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.
Nerdarchy recently partnered with Pacesetter Games & Simulations as well as Vallejo Paints. Use the promo code staynerdy15 for a 15 percent discount on their products. We’ve taken this partnership and built some and cool content for 5E D&D. We kicked things off with Horris the Horned Lord. Most recently we moved on to Abalor the Abhorrent and a dark druid 5E Circle — the Circle from the Beyond. Abalor is based off of the froghemoth model from Pacesetter. It’s a great looking model. You can see it below as painted by Jake Kosman using Vallejo Paints. The froghemoth D&D monster was reintroduced into 5E D&D in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Part of the awesome Nerdarchy, Pacesetter, and Vallejo team-up is a contest to win a froghemoth both painted, unpainted, and the paints to paint your very own froghemoth miniature. There’s a bunch of ways to enter the contest to win the minis and paints. Check it out here.
Over the years Dungeons & Dragons has offered many different races for players to choose from. I know that some Dungeon Masters are very much against anything that does not look normal. Let’s forget the dragonborn and tielfing and play with humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes and halflings. With those races there are plenty of options even without all the subrace choices. But if you are like me you enjoy all the choices and you want to play the things that are bizarre and interesting. If you happen to look around this site you will see many different monstrous humanoids I statted out for 5E D&D and even made up some of my own, so feel free to poke around. I’ve had a fondness for monstrous humanoid races from the beginning of my roleplaying days. The Complete Book of Humanoids was always my favorite, with races like the wemic, the ogre mage and of course the dino people — saurials. I used this book over and over again playing second edition AD&D. And now Deck of Many has an free PDF designed for anyone who enjoys anthropomorphic characters for 5E D&D.
I’ve been discussing the inclusion of trans narratives in 5E D&D games via NPCs with people for a while now, and there are a few points that come up very frequently in discussions with Dungeon Masters. Many of them are very willing to include trans people but are not sure how to go about doing it — How do you include trans identities into lore and worldbuilding? I’d like to discuss some of the most common questions and thought processes DMs have that may be preventing them from tackling trans narratives, as well as providing some solutions as a starting point. This is a topic that has a lot of elements to it, so I won’t be able to cover everything in just one article, even if I tried, so please don’t expect this to be comprehensive and complete. It’s only intended to be a start.
Why not a Way of the Zen Archer Monastery for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons? With the release of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for 5E D&D a lot of options have been opened up. The zen archer is a fun archetype for a fantasy game. That wasn’t possible previously. There was absolutely no mechanical reason play a monk who used ranged weapons. But XGtE changed things up by allowing for the creation of the ranged attack-based monks. We can now have a zen archer build. Why not take it a step further and create a monastery of zen archers. We recently did a character build video you can watch down below. We made it Adventurers League legal. We also did a character build guide and put it up over on the DMs Guild.
Based on the placement in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, choosing your character’s race is a top priority in character creation, second only to generating ability scores. The chapter begins by illustrating the diversity within the D&D multiverse, describing exotic places from the Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms to Sigil in the Planescape campaign setting and the myriad races living in those places. Only after painting the picture in your mind of fantasy races like dragonborn, tieflings, gnomes and dark elves — “people of varying size, shape, and color, dressed in a dazzling spectrum of styles and hues” — does the PHB mention humans. That’s pretty significant. So if choosing your character’s race in D&D is so important, how do you make such an impactful decision?
We’ve all watched Critical Role, it’s a great show. Matt Mercer does an exceptional job of creating memorable characters far too numerous to recount. I talked a bit in another article about how to place spells on an nonplayer chracter wizard depending on their roles but let’s talk about NPCs in general. NPCs are a staple of every roleplaying game. From Dungeons & Dragons to GURPS, to Star Wars. Not every NPC should be a boss. If you build every NPC as a boss, the players will try and kill it every time. There is the old D&D adage if you don’t stat it they can’t kill it. This is a true statement, but they’ll still try, then they just sulk building new characters. Personally, I prefer to stat out NPCs, so I can get a better idea of what they’re capable of. If you want to make a dwarven forge master, great. How did he learn his trade, where did he come from? Is he gifted? There are all kinds of things to consider. We’re going to look at some options today about how to make NPCs a little more memorable and how to fit them into you story.
I’m in the mood to flesh out some characters and I like the idea of using the variant D&D rules for feats to infuse some flavor into a character concept. Let’s jump into it with three more feats in D&D and maybe these traits will spark some inspiration for your D&D character building on existing characters or ones you might be writing for an upcoming campaign.
It may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not a huge fan of feats in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. I think these variant D&D rules work, albeit better with specific D&D character building guidelines, but ultimately I greatly disliked feats in D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder and these aren’t enough of a step up for me to enjoy them. However, in an effort to enjoy every aspect of the game and maybe even give some character inspiration to others, I’m going to go through some of the feats in D&D and develop some characterization around them.
In the world of Dungeons & Dragons clichés, there is perhaps no more universally reviled archetype than the chaotic good drow ranger. Once upon a time, drow were the evil counterpart to elves, raiding surface cities and living in a matriarchal society that worshipped the Queen of Spiders. Then came RA Salvatore and his incredibly popular character Drizzt Do’Urden, the first drow in the Forgotten Realms to throw off the mantle of evil forced on the drow and attempt to redeem himself and his heritage. Drizzt’s popularity lead to a drow player character boom inspired by or modeled on Salvatore’s work and the increased appeal of drow overall. So called “Drizzt clones” have become so cliché as to be outright banned by many Dungeon Masters.
Today’s D&D focuses a lot on one shots or West Marches or Adventurers League, and these are fine. However, this can sometimes leave characters with an empty void where once would be story and personality creating a delightful persona. Today I want to borrow some of your time to help you correct this. Let’s focus on bringing a D&D character to life and look at how I recommend building a D&D character. Whether a first-time player or a veteran, I find this method makes a good platform for an evolving character, something that can grow, change and shape itself as you play it.
The gentlemen at Nerdarchy have been pouring over books and crunching the numbers in their effort to find the most effective fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons tank build. Myself, while I appreciate numbers and that search for the best, I’m not really a build kinda guy. I’m a team player though, so I’m going to put forward my hopefully unique dexterity based barbarian character concept that can be used in the spirit of the tank, while still bringing all manner of interesting flair to the combat scene.
It goes without saying, if you are going to have a channel called Nerdarchy part of that is going to be okay with being called a nerd. My longstanding character Rellion of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is kind of a nerd. His expertise, which he has three of, are History, Arcana and Investigation. Apart from being a book nerd he is also a D&D linguist. Sadly it never seems to work out for him as the Dungeon Master always is one step ahead of me. But looking into the languages for D&D it is really hard to get them all.
Developing an interesting character for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons can be tricky for some, especially those newer to the RPG hobby. What I’ve found over the years is that interesting characters come not from the big stroke events of their past, but instead the small habits, looks and decisions attributed to your character. D&D character creation involves making mechanical choices certainly, but beyond the numbers and abilities there’s a character waiting to be revealed.
It is time for another fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons character build. This time we will look at P’Saden, the Great Old One triton warlock character I played in the RPG Crate sponsored game, Adventures on the Open Road: Anchor Head Cave. As we were playing a seafaring adventure I wanted to use a triton. Ever since they came out in Volo’s Guide To Monsters I wanted an excuse to use these not-quite-mermaid people. I had no particular interest in the mechanics of the race, just the concept. I can honestly say I have never played a character like this before. Not that I haven’t played a wily swashbuckler, but not one with the superiority complex inherent in triton. It was kind of like playing an elf rogue. I had to figure out how he got from uptight xenophobe to smarmy spell slinger.