I couldn’t be more excited going into our new Dungeons & Delving campaign at Nerdarchy Live. The premise is a dungeon delving reality game show where our characters are treasure hunters. This fascinating premise comes from the mind of our own Nerdarchist Ted. The hype is real and it’s gotten me thinking about the premise itself and why we’re seeing an influx of nontraditional content in the streamed gaming community for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons.
In many fantasy styled games magic users including wizards, sorcerers and warlocks tend to wear Wizard Robes while adventuring. But when I think about the logistics of adventuring into jungles, swamps, catacombs, underground caverns, dragon lairs and vampiric castles I am left feeling a robe may not quite be the most practical form of attire. So why do magic users not wear pants? Well for one has anyone ever looked up a wizard’s robe and lived to tell about it, or rather admitted to the deed? No, probably not. But we all know those wizards are NOT wearing pants.
Recently on our second channel Nerdarchy Live Nerdarchist Dave and Nerditor Doug talked about comedy in tabletop roleplaying games. Since I’ve written my own comedic fantasy book and the genre niche is my jam I simply had to talk about it. Talking about comedic fantasy reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all time, which also happens to be a holiday favorite, Hogfather. Or as I like to call this movie — How Death Saved Fantasy Christmas.
The year winds to a close and reflecting on time passed naturally comes to mind. Later this week you’ll see Nerdarchists Dave and Ted’s thoughts on 2020 and Nerdarchy’s highlights from the year. I’m also looking ahead to 2021. For a lifelong nerd and now full time nerdy content director focused on tabletop roleplaying games I spend a lot of time thinking about the hobby professionally and personally. When I look ahead to the future of the TTRPG industry what I see is tinted with shades of what I hope emerges along with what I can assume is a reasonably informed view. So let’s get into it.
All things considered 2020 wasn’t too shabby for the Nerdarchy crew. We continued to grow across the board from Nerdarchy the YouTube channel to right here on the website where the quality and quantity of content increased dramatically. We started a second YouTube channel for our longform and live video content at Nerdarchy Live. Our Patreon got a needed refresh with more benefits for supporters and we’re super excited about the refined game content we produce every month and Nerdarchy the Newsletter evolved into a vibrant weekly dispatch with a huge subscriber list. Nerditor Doug (me) celebrated a one year anniversary as a full time employee while staff writers Robin and Steven became more involved in creating new content. Later this week we’ll be publishing our year end retrospective so keep an eye out for it but for now we’ll continue a tradition started last holiday season. So I’ll give you back over to Steven for the Nightmare Before Critmas Part 2. — Nerditor Doug
As I write this the sun has set on the shortest day of the year — Winter Solstice. (For my friends of the Goddess: have a peaceful solstice.) My semester finally ended with a flurry of papers (the last being thirty pages long.) Now it’s a waiting game. So now, what to write about? Hmm. Last year I wrote about the Deities & Demigods book I received for Christmas decades ago. Shall I write about the many different ways St. Nick has been adapted for D&D? Been done. No, instead I’ll write about April Fool’s day.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything released not too long ago and it’s causing a splash for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players. The eponymous wizard granting her name to the latest official 5E D&D book also made an impression in the Dankwood home of the adorable goblin who returns to Dungeon Masters Guild in a wonderful new book Muk’s Guide to Everything He Learned From Tasha. So let’s get into it.
It’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month — also lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo. Last year, Dael Kingsmill proposed a twist on our classic NaNoWriMo called GamoWriMo. The premise of NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in a single month. GamoWriMo’s challenge was similar: take the niggling idea for an RPG campaign that just won’t leave you alone and get it to a playtest worthy state before the end of the month. Both challenges emphasize getting words on a page as opposed to immaculate quality.
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.
Dungeons & Dragons needs an overhaul akin to the brash changes made in fourth edition D&D. Got your attention, yet? Good. My introduction into the world of D&D proper came when I began playing midway into 4E D&D. As such, I fully admit it might be my nostalgia talking but I pride myself a bit on being able to look at things I remember fondly with a critical lens and reassess my own enjoyment. (Looking at you, Pokemon anime.) While by no means perfect in its own right, 4E D&D streamlined many extremely complex and wordy concepts from third edition (grappling rules being a prime example). It also dared to reskin much of how the system was worded and refine its emphasis on elements that had fallen by the wayside a bit, most notably combat.
Some might say the renaming and rearranging were core components of why 4E D&D was so poorly received, and well… fair. I think there’s something to be said for overhauling a familiar system with the goal of making it better. The very fact they did such innovative things with the system should be lauded in itself even if it wasn’t ideal, because growth is achieved through failure and the failures of the MMO style combat-focused 4E D&D ushered in the more roleplay-heavy 5E D&D. So let’s talk about some ideas for renaming and retheming that might make the world’s greatest roleplaying game even better!
One of the reasons I’m writing for Nerdarchy is bribes… I mean, because I worked within the gaming industry for 13 years — at Chessex Game Distributors, TSR Hobbies and Games Workshop US. I’ve had people on Facebook groups ask me about my time at various employers. Today I’m putting pen to paper (I write out everything longhand before typing) to write about my time at Chessex Game Distributors (CGD). My facts about this are from online resources and my own memories. Any errors are my own — after all, it’s been almost thirty years — and no harm is meant by any mistakes, which I’d happily correct if informed.
Tabletop roleplaying games are absolutely amazing. Not only do they allow us to bond with others on the fundamentally human levels of storytelling and cooperation but they also provide safe spaces to explore problem solving, social situations and identity. In a tabletop roleplaying game you take control of your character, allowing for a degree of agency you simply don’t find in other avenues like video games and that’s part of what makes them absolutely magical! Who doesn’t love thinking of a character to participate in an epic story, where you can choose to be a mighty hero or an imposing villain? Roleplaying games are for everyone.
Miniatures have been part of Dungeons & Dragons since before it began. In fact, D&D started as a miniatures game! It’s true! Originally it was a fantasy miniature wargame written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson called Chainmail. Eventually spells and heroes were added and a way for those heroes to improve and it became the basic D&D of the mid 1970s, which has evolved into the game we all know today. Miniature war gaming goes back to at least 1913 when H.G. Wells published a book called Little Wars. They were his rules for playing miniature wargames. This post is going to be about miniatures, but not a history per se and not a how to or anything. This column is about what it was like for a preteen to discover miniatures via D&D and how the tabletop roleplaying game, miniatures and kid grew up together. There will be a bit of history in this piece so my primary sources are DnD Lead (a great resource for the early stuff) and Lost Minis Wiki, which has a lot more pictures and not as much history. Those sources are listed at the end. Yes, grad school has made me paranoid about citations.
I just blew though the Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix in about four days and really enjoyed this television series. If you are looking for a great TV show to binge I cannot recommend this strongly enough. To me it is clear the creator of this is a fan of Dungeons & Dragons with all the hybrid animals, which has always been a classic D&D staple originating with the owlbear. The challenge in running a D&D game in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a heavy on unarmed martial combat. This is easily fixed with characters either taking a level in monk or taking the feat Tavern Brawler. (The name of the feat does not mean you are limited to bar fights.) We should not get attached to how things are named unless it take us down a hole we cannot escape from. So let’s get into it further.
We’ve created a second YouTube channel! There’s no sense in burying the lead and we’re proud to announce the launch of Nerdarchy Live, the new home of our longform video content. Nerdarchy the YouTube channel remains our flagship source of news, views and homebrews where we share new videos three times each week about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons (and sometimes we talk about other tabletop roleplaying games too).