Tag: rpg

Playing Your D&D Character – 301

Playing Your D&D Character – 301

The last part of playing your D&D Character, there is no 401 for this course. To me there are three main parts that I wanted to talk about. The first was figuring out how to be in character and staying in character as much as […]

Friday Night D&D – Insane in the Membrane

Friday Night D&D – Insane in the Membrane

Alright, it’s Friday again, that means it is time to come up with your (or my) next Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This one is again pulled using information from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. So let’s get into some backstory. Out there between the planes there […]

Playing Your D&D Character – 201

Playing Your D&D Character – 201

We’ve started going down the route of playing your D&D character, in 101, we talked primarily about how much you should stay in character, and the expectations of being in character and differentiating in and out of character should work at the table.

In 201, I want to take it more into actually playing your character, bringing your character to life at your table, so it has a different voice than just your voice.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

I think it’s something that is pretty easy to do, have a character that sounds like you, acts like you, and thinks like you. And I don’t think that is a bad way to role play, sometimes, but there is much more that you can do beyond that to really play your character in Dungeons and Dragons and not just play yourself.

So, why do I think you shouldn’t just play yourself or your idealized version of yourself?

For me, I see role playing as an opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different perspective. Now, I don’t mean that you should play a racist jerk because that’s different from who you are, you’re probably going to be annoying everyone at the table, but playing a character who has issues with another race and using that are an opportunity for your character to grow, can work well if done delicately. But even beyond that, you can play someone who has a different view of religion than you do, a different view of politics, of money, or murder hoboness than you do. Or in a different vein but equally as challenging, it can be an opportunity to play an extrovert when you yourself are in introvert, or vice-a-versa.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

That’s the theory on why you might play someone different than you and I encourage it, but how do you go about doing that and doing it in a way where it isn’t a stereotype?

I think a good starting point is to create a character who has a tick of some sort. It could be that they are extremely scholarly, or maybe they have a catch phrase (keep it short and use it sparingly), or some default fighting style (every character should have one), but more than that, something that you can always do as your character in a role playing situation. Or something that is interesting about them. In a one-shot game at a convention, I played a monk dinosaur who was observing the other dinosaurs in the tribe and using it as an anthropological study. When I needed a role playing hook, I would lean into that. Or in another game, I was playing a mage who dressed like The Dude from The Big Lebowski and did drugs, so when I needed a role playing hook, I’d channel that.

These are pretty simple hooks, but they gave me a way to always step back into the character. Another way to think about it is to compare it to learning an accent, or doing an accent. Most of the time there is a phrase or a word that you can use to do your version of an accent. It’s that thing that allows you to step into the accent, in the same way, these ticks or hooks are ways for you to step into playing your character. It sounds weird, but it’s going to be a faster way to role playing your character and a good way to jump start it. It also makes it easier to step into role playing someone who isn’t just like you, because you have that way to change your mindset.

I want to address one more thing about these hooks before I talk about combat again. And that is the idea of using an accent or silly voice for your character. This can be used well to keep yourself in character. Such as whenever you are speaking in that voice, you are in character, and when you aren’t, you are out of character. However, there are a lot of people who aren’t great at doing voices. If you’ve listened to Dungeons and Flagons, you can tell that I will do voices for NPC’s and monsters when I’m running the game, but I have a pretty limited selection of voices that I can do. So don’t feel pressure to do this for your character, and don’t compare yourself to Critical Role when doing voices, they are professional voice actors, they literally make a living doing voices.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

Now, I want to circle back to combat for a split second. I talked earlier about having your move. The default thing that you go with when you play your character. It’s important to have this a character not just for role playing, as it will become your characters thing, but also for the game, so that you can make combat go more quickly. I know for a lot of people, myself included, I prefer the role playing aspect of the game, versus the combat aspect of the game. And combat, if not done well, can end up being a longer part of the game than the role playing. So, the signature/default move for your character is there for two reasons. One, it does give that hook to get you into the mindset of your character in a combat. Two, and as importantly, it means in combat you are ready for your turn. If you know that you can always roll two attacks with your great sword, when it comes to your turn, you are ready to go. Sometimes you’ll do different things, but if there is nothing obvious and different to do, you can take your turn fast. That’s why I think it’s something that should be required by the Dungeon Master and players at the table to hold people to having that default move.

Now we’ve talked a bit more about how you can get into character and play a character who isn’t just like you. Next time I want to talk more about creating a direction and arc for your character within the game that you control.

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Playing Your D&D Character – 101

Playing Your D&D Character – 101

Alright, so now you’ve started building your D&D character, let’s talk about playing your D&D character. Dungeons and Dragons after all is a role playing game, so you need to take on the role of your character. For this, we’re going to assume that you’ve […]

Building a D&D Character – 401

Building a D&D Character – 401

Alright, we’re onto the last class for D&D character creation. In the prerequisites, we’ve talked about how to make a character that fits the campaign and is fun for you and the group (101). We then went on and talked about how Dungeons and Dragons […]

Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Building a D&D Player Character – 301

Back into building a D&D character.

We’ve talked previously about the simplest ways to make a character that doesn’t step on other players toes, that fits into the game, and one that is fun to play.

Image Source: Wizards

Next we’ve talked about how you can use the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws to create some back story for your character. This allows you to really start creating a backstory for your character and your role playing. You can review 201 here.

Now we’re onto really delving into the backstory and what makes a good backstory. This will be covered in the final two posts about creating backstory and creating your player character.

When creating a backstory there are a few things that you should be writing into your backstory:

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Role Playing Prompts –
This is probably the trickiest one to explain, but basically you are looking to expand upon the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws that you’ve previously created or at this time create those along with your backstory to give you things to role play with. But now you get the chance to really expand upon that. If you have a flaw that you hate all goblins, well, now you can explain why you hate all goblins since they murdered your family and burned down your village. So as you develop your backstory, look to drop in those little tidbits of information to support the personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Also, look to add in more role playing elements for you. You can create little pieces of story that are going to give your character a more rich background and more depth to role play with.

A Reason to Adventure –
This one is pretty straight forward. You need a reason to be about adventuring. If you spent your whole life on a farm and you are going to inherit the farm, why are you out adventuring? Or if you are a hermit in the woods who hates people, why are you adventuring? Give yourself a reason to be adventuring, and a reason to keep adventuring. If a bunch of goblins killed off your family and burned down your village, that’s probably a reason to start adventuring to get revenge and also a reason to continue adventuring after you get revenge because you don’t have a place to go back to. It doesn’t have to be that tragic, and with elves or other longer living races, you might adventure just to leave your mark on the world. But use your backstory as your opportunity to create a reason why you are adventuring and why you will continue adventuring with the adventuring party.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

Goals/Story Hooks for Your Character
Now, this is partially covered when you create your bonds as they can be things that is your characters goal, but work on adding in some goals and story hooks for your character that the DM is going to be able to use. It doesn’t mean that all of them will be used, but they are things that the DM can use if they want. In our example of wanting to get revenge on the goblins who killed your family, that’s a story hook that the DM can use. If you write that you’ve already taken care of the goblin in your backstory you’ve now closed off that part of your backstory and completed it already. The DM now can’t pull out your hate of goblins, give you the chance to track down the goblins and maybe have a change of heart about goblins as a whole. As a DM, I really appreciate those bits of mystery that people leave in their backstories. In the first season of Dungeons and Flagons, we had a great example of this as Ashley’s character was left somewhere as a young child and all she remembered from it was the stars in the sky. That gives me a ton to play with as a DM.

If you have, especially the first two added into your backstory, you are going to have a character that has a reason to go adventuring and a fun character to play. The last piece really allows you to be more a part of the story and have those story arcs that really focus in on you. If you are a player who wants to sit back and enjoy the story more, having less of those hooks is going to make it so you’re less involved.

Are there other backstory elements that make a good Dungeons and Dragons character? Have you done these while creating characters before?

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Friday Night D&D – There Will Be Blood

Friday Night D&D – There Will Be Blood

Yes, this is coming out Friday morning where I’m writing from. But Friday Morning D&D sounds way different than Friday Night D&D. What I wanted to start doing on some Fridays, might not be all of them, but should be a number of them for […]

D&D Campaign Building: Magic

D&D Campaign Building: Magic

So a couple of days ago I started building out a D&D Campaign – the first part can be found here. I want to try and write on it and add in more things a couple of times a week at least, might be more […]

D&D Campaign Building

D&D Campaign Building

I decided it was time to jump back into some D&D topics, and I wanted to try something a little bit different, instead of just dispensing advice, I wanted to go through the process of building out a campaign that I may (or may not) use in the future.

If I do use it, for potential players who might read it, things will be tweaked, so you can’t count on everything.

Image Source: Wizards

The First Question?

Do I build this as an epic adventure game or a smaller more focused game?
I wrote an article on this recently, and the basic idea, just to recap fast, is that some games take place over a whole continent or planet or even planets and planes. Think Lord of the Rings which was spread out over so much area. Other games focus on a much smaller area, think Dresden Files, sure there is a whole world, but it takes place in the Fae realms and Chicago, with minor excursions elsewhere, but that’s in the later books.

For this game, I want to try a smaller focused game that’s going to primarily take place in a trade port, I think. Or some trading hub. I don’t want it to be the biggest trading hub though, so probably something that is set off in a further province of a kingdom that sends something important out, versus bringing a ton into the town.

The advantage of having it be a town that size is that it’s still manageable and there are still going to be interesting characters and shops around. I think I want it to be that they are one of the spots that granite or some other type of fancy stone is sent out from in this world. Gold or any type of metal would draw too much attention, but something like granite would be something that the rich want, but wars aren’t always being fought over. But it’s still a good money making opportunity for people, because the granite will sell for a pretty penny.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

There’s another advantage to having it be something like a stone or a metal, and that is that you can have a wide variety of races around. Dwarves would be around to help mine. It’s a remote area so you’d likely have elves around. Gnomes often have an artisan sort of background, so they could be making trinkets and what not from the granite. But it most certainly gives you options. You’d have just background wise, sailors who would be transporting the granite on the river who might retire there. Soldiers and mercenaries who guard the granite. Artisans who sculpt but also artisans who write up the contracts and things like that. A town like this would have a heavy religious influence of probably a couple of gods. You’re remote enough that an outlander character could easily come wandering into town.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Next question I’m going to ask, which is going to be the next article, is what about magic in this town. You can see how deciding on the scope of your game really allows you to decide on what is important to the story. And you can see some of my thought process to end up with a town that can basically be described as the following:

A remote trade town that provides most of the granite for the Kingdom of the Sevens.

I could certainly say more about it than that, which I did, but that gives me a starting place for my game. You could also see people starting with the big plot idea, but I have a few floating around in my head that I’ll come to eventually.

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TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

This is a game that I’ve talked about some in previous articles, but I wanted to do a proper TableTopTakes review of it. Legacy of Dragonholt is a combination of an RPG and choose your own adventure book. However, it does feel different from something […]