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World of Darkness: Followers of Set

SetThere is evil, the serpent that tempted Eve to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge … and then there is evil that tempts you with a smile, a suit, and promise of what you truly desire. This evil is dangerous because it does not hunt you, you offer yourself to it with a smile. You will sell yourself, heart, mind, and soul. And one night, when you least expect it, you will hear a knock on the door, and the sins of the past will be visited upon you and all those you hold dear. Thus the venom of Set will crawl into your veins, and no anti-venom will save you. Continue reading World of Darkness: Followers of Set

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Running a D&D game off the cuff – it can be easy

NPC
DragonsCrown-29
Does this Dungeon Master/wizard look panicked?

So you’re the Dungeon Master. There’s a game of Dungeons & Dragons in an hour or two. Unfortunately you’ve been busy all week and have not had time to prepare.

Don’t panic.

You can still run your game and look good doing it. It’s easy. Just follow the advice below.

First off, you need to take into account the relative strength of the party of characters with which you will be dealing. You don’t want the session to be too difficult, but you also don’t want it to be a walk in the park.

Next, you’re going to need a pen and paper. Hopefully you usually have those around when you’re planning to be the DM. Now, think of a monster, something simple, something basic, something with which you’re familiar. Orcs. Yeah, orcs will do. Everybody loves bashing on orcs.

Several Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures. ...
Several Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures. The grid mat underneath uses one-inch squares. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wait, you don’t have your Monster Manual handy? Don’t freak out. Orcs. Hmm, okay, orcs are pretty tough but not too tough, so … write down an Armor Class of 13. Yes, you’re making this up, guessing at it. Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter that much. Next up, put down +4 for the orcs to hit in combat (unless you know the characters are pretty tough themselves, in which case you can up that attack bonus to +5 or +6 or whatever … these don’t have to be standard, run-of-the mill orcs). For damage, put down a d10+2 (or +3 or +4 … again, depending upon the party strength). What is that d10? Well, that’s the damage for the battle axes the orcs are using. Why battle axes? Well, why not? You say the Player’s Handbook reads that battle axes do different damage? Don’t worry about it. Again, it’s not that important, at least not in the long run. Now for hit points. If these are average orcs, I’ll suggest giving them 15 hit points each, enough to pose a challenge because they usually won’t go down after only one hit, but you can give them more hit points if you think the party can handle it.

Keep in mind, you’re mainly trying to get through the session while ensuring everyone has a fun time.

orc screenshot axe
An orc with a battle axe. See how easy it can be?

Okay, how many orcs should you have? Again, it depends upon party strength. I’d suggest including about one orc per party member, plus have a boss. The boss can be as simple as an orc chieftain or captain or whatever. Give the orc boss extra armor, maybe an AC 18, and a couple of more pluses to hit and maybe another point or two of damage. Give him at least a dozen more hit points than your average orc, but twenty extra HP might even be better.

Now you’ve got your bad guys. You’ve got to come up with a mission for the party, a reason for them to go off on an adventure.

Keep it simple. This isn’t the time for long quests or overly complex plot lines. You’ve not had time to think of all that. Maybe the orcs have kidnapped someone who has to be saved. Or maybe the orcs are terrorizing a village and must be stopped. Maybe the orcs are just bandits who lay in ambush for the party. Again, simple, easy.

With a basic plot and some basic bad guys, you’re ready to go, right?

Well, yes and no. You’ve got your story ready for the players, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

The Relativist, a Psionic custom class for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition | D&D 5e dimensional_leap
Sometimes the Dungeon Master just has to jump into the deep waters.

For instance, you have to be ready to go with the flow. The players might take the adventure off into unexpected territory, so you should be mentally prepared to make up non-player characters on the fly. It helps here if you have some improvisational experience and are a quick thinker, but even if you don’t, just remember the party’s strengths and goals. Early on in a session you don’t want to make things too easy for the party, but you also don’t want to keep them baffled or frustrated. It will be best to have some complications and roadblocks, but eventually the party should be able to press ahead with the adventure, eventually coming to a conclusion, in this case probably a fight with the orcs and their boss. If you need other bad guys early in the session, just use your stats for the orcs but perhaps apply them to humans or dwarfs so the party isn’t facing the same villains all session long.

Don’t over think anything. If you make up an NPC with a stupid name, don’t worry about it. The players will probably have a chuckle at it. Besides, the NPC doesn’t ever have to show up again. Then again, if the NPC turns out to be fun for everyone, they might become a staple at your gaming table. If you need a bad guy suddenly, just use the orc stats, but describe the bad guy differently, maybe with a longsword instead of a battle axe.

If the adventure suddenly turns into a bloodbath for the party, there are ways to deal with this. If the orcs have been hit hard, maybe they will retreat. Or if it doesn’t seem completely cheesy and out of the blue, you can have someone else come in and save the party, though this should be used sparingly and should make some kind of sense; with a bit of foreshadowing, the party will know there is someone around who might be of aid. and this can keep the story from seeming as forced.

If things look particularly bad and you don’t have a problem doing it, you can always fudge some of your dice rolls and have the bad guys miss a number of attacks. Some dungeon masters don’t have a problem doing this while others abhor it, but either way, do you really want to kill off party members for what is basically a filler adventure?

Another thing to remember is that you do not want to run every session in this fashion. For that matter, you don’t want to run a lot of sessions in this fashion. The same old villains and their statistics will soon become no challenge for the players, which leads to boredom. You’ll get bored as well. Simple sessions are fine from time to time, but more complex stories and obstacles are needed to really keep interest high for your adventures.

Also, don’t feel bad if you’re improv skills aren’t all that great, or if you find it painful to have to think quickly on the fly. My suggestions aren’t for everyone. Every player and every dungeon master is different, and not everyone fits into a mold.

Most importantly, fake it until you make it. To repeat, don’t over think anything. Even if it leads to a mediocre gaming session, that’s better than no gaming session at all, and if your players are familiar with your style as a DM, they’ll be back next week or whenever. You don’t have to be perfect as a DM, you just have to be fair to the players and try to build up some fun.

Stay Nerdy!

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In Role Play, Description isn’t Always a Good Thing

Dungeons & Dragons
These are dice. They decide things in RPG combat, but they don’t describe the combat. Maybe we could learn from this.

The most dreaded words I can hear from a game master are, “Describe your attack.”

I’m not talking about describing complex character actions. That I understand. If the game master needs explanation on how one of my characters is trying to perform a certain act, especially an unusual one, that makes perfect sense.

No, I’m talking about the rather mundane, usually involving combat.

My character steps into a fight, swings his or her weapon. I roll dice. The weapon hits. I go to roll damage and … Continue reading In Role Play, Description isn’t Always a Good Thing

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Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e Wrap up with the Wizard!

WizardHello fellow Nerdarchests, 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 Ranger just click HERE.

Today marks my final installment of the multi-classing in Dungeons & Dragons 5e series. So let’s get started with the Wizard…

Let me take a few lines here to talk about the most divers casting class in the game in my opinion… The Wizard. I think the way the Wizard schools give additional abilities as they level is what makes the class so complex yet simple. With the multitude of spell casting schools to choose from the Wizard gains quite a few options as to how you can play them based on their school of magic. I feel that multi-classing with the wizard opens up an even greater realm of possibilities for characters to delve into both for role-play and for combat purposes. With that, let’s get started… Continue reading Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e Wrap up with the Wizard!

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What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player Tips

We have all been there … the map is setup, the pizza is on it’s way,

pizzamap What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player Tipsand the Game Master has begun to explain the problem in a low country accented voice on how ankhegs be bustin’ out of them there fields, swallowerin’ mi pegs ‘hole.

This farmer could really use some help from some adventuring folks and most of the players agree without asking about rewards or other such things.

Except for the Warrior Noble, he refuses to talk with the man, let alone help him.

What to do, what to do? The noble certainly isn’t going to risk his life for such a lowly commoner, “it is simply not done”.

What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player Tips

This scenario is a classic example of immersive role play gone wrong. How can the adventuring party get their groove on when the muscle doesn’t want to show up and dance?

If that ankheg infestation is dangerous to take on without the fighter then the rest of the players are beholden to the character’s background and choices.

But ultimately there adventuring fun is being held hostage by a player.

Ideally I want to be in conflict with the characters but not the actual players at the table. What can we do to mitigate backgrounds and player concepts that, at first, seem to clash with the adventures and goals of the party?

Player tips and what to do so you don’t end up being “that guy”

  1. Check out this video

Don’t have time to check it out? Then I will give you the short short version.

What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player Tips

  • Stay Flexible, the more rigid the background or mindset of the player the harder it is to create reasons to go where the character may not have gone before.
  • Talk with the gm and other players, have open communication between the group so they know where you are coming from
  • Figure out how your character could say yes to going out on the adventure or how they could be convinced to complete a task.
  • Add to the fun of the game for the players, don’t make your choice out of pride for your immersive role play skills. Where you end up sticking to a character concept so fiercely that it ruins the evening’s fun for everyone else.

These are a few of the player tips brought up in the video. For more players tips , game master tips , and much more come over to our youtube channel here.

Immersive role play can really add to everyone’s overall experience in the gaming session. Just remember when you are in a bind about what to do with your character consider one of the following solutions to get you back in the game.

crossed out What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player TipsIf your character won’t do something, reverse the thought process and consider what is needed for the character to go on the adventure or perform the activity. In other words, figure out how to say “yes”.

Maybe the character’s background is not the greatest and they need a change, when someone is looking to change something about their life they can experiment with activities an groups that would normally not interest them.

The easiest strategy is the conditional yes. This entails a character agreeing to give aid or assist in a quest if they get something in return. This can be anything from monetary compensation to promises of assistance on a personal mission or goal.

What to do with Immersive Role Play Gone Wrong | Player Tips

Keep in mind that whatever your character’s desires they can be accomplished without halting the game for everyone else.

Good luck and Stay Nerdy!