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Game Master Tips

Nerdarchy > Game Master Tips (Page 8)
RPG player character

5 Ideas to Spice up Your RPG Character Backstory

If I’m being honest I’ve absolutely been That Guy who shows up to a tabletop roleplaying game session with several pages of backstory for my character. In all fairness these times are few and far between and the pages are usually full of narrative instead of exposition, but still Backgrounds are the life blood of your RPG character’s introduction. The events that shaped them up to this point help inform how you portray them and their introduction to the rest of the party. After musing on backgrounds, I wanted to share some ways that GMs I’ve played with have spiced up background elements in games I’ve been a part of. So, let’s cover five ways to make your character backstory more interesting!

5E D&D gelatinous cube Out of the Box Rubes Cube

Crafting your 5E D&D Gelatinous Cubes Encounter

Hello and greetings. I apologize if I tricked you into thinking this was about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons table preparation. Nope! this is another crafting idea from the mind of Nerdarchist Ted. I was at the store looking for a new cat tree. Despite not seeing the tree made of carpet for my cats to destroy in the clearance aisle I saw a game that looked like it used tiny plastic cubes. I instantly thought of gelatinous cubes. It was worth investigating as a potential new fun crafting project for my 5E D&D games.

WizKids D&D Icons of the Realms: Fangs and Talons ki-rin tyrannosaurus rex

Brave the Dangers of Fangs and Talons with WizKids Miniatures

I have said it before and I will say it again — I love miniatures. Well, WizKids is back and they have brought the monsters! Releasing the second week of November D&D Icons of the Realms: Fangs and Talons offers some amazing monsters of all shapes and sizes. This also includes one of my new favorite miniatures.

power gaming

Consider Your Character Backstory Before Your Next RPG Experience

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted share their thoughts and perspective on the essentials of backstory for a tabletop roleplaying game character. A terrific post from Tribality got the wheels turning on approaching a character backstory not so much as a narrative piece of fiction detailing the events leading up to the adventuring life. Instead a great character backstory functions as a resource to inform game play in the present tense. So let’s get into it.

D&D Ideas — Frogs

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is frogs, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of frogs in Scaling Up a tactical group of lizardfolk on unusual mounts and bolstered by a half-dragon ambush adventurers in the wilds. This gorgeously illustrated encounter and map leaps off the page and into your games along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here.

superhero RPG

Running a Superhero RPG

It’s a time for masks and mayhem and for me this means superheroes! Superhero flavor can be found everywhere, even in more rigid tabletop roleplaying game systems like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. What are Critical Role’s Mighty Nein or Vox Machina, if not superheroes in their own worlds? I’ve often thought many homebrew campaign settings feel a lot like fantasy superheroes in worlds where being super is more about aspiration and power development than power inaccessibility. But some people just want the unabashed superhero flavor in their RPG campaigns. Yet many Game Masters I’ve talked with don’t know where to start when it comes to supers.

‘Twas the Nightmare Before Father Winters’ Day for 5E D&D

It’s that time of year, when things go bump in the night and everyone gives cosplayers the pass they deserve. Halloween is one of my absolute favorite times of year and I really wanted to write something inspired by the season. I have several favorites when it comes to Halloween movies. Among my top tier are one most have likely heard of and one most have likely never known to exist.

RPG random tables Matt Davids

Adding Randomness to Your RPG

The controlled chaos of randomly rolled characters or randomly created events within tabletop roleplaying games appeals to many gamers. Even the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide contains a nice chunk of random tables and charts to create NPCs, treasure or campaign events. But sometimes you crave even more RPG randomness. Allow me to present some system agnostic books to add some randomness to your RPG game.

5E D&D animal handling skill checks

5 Survival Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

Salutations, nerds! We’ve done it. We’ve made it to the last skill in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. I hope you’re prepared to make some Survival checks because as suggested by the title, we’re going to get into five skill challenges to give more skill based 5E D&D characters a moment to shine without taking over your entire game. Hopefully. As a note, per the usual each skill challenge is geared toward small moments of conflict to show those hard earned skills off and give a little more conflict to situations that would have otherwise gone smoothly. So without farther ado let’s dig into Survival.

D&D Ideas — Kobolds

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is kobolds, which we discussed in our live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here. Speaking of kobolds in Wooden Dragon a group of kobolds keep the legacy of their dragon overlord alive after a group of adventurers do what they do through some crafty carpentry and a magic ring. You can find this gorgeously illustrated encounter and map along with 54 other dynamic scenarios to drop right into your game in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here.

5E D&D NPCs

Two Critical Qualities to Make Your 5E D&D NPCs Memorable

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted dance to the beat of a different drum and use a group of NPC musicians from a recent game of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons as a jumping off point for discussing this dwarven band in greater detail. Several key points emerge, ones I took note of as salient points to keep in mind for any individual or group of NPCs for 5E D&D or any other RPG. This 5E D&D dwarven jug band wonderfully illustrates what makes NPCs so compelling. So let’s break it all down and get into it.

5E D&D experience progression

Does Experience Gain and Character Progression Ruin 5E D&D?

At the crux of nearly every roleplaying game are the notions of experience and gaining levels. The Level Up appears in tabletop RPGs, video games and in the case of Evermore even a theme park! Even the term Level Up is ingrained into our vernacular. However, recently I was thinking about leveling up progression and experience and how the whole things works in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and it got me to thinking maybe, just maybe, leveling up and experience are holding back our beloved 5E D&D.

5E D&D Deception skill check Stealth skill challenge

5 Stealth Skill Challenges for 5E D&D

Salutations, nerds. We’ve arrived at the penultimate set of skill challenges for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Be proud of me because you have no idea how tempted I was to skip Stealth, go straight to Survival and make a joke about how you failed your Perception checks. I resisted the urge! So today is all about you making 5E D&D NPCs fail their Perception checks, so let’s get to it. As a note, per the usual each skill challenge is geared toward small moments of conflict to show those hard earned skills off and give a little more conflict to situations that would have otherwise gone smoothly. They are not intended as hooks to bigger adventures but as you well know, no plan survives first contact with the players so know your table and be prepared for what they’re likely to do with what you hand them. Now, roll for stealth.

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