Tag: rpg

Dungeons and Dragons Online

Dungeons and Dragons Online

Kind of continuing the midst of physical distancing that we have going on all around the world, I want to keep talking about ways that we can still socially be close and possibly some ways to even grow the nerd community around you. I wrote…

Picking Up a New Hobby

Picking Up a New Hobby

I’ve been trying to stay away from anything that is directly, do this while social distancing for Covid-19, but I ran across something interesting that I think has something that can be unpacked for more than just the upcoming weeks and months. It came about…

Board Games – Campaign vs Legacy vs Story vs Normal vs RPG

Board Games – Campaign vs Legacy vs Story vs Normal vs RPG

This might sound like a battle, but it’s not. It’s something that I have been thinking about, and you can see why if you check out my Back of Brick of Stormsunder. There are a lot of different types of games, but I think that there can be some confusion and overlap between the types. Games can give you a lot of different experiences if you’re ready to look for them and to jump into them.

Normal Games

Image Source: Days of Wonder

It is what it sounds like, these are your normal games. The Tickets to Ride, Pandemic, Catan, Carcassone, Monopoly, and any game that you can sit down, you play it once and you get the full game experience. These games are meant to be played in a 30 minute to 6 hours, if you’re playing Twilight Imperium or other big 4x games. But even with those games, you get the full experience of the games without having to do anything else. These are the type of games you’re probably going to get to the table most often, though, you’ll probably play a specific game less than in some of the other categories. Even as someone who likes some of the other types of games just as well, most of my collection is made up of one off games that I use for board game nights and just pulling out and playing a game.

Story Games

Image Source: Zman Games

This one is the next step in, in my opinion. The others are larger in terms of what type of game they are as I’m going to define story games as any game that tells a story. Now, that can encompass other games, Gloomhaven has story elements, but is primarily a campaign style game, but definitely fits in this category as well. But games like Near and Far, Above and Below, Arabian Nights, all of those games have story and you can play them as a one off game. The story doesn’t have to be the only thing in the game, but it’s going to be a heavy focus for the game. These games can take 200 hours, like Gloomhaven but Near and Far can be played in a couple of hours or less. This is starting to get into those bigger games. Whereas what I call normal games can have story, again Above and Below and Arabian Nights are played in a single sitting, they are more focused on the story and telling the players a story than something like Pandemic where the game has theme and story as it plays, but it doesn’t provide story beyond how the game mechanically plays out.

Campaign Games

Image Source: Board Game Geek/Awaken Realms

Next step up, and probably the second longest, or longest, of the games. These campaign games are going to be steeped in story. This is where a game like Gloomhaven or Sword and Sorcery falls. It’s going to be chaining scenarios together, telling you story as you go, and each time you play, you are possibly progressing the story and finding out more as to what is happening in the world and game that you’re playing. Some of them have simpler stories like the two I’ve mentioned, and some more more emerging stories like Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, where you have some ideas of what you need to do at the start, but the ending of the game is less clear. This is going to push two things, first, you are going to see more character development and leveling up, so it leans into an RPG like feel. The other thing is that this is going to be more of a time commitment. Gloomhaven has been 200 or so hours for me, and Sword and Sorcery is probably nearing 24 hours or so of game play. There are going to be shorter campaign style games, Near and Far technically has a campaign of 6-7 games, I believe, never played it, but that’s 12-20 hours, let’s say for the whole campaign, but a lot of them are going to fall into that longer format because they want the RPG like feel for the game.

Legacy Games

Image Source: Z-Man Games

This one is a sister to the Campaign Game. It is going to be a campaign game, but it adds in a destructive element. You are going to be adding stickers to cards, destroying cards, changing the map, and unlocking new things. Now, you might be able to go back and do it again, Charterstone, and play through the legacy experience again, but that requires an additional purchase. Legacy games are meant for you to play through the campaign once, generally, and then some of them allow you to continue to play the game without the legacy elements. Charterstone, Betrayal Legacy, and Clank! Legacy are all games that you can come back to and play again. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and 2, however, once you’re done with them, you’re done with that game unless you put in a lot of extra effort to make it replayable. While campaign games raise the stakes because you are going further and further into a story so you don’t want to hit a point where you’ve lost and have to restart (and most do a good job of keeping you from having to do that), Legacy raises those stakes even higher. You’re probably always going to progress at some point in time in a legacy game, even if you didn’t win, but you don’t feel like you can go back and try again because of the legacy nature of the game, so even with less story the stakes can be higher. Charterstone is the only example, I have, of a legacy game where the stakes don’t feel that high.

RPG

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

This one I’m saving for last, because it moves away from a board game experience and into a role playing game. RPG is that step where you want that massive campaign, that massive legacy feeling and story experience. But you can also do a one-shot which would just be a 3-4 hour single sit down experience. So you can tailor and RPG to whatever you want, but, I personally prefer an RPG when it takes those bigger campaign, legacy and story elements and turns it into that epic experience which is guided by the GM and created by the GM and players. This can be the biggest time commitment of them all, because a campaign could, theoretically, take forever if you wanted to continue playing with the same characters in the same world and didn’t care about leveling up. But for me that’s part of the fun of the game is coming up with ways and reasons for your character to progress and grow through the game, and leveling up is part of that progression.

That’s an overview of what I’d consider to be the five types of games. As someone who likes all of them, I think that there should be a space for most of them on people’s shelves. If you haven’t jumped into RPG’s, consider it if you really enjoy campaign style games, because it’s a freeing experience in terms of being able to craft and create your own story with even less confines. If you love RPG’s, consider adding a campaign game, something like Aeon’s End Legacy or Clank Legacy would have that RPG bit of a feel to it as you level up characters (especially Clank Legacy which is based on Acquisitions Inc. a D&D game), but that would give you something new to try. And if you’ve only played that I termed normal games, try a story game, a stepping stone into a potentially more epic gaming experience and see how you like something that a little bit of that RPG flavor lightly added to it.

I don’t think that there’s a right type of game to play, or that you need to have all of them in your collection, but it’s certainly something you can consider for expanding your collection. I have something like 4-5 legacy games, 5-6 campaign games (which is a lot), 150 normal games, and probably a handful of story games that I’m forgetting about right now, and a ton of stuff for D&D. But that’s just what my collection is. Maybe you have a consistent group for D&D or any RPG so you just focus your collection on that, or maybe you just have changing groups over for playing board games, so you have more normal games, and that’s a great collection as well.

I’ll leave you with a question, do you have a preferred game style? For me, I love Legacy Games and Campaign games, though I play Normal Games more because we play more on a board game night, but I’ve played so much of some games. What do you play most of as well?

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Back or Brick: Stormsunder: Heirs of Ruin

Back or Brick: Stormsunder: Heirs of Ruin

Back for another Back or Brick on this Wednesday. We’re looking at a big Kickstarter, in terms of content that just launched yesterday. It’s going to fund (already has), but is it one for me? Let’s dive into the pros and cons. Pros RPG Like…

Kickstarter 101 – Picking a Campaign

Kickstarter 101 – Picking a Campaign

There are tons of Kickstarter projects out there, some of them look great, some of them are great, and others, they don’t look great but they might be good. I think that one hard part of Kickstarter is that overwhelming amount of content out there…

Dungeons and Dragons: I Got That Magic In Me

Dungeons and Dragons: I Got That Magic In Me

So, it’s been a little while since I’ve written much about Dungeons and Dragons. But I did run a game not that long ago, and I got to thinking about all of the different types of magic in D&D and while I’ve talked about the various casting classes before, I haven’t talked as much about how the magic is different for them. So we’re going to do a bit of a dive into the different types of casters you can play in Dungeons and Dragons.

Since Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy setting, you have magic in the same, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. How much magic you have to vary a lot. Some worlds in D&D have a ton of magic with lots of people being able to use small spells and little things, like curing a small wound are going to be magically done or lighting a fire, magic might be faster. There are going to be other fantasy worlds where magic is extremely rare. If you have magic, you have way more value to the nations because of what you can do. In either of them, the PC’s (Player characters) who have magic are going to end up being more powerful than most other casters, because, otherwise, those characters would be saving the world, and you’d still be a farmer.

But within magic, there are a number of different ways that you can get magic or use magic. Which, mechanically speaking, are represented by the different classes you can be. A Cleric and Paladin get their magic from their gods whereas a Druid gets it through nature, a Sorcerer just has it, and a Wizard needs to learn it. That doesn’t even touch on the bard who signs theirs (but just kind of have it) and the Warlock who has made a deal for it. If you know you want to be a magic user, picking your class can help determine what sort of background you have because of how you got the magic.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Bard – This magical mischief maker generally gets their spells from their ability to weave word or song in such a way to alter the world around them either for attack or entertainment. A bard is generally going to be someone who has been trained, but not to improve their magic, but their performance ability. I think that the bard is a class that can be generally used for most backstories.

Cleric – The first of our magical classes that gets their magic from the divine. The god that they are worshiping is giving them the powers and has chosen them as special. In particular, they are giving them powers to help people, and while combat might not be their strong point, but healing and aiding other characters is what that character is going to be the best at. With a cleric, your backstory can be anything but you might want to focus more on a religious background and have it something you’ve been a part of for a while, not something that you just picked up.

Druid – The hippy of the magical classes, the druid is all about nature and their attunement to nature. In some ways, I would say that a Druid is a bit like the Cleric in that they get their magic from the divine, but for the Druid their divine is their connection to nature. The Druid is going to be the caster who has the most connections to nature and natural changes in the world. The outlander or hermit backgrounds actually make a lot of sense for a background for the Druid, because you need that strong connection with nature that makes most sense to be gotten on your own. The trick can be connecting back into the group.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

Paladin – Our second divine caster, the Paladin is what is know as a half-caster. What that means is that they have a more limited spell selection and a smaller number of spell slots with which to cast spells. What the Paladin does get is some of the healing abilities of the Cleric but much better punching power with their ability to handle weapons. They also get the ability to channel their divine magic into even more damage, at the cost of casting spells, but I still feel like it’s a spell like affect and is part of their magic. For a Paladin, your background can be much more open, because while they do have that divine magic from a god, their devotion to their religion is less strictly guided like a Cleric’s feels, though, they do need to maintain that collection.

Ranger – Another and last half caster, the Ranger pulls a little bit like the Paladin does from the Cleric, but for the Ranger it’s from the Druid. They get some of the connections to nature that the Druid has, but also then gets more focus in their magic for hunting down their enemies. Unlike the Paladin who has extra abilities they can do with their magic, the Ranger is more focused on just using their spells as spells. Their background is generally going to be fairly open, being a scout in the military or being a hermit all make sense, and even some of the more scholarly ones can make sense.

Sorcerer – The natural of the magic world, the bard might just use music, but the Sorcerer just gets magic. And they get amazing control over their magic. The Sorcerer is an interesting class in that they get things called meta-magics and meta-magic points that they can use to improve their spells. This might mean that they can cast them farther or do so silently so it can’t be countered. This allows a player to specialize their character so that their Sorcerer feels different from others. The Sorcerer definitely can come from any sort of background since their magic can be something that just newly manifested. It’s the magic class that you do if you don’t want to be beholden to anyone or anything.

Warlock – If the Sorcerer isn’t beholden to anyone or anything, the Warlock 100% is. They’ve made a pact with some powerful being, fey, elder god, or demon that is giving them their powers. And the Warlocks magic works differently than everyone else’s. They aren’t a half caster, but they aren’t really a full caster. They get invocations that can really make their cantrips much better so they don’t need as many high level spells, which is good, because they don’t get many spell slots. But when they cast a spell it’s always at the highest spot possible. I don’t know that they are that much harder to play than other casters, but how they work makes less sense. They, because they can have just gotten their magic, do have it in common with the Sorcerer that most any background works.

Wizard – Final one and definitely the most iconic. The Wizard has learned magic. You could say that Bard might be considered a bit of that if you consider them learning their craft of storytelling and performance, but for a Wizard, there are Wizard schools and you study and you need a spellbook to be able to prepare spells for the day. But, as a Wizard, you have access to more spells than any other class. Their specializations also makes it easier for them to learn more spells in certain areas, and while other classes can be capped on how spells they know, a Wizard can always add in more spells if they have the time and money to transcribe them into their spell book. A wizard, the Sage background makes the most sense because they’ve spent at least some of their life in school, but that might not be the defining feature for them.

That’s a lot just looking at the classes and how they use magic, I’m going to spend some time coming up here going into more topics on magic such as spell slots and spells known or high or low magic worlds that I touched on that the top of the article. Some of them will be more player focused and others more dungeon master focused. Is there a certain type of caster that you gravitate to?

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Christmas Ideas – The Grab Bag

Christmas Ideas – The Grab Bag

Last list post, I considered doing a couple more for things like Sci-Fi and Anime, but there are so many specific things, like with Fantasy in both of those, that I thought, let’s wrap it up with a nerdy grab bag of ideas. This list…

Christmas Ideas: RPG’s

Christmas Ideas: RPG’s

So, I had thought of splitting it into two parts, one for the players and for the DM/GM. But that felt a little bit silly, and I want to encourage more players to become DM/GM’s, so if you have a player in your life who…

Friday Night D&D – Looking for Love in Eberron Places

Friday Night D&D – Looking for Love in Eberron Places

So I just picked up the Eberron source book for fifth edition. And I’ve been waiting for it for a while. With the games that @evilsanscarne and @Mundangerous have run or played in that they talk about on the @TPTCast (Total Party Thrill) podcast, I wanted something for fifth edition that I could run and easily get the information for Eberron. That’s out now in the form of the Eberron: Rising from the Last War setting book.

There are so many games that you can run in Eberron, and I’ll probably do a series on the setting coming up here soon. But just quickly about the setting, it’s pulp, noir, and magic punk. Magic is in place of technology, but they are more advanced with magical flying ships and magical trains than your standard D&D settings, mainly because we’ve only had The Forgotten Realm to this point, and Ravenloft in The Curse of Strahd.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

So, what sort of campaign are we going to be running?

In Eberron the Last War has wrapped up two years ago when the day of mourning happened. This was some massive event that destroyed and contaminated the land of Cyre. At that point in time, because of what is basically a cold war standoff, because no one knows what happened in Cyre to cause the day of mourning, the war stopped. That’s the setting that we’re jumping into.

Going with something that is more classic noir, our adventuring party is going to start a campaign where they are a team of private detectives or adventurers for hire who are getting called into a situation where they have to find and rescue the love of the damsel in distress. That seems like a straight forward job, but in this setting, nothing is going to seem as simple as it looks.

This is going to be a less combat focused campaign, but when you have air ships and trains racing around the main city of the land of Khorvaire, you are going to have some good settings for those set piece combats. Especially since the Sharn, the city, is built up, rather than built out. You’re doing combat on top of a train that is doing it’s circuit 2000 feet above the ground. Doesn’t matter if you have a sigil of feather fall, it’s going to have run out well before you hit the ground.

I’d layer in the intrigue. And I’d even throw some red herrings into a game like this. I feel like that standard noir and standard pulp. If it seems obvious that it was someone who did it, suddenly they will have an air tight alibi. Or do they, was some magic employed or is something not what it seems. Keep the intrigue high, create multiple cases for the players to be working on at the same time, and then tie them all back together.

There are plenty of bad guys to choose from in Eberron because while there are definitely bad people, the good guys are even more shades of grey, again leaning into that pulp and noir sort of feel. In my campaign, I think that I would make it that one of the Outsiders, who are evil beings and bound beneath the surface in the underdark is influencing the mind of a noble into doing a bunch of kidnappings or things that will improve the outsiders place in the world and give them more influence, and they hope eventually free them.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

At the same time, the reason that the outsider and exert so much influence, it’s because there is a cult worshiping that outsider and giving them more power through their worship. So the players are going to have to deal with the cult. Because if they just deal with the noble, the events start up again and the players will realize that maybe there is something greater going on than just this.

And at the same time as that, there is an artificer of some renown who has come to down and claiming to be able to create this amazing magical effect. And they are setting up equipment to show off the newest and latest and greatest thing. But, they are actually part of the cult of the outsider, just from a different location, so working independently to get the outsider freed.

And finally, it turns out that the missing damsel isn’t actually missing, or possibly doesn’t even exist. The person who hired the adventurers is actually part of a secret organization who is trying to keep the outsiders influence from spreading further, but is not allowed to act openly until the time is right. But also isn’t as competent at what they are doing as they should be and they should seem suspicious themselves, to the players.

You can see how you can tangle everything together. In Eberron, you want to set-up a lot of drama, a lot of pulp action and feeling for the players. While this is clearly more of an intrigue sort of game, do definitely have the big set piece combats and make it so that the adventurers and the bad guys can throw people off the edge of high buildings, go adventuring outside of Sharn if need be, meet powerful people, and generally have way more trouble going on than they should. Give it an epic feel, but make it feel different than your normal fantasy.

So as always, would you want to play in or run a game like this one?

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Silly vs Serious D&D

Silly vs Serious D&D

The forest quakes as the heavy footsteps of the dragon shakes the trees. The critters are running away from the flames of the dragons breath. The village, not too far away is raising the alarm with a clanging bell, but that seems to be drawing…