The turbulent year of 2020 draws to a close. As the year ends Nerdarchists Dave and Ted reflect on the high points from 2020. All things considered this past year was a good one for Nerdarchy with growth across the board from our YouTube channel (we’ve got two now!) to right here on the website and more. New friends were made and new games were played. Our creativity and curiosity led us to try lots of new things with our own content and we’re proud of the continued positive growth we’ve experienced.
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.
So, you wanna get into the big bold world of tabletop roleplaying games, huh? Maybe you’ve decided to spend more time with friends and you think game night is a great way to do this or perhaps you’ve got inspiration for a sprawling world and you just really want to evolve it by telling stories in it. Suppose you don’t know where to start, like what RPG system you should use. You could go with Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a classic for a reason and fifth edition D&D definitely strikes a delicate balance between crunchy and simple. Maybe you’ve recently been watching Nerdarchy’s most recent live play Moon Rises and you want to try your hand with Cypher System. Maybe there’s another game you’ve wanted to try but you’re just not sure on the matter or maybe you don’t even know where to start when you want to branch out with RPGs. Don’t worry. If you want a brief rundown of what different systems high and low points are you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re talking about five different RPG systems — what they do well, what they could do better and general pros and cons. Before we delve even that far feel free to check out the video I did over on my own YouTube channel where I break down the strengths and weaknesses of different types of RPG systems.
The quest to discover new and exciting approaches to tabletop roleplaying games never ends and to this point a few months ago I came across Quest from The Adventure Guild. Presented as the roleplaying adventure game for everyone Quest enjoyed a successful Kickstarter in 2018 and is now available for digital and (while supplies last) physical purchase. Quest sold me on the simplicity — the RPG system uses only a single d20 — and if I’m honest the art that evokes fun adventure. The team behind Quest, including creator and designer T.C Sottek who is also managing editor at The Verge, freelance comic artist and illustrator Celia Lowenthal and editor Chris Plante who is also a writer, reporter, critic and the executive editor and co-founder of Polygon put together a wonderful RPG. Reading the book was a joy and understanding Quest’s game system couldn’t be easier.
Nerdarchy’s new live play RPG Moon Rises is a post apocalyptic science fantasy game inspired by action cartoons from the 1980s. This premise is pretty high concept and while most tabletop roleplaying games accommodate fantasy elements the sci-fi and post apocalyptic elements are a bit neglected in many mainstream systems, and devising mechanics (while rewarding at times) is a heavy commitment. But our Game Master for this season of Nerdarchy Live game play, Nerdarchist Dave, had something up his sleeve. He introduced us to Cypher System. When Dave told us intended to use Cypher System by Monte Cook Games my response wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. I’d only heard of the RPG system in passing and when I learned Cypher was the genre agnostic version of Numenera my curiosity was piqued, though I remained skeptical. What I’d heard of Numenera was it was a fun game but had a stigma of being overly simple. So far, not a great setup to the system, huh? I try to keep things positive in my articles, though never at the expense of honesty. That probably has you wondering why I chose to do an article on Cypher System. The reason I’m writing is to say I was wrong. I was very wrong. What’s more I’d bet if I had heard such things about the system at my FLGS, I likely wasn’t alone and I wanted to set the record straight.
Several of the most fun and memorable Dungeons & Dragons adventures I’ve participated in involved the Feywild and fey themes. I love the myth and magic of fairy courts in tales from our own world’s history and culture and especially the portrayal of the Twilight Realm of Faerie in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic books. I borrow heavily from that fabled writer and in my own setting the Feywild is represented by the Dreaming World to contrast with the Material Plane called the Waking World. So you can imagine my excitement when Through the Veil: Tales of the Feywild released at Dungeon Masters Guild. Producer and Project Lead Elise Cretel — @DNDElise on Twitter and a Dungeon Master I’ve got great respect for — sent me a copy and I am more than happy to signal boost this terrific book of fey adventures for fifth edition D&D.
The Underworld or Underdark or whatever you call the lightness world beneath the surface in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting is a dangerous place. You should not go alone and you should not go unprepared. In order to be better prepared perhaps you can have some extra knowledge. With that allow me to present a couple of books packed with extra fun to add into your 5E D&D game. Let me introduce Underworld Player’s Guide and Underworld Lairs from Kobold Press. These two books share themes and concepts with Empire of the Ghouls, an expansive undead themed campaign we got our hands on recently too.
Salutations, nerds! Today I’m going to be reviewing Empire of Ghouls, which is a campaign module put out by Kobold Press and let me tell you this one was a real treat to read. For those of you who don’t already know this is a full sized book for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. This campaign goes from 1st to 13th level based around an empire of the undead currently occupying the underground. Like, to the point they’ve overtaken drow settlements. These guys are a serious threat and it’s clear from the very start. A concept like this could have easily gotten very samey and stale but not the case with this one. I want to say maybe half of it actually takes place underground (and I might be overshooting) but even the parts that don’t never lose sight of the tone and flavor of the module. So without further ado let’s get into the meat of Empire of Ghouls, shall we?
Here are three different tabletop board games you can use to occupy yourself and your family during the pandemic, but I assure you ]they will be fun after things calm down as well. The three games are Exit: The Game, How Do You See The World? and Tattoo Stories. These games are a lot of fun and I am going to break them each down.
Your stalwart old lady grognard finished her first fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign last night! And my character survived!
First, a little backstory. A little more than a year ago, I read about Nerdarchy on Facebook and watched some of their videos. I learned they were right across the river in New Jersey! At the time, I hadn’t played (as a player) a D&D game in decades, and I’d never played 5E D&D. However, the popularity (it seemed everyone was playing it) and my desire to play D&D again caused me to reach out to the Nerdarchy guys. But how to make myself stand out from the thousands of emails, comments and fan mail they received each day? Hmmm. I know! I’ll rattle off my gaming resume! (TSR, GW, etc.) And they responded!
I was privileged to receive a free copy of Kobold Press’s new Deep Magic: Alkemancy, a Kobold Press supplement for 5th Edition, in order to review it. Concocting potions and utilizing them is nothing new to the fantasy genre, and I was excited to cover this in a review. I love seeing new rules from passionate third party publishers I can use at my game table. Today, we’re talking feats. This supplement has two Alkemancy feats. One is for potions your character imbibes, while the other is for thrown potion bombs. As with any review, these are my own personal opinions on this material. I am not the be-all, end-all of critical D&D analysis. With that caveat out of the way, let’s break down the two feats and determine what I liked and what I didn’t.
I went on a fantastical adventure in Manhattan in New York City. The Cauldron is a magical gastropub experience located on 47 Stone St., New York City. It’s a pub catering to the nerdier elements of the city. One of the first sights to greet me as I entered the establishment was two young ladies playing Operation. That’s right, the game with a red-nosed guy who lights up and buzzes annoyingly when you fail to remove a piece from him without touching the sides. The Cauldron’s aesthetic is that of a magical tavern as I made my way deeper in to see a 15 foot tree in the center of the bar. This is no ordinary tree — it has beer taps coming out of it. Magical wands activate the taps so patrons of this magical place can dispense their own ale. A true beauty to behold.
As cool as the surroundings are, I wasn’t on a sightseeing trip or even visiting to participate in the potion classes they hold. Oh, no, I came for the Dungeons & Dragons. Along with sharing my experience below including a photo gallery, you can watch the first episode of Cantrips & Casters I attended live in Manhattan.
I was provided a free copy of Deep Magic: Alkemancy by Kobold Press, and for the past few weeks I’ve been reviewing it. If you haven’t seen my previous articles, please check those out first, then come back to this. Today, we’re embracing RPG materialism and talking all about items!
Alkemancy Arcane Tradition for Wizards and a New School of Magic? Review of Deep Magic: Alkemancy by Kobold Press
If you’ve been keeping up with my review series on the Deep Magic: Alkemancy supplement for 5th Edition from Kobold Press, you know that last time was rough, but we’re not done yet! This supplement also contained a whole new school of magic: Alkemancy. Of course, this was accompanied by an Arcane Tradition subclass for wizards. As a note before we dive in, I was provided a free copy to review. This in no way skews my opinions. With that out of the way, let’s dive in!
I was privileged to receive a review copy of Kobold Press’s new Deep Magic: Alkemancy supplement for 5th Edition in order to review it. The notion of potion making is nothing new to the fantasy genre, and I was eager to hop onto this. I love seeing new rules from passionate third-party publishers that I can use at my game table. That being said, this supplement is rich with content, and I cannot possibly cover all of the different aspects in a single article. As such, I’ll be writing a series of articles, each detailing different aspects of the book, and I’ll culminate the whole thing in a video review, over on my YouTube channel, once I finish the articles here. With all that out of the way, let’s dive into this overview!