In the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, or really any fantasy based roleplaying game the theology is very important. In the real world, where we all live our daily lives, I think a smaller amount of people think about their immortal soul than those who live in a world where it is incontrovertible that magic exists and there is an afterlife. It is even possible to visit the realm of the dead or come back to life. With this in mind and considering there are agents working both sides, why are angels and fiends not seeing more of a hand in the events of the mortal world? We know there are playable races with divine or fiendish blood, and we hopefully do not need a biology lesson of the birds and bees to know how you got there, but why are the celestials not serving major cities as advisors, looking out for a family line? Or why are their not infernals attempting to do the same?
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted establish a link to the gods and discuss Piety in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Introduced in the 5E D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide right in chapter 1, Piety is a variation of the Renown system. When 5E D&D first launched, a prominent part of the marketing focused on Factions — important forces in a campaign world — and characters’ interactions with these organizations. Adventurers League players grew quite familiar with Harpers, Order of the Gauntlet, Emerald Enclave, Lords Alliance and Zhentarim through Renown and for me this was a particularly exciting part of the game. Later books like Acquisitions Incorporated and Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica expand on Renown through their franchise and guild ranks and advancement. Since curating playable races and subclasses for characters as a campaign creation and worldbuilding tool generated good ideas and conversations let’s see how Piety and Renown can be used. Lots of creators already laid strong foundations for using Renown in your 5E D&D games, so we’ll start with what we’ve already got and come up with some new ideas to add.
Tabletop roleplaying games are absolutely amazing. Not only do they allow us to bond with others on the fundamentally human levels of storytelling and cooperation but they also provide safe spaces to explore problem solving, social situations and identity. In a tabletop roleplaying game you take control of your character, allowing for a degree of agency you simply don’t find in other avenues like video games and that’s part of what makes them absolutely magical! Who doesn’t love thinking of a character to participate in an epic story, where you can choose to be a mighty hero or an imposing villain? Roleplaying games are for everyone.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted veer from the main adventure to explore side quests in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Side quests in 5E D&D emerged as a discussion topic a while back during the old Saturday live chat and following newsletter. (If you’re interested in either of those, they found a home together on the website here.) When I look back at that now it becomes clear to me my approach to games changed considerably, as a player and Game Master. Side quests in tabletop roleplaying games present as good an opportunity as any to revisit some ideas. At one time RPG side quests formed the bulk of a campaign but if I’m honest now these adventures without direct bearing on the primary goal feel like distractions. Have I turned the corner from exalting side quests to avoiding them? Let’s get into it and find out.
Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to talk about monsters and their tendency to fight to the death every single time in tabletop roleplaying games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Now, I’m not saying they should break and run every single time but morale is a real thing. Dungeon Masters have a tendency to get into the middle of a game and hit a point where we’re thinking about the things on the battlefield just as things on the battlefield for the adventurers to hit then vend treasure and experience points from. But it matters why the monsters are on the field and what they’re trying to accomplish. A group of goblins who got bullied into joining this fight by a much larger hobgoblin probably aren’t going to stick around, for example, after their hobgoblin bully gets decapitated. Consider what monsters are trying to take and what they’re trying to protect. What are the stakes for your 5E D&D antagonists and creatures and what happens if they lose? Is it going to be worse than dying?
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted share their thoughts on the two new fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons subclasses inside Mythic Odysseys of Theros. College of Eloquence bards and Oath of Glory paladins bring new options for players tied to the themes and concepts of the new 5E D&D campaign setting. If I’m honest it was surprising there aren’t more new subclasses included with MOoT. Circle of Stars felt like a surefire piece of the Theros puzzle! On the other hand if it shows up in a future product more closely tied to the stars (like Spelljammer?!) or a Feywild campaign adventure you won’t find me grousing about it. In the meantime, since I enjoyed thinking about how curating the playable races for characters can become a resource for campaign creation and worldbuilding why not apply the same principles to subclass options?
Helping to run a small business dedicated to tabletop roleplaying games puts me in a position to think about RPGs. A lot. While I consider myself far from an expert game designer or theorist I’ve got to assume writing, editing, planning and considering these games leaves me with at least a little insight and today I want to share a profound moment from my RPG experiences. A while back I wrote about how the best RPGs let you know clearly up front what the game is about. The post found traction and stimulated good conversations. The idea for that post came after reading an early backer version of Vaesen — Nordic Horror Roleplaying and you can check it out here. I bring it up because this post also comes from ideas inspired from the same rule book. One small sidebar in one of the mysteries included with the game changed my whole perspective on verisimilitude and reminded me the importance of remembering we’re still playing a game. So let’s get into it.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted continue exploring Mythic Odysseys of Theros for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. This time they take a close look at the new races for character options in the campaign setting. Up until now in my own games players have been free to create characters with very little restriction. But with the inclusion of Supernatural Gifts for characters adventuring in Theros there’s been a shift in my thinking. Let’s get into the new races in MOoT and touch on how it changes perspective on what to include and exclude when it comes to creating a setting, worldbuilding and running a campaign in 5E D&D.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted destroy your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaigns with five different apocalypses. But there’s another tabletop roleplaying game that looks at these apocalyptic scenarios and scoffs! Maximum Apocalypse earns the title because characters drop into a world not only post apocalyptic but the aftermath of all the apocalypses (apocalypti?) AT THE SAME TIME. You’ll draw on every survival instinct and trick you can imagine in the face of 11 distinct apocalyptic perils taking place simultaneously. Think you’ve got the grit, determination and savvy to live through kaiju attacks, robot uprisings, zombie infestations, economic collapse, the Rapture and six other threats to all existence? Then read on…
Mythic Odysseys of Theros is out for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and Greek myth is the name of the game! My housemate and I have been talking for a while about what sorts of third party supplements might fit nicely into a Theros campaign and we came up with several. In Nerdarchy the Store you can find Horris, the Horned Lord. Horris is a labyrinth keeper and minotaur with the power to turn magic back on those who wield it. As a labyrinth dwelling minotaur, what better place to stick this? Horris the Horned Lord contains a one shot encounter introducing spelleater minotaurs. This adventure takes less than ten minutes to read through and it’s easily adapted into any campaign setting. As I read through the adventure I got thinking, suppose there were individuals who might follow in the hoofsteps of Horris? What would that look like? Thus was born the Path of the Spelleater, a barbarian Primal Path for 5E D&D.
A new source book for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons presents not only a new setting to explore but an exciting new direction for D&D Beyond, the creators behind this League of Legends crossover with 5E D&D. Legends of Runeterra: Dark Tides of Bilgewater launched fully integrated over at DDB through a partnership with Riot Games. Lead designer and editor James J. Haeck from the DDB team along with designers Makenzie de Armas, Celeste Conowitch Todd Kenreck developed and created this sourcebook for the scoundrel’s paradise of Bilgewater, a place where everything is for sale and fortune favors the bold, for the 5E D&D ruleset. Let’s see what’s inside.
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted bestow Supernatural Gifts on heroes from Mythic Odysseys of Theros, the latest fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons official release. The new Theros campaign setting reimagines mythological tales from our own world’s Greek tradition and arrives for 5E D&D from Wizard’s of the Coast’s other huge game Magic: The Gathering. Gods of Theros exert tremendous influence over the setting from the cosmology down to the commoners living in the poleis (cities) of the world. Most assuredly the lives of heroes intersect with gods, starting with character creation where they receive Supernatural Gifts to help them achieve their goals.
Part 1 of this guide to character optimization for tabletop roleplaying games goes over some general guidelines and touches on a few key points of the practical optimization process. You can check that out here. In Part 2 we covered optimizing your RPG characters for combat, a significant part of many games. You can find that part here. In this last part I’ll share general tips and tricks for approaching optimizing while maintaining a well balanced character for both in the game and your fellow players.
Part 1 of this guide to character optimization for tabletop roleplaying games goes over some general guidelines and touches on a few key points of the practical optimization process. You can check that out here. Now we’ll dive headfirst into combat.
Hail and well met! I thought I’d share with you all something that’s been on my mind for a while and that’s the concept of character optimization in tabletop roleplaying games. I’ll occasionally refer to third edition (v. 3.5) Dungeons & Dragons because it’s one of the systems I’m the most familiar with (it’s also the system I’ve been using for most of the games I run nowadays). My intention is for this guide’s content to include such systems as GURPS, old or new World of Darkness, Rolemaster and so on. There are so many great systems out there it’ll make your head spin. Anyway, onto the show and the first of three parts of my collected thoughts on what it means to optimize in RPGs.