Product Review – dndbeyond.com Spelljammer: Adventures in Space

Dear Readers, I just finished reading the first two books (Astral Adventurer’s Guide and Boo’s Astral Menagerie), as well as the first two chapters of the included adventure, Light of Xsryxis. And let me tell you all something:

I am more than impressed, yet a little disappointed. Let me go over what I love first.

I’ll try not to give away any spoilers.

What I Love

First off, I am impressed by the artwork. It’s frankly stunning, with great visuals of monsters, ships, and other creatures. And the books are absolutely filled with them, but not to the point where it’s overwhelming.

Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast, all rights reserved by them.

Secondly, I am thoroughly impressed by all three books! The Adventurer’s Guide is chalk full of new playable races, feats, and even a couple of new backgrounds. Among the races, the Giff, the Plasmoids, the Hadozee, and the Autognomes are noteable. There are definitely other ones, like the thri-kreen, which were monstrous-only creatures, but are now playable races.

Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast, all rights reserved by them.

Next came the vast number of Spelljamming ships. There were such a vast variety of ships, each with their typical uses and racial (if any) origins. They tell you whether or not the ship can land on land and/or sea, if at all, as well as the number and types of weapons they carry. One of my favorites is the Shrike ship, as the vessel that I have been working on seems to be a variant of that!

Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast, all rights reserved by them.

Lastly, in the Adventurer’s Guide, is the treatise on the Rock of Bral. I love the general history as well as the descriptors of the location, not to mention how to incorporate it into your campaign world (to to speak).

It includes a poster map photo of the Rock of Bral, but since I got the digital version on dndbeyond.com, I obviously don’t have a physical copy of the poster map and will likely be printing it out for my players so that they have a reference to where things are. That’s my plan for Adventurers League in any case.

Lastly is the adventure itself. This is where I have mixed feelings…

First off, I absolutely love that each chapter ends on a cliffhanger. That is awesome. The adventure has some really good stuff, and the plot is very cool. The adventure hook is even better, getting the party into the action right from the get-go.

Lastly, I love how it comes into sections, broken out into three books. One is the player’s stuff with all of the new races and such. The next is the bestiary/monster manual for the setting. Lastly is the adventure that comes with it. Very handy breakout.

What I Don’t Like

This is where things get…complicated. As much as I absolutely love the plot line of the story, it doesn’t really seem to have much depth. It uses milestone leveling which is fine, but there isn’t much substance in between each level to justify (in my mind at least) a jump in level that frequently. According to the adventure, you level after each chapter!

To add insult to injury, it’s a relatively low-level adventure, ending at level 8. Level 8, Dear Readers.

That’s like…not even into the fun-zone of level 9.

Sure, there will likely be DMs Guild adventures to take the party beyond 8th level, but with what I am paying ($69.99 in the U.S.), I want a more robust adventure and more substance to the campaign setting itself.

Maybe it’s just me. I dunno.

Conclusion

Despite its flaws, I love the product. I am buying the alt-cover of the adventure/setting, mostly because it looks cool (in addition to having it electronically on dndbeyond.com). All in all, I’m fairly happy with this new setting.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

I Survived!

That’s it, Dear Readers, that’s what I have come to say. My surgery went well, with zero complications. I am now in recovery and recuperation mode. Hopefully, I will be back to a regular posting schedule come this next week, as I come off my meds, as I am generally too hazy on them to do much.

Here’s hoping.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

No Post Today

Sorry, Dear Readers, there won’t be any significant posts for the week. My family and I are making preparations for my surgery on two days time and I am, go figure, caught in the middle of it.

I’m glad I could finish up the ship for all of you to see before it’s big debut. I’ll be working on the tree dock some more. Additionally, it’s been brought to my attention that I have a commission or two that I will be receiving soon, so be on the lookout for that.

So that’s it for now. I might have a Kids on Bikes update for you tomorrow if I can manage it. Frankly, I’m anxious about my surgery. Granted it’s pretty minimal, and as long as I follow my doctor’s orders I should be fine. But I’ll be there sheets to the wind on pain meds for the next week or so.

So, until then, Dear Readers!

Painting Update: Elven Spelljammer Ship – IT’S DONE!!

Dear Readers, I sent ahead and put in the final touches on the ship and it’s complete!

See for yourself:

If you haven’t noticed, I also painted the base/stand white. I was thinking about it being the color of the sky/clouds.

Still working on the tree…

Here it is so far…

Here’s the progress on the rocks:

As you can see, I still have some work to do on those mushrooms. I have not even started the bubble mushrooms yet. But that’s okay. I have some time. At least I got the ship done. That’s a huge breath of relaxation for me. I was worried about not getting the ship done in time. Here’s one last picture with all of the accoutrements on it in some really good lighting:

Well, that’s all I have for now! Join me next time for another update on the tree.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

It’s Been a Minute, I Know…

Dear Readers, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve updated, but I was doing a lot to prepare for my surgery that was supposed to be today. It got rescheduled last minute due to some stupid insurance reasons and will now be on the 3rd of August.

All that said, I have not been sitting idle. I have been working on the tree/dock instead of the ship, needing to get on that project.

Here are the results:

As you can see, I’ve done the tree itself in Oak Brown (including the railing, although I intend on doing a greenish dry brush to make it look like more newish wood growth), and the rocks below in Dungeon Grey (going to do some dry brushing of Ghoul Grey to get a good effect on it!). Then I used the Hardened Leather speedpaint for the “wood” decking/stairs.

Then I worked on some shrooms!

I ended up using Lava Orange for them. For the round bubble-looking ones, I intend on doing them in some sort of bright red with white spots. We’ll see.

That’s all I have today folks! Hope you keep up, as I will be doing a TON of painting before my surgery.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

The Inglorious Ingrates: Episode 5

Dear Readers, I know I said I was going to give a Kids on Bikes update, but apparently, I’m caught up!

So instead, I will release another edition of The Inglorious Ingrates.

Enjoy!

P.S. – I’d like to remind everyone (and I’ll do it again throughout the week as to make sure everyone gets the message) that I am having surgery on this coming Monday, 25 July. As such, I’ll be taking that week off to recover. I shouldn’t need more than that, but if I do, I’ll let you all know in an update on my own health.

Thanks for your understanding!

Painting Update: Elven Spelljammer Ship & Dragonborn Ranger

Dear Readers, as I write this, I am in pain. Not a lot, but my hand is cramping!

From what?

We’ll, all the painting I got accomplished today!

With no further ado, here is the Ranger, with basing done!

And just in time, too! We are scheduled to play our monthly game the day after tomorrow and I know she wanted her miniature for that.

Now for the part that really gave my hand some cramps: the ship.

As you can see, I got a lot of accomplished. I was able to finish painting the wooden parts of the wings and the tail fin. Additionally, I got the bow and front bottom fin done. Lastly, I was able to paint one side worth of copper studs. Let me tell you about those copper studs: there’s none of this painting over the whole thing with one brushstroke going on. I painted each and every stud individually.

Oh, and it gets worse! I have other studs I have to paint on the inside of the ship. Let me show you:

See all those studs on the inside edge? Yeah, those got to get painted. See those tiny studs on the planks of the deck of the ship? Yeah, those, too.

It’s okay though, because it will all have been worth it once my players see it. In all its glory. Which, ironically is coming up very soon. The player of mine that’s been deployed overseas, actually the one who plays Idris in the ingrates, is returning this month! Month! And just in time too. He has declared himself captain for life for any ship. The players happen to gain possession of. Which is interesting as I wanted him to be here for when the party eventually got hold of the spelljammer ship.

Speaking of spelljammer, the new adventure series comes out around August 16th. I’m very excited about it. And frankly, I don’t want to actually start the spelljammership stuff until I know the mechanics on how the ships work. Hopefully I’ll get some of that going with these new adventures. They’re releasing on D&D beyond called the spelljammer academy. They’re supposed to be four parts, and part one and two have already been released. So far, I’ve seen a glimpse of what the mechanics are on how to pilot one of the ships and I’m, frankly, excited about that. For those not in the know, back in the day, a wizard had to actually pilot the ship and had to use spell slots in order to do so. So I’m curious as to how piloting works now.

Only time will tell.

In any case, that’s all I have for you today. Join me tomorrow for an edition of “A DMs Perspective” where we’re going to talk about Kids on Bikes. And no, not the one where I play in, but the version that I am running while we are awaiting the new spelljammer content to come out. It’s going to be fun.

Until next time, Dear Readers…..

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! 

The D&D Beginner’s Easy 14 Steps for Interesting First Characters

A handful of questions guaranteed to keep role-playing fun for months on end!

Welcome 🙂 

Allow me to speak on behalf of the entire Dungeons and Dragons community when I say we are glad to have you! Dungeons and Dragons is a social game, through and through, and we are always excited when someone is interested in joining in on the fun! 

But with your first D&D session comes your first D&D character… and that might make you a little bit nervous. Starting something new can be intimidating, especially when that thing involves new rules, acting, and cooperating with people you might not know very well. 

But you have no need to worry 🙂 

Not only are there a wealth of resources to help you learn along the way, but it is surprisingly easy for a D&D beginner’s first character to be both fun and interesting to role-play for months on end! 

If you are more interested in learning about weapons, gear, armor, rules, etc. click the links or try a google search. 

But… if you are looking for a method that is guaranteed to result in a character you will LOVE to role-play through every adventure, then read on! 

Table of Contents 

“Good” vs “Bad” Characters

The 15 Questions

  1. Cool Class? 
  2. Race/Species?
  3. Purpose?
  4. Growth?
  5. Values?
  6. Allegiance?
  7. Family?
  8. Personality?
  9. Appearance?
  10. Gimmicks?
  11. Accent?
  12. Hobbies? 
  13. Magic Item?
  14. Backstory?

Conclusion

BONUS

“Good” vs “Bad” Characters

Before we create a good, interesting character, we need to know a tiny bit about what kind of game Dungeons and Dragons is. After all, a good chess player is a lot different than a good rugby player or a good mahjong player! 

First and foremost: D&D is not a game where people ‘win’. There is no board, no victory points, and nothing to Jenga. It’s about using your imagination to tell a story and have an adventure with your friends. 

Even though you cannot ‘win’, everyone can still ‘lose’… sorta.  A ‘loss’ is just having a bad/no-fun experience. This can happen in all sorts of ways: people being on their phones, arguing with the DM, playing selfishly rather than compromising, not cast a healing spell when your friend is bleeding out in front of you… (ahem… Kevin…)

But there is one way a single player can ‘lose’: by creating a boring character. 

Your “player character” is the person you imagine and inhabit to play that game. This player character can be a lot like you or very different from you, but regardless it is your character, not you, that is a star in the story. 

And if your character is one dimensional or undeveloped, eventually you will get tired of this character. You’ll find yourself desperately hoping they somehow die so you can roll a new one. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a creative genius to create a good character. Usually no one has taken the time to explain to a first-time player how to create an interesting character. 

D&D is a special game, and it takes some special insight to know what makes a character in D&D fun to role-play! 

With all that in mind, here are the 4 goals for D&D beginner’s making their first character: 

  1. Easy to make
  2. Relatable and fun to role-play
  3. Interesting and Unique
  4. Simple and straightforward (You don’t want a character too complex… it’s your first game after all!)

That might sound daunting, but trust me, it’s actually pretty simple! 

What follows are 14 easy questions for you to choose from to help you create an interesting first character. 

You don’t need to answer them all! 

Just answer your favorite ones and fit them all together until you are happy… easy peasy!

The 14 Questions

NOTE: I have placed these questions in the order I feel is most helpful, but feel free to answer first whichever comes easiest! And even if you only use half of these questions, your character will stand out as interesting not only to you, but to everyone at the table!

  1. What kind of player-character sounds Cool?

If you haven’t done this already, the first thing you as a player need to decide is what kind of things you want your character to do. Do you want to be a sneaky Rogue, knightly Fighter, or maybe a spell-slinging Wizard? We don’t need to know every rule and mechanic, we just need to know the basics of the class so it can inform the type of character we create. 

All of these are examples of D&D CLASSES. There are thirteen official classes in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Jocat made a brief and helpful video series on the different classes (and their subclasses), or you could reference this simple infographic: 

If you are REALLY new to the game, I strongly suggest playing the Fighter or Barbarian; they are the easiest first characters for beginners. But if you are willing to put in the extra effort to learn about what makes them unique, the rules, and how spells work, then go ahead and pick whatever you like! 

NOTE: I debated putting this step LAST! Often I will pick a class that sounds cool, then build a character, and then completely change the class to fit the character! So don’t commit to this too hard; all the classes in D&D are fun to play, so it is much more important to find a character you really connect with than a cool class. 

  1. What race/species are you? 

This could be a whole other blog post, but long story short: there are lots of races in Dungeons and Dragons each with their own unique traits. But here is the secret: just as the class does not make a good character, same goes for the race! You can make an interesting character that is fun to role-play  no matter what race you choose! 

Your Dungeon Master will allow any of the first 9 races on this exhaustive list, so I would choose from those. But if you want to dip into something more unique, ask your DM what other exotic races from the list are in their world! 

My three suggestions: 1) Don’t overthink… do what your gut tells you! 2) If your gut is uncertain, just be a human! 3) Just like your class, fit the race to the character, not the other way around! 

  1. What’s the character’s purpose? 

Just like in the real world, the people of D&D want to contribute to their society. Your character is no different, and probably wants to help build a better world. 

Think of some problems in the world: injustice, peace on earth, hunger, environmentalism… choose one “cause” that will resonate with your character… something for them to make their life’s work. 

Once you land on something, let your Dungeon Master know, and they can help you integrate your player-character’s life mission into the adventure and world. It’s always easier to role-play when the world is designed a little more around your character! 

  1. How does your player-character need to change/grow? 

This is the most important question you have to answer! 

If your character is a part of a story, then they need some inner conflict to resolve along the journey. What do they most desire in life? What is the biggest problem that they struggle with? This is the heart of role-playing, and what will make them interesting after months, even years, of playing.

They may have a purpose to help the world, but this inner drive is the motivation behind that purpose. (Example: In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker wants to defeat the empire, but it is actually more important to him that he avenge his father that was killed by Darth Vader.)

And don’t worry: just because you pick how your character needs to grow does not mean you know the end of the story! Just like everyone else, you will be along for the ride, and get to see how your character becomes the hero they were always meant to be! 

  1. What are your character’s values? 

Everyone has a shadow side. The pure hearted still harbor dark thoughts, and even the most evil people have 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.) that they regularly display and is a part of their personality. Nothing is as boring as a character that is 100% good or 100% evil, and nothing is as interesting as someone struggling with both.

Once you know the state of their soul, and how you want them to grow, I would choose their alignment: a simple classification to help guide your role-playing when you aren’t sure what to do. 

  1. 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. 

And if your Dungeon Master is running your campaign in a homebrewed world, ask them about their world! What are the governments like? What factions did they create? Alternatively, you can tell them about your character, and they can suggest some organizations your character might be interested in! 

Five major factions of the Forgotten Realms: Harpers, Zephyrim, Lords Alliance, Emerald Enclave, Order of the Gauntlet

  1. What is/was their family like? 

What are their parents like? Do they have siblings? Did extended family live in the village or nearby? Do they miss home, or are they adventuring to escape something unhealthy? 

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 and is interested to meet your  family, even in imaginary table-top settings!

  1. What is your character like? 

Personality is a huge part of what makes your character interesting, but it is also another thing people tend to try to decide too early, or base off their class rather than their character. 

But now, you have enough info on your character to think about their personality. What is it like to be around them? What emotions do they feel or cause others to feel? How do their values, struggles, and allegiances cause them to behave? 

You are absolutely free to play a character that is exactly like you. Often it can make role playing easier. But don’t hesitate to create someone fantastical! Dungeons and Dragons is a magical wonderland, so usually you can disregard the feeling of “oh man… am I going too far?” 

  1. What does your player-character look like? 

It’s likely that the characters in your party will be wearing some semblance of medieval attire. And since people cannot see your character, you need some distinguishing thing about them your fellow players can quickly remember. So be sure there is a single piece of clothing, something unique that helps them stand out. 

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Maybe they have a red sash, or a unique hat, or a bright robe? Or maybe it is how they look, not what they wear! Maybe they have a long flowing beard, or braided hair, or a unique skin tone, or horns, tusks, or a tail! Whatever you choose, pick something that can quickly come to mind. 

  1. Do they have any gimmicks?

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Maybe it’s something physical, like biting your nails, twiddling your thumbs, or scratching your head. Or it can be a personal catchphrase or favorite idiom. And there is a huge spectrum of good and bad manners… where does your character fall? These are things you can role-play to help your character stand out. 

Small, interesting details like these can make your first character really come alive. If you can’t think of one, look at what you have so far, pick an emotion your character will probably feel a lot throughout the campaign, and assign a gimmick that will go with it. 

  1. How does your character talk? 

For many people, especially beginners, this is the most intimidating part of both role-playing and 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. 

  1. What are their hobbies? 
Image is Property of Owner

Most people in real life are not blood thirsty murder-hobos or workaholics! We go to work, eat and sleep, and ALSO enjoy a host of other things with our downtime. 

So give your character a life outside of questing and adventuring. What interests do they talk about when they are not fighting? What pleasures to pursue when they are in town in between adventures? 

  1. Do they have a prized possession? 

Being in a fantasy adventure, this goes without saying. Frodo has Sting, Arthur has Excalibur, Harry Potter got the Elder Wand. What special artifact or trinket does your character have? 

Image is Property of Owner

https://www.enworld.org/attachments/magic_ring-jpg.111688/

Granted, 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! 

  1. What’s your player-character’s backstory?  

Yes…do this one last! 

So many D&D players start with an interesting backstory and then build their character. 

But often they get a character with a cool backstory they are committed to, but it actually restricts their creativity, resulting in something that is boring to role-play. 

Look 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 and how they started adventuring. Honestly, a single 5-8 sentence paragraph is enough. 

Mix and match, add and subtract from your answers and the backstory until you discover a character that you LOVE. 

Also, you might create this character and realize they are strikingly similar to a character from your favorite stories, fiction or nonfiction… and that is ok! There is a good reason you resonate with that character. Put your unique spin on it, and then explore that character in a way only D&D can! 

CONCLUSION

There you have it: 14 simple questions you can ask yourself to easily build an interesting D&D character!

If you follow these steps, I guarantee your first D&D character will be fun and interesting to play. 

Not only that, but I promise your character will even become a favorite of the other players at the table! 

Because if their clothes match their personality… and their values match their allegiances… and purpose match their personal issues… every part of them speaks towards another part. 

This results in a well-rounded character that stands out from the crowd and just feels right!

And yet, like I said before, there is no “winning” in D&D! Whatever questions you choose to answer, no matter what your player character needs to be someone you enjoy role playing! No matter what, make sure you have fun, and once again, welcome to Dungeons and Dragons! 

BONUS! Example Character

That’s right, I’m not done yet! Just to prove I take my own advice, here is an example player’s character (not an NPC!) that I fully intend to play someday soon! 

  1. Cool idea: I wanted a character to constantly enchant people, and I wanted to play a stereotype and support class… so horny bard! 
  2. Race: I want to REALLY stand out in a crowd, and a race that breaks the stereotype, so Drow maiden (a type of elf) 
  3. Purpose: To fill the earth with laughter and singing and dancing. 
  4. Growth: The reason she loves joy so much is she is running from trauma (a little histrionic). She needs to heal and learn to grieve. 
  5. Values: 
    1. Virtues: Joy, Acceptance. 
    2. Vices: Vain, Shallow. 
    3. Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
  6. Allegiance: the Seelie Court… sorta. Whoever she is in love with at the moment gains all her devotion.
  7. Family: Adopted, in the feywild… as difficult to be in relationship with as she is, so left. 
  8. Personality: Bright smile and electric laugh, flirt (a little like Grushenka from Brothers K). 
  9. Clothing: Beautiful, long purple dress, stunning sunglasses, white hair, light grey/purple skin. 
  10. Gimmick: constantly resting her head in her hands as she listens… speaks in extremes
  11. Accent: Maybe a little like Cruella Devill
  12. Hobbies?  Her one place of reflection is writing poetry… but she intimidates herself with it. 
  13. Magic items: Magical sunglasses (sunlight sensitivity!) 
  14. Backstory  Born into a noble Drow house in the Underdark, her vengeful, jealous sister sold her into slavery. Suffered in bondage for years, but escaped from slavery. Was found nearly dead by a fey creature in the woods. Was taken into the feywild and for decades and decades forgot her sorrow by constant pleasures. Now, strangely unsatisfied with fey, is interested in returning to the material plane to experience what other mortals experience. 

Hope that helps, and let me know that character you came up with… always fascinating to see how creative people can be! 

Painting Update: “Oh, nooooooooo! It’s brokeeeeeeeen!”

Dear Readers, a sad, sad thing happened today. A thing I have been dreading since I got it:

I broke the Spelljammer ship.

Not to say it’s not fixable. But it’s just not the same.

So there I was, trying to put it back together for a picture for you guys so you can see the progress I’ve made so far. Before you see what else I was planning on doing. I reach down and clip the wing. And I broke off the wing. See for yourself:

I almost cried. I really did. Tears misted my eyes and curses at myself flew through my mind.

So instead of giving you a painting update on this, I had to glue it back together. And it’s not fitting back together as neatly as I would want it to. And I don’t know why.

So I sanded the spot where it went and I sanded the wing as best I could. And then I glued it back together. Here is the result:

You may not be able to tell, but there is a small gap in between the ship and the wing. I am infuriated at my own clumsiness.

So that’s a thing. Now I get to wait for the glue to cure before filling in the gap.

*sad and angry Daily DM noises*

It happens, I know, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Sorry for this, Dear Readers.

On to the other project: the dragonborn ranger. All I really have left is the basing.

So when I looked at the base as I had currently painted it, I noticed that the paint was rather thin. I was using the Army Painter Dirt Spatter to be the base underneath the grass that I intend on putting there. I still plan on leaving the Kickstarter. K blank so that it shows up in between the grass. At least, that’s my hope.

So, I put another layer of Dirt Spatter which still seemed a little thin and will likely need another coat. Additionally, I painted the heart on the base that points to the specific status effect that the miniature is going under. For those who are unaware, there are these bases that come with this line of miniature that have a rotating base that has various status effect ailments on it. It’s pretty ingenious to be certain. I’m not sure if I will end up painting that or not.

I also ended up painting the base of miniature that sticks out above where the status effect base is.

Here’s how it’s turning out:

She, too, is coming along nicely. I should have it done in time for next week when my monthly group is meeting. She is the character for one of the players for my monthly group. I’ll be excited to see what she thinks.

Well, that’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed seeing my progress!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Teaching the Next Generation

Dear Readers, after I first purchased my Battletech sets, I had literally nobody to play with. Like, nobody.

Granted, I only played Battletech Classic at the time. It is, for those of you who don’t know, a slightly more complicated version of playing Battletech. And by slightly, I mean tons more complicated. Here’s a record sheet so you can see for yourself:

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of on this. There is heat, individual weapons, ammunition, armor, internal structure, and the list goes on and on. Then you have specific hit locations, armor for each location, etc… The bigger the mech, the more complicated it gets. The one pictured above is actually a simple light mech with primarily, if not all, energy weapons. The thing could run and shoot everything it has and still not overheat.

Additionally, you play on a hex grid that is not to scale for the mechs (it’s supposed to be some sort of abstract distance, not regular distance, so to speak). In fact, this play is referred to as “map scale.”

And I am guessing that many of you, Dear Readers, have zero clue as to what much of that means.

So there I was, wanting to play, and nobody to play with. Except myself. Yes, I played both sides against myself. Sad, I know.

Until I dragged my toddler into it. Yeah, yeah, I know he didn’t get all what was going on, but counting pips on the dice (it uses a couple of d6’s) was good practice for him.

Then I convinced my older son to play, my 18-year old. He said it was okay, but he wasn’t really into it, I could tell. For me, it was fun to just have something to do to spend time with my boys. I got my eldest daughter into it as well, but that was a similarly same song and dance.

Then I figured out what these other cards that the mechs all came with were all about. I’m talking about Alpha Strike.

You cannot imagine how excited I was when I figured out how to play that!!

Here’s a card from Alpha Strike:

This, my Dear Readers, is what I am talking about! If I played this mech in Battletech Classic, this would end up being one of the more complicated mechs to play.

But here’s what’s cool about Alpha Strike: everything is so simplified.

Heat isn’t even tracked unless your mech is targeted by something that would heat it up, like inferno missiles. The damage is based on range, short, medium, and long (although some aerospace fighters have extreme range? Maybe?), the movement is based in inches, not hexes, skill is a set number that determines how easily you can hit another target, and armor and internal structure is simplified to be all-encompassing, a generalized stay for the mech.

Literally, everything is easier.

Add to that, and now everything is mech scale! This means that, while somewhat abstract, it’s supposed to be more on scale if the mechs were standing in a battlefield together. This means that, instead of a hex grid, you can use terrain, just like you would for most other tabletop wargame. Terrain that you can maneuver around, jump onto or over, use for cover, etc…

Then I taught it to my toddler (he’s 4 1/2 now, almost 5), who has figured out basic tactics, simple strategy, has a basic grasp of the rules, and someone who loves playing “giant robots” with his dad.

Then there is my oldest son. After I introduced him to this ruleset, he enjoyed it much more, and we play some Thursdays down at the local game shop, where it is Battletech: Alpha Strike night.

I say all that to say this: gamers shouldn’t be gatekeepers, no matter what they play. Teaching others to play is a gamer’s way of welcoming more players, giving you more people to play with! Add to that, teaching younger people how to play, with patience and support, raises up the next generation of gamers to also have patience and support when they teach others out favorite games.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Painting Update: Dragonborn Ranger and Elven Spelljammer Ship

Dear Readers, here we are again, with another painting update!

It’s still humid as all can be, so I am still having to wait in between coats before doing more. Therefore, progress is slow, to save the least.

Here we go:

I’ve worked on the other front wing as well, although it isn’t pictured.

I’m done with the dragonborn, except for the basing. I’m trying to use Dirt Spatter as the base and then use grass to base it. Maybe add a flower cluster. I do know that I am keeping the Kickstarter K mark alone, so that the basing leaves the K exposed in relief.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Here’s a top view of the Spelljammer ship:

I’m also working on the line below the row of studs (it’s hard to see it in any of the pictures), which is also going to be Oak Brown.

Apparently, I need to get this commission done, as I have another one coming in right behind it!

I hope you have enjoyed this painting update!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

A Player’s Perspective: Kids on Bicycles Episode 7

When last we left the Arcanes, they were at the Webber home, having just busted off the locks to the door, and were now presented with a hallway. The first room on our right (the west; we came in from the north) was a living room, with a good number of Catholic artifacts; crosses, crucifixes, and statues of St. Mary. Moving onward to the dining room, a disembodied voice told us to “Get out!” We promptly ignored that bit of advice and continued throughout the house, now hearing bumps and steps coming from upstairs. In the living room, behind a cabinet, we found a hidden compartment w/ 3 books – two schoolbooks (one in math/physics, and the other on history) and a journal with the initials JMC written on the cover. Looking inside, it was discovered that the journal was written in code. We continued hearing sounds from above. At sometime during this, we also found a silver key that we suspected belonged to the door inside the old Ford place, to the door we couldn’t get inside of. We also found a family picture with several names on the back:

Walter C.
Eustace C.
Constance C.
Charles C.
Desdanona C.
And Kathrine C.

The next room, a coatroom of sorts, held a letter advising “Sister” to leave her home or she’ll get killed, dated 1933. Later on, we found a loose board that held a number of tin soldiers, all labeled with JMC on the bottom.

Having been through every door but one on the first floor, we were left with two exits other than where we came in: the stairs going up to the creepy noises we’d been hearing, and a door that we found out (after Goblin kicked it in) led to stairs going down. Heading down the stairs, Zane stepped on a bad stair and fell down below. Looking around, Anton found an ornate knife with old dried blood on it. Shortly afterwards, Zane found a broken section in the far wall in the basement.

Goblin broke through the section of wall only for the ornate knife come to life in Anton’s hand, and try to attack him and the other Arcanes. With quick action, the party put down the knife, breaking it.

Breaking through the wall, the Arcanes find the emaciated corpse of what we all believe to be Walter Corbbit, tied to a table. A fight ensued when Zane became possessed and Anton tried to get at the papers across the room. Kelly-Ann stopped the possession by stabbing the corpse with her own weapon. Unfortunately for Anton, the papers disintegrated upon handling.

Having been beaten up fairly badly, the Arcanes decided to rest back at the clubhouse. After some consideration, Anton remembered that Mrs. Locke, of the antique store, lives up in Old Arkham. After visiting her, we came across the initials AVC associated with her. A trip back to the library found an interesting link from her and old Man Ford.

Walter Corbbit had one surviving son, Charles. Charles had a son, Francis, and Francis had two children: James Madison Corbbit, and Abigale Virginia Corbbit. Which means Mrs. Locke used to be Ms. Corbbit!

Deciding to follow this lead, the party realized that we would need help and went to find Mr. Hodges. After searching, we found his car…being driven by Ms. Iris, one of the possessed teachers! She drove away out of town, presumably with Mr. Hodges in the trunk…

What lay in store for the Arcanes? What will become of Mr. Hodges? Where is Mr. Lyons when you need him?

Find out later this month!

It’s That Time of Year Again

Dear Readers, it is that time of year again. That time of year when the bangs, pops, booms, and other sorts of noises begin making me more than a little twitchy.

For those unaware, I am a combat vet, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I despise 4th of July for that reason.

As a result, the posts I had planned for this weekend are right out the window. I slept like absolute garbage last night, and don’t expect to sleep well for the next couple of days.

Oh, well.

That said, I’m going to try and get a post together for Tuesday, probably an edition of “A Player’s Perspective” for our Kids on Bicycles game. I’ll also try to get caught up on our “A DMs Perspective” for the Ingrates for Friday, and a Painting Update sometime in there as well, maybe Thursday. Tentative plans, to be sure.

Until then, I’ll be keeping my head down and trying to concentrate on other things, like a video game or something.

In any case, happy Sunday to you all, and I’ll catch you later in the week!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Finally, It’s Gone (We Think…)!

Dear Readers, We think we’ve gotten rid of the skunk. This is a wonderful thing as the air conditioning is able to be turned back on! Therefore, I was able to get some more painting done. You cannit imagine how much nicer it is in the southern heat having A/C.

But I digress.

Since the heat is less a factor now, I can actually get some real painting done! It is still humid as all can be, which means I have to wait in between coats of paint, which is annoying.

That said, I got some more painting done. Let’s talk. Dragonborn Ranger:

I managed to finish getting her painted, with the red highlights in the hair, using gemstone paints for both the undercoat and the top coat. Coat. I then went about using the fairy dust effect paint on the skin bits, giving it that sheen you’d expect from a gemstone dragon(born). Lastly, I went about shading the areas that I hadn’t hit with the Speedpaints. All in all, I think she’s turned out great.

See for yourself:

Once she dries I can go about doing the matt varnish, locking in the paint job and making it chip resistant, and then I can go about doing the basing. Since she’s a ranger, I’m really thinking about doing some grass with some bush or flowers around her base. The only downside of this spacing is that it’s going to cover up the K for the Kickstarter marker. The person having me do the commission says she didn’t care.

That’s all I have for today. It’s still hot in The room where I do my painting. Therefore, I will be limiting the amount of painting I’m doing unless I can get myself up in the morning when it’s much cooler outside. We’ll see.

Next time, I should have some good updates. As to my spelljammer ship. I’ve got a lot of plans as to how I’m going to go about finishing up the paint job on it. I’ve got plans for some more earth tones for the wings and sides. I’m still debating on whether or not I’m going to use gold or silver on the filigree in the wings.

Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed in some of the pictures, I am trying to repair a spot on one of the wings where my cat bit through it. To say I’m upset is to put it mildly. I’ve may have already mentioned that, but it’s worth noting I’m still working on the repair. See for yourself:

Stupid cat teeth marks…

*shrug*

She’s my spoiled brat so I have no one to blame but myself. Oh well.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

P.S. – I know updates have been sporadic, but blame the skunk.

P.P.S. – I’ll be out of touch at least the week of July 25th as I am having surgery that day. I’ll try to get as much writing done ahead of time as possible, but I can’t promise anything. It’s going to be major surgery, but I should be okay. If I go dark, though, I don’t want you to worry about me; I’ll be fine. Recovery will be a thing though. Frankly I am not sure my wife will even let me have my laptop!

Painting Update in the Stupid Heat

Dear Readers, you cannot imagine how ridiculously hot it is in the room where I paint. To say that it’s hot. It’s putting it mildly as the relative humidity is also high. It feels like a hundred million degrees in here.

That said, I promise to do some more painting updates for you. I just can’t do much as I have to wait for the paint to dry which is difficult with how humid it is. That said, here we go!

As you can see, I worked on a number of sections on the bottom of the Spelljammer ship. It is coming along quite well. It’s a little bit of a daunting task to continue painting it, but I will persevere nonetheless.

As for the Dragonborn Ranger, it is coming along as well. I accidentally got a smudge of purple paint on one of the wings that I had to do a quick job of trying to cover. Hopefully you can’t tell.

I had to get the purple done so that I can do a light brush of red to go on top of it. As it is a crystal dragonborn, I’m using metallic colors whenever possible. At the very end, I intend on using, as I said before, fairy dust effect paint to cover all the skin bits.

For those of you wondering about my skunk problem, we think it might be trapped, but the trapper hasn’t come out to check the traps yet and nobody is brave enough to go into the house to check. Here’s hoping.

Until next time, Dear Readers….