Playing an Anti-Hero Like The Mandalorian in 5E D&D
With The Mandalorian Chapter 4: Sanctuary streaming now on Disney+ we are halfway through the first season of this amazing series. Thankfully season 2 is already ordered. Between chapters of the show here on the website we’ve been exploring and developing ideas for a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons bounty hunter campaign. For each installment we’re taking inspiration from various books created by Nord Games. In my home game group I’ve been putting these ideas into practice along with players in our 5E D&D bounty hunter campaign and so far we’re all loving it and having a fantastic time. After watching Chapter 4: Sanctuary I knew immediately which Nord Games product would help next. Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde feels like the perfect fit. So let’s get into it and see how the book will help ramp up the action, tension and drama of our bounty hunter campaign for 5E D&D. (Still no spoilers.)
Bounty hunting like The Mandalorian in 5E D&D
If you want to get caught up on where we’re at with our 5E D&D bounty hunter campaign inspired by The Mandalorian, here’s the first two parts.
- Bounty Hunting like The Mandalorian in 5E D&D
- Random Encounters like The Mandalorian in 5E D&D
- Dangerous Combat Like the Mandalorian in 5E D&D
In the video above, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss what it means to be an anti-hero, give some examples and explore ideas for playing an anti-hero in 5E D&D without being a jerk — the character and the player. Research for the video was kind of enlightening in a way, and my takeaway was the term anti-hero maybe gets misapplied more often than not. Or perhaps it’s simply more broad. A character like Wolverine from the X-Men, or Josey Wales from The Outlaw Josey Wales are often cited as anti-heroes, but are they really? One definition of an anti-hero is a main character who lacks conventional heroic qualities like idealism and courage. While Wolverine and Josey Wales might be gruff, mean and violent, both characters display courage and idealism as traits. And when they do, it’s rarely for selfish reasons. They wind up helping the less fortunate because it is the right thing to do, not in spite of doing the moral thing.
The as-yet unnamed protagonist in The Mandalorian fits this mold, too. The character is a ruthless bounty hunter, but he’s not all bad and we see him show compassion and mercy several times. In Chapter 4: Sanctuary these character traits are on display again. It’s worth mentioning we still don’t know very much about The Mandalorian himself. All of the actions he’s taken in the series so far might absolutely be for a selfish reason and this hasn’t been revealed yet. But I’m hoping there’s a better motivation for his unexpected decisions — kindness.
After the previous chapter’s ending, The Mandalorian looks for a place to lay low and heads for a backwater planet where he believes trouble will not follow. While there, he encounters locals who need help defending themselves against raiders. This is a classic trope of the Western genre the show draws heavily from, and our fierce protagonist feels compelled to help the peaceful villagers in the same way as Josey Wales or the titular Seven Samurai. But he gets an assist from a new ally, and together they aim to rout these raiders. Maybe the reason is a little selfish — our hero hopes to remain in this safe place until the heat dies down — so there’s some evidence of anti-heroism going on but at the end of the day he does the right thing.
Enter Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde
For an in-depth look at Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde take a look at this post where pretty much the entire Nerdarchy team weighs in. Essentially the book takes a deep dive into several monstrous humanoids in 5E D&D, detailing their cultures, habits and habitats and introducing a wealth of stat blocks to challenge your players from level one to the end of their adventuring careers. The book covers bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs and trolls. Nord Games also presents okiti, or ratfolk.
Any one of these monstrous humanoids make for a fantastic stand-in for raiders like we see in The Mandalorian Chapter 4: Sanctuary. When I watched the episode my first thought was orcs, so let’s take a closer look at orcs in Revenge of the Horde and see how they can enhance our bounty hunter campaign. Before any sort of mechanical game information, the section on orcs illustrates orc culture, the environment orcs prefer and gives tips on roleplaying orcs.
This is invaluable stuff!
If we imagine a scenario like The Mandalorian, it will help our bounty hunter campaign immensely to understand how and why our orc raiders do what they do and how they go about their raiding. I also love the section on language, orc names and epithets. Defending a small village against orc raiders is one thing. Helping them fend off Kuzgol Tusk-Puller is another. Giving a name to anything instantly elevates it to something special.
“You killed Goshok the Unkillable!” sounds way more impressive than “you killed an orc warboss!”
Like other Nord Games products, orcs and the other monstrous humanoids in Revenge of the Horde come with suggested encounter groups, which is a tremendous benefit for a Dungeon Master. Breaking them down on tables organized by Challenge Rating makes this content even more useful. For example an encounter with a CR 1-4 could be 2 orc warriors or 2 orc archers, 4 orc warriors and 2 orc soldiers. They aren’t all perfectly even and balanced with each other per table but instead represent a range of threats.
Revenge of the Horde contains 10 new orc stat blocks! These are amazing, and further elevate the orc raider menace. I love all the special traits and features differentiating these orcs, and each one comes with its own unique table of trinkets to represent what any single creature carries. Anything from orc rations to magical hide armor shows up on these tables, including orc trinkets! Imagine defeating Goshok the Unkillable and finding clasp made from the skull of a reptile with impressive teeth on their remains. Sounds like a pretty awesome trophy for your character in a bounty hunter campaign to show how badass they are to others.
Ready to run a bounty hunter campaign?
I am equally enjoying watching The Mandalorian each week and running a 5E D&D bounty hunter campaign with my friends. Everyone in the group bought into the premise and tried to immerse themselves in the setting we’re creating together. So far, they’re embodying the spirit and we’re all having an absolute blast navigating this dangerous campaign together. Our games are traditionally more light-hearted and clearly heroic, so it is fun for us to play anti-heroes and try out different themes.
With Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde I can quickly put together dynamic, tense scenarios with any of the monstrous humanoids in the book. Now our random encounters become more complex. The characters in our bounty hunter campaign could engage with them as a one and done situation, and it would be memorable because of the details and tips in the book. But they might take a personal interest in these threats. These circumstances make for the best kind of adventures, when characters develop their own motivations. They might be ruthless bounty hunters, but for whatever reason they might want to put their mercenary ways on hold and investigate a larger threat. The characters began the campaign as unforgiving contractors. Will they wind up anti-heroes or even *gasp* heroes?
If you want to check out Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde by Nord Games, visit their store here. You can use our exclusive promo code NORDARCHY20 to get a huge 20% off everything in your cart! Nord Games creates great products and accessories to help you create amazing experiences for your games.
But that’s not all. Right now through Monday, Dec. 2 at 11:59 p.m. PST Nord Games is having a Black Friday sale! You can use the coupon code NORDSGIVING2019 for 33% off everything in your cart (coupon applies to non-sale items only). Nord Games creates lots of awesome products plus there are other vendor products in their store too. Personally I love their decks of cards. With this huge sale it is an awesome time to get gifts for the gamers in your life (or yourself — you deserve it).
What do you think? Are you hooked on The Mandalorian and eagerly awaiting chapter 5? Are you ready to start a 5E D&D bounty hunter campaign? I’m having so much fun using all these Nord Games products for inspiration and our whole group can’t wait for the next session. I didn’t get to it this week so maybe next time I’ll share how Remarkable Inns helped me create two distinct adventure paths for the characters to begin their hunt. Until then, stay nerdy!