Critters watching the most recent episode of Critical Role on Oct. 15 witnessed a wonderful surprise when Fjord chose his paladin Sacred Oath. Dungeon Master Matt Mercer wove this critical character choice into the adventure narrative during a very cool scene that ended with the Mighty Nein’s warlock-turned-paladin taking his Sacred Oath of the Open Sea. I can only imagine how many other people beside myself immediately started searching around online to find out more details. Thankfully it wasn’t long before Mercer shared the information that this new paladin Sacred Oath for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is available for all to see over at D&D Beyond. As an extra special bonus another custom subclass appeared as well and 5E D&D players can now follow the Way of the Cobalt Soul for their monk characters too.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted look closer at the craven reptilian humanoids that worship evil dragons as demigods and serve them as minions and toadies in fifth edition Dungeons & dragons. Kobolds remain a staple of D&D from the very beginning and while their appearance changed over the decades from rat-dog humanoids into a more draconic form they’re still small, crafty and dangerous in large numbers. Volo’s Guide to Monsters punches these little buggers with lots of lore and rich material to strengthen their position in the 5E D&D multiverse and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything all but guarantees a surge in popularity so I’d better get to work reimagining kobolds for players and Dungeon Masters alike with some razzle dazzle.
It’s not unheard of for Game Masters to experience what authors refer to as a “sagging middle” and grow tired of preparing material for the same world time and again for players. And players may become frustrated when they hear a GM say they don’t really prepare and instead let players run with things, or become jealous when a GM states they’ve over prepared while you’re struggling to keep things engaging. None of these need be the case! Let’s discuss five ways to avoid a boring middle of your tabletop roleplaying game campaign.
We think about games a lot around here. It’s no surprise since we built Nerdarchy as a tabletop game centric business from the very beginning. Every single day we’re creating and sharing our news, view and homebrews here on the website, on one or both of our two YouTube channels and through our Patreon. Primarily we focus our efforts on fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons for several reasons. We all love the game and 5E D&D in particular. It also happens to enjoy unprecedented success and attention worldwide, something our audience clearly gravitates towards along with untold others. But of course it’s not the only game around nor the only game we play. And after some soul searching and several long conversations and introspections it’s not even my favorite version of the game. How can this be? Let’s get into it.
Isn’t it a delight to crack open a new roleplaying game setting book for the first time? It’s wonderful fun discovering how the creators have reinterpreted classic tropes or generated genuinely unique ideas to delight their audience. I enjoy the fictional timelines, legendary people, ancient origin stories and so much more. It’s a pleasant waltz through someone else’s imagination and it’s inspiring! Although when it comes time to Game Master a campaign or write a new product for the setting it can be agonizing to get every little detail correct. Not long into the endeavor I invariably find myself wondering: How will I keep all of this lore in my head?
A scream shatters the midnight quiet. The distant peel of thunder forebodes a coming rainstorm, welcome among the red rocks of the desert. Cloth rustles against leather, metal occasional clinking as the merchant shuffles through her pack. These present scenarios, each evocative and distinct from the next. Whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder or any other tabletop roleplaying game each session is just as much improv theater of the mind as it is a codified game. Fans of live plays like those found on Critical Role, Nerdarchy Live and any number of other streams know the value of evocative descriptions and setting the scene. And when it comes to immersing players few senses are as captivating as the sense of sound.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a cue from a fellow YouTuber and share tales of adventurers — and more specifically adventurers — past. It’s indulgent, it’s fun and it’s introspectively interesting to take a long view back at all the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons characters who’ve solved puzzles, talked with other characters, battled fantastic monsters and discovered fabulous magic items and other treasure. And since they got to do it in the video I’m gonna do the same thing right here. A huge roster of 5E D&D characters took up the adventuring life in the last six years and from the group I culled my top five favorites, hopefully each with a little nugget of usefulness to you but certainly a hefty load for me. So let’s get into it.
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.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a look at the savage raiders and pillagers with stooped postures, low foreheads, and piggish faces with prominent lower canines that resemble tusks in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Orcs have been a staple of D&D and fantasy in general forever, typically as a threat looming in the wilderness on the edges of civilization. Volo’s Guide to monsters does a good job expanding on orcs for 5E D&D essentially as divinely driven destroyers, a pretty one note portrayal. Campaign settings offer a window into different kinds of orc societies like you’ll find in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount and Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Dave and Ted climb in through that window to make themselves at home and offer up three new ways to reimagine orcs for players and Dungeons Masters alike by adding just a few simple details.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted look through their third eye and continue Exploring Eberron through the character options included in the Dungeon Master’s Guild book produced by Keith Baker, the megapopular Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting’s original creator. Eberron is an extremely rich and detailed setting beloved by D&D players from its very beginning. Exploring Eberron illustrates wonderfully how curating character options creates a tremendous opportunity to show, rather than tell, what is special about your world. Exploring Eberron includes several subclasses for 5E D&D characters to choose from specially tailored to the setting, and Nerdarchy plans to explore them all like we do. In the case of the Mind Domain cleric I’m going through the book to find the connection points between the Divine Domain and the larger world it comes from. So let’s get into it.
Red Opera beckons fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players to strike a bargain with Apotheosis Studios for an extensive, innovative and thrilling campaign setting ready to drop right into your games. The Last Days of the Warlock encompasses a deeply developed setting, story beats, new character options and so much more all inspired and thematically designed alongside the heavy metal album by DiAmorte. The Red Opera album tells the tale of two fallen kingdoms in a dying land locked in an eternal conflict known as The Great Divide. On the horizon looms a dark, insidious force that influences and corrupts the powerful, accursed lord and through him seeks to destroy all humanity and life including his beloved human shield maiden, that new life may begin again. The Red Opera Kickstarter thrusts 5E D&D adventurers into the thrilling drama of the Shadelands, a new realm you can add to any campaign setting where your stories will unfold.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted take a look at the small, black-hearted, selfish humanoids that lair in caves, abandoned mines, despoiled dungeons, and other dismal settings in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Goblins have been a staple of D&D and fantasy in general forever, usually as a threat to heroes because of their vast numbers and malice. Interestingly enough 5E D&D hasn’t expanded a whole lot on goblins beyond the regular old goblin in the Basic Rules and goblin boss in the Monster Manual, mechanically anyway. Instead goblins are explored more culturally like the Batiri goblins from Tomb of Annihilation and this is exactly the kind of path Dave and Ted take even further in the video to illustrate how any creatures — even ubiquitous ones like goblins — can be reimagined in exciting new ways for players and Dungeons Masters alike by adding just a few simple details.
Nerdarchy’s brand new live play series is called Moon Rises. Utilizing Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System, the story is set in the science fantasy post apocalypse of our own Earth. Our intrepid heroes must help the charismatic leader Unic Hopebringer in reclaiming Manhattan to rebuild it as New Manhattan. We interviewed the cast of Moon Rises to get some insights into their characters, the world and the TTRPG system breathing mechanical life into this alien yet familiar world. Today, let’s talk about Blue, the mutant monkey, and his player Nerdarchist Ted!
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted ride the lightning rail and continue Exploring Eberron through the character options included in the Dungeon Master’s Guild book produced by Keith Baker, the megapopular Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting’s original creator. Eberron is an extremely rich and detailed setting beloved by D&D players from its very beginning. Exploring Eberron illustrates wonderfully how curating character options creates a tremendous opportunity to show, rather than tell, what is special about your world. Exploring Eberron includes several subclasses for 5E D&D characters to choose from specially tailored to the setting, and Nerdarchy plans to explore them all like we do. In the case of the Circle of the Forged druid I’m going through the book to find the connection points between the Druid Circle and the larger world it comes from. So let’s get into it.
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.