Month: February 2016

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 16: Consequences

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 16: Consequences

Back with Lino, Tate, Finja, and Nim are faced with the consequences of starting a war on Barbuga and more consequences than they might have realized. ————————————————————————- Our players are: Ashley – Nimrose the Wood Elf Monk Kristen (@Kefka73) – Finja the Human Paladin Clint…

Cosplay on a Budget

Cosplay on a Budget

As I mentioned in my last post, the prospect of starting a cosplaying hobby can be intimidating — and often, the biggest reason is cost. Though you can invest as little or as much as you want to into a costume, there’s no denying that, as…

Dungeons and Dragons: Combat

Dungeons and Dragons: Combat

I was going to continue this series with a post on NPC’s, but I’ve had a couple of really good combats during recent sessions I’ve run, so I wanted to write on that topic.

D&D, at its base, has a lot of rules for combat. And that is one part of the game that players often enjoy.You get to role-play a fighter who wields a giant hammer, or a ranger hiding in the shadows with a longbow, or a wizard who is slinging around fireballs. You can tailor your character to your preferred style of fighting, and you can really get into it, telling a story with your actions and trying to do as many crazy things as possible.

Acquisitions Incorporated
Image Source: Youtube

On the other hand, some players prefer social interactions with NPC’s, and enjoy that aspect of role-playing more than the combat side of things. But no matter what way your group enjoys playing, you are going to have some combat. For a group that loves combat, the DM might want to try to have a combat of some sort every session. Maybe the group gets attacked by some random bandits in the woods, or there is a group of goblins that raid the town, or they stumble into a cave that has some giant spiders — all of these are scenarios that could happen and that might be fun to play out with that group.

But for the other type of players — those who don’t care for combat as much — you as the DM will have to come up with another reason for them to get engaged in what is going on. The group will still end up killing all the bad guys, but not just because they are bad guys. I’ll share two examples from Dungeons & Flagons (one that you’ve heard and one that you haven’t yet) of this sort of combat to show that when an extra element is added to a battle to raise the stakes, players who aren’t normally invested in the combat are much more on edge.

Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest

The first example is from Episode 14, when Nim, Tate, and Finja fought the Yuan-ti who were carrying an angel skeleton that was needed for a ritual. Two of the Yuan-ti took off running with the crate that held the angel, while the rest stayed to slow down the adventuring party. So while the party had to fight through the four Yuan-ti who were facing them, the emphasis and tension was built upon whether or not they would be able to stop the Yuan-ti from getting the angel to the Yuan-ti town and prevent the mysterious ritual from happening. There was additional tension caused by the time constraint, as the limited number of turns until the angel would be gone from view meant that they had to get the fight over with before then. And it led to players worrying they might be killed as more reckless story-driven actions were taken.

The other example is from Episode 19, which will come out in just over four weeks. The players are attached by a gang of hobgoblins in a forest. They don’t have any real connection to hobgoblins or a reason to hate them, and other than some insults being traded back and forth and the hobgoblins wanting to steal their stuff, it would just be a boring fight. So I had to come up with something to ratchet up the tension a little bit, and lo and behold, the gang was riding on horses. I thought I’d take a couple of swipes at a horse, they’d hop off it, and the horses would be just fine; however, that became the battle’s plot hook. The players were not on board with the idea of the horses dying, so I went after them more, and the players rallied into the depths of the battle to try to save their mounts — both because the horses make the journey easier, and also because the horses have names, and they had already formed a bit of an attachment to them.

There are other possibilities as well, some of which I’ve heard done in other podcasts. Such as: Is there some sort of trick to defeating the bad guy or making it easier to defeat them? Will the bad guys flee at some point? Or even, is it actually possible for the group to win? I used the last example early on, when my group faced off against the pirates while they were on the ship. They didn’t have a chance at winning that battle, but it increased the tension of what was going on, and was a plot point to move the story forward.

Finally, there is the matter of building an encounter. How do you do that? First, let me say that there are some handy tools to help with this. I generally use: http://dhmholley.co.uk/encounter-calculator-5th/; on this page, you can enter in the number of character and their levels, and, using the results from the site and the D&D Monster Manual, craft an encounter. I would really recommend using these tools, or simlar ones, as doing so makes it a whole lot easier to figure out if the players can actually win, or if it is going to be too easy or too difficult for them to win.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay
Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

While you are doing this and thinking about what creatures you want to include, pick out creatures that make sense for the current area. For example, if it is a tropical jungle, there probably won’t be any fire-based creatures around; it would be too humid for them. Owlbears and the like very well might attack a group that can defeat them easily, if they feel like they are cornered, but a single goblin is going to stay hidden and not attack a group, because goblins won’t attack until their numbers are high enough that they think that they can win. And when some goblins start to fall, it wouldn’t be all that odd if the rest start to flee to save their hides.

So to sum up, a quick checklist:

  1. Use a tool and/or the appropriate D&D books to calculate out a battle strength that works
  2. Know why your creatures or people are attacking, or know why the characters will attack the creatures/people you put in their way
  3. Consider adding an extra objective to increase the tension and suspense
  4. Play your creatures/people attacking the party in a way that makes sense for those creatures to attack (would they run away, do they have tactics, do they target the weak, etc.)

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Doctor Who Streaming Coming Back

Doctor Who Streaming Coming Back

Not long ago Doctor Who left Netflix, and we were sad. But now, starting in March, we can be happy again. Coming back to the US, on Amazon Prime streaming, Doctor Who, all 8 series. A new teaser trailer for what’s coming up on the streaming…

Civil War Picture!

Civil War Picture!

We now have an image of Crossbones!  He’s going to be in Captain America: Civil War.   The new issue of Empire is as a kind of Mason-Dixon line for Captain America: Civil War, standing between the two sets of new foes with arms outstretched, saying “guys, guys…”…

Through the Looking Glass Teaser

Through the Looking Glass Teaser

I enjoyed the first Alice in Wonderland that was made with Mia Wasikowska. So I’m curious to see if this one is also visually entertaining and kind of fun.

Doctor Strange Image

Doctor Strange Image

We have an okay look at Benedict Cumberbatch in full Doctor Strange costume. I’ve personally enjoyed the Doctor Strange animated movie that I’ve seen as well as the comic books that I’ve read, so I’m really excited for this movie. And Cumberbatch in that picture,…

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 15: Snake Shakedown

Dungeons and Flagons Episode 15: Snake Shakedown

After defeating a group of Yaunti, Nimrose, Tate and Finja question their prisoner to try and figure out what the Yaunti are planning. ————————————————————————- Our players are: Ashley – Nimrose the Wood Elf Monk Kristen (@Kefka73) – Finja the Human Paladin Clint – Tate the…

Cosplay 101

Cosplay 101

Cosplay (short for “costume play”) is one of those time-honored nerdy traditions that looks way more intimidating on the outside than it really is. We’ve all seen the impressive Comic Con pictures of cosplayers who look like they’ve just stepped off the page of a comic or out of a movie screen. But what was once a hobby reserved for only for the most dedicated of fans is now something that most nerds have dabbled in at least a bit, and these days, it’s more approachable than ever.

Cosplay as a concept came into being a long time before Comic Con was a thing (this article states that the first cosplayer donned his first costume in 1939), and it’s a pretty broad concept at that — essentially, anyone who dresses up in costume to attend a fan convention or other large fan event (like a movie premiere or a video game release) can be termed a cosplayer.

At its heart, cosplaying simply means dressing up as a fictional character — and that (very vague) definition allows for just as much variety and nuance as you’d expect. Cosplaying can be as simple as purchasing and wearing a pre-made costume, or as elaborate as creating a handmade one from scratch and putting your own unique spin on an existing character (Totoro-inspired ball gown, anyone?).

Image Credit: Worldcosplay.net
Image Credit: Worldcosplay.net
Image Credit: Dorkly
Image Credit: Dorkly

There are many hot topics when it comes to cosplay — what determines how good a costume is, how much work should go into one, whether or not you need to have made a costume yourself for it to “count,” what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to reinterpreting a character according to your own vision, and many more.

But I’d advise those of you who are new to the cosplaying scene not to get too bogged down in all of that. That’s because the best thing about cosplay is that just about anything goes as long as you’re enjoying yourself and being respectful both of the character you’re cosplaying and of your fellow cosplayers.

Aside from the many and wildly varied opinions about it, cosplay can also seem overwhelming due to the sheer investment of time (and, let’s face it, plain ol’ money) it requires. It’s easy to see pictures of the awe-inspiring cosplays out there and just think, “That’s it…I’ll never be that good!” And maybe you won’t — but guess what? That’s completely okay! Cosplay is one of those things that you can work super hard at and spend a ton of time on, or approach in a more casual and lighthearted fashion, and have just as much fun with it either way.

But don’t sell yourself short, either. Maybe for your first cosplay, you stick with something simple and just get a feel for it before you throw more time and energy into it. But who knows — maybe as you get into it, you’ll find that you’re really passionate about it, and before you know it, you’re the next one to take home a 1st place award from your favorite con!

We're not even sure how this is accomplished, but we are in awe of it. Image Credit: Cosplay.kotaku.com
We’re not even sure how this is accomplished, but we are in awe of it.
Image Credit: Cosplay.kotaku.com

But again, whether you jazz up last year’s Halloween costume or decide to make your own chainmail, if you have a good time with it and dress up as a character you love, you can’t go wrong.

This is just a quick overview to give you a better idea of what cosplay’s all about, but as we know, there’s a ton more to talk about where cosplay is concerned! So be on the lookout for more articles from me about cosplay during the next couple of weeks — we’ll cover things like cosplaying on a budget, some of the cultural/historical aspects of cosplay, and more! And as always, let me know if there’s something in particular that you’d love to know more about, and I’ll add it to the docket.

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

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Casting

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Casting

Thanks to James Gunn on twitter, we know some cool casting news. And yes Kurt Russell has joined the #GotGVol2 cast, as have @PomKlementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, and @SullyActsUp. They are all amazing. https://twitter.com/JamesGunn/status/699963996422574080 . @PomKlementieff is playing Mantis. As for the rest, you’ll have to…