Tag: D&D

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Good

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Good

We’re onto the last column of alignments, and we’re looking at those chaotic characters. I think, and on the Total Party Thrill podcast they talk about this, chaotic good should be the default position for most adventurers. When you think about it, most adventurers don’t […]

D&D Alignment – Neutral Evil

D&D Alignment – Neutral Evil

Yes, I’m a bad guy, and I don’t have much reason for being a bad guy, but I wanted to be evil. That’s what Neutral Evil is. A Neutral Evil character is going to be hard to fit into a party, unless the game is […]

Friday Night D&D – Things that Go Bump

Friday Night D&D – Things that Go Bump

I think that this idea can be used as a campaign or as a one shot, depending on what you want to do with it. When using iconic monsters like werewolves, vampires, and other classic monsters, you can always turn it into a one off where you face off against a single monster.

For a campaign though, I think that you have to find some lower level monster that seems classic campy horror that starts out harrowing the town that the 0 level or maybe level 1 characters are based out of.

Just as an aside, you might be wondering what a 0 level character is. That is basically that you’re just playing a villager, someone who wants to become a wizard might have a cantrip or two, but no first level spells. The characters probably don’t have anything more than a rusty short sword and a little bit of leather armor at best. Basically, you are really leaning into them launching into being heroes.

Image Source: Forgotten Realms

Anyways, back to what I’m going for. In the world you’re building these monsters should be normal. The players should know that the scary castle a long way up in the mountains that seems to be always casting a shadow over this town as a monster in it. They should know that the woods has werewolves in it. The creature from the Black Lagoon should be a few towns over, and this is a world that has campy and classic monsters around.

Now, something like this could just be the monster of a week, and while that is going to be good for a little while, eventually I think you should start dropping hints of something or someone bigger controlling everything. You don’t need to use Strahd’s stat block for your vampire lord, it can be lesser than that. I think that it would make sense for a Mummy Lord (or maybe a Lich) to be running this group. They are experimenting with other ways to extend life or something like that, or maybe the bodies are going missing and the Mummy Lord is using the monsters to kill off to create an army of the shambling dead.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

I’d play around with whomever your BBEG is, give them some sort of curse. And make that a way either for the players to eventually win by solving the riddles and taking care of the mummy’s curse, or the riddles/curse could just reveal a weakness that the players will be able to exploit. The BBEG should also be very into monologues and having that evil genius mindset, though that might make more sense for an evil wizard in a tower or a lich as compared to a mummy lord, so there are different ways that you can lean into campiness and movie monsters.

What would probably take the most time would be finding those classic monsters you want to use. Some of them don’t fully exist in D&D. However, there are going to be things close, and just reskin them so that they look like what you need at the challenge level you need. And if you wanted to you could also pull in horror movie villains like Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees for your game to flesh out the cast of characters. Or you could also steal monsters from things like The Dresden Files and Supernatural to get an idea of how to be a bit campy, but also to use a wide variety of monsters instead of just limiting yourself to the classic movie monsters.

I think that something like this could be interesting for a game personally. It would allow you to pull in the players real knowledge of these things while they have to deal with them in the game. And it wouldn’t have to be a super high level campaign at the end, but you’d get a nice building feeling, especially starting at level 0 and going up.

What do you think? Would you want to play in this game? Have you used classic movie and movie monsters in your games?

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D&D Alignment: True Neutral

D&D Alignment: True Neutral

The alignments are interesting because, in the middle you have this state of both being neutral on the good and evil axis and the law and chaos axis. And I don’t know that I have the greatest grasp on what this true neutral position is […]

D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

Neutral is an interesting position to talk about when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons characters. I mainly have a harder time nailing down what I think it is and how you use it in role playing. I think, the best way that I can […]

D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

Welcome to the dark side of Dungeons and Dragons. Today we’re looking at the only evil alignment, in my opinion, that would make sense to join a generally good adventuring party, and that is why they make an interesting character. I also think that Lawful Evil makes for the most interesting alignment for your BBEG.

The reason I think that it makes a good BBEG, is because when you are lawful evil, you still have a set of rules around what you are going to do. A chaotic evil BBEG would have no issues killing off a 1st level adventuring party if they messed one thing up for them. A Lawful Evil BBEG would see that the adventuring party has some promise and try and twist them into joining them or to use them to unwittingly help the BBEG. Thanos is an an example of a lawful evil BBEG, in the movie, in the comics, he’s doing everything to impress Death because he has a Thanos crush. But in the movie, while his plan of destroying have the living beings won’t solve the problem forever, and there are better options, it’s the option he came up with so he’s sticking to it. But he has rules around doing what he is doing. And that is what you want when creating a BBEG for a game, someone who has rules, who has a reason to monologue at the end.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

But, what about on the other side of the DM’s screen for the PC’s. I made a pretty bold statement saying that a lawful evil character is the only one that would join a non-evil adventuring party. Why do I say that? This is similar to your BBEG who has their plan, a lawful evil character is going to be willing to join up with an adventuring party to help complete their own goal or to help stop the BBEG of the game, because it would have a negative effect on their plans as a whole.

A good example of this would be someone in a thieve’s guild. A thieve’s guild isn’t about stealing stuff at random, they are concerned about running the secondary market and the market on illegal goods in a city. If they get out of control, the city guard is going to crush them. Instead they are focused on staying just out of sight and just behind the scene and actually bolstering up the town so that the city leaders are fine having them commit crimes because if they take them out, whomever replaces them would likely be worse.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Now, that might not make the best adventurer, but you can certainly tie in pieces of that to a character. In that case, you would probably have to focus at least some of the story on that character, probably based around something threatening the balance of that the city and the thieve’s guild have. But even in that case, it can be a side plot, and maybe your character has to work with the adventuring party to gain their trust prior to them helping them with this somewhat questionable thing.

But back to the alignment. A lawful evil character is going to have their own set of rules that creates their laws. Now, some of those laws that they follow might be the actual laws, but most of them are going to be self imposed rules. An example of this for a character, they might not have an issue killing their rivals in cold blood, but they also might not let mind altering potions into the black market because they don’t want to potentially cause chaos. So both of those things might be illegal in the town or nation, but the lawful evil character will only follow one, because it’s good for them.

Another reason that I think that a lawful evil player character is interesting as well, is that a lawful evil character is more likely to have a long term plan. Going back to the Thanos example, in the MCU, he has a plan that he slowly spends time on, he doesn’t grab the infinity stones in a day. In the comics, there is a whole lot more that Thanos does impulsively. So when you roll up a lawful evil character, come up with your long term plan, of what you really want to work towards. For example, maybe you want to take over the government with as little bloodshed as possible, not because the government is at all bad, but because you want to rule. So you could join up with the adventuring party to go to various towns, pay out bribes, make a few threats, and schmooze to get a groundswell of support, and that would be your long term plan, but you team up with the group on their adventurers to be able to do that.

Even with all that said, I do think that you need to really think before you take a lawful evil character into a generally good game. Mainly because as a player there is going to be a lot more work for you in the game than if your alignment is closer to that of the rest of the characters in the game. You are going to have to do your evil things away from the group otherwise you might become their next target. This is easy enough by focusing on it as downtime activities and stuff between sessions when it’s appropriate. But you also have to keep a reason around why you’d continue adventuring. This means that your evil plan is progressing or at least, you are stopping someone else’s evil plan that would interfere with your own. And that is on you, as much as the DM, to do in the game, because the DM has the rest of the table to focus on as well.

I want to add in one final thing that you could think about as well. If you want to play a lawful evil character and drop a big surprise in the game, you can work it out with your DM that your character is going to be the BBEG when all is said and done. Maybe there is another “BBEG” who is doing what you want to do, just not as well, so you have to take them out to take over for them. That would be a great twist to put on the rest of the players at the table, and would be a moment that people remember. I would say, if you do this, once it’s revealed that your character is actually the BBEG, the DM takes over and you pull out your new character who will join the party. That way it doesn’t feel like the odds start to stack up against the players. Unless it’s the case where your character goes BBEG and you immediately have a fight and whatever side wins, that ends the game. Or, one final way to keep control of your character would be to take over yourself as the DM and the DM can pull out a character sheet, which would be a fun twist as well.

Would you play a lawful evil character in a game? Have you played one, and was it in a good campaign? How did it go, if you have?

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Friday Night D&D – When Aliens Attack

Friday Night D&D – When Aliens Attack

Wait, wait, wait, isn’t Dungeons and Dragons fantasy? Yeah, Dungeons and Dragons is epic fantasy and we’re adding aliens into the mix. And not just some weird creatures from another plane, we’re adding in spaceships and craziness like that to Dungeons and Dragons, deal with […]

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

I debated what direction I wanted to go. Did I want to go across the top and do all of the good ones, or down the side and do all the lawful ones, or be chaotic and just randomly pick the next one to do. […]

D&D Alignment – Lawful Good

D&D Alignment – Lawful Good

We’re starting in the top corner of the alignment matrix. Just a quick reminder, the alignment matrix goes from Lawful to Chaotic on the horizontal axis and Good to Evil on the vertical axis. So let’s talk about what a lawful good PC is like, and why you might be out adventuring as one of them.

If you’re lawful that means that there are some set of rules that you follow and you want to follow them closely or perfectly if you can. In the case of a lawful good character, you’re going to most likely be following the rules of someone or something that is known to be good as well. This can be the laws of the land, but it’s more often the rules of a good deity, since humans, elves, dwarves, etc are all fallible creatures. That means that sometimes you might not even follow the laws of the land if you believe that they aren’t just.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

The good piece just means that you’re not going to do something that’s evil. It seems pretty simple that way. But to go along with that, it doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything. If there’s something that seems like it’s for a righteous and just cause, you’re going to do that or at least be inclined towards that quest line. Good also means that you might not want to be a party to when the other PC’s from the adventuring party are doing something questionable. We’ll touch on some of that earlier, but a lawful good character might see how something can be useful, but wouldn’t ever take part in it themselves because they won’t do something that isn’t either ideally good and lawful. An example of this might be torturing a goblin to figure out what the giant goblin horde is up to. While it might be a goo thing because it would save a lot of people and the goblin is an evil creature, and even the rules of the land might allow for torture, it’s possible and probable that a good character wouldn’t want to be party to that. But they might also understand why other player characters would be, and leave so that they can do what they need to.

Now, when playing a lawful good character there is a chance it could fall into what is called lawful stupid. This is most commonly a trait for paladin or clerics where players lean too heavily into the lawful and good tropes. It’s going to be the case where a paladin sees someone stealing something, and because stealing isn’t lawful or good, run them through with your sword. The king insults you, that isn’t good, run him through with your sword. It’s the simple reaction to everything that can be scene as not lawful, but in particular not good. If it’s not good, that means death. But that doesn’t seem all that lawful or good in and of itself. Killing someone for stealing because it’s evil is an extreme reaction, which really doesn’t keep you in the camp of good. Capturing them and taking them to the city guard, now that makes a lot more sense. Less violent example of something similar though is a lawful good character who refuses to go into an inn because they serve alcohol and drinking is a sin. Even though they just saw the bad guy run into there.

But beyond the reaction of violence for an insult, lawful stupid can also mean that a character is too trusting and naive. Just because you are good and lawful doesn’t mean that you think everyone else is going to be. This can be equally as harmful as it’ll cause strife in the party when the lawful good character just asks someone a question who is clearly hiding something but doesn’t disbelieve them. Especially if you’re dealing with the face of the party or a split party for some reason so that you’re going to be missing information that you would otherwise want to have readily available for the party.

So how do you avoid this as a characterization for your PC? I think it’s just adding in some dimension to your character. I talk in the first article of the series who your alignment isn’t how you only run your character. It’s a framework for developing a well rounded character and for not spending too long while making a decision. If you find it taking too long, just make that decision based off of the alignment for your character. I gave an example for the thieves stealing bread. But for the Kings insult maybe you don’t trust them more. For the Inn and you don’t approve of drinking, you don’t have to have your PC drink. Being suspicious of people isn’t anything that goes against lawful good either. It allows you to have a more developed character if you don’t just treat them purely as in the tropes.

But let’s talk about why a lawful good character would go adventuring.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

I actually think that this one is pretty easy to come up with reasons for going out. You can go with the story where something really bad is going to happen, that will motivate a lawful good character to go out and stop it. The adventure might also be something that a good character gives to the player characters. But if you’re playing a heroic campaign, it’s most likely that you’ll have quest givers that are good or that will want something good done. Now, it can be interesting as a DM to subvert that sometimes. Maybe you’re “good” quest giver has given out a quest that on the surface seems good, but is actually something the actually evil quest giver needs done to complete their plan. Or maybe the actual quest itself isn’t good when you get down into it. I will say, don’t do that all the time though, or your players will never trust you again, and yes, I mean players, not player characters.

So what classes work for lawful good?

The two people will think of right away are Paladin and Cleric. Both of them are tied to a deity of your choice, so it would be easy to pick lawful good ones and a lot of the deities are. But I think that there are some other interesting options, you can even play against type with something like a rogue. A rogue assassin who only kills evil people who are above the normal law, that makes a lot of sense for a lawful good character. Warlock is probably the trickiest as your patron almost has to be lawful good. Something like Hexblade might work. Final question for classes would be if a necromancer wizard would work, and I think that it could possibly. It is a little bit trickier, because you have the lawful good wanting to raise not good undead, I think most of them are evil, and that might be a conflict for you depending on how you play it. But there are necromancy options that aren’t just raising the dead which might work.

So, now that we’ve delved into this alignment. Would you want to play a character with a lawful good alignment? If you have, how have you avoided the lawful stupid trope?

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D&D Alignment – What is Alignment?

D&D Alignment – What is Alignment?

I think this is the last big character creation piece that I haven’t touched on. I’ve previously done series of articles on the Classes, Backgrounds, and how to develop an interesting backstory. But I’ve only touched on the various alignments in passing. Some of that […]