TGAPP: Nefarious Plots Coming Undone

Hello beloved readers! I will once again be summarizing events relating to the Inglorious Ingrates in the hopes of catching you up on all the latest developments facing our favorite adventurers! So sit back and enjoy my retelling of the magical exploits…

After foiling the ambushers of the Mogumir off-site facility, the Inglorious Ingrates followed a secret passage used by the facility guards without letting their adrenaline drop, and what lay inside shed light on the Baron’s true level of depravity. For as the party made their way deep underground to the dark heart, Dacyria immediately investigated a room with several loud moans and groans coming from it, and upon entry, she witnessed over a dozen individuals magically locked and chained to the ground with a small silvery cylindrical valve inserted into each captive’s chest. The captives were gruesomely tortured by several facility guards, but for each wound inflicted, the captive would instantaneously recover. The group rushed into the room to the stop the tortures, but as the guards began feeling cornered, they began to remove the valves from four prisoners who immediately expired with the removal.

Luckily, the adventurers stopped the guards and their reinforcements from finishing off any more of the captives, but the true toll of who was lost became apparent. Among the dead captives included Dacyria’s brother, Idris’s sister, Winter’s mother, and Arkon’s older brother. Deciding that mourning would happen later, the group began to clear out the rest of the facility and set free the many other captives in the nightmarish torture prison. The Ingrates cleared the rest and free the captives, which included the lost prince of the King of Endyr, Prince Eidar, who had been tortured there for 5 years, and forgotten by way of the crystal later found on a statue outside of the King’s palace.

The Ingrates rounded up the former prisoners, gathered evidence against the Baron in these nefarious plots, and loaded everything onto carriages to head directly to Red Fern to prepare for their next confrontation with the Baron.

Once safely returned to the Targana Estate, the companions along with Duke Targana and Spymaster (who’s name nobody knows, not even the Duke he works for!) devised a surprise strike on the Baron and his forces. The Ingrates would go to the palace to confront the Baron and Na-Baron, while the Duke’s forces simultaneously attacked the crystals at the Baron’s estate and on the statue in front of the royal palace. With their plans set in motion, everyone got into positions which included the party entering the palace in elaborate regalia. Shortly after entering the main ballroom of the palace, Idris waved down the Baron and isolated the both of them while the rest of the party moved to the Na-Baron. It was only a few minutes into the party when the group noticed the Baron and Na-Baron’s faces contort in horror as they realized their carefully laid plans were being foiled, and before the Baron could react, Idris put him under the Sleep spell. However, the Na-Baron panicked and shouted for his hidden legions to attack!

Under carefully crafted magical disguises came several large and menacing ogres, cambians, and succubi who immediately began tearing into noble guests and guards with a clear goal of harming the king and queen. The Inglorious Ingrates fought a pitch battle with the horrendous monstrosities of the Mogumirs while also protecting the King and his guests, and with a stroke of luck, the Ingrates were able to slay a majority of the creatures and force the Na-Baron to surrender. As the fight came to a swift conclusion, the Duke’s forces broke into the grand ballroom, and rounded up the remainder of the Mogumirs and their forces. Seeing defeat was inevitable, the Baron seemed unfazed and almost elated stating that all was for naught, for he revealed that the nefarious forces of the Avatar of War were going to be amassing at the northern border of Denethyar to invade once Endyr is conquered. The Baron further revealed that the Avatar of War had taken over Arkon’s Father and dominated the hobgoblin king to command a combined legion of goliaths and hobgoblins to far outnumber the forces of Endyr. These claims turned out to be true for soon after the fight at the palace reports began to flood in with word of the goliaths and hobgoblins marching toward the Kingdom with siege weapons and armored legions.

Though outnumbered and lacking intelligence on the Avatar of War, the Inglorious Ingrates began preparation of defense with haste, and calling upon allegiances and allies for help in the upcoming battle. Will the Ingrates succeed or will the Kingdom of Endyr fall to the Avatar of War? Find out in the next update of the Inglorious Ingrates on the Daily Dungeon Master!

Announcement: Your Dork Materials

Dear Readers, as you may be able to tell, Anonymous Bosch and I have not been able to get the YouTube channel up and going as quickly as we had anticipated. Due to a number of scheduling conflicts and the ability to record, there have been a number of delays.

That said, here is what we have:

1) A series on Rune Quest; how to play, how to make characters, etc…

2) How to play Battletech, tactics, record sheets, etc…

3) How to paint miniatures for beginners

4) D&D and Rune Quest monster spotlight

5) Our Inglorious Ingrates

6) Our TPKs (the monthly group)

7) Some one-shots of various kinds

8) Turning our “How-To DM” posts into videos

9) Actually Turn Posts into Podcasts (my friend Kerry has bugged me about this one!)

The only issues that we have for this are getting the time and ability to record these videos.

Don’t worry though, we are going to be recording them soon. We’re just working on scripts, outlines, and everything else before we can record and it’s been a slow process.

Also of note, our newest contributor will be on vacation the next two weeks so you can expect more posts from me!

Speaking of posts, if there are any articles that you want me to write about, please let me know in the comments section below or get a hold of me via the Contact Us page.

Thanks again for reading!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Dungeons and Dragons and the Magic the Gathering Crossover

Dear Readers, remember what I said that I would not likely make a deck from my D&D and Magic Gathering crossover cards?

Apparently, I fibbed.

As I write this, I am in a different state, visiting one of my best friends, we will call C. C and I have been friends since 2015 when we were in undergrad together. He and I bonded over the fact that we both played Magic the Gathering. His mill deck and his sliver deck our legendary. Later, I got him into playing D&D and d20 Future/Modern.

In any case, we haven’t actually seen each other since 2016, when we both graduated and ended up having to go our separate ways. He heading off to do his master’s degree and I going into the workplace. We kept in touch the other phone and video chat, talking about whatever, as well as getting together on Discord and Roll20 to play a D&D game on a monthly basis. It’s a lot of fun.

Back on topic.

Remember when I said that I bought a singular set box? I also bought a fat pack, the limited edition fat pack, another set box, and two draft booster boxes. I couldn’t help it, I opened the set box packs. But I kept them separate from the other one. You see, I had a plan.

I would have one fat pack and set box separated from the other fat pack and set box, buy the two draft booster boxes, but don’t open those. We would each open our own draft Booster box and each take one fat pack and set box, and build whatever deck(s) we could out of those cards. It is going to be glorious.

From what I have, I have a bunch of awesome cards in both sets: I have a Tiamat, Zariel, Hand and Eye of Vecna, Xanathar, multiple copies of Drizz’t Do Urden (with the Gwenevar token), Asmodeus, Icingdeath, both sword token and dragon, Orcus and the Wand of Orcus, and the Tarrasque. And that just names a few.

Sorry it came out sideways, I couldn’t get it to take a picture the other direction.

The only things that I’m going to have to read up on are how to use the class cards and how to use the dungeon cards. Those are still two cards that I am unfamiliar with how to deploy and employ. I will do a write-up of that in a little bit after C and I get to play.

Later in the Weekend

So my friend, C, and I built a couple of really good decks each. I built a black and blue deck centered around xanathar and then built another deck centered around Tiamat. He too made a Tiamat deck that played very well.

Class cards are awesome enchantments that sit in play until you pay the manager cost to level the card. Each level gives you new and different abilities or effects, like the wizard class card which gives you an unlimited hand size right off the get-go, level 2 giving you the ability to draw two cards, etc…

The dungeon mechanic is also an interesting mechanic that is really cool. It works similar to the class cards but you have to have an ability that triggers entering or progressing through a dungeon. There’s even cards, like Acererak, that require completion of a specific dungeon in order to even play the card!

Overall, I would say these cards are made for D&D players that also play or want to play Magic. It’s an enjoyable set!

How-to Play: 11 Easy Tips to Help Beginners Create Memorable Characters

So… your first D&D session is coming up and you are nervous about making your first character. While you feel stuck in uncertainty, you’re still excited, and you have a few priorities going in:

  1. You want your first character creation to be simple and easy
  2. You want someone relatable to role-play
  3. You don’t want a character that’s basic or boring
  4. You don’t want someone so complex it prevents you from having fun

First of all, if you are nervous, know we’ve all been there!  

Starting out in anything can be intimidating, but especially when that thing involves acting and cooperation with people you might not know very well. 

You are not alone; you are in good company 🙂

With that said, be encouraged; you have no need to worry! Not only is there a wealth of resources at your disposal, but it is surprisingly easy to create a character that is fun AND memorable to role-play

It doesn’t require you to be a storytelling master, drama major in college, or fantasy fanatic. 

All it requires is asking yourself a few questions, picking what you prefer, and fitting it all together… easy peasy!

NOTE: If you are looking for a blog post that can tell you what kind of weapons or armor or spells and abilities, what you are asking about are the mechanics, rather than the role-playing aspect of the game. You can find those elsewhere on the internet. Just search “what D&D class should I play?” and many sites will offer you excellent options. 

What follows are 11 simple, easy questions to ask yourself when creating your first character. Even if you only implement half of these, your character will stand out as interesting not only to you, but to everyone at the table!What’s the Player Character’s (PC’s) purpose? 

1. What’s the Player Character’s (PC’s) purpose? 

Just like in the real world, denizens of D&D want to contribute to society. Your character should want to do something good that helps build a better world.  Think of some problems in the world: injustice, peace on earth, hunger, environmentalism… choose one “cause” for your character and ask your DM to help you integrate it into the adventure. How does the PC need to change/grow? 

2. How does the PC need to change/grow? 

This is the most important question you have to answer! If your character is going on a journey, they need to have some inner conflict to resolve along the journey. They may have a purpose to help the world, but that’s not their main motivation. What drives them needs to come from within. Example: Luke Skywalker wanted to defeat the empire, but it was actually more important that he avenge his father that was killed by Darth Vader.What are their values? 

3. What are their values? 

Everyone, no matter how good, has a shadow side. And even the most evil people have bright and shining spots of their hearts. No matter what your character does or who they are, give them at least one virtue (hope, courage, etc.) and one vice (lust, jealously, etc.). Nothing is as boring as a character that is 100% good or 100% evil! What do they wear?  

4. What do they wear?  

It’s likely that the characters in your party will be wearing some semblance of medieval attire. And for the most part, no one will refresh the collective imagination by redescribing their character every single turn. So be sure there is a single piece of clothing, something unique that stands out, that everyone can associate with your character. Do they do anything odd? 

5. Do they do anything odd? 

You can always say “my character is nervous”. But talking as your character while biting your nails, or scratching your head, can make your character come alive. Pick an emotion your character will probably feel a lot throughout the campaign and assign a physical tick to go along with it. Your fellow players will pick up quick! What is their family like? 

6. What is their family like? 

Lots of characters in D&D are orphans, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if your character has a big loving family, you can be sure that family will come up in the campaign.  EVERYBODY remembers family drama, even in imaginary table-top settings!Where does your PC owe allegiance? 

7. Where does your PC owe allegiance? 

While some people are true hermits, most people have their roots in society in some way. Allegiances can be lowly (local tavern, guilds, underworld thieves) or lofty (nation-states, religions, academies). Consider where your PC feels most at home and what groups might share their values. Do they have any phrases they repeat? 

8. Do they have any phrases they repeat? 

Are there particular words and phrases your PC uses that most other people don’t? This can be personal catchphrases, cultural idioms, varying levels of manners…  Even if its silly, meaningfless, and stupid (ie. Michael Scott’s constant “that’s what she said”)… people will remember it if they are well timed and funny! What are their hobbies? 

9. What are their hobbies? 

Most people in real life are not blood thirsty murder-hobos! We go to work, get paid, and ALSO enjoy a host of other things. Make your character no different. Give them interests to talk about when they are not fighting. Or pleasures to pursue when they are in town in between adventures.Give them a special weapon or magical thingy: 

10. Give them a special weapon or magical thingy: 

Being in a fantasy adventure, this goes without saying. Frodo has Sting, Arthur has Excalibur, Harry Potter got the elder wand. Your 1st level character probably should not have the foretold weapon of unimaginable power… but giving a weapon cool name or unique description is never a bad idea! What’s the PC’s backstory?  

11. What’s the PC’s backstory?  

This is the last step! Do not start here! Looking at the character you have so far that you know you want to play, come up with a short summary of their life that explains why they are the way they are. This is not an excuse to write a 10-page novella, nor is stating “Its Geralt from Witcher” appropriate. Honestly, 5-8 sentences is good. Just a little story explaining where you came from, how you got to wherever the party is meeting up, and a memory your character would have that compels them to adventure. BONUS: How do they talk? 

12. BONUS: How do they talk? 

For many people, especially beginners,  this is the most intimidating part of D&D. And it’s true that people will get a good laugh as you try to figure out exactly how your character talks and sounds. 

That said, I really want to encourage you to give it a try! Giving your character a unique voice helps the whole table collectively have a more vivid imagination. Even though they see you in your street clothes, they will hear your voice and see your character rather than you! It’s a part of the mysterious magic that makes D&D amazing. 

There you have it: 11 (plus one!) simple questions you can ask yourself to easily build an interesting D&D character! 

But that said, there is no “winning” in D&D, so like Captain Barbossa said, think of these as “guidelines rather than actual rules”. Whatever questions you choose to use, it needs to be someone you enjoy role playing! So however you do it, if your character is an imagined, living, breathing person, even the most grizzled veteran will be impressed. And you’ll have a rewarding D&D experience you’ll never forget! 

Epic D&D Story: The Epic of Sameo

Dear Readers, this story, much as Eric and the Dread Gazebo, is an awesome D&D story that must be preserved. I have reprinted it here for your reading pleasure!

———————————————————————–

SAMEO

My Paladin was sitting alone in the tavern while the party was doing some disreputable thing they didn’t want me knowing about, when a peasant came in to warn everyone to hide. Scouts saw the orc army that had been alluded to during the campaign was just a few hours march. The rest of the party had no idea and were away (and were actually getting killed by being stupid and being led into an obvious trap.) My Paladin character, who has been laughed at his entire life for one thing or another, stepped up with an air of determination that would have made the most epic veteran of many wars quiver. He told the guards how to set up the defenses as he rode off to prevent this town from being destroyed in any means he could.

This orc army had been devastating the lands. Since the beginning of the campaign we have heard about their Epic level Half fiend orc Fighter specced cleric of Orc God leading the campaign on his invulnerable Vampire Fang Dragon. His army of ten thousand marched to the town to claim it for their God.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-4624560991582456&output=html&h=360&adk=2564148521&adf=768551023&pi=t.aa~a.1251931349~i.3~rp.4&w=432&lmt=1631471071&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=6719744927&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=432×360&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffunnydndstories.com%2Fsameo%2F&flash=0&fwr=1&pra=3&rh=305&rw=365&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&sfro=1&wgl=1&fa=27&uach=WyJBbmRyb2lkIiwiMTEuMC4wIiwiIiwiUGl4ZWwgM2EgWEwiLCI5My4wLjQ1NzcuNjIiLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiIl0.&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9hdHRlc3RhdGlvbi5hbmRyb2lkLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjo3fV0.&dt=1631471071052&bpp=25&bdt=2579&idt=-M&shv=r20210908&mjsv=m202109080101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D04f543fac9a1601b-22c1efd300bb0057%3AT%3D1631471070%3ART%3D1631471070%3AS%3DALNI_MZ5gK3Xrfj59e_Jgty280Wwi3-w-Q&prev_fmts=0x0&nras=2&correlator=4130030574329&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=769629433.1631471070&ga_sid=1631471070&ga_hid=462276787&ga_fc=0&u_tz=-300&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=864&u_w=432&u_ah=864&u_aw=432&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=0&ady=856&biw=432&bih=736&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=44747621%2C21067496%2C31062297%2C31062094&oid=3&pvsid=2525079620877387&pem=424&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C432%2C0%2C432%2C736%2C432%2C736&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=2&uci=a!2&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=gvm9Xnq3Qx&p=https%3A//funnydndstories.com&dtd=94

And my level seven paladin rode off to stop their reign of fear and destruction here.

I met an orc scouting party and told them to go tell their boss to surrender. Otherwise this will be the last day he sees on this Earth. They laughed, so I fought and broke their squad and won the fight against the ten of them by being smart and getting lucky.

In the meantime, the rest of the party had whipped by falling in the most obvious of traps and getting backstabbed. I so wanted to scream at them for being so stupid and warn them, but I wasn’t about to meta game.

So the DM concluded that the campaign was over. But I told him I wanted to continue, and if I died, I died, I would at least see the rest of the story be told damn it.

So there I was, at the edge of this forest, watching the orc army move past me.

I took out my bow, and fired a shot into the mass, killing something.

Then again.

And again.

Until they realized someone was killing them from the forest.

They sent in a group to find who it was. I hid from all of them, and killed anyone who found me. I continued shooting into the mass, and they sent more into the forest.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-4624560991582456&output=html&h=360&adk=2564148521&adf=1823158918&pi=t.aa~a.1251931349~i.23~rp.4&w=432&lmt=1631471071&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=6719744927&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=432×360&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffunnydndstories.com%2Fsameo%2F&flash=0&fwr=1&pra=3&rh=305&rw=365&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&sfro=1&wgl=1&fa=27&uach=WyJBbmRyb2lkIiwiMTEuMC4wIiwiIiwiUGl4ZWwgM2EgWEwiLCI5My4wLjQ1NzcuNjIiLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiIl0.&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9hdHRlc3RhdGlvbi5hbmRyb2lkLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjo3fV0.&dt=1631471071052&bpp=8&bdt=2579&idt=-M&shv=r20210908&mjsv=m202109080101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D04f543fac9a1601b-22c1efd300bb0057%3AT%3D1631471070%3ART%3D1631471070%3AS%3DALNI_MZ5gK3Xrfj59e_Jgty280Wwi3-w-Q&prev_fmts=0x0%2C432x360%2C432x360&nras=4&correlator=4130030574329&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=769629433.1631471070&ga_sid=1631471070&ga_hid=462276787&ga_fc=0&u_tz=-300&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=864&u_w=432&u_ah=864&u_aw=432&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=0&ady=2512&biw=432&bih=736&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=44747621%2C21067496%2C31062297%2C31062094&oid=3&pvsid=2525079620877387&pem=424&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C432%2C0%2C432%2C736%2C432%2C736&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=3&fsb=1&xpc=wMHfaJbc1V&p=https%3A//funnydndstories.com&dtd=147

I continued this for a few more minutes, until finally I saw the vampire fang dragon in the sky flying towards the forest. He used some sort of fire breath attack for some reason and started burning down the forest.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-4624560991582456&output=html&h=360&adk=2564148521&adf=1906838702&pi=t.aa~a.1251931349~i.25~rp.4&w=432&lmt=1631471071&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=6719744927&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=432×360&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffunnydndstories.com%2Fsameo%2F&flash=0&fwr=1&pra=3&rh=305&rw=365&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&sfro=1&wgl=1&fa=27&uach=WyJBbmRyb2lkIiwiMTEuMC4wIiwiIiwiUGl4ZWwgM2EgWEwiLCI5My4wLjQ1NzcuNjIiLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiIl0.&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9hdHRlc3RhdGlvbi5hbmRyb2lkLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjo3fV0.&dt=1631471071052&bpp=9&bdt=2579&idt=-M&shv=r20210908&mjsv=m202109080101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D04f543fac9a1601b-22c1efd300bb0057%3AT%3D1631471070%3ART%3D1631471070%3AS%3DALNI_MZ5gK3Xrfj59e_Jgty280Wwi3-w-Q&prev_fmts=0x0%2C432x360%2C432x360%2C432x360&nras=5&correlator=4130030574329&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=769629433.1631471070&ga_sid=1631471070&ga_hid=462276787&ga_fc=0&u_tz=-300&u_his=1&u_java=0&u_h=864&u_w=432&u_ah=864&u_aw=432&u_cd=24&u_nplug=0&u_nmime=0&adx=0&ady=3016&biw=432&bih=736&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=44747621%2C21067496%2C31062297%2C31062094&oid=3&pvsid=2525079620877387&pem=424&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C432%2C0%2C432%2C736%2C432%2C736&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=5&uci=a!5&btvi=4&fsb=1&xpc=uesP4wE4kE&p=https%3A//funnydndstories.com&dtd=169

I took pot shots at the dragon until I pissed it off something fierce.

I ran through the cover of the forest, and searched for a fallen sturdy log, and a high Y-shaped tree bearing. I lifted the log using all of my strength to drag it onto the tree bearing. I fired flame arrows into the air to show the dragon where I was.

I mounted up as I saw it approach, and when it was close enough, I did something stupid. Compared to everything else, it really was.

I rode my warhorse up the log and jumped into the air as high as it could go and then jumped off, passing the necessary rolls to do so, and jumped on top of the dragon, grabbed the evil orc cleric’s boot, and made him fall. In the meantime, the dragon bit me, doing a lot of damage and two negative levels. My horse died from its fall. I rolled to hit, and luckily, did max damage on my called shot to its wing, tearing it out. It plummeted to the forest below, staking itself into the trees.

In its death throes it breathed an everlasting curse against me and screamed to its master to avenge it, breathing fire everywhere.

And now in the clearing, I grogged in pain and attempted to heal myself while standing and watching through hazed eyes as the Half-fiend orc approached me, giant bone tower shield and great war axe in hand. I saw orc warriors circling the area.

The Orc warlord said something in orcish and the warriors stopped, circling us.

“I hope your ancestors grieve at the knowledge of the stupidity they have sired. You will die this day, and not even in death will you escape the fate that you will face. An eternity of pain beyond your comprehension awaits you. Your soul will be forever engulfed in suffering, knowing no release.” as he heals himself and buffs himself up. “All you will find this day is death, and forever on…. only pain.”

Initiative.

I win.

But I miss. So I draw back.

Move and attack, one attack hits, and brings me down to 15%.

I slam against a tree and am brought down to 4 hit points. I pass my fort save versus massive damage.

New round, I hold off my turn until he is close enough to attack, as he comes near.

“Feel accomplished, Paladin; you made this day memorable — for myself at least. And I will make sure that there will be no one left to remember you, your name, or what you did here. That village will burn, and all within it will die. You are nothing but a stain on my blade. Nothing.”

I knew it, this was it, there was no way I was going to live through this. Not even with a crit. I was going to die. But dammit, I was going down swinging.

So he spoke my Epitaph to my own thoughts and memories, detailing everything he knew, and why he had become a paladin, and even though everyone had laughed at him, and ridiculed him, that he would save them, even if they never cared, even if no one cared, or would ever care.

He walked up to deliver the final blow. And I screamed out loud and swung…

All hope resided on this die, I wanted some memorable scar to leave him with. Up to this point, this die I had used always failed me when it mattered the most. But I kept using it for the day that for all it’s bad luck, hoping it would one day churn out unbelievable luck and count at the right time.

So I rolled to make it spin, making it last forever. and it finally came out.. . . . … …..

…….

It had rolled a 1.

I groaned and the DM laughed at me.

He told me to roll again to see how bad I fail.

I rolled again.

Another 1.

I groaned again. The DM laughed again, and told me to roll again. If I got another 1, I was dead.

I rolled and thought about how embarrassing it was going to be to die by my own hand.

… 1.

I sat there in complete pissiness and threw my die in the fucking trash as the DM laughed and consulted his book of critical failures.

He rolled his dice, referenced the book and froze.

“What, I decapitated myself didn’t I?”

He didn’t say anything.

“Well, what is it?”

He just looked up at me in a look of befuddlement and spoke words that I will never, ever, ever, ever forget.

“Player and adjacent target die.”

———————————————————————–

What do you think, Dear Readers? Did you enjoy that story as much as I always enjoy reading it?

Let me know in the comment section below!

Not a Player’s Perspective – How-To DM: When Things Go Awry

Our normal contributor for today is bogged down with work and exams from his master’s degree. Which is fine and totally understandable.

This leaves me the ability to do another article today on something been thinking about.

What do you do when your campaign gets derailed?

We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about here: you expected the players to go left and they went right. The players found a clever way to kill the big bad evil guy, or BBEG, and that showdown wasn’t supposed to happen for 5 plus sessions. Or worse yet, the party was expected to rest and recuperate before they headed to the next room, but they forge on ahead only to find the boss fight!

This leaves dungeon masters with only one question: what do I do now?

The good news is that there is a solution to this problem. And I suggest that there are three easy steps that any dungeon master can take to resolve things when they go crazy sideways.

1) Take a break

Step one is always to call for a break. Take a bathroom break, go outside to your car. Do something where you can get a moment to breathe and assess the situation. Some DMS can function well under pressure and can skip this step, but most of us need a few minutes to figure out how to assess the situation and how to get things back on track. Don’t hesitate to call for a break when you need to do this.

2) Assess the situation.

This is where you take stock of what’s going on and look at your options. The town they were supposed to go is east, but they decided to go west. Could you just move the encounters to the town to the west? If the BBEG was killed too early, does he have minions who would bring him back from the dead? Would a worse enemy, maybe a minion or maybe arrival, take up the mantle and enact an even more terrible plot? If they walked into a boss fight too early, could the boss decide that they are not worth his time and that it is not a worthy encounter and simply teleport away or walk away all together?

3) When all else fails, improvise!

The ability of a dungeon master to improvise is an essential skill. Several things you can do when things like this happen. Have another enemy give a short evil villain monologue and run off. Have a stack of encounters ready just in case something unexpected happens while you can get things sorted out. Of course that’s less improvisation and more preparation, but you get what I’m talking about here. The only real advice I would say, especially if you’re deciding to make stuff up on the spot, it’s take copious amounts of notes. There was a resource that I had highlighted previously, the Dungeon Master’s book of random encounters. It has a table filled with first and Last names, tavern names, and of course a number of random encounters to have thrown in when needed. For me, this is been an invaluable tool.

Conclusion

Things don’t have to be so dire when the party decides to do something wild and unexpected or go in a different direction than you had planned. Follow these three easy steps and you should be okay. Just remember that step number one is probably the most important in getting yourself sorted when things go awry.

What do you think, Dear Readers? What do you do when things go awry and the party decides to go in strange directions? Let me know in the comment section below.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

No Post Today

Sorry, Dear Readers, but I am currently laid out from having had a medical procedure done today. Don’t worry, it was nothing big or serious, but it kind of lays me out for a day. Don’t worry, we will be back with our regularly scheduled program tomorrow with A Player’s Perspective!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

My Last Session I Got to Play

Having taken the quest from Falcon, we rested up and headed out to his hunting lodge, with him in tow.

On the way, we stopped at the potion Maker’s house to ensure that the manticore’s were not yet harassing her. They had not been, and we promised to return to assist.

When we got to the hunting lodge the place was looted and burned out.

Falcon though, wanted revenge and to get rid of the menace of the last of the orcs from the area.

Willing and able to accommodate him, we headed to the manse.

We were going to sneak up quietly until we realized that we had a cleric in armor following us around making a ton of noise.

We cautiously entered the manse, a large house situated in the middle of nowhere in the woods. We posted a guard in the form of our parties other wizard’s familiar, on the stairs to watch for enemies coming from above while we examine the lower floor for enemies.

It wasn’t long before we heard a shout to “Protect the tree!” coming from further in in orcish. I, being the one party member who speaks orc, yelled for parlay, which was partially successful. A single orc leader came out and spoke with us, but demanded that we leave. After refusing, it was obvious that he was choosing the path of violence.

We accepted.

The battle was intense and epic. The work leader cast a lightning bolt at us, dealing a good amount of damage, followed by a number of twig lights flooding out to engage. It wasn’t long before the well in the center of the courtyard we are in erupted with vine blights, and the adjacent room erupted with orcs!

With a few carefully placed spells and the hard work of our young cleric and our immense goliath barbarian, we were able to clutch the win and save the day.

After searching around the area for things of note, we look down the well where we found a tree growing, a Gulthius Tree; an evil thing that is said to be the result of a vampire dying.

We burned the tree to senders, and then went into the well with a pickaxe to upend the roots, burning them as well. And thus ended the threat of the orcs in the manse.

We did end up exploring the rest of the house, finding a few magical trinkets, like a staff that makes bird calls and a cloak that billows on its own. We even found and faced a couple of stirges. Having cleared the manse of enemies, we returned to Falcon to tell him the good news, at which point we received the boots of elvenkind he promised as a reward.

After doing some thinking, we realized that the orcs, who hailed from the mountains, had been displaced by something. Remembering that we were there to fight off a dragon, we put two and two together and realize that this white dragon from whom we were defending the town against, was likely roasting near Icespire Peak.

We resolved to rest and take the fight to the dragon the following morning.

What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you think our band of intrepid heroes have the ability to save the town of Phandalin from this nasty white dragon? Only time will tell, as unfortunately, I will not be in attendance next week. I will be out of town again, a birthday trip for my wife. Posting likely won’t be affected.

How to Play: 7 Unique Clerics Inspired from History

Ah… the holy cleric… The support caster of support casters at the beck and call every wounded warrior. They are squeamish around blood, in chapel on a friday night, and rolling their eyes at every joke. And for most people, no matter how powerful the class is (and it is VERY powerful) that sounds… boring. 

It’s a problem the class has faced since the first edition. The stereotypical life cleric dwarf isn’t appealing to everyone. But with an immense amount of subclasses and deities, clerics are much more versatile than people think.  With enough creativity, you can make this super powerful class look however you want. 

With that in mind, here are 7 unique clerics from history as inspiration. Cleric’s that hardly match the stereotype of “the pious, feeble priest” 

The Pythia – 8th Century AD – (Arcana Domain) 

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Our first cleric, “The Pythia”, is actually a title, awarded to one of the many virgin priestesses of the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle was a temple that provided authoritative (and ambiguous)  answers to the serious Greek questions of destiny and war. These women were chosen from the best families of Delphi, receiving honor, wealth, responsibilities, and freedoms withheld from all other women in Greek culture. So why was the Pythia one of the most powerful women in the ancient world? Because she could channel the will of the god Apollo!

To prepare to be a vessel of Apollo, the Pythia followed a sacred rite. After a purification period of fasting and bathing in the Castalian Spring, the Pythia would don a white dress and enter the temple. If the omens from a sacrificed goat were favorable, she would then enter the chamber (the “adyton”)  and sit on a tripod chair over the crack in the earth that the “divine fumes” poured out. Upon inhaling the fumes, she would enter a semi-conscious trance and respond to questions from eager Greeks, sometimes in coherent poetry and other times with wailing gibberish. 

While scientists speculate that the fumes were likely ethylene, methane and ethane gas, your cleric can certainly breathe in fumes of Avernus or Celestia, and be the only “unconscious” member of your party to thrive in combat! 

Judas Maccabeus (died 160/161 BCE)  (Tempest Domain)

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The emperor of the Greek Selucids, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, was determined to unify his kingdom under Greek culture. So in 175 BCE, he embarked upon a cultural genocide of the Jewish people. He prohibited Judaism, massacred resisting clerics, and desecrated Yahweh’s temple. Yet in 63 BCE, when the Roman Empire arrived, the Jews were a fully independent kingdom. How? Because Antiochus got “hammered” by a unique cleric, Judas Maccabeus. 

Inspired by the prophets of old, Judas Maccabeus launched a revolt and quickly proved to be an exceptional guerilla tactician and warrior. Beginning in 167 BCE, he led bands of Jewish patriots through the hills, avoiding pitched battles and ambushing every chance he got. I His victories and numbers grew, culminating in the recapture of the capital city, Jerusalem. Ever the faithful cleric, he cleansed the temple, and rededicated it to Yahweh with sacrifices, a victory celebrated annually by Jews as Hannukka: the Festival of Lights. 

Fun fact: in an early encounter, he killed the governor of Samaria and forever after used his captured sword as a symbol of vengeance. That’s one way to have your cleric wield a sword rather than a war hammer!

Julius Caesar – 100 BCE – 44 BCE  (War Domain)

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Though forever hailed as one of the greatest generals ever, for a time Caesar was most important religious figure in all of Rome! Admittedly, its strange that Caesar was the cleric responsible for regulating public morals. After all, he was A) a womanizer on par with James Bond, B) one of the greatest military minds ever, C) a fashion-forward trend setter, D) a savvy politician, and E) a genocidal maniac (especially when it came to Celts).

Before Caesar could command armies, he needed to ascend the political ladder. For the Romans, everything political was simultaneously religious, and so Caesar’s first big break was that of Pontifex Maximus, the cleric of cleric’s in all of the Roman Republic. As Pontificus Maximus, Caesar was charged with maintaining the pax deorum (“peace of the gods”). He did this largely administratively, overseeing regulation of ceremonies, the calendar, and consecration of all sacred places. 

But if you are inspired, you might need to change one tradition for a wandering adventurer:  the Pontifex Maximus was not allowed to leave Italy! 

Pope Sergius III 860 AD – 911 AD (Death Domain)

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For the Catholic Church, no cleric is higher than the pope. Though vaguely claiming to “lead the faithful”, in reality he has more power than any religious figure in the world. By his word bishops are elected, world wide councils called, and, on special occasions, he speaks with the authority of God. Every pope is required to be celebate, devoted to Christ and his church, full of love, humility, and wisdom. In Catholic history, a few pope’s are canonized saints, while most pope’s are considered good or bad.  But few were downright wicked… like Pope Sergius III. 

That’s the reputation you get when the church under your watch is referred to as “house of harlots”. Fully complicit in the power politics of Italy during his time, he was placed on the papacy by his benefactor Theophylact so that the papacy’s resources could be committed to his murders and wars.  At best, modern historians refer to him as man lacking Christian virtue. But on the other hand, he is called a wretch, malignant, ferocious, a monster… it goes on and on. 

So if you want a unique cleric, do what Sergius did before you join a party: strangle BOTH your holy predecessors and go adventuring without a care in the world!  

Al-Ghazali 1058 AD – 1111 AD (Knowledge Domain)

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History’s list of ‘smart humans’ is full of clerics from all sorts of religions. But Islam lays the unique claim for founding the first place exclusively for smart people: the university/mosque of al-Quarawiyyin, formed in 859 AD in Morocco. Established during the “Islamic Golden Age”, intellectual centers like these flourished in pursuit of classical Greek knowledge. The age yielded geniuses like Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and inspired the Renaissance thinkers of Europe.  But arguably, none of that would be the case without the Imam (Islamic cleric), Al-Ghazali.  

Called the “Brilliance of the Religion” Al-Ghazali was a unique individual who sought spiritual fulfillment, wisdom, AND knowledge. Across 70 works he discussed early childhood development, education, law, philosophy, spirituality, economics, theology, spirituality, and legal theory. His most famous work promoted a form of “theological occasionalism”: the belief that the reactions we see in nature, like lighting a candle, fundamentally occur because God wills it. To our modern ears, that sounds a bit ridiculous. But in his medieval world, it blended religion and secular study into a harmony, ushering in an age where philosophy and science were free to thrive. 

Needless to say, a Al-Chazali inspired cleric might need their knowledge stat to be higher than wisdom!

St. Francis of Assisi – 1181 AD -1226 AD (Nature Domain)

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In many ways, St. Francis of Assisi had a life that mirrored many Catholic saints: born into a wealthy family (check)…  grew disillusioned with wealth (check)…  turned his attention to spiritual matters (check)… devoted himself to a life of simplicity and prayer (check). All the boxes checked. But the gentleness, love, and simplicity of this cleric attracted others and exploded into the famed Fransicsan Order. But that wasn’t enough for St. Francis: he also tried to end the crusades by converting a freaking Sultan, and just prior to his death received “the stigmata”: the wounds of Christ on your hands, feet, and sides. Ya know, normal cleric stuff. 

But on 29 November 1979, St. Francis was named the patron saint of… ecology. Why? Because he also LOVED nature. He regarded all creatures, not just people, as brothers and sisters. His legends include him preaching to birds and quelling the dispute between a wolf and a local village. To this day, many present their pets to their local priest to be blessed on St. Francis’ feast day!  And for Christmas lovers out there: we have him to thank for the first live nativity scene in 1223 AD. 

So if someone tells you to play a Druid instead, tell them you’d rather be a cleric who worships a god AND is one with nature. 

Chandra Shekhar Azad (Hindu) – 1906-1931 (Trickery Domain)

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And finally, a modern cleric! Though an avowed atheist, Chandra Shekhar Azad did belong to the Brahmin caste: the clergy and highest caste within the Varna Caste System. Along with being advisors to kings, the Brahmin are the pujari (priests) that care for Hindu temples, perform offerings, and conduct ceremonies. Traditional Brahmin wear the spotless “sacred thread”, showing they maintain the highest purity standards through regular washing and vegetarianism. The Vedas, most ancient and sacred of texts in the Hindu religion, are memorized in Sanskrit and recited in hymns. 

But Chandra Shekhar Azad’s heart rested in politics, not religion. He passionately opposed the social divides that promoted exploitation of fellow humans, and as a young man led “funding campaigns” for a nationalistic political group. And by “funding” I mean theft and robbery, including the infamous Kakori Train Robbery in 1925 and the attempted bombing of the Viceroy of India’s train in 1929.  For 6 years, as the leadership was hunted down by British authorities, Azad hid by using numerous disguises, such as a beggar or a mechanic. During this time he nearly single handedly reorganized the party, strengthening its numbers and giving it a socialist, anti-caste purpose. He was immortalized by patriotic Indians when, refusing to be taken alive, he used his last bullet on himself in a shootout in Alfred Park, 1931. 

History teaches us lessons: just because you are a trickster cleric doesn’t mean you can’t serve a higher cause than wealth!

There you have it: 7 unique cleric’s from history to inspire your next PC. Hopefully it is abundantly clear: there are A LOT of ways to play a cleric. 

But I didn’t come close to covering them all. What are some alternatives for the domain’s listed? And for the domains I missed, what are you hoping I will touch on next time? Comment below and let us know! 

Premium Content: Inglorious Ingrates – Episode 13

The Ingrates are in for it now, as they head to the alluded-to “off-site” location! What will they find when they get there?

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Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

NOT A Player’s Perspective

Dear Readers, unfortunately we don’t have an issue of A Player’s Perspective tonight, as Brandon, our weekly contributor for that article, was gone that evening. He’ll be back next week with a great update for you.

In the mean time, I have finished the planetar!

Here he is:

As you can see, I put a lot of heart and effort into this miniature. The addition of the cotton for cloud mist as if he is rising from a cloud was a last-minute idea on my part. I’m really hoping that the guy for whom I am doing this particular commission for enjoys his miniature!

Additionally, I really hope you have enjoyed coming along this journey with me on the painting of this particular miniature. I really enjoyed painting it and almost wish I could keep it! It would look pretty grand on my shelf.

Oh well. The trade I’m getting for him is worth more to me than the mini.

Mordenkainen Magic the Gathering card, here I come!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

P. S. – it is come to my attention that at least a few of my readers are a little miffed about my review of Kraken Dice. I have been told that I was unnecessarily critical of their product.

Maybe I just had a bad experience, but first impressions are important. Depending on whether or not they come back with a run of a particular set that I would love to buy for my oldest son, I may or may not decide to buy another set for them. Who knows. We’ll see. If I have a better experience, I will definitely write it up. As it is, I will be writing up my experience as it continues with my dice Envy box!

VERY Brief Painting Update: Goliath Barbarian

Hello, Dear Readers!

It’s been one heck of a week, and it’s looking at being busier as my birthday is coming up this Friday (yay me!). Unfortunately, that means I didn’t get a lot of painting done this week (although I plan on having it for next Tuesday!).

Here is the update on the Barbarian:

As you may be able to tell, I adjusted his skin tone to better match that of an actual goliath.

Sorry I don’t have more, as, while I “type” this via voice-to-text, I am packing to get ready to run our beloved Inglorious Ingrates game.

It’s going to be a doozy, especially with the events that ended the last session!

Speaking of my birthday…

I have our wonderful new guest contributor posting this coming Friday, but due to my birthday vacation, there will be no post on Sunday.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Another Session I Get to Play!

We begun our journey after a long rest, heading into the forest with the centaur.

It wasn’t long before we came across a large open Glade, which looked ominous and foreboding with how dead all of the vegetation was. Thinking better of it, we attempted to discard it when our rogue thief notified us that we were being trailed by a number of orcs!

Combat ensued, and although hard fought, our group of intrepid adventurers came out on top. Of note on the bodies we found a singular greater potion of healing.

We looked onward towards the mountain and the Gathering storm above. After discussing these orcs with the centaur I realize that these orcs were followers of Talos, the storm god.

We soon came to the mountain which had several entrances in the sides. We decided to ignore them for the moment and see what sort of literal storm was brewing above.

Getting to the top, we found a henge of standing stones arrayed in a circle, within which were a large number of orcs. We determined that they were trying to summon something, although we had no idea what.

Deciding to get the drop on them, I tore a bead from the necklace of fireballs and threw it directly into the center of the ritual! Knowing that there were only four of us present (we had a small showing of players due to Labor Day!), I decided that we needed every advantage we could get.

When the dust settled after that explosion, there was but one orc remaining, a truly and terrifyingly tough and brutish creature as ever there had been seen to survive such an onslaught!

Our barbarians slew him but in his place appeared Gorthok the Thunder Boar, the creature they were summoning! By slaying that work, we provided, unwittingly, the sacrifice necessary to bring this beast into the Prime Material Plane!

With minimal health remaining, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and cast haste upon my barbarian friend while running for cover.

The barbarian delivered blow after blow until finally landing the death blow upon it with his dragon slaying sword! We stood victorious.

We looted the bodies, but to no avail with nothing to be found. We went into the caves we found earlier only to find that they had made these caves their home. We found several items of note, namely a +1 shield and a potion of invincibility.

We were told that nearby was another or encampment, but we decided that we needed to rest and recuperate. We took a long rest away from the orc mound with the centaur watching over us and headed back to Phandalin.

Arriving back in town, The innkeeper was glad to hold our rooms for us though we were gone for several days! In the tap room, we found the man known as Falcon, who had the job posted to get rid of the orcs at his hunting lodge. We told him of the orcs that we slew at the henge, twitch his reply was that his hunting lodge was not far from that location. We decided to take a rest for the evening and told him we would head out first light to deal with the orcs.

We also found out an interesting fact: the dragon that we were looking for was not a green dragon, as that was the dragon that had been slain and lay underneath the Dragon Barrow! Apparently, the dragon which we were being tasked to slay was the white dragon that we had seen take the deer!

Deciding that we were going to deal with the dragon after helping Falcon and ensuring that the town had a safe place to stay, we readied ourselves for what may lie ahead!

What lay in store for us next week? Only time in the fates may tell.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

The Dice Review (Final)

Dear Readers, I am so excited to bring you this final product review, you cannot possibly imagine.

Dice Envy

First off, the Dice Envy set:

Aren’t they gorgeous?!

They are a metal set (keep in mind, this is the first set they sent me for my dice box subscription!), called the Ancient Relic set.

As you can see, it is a 9-piece set, that comes with an extra d20 that is silver, as well as an extra d6.

The set is lighter for a metal set, although still a bit more hefty than, say, an acrylic or a resin set.

The included insert was very a nice touch and really appealed to my inner dice goblin/gamer.

Here is the best part, though: the return policy:

Did you catch that, Dear Readers? If I hated the dice I got for some reason, I could get a hold of them and exchange them. I mean, what isn’t to love?!

Also? They roll like a champ. Very nice.

Kraken Dice

Now, I would like to revisit Kraken Dice…

I couldn’t seem to get the pictures to come out more clearly, but several of the numbers on the oversized d20 have a poor number paint job, or numbers that haven’t been drilled well enough.

So I sent a message through the customer service contact form.

This was their reply, verbatim (although I am taking out the salutation and the customer service person’s name, this is the body of the email):

Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry, but our replacement policy does not cover dice that have small amounts of excess paint, as it does not affect product functionality.

What?

Bro… I didn’t buy these necessarily for their “functionality,” I bought them because they are pretty. And this die has several distinctly un-pretty spots!

I mean, am I being unreasonable? I’m not saying that I want to exchange the set! I don’t want a full refund! I just want a quality product! Is that too much to understand?

Now, that said, yes the rest of the set is beautiful. But they roll like garbage.

I tried them this last Tuesday for the Ingrates game, and whenever I rolled them, they rolled like garbage.

Now, I’m not a DM that railroads, and nor am I a DM that believes in a “DM vs Player” sort of mindset, but I’d like the bad guys to put up at least some sort of some kind of token resistance! And when I rolled my Kraken set… there was none. I couldn’t roll double digits if it would save my life.

Call me paranoid, but I am afraid of keeping them in my dice box for fear of cursing my other dice…

Final Conclusion

In the end, after everything is said and done, I have to go with Dice Envy.

Their customer service policy, their subscription boxes, and the final quality of their product won.

Oh, and because one of my dice-goblin players who loves Kraken Dice will say something;

As I said with the Kraken Dice, I don’t buy dice necessarily because they roll well, I buy them because they are pretty, so I did not include that part in my evaluation (you know who you are…).

Maybe I will give Kraken Dice another chance in the future if I find a set that I think I’ll love, but I’m not sure.

Maybe.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

How- DM: Better Shared Storytelling And 5 Tips Letting Dungeons and Dragons Players Lead

“Everything the Dungeon Master needs to weave legendary stories…”

That’s the subtitle for the DMG. It clarifies that the pillars of role playing, exploration, and combat are all tools to tell a story. Shared storytelling is the very essence of Dungeons and Dragons, keeping players and DM’s alike interested, invested, and engaged. 

But built into the idea of “shared storytelling” is a tension between two competing forces… a tension that all DM’s struggle with… a tension that can tempt a DM’s to commit the  “mortal sin” of DMing: taking away player agency. Such actions violate the sacred rule of D&D: “Let the players lead

And this tension, found in the phrase itself, is the tension between the game being random (“shared”) or meaningful (“storytelling”). Chaos exerting against order…allow me to briefly explain.

The Dilemma

Good stories aren’t a random collection of events; they require structure. It’s the DM’s job to provide that structure with rules, a setting, NPC’s, a goal, etc. With this structure in place, the events have the potential to become what humans love: meaningful stories. There is a reason people don’t just stare in the mirror and role play, or sit around a table rolling dice… outside of a story those actions are meaningless! 

In D&D, the table tells the story together: role-playing shared scenarios resulting in a shared experience through shared imagination. For it to be shared, players need freedom to make choices all throughout their adventure (ie. player agency) that DM’s honor with fair consequences. Players and DM’s corporate to tell the story.

But here is the kicker: unless the players are a collective hive mind (highly unlikely) randomness has the edge over structure. Beyond dice rolls, the average table has 3-6 “authors” with diverse motivations pushing and pulling the story in different directions. Very quickly a cohesive story can break down as the plot is filled with scattered decisions and disconnected events. The whole adventure begins to feel random and aimless. And when everything feels random, the story becomes less meaningful, with players greeting each new encounter with an apathetic “what’s the point?”

So to summarize, here is the heart of the tension inherent to  “shared storytelling”: 

  1. Stories need structure to be meaningful
  2. In shared storytelling, players have freedom to lead
  3. That freedom often results in structure-breaking randomness
  4. With no structure, the game begins to feel meaningless
  5. As it feels meaningless, the GM steps in to restore order
  6. To restore order, the GM takes away choices and limits player freedom
  7. By taking away agency, “shared storytelling” is diminished

Excessive randomness breaks down a story, people inevitably start checking out, GM’s start getting nervous, and agency starts to be taken away from the players to establish structure. Order reasserts itself over the chaos.

Solution: Make The PC’s the Epicenter of the Adventure

Here is my proposed solution: 

Build the adventure around the PLAYER CHARACTERS

Make the characters the north star that guides all your planning, which effectively lets the players lead the story. Make the player characters FIRST and then build everything else around them. Conceive every theme and crucial moment of the story AFTER your players create their characters. Drawn from them as inspiration. 

DISCLAIMER:  I do not assume that this is a universal solution. I am sure there are many people out there with many bright ideas in alleviating this problem. You can play D&D however you or your table want, and that is fine by me!  

But the power of stories is both to entertain and to transform. And when shared storytelling works, you get the wonder of a shared memory that will stick with you forever. 

Easier said than done, right? Here are 5 practical tips to help you center the campaign more in the player characters: 

  1. Pitch in a Long Session Zero

First of all, and I cannot stress this enough, you should have a session zero if you are running a long term campaign. You need a space to align expectations, discuss disagreements, and receive ownership from each player for participating in shared storytelling. Additionally, you use session zero to pitch a more character centered campaign and how that might require more from them than they are used to. Not every player wants to lead, so if they aren’t into it, that’s fine! But if the idea excites them, session zero clarifies and creates a shared responsibility for letting players lead.

  1. Create Fleshed Out characters

If you are going to center a long adventure around PC’s, you need a wealth of information to mine. After session zero, players should understand that this is not the campaign for a one-off goof character. The “background” from PHB is a good place to start, but you’ll need more. They need to organize clearly who their character is and how their character needs to change. They must have real needs: hopes, desires, relationships, wounds, and, most importantly, flaws. The PC’s need specific problems the players want resolved as they change through the course of the campaign. They don’t need to know exactly how they will grow or where they will end up, but you need a general trajectory for you to plan around.

  1. Independent, but thematic, BBEG

Imagine your BBEG AFTER you have learned about their characters. Granted, the BBEG should be unconcerned and unaware the heroes even exist, going about his evil plan until the heroes come to foil it.  But no matter who they are, the BBEG should be specifically relevant to each individual PC’s. Therefore, have the personality, actions, appearance, lair, something about the BBEG share the desired growth of your PC’s. When they inevitably defeat the BBEG, something in them should be fulfilled as well. That way they aren’t just saving the world… they are completing a character arc. 

  1. Character Centered Random Encounter Tables

I suggest sharing the plot by crafting random tables based off of your player characters. No one wants to fight random goblins you rolled off some chart that pose no real threat and have nothing to do with the story. If you are a master at improv maybe you could twist this into something meaningful, but it’s more likely you are just wasting everyone’s time. 

Craft character centered tables by asking yourself (and your players!) questions: What world building lore is relevant to the PC’s? What would a PC see that would evoke an emotional reaction and opportunity for role play? What key elements to their backstory can resurface? Once you have a big list, divide them into tables that you can roll during the campaign. All your random encounter tables don’t have to be this way, but the majority should.

  1. Pace well 

If you followed the above steps diligently, you should have spent 1-2 months creating the PC’s and building the world around them. And with this shared structure in place, NOW you can finally adventure, hooray!

My final disclaimer… PACE YOURSELF. This is for both players and GM’s:  

  • Pace Your Plot: Once you reveal a major plot point, it needs to be felt in the story itself. Use the world’s reactions to develop the impact, and give the players time to observe and wrestle with its impact. 
  • Pace PC Self Awareness: People tend to understand themselves and their motivations more as they get older and experience more things. Your PC’s are no different. Players know what motivates their characters, but make sure their growth include becoming self aware as to WHY they are motivated.
  • Pace Character Growth: Have them grow bit by bit. If the player, session one, avenges their murdered family and feels at peace, there isn’t anywhere to go.  

If you are looking for help on how to pace, I suggest turning to common character arc structures, like Dan Harmon’s 8 part story structure and Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. 

Conclusion: What Does it Look Like?

My suggestions are intended to create a more shared storytelling experience. I believe that by centering the campaign around the players, the players essentially lead even as the DM provides the necessary structure to keep it meaningful. By centering the campaign on the players: 

… The dichotomy between the players and the DM actions is removed… 

… The story structure is maintained, promoting a meaningful experience…

…The randomness is woven in as a strength, rather than threat, to the story…

But I’m only one person, and 5 isn’t a very big number. Do you have any suggestions to structure a campaign that encourages more cooperative storytelling? Or any reservations with all that pre-campaign planning? Let us know in the comments section… I mean, why not make this blog post a little more shared too?

Cuique Sum…

Premium Content: Inglorious Ingrates – Episode 12

The Ingrates take the invitation to the Baron’s estate! What will they learn about the Baron’s shady dealings?

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Still Waiting…

Dear Readers,

As I write this, I am still waiting on both my Dice Envy box, as well as my Clan Invasion Kickstarter boxes.

And the wait is killing me.

I have delivery confirmation for this Saturday for my Dice Envy and I am excited. That Monday is the day I will be posting my final review comparison between both Kraken Dice and Dice Envy. I don’t want to give anything away, but I am pretty set on my review of Kraken Dice. Why wait until Monday? I want to use them Sunday and see how they roll, plain and simple.

I have absolutely zero idea when my Kickstarter is coming in. People have been getting confirmation and delivery notification emails. I see people posting their awesome stuff on r/battletech. The posts look amazing and I really cannot wait until my stuff comes in, and the retail stores can finally get stuff in stock.

In other news, I found some exciting STL files for Battletech! No, I am not planning on printing Mechs, as I know some do/have. I believe in supporting the companies that make the product and will buy minis from them. What I can’t get from them, at least at the moment, are mech-scale models of dropships. What I found was awesome.

I found a mech-scale Union-class Dropship, Broadsword-class Dropship, and two different Leopard-class Dropship STLs.

Here are some pics of some finished products:

As you can see, it is MASSIVE. And I am so ridiculously excited about it.

Now, I just have to get a 3D Printer. I’m looking at one that is large enough to print the pieces.

And yet, the weight goes on.

So, to satiate your Battletech wants, here is a link to a remastered version of the original Battletech animated series Episode 1. I think there is a total of 13-15 of them, and I’ll post 1 a week here. The guy who owns the channel is Renegade HPG, and he has some good stuff, so check out his channel and consider donating to his Patreon if you like his content.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

TGAPP: Summary of Events

Hello All! I have had a hard time keeping the posts up-to-date, so I have decided to provide plot development highlights from the past few sessions. I will miss a few details that can be found in the podcast episodes, but this will convey the overall story elements that play a part in the large story. Thank you all for your patience, and I hope you continue to enjoy this!

Following the assassination attempt on the Baron, the group returned to the farm to devise a plan to go into the Baron’s estate, but their meeting was cut short by another staggering goliath barbarian named Nordin. Nordin sought out Arkon so that he could return to his tribe because Arkon’s Arch-Priestess, who Arkon saw die, had returned. The party set out to the mountains north, and are given safe passage to the common meeting grounds for the goliath tribes. At the meeting grounds, the Arch-Priestess swayed the other tribal leaders to let Arkon return to the tribe, and soon after this meeting, the Arch-Priestess told Arkon he was no longer her mate nor protector. Before the group left, they were able to convince a hobgoblin diplomatic delegation to allow them to enter their lands and hunt a treasured wyvern in order to determine the origin of the poison weapon that had nearly killed Idris.

The group was hurried away from the goliath tribal lands as unidentified hostile groups threatened their safety, so the group proceeded to the edge of the hobgoblin territory to meet with a guide that would lead them to wyverns. The hobgoblin guide led them to a wyvern nesting area, where the group was successful in felling a wyvern and extracting poison from its tail, but they were forced to escape as another wyvern quickly sought to make a meal of them. With poison acquired, the party returned to Redfurn where they were met by a blind dragonborn paladin named Diedrich who was mandated by Falinora to protect Avery. Feeling emboldened by the additional strength, Winter infiltrated and Identified the magical properties of the jewel in the Baron’s estate. The group also made contact with the mysterious figure known as the Priest, and the Priest, with his connection with Falinora, was able to use powerful divine magic to heal Idris’s sister from her madness. The sister soon revealed that the Baron and Nah-Baron were torturing those unfortunate souls influenced by the red gem at their estate.

Better equipped with information for negotiations, the party set out to their second meeting with the Baron at his estate. Several parties members came under disguise or another assumed persona, but the Baron welcomed them all in and got straight to business. The Baron proposed that Idris and company would deliver slaves to a location near Statin, a town east of the port of Mopyl, by the end of the ten-day, and upon delivery of the slaves, the Baron would pay Idris handsomely in exchange. Once their business was complete, the Baron invited the whole group to come back to his estate later tonight for a gladiatorial show involving slaves, but as this discussion took place, Sakura used invisibility to enter the Baron’s office and retrieve documents and map related to the hideout near Statin. The group returned later to the estate to uncomfortably witness the Nah-baron decimate other poor slaves in the gladiatorial arena, but Dacyria suffered the most as she witnessed several people who had worked for her die in the showing. At the conclusion of the terrible slaughter, Idris was able to get the Baron to reveal he used a teleportation circle to get the slaves from Statin and into Red Fern.

While valuable information was obtained and the next course of action seemed clear, Dacyria was pushed too far by the bloody display, so she sent a letter of warning to the Targana Estate in the hopes of convincing someone that she was indeed alive. Little did Dacyria know, she was tailed, knocked out, and taken to another location, and the party was able to follow a trail that led them to the Targana Estate. Meanwhile, Dacyria awoke to the hooded figure of the Targana Spymaster question who she really was, and she soon discovered through conversation that the spymaster was not affected by the memory wipe of the blue gem. The spymaster had also worked hard to in the shadows to find Dacyria and any information related to the gems given by House Mogamir. Upon the discovery of their mutual goals, Dacyria was released, and she immediately headed to the blue gemstone. Dacyria proceeded to shatter the gemstone with the assistance of the Ingrates who were able to enter the Targana Estate, and the destruction of the nefarious crystal brought back all the memories of Dacyria to the estate’s residents including Dacyria’s parents.

The sudden flood of memories lost and the actions taken under the gem’s influence threw Duke Targana into a rage for Mogamir blood. This rage formulated itself in a plan for the Ingrates to go to Statine, raid the slave holding facility, and recover evidence that would implicate the Baron was trading slaves. The party was equipped from the family’s armory and given the fastest steeds from the stables, so they immediately made their way to Statine. After a couple days of riding southeast of Redfurn, the companions discovered the hidden facility outside Statine, and they proceeded to stake out the location to learn the guard rotation. However, the Ingrates did not realize they were being watched already, and they were ambushed by Mogamir guards led by a fiendish Cambian. The group triumphed over the ambushers, and prepared to venture further into the facility with no idea at what they would find….

Find out what happens in the slave facility and more in our next regularly scheduled post about the Inglorious Ingrates!

Painting Update: Planetar and Goliath Barbarian

As tonight is my Tuesday game, the Inglorious Ingrates, I am looking at some time constraints. My painting update today will be a story post. I'll commentary a little as able.