Month: April 2019

Book’em Nerdo – Arcane Ascension Series

Book’em Nerdo – Arcane Ascension Series

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review, that’s mainly because I’ve been reading a ton of Dresden Files recently. However, at work, I’ve been listening to the Arcane Ascension series which thus far has two books Sufficiently Advanced Magic and On the […]

TelevisionTalks: Ultraman

TelevisionTalks: Ultraman

I first heard about the original Ultraman when Kristen and I were listening to Ready Player One, at least that I remember. There’s a cool moment with Ultraman and how he works that is talked about in that book. I was surprised when I saw […]

Friday Night D&D – Burn it Down

Friday Night D&D – Burn it Down

Welcome back to another installment of Friday Night Dungeons and Dragons.

The idea for this game came from my writing about Tieflings yesterday. I kind of did a light version of the story with the firefighter backstory that I created, however, I think that can be expanded and changed up into an actual campaign.

In the world, before the PC’s ever showed up, there was a problem with the elemental plane of fire. Mainly, they were trying to take over the world that the PC’s live on. So pretty standard D&D style problem, but in a non-standard solution, after the races of humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, etc. had tried to and suffered massive causalities in driving back and holding the line against the fire elementals, someone came up with the idea that, hey, we have a few Tieflings, and they do well against fire, let’s intentionally make more Tieflings.

This idea made enough sense to the others in their moment of loss and need that they agreed to it. They entered into deals with various of the Lords of hell and were able to drive back the fire elementals. But they weren’t able to seal the breach, and as it turned out, it was a bad idea anyways, because the Tieflings who showed up, many of them demanded places of power and authority, because they were keeping the fire elementals at bay. Now it’s several thousand years later.

The players are dealing with a world where there are still a ton of Tieflings around, because whenever any race would try and rise up against the Tieflings, the fire elemental problem would start again, and the Lords of Hell would have something to say about it.

This is going to be a Star Wars style game, I would call it, with some conspiracy thrown in. The players are going to be part of a rebellion against the Tiefling and Lords of Hell rule. But a full frontal rebellion has been shown time and time again to be hard on the race that does it, especially the dwarves which only have small pockets left.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

The player characters will be part of the same cell that is doing guerrilla warfare. Strongholds that the Lords and Ladies of Hell have set up are there main target, without them backing the Tieflings, it might be possible to weaken their control. This would be lower level, I think that the Lords and Ladies of Hell would probably be keeping slaves, so players would work on freeing slaves and stopping new ones from coming in, versus a full assault on the keep.

As you move up in levels, the player characters should be getting more and more important missions which should eventually lead them to discovering that Asmodeus himself was the one who pointed the Fire Elementals towards the planet the players live on. Asmodeus should be too powerful a BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy) for the players to kill even at level 20, but their goal shouldn’t be killing him, it should be closing down the portal to the elemental plane of fire, because once that’s gone, the need for Tieflings is gone and possibly balance will be able to be restored.

Or at least that should be the original goal. Once that is done, the players are going to see Asmodeus and the Lords and Ladies of the hells starts a concerted effort to take over the world themselves, which was of course Asmodeus’s plan. He just didn’t want to tip his hand that he had put the elemental plane of fire into the world, and he wanted to build up his Tiefling army. Now, the players need to go and destroy the portal to hell that the Lords and Ladies of Hell have built their keeps around.

Players, in this game, are going to need to be on board with a game that isn’t just pure smash and in your face combat. There is going to be sneaking and subtly that go into their missions. The last thing they are going to have happen is getting captured, at least until higher levels when getting captured might be the simplest way into a place, because they have the skills needed to get out of a standard jail.

I like this idea because it does have that different element where it isn’t just about combat. I also like it because it’s a twist on Tieflings, and it’s intrigue within intrigue. This is definitely a game where the players are going to need backstory to be able to roleplay their characters in a non-generic fantasy setting. But don’t info dump though that would be tempting. Just, when someone asks if they would know something about the history of the world, say “yes” and then give them the information without making them roll for anything.

So what do you think of this idea? Would you play in a game like this?

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Race – Tiefling

Dungeons and Dragons Character Race – Tiefling

Now we’re getting towards the edges of the races you can play in Dungeons and Dragons from the main Players Handbook. There are additional races or race options in other books. I’m going to call out some Tiefling things are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. […]

Spoilers Sweetie

Spoilers Sweetie

That title might not make a lot of sense, but it’s from Doctor Who. In Doctor Who, the Doctor keeps on crossing paths with River Song who is experiencing the Doctor’s life in a different order than the Doctor is, so she has a diary […]

Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

This was a topic that was brought up on the Dice Tower in one of their videos. Sam Healy made a statement that if a game looked better, he would enjoy it more and it was a better game. That got me thinking about games that I like, if the game looks better, does it make a better game?

Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games

Let’s hop away from board games for a second here, because there’s a saying that I think works with this, that comes from the culinary world, that we eat with our eyes first. So even if something might taste amazing, if it looks horrible, we’re less apt to like it. I think this is also true for board games, and probably a lot of other things as well. We’re more apt to enjoy a game if it looks good.

But does that make it better?

That’s harder to say, just because a game is great looking doesn’t mean that it’s a good game. But I don’t think that’s really what Sam was getting at. His statement didn’t mean if a game had 100 amazing minis, the best graphic design, and artwork that was amazing that the game was automatically amazing. In fact, there are games out there that look great that are complete duds.

So what does it mean that it makes the game better?

Image Credit: Dad’s Gaming Addiction But seriously, you guys. Just look at this thing.

I think that games that are better looking are likely going to be given more of a chance than games that are bad looking though. But beyond that, I think, that even games that we like, if the game looks good, we’re more apt to pull it off the shelf. Therefore, there is a piece of a game looking good that makes it better.

It’s not just the mechanics, but getting the visual right is going to make a game more appealing. It could be that I like very abstract games and I really want to focus in on that mental aspect of a game, but even in that case, an abstract game that looks better on the table is better than one that is drab. There’s an aesthetic piece that we can’t get away from as humans as we always judge people somewhat by how they look, but also places, on both the outside and inside. And this is a natural thing as it gives us a frame of reference.

This isn’t something that we should get hung up on completely though. Yes, a game might hit the table because it looks good, but that doesn’t mean we should just reject a game because it looks aesthetically displeasing. There’s a game, Spirit Island, that is a very good and tough cooperative game, from what I know about it, but I haven’t played it, because aesthetically it isn’t pleasing to me. I also don’t know anyone who owns it. But, I’m less likely to go out and buy it myself because of the aesthetics of the game board. Now, if I do play the game at some point in time and like it, I might pick it up, but like food, I’m less apt to try it if it looks unappealing.

Image Source: EmperorS4

Let’s be clear, I don’t need a game to have a lot of minis to enjoy it, I don’t need a game to have perfect artwork to enjoy it, but having cohesive artwork, and well done graphic design, I’ll notice those things. I think of the game Kingdom, I don’t think that game has great graphic design for it, and for that reason, it was a bit underwhelming to me. It’s also not my normal type of game, not to say it was bad, just a bit underwhelming. Would something with a bit more design thought put into it than just generic fantasy made the game better? Possibly, or it might have at least gotten me into the theme of the game more, instead you did the same thing in three different rounds.

So, what do you think? Do you think that a board game that looks good is a better game? Is it an important part of your game buying decision, or is it something that doesn’t really matter to you?

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Gnomes

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Gnomes

There’s no place like Gnome, there’s no place like Gnome. Alright, now that my bad joke is out of my system, let’s talk about Gnomes in Dungeons and Dragons. Gnomes, as you can guess, are very small. They are between 3-4′ tall and because of […]

Friday Night D&D – The War of Realms

Friday Night D&D – The War of Realms

Time to make a huge game. I think that there are a lot of interesting things that you could do with this idea, including something a long ways out there, which is have it played with multiple groups. In this game the different planes, fire, […]

Welcome to the Dungeon! – Why Use a Dungeon?

Welcome to the Dungeon! – Why Use a Dungeon?

Let’s go back to the beginning where we talked about what a dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons is..

A dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons is normally seen as a festering hole in the ground, like you’d end up with in classic games. Instead it really is anything where there is an entry point and a goal where you go in and get something or defeat some boss, or to get to a certain location that only the exit can lead you to. Then there are challenges along the way.

Image Source: Wizards

You can see how this looser definition makes it much more useful for your game. Your “dungeon” could be going through a section of the underdark in search for another entrance to a “dungeon” on the surface that then the players will still have to go through. So your dungeon could literally be leading to another dungeon and that works well.

Your dungeon could be the gauntlet of challenges at the end of a campaign that lead up to the big bad monster who your party has been going after the whole time. Or it could be two rooms leading up to that big bad, but it’s a point of entry. I think something even as simple as a foyer in a manor and then two paths leading to two waiting rooms and then a waiting room to the main hall where the big bad Emperor of the Frozen Realm sits works for a dungeon. You’ve given yourself a chance for some combat, you’ve possibly, if you want one direction to be better, added in a riddle or a puzzle for the players to figure out.

I’ve given some examples of what different dungeons are, but that only shows what some dungeons might be, but not why you’d want to use a dungeon.

A dungeon is nice for the DM, because it gives you a fairly straight forward session or sessions to plan. Your players are always going to do something that you wouldn’t expect, always, but in a dungeon, because you’ve already planned it a fair amount, it’s not going to be as difficult to deal with those random things. This means that you’ll have less on your plate to come up with things on the fly, and have planned encounters in more detail than you normally would have. It also means, that if you’re partly in and the session comes to the end, you already have some plans for the next session.

Also, because of the planning you can do ahead of time, this is something that you can tweak slightly and move to another game at a later time. There are plenty of monsters in the monster manual that you can reskin it to. If the first game is more classic fighting goblins, looting treasure, kicking down doors, you can create a dungeon to put them in to get to the big bad. Maybe, now you are running an elemental campaign. Now you can swap out the goblins with elemental creatures, raise the challenge level of your game and raise the difficulty of your traps and use the exact same dungeon set-up. Just with reflavoring how you describe things and what monsters are in the dungeon, you now have a very different dungeon.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Beyond making things easier on the DM, they also offer a chance for variety and world building in your world. If you need to drop bits of history to the players and don’t want to just run a session where they are in the library getting talked at by the librarian, a dungeon is a great way to go. Now they are going to kick out some goblins, or so they think, but it’s going to be a chance for you as the DM to sprinkle in some knowledge of the ancient world that will matter for the players later, while they are still getting to do something.

It also allows for making really unique pieces for the players to play through. And I don’t mean setting up some big map with minis that the players get to look at and ooh and ah over, unless you can do that (I can’t). But it allows you to create the mad wizards tower that the players have to fight their way up. It allows you to do a crazy underdark/Mind Flayer story or the maze of a Beholder. These places are going to be places that will be remembered by players and a chance for cool and crazy moments to happen that players will talk about for a long time afterwards. For me, creating those moments is something that I want to get better at, and a dungeon and planning on dungeon are a good way to do that.

Image Source: Old Dungeon Master

Finally, I think it’s a good time to use dungeons as benchmarks in your story. So, if you’re a player, you might suspect this, but most DM’s don’t have the whole story planned out before they get started. We have a beginning, maybe, and an end, most likely. If nothing else, we have a concept for the game and an idea of who the big bad is for the game. But sometimes we have ideas where we know we want, around level five, this thing to happen to move the story forward, and at level ten, this other thing. Making those benchmark spots into dungeons really lets you move the story from one spot to the next arc of your story as it leads up to your big bad. And when you don’t think of a dungeon as a festering hole in the ground, now all of a sudden you have a lot more options.

So what do you think? Do you think that there are good reasons to use dungeons? Do dungeons feel too focused for you or too much like a railroad for you?

This wraps up the Welcome to the Dungeon! series. Let me know what you thought about the series as a whole?

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Casting the Dream – Dresden Files

Casting the Dream – Dresden Files

This is one that I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I haven’t been able to figure out who I want to cast as the main characters. I think that is actually taken care of now. Synopsis: The Dresden Files are a series that […]