In Dungeons and Dragons, you have your character stats, that’ll be things like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more. When you start the game you get them locked in and compared to getting +1 armor or a +1 sword in the game, you have limited opportunities …
Let’s get back into talking about some of the Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons, I’m talking about what I’d consider to be the most vanilla of their settings first, though, there are some that give it a run for its money. That, of course, is the one which most of the books for Fifth Edition D&D has come out in, The Forgotten Realms.
The Forgotten Realms, also known as the lands of Faerun, is your standard fantasy setting in that it’s a world that’s made for the important people to be epic heroes in the end. The struggle for characters isn’t if they can become a hero, but what sort of hero they are going to become. It’s very much in the realm of a Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time, where there isn’t a question that they are going to become the heroes of the story or who those heroes are, but the question is how that story will unfold for them becoming a hero.
Now, if you’re reading this and that sounds great, that’s why it’s their main setting. It allows you to be that hero it allows you to play in tropes that you’re going to be very familiar with. People know Lord of the Rings or understand the concepts of that type of story telling because how it’s been integrated into society. And it is also nice because basically anything goes for a story. Just from what has been officially released from Dungeons and Dragons, you have adventures where you can fight dragons, demons, giants, pull a heist, defeat a god, and more. It is made to have something for everyone.
That’s also the weakness of it. It’s very generic because of that. You can’t but in an odd quirk about it if you’re going to have any sort of adventure there. As we get into some of the other worlds you can play in, in Dungeons and Dragons, you’ll find that they are more tailored for a specific style of game. Because this is more generic, it’s more versatile, but it’s always going to feel a little bit plain. I would refer to The Forgotten Realms as D&D’s starter world. It’s a good thing for that, but for people who have been steeped in fantasy for a long time, or in RPG’s for a long time, it’s going to feel a little bit too vanilla.
Let’s talk a little bit about what The Forgotten Realms has for people to explore. Again it’s fairly standard as well, you have a handful of nations, but then city states and towns scattered across the realm. Unlike a Star Wars planet, there is a diverse ecosystem that you can play your games in, again, giving you that massive variety of locations so that the world can support whatever type of game you want to play in it. A lot of the adventures are at least going to start from the Sword Coast and the main city there is going to be Waterdeep. Waterdeep does offer you some interesting things, basically masked lords who are running the city, but keeping their identities secret (or most are). If you want to play a more political and smaller game without characters wandering through the world, Waterdeep is where you’re likely going to set the game.
There are more things to talk about as we look at races and classes. Though, this is going to be fairly boring, again. Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition is set in The Forgotten Realms, that means that all the races and classes from the players handbook are going to work just fine in your game. If you want to play something more unique, there are options for those in some of the expanded content for the game, but you’re mainly going to see your standard races and standard classes in there. This, again, is going to be good for that starter setting for players who know some about fantasy but aren’t ready to jump into a fantasy where tropes don’t hold up and expectations are being subverted.
And, finally, just to talk about magic and the gods of this world. This is a pretty high magic world. While I’m going to get to worlds that have more magic, being a caster isn’t something that would be all that surprising. Especially with how the gods interact with the world. They are very much a part of it, and for that reason you have Clerics and Paladins who are going to be casting divine magic that you could see around the lands. There are Wizarding schools and plenty of beings who will be happy to make a pact with you. Again, it feels somewhat basic with their magic and gods. They want it to be normal so that players don’t have to feel like they need to play the outcast character if they are playing someone who is all about proselytizing or if they have magic.
So, to wrap up, The Forgotten Realms are a great starter location. It’s going to be a little bit bland, but it’s going to be familiar to even people who don’t know a ton about fantasy, because this is standard fantasy and parts of the world are even standard writing/story. Would I play a game in the Forgotten Realms, sure I would, though, I’d try to push it weirder than the setting would normally go to create a sort of unique feel to the game that makes it feel different than Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time.
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Almost forgot to share this, it was a rush, but I go through nine different level 1 characters for Dungeons and Dragons. I was hoping that I could knock them out fast, but it took a little bit, but I got them done. And I …
You’ve had a long running campaign. The players were really into the story. They’d spent a bunch of time planning on how to infiltrate this tower. You’d told them the wizard in it was too powerful to fight. Everything is going to plan… LEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOY JENKINS! …
We’re wrapping up our D&D alignments today with your most evil character as we look at Chaotic Evil. Now, I say most evil, but I don’t think that it has to be, I think that when people want to play that really evil character, though, in an evil campaign, this is often what they’ll change. Though, I think you could argue that Neutral Evil might be more evil.
When people play Chaotic Evil, they generally play it, since they are chaotic that they have a get out of jail free card. Basically, I’m the hero of my own story, therefore, I can do whatever I want and the DM will make it work out in the end. Much the mindset of the Chaotic Neutral character who is actually Chaotic Evil. So your Chaotic Evil character is going to go around stabbing people and generally causing as much trouble as possible, and you should get away with it.
In an evil based game, even, that mindset isn’t going to work. You’re going to have the law after you at some point in time. Someone like The Joker who just does bad stuff for the sake of it still gets beat up by Batman and then arrested. And that is likely to happen to your character as well. I think that The Joker is a fairly good example of what you might do as a Chaotic Evil character however.
Mainly, The Joker doesn’t go around stabbing everyone, even though he’s not above it. Instead he’s just trying to create as much havoc as possible, and when there is havoc, he feels like he’s succeeded. So, in an evil campaign, you can take it that direction by going for more and more chaos and destabilizing of an area, versus just leaving a trail of bodies in your wake. That doesn’t mean that you might not stab someone along the way, but it isn’t the modus operandi of a good Chaotic Evil character or of the Joker. If we look at The Dark Knight, we see how the Joker makes Batman make choices, but then lies about what the different options actually are, just to mess with Batman, that’s very chaotic evil.
Let’s talk quickly about what classes might make the most sense for a Chaotic Evil character. Again, most of them are going to work, with things like a Paladin or Cleric being the hardest to fit into there, and I think that a Monk or Druid would be tricky as well. Bot of those classes lean into discipline or harmony with nature, so there would have be some event that you’d need to lean into that causes them to be that way. If you do just want to be the murder character, the Barbarian is going to make a lot of sense, and a Rogue would be very effective at it as well.
If I were to play a Chaotic Evil character, I would play a Wizard, personally. The reason for that is that an illusionist Wizard would have a fun tool bag to mess around with. And with a character like that, you don’t have to murder everyone, but can instead make someone feel like they are going insane, which is probably worse than just being murdered. But as a player, I would feel better playing that versus just a random character who wants to murder everyone. Other spell casters would work well for this as well. It’s almost like Loki can be, with the story that Thor tells in Thor: Rangorak, where Loki turned into a snake and then back into himself to scare Thor, something like that.
But even with that, I would be careful about playing a chaotic evil character. I actually be careful about playing with someone who really wants to play a Chaotic Evil character. There are plenty of ways with any evil character to go very dark, and Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil are going to be more apt to go that direction.
Have you played in an evil game with a Chaotic Evil character? Have you played in a good game with a Chaotic Evil character? How did that work for you and the rest of the party?
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