Tag: Fighter

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half Elf

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half Elf

Final character race in the Player Handbook. There are plenty more in other books like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. I’ll let you explore those as I haven’t explored all of them yet either. Half Elves fall into the category of […]

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 […]

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 makes sense for that, that you couldn’t have it be half another race as well, you’d just have to make a few minor tweaks to it.

Image Source: Wizards

When playing a half orc, like the Tieflilng, you have to know that you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb as you’re going to be larger than most any human or smaller than most any orc. It’s really a race that is stuck between two things. I think a half-orc adventuring makes a lot of sense for that reason, because you don’t fit into human society, you might take up adventuring or mercenary work to get into a situation where you can become a hero, or people like you because you are big and strong. And with getting stat bumps to strength and constitution, you are certainly big and strong.

Half-Orcs, beyond their strength score bump are really made for melee characters. They get two abilities, relentless endurance and savage attack that make them great at going into the middle of things. Relentless endurance allows them, once per day, when they would have hit 0 HP, they go back up to 1 HP. And savage attack means that when they strike with a melee weapon and get a critical hit, they do an extra die of damage which means that they hit even harder. Things like Champion Fighter and Barbarian really are where the Half-Orc is going to shine.

When role playing one, it is really about playing a character who is out of place. In a human society, people are going to be scared of you because orcs are a monstrous race. In orc society, you are going to be a weakling and a liability on their hunting and raiding parties. Those things are reason enough to play against type if you want to. Since you would be stuck with menial tasks in an orc tribe, maybe you’ve spent more time honing magic or some other skills such as scouting, since you’d be the smallest orc. Or in human society, maybe you joined a religious order as a way to show that you aren’t just a big brutish monster.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Let’s hop into some backstory ideas, as I think there are interesting game elements that you can tie into a half-orc.

Times were difficult in your tribe and being the child of an orc who loved a human was even more difficult. When a drought hit and all the animals left the area and food was scarce, you were the first to be kicked out of the tribe. You were small for your tribe and you couldn’t hunt as well. You had to make it on your own if you wanted to survive, and you learned to live off of the land better than your old tribe had. Now you’ve been doing that for several decades, and the drought has come back every ten years, to the date and you are worried about the land you live on and that something more might be happening than just a weather pattern.
Class: Druid
Background: Hermit/Outland
Alignment: Neutral/Neutral Good

They said that you were lucky, besides your larger size, you don’t look that unlike a human compared to other half orcs. That made you a perfect choice to join the kings guard, someone who is stronger than the other guards. That worked out great and you grew to be one of the favorites of the King. You followed his rules to the letter, but the other guards became jealous and planted fake letters from you to the prince/princess and had those shown to the King. As a lowly kings guard and a half orc at that, you were kicked out and banished from the kingdom. Little did the guards know that you actually do care a lot about the prince/princess and they care for you. Now you have a new goal, to get back to them.
Class: Fighter
Background: Soldier
Alignment: Lawful Neutral/Chaotic Good

You have a very nice job working for the Black Coat Mercenary guild. They pay you well and give you a spot where you feel like you fit in. You mainly go on missions that are to squash insurrections or other things like that, bolster a kingdom when needed. You aren’t supposed to have any attachments, but when you saw that one mission was supposed to have you kill a well known wizard who was helping a town survive from a powerful kingdom that wanted that land, you decided not to do your mission. Instead you helped the wizard and the townfolk move miles away and relocate then you went and burned down the village. But now that wizard has popped up again under a new name, and you are worried that your secret is going to come out and your standing with the guild will be ruined and you might become their next target.
Class: Rogue/Fighter/Ranger/Barbarian
Background: Soldier/Criminal
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral Good

Have you played an half-orc before? Were there anythings that you leaned into with playing a half-orc? Would you play on of these backstories?

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Humans

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Humans

This is going to be a shorter article I think. Humans in Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy in general are going to be a little bit more basic because they can be anything and there isn’t some defining trait. They don’t love an extremely long […]

D&D Campaign: Session 1

D&D Campaign: Session 1

Alright, I said I was going to talk about town building, but I am going to wrap that into what I would then do to plan session one. I think that a fair amount of my work is already taken care of when it comes […]

D&D Campaign Building: The Hook

D&D Campaign Building: The Hook

Every D&D game that you’re going to run is going to have some sort of hook for the players. To me, this is a two part thing. The players have to be willing to invest in the story as it gets going, even if that takes a little bit of time, but as the DM, you also have to be able to build a hook that gets them involved in the game fast enough.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

In the story that I’m creating, I started talking about what is going to lead into the hook. That’s the two opposing factions, that of the state sanctioned noble and the wizard who lives in the tower. This doesn’t mean that this is the whole plot, that will probably be the next article on the big bad, but it’s going to start leading into that.

Now, I don’t know what my players are leaning towards playing yet, again this is a hypothetical gaming example to show how it could worked and how I go about my process. Let’s assume that I have a pretty standard group of four or five players. In a four player game they suggest you have a party of a fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric so you got your basis covered. That’s a bit boring but not that outside of the normal.

I’d also have used a session zero for the players to determine how they know each other and how they are tied into the town. Let’s assume that the fighter and rogue go to the cleric fairly often for healing and to pay their respects to the deity that the cleric follows. The Wizard has worked with the rogue and fighter on some odd jobs, and knows the cleric in passing but doesn’t really agree with her, but also doesn’t just follow what the powerful wizard wants.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

In the town there are tensions because the wizard has declared that people need to bring her gems and other items for some magical spell otherwise something bad will happen. The noble in the area is strongly disagreeing with that as that would cut into what the people would have to pay for taxes. So, what are the players going to do, a lot of the people in the town are not giving their gems tot he wizard who hasn’t said anything more than her vague threat. So now there’s a lot of struggles as to what is actually going to happen in the town, who will win out.

So how does this affect the players? Obviously there’s a line being drawn in the sand and riots happening and people are upset on both sides because some people don’t want the bad thing the wizard says is going to happen to happen, and others don’t want to lose their jewels. The temple itself has a number of jewels. The temple is now paying the fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric to defend against the riots and those on the wizards side who might want to steal the jewels. The riots have come to the church doors with the wizards side certainly trying to get the jewels, but the other side worked up and looting as well.

Which side do the players help? They are getting paid to help one side, but that side seems better equipped. They can’t fend off both sides as they push against the door of the temple, they are going to have to try and divert the riot one way or the other away from the temple, but by doing so, they are going to have to either help those who are more supporting the noble or those who are more supporting the wizard, or they can let the gems be taken.

So there’s the hook, the players have been tasked with something before the game started that is now actively going on. Even though the fighter, rogue, and wizard might not be directly invested in the conflict, though I’d probably give the wizard a gem of some sort to start the game, because you know the player will be greedy as well, since they have a pre-existing relationship with the cleric, they will want to help them.

What happens with the different ways that the players can take the hooks?

If they join forces with the wizards side, the wizard or some emissary will definitely come knocking on the door, thanking them for the help and demanding the jewels. The noble will be annoyed as well, as that will mean that more people’s jewels are in the hands of the wizard.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

If they join forces with the nobles side, the wizard is going to be pissed off at them, but the noble would likely see that they are capable and level headed and give them more work.

If they decide to take on both, neither side is going to be all that happy with them, and the church won’t be happy with them, so they are going to have to figure out how to get back into the good graces of someone. In particular with the cleric, how is she going to get back into the good graces of the temple?

Now, I’ve given myself a whole lot more work now, because I don’t know what direction the players are going to go. I don’t think that this actually changes who the big bad will be in the story, but it will change up what sort of quests they have to go on surrounding that. And I haven’t actually changed up too much for the planning of the game. I’m mainly looking to create those big story points that are going to be consistent throughout the whole thing. It also works because the conflict and a little bit of immediate before and after makes up a solid first session. There’s going to be some fighting, there is going to be some role playing ahead of time, there is going to be some time for them to plan, and there is going to be that quick immediate fallout that happens in the game.

Alright, now we’re going to be moving onto the big bad. That’s probably going to be some of what is going on in the background, or maybe it is the wizard? We’ll find out in the next article.

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What’s My Motivation? – D&D

What’s My Motivation? – D&D

This ties into the articles I’ve written on different characters class, backgrounds, and most recently on having a happy backstory instead of having a darker backstory, so it’s area that I’ve covered a fair amount, but I wanted to write about it really focusing in […]

If You’re Happy and You Know It – D&D

If You’re Happy and You Know It – D&D

This was something that I saw on twitter, I believe, earlier this week or it was part of a podcast, Total Party Thrill, that I’ve been listening to, but it was a hypothetical about why someone might join an adventuring group if they have a […]

Do You Remember When?

Do You Remember When?

It’s the sign of a RPG going well, when the players in the game are talking about it afterwards. Do you remember when we did this? Do you remember when that happened? It’s what as a player or a DM you want in your game. So how do you make those moments happen?

Image Source: Wizards

First, I would say that you can’t truly make those moments happen. It’s going to happen naturally in your game, but you can try and encourage those situations. Whenever you have a huge aha moment, that might get remembered, but the ones that are going to be talked about are going to happen more organically.

Now, like any good organic garden, you still have to plan the seeds and tend it, this stuff doesn’t happen on it’s own.

So you can lay the groundwork, starting in session zero to encourage those fun moments. In session zero, when players are creating their characters, don’t just think about combat and what you’re going to do with that. Your character is a whole lot more than just swinging a sword for a lot of damage or shooting some crossbows for damage. And while you might have a martial character who really cares about combat, put ore into your character than that. They can easily not know social norms because they grew up with the sword being their best friend. Or maybe they have a very unique set fighting moves and sword preparation, but let your character be unique and don’t create Joe Soldier who has no personality except for hitting stuff with a sword.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Also, consider giving the character a signature move. Now, it might be in combat or it might not be. But in combat, maybe you are a rogue who uses a crossbow. So your special move is a dive and roll while firing and getting yourself in hiding. Or maybe you are a hopeless flirt and every single bartender that you meet hoping to get information from them.

Why would those things give you cool moments?

Because as the rogue, you roll behind the pillar and find a surprised enemy who is also hiding behind the game pillar, now what do you do? Or you are in a dark cave and you roll behind a rock outcropping and find that there are stairs going down, as you slowly roll and bounce down them. Or for the character who flirts every time with the bartender for information, it will be a running joke that they never get any good information and maybe you end up on wild goose chases (literally) because of some information that you’ve gotten. Or, what happens when the bartender flirts back, or when the bartender actually has some real information. The cheer that will go up around the table because it was actually worth it, people will remember those moments.

So, those are some things that are more player focused, what can you do as a DM?

First, keep combat interesting. While you don’t need to do something super special every time, make it unique from time to time. Also go with alternate objectives. Combat doesn’t just have to be about knocking heads. I’ll touch a bit more on alternate combat objectives, but if you want a good podcast on it, check out this one by Total Party Thrill. Alternate objectives in combat can be things like stopping a sacrifice from happening. Sure, you might lop off a few heads of the acolytes guarding the cultists, but will you get to the cultists before they finish their chanting in four rounds of combat. Or are you having to try and keep the villains away from the caravan that you were hired to protect. These alternate objectives will give some memorable moments and keep the combat feeling different.

Likewise, it doesn’t have to just be an alternate way to beat the combat, it can be a unique combat setting. Maybe you are fighting on a narrow ledge next to flowing lava. Now, you could give advantage for having the higher ground, because as Star Wars Episode III taught us, that’s important. Also, don’t take any more life lessons from Star Wars Episode III than that. That one has a clear idea of pushing someone into the lava, but you can make unique terrains. Recently I ran a combat where there were two different levels of the combat. A barbarian jumped down into a pit to fight some monsters while two other character stayed up top, however, some of monsters crawled up to them as well. That gives a combat moment that is different than it would have been before.

Then, there are ways you can do that out of combat. And the easiest way is to just have interesting characters. I need to be better at this personally, because a lot of the NPC’s, I’m coming up with them on the fly, so they aren’t always the most unique. Thankfully, I have a player who is good at giving me a lot to work with in terms of dialog and lies that he is telling the NPC’s, so that gives me time to build out the character that I came up with. But we had a fun situation, one time, that players will likely remember, where one of the characters had gotten to the shore of a pirate island, found a very flirty dwarf pirate captain, and they had to figure out as a player and for their character, how not to insult the pirate captain so that they didn’t lose their head. It ended up being pretty memorable, because fake in game flirting can be hilarious a lot of the time, just make sure everyone is comfortable enough with it.

What are some other ideas that you have to help those more organic moments of surprise and stories that people remember happen in your game? Have you used any of these before? Keep in mind, if you do use some of these ideas as a player or as a DM, there is no guarantee that you will have those really memorable moments, but some of these ideas might tease out more. And find what works best for your group, maybe you have modules that you like to run, and what your group really remembers is the big boss battles at the end, that is equally as good a memorable moment for your group, but figure out if it’s social interactions, weird combats, big combats, or shocking twists that your group remembers most and go from there.


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D&D Backgrounds: Urchin

D&D Backgrounds: Urchin

The Urchin background, more commonly known as my parents are dead and I grew up on the street with no friends so you can’t use them against me background, but that’s a bit wordy to put into a book. It’s the last background that I’ll […]