Over the weekend there was a conversation on Twitter that really got me thinking. Titan Gaming asked RPG players how they decide when to cast their characters’ highest level spells. The proceeding conversation included terrific insights and perspectives from a handful of people and stayed on my mind for the next couple of days. So when it came time to sit down and get something written I felt like it was worth exploring what else there is to unpack. D&D spells are an expendable resource, and spellcasters have a multitude of things to consider when choosing and casting them. But they’re not the only ones. Every class has some form of resource management in D&D — some much more than others — and choosing when to expend these resources can involve a number of considerations. Whether a player holds back the good stuff for the inevitable dungeon boss, leads into an adventure with shock and awe, or waits for the right narrative moment to unleash their power, is resource management in D&D a form of metagaming? Let’s get into it.
Tabletop roleplaying games are legitimately one of my favorite means of storytelling. There’s something incredibly special about about gathering your friends together for a night of fun and enjoyment. Instead of catching up on your favorite streaming show or spending a small fortune getting drinks, everyone sits around a table to collectively craft their own stories with their own original characters. But let me stop myself before I gush off topic. To set up this discussion, I first have to talk about “suspension of disbelief.” Boiling it down, suspension of disbelief happens when a storyteller (or Game Master) and their audience (or players) both understand that a work of fiction is not real, but all parties agree to suspend their disbelief. There’s a sort of unspoken contract between storytellers and audiences that certain core aspects of a fiction story (i.e. the existence of magic, other races, fictional technologies, etc.) are going to remain unaddressed outside of the fact they’re presumed to be true.
We recently did a video about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons called: D&D Wizard 5E — 3 Deadly Spells Verbal Components Only. In making that video we created a list from the wizard spell list of spells that only require only verbal spellcasting components. It occurred to me we haven’t put the list anywhere for the folks who might be interested the rest of the spells we came up with. It also occurred to me we’ve go the perfect place to put that list, with us having a website and all. D&D wizards have at least one spell at every level they can cast only using verbal spell components. This opens up a lot of possibilities. For instance in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons a wizard could focus only on verbal spellcasting components.
Welcome once again to the weekly Nerdarchy newsletter. This week our topic is Blood and bone. Before we jump into it I want to apologize. For the last couple of weeks haven’t been able to run our Saturday Live Chat sessions. The Nerdarchy streaming laptop went down and failed its death saves. Fear not! We got it to the temple and had a team of clerics work on it. They were able to resurrect it. This past Saturday we were back at and talking about Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina Kickstarter and what it means for our beloved hobby.
Way back in the mid-1980’s when I started playing Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, I feel pretty confident saying the word “narrative” never came up as regards our funny-shaped dice rolling adventures. We played a lot of modules as standalone adventures, and our characters didn’t really engage with the plot very much. A country frozen in time by a strange red light, a town under siege by goblins and a lost valley, rescuing a captive baroness from the evil Temple of the Frog deep in the Great Dismal Swamp… yadda yadda yadda. We go in the ruined palace, slay the white dragon and get the giant ruby. The Iron Ring was defeated after exploring much of Eastern Karameikos. The Fetch paid us as promised and we returned to our own time. And it wasn’t until this moment as I’m writing why back then the narrative was largely irrelevant, but my current D&D campaign — intended to celebrate the old school spirit — wound up with a strong narrative all on it’s own. So let’s get into it and see how a narrative emerges in your D&D campaign, whether you want it or not.
Fantasy art influences my fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games to an extraordinary degree. One of the themes running strongly in the great documentary Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons is how playing D&D gives us an opportunity to discover what would our characters do in these fantastic settings. The fantasy art inspiring our D&D games also provides a tool to help us vividly describe the creatures, places and things adventurers see. For players and Dungeon Masters alike, the fantasy art that speaks to us leaves an indelible mark on our gaming. And for my money, there’s no better place for unending discovery of amazing fantasy art than Pinterest. It’ll improve your D&D games as a player and DM, I guarantee. So let’s get into it.
I have been a gamer since the age of 14 when I could understand the rules in the old second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. I’ve played through many editions of D&D without a thought, enjoying the ability to take on a new role or create a new world. Here unfortunately is where things take a drastic turn. On April 18, 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer, which at current date is at stage 4. A lot of people have asked me how I dealt with it, what did I do, etc. I kept gaming. I ran Savage Worlds and D&D games. I also played in D&D and Pathfinder games. I’ve had the good fortune to play in games here on Nerdarchy not to mention unMade Gaming.
Hello, and welcome to Roleplaying the Other. In this column, I’m going to be largely focused on roleplaying, worldbuilding, and interactions at the table. They will be filtered through my own personal lens of queer experiences in the hobby. Firstly, I should define when I say “queer,” I am referring to LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) experiences. This is a blanket term encompassing asexuality and other distinct identities, as well. If you are not one of these letters of the acronym you may be asking yourself what you’re doing here. I’m glad you asked. I’m going to be sharing insights I’ve gained that can hopefully help anyone’s table run a better game. I am not a spokesperson for all identities and I’ll be reaching out to people within the community for their perspective from time to time.
Welcome once again to the weekly Nerdarchy Newsletter. This week we are going to dive into renown in Dungeons & Dragons. You can find rules for it in Chapter 1 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. You can find additional information in Chapter 2 of the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Renown gets discussed right in the introduction of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. These three sources alone will give a ton of information and suggestions on how to use renown specifically, which is great for running D&D and using renown in Forgotten Realms or the world of Ravnica. We will explore other options and ideas below from the Nerdarchy team. Remember — just because those are official D&D campaign settings doesn’t mean you can’t pull them apart and reassemble them for your homebrew D&D campaign.
Ah, necromancy. The gift that keeps on giving, even beyond death. In fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, the Arcane Tradition of Necromancy deals largely with animate dead and bringing other undead under your control. Nerdarchy’s longtime stance on bringing skeletons and zombies into the world remains rooted in the undead creatures’ evil nature, making this sort of magic straight up evil. But that’s Nerdarchists Dave and Ted. I’ve got my own opinions about necromancy, necromancers and their supernatural relationship to life and death. So I’m going to smudge the palette of black, gray and white necromancy for 5E D&D a bit and add a few more shades of magic.