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Nerdarchy > Roleplaying (Page 16)
D&D grung monsters

The Long and Short of an RPG Campaign

Tabletop roleplaying games, and Dungeons & Dragons in particular, are experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to many factors: live streamed content, ease of access, online resources, YouTube channels devoted to helping Game Masters new and old hone their skills and get groups together. But with more people joining the fray, there’s also a sizable portion of groups that stay together for a few months and then fall apart. We live in a modern, global world with lots of outside factors that constantly vie for our attention.

roleplaying hobby

Roleplaying As A Challenge

There are near-limitless types of challenges within the world of gaming. From combat challenges to puzzles, there is something about conquering a problem that resonates with the adventurer’s soul within us all.

My Starfinder game had a challenge unique in so many ways. The challenge to conquer was in roleplaying, and not a simple amount of attacks or skill checks. The group ran into a completely alien species they did not share a language with, or even body shape to communicate through miming.

This got me to think of all the ways I have seen roleplaying be the deciding factor in a victory. Of the times when the players had to think and act on their feet to succeed. Let’s see how things roll, shall we?

Voice Acting In Roleplaying Gaming for Everyone

Voice acting in gaming

I have been cast for an upcoming voice acting gig, and this made me think of how this applies to gaming. At first glance I noticed the only one who gets into this at many tables is the one who runs the game. Though with the rise of broadcasts and live streams of gaming such as Maze Arcana and Scarlet Sisterhood, this is going away a bit but the question is why you should put in the amount effort needed to bring a character to life?

Theatrical Roleplaying in Modern RPGs

Beowulf graphic novel, translated by Santiago Garcia and art by David Rubin

In the past, I’ve talked a lot from my perspective as a writer, and from what I’ve learned from my college education in literary theory and rhetorical criticism as an English major. There are other aspects of my life, though, that I haven’t really touched on much.

In my article about utilizing critical success and failures, I mentioned some tenants of improv, which I’m tangentially familiar with from my 15 years of acting on stage. While it was mostly school and community theater work, and I haven’t been on stage in 15 years (although, lately I’ve been thinking of trying to break back in), it’s not a thing that ever leaves you.

However, I didn’t come here to talk about my past exploits.

I started out laying out an overview of my credentials because I want it to be clear what I have to say comes from a place of experience, even if those experiences were a lifetime ago. That’s because today I wanted to talk about approaching roleplaying your characters, whether you’re a Game Master or a player, from the perspective of an actor.

game master hobby

Roleplaying Character Moments Within the Party

roleplaying character momentsSalutations, nerds, today we’re going to talk about some fluffier stuff but by now I’m sure you know to expect that from me more often than not. I want to get into talking about the roleplaying moments between player characters within the party. RP with the PCs.

Dungeons & Dragons is typically a lot of back and forth between the characters and the Dungeon Master. At least 75 percent of the game should be like this, absolutely. It’s what drives the plot forward. We wouldn’t have any action without it. I’ve been thinking a lot, though, about the other 25 percent and what that entails. These are the parts that the players do that, in my opinion, can make or break whether a campaign is memorable.

This is something that has nothing to do with the DM and everything to do with the characters and it’s how you talk to each other during those downtime moments. D&D isn’t just about going on a quest and doing what the DM lays down for you – it’s about making a real connection between characters too.

Slavery in RPG Campaigns: Making a Case for Inclusion



A master leading his slave. [“Iron Ring Slaves” art by Jason Engle]

I want to let that hang there for a minute, because this is going to be a pretty serious topic. I want everyone to know this is going to be held with extreme gravity.

Slavery is a thing that’s been a problem throughout human history as much as it is exists in modern a fantasy tabletop RPG campaign like D&D.

It’s not necessarily everywhere, but it’s in there. Slavery is a subject included in these entries in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual: on page 5 (under towns and cities), and described in the aboleth, azer (the efreeti attempted to enslave them), beholders, bugbears, devils, red dragons, driders, duergar, drow, fomorian, genies, fire giants, gith, grimlock, hags, hobgoblins, jackalweres, kuo-toa, lamia, mind flayers, mummies, salamanders, yuan-ti, and even the commoner.

It’s in there.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #11 – “Building Bridges”

[caption id="attachment_22980" align="aligncenter" width="640"] This D&D party looks like they could use a team-building retreat. Say no more! This Out of the Box encounter is better than a trust fall for the party.[/caption] Introduction Have you ever needed an icebreaker encounter for either a new group, or...

Effects Of Age On A D&D Character Can Enhance the Experience

Effect of age in D&D

age effect

Opening phrase of Prince Hamlet’s soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” Act III, Scene I.

Age is a usually inescapable villain that hunts down any and all who walk this mortal coil.

That being said, there are ways to escape it. What we will deal with here are reactions left to those who don’t have the ability to visit the fountain of youth, become a lich or vampire, and have no chance to ascend to godhood.

The touch of age is something a lot of gamers forget but could do well to keep in mind. After all, the effect of it could very well enhance your gaming experience.

In previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons the effect of age was pretty easy to document.

“To be or not to be? Not to be.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater, playing Hamlet in the 1993 Columbia Pictures film “Last Action Hero”

In fact, your character could even use it as a form of min/maxing as your physical stats drop while your mental stats raise.

This could be a godsend to casters, especially the wizard and sorcerer who would want to push the DC of their spells as far as possible.

Conversely, a more physical type would run from the cold hand of time, as those physical abilities are their very bread and butter.

Using D&D 5E Unearthed Arcana Class Options for Worldbuilding

D&D Unearthed Arcana class

Limited Edition cover for Xanathar’s Guide to Everything from Wizards of the Coast.

Due to the recent announcement D&D Beyond will fully launch on August 15, my mind has turned back to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (or perhaps forward, since as of the writing of this article it’s still four months away from its release).

I’m really excited to see the new character options that are going to be available. Obviously we have a strong idea of some of it thanks in so small part to Wizards of the Coast’s Unearthed Arcana. There are some good ones out there. And there are some failures, too.

But no matter how good or bad, I’m not a fan of letting my D&D players use the class archetypes. The reason is very simple. Unearthed Arcana is subject to change because it’s test material.

The designers knew going into it what they had needed work. Partially because a lot of them did some really cool things, and really cool can either be largely ineffective or overpowered.

RPG Game Master

Worst Ways To DM D&D

There was an interesting ArmorClass10.com-sponsored video done on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel that detailed not just the worst ways to Dungeon Master, but the worst ways that the Nerdarchy crew have DM’d. This caught my ear for the humorous humility one has to have in order to present such. This of course is right up my alley, and akin to my usual theme of humor in the day-to-day discussions of Dungeons & Dragons. So of course I simply had to volunteer to speak on the worst ways to DM, and add my mistakes to the list. Let’s jump in and speak of various mistakes I’ve made, shall we? Let the roast begin!


E65 YR1- Playing Backgrounds & Equipment with D&D 5E Podcast

  Episode 65 of Nerdarchy the Podcast Year One Double episode with a deep dive into the players handbook of the newest edition of the world's most popular role-playing game. This time we will look at the background and equipment section from the PHB. https://soundcloud.com/david-friant-458990853/e65-yr1-playing-backgrounds-equipment-with-dd-5e Nerdarchy Breaks Down Backgrounds...

5 Laughable Things That Destroyed A Campaign

“Cambers Quarreling” by Jan Steen, circa 1665 [Image courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts]

Well here we go again with a response to a video from our Nerdarchy YouTube channel. Specifically the bearded boys had listed what they have seen destroy a campaign to the point that those occurrences can guarantee the fall of your campaign.

I do believe any campaign could survive things that would destroy others, and D&D is a game that can accommodate so many different styles to the point I do not feel safe guaranteeing anything will happen.

What I will say is I have seen things destroy campaigns that would make you roll save vs death from laughter. That being said, I will not name the people who destroyed these campaigns, but I will describe things as I remember them now.

Ahh yes, the mists of time cloud all. Here we go with my experiences, and I would love to hear your experiences.

Improv is Critical in RPG Storytelling



Improvisational theatre in progress. [Image by Aude Vanlathem/www.audevan.com]

Tabletop RPGs are deeply rooted in improvisation. After all, they’re games where people do things by saying they’re going to do them, and everyone else has to react to what’s being done by saying what they’re going to do.


This process repeats for two to four hours, or until there’s a good stopping point. Even Game Masters who prefer a more structured style are going to improvise more dialogue than they’ll use their actual prepared material.

This does not even include all the improv for the inevitable unplanned encounters, or how the GM has to improvise describing the outcomes of rolls – especially in combat. Technically you can just say what you’re going to do and exchange numbers across the table to determine success, and not describe what’s being said or done, but what would be the fun in that?

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