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GM’s Can Create an Adventure in Five Easy Pieces

adventureIn the video above from the Nerdarchy YouTube channel Nerdarchist Dave, Nate the Nerdarch and Nerdarchist Ted explore an approach to creating tabletop roleplaying game adventures. Based on the Five Ws – traditional basic information gathering and problem solving steps – this method makes creating adventures for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons or any RPG much easier.

By asking yourself who, what, where, when and why a Game Master turns what could be a daunting task into a quick process. Preparing RPG adventures this way provides a solid foundation for both GM and players. Building on the basic structure you create is absolutely possible. But this simple method alone offers ample material to work with at your gaming table for fun, rewarding experiences. Continue reading GM’s Can Create an Adventure in Five Easy Pieces

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D&D Adventure Awaits with Tomb of Annihilation and More

Along with announcing the next storyline in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons family at June’s “Stream of Annihilation” live stream event, Wizards of the Coast revealed several new products set for release in Q3-4 2017 along with the Tomb of Annihilation adventure. Whether your bookshelf could use a few things to fill the space, you’re a D&D completionist or looking ahead to the holidays at gift ideas for the nerds in your life, here’s a rundown of D&D books and accessories headed your way.
Continue reading D&D Adventure Awaits with Tomb of Annihilation and More

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Our adventure with the awesome D&D community is more than a game

Nerdarchy GoFundMe trip to LA GM Tips

Inspired by Nerdarchy’s fantastic opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and be a guest on Geek and Sundry’s GM Tips with host Satine Phoenix, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch created the special video message above to share what Nerdarchy means to them and the importance of fans and fellow funny-shaped dice enthusiasts around the world. Continue reading Our adventure with the awesome D&D community is more than a game

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“Smells Fishy” – Out of the Box D&D Encounters #48

kuo-toaI once found a free adventure online that delved into a concept that D&D has often covered, but essentially in reverse. We have seen Underdark versions of several surface races. Duergar, Derro, Drow, Svirfneblin, etc., have all been a part of D&D for decades, and the public has accepted them as part of the D&D canon. It’s often the case whereby we will take any number of surface races and apply this non-specific “Underdark template” to these races. However, this online adventure did one thing that, at least to my experience, has never been done before – it turned that concept around in 180 degrees. It had surface, swamp dwelling Kuo-Toa. Perhaps this is due to a particular and very popular MMORPG that shall remain unnamed in this article. Continue reading “Smells Fishy” – Out of the Box D&D Encounters #48

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“Pay to Play” – Out of the Box D&D Encounters #46

Sometimes you just need to lighten up and have fun. A series of high-tension encounters filled with danger and worry can certainly establish the right tone, but sometimes you just need to laugh or have fun. It is my hope the following encounter will combine what would normally be dangerous D&D imagery with good old fashioned random fun.

In this case, what we’ll do is create a moment or encounter that can be dropped into various settings, whether it’s a dungeon, a marketplace, a circus, or randomly appearing in a wilderness setting. The encounter itself is random and unpredictable, so it could logically be placed wherever the DM might think it’s fun. It’s location is less important than it’s purpose – to have random fun and lighten the mood.

Furthermore, to make sure this has less to do with an overarching issue or have any permanent detrimental effects, we’ll make any effects of this encounter temporary – an hour or less. These effects should not severely hamper player characters. The short duration should aid in that aspect. The effects will be randomly generated, and by the players themselves, just to add to the random fun and inject agency and fairness.

Environment: Any (DM’s whim)

Suggested level: Any, but it’s more appropriate for low to mid levels.

Description: For the purposes of this encounter, we’ll place this moment in time in a dungeon to remove outside influences so we can focus on the encounter itself.

Entering into this 30’ cubical chamber, the central feature is immediately evident. A low one-tier circular platform no higher than 1’ tall and 5’ in diameter is home to a levitating device of the strangest origin. Hovering perhaps 2’ above this platform is a 5’ diameter spherical construct slowly rotating, revealing a 1’ diameter circular and shuttered porthole along its equator. Atop the sphere rests an over-sized jester’s cap with four tails. Each tail ends in a white 3” diameter sphere. Each hat tail is painted a separate color. There is one each of red, yellow, blue, and green.

D&DIn scratched and peeling gold paint above the closed porthole, written in common, are the words “Play Your Fate.” For those who succeed in either a Wisdom/Perception or Intelligence/Investigation at a DC:10, they will notice a small 1” vertical slot next to the porthole. The gold trim which would normally make it visible is worn and faded, making it difficult to spot from any distance. Tiny writing above it, also in Common and equally worn, reads “1 gold per play.”

If the player characters speak to this odd construct, nothing will happen. In fact, unless one of them puts a coin into the slot (and it doesn’t have to be a gold one, in case the specific player is especially “thrifty”), the machine will remain inactive. However, should this one condition be met, things will start to change.

Loud calliope music will start to play, which is able to be heard as far away as 200’ under normal conditions. The four tails of the “hat” will start to slowly spin like helicopter blades, but will not move faster than making one rotation every 6 seconds. The shuttered portal will open, revealing a large, metal hand-painted, eyeball. This eyeball will glance around swiftly as if to randomly look at each player, then look in random locations. This eyeball isn’t actually looking at anyone, but feel free to play up when it does, and when it looks past the players at something that may not be there.

So long as the person who put the coin in the slot remains in the room, they will be the target of a random ray from one of the balls at the end of one of the hat tails. The beam of light will match the color of the hat tail. The player can chose to try and dodge the ray of light. If they do, they will need to succeed on a Dexterity saving throw of DC:15. Otherwise, the ray will strike the player character and an effect will occur according to the ray color that strikes it.

If that person who placed a coin in the machine leaves the room during the activation or successfully dodges the ray, then the machine will revert to its inactive state at the end of that turn and will require another coin to start the cycle again.

Should the character who placed the coin in the machine remain in the room and either choose to be struck by it or fails the save, then consult the table below to determine randomly which ray struck the player character, as well as its corresponding effect:

Red: Increase one random Attribute by +1 (Maximum 20) for 1 hour. Roll 1d6 to determine the Attribute.
Yellow: Decrease one random Attribute by -1 (Minimum 3) for 1 hour. Roll 1d6 to determine the Attribute.
Blue: Gain +1 to all saving throws for 1 hour. This stacks with current saving throw modifiers.
Green: Suffer -1 to all saving throws for 1 hour. This stacks with current saving throw modifiers.

At the end of the duration, the effect of the ray fades. The machine only works for each character once. The rays do not stack with each other. Therefore a character cannot try to get a ray to affect them twice by any means. The machine can detect whom it’s affected and will not target the same player character twice. Any attempt to do so will always fail.

coin flipIf the players come up with the idea to try and break into the machine to see how many coins are in it, the construct has an AC of 19 and 27hp. Should the construct be reduced to 0hp by any means, it will explode. The explosion will cover a 20’ radius sphere and will do a total of 6d6 Piercing damage (as small metal fragments fill the room), with a Dexterity saving throw (DC:15) for half damage. The construct will have contained a total of 50 gold pieces, 25 silver pieces, and 50 copper pieces. These will be scattered about the room by the explosion and will take a full hour to collect among the debris (divided by the number of people collecting … so it would take four people 15 minutes to collect).

Monsters: None

Treasure: A temporary boon is treasure-like, isn’t it? And who doesn’t like picking shredded coinage out of their hair. I do.

Complications: There are a few complications. Attribute modification’s most significant change will be in the alteration of hit points and hit point maximums. This could alter player character fates for the next hour significantly and should be monitored by the DM. It’s important to note, though, that this machine in no way unfairly inflicts anything upon a player character – a player character had to place a coin in the machine … mind you spells like Suggestion, Domination and the like could alter this voluntary choice. That’s important to note as well. The intent of this encounter was to inject some old school fun house dungeon hilarity into a game setting. That’s why the effects are temporary and relatively short lived. It will mean, however, that the DM should keep an accurate track of time as of the first ray effect’s initiation. It may well be the case that the players gain some benefits, want their coins back for some reason, and end up dying in the blast or wasting the duration of the ray collecting coins from the constructs wreckage. Trust me, I know – I’ve had “those players.”

Try to have fun with this in any regard. I hope it inspires similar randomness at your table to break up what may be some very serious or high-tension moments and remind us all that we are still playing a game.

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New DM Handbook: Pirate’s Cove (My Tutorial Quest)

New DM HandbookA couple of months ago, I laid out an article about the usefulness of a tutorial quest for new players. I’ve since referenced it a number of times in other articles, but I haven’t talked about the results, which I promised to do after finishing the quest with my party. A promise that I haven’t yet kept until now, mostly because there have been other articles that were more pressing or more relevant, for the moment. Especially in the light of my article last week about starting your adventure, which included the mistakes I made, now is the perfect time to share the tutorial quest I made, how things went, what I would do differently, and the overall lessons I learned. Continue reading New DM Handbook: Pirate’s Cove (My Tutorial Quest)

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The art of collaborative adventure design

Taking a break from the usual musings on nurturing a tabletop gaming habit amidst the time demands of busy adult lives, this week I’d like to share some insider thoughts on a Nerdarchy project I’m involved with. “Floshar’s Fate” (title subject to change) is a free Dungeons & Dragons 5E one-shot adventure in the works from several Nerdarchy writers in honor of Geek & Sunday’s International Tabletop Day 2017 on April 29. Don’t worry – there’s no spoilers here, so whether you’re a DM looking forward to running this adventure or a player hoping to experience it at your table, there’s no secrets or details here that will sully it for you.

adventure

Continue reading The art of collaborative adventure design

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Blast from the Past: Adventure video game for Atari 2600

Adventure
“Adventure” for the Atari 2600. It looks simple, and was, but it still provided plenty of fun.
Adventure
The original box for the “Adventure” video game. The Atari 2600 cartridge came inside.

There was a time when video games were pretty much just sports games, shooting games or some variant of sports or shooting games. Action games weren’t around yet and most RPGs were years away.
When was such a barbaric time? The late 1970s.

But into that age came a little game known as Adventure. It came out in 1979 and was made for the Atari 2600 home video game system.

By today’s standards, Adventure would be a pretty dull game. Simplistic, blocky graphics. Next to no sound. Gameplay so easy it could be considered laughable.

But that’s today. In 1979, Adventure was … in a word … awesome!

Atari 2600
The cartridge for playing “Adventure.”

How do you play? You control a little blip on the screen that goes around castles and through mazes to find various objects that are needed in a quest to garner a golden chalice and return it to the main castle. Such objects included a sword to fight off three dragons, keys to enter castles, a magic bridge and a magnet. The basic version of the game could be played in just a few minutes, a long, long way from today’s video RPGs that sometimes take weeks upon weeks to finish.

Adventure also goes down in history. For one thing, it is the very first video game to include an easter egg. What is this easter egg? In a secret room there are the words “Created by Warren Robinett,” who was the maker of Adventure for Atari. How do you get to this secret room? I’m not going to tell! What fun would that be?

Another innovation with Adventure is that it is the very first action-adventure video game!

Being a simple game, once you’ve played Adventure a handful of times, you’ve done just about everything the game has to offer. But it’s still plenty of fun. Or maybe that’s just the nostalgia talking. Either way, it was a blast to plug in the old Atari 2600 and warm up Adventure one more time.

Atari 2600
Yes, that’s a dragon in the middle of this screen shot from “Adventure.”
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Conscious RPG campaigning: Tyrant or Savior?

rpgWhat do you fight for in your campaign? What cause is it that you strive for? Is it the meager treasures of the land or the pillaging and plundering of a city in order to fulfill selfish desires? Do you fight for a cause that is greater than your own? Do you fight to protect an entire race of people by destroying an evil tyrant who seeks to destroy an entire race of people all for his own selfish gains and ambitions? Or do you join forces to aid his fear mongering whims only to leave nothing for the creatures that follow in your footsteps? As we delve into these worlds and places in our campaigns, what is it that we are truly seeking to achieve? Why do we adventure? Why do we desire more than what we are, what we have or what we see?  The act of a hero is that of selflessness and bravery in order to achieve the good of all. The acts of a tyrant are always the opposite. Do we seek to build or do we seek to destroy? Continue reading Conscious RPG campaigning: Tyrant or Savior?

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“Heart of Darkness” – Out of the Box D&D Encounters #36

black puddingIntroduction: There are many different kinds of players, but one that never goes away is the murder hobo/vandal. Their style of gaming lay in the foundations of D&D when it first hit the market. It’s still a popular style of gaming, especially with the rise of video games. Monsters and puzzles are seen as sources of loot. Everything is opened, broken, killed, or avoided if it can’t be one those three. Despite the harsh style of play, these players are also the fire under the bottoms of players who struggle with decision making or need to follow sixteen steps before opening a door. The murder hobo/vandal is always the first to launch into combat, explore a new passage, or open a stuck door. As much as they lead the way, the style of play can sometimes cut off role playing or problem solving opportunities, or create problem solving issues for others in their party. Continue reading “Heart of Darkness” – Out of the Box D&D Encounters #36

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Game Master Tip- Engaging Individual Characters in a Roleplaying Group

character

game master tipAs a player, one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in roleplaying is exploring a story which your character has a personal stake in, and which is tailored specifically to your character. It’s one thing to raid a tomb full of undead with your pals, but it’s entirely another to explore the tomb of your ancestors, fighting the spectres of long dead family

members and searching for a priceless heirloom.

Engaging individual characters within the party can be a fantastic way to develop characters
and make players feel badass, and these personal storylines can often develop into entire
plot arcs and adventures. However, the logistics of keeping the whole group entertained
while your game focuses on one character can be difficult. It’s often difficult for people to
find time to game together, and the last thing you want is for people to show up and then
spend the whole session watching somebody else play the game. Continue reading Game Master Tip- Engaging Individual Characters in a Roleplaying Group

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Review: Challenger, a free role-playing game

cover
The cover of the Challenger RPG.

In the early days of tabletop role-playing games, mainly meaning the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, there was a certain amateur charm and excitement to the products. The artwork was decent, but not quite up to professional levels. The writing was personal, not full of corporate speak, with the occasional error. Even the rules were somewhat questionable, fairly simple but not always making sense.

The Challenger free role-playing game reminds of those days.

Obviously an amateur work, though a work of love, the Challenger game is written as if one of your gaming buddies was sitting across a table from you while excitedly telling you about his or her latest creation. The rules are simple, especially by modern standards, but they still seem to get the job done. The focus is upon rolling fewer dice so the role-playing aspects of the game can shine through, all while working hard to present a Continue reading Review: Challenger, a free role-playing game

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April Dungeon Crate Unboxing and Weekly Wrap 4-10-2016

RPGs

RPGsWelcome and well met internet traveler,

Nerdarchist Dave here with another week in Nerdarchy. As always hoping you got your game on this week. Nothing like spending time with friends and family playing make believe whilst rolling funny shaped dice. This weekend was our 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game run by me. The game play should go up on YouTube next weekend.

Speaking of next weekend that is when you can expect to check out Nerdarchist Ryan’s live game play with the fans Sunday 7 PM eastern time 4-24-2016.

The following weekend we’ll be recording our session zero and a social contract for Scott’s Shadow Run game that will be powered by the Cypher System.

It’s that time of month when we get our monthly box of Dungeon Crate by we I mean Ted. So in our weekly wrap vid we unboxed this April’s Dungeon Crate. Continue reading April Dungeon Crate Unboxing and Weekly Wrap 4-10-2016

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Nerdarchy the Adventurer’s Guild, The N.A.G, and Our Weekly Wrap 4-3-2016

Well met traveler of the internet,

adventurers guild

Nerdarchist Dave here with another weekly wrap blog post. This past week we’ve finally launch The Company of the N.A.G. It’s an idea we came up awhile ago.

Since December we’ve been running monthly games with the fans. The Krinch that Stole Father’s Winters Day, Night Terrors, Maze of Mandoon, Enter the Crawl Wood, and we’ve got our next game coming the end of this month April 24th. Continue reading Nerdarchy the Adventurer’s Guild, The N.A.G, and Our Weekly Wrap 4-3-2016

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Nerdy Art Packed Edition of the Nerdy News 2-7-2016 Nerdy News and Weekly Digest Blog, YouTube, and Other Nerdy Goings Ons

Hello and well met internet traveler,

Nerdarchist Dave here with another weekly edition of the nerdy news.

Hope you got your game on this weekend. Didn’t get to play this week end, I did get to run my Gryphongaff campaign for the gang. I got to introduce some new NPCs to the worlds as well as new race for the players to interact with.

This go around we’ve got few sweet pieces of nerdy art from fans and friends alike. You can enjoy them down below. I think it went pretty well.

Proceed for Nerdy Art

Continue reading Nerdy Art Packed Edition of the Nerdy News 2-7-2016 Nerdy News and Weekly Digest Blog, YouTube, and Other Nerdy Goings Ons