Author: Peder

Book’em Nerdo – Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

Book’em Nerdo – Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

I’m going to try and not go on too much of a rant against this book. I’ll just start by saying, that this is not a good book. I was not expecting this to be a good book. This is not an entertaining book. I […]

GenCon Vol 1 – Planning

GenCon Vol 1 – Planning

Alright, I’m getting excited. GenCon is coming up in a while, August 1st through 4th, and I’m going this year! A board game and RPG convention with 60 thousand plus people in attendance will be crazy. I’ll probably get to see some people whom I’ve […]

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Dragonborn

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Dragonborn

And after a week of Avengers: Endgame (no spoilers in this post), we’re finally getting back to some D&D. This time we’re looking at the Character Race of Dragonborn.

Dragonborn, are a bit like tieflings or other races where they get some heritage from something non-standard fantasy. And because of that, in Dungeons and Dragons, they are treated as a rarer race. They pull both from their draconic ancestry, including getting a breath weapon. But with that draconic heritage, that means they often also take haughtiness and aloofness of the dragons. This can make them a bit temperamental in a party.

Mechanically speaking, besides that breath weapon that you get which you can use sparingly, you also get bumps to strength and charisma. For that reason, Dragonborn make good fighters, but also charisma casters. Their strongest class is probably Paladin, a charisma casting class that is also good in melee. You also get resistance to the element that your breath weapon is. This also helps you tank as an enemy caster might be using whatever element you’re resistant to, and you’ll be able to stay in melee longer.

Image Source: Wizards

Other than those stats, the real things we’re looking at is that Dragonborn tend to role play as haughty. I mentioned that before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. They think that they are better than you, and that they can probably do it themselves. This can also lead to foolhardiness because they are more apt to rush into something if they feel like someone else is going to be able to do it first.

They are also going to be rare and the chromatic ones distrusted. In Dungeons and Dragons, while the metallic dragons aren’t necessarily helpful, they aren’t evil either. The chromatic dragons, aren’t helpful, and they might decide they want to rule or go on a rampage. So, the people who know this, and I suspect it would be fairly common knowledge in most D&D worlds, are going to distrust a Dragonborn that is chromatic. Even the metallic Dragonborn might be looked at askance.

So let’s talk about some backstories, why might a Dragonborn decide to join an adventuring party.

I was, what I would consider a legend on the battlefield, there were few who could stand up to me. I was able to shrug off spells like it was no ones business, and I was only ever bested once when my “rival” got a lucky blow in on me. That took me out of action for a few weeks, but I’d done enough damage to the opposing army that our forces were able to continue routing them and I was given a retirement. But retirement doesn’t suit me well, so I feel the need to save sad adventuring parties who don’t know what they are doing.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Class: Fighter
Background: Soldier
Notes: The point of that background, while it wouldn’t make sense for a level one character, is that the dragonborn exaggerates. They were in the army, but got injured, and were in bed for a long time, probably over a year, and now they want to actually do something worth their boasting so when people look them up, it’s something actually true.

With my size, people always thought that I would go into the army. But that wasn’t that interesting for me. I was much more interested in finding out about my draconic background. I spent years researching, trying to get a better understanding of who I was and where I’d come from. That led me all over the world, and I picked up some interesting skills and because pretty good at avoiding trouble. It might not be the most glamorous way to deal with problems, but smashing things with a club isn’t my style. I now want to go to the mountains where my people allegedly came from.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral
Class: Ranger/Rogue
Background: Sage

Image Source: D&D Beyond

People always looked at me like I was strange. I can’t help it if my parents left me in the big city at a young age. I don’t even know what happened to them for sure. I wanted to show people that I was better than just a kid who bounced around from temple to temple, helping when I could and getting a free meal. To do that, when you can’t go to school and life in the city is hard and dangerous, I could only come up with one way. I made a deal. I have some power now through it and I can help other people because of that. But mainly, I just want to find out why my parents left me.
Alignment: Neutral Good/Chaotic Good
Class: Warlock
Background: Urchin

There are some ideas for character backgrounds of a Drabonborn. In the game I’m going to be running soon, I’ll have a player who is playing a Dragonborn.

Let me know about some background ideas that you have for a Dragonborn character. Have you played a Dragonborn before?

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

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MCU Phase 4 – Speculation

MCU Phase 4 – Speculation

Alright, we’re wrapping up Marvel Avengers: Endgame week where I’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, for the second time last night. Quick side not before we get into what we know, what we don’t know, and what I hope, Avengers: Endgame, just as good on a second […]

MCU Movie Rankings

MCU Movie Rankings

First off, this is not what movies are critically the best. I think even that is subjective on some level, but there are some movies that are clearly critically better or more groundbreaking for the genre. This is how much I like the movies. Also, […]

The Avengers – MCU Look Back

The Avengers – MCU Look Back

Today’s post will contain Endgame spoilers, you have been warned.

However, before we get to those, let’s talk about what this article will be covering so that we don’t get spoilers in the blurb on the main page. This article is going to be looking at the character arcs of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, and Hulk, the original Avengers team and to look at their arcs throughout the MCU.

Image Source: Marvel

I’m hoping that’s enough text, I think it should be, but I want to split up my look at characters into three different pairs. Captain America and Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye, and Thor and Hulk. Not surprisingly, that’s how they’ve generally gotten split up in the movies a well, and for that reason, they’ve ended up in similar points.

Again, spoilers ahead.

Captain America and Iron Man

The big reason to put these two together is because they have had their “end” in the MCU. I put “end” in quotes, because this is comics, there are ways to bring them back easily. I’ll toss out some stuff in the speculation article on Friday. But both of them had very satisfying ends in Avengers: Endgame.

With Captain America, we’ve seen him as the hero and the “man out of time”. However, I think we’ve mainly seen him as someone whose only real story is that of him and Bucky. Him losing Bucky, him finding a broken Bucky, and him defending Bucky. For me, this is a flaw in the development of Captain America. We’re supposed to see him as this person who will always do the right thing and who strongly believes in what he believes, but at times it’s just Bucky, Bucky, Bucky. That said, in Avengers: Endgame, we see him grow from that. He really leans into the man out of time. He can’t save everyone, he failed to live up to his own code by not being able to take out Thanos, and he feels out of place and that the world has passed him by, that isn’t laid out super well though. But he starts to see how kind of silly some of his things are and his hang-up with Bucky. Eventually, at the end when he is returning all the stones, he decides that he’s better staying back in his real time with Peggy Carter and finally getting that dance. What does this do to the timeline, who knows. But this is why I can say it’s the “end” of Captain America, we see him as old at the end of Endgame, but there’s no reason he couldn’t be brought forward again if needed, and also no reason that we couldn’t get Captain America in the 1950’s. But it’s a very satisfying ending for him, and does punctuate the whole out of time aspect for him.

Image Source: Comic Book Resources

With Tony Stark, Iron Man, we get the biggest arc of any character, I think. We get him going from being this playboy style character who decides he doesn’t like arming both sides, but still living a huge life, to someone who has his toys, but wants the simple life. It was fun seeing Stark as a family man, just living in a somewhat humble house for him, in the middle of nowhere, just off by himself. His real arc, though, focuses in on how his families legacy, as he saw it, was destruction, and he wants to keep everyone safe instead. He doesn’t want to be known for selling to both sides, he wants to be known as the man who saved the world, because he feels like he has to make up for everything he’s done. In Iron Man, we see that he’s armed both sides, or his company has that he doesn’t pay attention to. In Iron Man 2, he’s created the bad guy in some ways, and in Iron Man 3, he’s almost directly responsible for the evil that is happening by how he lived his life. Not to add in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he built Ultron. But Ultron is his first attempt to save humanity from itself. It gives him that complete arc by him being the one who does the snap. As Pepper Potts tells him, he can finally rest, because by destroying Thanos, and with how they tried to set-up time travel, the world should be safe from the Infinity Stones for a bit.

Iron Man’s arc is just really well written and whereas Captain America’s lacks depth, and looking at it from a long view, is all about Bucky. I think it’s an interesting thing to look at, because Stark is not always on the right side, but he’s always trying to help, and that is driving him so much. That’s why, though the movie doesn’t say it, just implies it, in Endgame, when he is working on time travel and solves it, the implication is that he’s been doing that already, he just didn’t have everything he needed. In the end, both of them get what they needed. Steve Rogers gets his dance and Tony Stark gets to rest knowing the world is saved.

Black Widow and Hawkeye

This one is probably going to be shortest section, as their stories are so intertwined. Black Widow and Hawkeye is really the story of two characters who need each other. Black Widow needs Hawkeye to keep her from slipping away from reality in her work. His family, at the beginning, help keep her grounded. Hawkeye needs her to keep pushing him forward into doing things and trying to save the world, when needed. I think that’s one thing that I really like about Clint Barton is that he isn’t always needed, and he makes space for his family.

When they were sent off to get the soul stone, I think that Marvel did a good job of not telegraphing who was going to die. I was actually thinking that it would be Hawkeye. The primary reason is that he wanted to atone for his sins that he had done after his family had been snapped away. However, I think it would have been much harder to get that feel good moment and then have it torn away when the phone rings after Hulk’s snap of the stones. I also think that it’ll be easier for Hawkeye to join the fight now, because he’s seen what has happened to the world, without Black Widow being there. Whereas, Black Widow, without Hawkeye, while the Avengers are her family, would struggle more on her own. I think this is another sense where they wrapped up Black Widow’s arc really nicely. And if Hawkeye doesn’t show up in anything else, I think that is fine, because it would be hard for Jeremy Renner to top that performance as Hawkeye. He had so much emotion and so much of a shell throughout the movie from the first scene on, that is just hard to explain. This is some of the reason why I’m not all that excited for a Black Widow movie. I do think getting her origin story would be interesting to watch on the big screen, even if it’s more her origin in SHIELD, but her character wraps up so well.

Image Source: Marvel

Thor and Hulk

Finally, we end up on Thor and Hulk, and that’s because I don’t think they’ve had the complete arcs like we’ve gotten from the other characters. I think that there is more for Thor and Hulk to do. Practically speaking, until The Fantastic Four are introduced into the world, Hulk kind of needs to stay around so he can be deus ex science, since Tony Stark isn’t around for that anymore.

I think with Bruce Banner and the Hulk, we’ve had a good arc for him though, so if it’s in a smaller role from here on out for Hulk, I think that’s fine. With Banner, we have the origin movie, which we’ll choose to generally ignore, but going through the movies we’ve seen him in. We’ve seen Banner fight to not be the Hulk in the first Avengers movie, eventually he admits who he is, and he turns into the Hulk and lets the Hulk go as need be. Then in Age of Ultron, he starts to feel like he’s being the Hulk too much, and we get the bit of a relationship between him and Black Widow, and it is clear that both Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff do care a lot for each other and really care for each other. I’ll unpack that a little bit, because Tony Stark, less mature at that time, does joke about it, but you really see
Natasha open up to Bruce and Bruce trust her to be able to bring him back from being a monster. There’s the scene early on in the Avengers’ tower where she is making drinks, and she, while she’s able to flirt and seduce people for her job, is having troubles being able to do that with someone she cares about, because she wants the feelings to be real back. Which they are from the Hulk, then there is the moment as Hawkeye’s farm where Bruce calls himself a monster and that he can’t provide her a family like Hawkeye has. Natasha responds with the story that she can’t have kids either and she’s done horrible things and is a monster in her own way. This isn’t a story about not having kids that makes her a monster, which some people took it as, it is that she’s done bad things that she wishes she could take back, and more so, it’s making Banner not feel like he’s an outcast and just a monster. However, Banner still thinks of himself as a monster and that he’s more trouble than good. And he leaves, in Thor: Ragnorak, we see that Hulk h as taken over. Hulks in charge and Banner’s personality and influence is being suppressed. When he comes back to Banner, we still see the struggle between the two halves and Banner being worried about losing himself. The change happens, and I think starts to happen, when Fenris damages the Hulk. Then Hulk loses to Thanos, and then Banner loses to Thanos. Hulk realizes that just as a beast, there is always a bigger fish, and Banner realizes that sometimes he needs more than just his brain, and in Endgame, we get Professor Hulk. I feel like his story isn’t complete though, because while Professor Hulk was able to help, I don’t feel like we got the hero moment for Professor Hulk where both the Banner and Hulk sides come into play fully at the same time.

With Thor, I think we’ve seen a shifting vision for him more than any other superhero. We’ve gone from him being a child who just wants to fight into looking like he’s going to be the new Odin in Thor: Ragnorak. And now we’re not back to him being a child, but to him kind of knowing what his strengths are and knowing that he’s better and leading a fight than he is at leading people. In terms of actors, we’ve gone from Chris Hemsworth just looking like and playing a fairly serious Thor with the jokes being from him not being all that familiar with Earth to a great comedy Thor being The Dude. Hemsworth has amazing comedy chops. It again, feels like we haven’t had Thor’s full arc though. Going back to what I wrote about Thor in my Endgame spoiler review, Thor gets a moment to cut off Thanos head, but in the final battle, Thor, while extremely powerful, isn’t back to the hero that we once knew. I think he still needs that final win, at some cost, more so than he had in Thor: Ragnorak. And with that, we need Thor to be able to have his moment of peace where he doesn’t feel like he’s failed because he hasn’t saved everyone.

There’s so much to unpack when you really look through all of the movies. I think that they did an amazing job from the beginning. While there are a few hiccups along the way, we’ll see those tomorrow as I go through my Marvel movie rankings, generally, they’ve written such as tight and arching story throughout all that movies, it’s just impressive. Marvel, I salute you. And I can’t wait to see what stories and arcs you take Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest through.

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

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
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Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Edition)

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Edition)

Yes, we now have a spoiler review up. I’m now going to write some text so that we don’t get a spoiler in the blurb. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris laoreet eros eu velit feugiat condimentum. Quisque commodo vitae urna vitae […]

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame

First off, this is going to be a spoiler free review, you are safe. Tomorrow will not be, so be warned. Avengers: Endgame, what to say about it. It’s the movie event that I’ve been working towards since Iron Man came out in 2008. It’s […]

Concepts – Overwriting

Concepts – Overwriting

This is something that has come up recently for me, the idea of overwriting in a book. It’s probably been noticeable because I’ve been reading LitRPG books, which can often be self published or are very often done by younger writers. It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about, and it’s something that probably has two different ways it can be used.

The first is by duplicating description in the same sentence. or using too much description.

The second is by using large words for the sake of large words.

A couple of examples form books that I started reading and then quit, and one that I am actually continuing.

“The trials are our exegesis…” – A Warriors Path by Davis Ashura

“While thinking internally to myself…” – Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko

Let’s talk about why these are poor. First, using “exegesis” in a sentence, and I shared this with a co-worker who reads a lot, is not a common word that people know. Learning new words isn’t bad, but there weren’t context clues to provide the answer to what it means. So someone would have to stop reading your book to look it up if they don’t know the meaning. And why weren’t there context clues, because this was sentence number one in the book.

I know what “exegesis” means, and because it was the first sentence, I immediately stopped listening to the book. What the first sentence tells me about the book is that it’s going to be using a lot of big words for the sake of using big words. And it’s supposed to be an epic fantasy book, premise seemed interesting, but if, in one sentence, it feels like the writer is shooting for showing off their knowledge of the English language, it isn’t ideal.

The second example is really about that first one, giving too much description. “Thinking internally” is a redundant statement. Besides that, the Ascend Online book, which isn’t bad thus far, spends too much time going through the fine details of the RPG aspect of a LitRPG. That can be done at the start, but then needs to fade to the background and that’s another way it is overwritten. It doesn’t just imply some things that the writer knows are happening in the background, but instead spells them out in great detail. This is something that happened in the Arcane Ascension series, where the writer would spend too much time explaining something that the characters already know for the sake of the reader.

So how can you avoid overwriting a story?

I think the biggest thing you can do is be a harsh critic of your own work. Not of yourself, but taking a step back from the work, look at it and ask yourself, is this part needed, or is this from a different story that I just haven’t written yet. Just because you’re cutting something, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good, it just might not be for this story.

Along with that, ask yourself if you need to spell that out for the reader or how easily the reader can understand it. If you feel like a reader can infer what is being written about, for example, when leveling up in a LitRPG, if you’re in a video game, like Ascend Online is, have there be a noise, like a ding, when a skill levels up. As a reader, I’ll know that whatever skill was used immediately prior to the “ding” leveled up, the author doesn’t need to tell me that metal working leveled up when you were just working with metal, that should be obvious to any reader, and if the reader missed if, they know from the “ding” to look back at the previous action to see what it was. Doing something as simple as that will make the story flow better.

Ask yourself, is all this backstory/world building needed at the beginning? That’s another piece of overwriting that I see very often. It falls into the camp of too much description, but ask yourself where and when you need the backstory and world building. Too much of it is front loaded, instead, put it in when it is needed. I suspect what you’ll find, even if you had it front loaded before, is that when you reach the end of the story, there will be world details that still haven’t been put into the story, and that’s awesome. That means you’ve found the parts that were overwritten and don’t matter to your story. Also, by interweaving the backstory and world building into the main body of the story, I, as a reader, am more apt to remember them as if they are all at the beginning, I might just skim over them to get to the action.

The other thing that is often forgotten in LitRPG or with self published writing, is use an editor and copy-editor. The copy-editor is going to cut down on grammar and spelling issues, so not as important for overwriting, but the editor is the person who is going to track down those overwritten bits, question why there is so much detail or why you are using a word. They are going to be harsher on your writing than you will be able to ever be. With that, it’s important that, even if you have a friend who likes to read and is good with English, don’t use them as your editor. They aren’t going to be able to be as harsh on the work as it might need to be, because they know you. I feel like I’ve read several books where they had some editing work done, but the author either refused to trust their editor, or the editor was a friend. So there’s another thing, the editor wants you book to succeed, even if you don’t know them, because they want more work from you. When they suggest cutting something that you really liked, it isn’t because they hate you or what you wrote, it’s because they genuinely should care about helping you make the best book. So find an editor that you can trust who isn’t your friend.

Image Credit: Amazon

Obviously, there is more that you can do, but let’s spend a little bit of time looking at some books that I really do like.

The Dresden Files – I don’t think these are overwritten. My reasoning for that is because Jim Butcher gives you enough detail but not too much and he doesn’t spend any time at the start of any books explaining something about his world that is going to show up later. There are points where as a reader, I feel like between books he’s repeating himself, but if someone was reading them once and as they came out, they probably would need that reminder. Since I’m reading them after the fact and in a row, I wish it wasn’t there, but it is smart that it is there.

Lord of the Rings – Tom Bombadil. That’s all that I need to say, JRR Tolkien had some stuff that he wanted to get into the book and added to the book that is most certainly not needed. Tom Bombadil was cut from the movies for a reason, and probably should have been cut from the book. I’ll give him some slack for the time frame, but Tolkien does overwrite, and when you think about The Silmarillion, you can see how much he cut and had in backstory that he decided to publish separately, thankfully.

Chronicles of Narnia – I think that this is another example of something that isn’t overwritten. CS Lewis does a good job keeping his series short and to the point in each book. There are a few bits that haven’t always aged the best, but that isn’t an overwriting problem, so not an issue for here. From The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, through The Last Battle, you get the information you need when you need it and the stories are on point. You could argue that The Magician’s Nephew is simply a book of backstory, but it is fairly important backstory for the world, and the book reads as a novel onto itself with plenty of action and interesting moments versus just an explanation of how the world works.

What are some book series that you think are overwritten? Are there some sentences that are really poorly written, if so, share them below, please, I love weird stuff like that.

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half-Orc

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half-Orc

Back into Dungeons and Dragons character races, here is one of the two half races, along with Half-Elf. The basic ideas is that it’s a half human and half orc, but there’s no real reason, other than that they are statted in a way that […]