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Nerdarchy > Roleplaying (Page 17)

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?


E60 YR1- Diseases, Tricks, and Hazards from the 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide Podcast

Episode 60 of Nerdarchy the Podcast Year One Our first time combining three videos to create our podcast in our DMG deep dive. https://soundcloud.com/david-friant-458990853/e60-yr1-diseases-tricks-and-hazards-from-the-5th-edition-dungeon-masters-guide Disease in Dungeons and Dragons 5e from the 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHS4mMciC6I 5E Dungeons and Dragons Disease in the 5th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide...

Open Legend RPG character build: Aetherficer Bunny

Open Legend RPG

You might be familiar with our Open Legend game “Aether Skies – The Beginning of the End.” Doug, Professor Bill, Ty and Megan have already done character builds for the game, and those articles were fascinating reads, so now I’m finishing up the series by stepping back onto the website and showing what is behind the curtain with my character.

Open Legend RPG is an open source roleplaying game designed by Brian Feister, who sponsors our weekly live game that streams on Fridays at noon Eastern on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel. The core rules for the game are available for free online here.

It feels weird writing an article again when I have not done so in so long. I might dive into stuff currently going on in the game or even stuff that has not been revealed yet so you have been warned.

alignment behavior

On D&D Alignment and Behavior: Nubz Chimes In

D&D alignment

Where’s my grognards at? This classic diagram comes from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook.

D&D alignment

Alignment has been a part of gaming since it’s inception. Arguably, alignment has been a concept within society of the real world since society’s inception.

From the beginning, alignment could be used to describe the actions of every level of society from the humble serf who shares their bread to the despot who claims to have the best interests of the people at heart but lives upon the backs of their citizens through childish antics and hypocritical actions that fly in the face of their constituents.

Okay, I will step off my soap box against chaotic evil. So D&D alignment was brought up by Nerdarchy on the YouTube channel in the ArmorClass10.com-sponsored video above, and I would like to weigh in on what was said about alignment.

Passive Stealth and Other D&D skills – Making A Case

Not that long ago I moved back home to Salem (Oregon, not Massachusetts) from San Antonio (also not in Massachusetts). The other day I went to Dairy Queen, which I’ve been going to frequently, because for whatever reason Texans hate cherries, and I’m kinda making up for 15 years of not having my favorite treat, their cherry dip cone. After I approached the counter, I patiently waited for a cashier to notice me. Eventually one of them turned around, slightly startled at just seeing me there, without noticing me at all. The funny thing about that is, as I’ve become accustomed to, and what feels like a San Antonio tradition, I was wearing flip-flops. By all measures I shouldn’t be sneaking up on anyone, but apparently I have just a soft enough step and an unassuming presence that I can shift about unnoticed.

RPG great people great stories

RPG Player Tip: Great Stories Don’t Need Great People

Getting back on the regular track this week after Origins 2017 – con fatigue is a thing that is real, folks – there were two RPG player experiences I’ve had recently that taught me a valuable lesson. One is from the time-stamped video above that happened during Nerdarchy’s Open Legend RPG-sponsored live game Fridays at noon EST. The other is from my home group’s fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game. Both situations illustrated a poignant paradigm. As you’ve undoubtedly guessed from this article’s title, the lesson is that great stories emerge from less-than-great people.

Great examples of not so great people in RPG campaigns who drive the narrative forward and create great stories are everywhere. Critical Role’s Vox Machina will be the first to admit they’re often terrible people. Dice, Camera, Action’s Waffle Crew barely get along. Acquisitions Inc.’s The C Team aren’t exactly shining examples of heroism. And Titansgrave’s cast of adventurers were built from the beginning with inherent flaws. Yet all of them tell compelling RPG stories full of action, excitement, humor and drama driven by characters who are far from perfect. I’m sure anyone’s home game has plenty of examples, too.

Going Out In a Blaze of Glory: Thoughts on Character Death

more to your classHey nerds! You may already know some of us met up this past weekend at Origins, and I’ve got to say it was a blast. I was so excited to get to meet Nerdarchist Dave and Staff Editors Ty and Doug in person. Getting to hang out together was really awesome, and one of the things we got to do was play in a one-shot together, DMed by Kobold Press’s Stephen Rowe (who was coincidentally just in a daily live chat).

Let me lead off by saying it was pretty amazing and I have legitimately never been that into a combat before. But something else happened. That was my little brother, Max, experienced his very first character death.

Nord Games unleashes Revenge of the Horde on your D&D game

Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde from Nord Games offers an awesome resource for incorporating a variety of monstrous races into your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game. At nearly 200 pages, the book presents creature options for bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs and more. The book is available through Nord Games in PDF and hardcover options, for $15-45. In addition to the D&D version, there is a Pathfinder edition, too.

Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch backed the Kickstarter campaign, and you can watch their Nord Games-sponsored flip-through video above. In addition to the hardcover book, they received the reference deck, all five encounter builder decks and 258 pawns featuring the new creatures from the D&D book.

Using Tabletop RPGs for Social Empathy

I’m not really going to go about proving that science fiction sometimes gets used as a tool to pursue social issues. It’s well documented, and I don’t feel like I need to prove it. Star Trek is practically built on it. Fantasy novels aren’t immune from it, either. Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series bleeds social issues, perhaps even to its own detriment.

social tabletop RPGsTabletop RPGs aren’t exclusively fantasy and science fiction, but it’s hard to avoid their significant presence in the hobby. After all, we already live in a world of Houses & Humans.

Why would we want to spend four hours a week (way more than that for GMs) steeped in daily chores and making sure you include the TPS report cover sheet? It’s far more fun to enjoy something far outside of ourselves, usually with at least some fantasy elements, be it a western, superhero, or a horror game.

There’s actually another reason for that. As children, steeping ourselves in extraordinary worlds helps us learn about the real world around us. We’re able to experiment in a safe environment. As adults, that still holds true. In fact, I would argue that it’s more important for adults.

D&D monsters

D&D grung and other monsters are people, too

Monsters as notable NPCs and player characters in D&D is something I’ve touched on in past columns, including last week’s exploration of the similarities between a TTRPG GM and a Swiss Army knife. Since then, I ran the “Grungle in the Jungle” adventure idea for my gaming group. Inspired by Stream of Annihilation’s One Grung Above from WotC Product Manager Christopher Lindsay this adventure puts the players in control of a band of grung from Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

Character PTSD symptoms in gaming

PTSD in gaming

PTSD symptom

Many Marines return to the states with vivid memories of their combat experiences, and the array of emotions they face internally may be hard to detect. While changes in behavior are more obvious, symptoms can also manifest in physical form. [Marines from Arlington, VA, United States/Wikimedia Commons]

Alrighty, well many a statement has been made about PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many a facet and corner of the internet is about how to diagnose yourself or whatever, and I only state whatever because that is not what this article is about. What this article is about is how to show and bring this intense aspect of recovery from stress into your game. I bring this up for two sources of inspiration in the last 24 hours. The first being a game session one where one of our players chose the background of soldier, and I was thinking how this is portrayed or roleplayed. The other is that I watched the movie Wonder Woman, in which there is a character that has obvious PTSD or ‘shell shock’ as it was known back then. This all combined to get my mind working for this subject in multiple ways.

Open Legend RPG character

Open Legend RPG character build – Kryzikk

Open Legend RPG character

A kobold from the fifth edtion Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.

Hey, guys, Professor Bill of Comic Book University and I guess I’m up next to talk about my character for the Open Legend RPG game on Fridays at noon Eastern on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel. I think that, by now, it’s pretty obvious that I have an affinity for comic books, so I took my inspiration from the comics to get in my character’s head. Open Legend RPG is an open source roleplaying game designed by Brian Feister, who sponsors our weekly live game. The core rules for the game are available for free online here.

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