Kickstarter Korner for November 2018, Week 2

Each week during the Quests & Adventures live chat, Saturday at 2 p.m. eastern, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch hang out live with fans from the Nerdarchy YouTube channel. It’s a chance to share announcements and news, answer questions from the live chat and generally just hang out and talk nerdy with the Nerdarchy community.

In the description of each weekly video, Nerdarchist Ted compiles a list and links to all the videos and website content from the week. But he also shares a selection of cool Kickstarter campaigns. As an avid Kickstarter supporter, he’s happy to share his favorite RPG and gaming-related Kickstarters with you, the Nerdarchy community. Enjoy!

RPG Related Kickstarters

Protip: I had a fantastic opportunity tonight, to play as a guest in the final session of Nerdarchist Ted’s yearslong Curse of Gnarkeetis campaign. After 46 sessions stretched out over the last four years, this campaign took characters from 1st to 20th level, the first time any of the players in the group had reached such a milestone of gaming. Ted and I came up with a pretty cool character for me to play who fit right into the narrative, and included just the right amount of extra tension and motivation to add more drama and stakes for the party.

In my own campaign, the party is currently split due to some failed saving throws upon the destruction of a major foe — a void dragon — that sent one of the player characters and several NPC crew members of their spelljamming ship hurtling across the planes to wind up in the Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. We played a terrific session a few weeks ago while our hellbound player was unable to make it. And when we played through that character’s hellish excursion, the other players took on the roles of the crew members stranded there with him.

In both cases, rather than using player-style characters for either myself in Ted’s game, or the NPCs in my game, we used stat blocks. And I’m here to tell you this is a great way to give players a unique way to interact with a game session.

RPG
Just because it’s a neutral evil fiend doesn’t mean an ultroloth can’t find common ground with a group of heroes! [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
The easiest way to use this method in a game is simply hand out stat blocks straight from the Monster Manual or another source of 5E D&D creatures and let the players run them. I’ve done this quite a bit throughout my home game, usually so the players can run their own NPC crew members alongside their personal characters. Since they have an always-growing roster of NPCs on the ship, they typically take one per player along on missions. Basically they put together away teams.

But since they’ve grown in power, behind the scenes I’ve taken those stat blocks like the orc war chief and githzerai zerth and developed them into more powerful versions. Extra protip: this is super easy in D&D Beyond with the homebrew tools. The players were quite impressed with how much their scro tactician had changed since the last time they saw his stat block. I included some details about each NPC to give them roleplaying hooks as well. It was really neat to see even the newest player who joined our group get the gist of Ghorek’s personality right away from those few notes.

One of the NPCs stuck in Avernus is also the newest crew member, a zen archery master straight out of Nerdarchy’s pay-what-you-want product on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, and the other is an eonic drifter from Tome of Beasts who got the most alteration to pump it up. They’re only CR 1 as-written there but the party are all 9th level so that NPC needed a significant boost. Like Ghorek, they included some roleplaying hooks and the players took to them wonderfully. I think they had a lot of fun exploring their own NPC crew members from a more personal perspective like this.

I don’t want to spoil anything for Ted’s game since the live game play video isn’t published yet, but I took the same method of simply tweaking an existing monster a bit for his game too. And it was a blast! Who wouldn’t want to play with a bunch of abilities and options completely unavailable to standard character classes?

Another one shot I ran a while back is Grungle in the Jungle, where all the players played grung who I’d given each an iconic class ability. So there was a barbarian grung with rage, a bard grung with inspiration, a rogue grung with sneak attack and so forth.

And that’s my tip to Dungeon Masters out there. Whether you’re running a one shot, or a guest player joins you for a single session, try giving out monster-style stat blocks for the players. It’s fun to play monsters and even if they’re evil creatures joining a group of heroes, finding a way to integrate them with the party with their own motivations and goals can lead to really interesting interactions and dynamics. The characters in Ted’s group didn’t trust me one bit, but I lived up to my end of the bargain they struck (I didn’t betray them like they were sure I would!). And I hope the twists and turns I presented to the adventure helped make their final quest a more memorable one.

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