The holiday season is in full swing! Families gather around large meals and share time with one another… possibly even play a session of D&D together? In the spirit of the season, I was trying to think of a topic that might thematically represent this time of year. Ideas danced in my head like sugar plums… Sorry, I couldn’t resist. However, it did strike me that a common element when it comes to holidays is food.
Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discussed the best classes to play for locathah and tortle characters in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Both of these aquatic adjacent races were introduced to 5E D&D through DMs Guild products where all the monies Wizards of the Coast receives from sales of the PDFs are donated to Extra Life. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick and injured kids. Maybe it’s the single class party composition series we’ve been doing or the Hell & High Water expansion for 1985 Games’ Dungeon Craft product line, but adventuring parties sharing a common element have been on my mind lately.
“Come on, Herbie! Just a little more!”
Herbie unleashed a thunderous grunt, his six massive legs sinking into the soft, wet earth. Mud clumped his thick fur, the torrential rain mingling with his sweat as the gantuan struggled to pull the carriage from the mire.
Panic gripped Wally’s heart as the family inside the sinking carriage clung to one another. The child, a little girl with her father’s broad features and her mother’s elven ears, pressed a hand against the glass.
Tools in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons featured pretty prominently lately among the Nerdarchy crew. We focused a live chat on the topic, a newsletter, video, website post and our October Patreon rewards zeroed in specifically on gaming sets. For November we’re following up the Rolling Bones rewards with a broader spotlight on all the other D&D tools. Union Salon is a location you can drop right into your campaign setting. Characters can explore their tool proficiencies through practice with experts, engage with colorful NPC masters of their craft, discover brand new tool sets and put their tool skills to use uncovering a mystery surrounding an auction of oddities and playing minigames in D&D. So let’s get into it.
When it comes to bards in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, they tend to get a rap for being the face of the party or the characters trying to get into everyone’s pants, but Charisma isn’t just about Persuasion, Deception and Performance. It’s about Intimidation, too. And Intimidation is all about instilling fear, whether through threats or presence. Lots of things are intimidating. Monsters and horrors are just a couple. Being that it’s the time for Halloween, I really wanted to try something weird, inspired by the All Bard D&D Party Composition: How to Play video from over on the YouTube channel.
For a Game Master descriptions are vitally important when running a tabletop roleplaying game like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Fantastic artwork can be a tremendous visual aid, and there’s countless miniatures and accessories to enhance your gaming table whether you play on a virtual tabletop or a physical one. So I’m always on the lookout for visual data to draw from and help paint a picture for players. I recently came across a remarkable sculpture by Kevin Francis Gray that struck me immediately and went directly into the GM toolbox in my imagination. Even better, Ghost Girl opened a window into this artists other works, a collection of incredible sculptures dripping with evocative imagery. Taking inspiration from fantasy art gets a lot of mileage for me as a GM, and the best works give ideas for adventure hooks.
I know what you’re thinking: “Did Nerdarchy cover five Unearthed Arcana or only four?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss Unearthed Arcana — Fighter, Ranger, Rogue in today’s video, and we all speculated about what it could have been last week, so it’s only fair to share the space here on the website to take a look at Rune Knight fighters, Swarmkeeper rangers and Revived rogues.
The round of Unearthed Arcana playtest content with new subclasses for each class in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons has come and gone. D&D players had opportunities to read through them, discuss them and playtest these new D&D subclasses, and provide feedback to the D&D design team through surveys. On the Nerdarchy YouTube channel we’ve got videos about each of the Unearthed Arcana playtest packets for these new D&D subclasses too. I always like to imagine how new content adds to a D&D campaign, and also speculate on what sort of product playtest material could be part of down the road. So let’s get into it with the Oath of Heroism paladin and College of Eloquence bard.
It’s that time of year, when you hear Spooky Scary Skeletons about half a dozen times before you get tired of it. That got me to thinking about skeletons and necromancy in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Back in the old days, paladins were always lawful good, and necromancers were always evil. But the times, they are a’changin’ and now we’ve got the Grave Domain cleric, the Shadow Magic sorcerer, and others with this definitively dark, necromantic theme, but they’re much more ambiguous on whether their powers are “evil,” as such. What’s more, we’ve got clerics all over the place using necromancy spells like spare the dying, revivify, and such for the good of all. So, that begs the question, “Is necromancy evil in D&D?”
When you hear “Chapel of Bones” you probably think nercomancer. It’s at least in your surface thoughts. But there is a real Chapel of Bones in Portugal where the interior walls and columns are covered and decorated with human skulls and bones. The 16th century Franciscan monks who built the place meant to represent the concept of life being transitory best summed up by the motto memento mori. The bones of the chapel are very literal reminders of death. But I don’t see any animated dead or other signs of necromantic shenanigans.
Halloween is fast approaching! Finally! The one time of year when grown-up nerds can cosplay without fear of judgment! It’s also a prime opportunity for some festive tabletop roleplaying game Halloween adventures. With loads of nightmare fuel in our favorite books by Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press and more, we’re just about set. All we need is to build a framework to unleash these delightfully dreadful monsters. In this week’s RPGtube video, I’ve shared 5 session prompts to keep your players on the edges of their seats! While good monsters and a good plot can make a fantastically frightful session, I’ve thought of 5 ways to immerse your players just that little bit more!
Unearthed Arcana is flowing like elven wine! New playtest stuff for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons in the free Unearthed Arcana documents get all the D&D nerds excited. We’ve been enjoying the steady stream of cool new toys to wonder about, and the most recent share from Wizards of the Coast presents three new subclasses for D&D — Twilight Divine Domain for clerics, Circle of Wildfire for druids and Arcane Tradition Onomancy for wizards. Imagining how new content adds to a D&D campaign is always a lot of fun so let’s get into it.
We’ve been talking a lot about tools in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons around the Nerdarchy HQ lately. The topic was the focus for a recent weekly live chat and newsletter, and came up again during a later live chat too. One set of D&D tools in particular — the gaming set — inspired our upcoming monthly Patreon rewards too. Rolling Bones is all about games within the games of our D&D campaign settings and adventure worlds. Our talk and writing about tools and gaming sets got me thinking about minigames in D&D in different ways. So let’s get into it.
Firstly, I should clarify that when we discuss “class” in this post, we’re talking about the character class mechanic in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, not social class as it exists in our world. The character class system is an integral aspect of roleplaying games whether tabletop, video games, or whatever. That being said, have you ever stopped to think about what a class would look like in a story?
It’s Pride Month, and I love it! For those who maybe aren’t as familiar, Pride Month is a time when Queer people (or people part of the ever-growing LGBT+ community) the world around celebrate love, life, and happiness. It’s a time of rainbows and good vibes and all that other stuff.
A couple of notes before delving into this article:
- I’m coming at this topic from my own perspective as a Queer person who loves tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs, for short).
- I’ll be using the term “Queer” (with the capital “Q”) to reference the LGBT+ community in its many contexts.
With the increasing visibility of Queer people in our society, the question for many Game Masters inevitably comes up, “Should I include Queer characters in my worldbuilding?” Rather than tell you you’re a jerk if you don’t or try to convince you why you should, let’s have a frank discussion about the reasons you might or might not want to take Queer people into consideration when it comes to your RPG worldbuilding.