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IDW D&D Comic Book – Frost Giant’s Fury

Hey, guys, Professor Bill of Comic Book University and by my name, you can probably tell that I kind of like comic books. I review a lot, and one of my current favorites is one that may appeal to every Nerdarchist. The comic in question is IDW’s “Dungeons and Dragons – Frost Giant’s Fury.”
D&D frost giants comic
IDW’s D&D comic book “Frost Giant’s Fury” brings the action, excitement and drama of a D&D game to the comic book world. Art by Netho Diaz

The perfect comic for D&D fans

This IDW comic, published by Ted Adams (not that one), is a multiple series run series where a party of adventurers get themselves in way over their heads. They started off in Waterdeep, found themselves going face-to-face with Strahd in Ravenloft, and now they are in the Spine of the World heading into the town of Fireshear, just as a party of frost giants is about to raid.
The series takes a strange turn when they discover that the frost giants have a captured a white dragon who possesses a rare and powerful magical artifact that could change the leadership of the frost giants and change the landscape of Faerun.

The characters

  • The party braves the elements in the Spine of the World in Frost Giant’s Fury. Art by Netho Diaz

    Minsc – The beloved ranger and his pet, the giant miniature space hamster Boo, the heroes of Baldur’s Gate. He no longer feels like a hero as he is less successful in battle than he’d like as of late.

  • Delina – The wild magic sorceress moon elf. She is searching for her brother Deniak in Baldur’s Gate but was shocked to find that Deniak had become the leader of the Dragon Cult and wanted to use her abilities to become a red dragon.
  • Krydle – The half-elven bastard son of noble blood is a rogue thief whose mother was killed by the thieves’ guild he was a member of in Baldur’s Gate. While he was initially only along for the money, he has since become something of a leader to this party. He’s also developed a special relationship with Shandie.
  • Shandie – Krydle’s partner in crime (literally), she is a halfling rogue archer who moves fast and strikes with deadly accuracy.
  • Nerys – a cleric of the God of Death who joined the party in Ravenloft. She despises the undead and seeks to eliminate all those who did not die naturally. She went toe-to-toe with Strahd but was badly wounded and she teeters on the edge of death herself, unable to heal her own wounds.
Frost Giant's Fury comic
The adventuring party in Frost Giant’s Fury has all the bases covered. Art by Netho Diaz

This comic is a great way for new fans to understand D&D. Even for those of us who are familiar with the game (or masters), this is a great story that can be used for your game, like an adventure module. At the end of the books, they also add the character sheet of one of the party members.

A short article this week, guys, but three videos of reviews to enjoy. Also, consider grabbing a copy of the comics. If you don’t know where your local comic book store is you can find it online. That, or you can go to https://www.comixology.com/ and download the comics directly.

Support the hobby on every front.

Professor Bill
Comic Book University
Class dismissed.

 

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Learn How to Play Dungeons & Dragons for Beginners | Brought to you by Easy Roller Dice

 Dungeons & Dragons for beginners, easy roller dice, play dungeons & dragons, adventure league
What a typical adventuring party might look like … well, actually there is no “typical” adventuring party!

At Nerdarchy we’re excited to announce we’ve recently joined an adventuring party with Easy Roller Dice to do a series focused on teaching new players how to play Dungeons & Dragons. The problem of learning how to play D&D has often been that you need someone to teach you how to play it, an older brother, cousin, or friend of the family who already knew how to play the game! Learning how to play D&D correctly is almost something of a hybrid between written and oral traditions as the complexity of the rules can make it difficult for new players to come into the hobby. That’s how I learned to play — when I was 11 years old, my eldest brother Dave began showing me how to play Dungeons & Dragons in the 2nd edition of the game (and believe me, there were some really awkward, wonky rules — just look up THACO!). Fortunately, we now have the ability to easily share information in written, audio, and visual forms — twenty years ago you needed that mentor player, but now, we can direct you to this series of videos that we’re making for you, apprentice D&D adventurer.

Continue reading Learn How to Play Dungeons & Dragons for Beginners | Brought to you by Easy Roller Dice

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“The Girl With The Dragon SNAFU” – Out of The Box #35 D&D Encounters

dragonIntroduction: To finish out the run of “Out of the Box” for 2016, I thought it would be appropriate to use the one creature that is likely the most difficult to run. A dragon. The problem with dragons is they are immensely powerful and capable of destroying a party outright within a few rounds if played to their potential. It then falls to the Dungeon Master to try and create an encounter that is both reasonable to the players and yet fair to the beast in question. You want the moment to be memorable, and the only way to do that is to do the creature justice.

Continue reading “The Girl With The Dragon SNAFU” – Out of The Box #35 D&D Encounters

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“Jailbreak” – Out of the Box #27 D&D Encounters

Introduction: out of the box D&D encounters   
  While researching something else entirely in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I  glanced at the passage on the “Mirror of Life Trapping” purely by mistake (pages 181, 182, DMG). Because of the fluid nature of this mirror’s possible past, it may contain up to twelve random creatures already. How they got there and why they ended up in the vicinity of the Mirror could be any number of reasons.
  That means this encounter, if you set it up right, could be infinitely adjustable to your group’s level and abilities. It could be a campaign starter. It could be a campaign ender – even if only by accident. Since the contents set the challenge level, take care in making sure you stock the mirror wisely.
  For the purposes of this encounter, only one of the twelve cells is free, so as to not trap the entire party, and to deliver enough random oddities to truly challenge your group. This encounter should only trap one character, leaving the rest to solve the problem. It may well set up one of those moments where the entire party say “What have we done?”
Environment: Dungeon
Suggested level: 4-5 (although it’s infinitely scalable)
  The characters will enter a room or cavern roughly 50’x50’, with a ceiling 30’ high. The room is covered in patches of bio-luminescent fungi, giving the entire room an ambient glow.
  The most unusual feature in this room appears to be a very thin rectangular object floating flat and horizontal over the floor at a height of 15’. It has an elaborately carved 1” thick wooden frame around it’s outer rim. It shows no obvious signs of suspension and hovers silently in the air. It is roughly 4’x2’.
  A steel ball is suspended 5’ above this object by a rope. That rope continues straight up to the ceiling, where a pulley redirects the remainder on an angle downward to a metal ring attached to the far wall. The rope is attached by a thick knot to this ring.

Continue reading “Jailbreak” – Out of the Box #27 D&D Encounters

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&#%!@?: D&Dizing Al Swearengen

Al Swearengen D&D barbarian
Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) stands dead center among many of the characters from the HBO television show Deadwood.

If you’re not familiar with the Al Swearengen character, then you must not have watched much, if any, of the HBO western drama Deadwood which ran for three seasons some years back. In a show known for its coarse language, Al Swearengen as portrayed by Ian McShane, was the coarsest of the coarse. In other words, Al is pretty hard to forget, and despite his dark ways, many who come to know him also love him.

Al Swearengen D&D barbarian
Swearengen often has a bottle in his hands when passing out words of wisdom, or when laying down his own version of the law.

Something of an underworld boss and a political shaker and mover in the town of Deadwood, Swearengen is known as a knife fighter, though he is more brawler and assassin than a trained combatant. Often he leaves the dirty work to hirelings, but from time to time he does seem to get a weird melancholy glee out of slitting throats himself.

Recently I was behind the wheel of a car again for hours upon hours and I had to have something to think about. So, in keeping with the past when I D&Dized Forrest Gump, my mind turned this time to D&Dizing Al Swearengen.

First, his stats, then some explanations.

Al Swearengen — D&D style

Human (variant) Barbarian 2 /Rogue (Assassin) 4

Alignment: Neutral Evil

Background: Criminal

Strength – 14 (+2)
Dexterity – 13 (+1)
Constitution – 18 (+4)
Intelligence – 12 (+1)
Wisdom – 16 (+3)
Charisma – 16 (+3)

Movement: 30’
Passive Perception: 21
Initiative: +1

Hit Points: 58

Armor Class: 15

Melee attack: +5
Ranged attack: +4

Saving Throws
STR – +5
DEX – +1
CON – +7
INT – +1
WIS – +3
CHA – +3

Proficient Skills
Deception – +6
Insight – +9
Intimidation – +9
Perception – +6
Persuasion – +6
Stealth – +4

Tools
Thieves Tools

Languages: Common, Cursing

Barbarian Abilities
Rage

Unarmored Defense

Reckless Attack

Danger Sense

Rogue Abilities

Expertise (Intimidation and Deception)

Sneak Attack

Thieves’ Cant

Cunning Action

Bonus Proficiencies

Assassinate

Feats
Observant

Tavern Brawler

Al Swearengen D&D barbarian
Believe me, this is not a look you want to receive from Al Swearengen.

First off, let me say that I’m pretty much ignoring the fact Al Swearengen probably knows how to use firearms, at least ones appropriate to his time period. However, even with the multitude of firearms available in Deadwood, Al sticks to using his knife for the most part, which we’ll equate to the dagger. If one wants, it would be no big deal to give him proficiency with firearms, maybe through a Feat or some such.

Second, I would like to point out that when it came to using his knife, Al seemed to operate in two different modes. More often he took the form of an assassin, killing an opponent from surprise with a simple stab to the chest or slice to the throat. But in a confrontational fight he became a brawler who appeared to have little concern for any damage he took as he long as he was dealing it out to his foe. This is why I gave him levels in rogue and barbarian, the first for his murderous skills and the second for his melee sensibilities.

Why Al Swearengen is a Barbarian

Some might argue that Al is a Fighter instead of a Barbarian, but he does not seem to have the trained capabilities of a Fighter, nor does he have the survival skills of a Ranger, and he is most definitely not a Paladin. No, Barbarian seems to fit best, in my opinion. He likely did not pick up his Barbarian abilities from any time spent in wilderness territory, but more than likely gained them from a hard life on the streets of Chicago, where an arrest warrant for murder still awaits him. For those who think the Barbarian class isn’t appropriate to learn on city streets, I would suggest then a re-skinning of the class, or perhaps Al gained such capabilities before arriving in America, as he is obviously British in origin.

About his levels, I couldn’t quite see Al with the Frenzy ability of the Berserker and definitely not those of the Totem Warrior, though the capabilities of a lower-level Barbarian seem more than appropriate, so two levels of Barbarian. Four levels of Rouge is enough to garner him the Assassinate ability, definitely a must, as well as allowing for plenty of extra talents at knife fighting and killing, plus there’s the benefit of a Feat.

Concerning his background, despite the overlap with his Rogue abilities, Criminal seemed to fit as the show did include some mention of earlier legal troubles in the East which Swearengen had apparently fled.

Alignment might be a bit of a stickler, as I could see many who love this character want him to be neutral at heart, though I don’t believe they could argue well that he is possibly good. It is true Swearengen has a soft spot for certain individuals, and he does have friendships and seems to truly like certain people, but who is to say an evil person couldn’t have those inclinations? To my thinking, someone who is more than willing to blindside a non-combative opponent with a cut to the throat, then feed that victim to the pigs, that someone has entered evil territory. And just because Al is evil doesn’t mean he is all bad. Concerning the other aspects of his alignment, I believe Swearengen would here fall into the neutral territory as he is definitely self serving but does seem to follow something of an unwritten code, mixing a little chaos with law.

Now onto his stats.

Al Swearengen D&D barbarian
It’s a rough day at the office as Al gets out his knife for some serious work.

Al Swearengen is obviously fairly sturdy, him and his partner Dan having built the Gem saloon with their own hands, after all, but he’s getting along in years and probably isn’t as strong as he used to be. Plus, though he’s got a little bulk, he’s by no means a hulking brute. Thus, I felt a 14 Strength appropriate, with his Barbarian abilities giving him a little boost when needed.

As for Dexterity, Al can move a little when he has to, but he’s not going to be doing any gymnastics, so a 12 seemed appropriate; he might be a knife fighter, but he isn’t a finesse fighter, depending upon his Strength for attacks. A Constitution of 18 might seem high to some people, but keep in mind this guy can drink just about anyone under the table, and in the TV show he survives a serious illness which would have killed lesser individuals of the time period. An Intelligence of 12 shows some smarts but without being overly brainy, and a Wisdom and Charisma of 16 show where Swearengen often truly shines, in his verbal words of wisdom, as coarse as they might be.

When it comes to Feats, the Tavern Brawler seems a natural. I also gave him Observant because when I think of Al, I think of him atop his balcony outside the front of the Gem saloon, his eyes always watching the comings and goings of the town of Deadwood.

As for his skills and other abilities, I believe anyone familiar with the Swearengen character will have to admit Al probably has those talents. Though a knife fighter and brawler at heart, more often he depends upon his skills to read others and situations, plus his gift of gab, to get his way in any situation.

There you have it, the D&Dized Al Swearengen. If your campaign includes lots of swearing, you couldn’t ask for a more interesting character. If not … well, still Stay Nerdy!

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5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Dragons

tome of beasts

Every Dungeon Master loves access to new monsters.  And what Dungeon Master does not like using Dragons.  With the Open Gaming License we are starting to see 3rd party publishers getting hardbound products out as options to, well give us more options.

Kobold Press has released a new product out for Pre-order.  You can preorder your copy here.  We did a review on Daves copy that he got early because he backed the kickstarter.

I was sad when I found out that missed getting my own early copy.  When we looked at the pdf we were not disappointed.  There are so many awesome monsters in this book as well as some new beasts and NPCs to easily add into your game.

Today I am just going to talk about the Dragons that are in this book. Next week I will touch on some dragonsother monster groups.  I will keep this series going until the book is released.

In this book you get 6 new Dragon types for your 5th edition game.  Kobold Press does not give you any carbon copy of dragons that exist in your 5th edition monster manual but 6 new whole cloth creations that stand out as unique.

Almost all of the dragons have 4 separate stat blocks for the 4 age categories of Dragons: ancient, adult, young and wyrmling. I make my notes below

The cave dragon is a fierce beast that constantly needs to eat.  It lives underground where its sensitivity to sunlight keeps it safe.  But sadly living underground is not a place abundant with food.  It is not mindless and is a true dragon.  I compare this one with a white dragon with lower stats and its desire for food out weighs its desire for any coin.  Sorry adventurers if you are looking to slay a dragon Continue reading 5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Dragons

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Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e (The Warlock)

WarlockHello fellow Nerdarchists, Art here. I’m back with the next installment of my series Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e. If you missed my previous article on the Sorcerer just click HERE.

I’m going to take up some space and talk a bit about the Warlock in general. First I think the class itself is a unique design  with its’ spell-like abilities built in aka the Eldritch Invocations gained at second level. These abilities allow characters to come up with very interesting tricks and techniques. The patron selection also adds a variety of interesting mechanics as well, making the Warlock a great utility tool in  party of adventures. The third way a warlock can be diverse is their Pact selection out of the Pact of the Tomb, Chain and Blade, giving a final score in a very diverse character class. Lastly with the Warlock able to regain spell slots on only a short rest, making this class quite durable.

How do You Build a 5e Warlock?

Continue reading Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e (The Warlock)