly multi-faceted character, and by turns both a help and a hindrance. Sometimes, even a romantic interest. So let’s get down to business, shall we?

D&D Villains: The Charming Monster

Salutations, nerds! I’m back, and ready to hop back into some villainous discussion, and today we are going to be talking about the charming monster. I’m talking about the succubus who smiles even as you know she’d flay you alive if you let your guard down. The nobleman with the winning smile who pays the party with one hand while he’s bribing a pirate mercenary to shake you down for the artifact you refused to sell him with the other. The comely vampire with a high body count. These are the villains who try to charm their way out of trouble. The ones who might try (and sometimes succeed) in seducing party members— often to horrifying results. There is no disgusting description to go with this monster, I’m afraid, they simply are a picture of beauty and grace and are made monstrous

Player Agency and Why Some Curses Are Total Garbage

I promise you I’m not finished talking about Dungeons & Dragons villains, but something came up this week that requires my immediate attention and I will get right back to those as soon as I’m done with this one. Yeah, we’re going to talk about player agency in 5E D&D. I can hear people groaning already. The thing is, player agency has kind of lost its meaning in the midst of all of these discussions about it and I hear it used incorrectly as often as I hear it used right.

D&D Villains: Sympathy for the Devil

Salutations, nerds! Today, I’m going to talk about villains again, and this time we’ll be discussing sympathetic villains in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games. I’m talking about the wizard whose been vivisecting people trying to come up with a cure for his wife’s ailment and save her life. I’m talking about the planar being who has cut a swathe of chaos across the land trying to get home. I’m talking about the blackguard who was betrayed by his people and had his heart stained in darkness. These are the D&D villains you almost want to fix. The ones who tug your heartstrings and make you hesitate to kick their butt. These are the Mr. Freezes, the Princess Lunas, and the Magnetos of your D&D campaign.

D&D Villains: The Enemy With the Inhuman Face

Salutations, nerds! I want to talk a little bit more about designing and running the bad guys in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game. Specifically, I want to talk about the kinds of bad guys that cannot be reasoned with. Dark creatures that could never be mistaken for “human.” I’m talking dark gods. I’m talking the tarrasque. I’m talking the massive thing on the horizon that just swallowed the cathedral and made the party feel so small in Session One in a single bite, yes. I’m also talking about smaller demons. I’m talking about the insectoid creature that keeps hollowing out people’s bodies and using their meat puppets to its own ends. These are the inhuman monsters so alien there is no connecting with them and the only chance you have is running them through before they do more damage. If you even can. If you’re even sure where to hit it.

Villains: The Hierarchy of Heinousness

Salutations, nerds! I’ve been on a bad guy kick recently and because of that I want to talk about D&D villains and how to use them. This is going to be broad strokes — a top down look at how bad guys can interlock to make a Dungeons & Dragons campaign feel more connected. I’ll get back to this topic again soon and get into some more specifics.

D&D Treasure

Handling D&D Treasure Troubles: Tips for Counting Coppers

Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to talk about party funds and how to manage your gold flow in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Hilarious that I’m the one talking about this one, right? If you have a Dungeon Master who doesn’t like to dole out a ton of treasure, or if you’re playing the early levels, here are some tips and tricks for making your gold pieces go farther and streamlining treasure distribution at the table.

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