Tag: Dungeons and Dragons

LitRPG – What Why and How

LitRPG – What Why and How

I’ve recently been listening to a lot of LitRPG and you’ve seen me talk about it with Sufficiently Advanced Magic, Ascend Online, and Towers of Heaven that I’m listening to currently. Those are the ones that I have enjoyed but I also read Awaken Online, […]

Completing Your D&D Game, Does it Ever Really Happen?

Completing Your D&D Game, Does it Ever Really Happen?

I think that this is a very rare thing. I don’t know that a ton of people ever really complete their D&D games. There are multiple reasons for it potentially not being completed. But, is that something that’s okay, or as the DM should you […]

Friday Night D&D – The Virtual World

Friday Night D&D – The Virtual World

This came up because of an episode of Total Party Thrill, where they were talking about how you could you virtual worlds or illusion worlds in a game.

So what happens if you play a game where this is the main theme of the game? Do you end up playing in the Matrix? And would that works or how would it work in Dungeons and Dragons?

I think that there are two different things that you could look at. The first being an almost T.I.M.E. Stories or Assassin’s Creed situation where you are from a future time and are being sent back in time to this world, or across dimensions. The other being a more magic way, and for Dungeons and Dragons, I would prefer to run it in the second way, though the first would be fun as well.

In the game that I’d be running, and starting with the BBEG, it would be a Wizard of some sort, because an evil Wizard would clearly be creating pocket/illusionary dimensions where the rules for the world aren’t the same. But, that would be the thing, everyone would assume that my wizard is evil, but really, it was just a magical experiment that went horribly wrong that is trapping people into these pocket dimensions or worlds of illusion really.

I would have some fun with that, for the players, probably start them in a world of illusion that seems very different than the setting that I’ve been saying that I was going to set them in. It would probably be something much more modern, there was a D&D podcast that I was listening to where they were talking about an old game (not Total Party Thrill, I forgot the name of this one), where they went to modern times and killed Santa Clause at a mall because the characters didn’t understand what was going on. I’d probably do something less than that and I would make it fairly easy to get out of.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Now, if all the players are doing is getting out of these illusion worlds, that would get old pretty fast, and it also has a problem, if everything is an illusion can it really hurt them. So I’m going to address that first and then suggest some other things that you can do in the game besides put them in an illusion world.

The big question is, since this is a world of illusion, can the players die in this world? I would say that no they can’t. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t get close or that there aren’t consequences. I’m not sure what I’d do, but I’d have them track hit points like normal, but when they die, or get knocked out, they can always come back, but there is going to be some sort of consequence. I’m not sure what I would do, maybe create a separate track where the mental anguish of going down so many times can drive them insane or eventually kill them? And I’d probably put the track at 10 spots, so it would be hard for them to die that way, but it would be possible. And I’d probably give them a way to heal it somehow, maybe every time that they level up they can remove one.

But also in these illusion worlds, they wouldn’t be the only ones who are in there. Some bad people could be trying to manipulate them to cover a crime or something like that. So, while the players can’t die in the illusion world, neither can the bad guys, so if they are able to stop an illusion world so that they can escape from it, they might also then have a real threat in the real world. And how safe are their bodies really in the real world while the players are in the illusion world? You can use things like that to push the players forward. Probably no one slitting their throats in the real world while their minds are in the illusion world, but they might come back to find that some stuff is gone.

You don’t only want to create these mini dungeons for the players of the illusion worlds. If that’s all the players are doing, it’s eventually going to get boring. So you need to mix it up, and you need to get them eventually to the wizard who screwed everything up.

I would make it so that where the illusion worlds are is “visible”. With a good perception check or some sort of description/tip off for it, so at some times you’d probably have the players running from it, and if they can do well on a skill challenge that would work as another type of encounter with this.

Another challenge I’d give them is basically figuring out and locating where these illusion worlds are coming from. Is it the epicenter of them all or is somewhere else. Getting to the origination point should be a dungeon in itself. You can pull from Dragon Age Origins here where when the Mage Circle has issues you are fighting your way through their tower, but you also have to fight your way through the fade at one point. You can create traps, tricks, and more there. I’d probably also put the wizard who created t his as trapped in something that isn’t able to allow him to stop it, like maybe an illusion became real and is holding him hostage or maybe they are trapped in illusion world and are trying to escape, but their solution is to become a Lich, so can the players get them out of that illusion world before the Wizard turns themselves into a Lich?

Finally, I’d put in some challenges in the world of the game. Obviously, there are going to be people who use these illusion worlds to do bad things in them or to loot the bodies of the people who are stuck in them. So the players will probably have to track down a few important things have been stolen and probably some things that have been stolen from them. You can even set up some sort of McGuffin, like there are glasses or some sort that allows them to more easily say the illusion worlds, or that someone has invented a form of magic that allows them to hop in and out of the illusion worlds, which the players would obviously want.

I think that I’d want to run this game and play in this game. The concept is something that will have some of your standard fantasy tropes, but also does some things that would feel completely different. And with the illusion worlds, you’d be able to do a ton of different things. Maybe it’s modern Earth, or maybe it’s just like the fantasy world, but it’s been overrun with demons, you can make up an illusion world each time. I’d be tempted to create a number of them, and then just pull from a hat so that it’s a surprise and the players can’t plan. It would be something interesting to do, and you could even, in session 0, have the players help brainstorm all of these things and are basically creating settings for their characters to be trapped in, which they might not know.

What do you think of this idea? Is this a game that you’d want to play in?

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D&D Alignments – Chaotic Evil

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Evil

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, […]

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

Here’s a hot take, I don’t like Chaotic Neutral, and I don’t think most people who play a Chaotic Neutral actually play a chaotic neutral character. Now, time to explain myself, and explain how you can play it better. My issue with Chaotic Neutral is […]

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 have the law in mind when they are doing good, and they don’t do good because they are altruistic. They are going to do it for fame and glory and hopefully some money along the way. And, that is pretty chaotic. They are also going to sometimes do what they think is right, sometimes that the law or a deity says is right, but they are going to do the good thing, but it just might not be in the expected way.

This also makes it easier on the DM, because I know that I can throw out a plot hook where someone is clearly bad, but I don’t know what you are going to do. That’s going to make it more fun for me as I don’t know what is going to happen. That randomness might bug some DM’s, but as they DM more, it makes it easier as you go along. It also keeps it feeling fresh, because the players working in a somewhat random way means that I can’t fully plan for it, and I can’t fully predict what they are going to do.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

And, again, I think that this idea of rewards and treasure, those are things that as the players we think about, but also, that then trickles into our characters as we divide loot and try and mechanically make our character as awesome as possible. Now, that might not seem like it’s good, but in your normal campaign, the bad guy is probably very bad, and the good guys are probably pretty good. The characters that we’re playing are those in the middle who are good, but aren’t just good for good sake and are willing to get their hands dirty taking down those who are bad.

As for what class works well, I think that the answer is any. Cleric and Paladin might lean more lawful, but there is no reason that they can’t be chaotic. The ones that jump out the most that do easily slide into this category are going to be your sorcerer, warlock, and rogue. All of them, seem to have class features that would make them more chaotic. But, like I said, this should be the default for adventurers in a good game, and you should explain your way off of it in your back story, if you want to be a different alignment. It is very similar for an evil game with the Lawful Evil alignment should be the default for an adventurer there.

I think that we all have a decent idea of what good is now, from the previous two articles, and the chaotic piece means that your motivations aren’t law or altruism. I don’t know that I have a ton more to say about this. So short article today.

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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 […]

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 or that most people have that strong a grasp on it when I’ve heard it talked about.

The issue with true neutral is that it doesn’t give you something to grasp onto. With evil and good, you know those concepts, and between law and chaos, you know what those are as well. Neutral is the position is between those, but it doesn’t give you that easy thing to grab onto. The best starting point that I can come up with is talking about the druid.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

The reason for the druid is that as someone who gets their powers from nature, nature isn’t inherently good or evil. It has some chaos, but it also has an order placed on it from the food chain and survival of the fittest, but these aren’t laws with how humans place rules and order around themselves. So someone who is fully devoted to nature could find themselves in this middle ground where they don’t cling too strongly to anything, but they just see life, death, and survival as the cycle of things. This cycle is neither good or bad, but it is needed for the land to survive.

This is where you can get into issues with role playing in an adventuring group but also why you join an adventuring group. Some outside force is working on your land, whether it be a grove or the whole world. So the true neutral character would look at this one of two ways. Either, it wouldn’t get them to do anything, because it’s the natural order of things and survival of the fittest. If you develop a character like that, you aren’t really playing in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons and need to come up with a reason why your character would care, or roll up a new character.

But that same thing can also be your hook into adventure. Some outside force is working to destroy the land, whether it be your grove or the whole world. Because it’s an outside force, that means that it isn’t a natural force. Your character now has a reason to go out adventuring to stop bad things from happening. Because it isn’t going to be survival of the fittest, it’s just going to be destruction and not from the natural order and chaos of things, but because someone has a plan to destroy it. This true neutral characters mindset wouldn’t be, in this case, to judge the person as bad, but instead to judge their actions as outside of the balance of things.

Image Source: D&D Beyong

This is the tension of the true neutral character. There’s a chance for them to be apathetic in what is happening in the game. So as a player, you need to really find those reasons, either because of the threat, or some other reason, that you’re out adventuring. For me, the easiest way that I’d do this would be to add in some relationship with another character or NPC that is a very strong bond for your character. By doing this, you’re going to always have a reason to go adventuring. And it give the DM something that they know they can motivate your character with as well. I personally like the idea of it being another player character that you’re connected to, because then it gives the true neutral character more of a reason to follow along and and adventure.

So, what classes work, again, I’ll start out with the disclaimer that really any D&D class is going to work for any alignment, you might have a few things that just make less sense. The ones that are going to have the strongest ties to True Neutral, I would say, would be Monk and Druid. However, another class that I think works well is a very tribal Barbarian. They are going to see everything as survival and not have the attachment to things that the more “civialized” characters might. Death, trials, and troubles are just going to be the natural way of things and neither good or bad. Harder to work in are going to be your Cleric and Paladin who naturally leaning towards more lawful or good.

Probably a wild card one that I think would be interesting would a rogue. Generally, you think of them as chaotic, but what about an assassin rogue who just does their job and they get money, but they dispatch the target with out any passion for it and they don’t judge whether the target is good or evil, they just take the job given. You can even give them a loose code, but not hard rules that they follow to keep them from being lawful It would be easy to stray into either chaotic or lawful with this character (as well as good or evil), but that could basically be the rule for the character. They will take any job (somewhat chaotic), but they need their payment and their details before they’ll take it (somewhat lawful), to keep them balanced in a neutral area.

True Neutral is definitely a tricky one for me to try and explain. It’s also going to be a trickier one to try and play, and in my experience is generally just a stopping off point for characters as they go to another alignment. It’s a decent spot to start a campaign for that reason as you figure out the character’s ticks and traits that will allow you to set-up their alignment.

Have you played a true neutral character? Did you find it easy to play or did you have to put a lot of work into it?

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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 […]