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Geek and Sundry GM Tips with Satine Phoenix…and Nerdarchy!

GM Tips Geek and Sundry Satine Phoenix

Thanks to so many awesome Nerdarchy fans and supporters, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted were able to make it out to Los Angeles earlier this year to appear on GM Tips with Satine Phoenix. The Geek and Sundry program features different Game Masters each week tackling topics and themes to help the tabletop roleplaying game community. Satine is a tireless advocate for the hobby and has become a great friend to Nerdarchy, and everyone here was incredibly stoked when she made the invitation to appear on her show.

Nerdarchy on GM Tips

Off-the-Cuff Home Brew Games is the focus of Nerdarchy’s GM Tips episode. Fans of our You Tube channel and website are intimately familiar with the improvisational and personal creation approach to roleplaying games, particularly fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons in the spotlight of a lot of our content. In live stream games like the Scarlet Sisterhood of Steel and Sorcery and recorded game plays like the twin campaigns run by Nerdarchists Dave and Ted, Nerdarchy fans can discover the Gryphongaffe setting as it grows and develops right alongside the players – and the Dungeon Masters!

NerdarchyOn GM Tips, the guys discuss their philosophy on creating memorable adventures and experiences for players without a need for copious notes, crafted encounters or preplanned scenarios, all within unique campaign settings. It’s worth noting that Nerdarchy by no means discounts any other methods of running or playing D&D or any roleplaying game. Whether your gaming group runs published adventures like Tomb of Annihilation or Out of the Abyss, adventures within a setting of your own creation guided by the GM’s notes and XP-budgeted encounters, or any other method, as long as everyone at the table has fun you’re doing it right!

In the episode, the guys share their insights on several techniques, methods, tips and tricks for GMs to run immersive, player-driven stories that evoke the spirit of collaboration that makes D&D and other RPGs such a fun and unique experience. Definitely check out the GM Tips video to hear everything the guys have to say. Here’s a quick rundown of some points that emerge:

  • Appeal of homebrew settings compared to published campaign settings
  • How to run adventures with little or no preparation or written material
  • Importance of listening to players and letting them drive stories forward, aid in creation and world build
  • Gaming as an extension of friendship
  • Rolling with changes in the direction of a story
  • Taking notes during play
  • Fostering drama and group dynamics
  • Arranging a buddy system at the gaming table
  • Favorite gaming moments
  • It’s still a game – have fun!

Nerdarchy would like to thank Geek and Sundry for the incredible opportunity to visit the LA studio and appear on GM Tips with Satine Phoenix. It was an unforgettable experience! Nerdarchists Dave and Ted had an awesome time meeting everyone there, making new friends and new relationships as well as the chance to meetup with Nerdarchy fans and play some D&D. We love all our amazing fans and we’re so grateful for the Nerdarchy community as we continue to grow and share our love for gaming with people all over the world.

Stay nerdy!

 

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Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #18 – “Pull!”

giants

Out of the Box introduction

D&D encounters giants
A pair of hill giants can make a very bad day for a village in a D&D game. [Art by Wayne Reynolds]
One of the greatest challenges for addressing questions in Dungeons & Dragons is the area of “crunch”. I would like to address this area with regard to one specific segment.
I was inspired by an older broadcast by the truly talented AJ Picket on his channel “The Mighty Gluestick”. In a video wherein he described “what would happen if a giant hit a player character with a tree”, he said that they would, to paraphrase, “go flying”.
So, that inspired me to think one thing. What would happen if a giant, say a hill giant (to get the ball rolling), flung a player character into the air?
Well, that inspired research. Considering that improvised weapons (page 147-148 Player’s Handbook) references ‘a dead goblin’ as a viable possibility, then it’s on the playing field that a body could be used as a weapon.

Continue reading Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #18 – “Pull!”

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

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Deck of Beasts: Kobold Press Is Holding All The Cards!

Kobold Press deals a winning hand with Deck of Beasts

Kobold Press Deck of BeastsGreetings Nerdarchy readers! Has anyone told you that you are awesome today? Well you are, and I believe that awesome people deserve equally awesome things. That being said, I have had the immense pleasure to speak to Kobold Press’s Wolfgang Baur and Inkwell Ideas’ Joe Wetzel about a product they created that has not only amazed me but impressed me. Their creative minds have shuffled together to deal us the amazing, the stupendous, the inspiring Deck of Beasts and Sidequest Decks!

What are these items I speak of you ask? Well let me tell you dear Nerdarchy reader about a dark age in gaming where one would have to lug around entire books just to include one monster. These days, the dark ages if you will, your Dungeon Master would have to turn and reference things which could take up valuable time. As a Dungeon Master, I always wanted to show the amazing artwork detailing the monster they were facing.

Despite my illustrious ability to spout adjectives with prolific prose, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Well this is where the Deck of Beasts comes in. Continue reading Deck of Beasts: Kobold Press Is Holding All The Cards!

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The Deities of Gladius, part 2

homebrew, deities, d&d
The gods of the Greek Olympus

This is part 2 of the deities of Gladius, click here for part 1 to go into the first 12 deities. As I stated in the previous article, when I was writing my article about using Unearthed Arcana for world building, I ended up going through all of the UA articles.

In light of my article, especially in anticipation of at least some of their inclusion in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, I started thinking about the UA cleric domains for my world. In two previous articles, I had shared my pantheon, but I wasn’t ever completely satisfied with it.  I didn’t consider using the UA domains, largely because I’m not really a fan of including Unearthed Arcana as a whole.

However, in light of the new context of world building, regardless of their inclusion in Xanathar’s (which I would’ve added new deities to match the new domains, anyway), I decided to go ahead and use all three domains to correct what I think was wrong with my pantheon until then.  It took some work, and I shifted some of my original deities around (Kur even became a different god), but I’m very proud of the work I’ve done.

I feel like I’ve struck a real balance with it.  With the now twelve domains (Life, Knowledge, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War, Arcana, Death, Grave, Forge, and Protection), and the fact that I like to have two deities per domain, that gave me a total of twenty-four deities to play with.

That was surprisingly enough to find a good balance.  I was able to create a solid distribution of alignments, and I was able to create an equal number of male and female deities, including two genderless gods.  With this updated list, I feel like there’s a good chance most characters will be able to find a deity to follow, and the clerics will have something to follow that feels like it fits their domain.

Now that I’ve finally finished it, and I’m finally (currently) satisfied with my pantheon, I wanted to share it with everyone.  I’m sure there are plenty of DMs out there that aren’t really satisfied with any current offerings, but they just don’t have the time to build their own, so I want to share a little bit of mine.

I haven’t completed a full breakdown of my deities, but I’m sharing the full list, as well as a brief description for each of them, as a kind of primer.  When I’m able to get to the full design of all of my deities, I’ll find a way of sharing it.

Please note that these deities are geared towards my world (which I’m calling Gladius, at least for now).  Some things may need to be changed to fit into your world, but I think that they’re not too different than what’s already out there.  Also, the icons are not the final forms.  Most of it is clipart that I have in place that’s for inspiration for when I’m able to include real art.

The Pantheon of Gladius

 

homebrew, deities, d&dGambirau, the Ascended One

Not all deities started off as deities.  Gambirau was one of those.  He was a normal man.  One of the earliest monks, in fact.  In his search through the planes of existence, he became stronger and stronger. He developed his Ki to impressive degrees.  Eventually, he was able to tap directly into the life force itself, where he was infused with divine energy.

Gambirau was able to manipulate the very essence of Ki itself.  In time, his power grew so strong that he started to become one with the life force, and became the prime source of Ki.

Hiro, Lord of Chaos

When Hiro came to be, he was born with the darkest impulses.  Nothing in the universe is more dangerous than him.  He is driven by the sole need to consume everything, and he has no tolerance for anything that impedes him.  Worse yet, there’s nothing he won’t do to get what he wants.  He’s prone to violent outbursts, and even his followers fear him as much as they worship him.

Some believe Hiro started the Planar Wars, but he didn’t.  He did, however, benefit from it the most.  The bigger the wars got, the more creatures were needed to fight them, and the more there was for him to consume.  When he absorbed his enemies, he grew stronger, which is one of the biggest reasons why the Planar Wars ended.  Even the Forces of Darkness started to worry about his growing power.

A temporary armistice was created by the two sides to lock Hiro away, binding him to a pocket dimension, and hidden away in the universe that has been forgotten in time.  Mazdayasna forged a powerful spell that was so incredible that it actually removed the memories of Hiro’s prison’s location from the deities, themselves.

The Planar Wars resumed, but the heat of conflict had dwindled.  Astarte, knowing that it was time for it to end, forced a permanent truce.  While not all deities will become allies, and many still oppose each other, the threat of Hiro’s return is so great that they go to great efforts to not wage another war, for fear of his possible return.

Kur, Tyrant of the Shadow Realm

Kur is a violent and selfish shadow dragon.  She came to be before the planes of existence and quickly met Dacian.  Knowing that he was pure and noble, she deceived him into thinking that she was also good, and they bore many children.  Some were metallic, who were good, like him.

Some were chromatic, who were evil and selfish, like her.  Knowing that Dacian would eventually see through her deception, she manipulated her chromatic children into being prepared to fight their metallic siblings.

Eventually, Dacian started to become aware of how naturally cruel and selfish his chromatic children were, and was ashamed.  When he confronted Kur about their children, she attacked him.  The chromatic dragons turned on their brothers and sisters in that moment, and Kur escaped.

That’s when the first sparks of time as we can comprehend came to be.  Kur used this new energy to create the first planes of existence, ripping a hole in the universe that existed then, forming the shadow plane.  The tear was so violent that it sprang forth the celestial plane as a form of equal and opposite reaction, the celestial plane, and with it Aotahi and Astarte.  Those of her children that came with her into the shadow plane grew dark and cruel like her, and their forms eventually morphed into shadow dragons.

Those of her children that came with her into the shadow plane grew dark and cruel like her, and their forms eventually morphed into shadow dragons.

When the Planar Wars started, Kur brought her chromatic children that were left behind to the prime material plane, where they waged war against the Armies of Light.

Lenore, the Undying One

All living beings have the potential to tap into magic.  Whether they do is a different story, but the fire of magic exists in all of them.  Lenore was born a young human noble during the earliest days of the humanity.  She was a nasty soul, to begin with, and her privilege only allowed her to fuel her base desires.  She worked for little and demanded more.  Her parents, who were expert arcane users, sent her to the finest wizard school available to humans at the time, but she had no patience for it, and she was eventually expelled.

Her parents, who were expert arcane users, sent her to the finest wizard school available to humans at the time, but she had no patience for it, and she was eventually expelled.

When she was a mortal, Lenore was one of the most beautiful nobles alive.  She had many suitors, but few who could withstand her for long.  She grew older and bitter and began to lash out at others.  One day, when she was out riding in the countryside, her horse became startled and bucked her.  She was kicked into the side of a tree, and her neck was snapped, but she didn’t die instantly.  As she lied there, unable to move or speak, she waited to die.

Instead of thinking back on her life with remorse or regret, Lenore seethed with hate.  As she did, this caught the attention of Hiro, who was amused by her tiny rage.  Seeing an opportunity, he shielded her death from Anezti, and kept her alive, but not fully.  He let her slip in between life and death.  She was conscious, but her body lacked any real life.  When she was found, she was presumed dead.  Her family buried her, but no one mourned her, and so she stewed in her hate.

In her grave, her soul trapped in a body that refused to rot, she began to attempt to tap into the arcane fire inside her.  It was difficult because she couldn’t move, but over time her power grew.  She became stronger and stronger of the millennia in her coffin, and she eventually grew powerful enough to tap into the arcane outside of the universe, until she was able to fully reconnect her soul to her body, and give it a form of life.

However, she was still stuck between the living and the dead.  The first of the true undead.  Not a mindless zombie or skeleton, or some other reanimated corpse, but a fully functional living being, with power strong enough to rival any deity, and the ability to create more like her.  She is worshipped by those who are the true undead, and those that wish to never fully die.

Mazdayasna, Source of the Arcane

If Anezti was the first deity to come to be, Mazdayasna was surely the second.  While he isn’t the physical manifestation of arcane magic, he is the conduit from which arcane magic crosses over into the planes of Gladius.  Arcane magic actually originates from outside the universe, and Mazdayasna channels it into the universe.

It’s not necessary for a deity to channel the arcane in order for it to exist, but he magnifies its flow, making it more prevalent.  It’s one of the primary reasons why magic is so ubiquitous in the planes of existence, and why so much of the technology is dependent on it.

Even though one of the defining traits of a deity is the ability to tap into the various magic elements (including divine, hellish, and arcane) that exists outside of the universe, the other deities are known to also use some magic that flows through Mazdayasna, especially when attempting to perform exceptionally powerful magical feats.

The other great beings, who are very powerful, but not quite deities, can’t tap into arcane sources from outside the universe, but they are strong enough to channel power directly from Mazdayasna and grant creatures artificial control over the arcane to their followers.

Samas, the Lawbringer

Not all deities are a part of the Forces of Darkness or the Armies of Light.  Samas is one of those who isn’t.  He considers the concepts of good and evil to be trivial concerns.  To him, there is only the law.  The only thing that matters is maintaining order, but he also believes that the ends never justify the means.

There are some things that Samas considers to be natural laws, that regardless of kingdom, plane of existence, or culture, are not lawful.  These are things that violate a person, which includes murder, theft, kidnapping, and other forms of violations of mutual consent.  However, if an individual gives informed consent to give up their natural rights, then that is within the law.  An individual also gives up certain rights when they violate another person’s natural rights.

Samas’ power is nearly unparalleled, with the power to even overcome other deities.  When the other deities banded together to take down Hiro, they called upon Samas to capture him, and he was the one who created the prison plane of existence where Hiro now resides.

Domains and the Deities of Gladius,

part 2 of this D&D homebrew

Seshat, Mistress of the House of Books

For most, the neutral alignment is representative of their moral choices.  For Seshat, it’s indicative of her total indifference.  As Mistress of the House of Books, her primary concern is the collection of knowledge.  She’s indifferent to activities of the universe, except ensuring that it’s recorded.  The House of Books is an endless library that exists on its own plane of existence that was created by Seshat.

Seshat and her followers are also involved in the development of civilizations and technology.  Gladius’ inventions are largely based on arcane advancements, but that doesn’t mean that it’s exclusively the case.  Science and magic often work together to improve the lives of the denizens of the planes of existence, but they can also develop independently.

Civilization is developed through exposure to other cultures, which is best done through the sharing of knowledge of other cultures.  Seshat and her followers integrate themselves into many different cultures, to learn as much as they can to share with each other, and with all of the cultures of the universe.

The temples of Seshat are extensive libraries.  Her acolytes and clerics act as librarians and guardians of knowledge.  Her temples are open to the public, regardless of faith.

Sethlans, Crafter of the Divine

Sethlans was one of the earliest deities to have come to be.  While he’s somewhat of a proto-dwarf, and he’s the prime ancestor of all dwarves, he didn’t create them until long after the Planar Wars had died down.

While the soldiers of the Forces of Darkness and the Armies of Light settled the western and eastern halves of the Great Continent, Sethlans chose to place his children in the relatively untouched content to the south, where they evolved into the dwarves that are known today.

Before the Planar Wars, and during them, Sethlans crafted mighty weapons and armor, as well as many magical items.  He granted them as gifts to the other deities and was happy to see them adorned with his finest works.  During the beginning of the Planar Wars, Sethlans didn’t take sides, but it eventually became clear to him that he could stay on the sidelines.

Knowing that he was no warrior, he set out to craft the most fierce weapon he’d ever devised, Gladius, which he presented to Astarte, to help end the wars sooner.  When the other deities banded together to take down Hiro, Sethlans was called upon to craft a set of manacles that could contain the evil god.

To this day, Sethlans hasn’t stopped crafting magical items.  Everything that he creates has immense power that few mortals can contain, but he will arm heroes in times of great need against evil forces that are too powerful to defeat unaided.  He vowed to never allow evil to reach such great heights, but he’s also much more careful with his creations, so those that seek his aid must prove their valor and their worth.

Silvanis Moonbeam, Walker of the Woods

Unlike the other planes of existence that were formed by the deities, one way or another, the Feywild was formed as a direct result of the Planar Wars.  The Feywild is a place of powerful magic and extreme emotions, and emotions don’t get any more extreme than during conflict.  When those in conflict have the power to shape the universe, their cumulative feelings are bound to do something.  That something was the formation of the Feywild.

When those in conflict have the power to shape the universe, their cumulative feelings are bound to do something.  That something was the formation of the Feywild.

As the Feywild took shape, Silvanis Moonbeam, an eladrin, emerged from the Crescent Forest.  She traveled across the lands and watched new life form from the extreme emotions of the creatures fighting in the Planar Wars.  This was her land, and she would not let it be turned into some abomination.  She was powerful, but she didn’t know how to control the magic she had access to, so she returned to the Crescent Forest to the strongest concentration of magic, and tore a hole in the universe to a spot in the prime material plane.  Silvanis Moonbeam joined the Armies of Light, and helped bring down the Forces of Darkness, who she felt were the more destructive side to her beloved Feywild.

She was powerful, but she didn’t know how to control the magic she had access to, so she returned to the Crescent Forest to the strongest concentration of magic, and tore a hole in the universe to a spot in the prime material plane.  Silvanis Moonbeam joined the Armies of Light, and helped bring down the Forces of Darkness, who she felt were the more destructive side to her beloved Feywild.

While they were successful, and Silvanis gained considerable control over her power, the tear between the planes was irreparable.  The trees that populate the Lost Woods come from the Crescent Forest.  The elves on the prime material plane are the descendants of the eladrins that crossed over to settle the new lands.

Skell, Destroyer of Civilizations

While the common assumption is that Hiro was the one who started the Planar Wars, because he ended up becoming the greatest threat to all of existence, the truth is that it was Skell.  He revels in the most basic levels of destruction, and a series of wars that shaped the planes of existence as we know it, is exactly what he wanted.  He staged a series of attacks on different creatures and made it look like the work of the deities of the Forces of Darkness, so they would be forced into a war.

During the Planar Wars, used the very ground and other extra-planetary objects to wage war.  He would shake the earth, raise volcanos to erupt, and bring down meteors.  The two moons that surround the planet of Gladius on the prime material plane were his attempts to bring down world-ending celestial bodies.  He would’ve succeeded had Aotahi not interfered, and settled them into orbit.

After the rise and fall of Hiro, and the end of the Planar Wars, Skell resigned himself to never waging that level of destruction again.  He still enjoys the occasional earthquake or volcanic eruption, and he occasionally sends meteoroids towards planets, but he knows better than to attempt extinction level attempts.

Talus, the Warforged

Not everything Sethlans crafted was a weapon or a magic wand.  During the Planar Wars, he created Talus, the very first construct, to fight for the Armies of Light.  In his initial efforts, he over-engineered his design.  Sethlans granted Talus with significant power.  Enough to be able to access the magic outside the universe.  Enough power to be considered a deity.

Another side effect was that Talus was granted a consciousness.  He’s still a construct and thus doesn’t have a soul, but he is self-aware.  He has the power to grant constructs consciousness but does so with great rarity.  Others have found a way to do it, and those constructs, sometimes called warforged, worship him.  He’s considered a juggernaut construct.

After the Planar Wars, Talus retreated into hiding.  Even though he understood the necessity of his creation, and the need to fight, he didn’t want to be used as a weapon of war ever again.  It’s not known where he is.  Most believe that he travels Gladius, on the prime material plane, because history has examples of his intervention in some conflicts across the lands, but they’re rarely in the same place in the same era.

Tethys, Mother of Storms

Tethys rose out of the oceans of Gladius during its creations.  Of all of the deities, she’s the only one who is considered to be directly tied to the prime material plane.  She has total control over the weather, even if she isn’t always directing it.

No one knows her intentions, or what motivates her.  She has her own reasons for doing things.  She’s just as likely to destroy a ship as she is to save it.  Some believe that she has a better understanding of events than anyone can comprehend, where others believe that her actions are completely random.  Even if you were to ask her, she’d unlikely answer.  At best, she’s enigmatic, and there’s nothing that excites her then bewildering people.

Tethys is primarily worshiped by ocean-based peoples, including tritons, sailors, ocean port cities, and islanders, including the aarakocra and kenku that live in the Floating Isles.

Domains and the Deities of Gladius, part 2 of this D&D homebrew

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article this is part 2 of the deities of Gladius. These are the second set of 12 out of the 24 deities and their domains, a homebrew that could be used in your d&d campaign. For part 1 click here

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The Deities of Gladius, part 1

deities, d&d, domains
The gods of the Greek Olympus

When I was writing my article about using Unearthed Arcana for world building, I ended up going through all of the UA articles.  In light of my article, especially in anticipation of at least some of their inclusion in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, I started thinking about the UA cleric domains for my world.  In two previous articles, I had shared my pantheon, but I wasn’t ever completely satisfied with it.  I didn’t consider using the UA domains, largely because I’m not really a fan of including Unearthed Arcana as a whole.

However, in light of the new context of world building, regardless of their inclusion in Xanathar’s (which I would’ve added new gods to this list of deities to match the new domains, anyway), I decided to go ahead and use all three domains to correct what I think was wrong with my pantheon until then.  It took some work, and I shifted some or my original deities around (Kur even became a different god), but I’m very proud of the work I’ve done.

I feel like I’ve struck a real balance with it.  With the now twelve domains (Life, Knowledge, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War, Arcana, Death, Grave, Forge, and Protection), and the fact that I like to have two deities per domain, that gave me a total of twenty-four deities to play with.  That was surprisingly enough to find a good balance.  I was able to create a solid distribution of alignments, and I was able to create an equal number of male and female deities, including two genderless gods.  With this updated list, I feel like there’s a good chance most characters will be able to find a deity to follow, and the clerics will have something to follow that feels like it fits their domain.

Now that I’ve finally finished it, and I’m finally (currently) satisfied with my pantheon, I wanted to share it with everyone.  I’m sure there are plenty of DMs out there that aren’t really satisfied with any current offerings, but they just don’t have the time to build their own, so I want to share a little bit of mine.  I haven’t completed a full breakdown of my deities, but I’m sharing the full list, as well as a brief description for each of them, as a kind of primer.  When I’m able to get to the full design of all of my deities, I’ll find a way of sharing it.

Please note that these deities are geared towards my world (which I’m calling Gladius, at least for now).  Some things may need to be changed to fit into your world, but I think that they’re not too different than what’s already out there.  Also, the icons are not the final forms.  Most of it is clipart that I have in place that’s for inspiration for when I’m able to include real art.

The Pantheon of Gladius

deities, d&d, domains

Anezti, Queen of the Ravens

When the gods and goddesses started to come into being, they didn’t know each other in the beginning.  There was no such thing as time, or at least not in the way that we know of it today, so there was nothing else to compare the measurement of time to, so no one knows the order they came to be, but many of them believe that Anezti was the first.  Of them all, she is the one with the least form, who seems to move about like shaped smoke, shifting in and out of structure at will.

While it’s believed that ravens carry the souls of the newly born and recently dead, and thus they are all treated with respect by most civilized people of the prime material plane, that is in reality a myth.  Anezti favors ravens, it’s true, and they tend to congregate near her when she’s around, but she doesn’t burden them with the responsibility.

 

Anezti has domain over the path of life and death, and cares for the natural life cycle of all living beings that have a soul.  What most people don’t know is that time is a construct that exists only because it’s the byproduct of the natural transitions of life and death, including the natural life and death cycles of every part of the body, including individual cellular birth, growth, and death.  As a result, Anezti also cares for the natural flow of time, and abhors anything that disrupts or reverses the natural life cycles.

Aotahi, the Morning Star

Not all deities came to be before the birth of the planes of existence.  Some came to be after, and some came to be as each plane was formed.  Aotahi was one of those.  As the lights of the celestial plane dimmed from the blinding light of creation, one source shone brighter.  Aotahi emerged, one of the first two Solars.  The other was Astarte.

Astarte and Aotahi fell in love in an instant.  If they didn’t know any better, they would’ve said they were made for each other.  But they weren’t created.  They were birthed by the universe.  Fully formed, pure and whole.  Two of the most beautiful creatures to have ever existed.

Discovering that he had powerful divine magic, Aotahi built the celestial kingdom that resides on the celestial plane, where the angels and other celestial beings live.  Later, when the prime material plane was formed, he spread his divine light throughout the cosmos, creating every star in the universe.  He rules over all of the heavens and the celestial bodies.

Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells

deities, d&d, domainsFrom the moment that Asmodeus came to be, before the planes of existence, Asmodeus had only one desire.  He wanted to rule.  There was nothing to rule that he knew of, nor did he fully grasp what that meant.  He only knew that he must have power.  Power over everything.

Because time didn’t exist the way that we understand it now, there’s no way to convey how he did it, but Asmodeus’ need to conquer was so great that he searched for something else.  Anything else.  Being that time and space are intrinsically connected, and being that time didn’t exist the way we understand it now, neither did the concept of space.

Everything was everywhere and nowhere at the same time, but that was also the only thing that Asmodeus knew.  So, in a way that cannot be explained to you or I, he searched for something else to conquer.  The first he found was Anezti, but you can’t conquer death, so he moved on.  He continued his search, finding new deities along the way, none of whom he could conquer.

Finally, when Kur created the Shadow Realm, which caused the creation of the celestial plane, Asmodeus knew what he needed to do.  He took his considerable power with his hellish magics, and created the Nine Hells, for him to rule over.  When Belobog created life, he knew he needed to do that, too, and devils, demons, and fiends were born then.

Astarte, the Evening Star

Not all deities came to be before the birth of the planes of existence.  Some came to be after, and some came to be as each plane was formed.  Astarte was one of those.  As the lights of the celestial plane dimmed from the blinding light of creation, one source shone brighter.  Astarte emerged, one of the first two Solars.  The other was Aotahi.

Astarte and Aotahi fell in love in an instant.  If they didn’t know any better, they would’ve said they were made for each other.  But they weren’t created.  They were birthed by the universe.  Fully formed, pure and whole.  Two of the most beautiful creatures to have ever existed.

Astarte was strong and powerful.  She desired conflict, but in the beginning, she only knew of Aotahi.  There was no one to fight.  Even when the deities first discovered each other, there was no conflict to be had.  It wasn’t until after the Planar Wars, after the creation of the prime material plane, that she realized her purpose.  She was the goddess of war.  Her mighty blade, Gladius, forged by Sethlans himself, sung a harmonious chord as it sliced through the air, cleaving mighty ancient dragons in twain with seamless precision.

But, it was also Gladius that split the Great Continent in half, forging the Bladed Mountains and Scarred River, finally ending the Planar Wars.  The Forces of Darkness in the West, and the Armies of Light in the East.

Belobog, the Lifegiver

Belobog and Chernobog came to be before the planes of existence.  They formed at the same time, twin brothers.  Born with magic so incredible that they had power over life and death itself.  Their opposing natural inclination made them rivals, but they never lost their brotherly bond.  There is conflict, and they oppose each other, but they still love each other.

Belobog’s strength with life magic was so strong that when the planes of existed began to form, he was able to create life itself.  He didn’t create all life.  Some were born from the other deities or created by them.  Asmodeus populated the Nine Hells, the angels are the legacy of Aotahi and Astarte, and the dragons are the progeny of Dacian and Kur.  Some creatures, such as the dragonborn, tieflings, and aasimar were evolved from the soldiers of the Planar Wars that settled the prime material plane.  But, much of life itself is owed to Belobog.

Benzeiten, the Lotus Queen

Benzeiten is known as the Lotus Queen because of her beauty and grace.  It’s said that she steps so softly that she doesn’t disturb the surface tension of the water when she walks on it, and her gentle smile is known to put even the most violent creatures at ease.  Some who have claimed to have seen her say that they hear a source-less song playing when she’s near.  Others claim that she appears to them to change their fortunes when they need it the most.

Not a lot is actually known about Benzeiten, because she doesn’t stay in one place for long, and she doesn’t choose very many clerics, but most stories are consistent.  Those lives she touches turns to worship her, and even some naturally evil creatures have been known to turn good after meeting her.  Some pray to her for good luck, especially when gambling, while others try to model themselves after her.

The Deities of Gladius

and their domains for D&D, part 1

Chernobog, the Necrotic

d&d, deities, domainsBelobog and Chernobog came to be before the planes of existence.  They formed at the same time, twin brothers.  Born with magic so incredible that they had power over life and death itself.  Their opposing natural inclination made them rivals, but they never lost their brotherly bond.  There is conflict, and they oppose each other, but they still love each other.

When Belobog was about creating life, Chernobog developed his magic powers.  While he became a master practitioner of the arcane, far stronger than any other except for Mazdayasna, he reveled in the manipulation of the necrotic.  He contorted the bodies of the living, and raised the dead.  His actions often caught the attention of Anezti, who would personally interfere, until after the Planar Wars, and the subsequent Treaty of Gladius.  He moved to the shadows, and she recruited champions to wage a holy war against his abominations, which he continued to develop and create.  Eventually he began passing his knowledge on to magic users who wished to learn his ways.

Dacian, the Guardian

Dacian is a platinum dragon who came to be before the planes of existence.  He’s an incredibly honorable creature, with a strong sense of justice.  He is the defender of the weak, and the protector of the good.

Before Kur revealed her true self, as the evil creature she is, she and Dacian bore many children.  Those were chromatic and metallic dragons.  At first, Dacian thought nothing of it.  Eventually, he started to become aware of how naturally cruel and selfish his chromatic children were, and was ashamed.  When he confronted Kur about their children, she attacked him.  The chromatic dragons turned on their brothers and sisters in that moment.

Dacian chased Kur away, but she ordered some of her chromatic children to stay behind to save her.  Without their mother to guide them, the battle was over quickly.  The chromatic dragons were too selfish to work effectively together, where Dacian’s metallic children were naturally inclined to form into units, and organized attacks.  Knowing that his chromatic children were not at fault, because they were poisoned by their mother’s evil, he set them free to return to her.

Druantia, the White Goddess

Not all deities tend to the needs of living creatures.  Druantia is one of those.  In the same way that Anzeti watches over the souls of the living, Druantia watches over nature.  She guides the natural life cycles of plant life, and she watches over the harvest.

While her primary domain isn’t over living creatures, early agrarian humans would also pray to her for fertility.  They started by praying for fertile harvests, which she would help when she could, but in time they started praying for her to help with the fertility of their livestock, and then of the women.  Druantia, feeling pity and love in her heart, did what she could for the humans, aiding them in their fertility, too.

In time, Druantia’s influence grew across the lands, and many farmers and ranchers pray to her across the world.  There are even some druids that worship her as a part of her role in the guidance and protection of nature.

Erebus, Bringer of Darkness

Erebus started out as one of the earlier deities, although he prefered to stay in the shadows.  He successfully hid himself from the others until the Planar Wars, when he couldn’t hide any longer.

Some believe that Erebus got the name Bringer of Darkness because he caused The Great Divergence, where the prime material plane was ripped into two planes of existence, creating the twilight plane, and taking a fourth of the world’s population into the eternally darkened plane of existence, where they evolved into the dark races that live there today.

That’s actually not the case.  He earned it because, as a deity, during the Planar Wars, he was easily the finest assassin in all of the planes of existence, and he was one of the most effective tools for the Forces of Darkness.  Erebus used shadowy tricks, poisons, and traps to annihilate his foes.  The Armies of Light had to be constantly vigilant in and around the dark, because he could strike at any moment.  That terror of the darkness still resonates in the hearts of all living creatures.

Fame, Hostess of the House of Legend

Legends never live up to the real thing, because real life is never anything like the stories you hear.

Some deities came to be long before they had a purpose.  Some deities found purpose right away.  Some deities came to be as a result of a collective need.  Fame didn’t come to be until long after the Planar Wars were over.  Not for many generations, when the inhabitants of Gladius began to forget.  That’s when the first whisper of Fame came to be.

At first, Fame lacked any real form.  Born with the knowledge of everything that came before, she literally whispered in the ears of the earliest bards, poets, and writers, feeding them the stories of long forgotten heroes and battles.  As those bards, poets, and writers twisted her stories for dramatic effect. Fame delighted in these exaggerations and began making some of her own.  Thus they fed each other until stories turned into myths, and myths into legends.

In time, Fame gained a very powerful form and crafted a realm for herself, and in that realm, she built an endless home that was the same size on the outside but grew to accommodate her guests, who are the souls of those that achieved mythical and legendary status.  Whose renown was so large that many doubted their existence in the first place, and assumed they were merely the subjects of pure fantasy.  By that time, Fame had begun to inspire those who would invent their legends, and it started to become difficult to dissect fact from fiction.

Fate, Keeper of the Fallen Heroes

Some deities manifest as the needs of planes of existence evolve.  Fate is one of those.  Chernobog’s manipulation of the dead predicated a need for a guardian of the afterlife, known as Elysium.  Thus, Fate came to be.

Unlike most of the rest of the deities, Fate is formally genderless.  While many refer to Fate as being female, sometimes even referring to it as, “a cruel mistress,” Fate is neither.  A lot of this stems from the fact that a lot of the myths surrounding Fate is largely dogmatic.  For an example, there are many believe that Elysium is reserved for heroes or those that died under honorable conditions.  This is far from the truth.  Elysium is the plane of existence where all of the dead souls are transported to by Anezti, regardless of deeds or alignment.

Eventually, some began to blame Fate for the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones, which then evolved into Fate having some control over the circumstances of life itself.  No one knows exactly where, when, or why Fate was ascribed with the female gender, but most scholars agree that it happened during the less enlightened eras of Gladius’ history when race and gender were the basis of extreme discrimination.

These are just the first 12 of the 24 deities as well as the domains that could be used in your d&d campaign. For part 2 click here.

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Out of the Box, D&D Encounters, Series 2, #17 – “The Ante”

Introduction to the Out of the Box Encounter:

out of the box encounter
DMG5e Feywild Cladio Pozas pg 50 CC SA 3.0

The series of articles have touched on the Feywild before, but it was more from the point of view of chasing or following denizens there. In the realms of fantasy, there are many hidden portals and doorways of all kinds all over our reality where not on the Feywild, but other possible realities can be accessed.

Why not?

   Indeed, this may answer a few questions that many players have as well as provide its own series of opportunities and story hooks to expand a single portal into a whole series of adventures.

In this particular case, I would like to present a specific possibility. What if a door…any door (specific or random) possesses the property of being a gateway to other realities. This could be a broom closet door, the doorway into a particular room in an Inn, or even the rickety door on a rundown shed or outhouse.

   What lays beyond is up to the DM in question, but I would like to present a Feywild scenario.

Fey Portal
Feywild Portal CC SA 3.0

Imagine, if you will, that denizens of a faraway plane have one of these portals to our world, and they use it as a “neutral ground” to resolve differences and seek opportunities. This might be how they view it. The mortals on the Prime Material might see it as wondrous or dangerous, whereas the more clever might see it as an opportunity to answer questions only someone from the Feywild, The Nine Hells, Celestia, Mechanus, Limbo, or other realities might know. What would you ask? What would the alien denizens wish in return for that answer?

This, then, presents another opportunity. How? What some might see as a stumbling block might be perceived as an opportunity by others. The “how” IS the answer. And what better way to provide not only a great roleplaying opportunity but to also inject risk…than a game. This game is the mini-game within the game. It might be a round of cards, dice, riddles, or other game you choose. The vision that came to me when I thought of this was such:

The players, in exploring either a ruin, castle or inn open up a broom closet door. Within were not the cleaning tools and assorted other materials, but a larger room wherein the strangest game of poker was played between strange creatures. Most assuredly, this scenario has played out before in stories where devils play for souls, dogs get painted onto velvet, or dice games happen inside Gelatinous Cubes… but this strange game can also can be an opportunity to found Warlock Pacts, discover secrets, unlock mysteries, start others, or remove curses or other conditions. It’s all in the stakes of the game. And there’s one seat open….

Environment: Urban/Dungeon/Tavern/Inn/etc.

Level: Any, but 1-4 is optimal

Description:  Whether it’s by chance or it’s been set up by a previous encounter (go to this specific door at midnight on Midsummer Night’s Eve, for example), the players will have occasion to open this one door. In this case, it will be something very plain – an out of the way inn room that may not be that desirable (perhaps it’s over the stable and smells, or over the kitchen and it’s hot on summer days, etc.). Whether the player characters have rented this room, heard about it in a rumor or quest, or are exploring for their own reasons, they will arrive at their own accord.

Should they listen at the door, no matter what they achieve on their Wisdom/Perception checks, they will hear nothing beyond the door. Not wind, insects, creaking, nor small furry creatures from Alpha-Centauri …nothing. That may or may not alert your player characters to something unusual.

The door itself is unremarkable and opens easily. What lay beyond is very remarkable.

An occupied room, perhaps 30’x30’, and is richly appointed. A finely embroidered rug lines the floor. Dim lanterns float from unseen chains in each corner, while frescos made from tiny ceramic tiles decorate each wall. These frescoes depict various nature scenes that move in as lifelike a manner as tiles allow. The ceiling above is also covered in a fresco, showing an alternating scene of day and night.  A large 10’ diameter table of rich dark wood has an odd cast of characters seated around it. An empty chair at this table sits with it’s back to the door. Starting to the left of the empty chair, the figures seated around the table are as follows:

Satyr (Monster Manual page 267) wearing a bowler (a hat also called a derby), spectacles, and smoking a cigar. This is “Bellish”. Bellish is abrupt, outgoing, and perpetually inappropriate. He is a collector of secrets, flaws, and hidden truths. He traffics in the whispers of Sprites, Pixies, and other tiny Fey if only to manipulate this information into a potential tryst with someone he may have a secret over.

Yes, that’s blackmail. He’s not proud. He has Stinkfinger’s Nose, although it’s been transformed into the hat on his head. He’ll take every chance to flirt with Trinka or any female player characters that enter the room, whether they sit at the table or not.

 Boggle (Volo’s, page 128) named “Stinkfinger”. Stinkfinger is lucky not be eating the cards in his hand. He doesn’t remember why he’s even at this game and has been ruthlessly punished by the other players for his antics to the point where someone at the table has taken his nose, and he’s determined to get it back. When a new player sits down, he may blame them for taking his nose, or he tries to get them to find it for him. Stinkfinger is not so “good with his words”, though, and may just resort to sticking the player to their chair or making their cards oily and hard to hold on to.

A tall and beautiful grey-skinned “elf” in garb that looks like it’s made from black thorns and wreathed in dark smoke. Trinka is a Darkling Elder (Volo’s, page 134). Trinka is bored beyond imagination of this who experience and would just like to stare at the moving sun and moon artwork above. Because she’s so distracted, she hasn’t noticed that the door has opened. When she finally does, she will be very upset if anyone is carrying or using bright light. Trinka trades in stories of death. She craves a well-wrought story of loss, tragedy, and sorrow. A tale of woe that brings others to tears is music to her ears, and this game has lasted so very long…

out of the box, d&d, fey, feywild, sea hag
Sea Hag pg 113 Monter Manual

A salmon-like humanoid with bulging eyes and constant stare. This is “Shagatha”, the Sea Hag (page 179, Monster Manual)  in a very bad attempt to mimic a Kuo Toa. Shagatha detests Trinka and anything beautiful. Characters with a high Charisma or some other beautiful trait will incur her aversion and animosity, even if only comical at first.

Shagatha craves nothing more than the suffering of her fellow Fey or any others that enter the room. She delights in Stinkfinger’s lost nose, Trinka’s boredom, and Bellish’s unrequited desires. Whatever the players bring to the table might just ramp this up.

The last chair is for a player to choose.

The Fey within this room are for the Dm’s use. That means that they can be there for their own story hooks, plot leads, villain roster, or other use. These NPCs may well know the answer to a question that the players have or they might know whom else could be asked or what quests that need be completed. This is totally a chance for the DM to provide hooks or shake-up stale leads.

The way to provide these answers is simple. Fey never answer a straight question. It’s always a series of riddles and quests, tests, and games. Therefore, to add to this scene, I will propose a game-within-a-game.

Out of the Box, D&D Encounters, Series 2, #17 – “The Ante”

“In Between”.

The rules are simple. This can be played as a one or two player game, but all other players at the table can wager on this.

As a one-player game, the single player requires three 20-sided dice (d20 after this). The single player rolling will have to declare, before rolling any of them, which is to be “Between”. The other two are called the “Surrounds”. Then all three are rolled at once.

If the Between is a value between the other two dice and equal to neither, the rolling player wins the bet. Simple.

If the “Surrounds” are sequential (like 10, 11 or 15, 16) then the rolling player automatically loses. If the “Surrounds” are doubles, then the rolling player can either accept the loss or can roll again. If they lose again, then their loss is double. Otherwise, if the value of the roll is between the Surrounds as per the normal winning conditions, the roller wins.

In a two player game, one player rolls the Between, and the other rolls the Surrounds. When the Surrounds are doubles, then the Surrounds player elects to roll or not, and THEY lose double their wager to the Betweener. If the Surrounds player rolls sequential dice, they automatically win.

D&D, "in between" game for the out of the box encounter, "the ante"
3 sided dice by chimsam

The Fey in this room have been playing “In Between” for an indeterminate amount of time to mortals, and may truly look forward to the intervention of the player characters. They will not volunteer any answer whatsoever. The players will have to play with and against these characters and may risk harm, or worse. Each NPC will have their own desires and wants and will wager those wants and desires against what the player characters want. It is the hope that this will not lead to violence, but given how player characters operate, this may.

Other player characters or Fey can hold side-bets on the results. Keep in mind that any bet made as a side bet is also beholden to the Doubles rule, so bet carefully. Fey will not have endless gold or magic items, so if a player tries to bet for a magic item that they do not possess, (or even if they actually do), they may reveal the location of such an item or treasure to the players in riddle form. That treasure or magic item will still be guarded by monsters, traps, hazards or other Fey…

but they certainly won’t say.

A Fey that wins any bet, side or otherwise, will demand what is in character with their personalities. Trinka might want to hear of a player characters worse loss in all its tragic detail….and delight all the while. Bellish may want a kiss or more. Stinkfinger wants his nose. Shagatha may render a character ugly (even if only temporary) or she may insinuate herself into a player character’s life in the worst way.

This is all up to the DM in question for interpretation.

The player characters have an opportunity to learn secrets, get answers, develop allies…the imagination of the players and the DM are truly open when it comes to the possibilities.

Monsters for this out of the box encounter:

“Bellish” – Satyr – As per Monster Manual, page 267 – except as noted.

“Stinkfinger” – Boggle – As per Volo’s Guide to Monsters, page 128.

“Trinka” – Darkling Elder – As per Volo’s Guide to Monsters, page 134.

“Shagatha” – Sea Hag – As per Monster Manual, page 179.

Treasure: Information, Plot hooks, and shaking things up a little. That’s worth more than gold.

Complications: That truly depends on the win/loss ration of the game of “In Between.” Be careful to note what may happen as DM, because this is your chance to place opportunities for role-playing and plot development before the players. Curses, ruining player plans and making their lives difficult has its value, but can be taken too far when it comes to extraplanar beings. Tread with care and go only as far as your players can tolerate. Provide positive hooks when things get too negative, and give your players a chance for an “out” should they get in too deep with negative characters like “Shagatha”.

This is supposed to be fun, remember?

– Mike Gould

If you would like to check out more on the out of the box encounters by Mike you can check out some of the Nerdarchy crews favorites here

 

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Dark Sun Ever Mindful of D&D Psionics

DarkSun

D&D psionicsLike Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch mention in the video above, psionics has been a part of Dungeons & Dragons since 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. In the interest of utmost accuracy, the supernatural power of psionics were first introduced to D&D in Eldritch Wizardry, a 1976 supplemental rulebook for the original edition. Also of note are the other now-iconic facets of D&D included in that 60-page digest: the druid class, demons and demon lords like Orcus and Demogorgon, mind flayers, and artifacts like the Rod of Seven Parts and Axe of the Dwarvish Lords.

With those bits of long forgotten secrets behind us now, let’s turn our clairsentience to the future. Based on hints and bits of information shared through social media and in interviews, a fifth edition D&D iteration of Dark Sun is almost certain.

We’ve already got the mystic class available through the Dungeon Master’s Guild, giving D&D players the opportunity to utilize the awesome power of psionics in D&D 5E.

Now we only await the introduction of the sun-scorched setting of Dark Sun. Continue reading Dark Sun Ever Mindful of D&D Psionics

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Fantasy Weapons for d&d 5e Races | d&d 5e Homebrew

Fantasy Weapons and Equipment for d&d 5e races

So over the years, I have written various bits of lore that pertain to the d&d 5e races as well as several campaigns.

fantasy weapons d&d 5e races elves d&d 5e homebrew
mithrodin sword by rstovall CC -BY-ND 3.0 License.

That being said, the part that I see missing from Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is the specific equipment that each race has at its disposal.

To this end, I did a bit of thinking and propose the following items and racial trait for your campaign. Now one could ask why one would even need or want more choices when choosing a weapon for your character.

The reason is that it adds a depth and flavor to the world, enhances roleplay, and adds mechanics to back the craftsmanship that is spoken of so often in lore.

From fine Elven blades to sturdy Dwarven axes and brutal Orcish weaponry these weapons are famous and iconic when one thinks of these d&d 5th edition races. Continue reading Fantasy Weapons for d&d 5e Races | d&d 5e Homebrew

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Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #16 – “Stomp”

Dungeons and dragons

Out of the Box Introduction

orc There are two approaches to scaling encounters for players when using lower CR monsters. The first is to just add more of the same. The second is to change how they are used, or use them in a way in which they act in concert with another monster type or mechanic.
As you might guess, I am more of a fan of the latter over the former. Changing perspectives or tactics is what “Out of the Box” is all about. Furthermore, I like to draw upon other games or activities as inspirations at times.
The game I would like to call upon this time is one that was a tactical tabletop game that I used to play that involved, well, let’s say giant battle robots with pilots inside. There are a few out there. Pick your favourite as a reference and we’ll call it fair. The game in question isn’t as important as the visual.
Furthermore, the visual from inside this construct isn’t as important as the visual from those facing these constructs.

Continue reading Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #16 – “Stomp”

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Top Ten D&D Monstrous Humanoids

The gift that keeps on giving! Nord Games’ Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde inspired not one but TWO videos on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel, plus a review here on the website. And now its generating another post.

In the video above, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch talk about their favorite monstrous humanoids in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. They each choose two, discuss the appeal and explore a bit why and how they’ve used them in games, either as player characters or as a Dungeon Master.

It’s worth noting that there is no official “monstrous humanoid” designation in D&D. There’s just straight-up humanoids. Many of them are most certainly monstrous though! Also, despite appearing in the Revenge of the Horde book, ogres and trolls are not humanoids – they’re giants. But in defense of the book, there is no claim made limiting the creature types to humanoids, simply “classic monstrous races.”

And minotaurs are monstrosities.

According to the current D&D Beyond monster database containing material up to and including Tales from the Yawning Portal, there are 231 humanoids in official D&D content. Many are individuals from various adventures and campaigns like Pharblex Spattergoo, an NPC from Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Aside from official sources, there’s plenty of third-party material like the Ultimate Bestiary. Continue reading Top Ten D&D Monstrous Humanoids

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Unusual Builds Tell A Story All Their Own

5th edition

5th editionYears ago, in my great grandfather’s time, the emperor sent out citizens to colonize the wild lands and expand the Empire.

This is how we came to live north of the wall. There we found and settled lands that were more fertile than any the empire had ever seen. The game was plentiful, the water clean, and the soil rich.

We flourished, growing from a settlement to a village growing to a bustling town with every family having its own land.

And then the Greenskins came.

Continue reading Unusual Builds Tell A Story All Their Own

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Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #15 – “The Lucky Catch”

Out of the Box Introduction

One of the greatest inspirations any Dungeon Master can have is actually pretty obvious: Other DMs. Seeing how others create and design encounters can colour how we do things, sometimes for years to follow. I’ve had two great DMs in my own past with radically different styles who both create brilliant worlds to both imagine and play in, as well as create investment in their players.
Their styles, though different, achieve this by inspiring the players with their challenges and their point of view. Celebrity DMs like Matt Mercer, Chris Perkins and Matt Colville are also different, and all are brilliant in their own way…but I’d like to include one more in that list. Jerry Holkins. Jerry is more familiar to most as “Omin Dran” in Chris Perkins’ Acquisitions Incorporated campaign. Jerry is also a brilliant DM in his own right and has such a unique point of view as to make him my inspiration for this article. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Jerry Holkins can be seen weekly as the DM for Acquisitions Incorporated: The C Team.]

Continue reading Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #15 – “The Lucky Catch”

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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. Continue reading Ten Things DMs Should Know About the PCs in Their Game

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Making a Pact with Warlock Patreon from Kobold Press

Since 2012, the Kobold Press imprint has produced some of the best-received third-party content for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Their biggest release – both in terms of sheer size and tabletop roleplaying game culture penetration – is the Tome of Beasts. The 433-page book of monsters is a staple on the shelf of countless D&D players, as iconic and indispensable as the Monster Manual for many Dungeon Masters (myself included).

The material produced by Kobold Press runs the gamut and truly includes something for everyone who plays D&D. Everything from a complete campaign setting to new schools of magic, Game Master guides, the 2017 Ennie Award-winning Kobold Guide to Plots and Campaigns and the recently released Prepared 2: A Dozen One-shot Adventures for 5th Edition offer valuable resources for D&D DMs and players.

But if even all of that isn’t enough, esteemed game designer Wolfgang Baur and the team at Kobold Press launched a new project designed to give even more cool material on a regular, ongoing basis. The Warlock is a Patreon-fueled project in the form of a booklet containing new maps, monsters, character options and more. You can find out all about it and pledge your support here. Continue reading Making a Pact with Warlock Patreon from Kobold Press