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Author: Ryan Friant

Nerdarchy > Articles posted by Ryan Friant

Learn How to Play Dungeons & Dragons for Beginners | Brought to you by Easy Roller Dice

 Dungeons & Dragons for beginners, easy roller dice, play dungeons & dragons, adventure league

What a typical adventuring party might look like … well, actually there is no “typical” adventuring party!

At Nerdarchy we’re excited to announce we’ve recently joined an adventuring party with Easy Roller Dice to do a series focused on teaching new players how to play Dungeons & Dragons. The problem of learning how to play D&D has often been that you need someone to teach you how to play it, an older brother, cousin, or friend of the family who already knew how to play the game! Learning how to play D&D correctly is almost something of a hybrid between written and oral traditions as the complexity of the rules can make it difficult for new players to come into the hobby. That’s how I learned to play — when I was 11 years old, my eldest brother Dave began showing me how to play Dungeons & Dragons in the 2nd edition of the game (and believe me, there were some really awkward, wonky rules — just look up THACO!). Fortunately, we now have the ability to easily share information in written, audio, and visual forms — twenty years ago you needed that mentor player, but now, we can direct you to this series of videos that we’re making for you, apprentice D&D adventurer.

Never Tell Me The Odds|3 of the Most Epic Uses of the Lucky feat| 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

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“Never tell me the odds!”, Han Solo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lucky feat may draw a collective groan from many a 5th edition dungeons and dragons players and Dungeon Masters alike and who can blame them? Following the errata, a player can turn the Disadvantage mechanic into “Super Advantage” or a foes Advantage into “Super Disadvantage” since it was clarified that the Lucky feat allows you to roll an extra die and choose the desired result before success is determined. If a player turns this feat into simply, “I roll more dice”, well yeah, that is in fact incredibly lame, but I promise you this:  if you make your use of the Lucky feat narratively cool, something that characterizes and defines your character, no one will bat an eye at your use of the feat- they’ll be looking-out for the next time you do something heroic, something badass!

A part of the power of the Lucky feat is actually in the exploitation of circumstances that would grant Disadvantage- you can use the Lucky feat to do really cool, really epic feats of awesomeness. Utilizing the Lucky feat will actually have you fishing for Disadvantage! You could use the feat to make neigh impossible trick shots, death defying acrobatics, or pick a lock with your eyes closed! And also remember that you can turn your foe’s Advantage, that attack that should have inevitably hit into “Super Disadvantage”. With that in mind, let’s look at the situations or conditions that would cause you Disadvantage or grant your enemy Advantage:

D&D sorcerer

A Sorcerous Legacy | New Metamagic options & Feats for the Sorcerer 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons

Sorcerer_PHB5e (1)I have a love/hate relationship with the Sorcerer- thematically, I think they’re fantastic, but in this edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I think they’re a second-tier spellcaster and that makes me sad.

Next to the Wizard, with their full array of ritual tag spells, Wizard’s literally have as many more spells as that character can acquire provided they have the time to ritual cast it, arcane recovery to regain half of your spell levels, 2 3rd level spells become spells that recharge after a short rest at higher levels, and many great school of magic abilities.

Then one could make the case for the Warlock as being on equal footing as the Sorcerer, surely the Warlock has a comparably limited scope of spellcasting. The Warlock has a higher hit die, access to light armor, and simple weapons. So, dismissing that a main feature of the Warlock is it’s use of Eldritch Blast (an always useful Force effect) and let’s decide that we want to make a more caster-y Warlock.

The Pact of the Tome’s the most obvious Pact choice for the expanded cantrip list from any class and you would likely take The Book of Shadows invocation for access to all the ritual spells you can afford and acquire.

Interactive Entertainment: Live Action Investigation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Investigators.stainedglass, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Live Action

I came prepared for sleuthing in my Sherlock Holmes deer stalker cap.

Wednesday evenings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art special events are organized from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm, and this past Wednesday the evenings theme was “Game Night“.  Several game stations were set-up around the museum with games such as Jenga, Scrabble, Operation, Clue, Carcassonne, Sorry!, and several others (though I wish there were some more “non-standard” games selected!), a Clue themed drawing session with the model’s dressed as the characters from the iconic board game, and “Investigators”, a live action puzzle game created by Plain Sight Game Co.


Interactive Entertainment at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Emoji Art in Philadelphia, PA

Marjolien Caljouw, Mizaru Mikazaru Mizaru, Philadelphia fine art, Philly fine art, Philly gallery art, Philly lowbrow art, Philadelphia lowbrow art, Philadelphia gallery art, lowbrow, lowbrow gallery, fine gallery art, contemporary illustration, illustration

“Mizaru, Mikazaru, Mizaru” by Marjolien Caljouw


This past Friday, I went check-out the latest gallery show at Arch Enemy Arts in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA.  It was a pop surrealism show and if that sounds too highbrow, I promise it’s not- in fact, another name for the term is “lowbrow”.  The movement is one of the most accessible art movements in a long time- it may sometimes use a symbolism and other high falutin visual elements, but at it’s core, it’s cool imagery that is either fantastical or might have a sly sense of humor.  Beyond anything, looking at this art is sheer entertainment.

New Dungeons & Dragons Movie| Musings on Wizards of the Coast Sins of the Past

dnd5e2, new dungeons & dragons movie, fantasy, rpg, Wizards of the Coast

Will The New D&D Movie Be A Critical Success?


In true geek culture fashion, I’m going to get heated about not real things that don’t really matter and quite possibly use some salty language (read assuredly):  you have been warned.  In preparation for writing about the upcoming new Dungeons & Dragons movie, I watched a YouTube clip of the “Top 20 Embarassing Dungeons & Dragons Moments”, a collection of clips from the prior two D&D movies, so seething nerd rage would be fresh on my mind, fanning the flickering flames of distant nerd wrongs into an inferno.  Wizards of the Coast, this is it.
In no time in history will you ever find society more affable to geek culture, it may be a very long time before it’s  more in vogue than it is right now!  The popularity of Magic the Gathering, the fact that nearly everyone has some experience with video games and it’s no longer just the “indoor kids”, shows like The Big Bang Theory, and the level of celebrity that geek culture icons such as Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day enjoy, this is the perfect nerd storm.  This is your moment- roll a natural 20 and not a critical fumble!  In short:  don’t fuck this up.

Fantastic Fantasy Art| Tony Diterlizzi

D&D, RPG, halfling, Hobbit, DragonMag2, Jim Henson, Brian Froud, diterlizzi

Dragon Magazine cover of a Diterlizzian halfling.


It’s time to walk the hallowed halls of my artist pantheon, this time with the imaginative work of Tony Diterlizzi.  I first knew Mr. Diterlizzi’s  work from his RPG artwork for 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, primarily in the Monstrous Manual… and then- Planescape!  How mind-blowing was that 2nd Edition boxed-set with it’s purple and brown tones and whimsical, yet with an aspect of danger, characters?  He has contributed his pencils and brushes to RPG artwork for the fore mentioned Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, young adult book covers (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”), children’s books (“Ted” and “The Spider & The Fly”),  and even a full-length young adult novel series that he wrote himself (“The Search for Wondla” series)!

spinning wheel, spinning wheel, nerd craft

Nerd Craft | Making a Doll Furniture Spinning Wheel

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A giant miniature spinning wheel!


So probably many of our regular readership would much rather be reading “Wheel of Time” than reading about how I spent my time crafting a spinning wheel, but to those interested in the fine art of nerd craft, please do read on.  If you’ve been following my take on the Grimm’s Fairy Tale of Rumplestiltskin I’ve been chipping away at, you may have seen this piece in the background of a shot already.

nerd craft

Nerd Craft: Miniature Crafting a Throne & Crown

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Throne and an example of wooden trim used to make decorative elements.


Hey Nerdarchists, I’m still working the next dimensional illustration (sadly this weekend was jam-packed with shooting videos and gaming- I know, you weep for me right?), but I figured I spend the time to show-off some of the miniature crafting I did for the last shoot in a lil segment I’d like to call “Nerd Craft“.  The main set pieces were a throne and a crown worn by the king figure.

Mad Max Fury Road & The Dark Fantasy Art Influences of Brom


Furiosa’s black war paint beside Brom’s painting from 10 years prior.


So I may lose nerd cred here, but I was only just able to see the fantastic, nitrous injected film that was Mad Max Fury Road this past weekend.  I don’t feel I can add much to the discussion of the cultural significance of the film, but there is one unique slant regarding the visuals that I might offer.

Fury Road explodes like an oil tanker flame-throwered and jack-knifed into the desert wastes at 60 mph with rich, detailed costumes, weapons, and vehicles- I was simply floored by how visually extravagant this film was!  The many muted tones of the film giving the few instances of vibrant color an incredible punch!

It was full of dark fantasy imagery coupled with something else- maybe call it a “Rust Punk” aesthetic with all of it’s super-charged, lethal, heap of junk vehicles.  For those less well-versed in dark fantasy imagery, it tends to have a more threatening and fetishized look about it.  The first name that comes to mind when I think “dark fantasy” is:  Gerald Brom, or to many, just simply Brom.

Jim Henson, Labyrinth, goblin

Jim Henson’s Fantastic Films

Labyrinth, goblin, Jim Henson

Watch-out for Goblins under the bed!


Last week I talked about my “art patheon” and as I’m still working on an illustration, I figured I’d take this opportunity to nerd-out over the work of Jim Henson and more specifically his collaborations with fantasy genre artist Brian Froud.  While I think The Muppets are great, the work of Jim Henson Company really outdid itself when it went about creating largely practical effects fantasy films (because, you know, CGI didn’t exist back in the 80’s and Green Screen was the height of simulated special effects).  On a side-note, if you’re unfamiliar with the term practical effects, they’re pretty much any special effect that happens while the camera’s filming instead of something that is being added in post production.  While The Muppets exist in our world, Henson’s puppet films, “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal”, exist in unique fantasy worlds all their own.

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