D&D Ideas — Good Guys
Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is good guys, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of good guys in Balance adventurers who act as good guys in both word and deed (and mechanics!) may earn a very special new friend. A sadistic trap imprisons an innocent sprite. Item-destroying acid and a mysterious flask invite heroes to look closer along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy plus snag a FREE GIFT by signing up here.
Can we get a hell yeah for the week that was? Take a hellish knightly vow, listen to your star chart, cast homebrew magic and so much more plus new live chats with creative folks and industry pros and live game play rounding out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here. While you’re catching up from last week over there you might want to scroll down to discover an exclusive offer for our Nerdarchy Metal Dice Set. We created an exclusive offer to make it easier for you to add a set of these awesome dice to your collection with $25 savings. Check it out here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
We did bad guys last week so it’s only natural for us to dive into good guys in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons this week. First I’ll start with my go to and check D&D Beyond, which shows 161 good monsters when we search by alignment. This is a lot of monsters to not use in your games.
Good guys could be just fun NPCs who the players’ characters interact with but they don’t have to be. There could be monster good guys that have been mind controlled, cursed, possessed, atypical for their species or coerced. This also goes against what players expect and gives you a chance to turn their expectations on their heads.
In previous editions of D&D there was a cursed magic item called helm of opposite alignment. We recreated a similar cursed magic item for our Out the Box book of encounters. One of the encounters is called Argument and it involves that magic item and an ettin. In the case of this encounter a part of a typically evil monster is changed to good.
This is an example of another way to surprise or throw a curveball at 5E D&D players by introducing a monster players generally think of as evil only to discover it turns out they are one of the good guys. Monsters who are typically thought of as being evil are great red herrings when you flip their alignments around. It’ll also add some depth to your 5E D&D world when everything isn’t just plain black and white.
From Ted’s Head
It can be rough being the good guys in 5E D&D. When things get rough making the right decision can be hard. But this is what it means to be good guys — to be a heroes. Now here we are talking with the gender neutral term guy as in the colloquial term good guys. We here at Nerdarchy accept all and do not mean any offense.
This being said I am gonna broach the subject of the good guys from the Dungeon Master’s and the players’ perspectives. The DM is up first. In order for the player characters to become the heroes (the good guys) they are going to need all those things you typically see happen in movies, TV and books. They need to be challenged morally. They need to suffer loss. They should be tempted with darkness and the easy way. Overcoming these obstacles and coming out on top allows them to truly be the good guys they are and ones history remembers. The important thing is to remember who your players are as well as the characters they are playing. Heroes and good guys will fall but should always have a chance for redemption.
As for players, as I stated, they ought to be the good guys. As players we should have buy in on this concept unless the game is clearly going somewhere else. What is the heroic line you will not cross? No killing needlessly, no torture, no lying? For some only the ends matter but for others these are simple things the heroes — the good guys of the story — just do not do. They respond to threats and perform those amazing heroic actions we love to see in stories.
Even if you think the outcome will be bad do it anyway. If you have a great group and a DM who is on your side a great story will come out of it even if your character does not. Even heroic death can spur on our heroes. After all the PCs are the good guys in the story.
From the Nerditor’s desk
A thought crossed my mind during the live chat with Nerdarchists Dave and Ted when they talked about the good guys in 5E D&D. While they discussed the different sorts of potential good guys to encounter in a campaign it occurred to me how these NPCs are powerful tools in a Dungeon Master’s bag of tricks.
For one thing good guys can be an amazing way to create connective tissue between the characters and the world. Consider a group of players figuring out their next steps during a quest (or anytime really). Campaign worlds are pretty big places — they’re entire worlds! — and so there’s countless individuals the players have no idea even exist. But their characters might and these situations are perfect opportunities.
“Ted, your character knows about <some good guys> who might be able to help with what you’re all wondering about.”
With a simple statement like this the group’s options and view of the world expands tremendously. By providing a path to discovering more about their setting and couching it in the context of this lifeline leading to some good guys the players hopefully learn something new about the world, travel to a new location and meet some new people.
The bare bones takeaway is it’s perfectly okay for the DM to help players along. But rather than simply reciting relevant lore or details this gives players agency while showing and not telling.
*Featured image — It’s up to the adventurers to determine who lives, who dies and if they’re the good guys or not in Balance, one of 55 dynamic encounters ready to drop into your game in Out of the Box. [Illustration by Kim Van Deun]