Tag: Fighter

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 12: Fallout

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 12: Fallout

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. As our adventurers try a daring escape after stealing some books, can they escape the school where Von’thre studied. The audio isn’t the best on this one, but you can everyone, the balance just isn’t the […]

D&D Backgrounds: Outlander

D&D Backgrounds: Outlander

The Outlander background generally focuses in on a character who has grown up or chosen to live alone from the rest of the world. In the information on the background, it actually gives you various ideas for why your character might be a long ways […]

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 11: Too Cool For School?

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 11: Too Cool For School?

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons.

Image Source: Wizards

Von’thre takes advantage of the opportunity ahead of him to gain some more knowledge, because that is the smart and safe thing to do.


If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to nerdologists@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter! We’ll be doing a recap and Q&A every twenty-five episodes.


Our players are:

Ashley – Nori the Mountain Dwarf Champion Fighter

Kristen (@Kefka73) – Syldi the Half-Elf Rogue Thief

Clint – Von’thre the High Elf Divination Wizard

The DM:

Peder (@TheScando)


Please give us reviews and let us know how you listen to the show!

You can find us on iTunes

Or on Stitcher

Reviews help with the algorithms that allow more people to find our show. Every review you give helps, and we thank you for them! We have three reviews currently on iTunes; once we get five, we’ll be able to see them, and properly thank those who have given us reviews.


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

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
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D&D Background: Noble

D&D Background: Noble

A lot of RPG characters and D&D characters seem to come from humble backgrounds and work their way up into a more favorable position by gaining money and fame from their adventuring. But what if it’s the other way? What if adventuring is a step […]

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 10: So Where are We Again?

Dungeons and Flagons Season 2 Episode 10: So Where are We Again?

Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. After making some shocking discoveries deep in the underground, our adventurers begin to wonder if they actually know there way back out of there. If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to […]

D&D Backgrounds: Guild Artisan

D&D Backgrounds: Guild Artisan

It’s been a bit, but I wanted to come back and finish off the players handbook backgrounds.The first one that we come back to is the Guild Artisan.

Image Source: Wizards

The Guild Artisan is an adventurer that has had a profession. They are or have been part of the cartographers guild, the blacksmith guild, or any other skilled trade that they might choose. This doesn’t include things like being a wilderness guild as the artisan guilds all focus on some sort of end product. Even if you are just doing calligraphy work, the people who are commissioning the work.

This background is also one of the few backgrounds that encourages you to have down time. Technically, to stay in good standing with the guild, you need to be paying in your guild dues, which aren’t cheap, and while you might make that back in your adventuring, you’re probably better off actually using your guild skill in some down time to use your trade and make more money that way. Because you are paying your dues, you end up getting the benefit of having connections in a lot of spots and a spot to stay with your guild. This is pretty standard for every class, they always have a spot to rest your head if you are willing to look for it, but with the Guild Artisan there is a chance that it can be taken away from you.

So how could you make interesting characters with this?

Image Source: D&D Beyond

In your small coastal town you had a nice little shop. You wrote up the papers for the various shipping merchants that came through and kept track of the payments and which ships had come in. Life was peaceful until a new crew came into town. You got suspicious when their manifests for their shipments didn’t seem to match-up with what you would see in the warehouses. You decided that it was in your best interest to keep an eye on what they were doing and you started snooping around, however, they caught you looking at something you shouldn’t be. They gave you an option, act like nothing happened and help them create forged documents or swim with the fishes. You didn’t want to help them, but that was better than being killed, so you decided to help them. They brought you aboard their ship and you spent the next six years of your life sailing with them and creating documents for them as well and creating their actual business documents. Once they started to trust you, you were able to pick up some skills with the sword and when they had drunk too much at port one time, you took the Captain hostage and brought him to the guards. That got you your freedom, but now you have a black mark on your name. If you can crack a legendary code that hangs in the head quarters of your guild, you might be able to get back in their good graces and make a real living again. Fortunately you have a clue.

Class: Rogue – Swashbuckler
Alignment: Neutral Good


Ting, ting, ting, that was your life for a long time. You were known as one of the best armor makers in your clan, and in the city of Shinholm. You had grown to be quite well known and you had a ton of money, a nice house, and a happy life. Things were going well for you. Then one day the guards knocked down your door and dragged you out into the street. A grieving widow stood in the street and was screaming how you had killed her husband and it was your fault because of your shoddy armor that he had died.There was a trial, but the man had been a popular up and coming noble and while you could tell that the armor he had died in was a forgery of your own, you quickly realized that there were other things going on behind the scenes and that fact didn’t matter. You resigned yourself to your fate, and realized that the gods were looking down on you still when you weren’t hanged like you had suspected but instead were sent to fight on the front lines. There you made a name for yourself when you improved your shoddy armor and you got noticed by an Elven lord. However, you wanted to get back into the good graces of your own lands, you have a shot if you can catch the person who forged your armor as  you’ve started to see forgeries floating around in the elven lords lands now. You just need help since you can be the muscle, but the finer details should be left to someone else.

Class: Fighter
Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Image Source: Geek & Sundry

Your leather work was known throughout the lands, the quality of the work that you did was always some of the best. But you had a secret, you didn’t love the work that you did, you just were good at it. Instead of making things with the leather and exotic hides that were brought in, you preferred to get those hides yourself. One day a woman came in looking to sell you some hides and with a story of a mythical beast whose hide would make the greatest leather armor ever. You became obsessed with this and looked up everything you could about it. Now you have a clue as to where this beast might be, but you know you need to hone your hunting skills before you’ll be able to take it on.

Class: Ranger
Alignment: Any


Filthy, stinking, rich, that is your goal in life, to become filthy stinking rich. You’ve done a pretty good job of getting some wealth, but it isn’t enough. You want more, and while your beer and wines are getting better, you needed to learn how to make even better wine and beer. There was a monastery up on the Higlanch Mountain range that was known for the greatest beers in the world, and that was your goal, to study under them, take what you learned, and then get filthy stinking rich. However, it wouldn’t be that easy, the monks only take in the best, and they can tell that you’re there for the money. They give you a way to prove yourself, and they expect you to train in their ways while you do. Now you’re using the rest of your money to get others to help you complete these quests from the monk, so that you can focus on your training and not end up dead, before you get, you know, filthy stinking rich.

Class: Monk
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
I debated for half a second if this character was evil, but I don’t think they are. They are certainly not good, but they are mainly focused on their single goal. But they aren’t trying to steal the recipe of the beer from the monks, they are just trying to find an easier way for themselves to get the recipe by having other people do the work for them. I feel like they would be the proud leader type of the group while not actually being able to lead.


Have you played a Guild Artisan before? What sort of trade did you have in your background, and did it come up in the game?


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

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
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Gloomhaven Characters: Tinkerer (SPOILERS)

Gloomhaven Characters: Tinkerer (SPOILERS)

I retired my first Gloomhaven character last night, and I wanted, for those interested, so write up what some of the different characters are like. Thus far we’ve seen five different characters and I feel like I have a solid grasp on a few of […]

TableTopTakes: Dragon Age RPG

TableTopTakes: Dragon Age RPG

First, let me say that this game review is going to be different than the standard board game review. Dragon Age RPG is very much a pen and paper RPG and does not have a board, cards, etc. However, it is a “table top” game, […]

Failing Forward – RPG Concepts

Failing Forward – RPG Concepts

It’s classic roll playing, you’re at a house, the door is locked, and as the rogue, you’re rolling to pick the lock. You roll the die and don’t get enough to unlock the door. You ask the Dungeon Master, “Can I try again?”. They respond that no one is coming, so sure, roll again. Three more times you roll and eventually get it and you guys get into the house safely.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Why were you rolling the die?

If nothing bad was going to happen, there was no reason for you to roll the die there. You aren’t in character spending time rolling the die over and over and over again. I’m guilty of this as a DM sometimes, not having any real pressure on the players while they make the die roll. So there has to be a better way to make the die rolls matter.

How do you do that?

There are two ways that you can do this. The first is immediate consequence. To stay with my previous example, you roll the die, you fail, the guards patrolling the estate or the town come across you and now you’re either running from the guards or you’re fighting them. It gives a threat of real punishment for what has happened and for failing the roll. It’s very straight forward.

But what if there’s an important map that the characters know for a fact is in that estate. They run away, they come back the next night, they fail again, they run away, they come back the next night, and the cycle continues and it gets pretty boring. We want to avoid that bit of boring in our role playing games.

So the other option is to, as the title suggests, fail forward.

Critical Fail
Image Source: Amazon

What does that even mean?

Failing forward is the idea that you still get to unlock the door on a failed roll, but it comes at a cost. So you get into the house, but you startle a cook who screams. Now your plan of sneaking around the house slowly and avoiding all the guards is shot. You’re in the house, so you better use your opportunity, but this is going to be more of a smash and grab than a cat burglary.

Failing forward is a great concept to use because it can create a lot of interesting situations. In my example with the cook, do you kill the innocent cook who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, because the cook screaming means the damage is done already. But I’ve also managed to keep the story moving forward. Instead of trying the same thing over and over again either without consequence or on different days and the game gets stuck in a rut, now things are moving quickly. In fact, by failing forward and having the cook scream, things have to go even faster and the players need to be even more creative.

Maybe the rogue and monk make a run for the map while the wizard and fighter stay behind to deal with any guards who might be coming to their escape route. Maybe the wizard decides to cast charm person or suggestion on the cook to get them to say that they had just seen a mouse, which is why they screamed to try and defuse the issue. Either way you’ve ratcheted up the intensity of the scene and made the best laid plans of the players go by the wayside, but you didn’t grind the game to a stand still.

Making sense thus far? The next question that I would have had is, how do you keep the pressure on without it turning into the scenario where the guards show up and you get into a fight?

That is true, we want to avoid that, otherwise, we can just use that option. If your group loves combat or doesn’t mind having those combats, definitely you can go with that option. However, if you want to change things up, there are some things that you can do.

When failing forward, I’d strongly consider using a skill challenge to show the timing of what is happening. A skill challenge is where the players try and get a certain number of success before they end up failing and having the guards, in this case, swarm them. My rule of thumb is that the players need to get twice the number of players successes, so six successes for three players, before they get the number of players failures, so three for three players. To continue with the crunchy bits for a bit, you then set a difficulty check for the players to beat using their abilities. Maybe the rogue wants to persuade the cook to lie and say it was a mouse, the player then rolls their persuasion. If they succeed, they get a check mark on the success track, if they fail, on the failure track. Then it goes to the next player, and the next player cannot roll persuasion for their check. So everyone has gone around once, they have two successes and a failure, it’s back to the rogue, the rogue can’t roll what they’ve rolled the previous round, so persuasion, or use the skill that was previous rolled, so the fighter who rolled strength to knock down a locked door. And you continue like that until the  players either succeed or fail.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

So, why might you do it this way?

First and foremost, it allows you to skip combat sometimes. It means that you get to do something different than the normal three things in a lot of RPG’s, either exploring, role playing with NPC’s, or fighting. It allows you to use skills that you wouldn’t use normally.

Example:
Player: I worked for the city, so I’m going to roll history to see if I remember the blueprints that were on file with the city. I’m trying to see if there’s a faster route that we can take.
DM: Sounds good to me, roll that die.
Player: 14
DM: You just succeed, and remember that there is actually a servants hallway that runs between some rooms that will let you out right next to the study.

How often would you use history otherwise? Or how often would someone think to look for blueprints? It’s a creative use of a skill that really only comes up in research capacity or trying to remember things and gets to be used in an action sequence instead.

Also, it allows everyone to stay more involved in the story and story telling. Live the above example, the players are having to be creative and are actually creating story elements for the world. This has a real anything goes vibe to it and that can lead to a ton of cool moments.

Skill challenges also can move faster than combat. The action is always focused on the players, so the DM isn’t taking turns and rolling for the five guards to show up. Once the players are in the mindset of thinking about everything they can do and coming up with crazy ideas, a skill challenge will fly by. As a dungeon master, this is where you are going to have to let things go a little bit more loosely. You won’t have been able to plan and lay out this estate in such a way that you’ve thought of everything the players will do. You’re going to want to say yes a lot, or yes and but/and.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Example:
Player: I worked for the city, so I’m going to roll perception to see if I remember the blueprints that were on file with the city. I’m trying to see if there’s a faster route that we can take.
DM: That sounds more like a history check to me, so why don’t you roll that instead. Since you worked for the city you’d be trying to remember what you’ve seen before.
Player: Okay, I got a 14
DM: You just succeed, and remember that there is actually a servants hallway that runs between some rooms that will let you out right next to the study.

That’s an example of what I mean by yes and but/and. They got to see if they remembered anything about the blueprints, because that is cool, but perception just didn’t make sense for the player to use with what they said. So swapping out for history probably means that the player didn’t have as good a bonus on their roll, but made sense for what they were doing.

What are some downsides?

This isn’t say that there aren’t some downsides to a skill challenge. The main one being is that players will suggest one thing, like my example with wanting to use perception with the blueprints, and when they can’t, then want to pick another idea that they can use perception with. It makes sense because they want to do something where they are likely to succeed. So you can get stuck with someone who is trying to figure out how animal handling can be used in this estate because they have a plus five in animal handling.

Solution for that issue is a timer of some sort. Either, they have to have something ready to go by the time it comes around to them or it’s an automatic failure, but that seems harsh, so if they are taking too long, put them on the clock. Give the player 30 seconds to come up with something, it might not be the most creative, but it’ll keep the game moving and everyone engaged which is what we’re always shooting for when we play RPG’s.

Image Source: D&D Beyong

The other, tied into this, is analysis paralysis. If you can do everything, how do you pick which skill to use. What is going to be better, the ones with the higher numbers obviously, but using acrobatics isn’t going to be as cool so maybe you should try and use animal handling, but how would that work in the situation, and maybe the person after me is going to use athletics, so I should use that, and the person before me did something really cool and I want to do something really cool too so what is the coolest thing that I could do? Yes, that is a horrible run-on sentence that no one should ever write, but that’s kind of the point. That’s how the brain of someone who can’t decide what option to choose is working, they are stuck with too many options.

If you see someone getting stuck in a loop of not knowing what decision to make, how can you help them to keep your skill challenge moving along? There are a couple of different things that you can do. One is to use the timer. That will likely get a them to throw out something, but might end up making them feel like they are getting stuck doing the boring option. The other is to help them by soliciting ideas from other players or from yourself as the DM. If they are taking a while, toss out a bunch of options for them to pick from, and by a bunch, I mean three at the fewest, and five at the most. That’ll either give them something to pick or give them something to jump off of and get them out their run-on brain loop.

So back to the main concept of this article, failing forward. There are a lot of reasons to do it an to use it in your game. The main take away from this should be that failing forward allows your story to continue and progress while the setting up consequences down the line. You don’t end up getting stuck, but there’s still a cost for the players. It buys time for you as the DM to come up with that cost, and it keeps the players more engaged in the game.

Do you have any examples of failing forward? If you do, let us know about them with one of the ways below


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D&D Backgrounds: Folk Hero

D&D Backgrounds: Folk Hero

I’ve held off on writing this one because in terms of backgrounds, I feel like it’s the most open. If you do anything heroic, you’re going to be a folk hero. Even if it’s something for a community in a small town or saving a […]