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Author: Robin Miller

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by Robin Miller (Page 9)

D&D Worldbuilding: Fictional Song and Things a Bard Does

Salutations, nerds! What are the bards in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons world singing about? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today.

The songs of a fictional D&D world are a really big deal in terms of how the world breathes and the general feel of it as a setting. Remember, once upon a time before we had easy access to the printed word, news was spread through story and song and spake in rhyme so the layfolk would more easily remember it. And if a few things got embellished along the way, well. That’s just the nature of the music made to sooth the beast, isn’t it?

Worldbuilding: Fantasy Currency

Hey nerds! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about coinage and currency and how they relate to worldbuilding. In Dungeons & Dragons, we pretty much accept that ten copper pieces are a silver piece, ten silvers are a gold, ten golds in a platinum and we leave it at that. It doesn’t matter, most of the time, where you are, the same coins still apply. [EDITOR’S NOTE: But what about poor, forgotten electrum, the US half dollar coin of D&D? Read on…]

Anyone who’s ever traveled abroad in real life, though, and had to go through the awkward song and dance of having their money exchanged for local tender knows that isn’t true at all. Of course, we don’t bother tinkering with that in D&D most of the time because it’s not really the focus of what we’re doing and for most campaigns – it’s going to be way too distracting to be worth it. But for things like fantasy fiction and the rare campaign that gets down to a lot of roleplay and the brass tacks of the world you’re in, this can be a really nice touch.

necromancy Speak with Dead

Speak With Dead #12: Talking the Body Shop

Maxillae the Mad necromancy

Dear Maxillae The Mad,

After reading your response to my previous question, it got me thinking. I believe you are correct. I think some part of me just wanted someone to let me know that it is okay and I’m not a freak for wanting to switch from being a cleric, who heals people thereby stopping them from dying, to becoming a necromancer, who most people view as these horrible, evil people who enjoy death.

On a more interesting note, since my last post, I have been able to learn, and have used, the revivify spell. Not sure if you would consider that a necromancy spell or not, but it was interesting to be able to watch someone come back from the dead. Granted they had only been dead for less than a minute, but still.

I think I have finally decided to make the switch and become a full necromancer! Any advice for a new necromancer in training?

New necromancer-to-be,
Grim Everwood

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is Free to Play Dungeons and Dragons in Early Access on Steam and it’s Awesome

Idle Champions Dungeons and DragonsSalutations, nerds! And good news for fans of idle games like Cookie Clicker and AdventureQuest Dragons. Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a Dungeons and Dragons game in early access on Steam right now, free to play, and I have to say it’s exactly what I needed.

It’s an idle game, and if you’re not already aware of what that means I’ll give you the run down: you don’t have to do a whole lot for the game to do what it does. You click a couple of times and get it started and then watch the numbers go up and get ridiculously high as the story progresses and in this case, as your heroes do more damage.

Mounts in D&D

Speak With Dead #11: Two Allies and an Idiot

DEAR MAXILLAE THE MAD

Orc Mask- Cornel Zueger (GrimZombie) CC BY-SA 3.0

I LIKE HOW EXPERIENCED YOU ARE WITH MAGIC. I NOT VERY EXPERIENCED WITH MAGIC BUT I ENJOY READING YOUR COLUMN. I THINK PERHAPS IF ME WERE UNDEAD ORC, WE GET ALONG GREAT. BUT AM NOT UNDEAD.

MAYBE WE DRINK MEAD IN TAVERN SOME TIME? IF YOU AT HELLSCREAM GORGE Anytime SOON, MAYBE I SEE YOU. YOU CAN TEACH TO SUMMON SKELETON TO RIDE INTO BATTLE. URGLUK GIVE YOU LESSON ON HOW TO THROW BATTLE AXE INTO SKULLS.

MUCH LIKE,
URGLUK ROH THE BRAVE, SON OF ORLOK THE STRONG

 

Dear Urgluk,

You’re too kind, but I don’t believe

Speak With Dead #10: Natural Selection

Dear Maxillae,

Maxillae the Mad

I’m sure there’s weirder relationships out there.

I just read the response you posted to Dominic the Virile in Speak with Dead #8, and it gave me the courage to come forward with my question today. I am a necromancer who is dating a medusa. Believe me, I understand all the pitfalls of our relationship. But, I have a nagging problem that might undermine our relationship. I believe that many of her favorite statues may have been past lovers.

She did strictly forbid me from breaking the statues, but I figured out that returning them to flesh would not ‘break’ them or my vow. Is it wrong of me to want to return them to flesh, kill them, and then animate them for my entourage? My apprentice says it’s a waste of effort, and someone else warned me that she might take advantage of them being mobile again. Your thoughts?

Anonymous and jealous

Speak With Dead #09: Zombie Animals

Dear Maxillae the Mad,

I admire your efforts here, and your necromantic work as well. I wish I could follow in your footsteps. Unfortunately, I am in no way magically inclined. I’ve tried various processes, such as asking gods for power, making deals with demons, and even studying, but the gods didn’t listen, the demons got annoyed with me, and the books didn’t help. I’ve looked into alchemical solutions to my problem, but there isn’t much documentation on the subject. Could you give me some personal insight?

Signed,
Necromance-If-You-Want-To

Ten Things DMs Should Know About the PCs in Their Game

5th editionHey nerds!

As the Dungeon Master it can be a chore sometimes to keep the action moving, and many of us want to give each PC a shot in the spotlight by picking on them individually.

That can be difficult though, if you don’t know much about them. I’m not talking AC or hit point totals, though, I’m talking about backgrounds, preferences – generally the fluffy bits.

So today, we’re going to talk about ten things you can ask your players about their characters that make for good points to pick at when it comes to tailoring sessions specifically for them.

I’m going into this assuming you already know to keep it even and get around to everybody, and that playing favorites is bad.

If we’re all on the same page, then here come the questions.

Speak With Dead #08: Hellspawn

 

necromancer Maxillae the Mad

What’s a lady gotta do to practice necromancy in peace? Occasional adventurer intrusions are a thing, people. [Art by Maciej Kuciara]

Dear Readers,

 

My sincerest apologies for my tardiness. I am aware you were expecting my latest Speak with Dead transmission this previous “Thursday” as it were, but I have found myself in a bit of a quandary as four plucky adventurers entered my crypt in an attempt to slay me for some sundry “crimes against humanity.” I’ll be honest, I wasn’t listening to the whole thing; these tirades tend to be very similar once you’ve heard them enough.

Fear not, I managed to dispatch them fairly easily and should be back to my regular activities shortly. On an unrelated note, however, I have four new zombies to acclimate to my horde now. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Braaaaainsssss….]

Regards,

Maxillae the Mad

RPG player character

Ten D&D Character Flaws that Won’t Bog Down Your Game

What’s up, nerds? You know how sometimes D&D characters come off as too perfect? There’s hardly anything as annoying as a character who can do absolutely no wrong, the one the player steps in the way and has to backpedal and retcon endlessly because, “Oh, that was a mistake and my precious character wouldn’t have made one.” That character. Well, except for badly played character flaws. You know what I mean. The character flaws they have to interrupt the game for every five minutes to act out. The one that gets in the way. The cleric who didn’t take prestidigitation and hates getting dirty to the point they melt down every time it happens. The ill-tempered guy who sees an insult in everything and has to start a fight even when you’re just trying to buy road rations and suddenly you’re fighting a shopkeeper and have to hide yet another body. The character with a split personality who you’re pretty sure your friend didn’t do any research about but who you don’t want to call them out on because it would just start a fight at the table even though every time they launch into their stuff you side eye them so hard.

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,
IS THIS THE GOOGLE? EVERYTHING I TYPE IS UPPERCASED. IT LOOKS LIKE I’M YELLING BUT I’M NOT. MY GRANDDAUGHTER TOLD ME TO ASK THE GOOGLE BUT I DON’T KNOW WHO THAT IS. HELP!
Signed,
WHAT’S A USERNAME? I’M BETH

 

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?
Signed,
Knick-Knack-Tallywacker

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.

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