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Nerdologists

Where to jump in on board games, anime, books, and movies as a Nerd

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Friday Night D&D – Insane in the Membrane

Friday Night D&D – Insane in the Membrane

Alright, it’s Friday again, that means it is time to come up with your (or my) next Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This one is again pulled using information from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. So let’s get into some backstory. Out there between the planes there […]

Hobby vs Collection

Hobby vs Collection

This came up a bit ago on The Dice Tower, and it’s an interesting topic for nerds. There are times when a hobby becomes a collection or when a collection becomes a hobby. A couple of examples of this:I have a lot of comic books, […]

Playing Your D&D Character – 201

Playing Your D&D Character – 201

We’ve started going down the route of playing your D&D character, in 101, we talked primarily about how much you should stay in character, and the expectations of being in character and differentiating in and out of character should work at the table.

In 201, I want to take it more into actually playing your character, bringing your character to life at your table, so it has a different voice than just your voice.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

I think it’s something that is pretty easy to do, have a character that sounds like you, acts like you, and thinks like you. And I don’t think that is a bad way to role play, sometimes, but there is much more that you can do beyond that to really play your character in Dungeons and Dragons and not just play yourself.

So, why do I think you shouldn’t just play yourself or your idealized version of yourself?

For me, I see role playing as an opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different perspective. Now, I don’t mean that you should play a racist jerk because that’s different from who you are, you’re probably going to be annoying everyone at the table, but playing a character who has issues with another race and using that are an opportunity for your character to grow, can work well if done delicately. But even beyond that, you can play someone who has a different view of religion than you do, a different view of politics, of money, or murder hoboness than you do. Or in a different vein but equally as challenging, it can be an opportunity to play an extrovert when you yourself are in introvert, or vice-a-versa.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

That’s the theory on why you might play someone different than you and I encourage it, but how do you go about doing that and doing it in a way where it isn’t a stereotype?

I think a good starting point is to create a character who has a tick of some sort. It could be that they are extremely scholarly, or maybe they have a catch phrase (keep it short and use it sparingly), or some default fighting style (every character should have one), but more than that, something that you can always do as your character in a role playing situation. Or something that is interesting about them. In a one-shot game at a convention, I played a monk dinosaur who was observing the other dinosaurs in the tribe and using it as an anthropological study. When I needed a role playing hook, I would lean into that. Or in another game, I was playing a mage who dressed like The Dude from The Big Lebowski and did drugs, so when I needed a role playing hook, I’d channel that.

These are pretty simple hooks, but they gave me a way to always step back into the character. Another way to think about it is to compare it to learning an accent, or doing an accent. Most of the time there is a phrase or a word that you can use to do your version of an accent. It’s that thing that allows you to step into the accent, in the same way, these ticks or hooks are ways for you to step into playing your character. It sounds weird, but it’s going to be a faster way to role playing your character and a good way to jump start it. It also makes it easier to step into role playing someone who isn’t just like you, because you have that way to change your mindset.

I want to address one more thing about these hooks before I talk about combat again. And that is the idea of using an accent or silly voice for your character. This can be used well to keep yourself in character. Such as whenever you are speaking in that voice, you are in character, and when you aren’t, you are out of character. However, there are a lot of people who aren’t great at doing voices. If you’ve listened to Dungeons and Flagons, you can tell that I will do voices for NPC’s and monsters when I’m running the game, but I have a pretty limited selection of voices that I can do. So don’t feel pressure to do this for your character, and don’t compare yourself to Critical Role when doing voices, they are professional voice actors, they literally make a living doing voices.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

Now, I want to circle back to combat for a split second. I talked earlier about having your move. The default thing that you go with when you play your character. It’s important to have this a character not just for role playing, as it will become your characters thing, but also for the game, so that you can make combat go more quickly. I know for a lot of people, myself included, I prefer the role playing aspect of the game, versus the combat aspect of the game. And combat, if not done well, can end up being a longer part of the game than the role playing. So, the signature/default move for your character is there for two reasons. One, it does give that hook to get you into the mindset of your character in a combat. Two, and as importantly, it means in combat you are ready for your turn. If you know that you can always roll two attacks with your great sword, when it comes to your turn, you are ready to go. Sometimes you’ll do different things, but if there is nothing obvious and different to do, you can take your turn fast. That’s why I think it’s something that should be required by the Dungeon Master and players at the table to hold people to having that default move.

Now we’ve talked a bit more about how you can get into character and play a character who isn’t just like you. Next time I want to talk more about creating a direction and arc for your character within the game that you control.

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TelevisionTalks: Love, Death, + Robots

TelevisionTalks: Love, Death, + Robots

Time to talk about the newest Netflix show, this time the anthology series, Love, Death, + Robots. It’s an interesting experiment in show making an anthology series, but not just an anthology series, but a completely animated one. Let’s start out by talking about what […]

Playing Your D&D Character – 101

Playing Your D&D Character – 101

Alright, so now you’ve started building your D&D character, let’s talk about playing your D&D character. Dungeons and Dragons after all is a role playing game, so you need to take on the role of your character. For this, we’re going to assume that you’ve […]

Friday Night D&D – The Courts

Friday Night D&D – The Courts

Alright, we’re back with another Friday Night D&D, where I write down an idea that I’ve had for a D&D campaign to help give you ideas for your Dungeons and Dragons games!

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Last time we were looking at Demons and Devils and their Blood War. This time we’re going to look at the Seelie and the Unseelie courts. The Fae Wilds play a large part in D&D as another plane that you can go to. And all Elves have some fae ancestry, though it might have been long long ago.

In this game, the material realm is where the players are from. The world is going to start to change. Mainly, the Unseelie Court is going to start changing the world around the players. They are going to be causing basically an incursion into the material realm.

Now, a first level adventuring party isn’t going to be able to deal with a Fae Queen, but they are going to be able to start to deal with the incursion. It’s going to be the small fae creatures who are slipping through the cracks of this incursion. However, that’s not going to be the big issue. But it’s going to be pest for neighboring villages and houses, where the fae creatures are pulling pranks and playing tricks.

Image Source: Wizards

The crux of this campaign is going to be how the players deal with the incursion. Mainly, because it’s going to be hard to fight their way into the Unseelie Court and deal with the Queens of the court. However, even the more chaotic and malevolent parts of the court will respect a mortal if they behave honorably. So if the players behave with honor, don’t kill everything and everyone, they might be able to stop the incursion without bloodshed.

But in classic form, there is always a bigger bad guy. There is going to be someone, some deity, probably Lolth the Drow Goddess who has influenced the Unseelie Court. Her plan and those of her followers, since you most likely won’t be fighting Lolth herself. You’ll be fighting a priestess and some acolytes of hers at the end, but a powered up priestess that is going to have some of Lolth’s own spell list, resistances, and lair actions. But, again, if the players have played to the courts right and not offended the Unseelie Court, and for that matter, the Seelie Court since they’ll have to deal with them as well. If they have managed to keep the courts “happy” and earned the respect of the various Queens of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, they might have more help or some boons that they will be able to use in this final battle.

Probably the final thing for this game, I would make it a game that has a lot of rigidness to it. The interactions with the courts and the Queens, those should be expected to go a certain way. Also play into the Dresden Files like thing where the fae creatures can’t lie, but they also don’t have to tell you the truth as you’d expect and they will find ways to skirt around questions. Also lean into making deals, the fae creatures, especially more powerful creatures, shouldn’t volunteer information. The adventuring party should have to agree to certain conditions for that information. If you can even have them negotiate with intelligence rolls and allow your players to lawyer it up somewhat as they word out deals with the fae creatures.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

I think that you can build quite a campaign out of it, have the players fight the way to where the incursion is coming from and probably even have a mid-level interaction with one of the Queens of the Seelie Court. So at that point the game can transition from it being a situation where they are fighting a lot of fae creatures to where they are now having to investigate and infiltrate to figure out what is really going on in the Unseelie Court. Even before that, I would hint at honor and rules that the court has when it comes to torturing for information (since your players will probably try and do that), and set-up the rules for the court and how a fae expect a captured creature to be treated.

This idea isn’t as fleshed out as the other, but I think there are some interesting story options there and a good progression as the players learn more information, how do they deal with the changes that are happening? Do they continue on a combat focused route, and how does that change later interactions?

Would you want to play in a Fae game? How would you role play some of the interactions with the queens?

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Top 5: 5+ Player Games

Top 5: 5+ Player Games

We’re up high enough in numbers now that I think that we should just go beyond five and wrap up the list with games that work best with five or more players. I wanted to do just a five player list, because there are a […]

Building a D&D Character – 401

Building a D&D Character – 401

Alright, we’re onto the last class for D&D character creation. In the prerequisites, we’ve talked about how to make a character that fits the campaign and is fun for you and the group (101). We then went on and talked about how Dungeons and Dragons […]

Top 5: 4 Player Games

Top 5: 4 Player Games

Alright, now we’re into the sweet spot for games. There are a lot of them out there that really work best at 4 players. This can be for a number of reasons, but most of the time it’s because 4 players is the maximum player count and the resources are balanced for that player count. If you have a lower count, the board is too large.

Image Credit: Amazon

5. Gloom
Not Gloomhaven, Gloom is a silly little card game where you are telling a story about the horrible things that are happening to your characters. And then you are trying to kill them off so you get the fewest (or most negative) points possible. While I like this game with lower player counts, the higher player counts mean that you get to tell a silly story as a group. The more people you have to play good cards on, the funnier it is as you really do all tie your stories together as you play and create this crazy shared world with your miserable little families.

4. Hanabi
This game does play well at two players, but I like it at the higher player count as it keeps you from getting in as much of a rut with one person burning a card to give a clue, the next person using that clue to tell the other player what to burn to get another clue and so on and so forth, if there aren’t better clues to give. It also means that each player has more information with the higher player count because you can see more hands of cards. This is sometimes stressful because you hope one of the other players will give a clue that you want them to give.

Image Source: Space Cowboys

3. T.I.M.E. Stories
With four players in T.I.M.E. Stories you might get less time to complete the scenario, but I feel like it gives you the right breathe of characters. You get the characters who are strong at fighting, but also the ones who have the social skills. It also gives you another brain in the mix to help figure out the puzzles and find the clues that are at the various locations, maybe hidden on the image that you are seeing. Now, I think that T.I.M.E. Stories is still a lot of fun with any player count, but with four players you can really get the whole experience of the game and be able to use your time more efficiently.

2. Blood Rage
This epic Viking area control, card drafting, variable player power game is the most fun at four. You get more epic battles with the higher player counts and you really have to decide when to make your move going after a resource. They do a solid job of adjusting the board size for lower player counts, but to have that more open game is really enjoyable. And when you have a lot of players fighting over Yggdrasil, it’s a fun time. You also get to play with all the cards in the drafting round for the age. That means that you get to see a great variety of cards and can tailor your strategy around what you can see. The game doesn’t seem to take much longer with four players either, which is nice.

Image Source: Z-Man Games

1. Pandemic Legacy
Now, I know some people will like this with fewer players and generally they are considered easier with fewer players. For that reason I actually like it at the higher player count. It adds to the stress of the game as you try and complete everything, and you can’t rely on a single character leading the way. In the first season, playing with the Dispatcher and Medic would be playing on easy mode as you’d be able to keep the diseases pretty well under wraps. But with more players, you don’t get those two important characters making moves as often. This is also true for Pandemic in general that the higher player count I find more fun, unless you’re picking odd characters. Otherwise the game can be a bit too easy.

Now, there are so many games that are great with four players, and I want to toss out a couple of games that haven’t made the list yet. Smallworld and Five Tribes. Neither of these are going to make of the lists, because I like them with any player count. Five Tribes does change it’s feel with different player counts, but it works well. And Smallworld has different maps for each player count which makes the game work very well.

What are some games that you really like at four players? Are there some games that shouldn’t be played at four players?

Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
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Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Back into building a D&D character. We’ve talked previously about the simplest ways to make a character that doesn’t step on other players toes, that fits into the game, and one that is fun to play. Next we’ve talked about how you can use the […]