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 […]
Final topic for things to think about with a party. We’re going to try and figure out what alignments you should have in your adventuring party. Probably a trickier subject because some people really don’t want an evil character with their good character, or they make the rogue steal everything and everyone hate the chaotic neutral rogue.
I do think you can have any combination of alignments in an adventuring party. However, I would say that it depends on the game that you’re playing. If you’re getting all your information from the church, having a chaotic evil character is probably not going to work that well (and generally Chaotic Evil is going to be the hardest to make work in a campaign). Even a lawful evil character will be willing to work with the party as long as it’s in their interest.
When I start a game, I generally recommend to my players, since we don’t play evil campaigns, that we go with the part of the alignment matrix that is Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good. That means that the party should generally be on the same page. Though, we don’t use the alignment system that heavily, so a Chaotic Good character has some flexibility in what they do, as well as a Lawful Good character. I might write on the different alignments soon. But by having your party generally in the same area of the alignment matrix and not dipping into evil or trying to be a true neutral character allows you to have a more cohesive party.
But what if you have someone is playing a lawful evil wizard in a party with a lawful good paladin? And then you have a chaotic neutral rogue, and a true neutral druid? How do you make that work for the party?
You really need the full party buy-in for that. It’s too easy to have the paladin and wizard at each others throats while the rogue steals there stuff, and the druid just sits by and does nothing. And then eventually you end the game in a battle royale after the wizard and paladin realize the rogue has stolen their stuff. That’s going to be less fun for everyone, and definitely less fun for you as the DM as you have to basically scrap your campaign or work it in such a way that everyone ends up happy sometimes.
But, if everyone at the table has buy-in before you start playing, you can do things to negate this. The lawful evil wizard can animate the dead for missions while the paladin is off doing something else. And both players can make sure that’s how it’s working. The rogue can respect the party enough that she doesn’t steal from her party members, but in turn, the Paladin will not notice when the rogue steals from a shop. Once, however, one person in the group decides that the effort to make that happen to not step on the other player characters and players toes, you have a chance for breakdown in your game.
Now, you could also just run an evil campaign for a little bit so that lawful evil wizard gets their game for a bit, and everyone is playing an evil character. I might eventually write about evil campaigns, but they tend not to be that interesting an idea to me, I prefer the heroes journey.
So, basically the recap this last bit. Figure out the alignments that are going to work well for your campaign and offer those up to the players. Give some wiggle room in them, but try and keep the party focused in the same area so that you don’t have to deal with anything odd. And that can be either a good party or an evil party or anywhere in between. And if someone is an outlier, it’s on them to figure out why they fit in, not on the other players and not on your as the DM.
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The name says it all really, we’re going to be doing a zombie apocalypse. However, we aren’t going to be playing the game where the players are trying to stop it. Instead, we’re going to pull from things like The Walking Dead, Dead of Winter, and Shaun of the Dead to find out how to survive and how people act in a zombie apocalypse.
This is definitely going to be grim fantasy setting where you are dealing with some fairly heavy issues. Much like the show The Walking Dead and game Dead of Winter deal with humans who are causing problems to the other humans.
So, we have a small group of survivors who are our players. They are going to have to look for a safe haven. Whether they all know each other before the apocalypse is up to the players, but it’s possible that some of them could be an outsider to the group. I think that would be a way to cause tension in the game quickly by planting seeds of doubt, whether the person can be trusted fully or not.
You can also set this up by having an DM PC, something that I would say never do, in the party where you have a character, but really they are a reoccuring NPC who is going to screw over the party some night. They are using the party for their own good, but then they decide that the party isn’t useful for them, so they are going to take what they want and then leave. I’d make this a lower level bad guy for them to deal with, while still having to fight zombies often or try and sneak around zombies. You could even, if they don’t track down the NPC and kill them, have that character build up into a larger bad guy.
If they do kill the NPC, then create a new one who has a rival gang fighting for resources and doing a scorched earth policy to keep other people from following behind them and getting the zombies to follow those people and getting to them. However, this would obviously have a very negative effect on other survivors beyond the more resourceful PC’s.
Eventually, I think the big bad of the campaign, besides the zombies, should be a wizard or lich who has a controlling rod that they build after the apocalypse has started. This rod is what they are using now, to control zombies and take over territories and subjugate people. Taking out the lich/wizard won’t solve the problem of the zombies, but will at least give people a fair chance.
I’d make it so that the BBEG is either the only who who can control the zombies, or that the rod is something like a crystal ball so that the players won’t likely get the magical item that allows them to send zombies away or keep them away from an area. Or at least cause that as a threat for the players and the players can either decide that destroying the control rod, which would then cause the zombies to attack the BBEG as well as the players might be an object, or try and figure out how and use the control rod.
Maybe give it to the players, now that I’m thinking about it, or give them a chance to get it, because then you could narrate a cool ending where the players could use the control rod to create a little oasis of safety for people to live.
With all these kind of major points, I’d also have the players dealing with survivors, dealing with injured people, dealing with bitten people who haven’t turned yet, and things like that. I would nerf a few healing options, basically only wish should be able to stop the zombie virus as it takes over the body where it could be argued that Greater Restoration or even Lesser Restoration might be able to normally.
Now, would I want to run this game? I think it could be interesting to run. I think the big focus of this game is going to be putting the players into situations where there isn’t a good outcome. This is supposed to be a dark fantasy scenario, and you don’t want them to be too heroic. I’d throw them up against situations where it’s about surviving. With that, though, I’d also give them a saving throw against turning into a zombie, but I would expect some PC’s to die along the way.
Would you want to play in a dark fantasy game?
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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 a race without a home. They feel out of place among humans and among elves. Being that they don’t look quite like either, half elves, where ever they go, are going to stand out. They are welcome in human cities, but still remain apart, whereas elves tend to look down on them for their mixed blood. This is going to be a pretty standard hook that you can use for your player character to go adventuring, they’ve needed to wander for a long time. I will say, play this carefully, though, as racism is going to be an issue for some people at your table who have been passed over for race or some other ism in their life. Just be aware of your table to know if it will work to play that trope.
Statistically, Half-Elves are a great race to play. You get a bump to Charisma and two other abilities of your choice. That means that the half elf is set-up to play anything and often is the face of the party. And the two other ability scores makes it really good at anything else, whether your want to be a barbarian or a wizard. They also pick up Dark Vision and Fey Ancestry, which gives them advantage against being charmed, from their elven half, and two skills of their choice from their human half. The skills, again, make them good at anything.
Beyond that, how do you play a half elf. I think the big thing is that you don’t have a home. But beyond that, when you did have a home, where did you grow up? Did you grow up in elven society or human society. If you grew up in Elven society, check out my article on Elves. If you grew up in Human society, check out my article on humans. You are going to have some traits of the other, but where you grew up is going to shape you. If you were cast out at a young age from both societies, that is going to shape you as well.
I don’t know that there is a ton more to say about half elves, so let’s jump into some backstories.
I was born to an elven mother and a human father. I’ve been told that is the way that you don’t want things to go. But from what I’ve seen, no one treats half elves all that well. We were cast out of elven society, and that was that. Things were fine for a few years, until my father died at the age of 50 while I was still fairly young. Our Elven clan wouldn’t take us back in when that happened as I was still a half breed and we were forced to live on the street before my mother became a handmaid for a noble house. It wasn’t the work that she wanted, but human nobles value elven help as they can live through generations and be with the family a long time. I was being groomed to join the nobles guard when another elf in the families employ accused me of stealing, which I didn’t do, and got me kicked out of the house as well as my mother. I want to clear my mothers name so she can have at least a decent life again and make whomever did frame us pay.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
I come from a noble house. As a half elf, t hat is pretty nice, and better than I’ve seen a lot of half elves treated. It was a treaty that was signed between a human house and an elven house that was sealed with a marriage that led to me. I was given a nice comfortable life and I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want to. What I wanted to do was sit around and read books, so that is what I did. Then, however, someone broke the treaty. I don’t know who broke it first, but the humans claimed the elves did, and the elves claimed the humans did, and my family was torn apart. Things were said on both sides, but I haven’t seen my father in several years now. The war that is breaking out is bad, and I’m searching for a way to solve it. I believe that I’ve found something in a higher power, but until I know for sure, I try and help as much as I can.
Alignment: Lawful Good
A deal was made before I was born for my soul. I don’t like it at all, but that is what my mother decided for me. She was in a tough spot, on the run after she’d stolen money from a crime baron and she had been nearly caught. She was hiding in the woods and crying, praying that someone would help her, when a beautiful and powerful looking elf showed up and agreed to help. He was able to deal with the criminals who were chasing her, in exchange for me. I wasn’t conceived yet, but nine months later, there I was. We lived a simple life with my mother using her stolen money to set-up a shop. I worked with her there, eventually taking over most of the business. Then one day, the same elf knocked on the door and said that they had a job for me, and that it was time for me to start fulfilling my part of my mothers deal. And what I need to do for him starts with dealing with the crime baron.
Alignment: Anywhere on the good spectrum
Class: Warlock – Fey Pact
Background: Guild Artisan
Those are just some ideas. You can see that I lean into playing with the birth of the characters to determine some of their life story and how it’s influenced them as a half elf.
Have you played a half elf in a game of Dungeons and Dragons? Was it for the stat bonuses or for the role playing aspect?
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