Tag: Dungeon Master

Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Part 2

Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Part 2

I want to continue talking about Dungeons and Dragons and what you need to bring to the table when you play a game. I talked about a lot of the physical things, who needs what books, everyone needing dice and paper and pencil. All of 

Pillars of D&D (Part 2: Combat)

Pillars of D&D (Part 2: Combat)

Dungeons and Dragons is built upon three pillars, Combat, Social Encounters, and Exploration. Now, these pillars don’t always evenly share the load, nor should they. I talk some about why and what the basics of these pillars are in Part 1. But now I am 

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: 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 

Dealing with Death… in D&D

Dealing with Death… in D&D

“We are gathered here to remember the life and death of Gornag the Half-Orc Barbarian. He died like he lived, violently, and in the end, would he have really wanted to go any other way?” “True.” “Bring forth the character sheet and the lighter to 

Completing Your D&D Game, Does it Ever Really Happen?

Completing Your D&D Game, Does it Ever Really Happen?

I think that this is a very rare thing. I don’t know that a ton of people ever really complete their D&D games. There are multiple reasons for it potentially not being completed. But, is that something that’s okay, or as the DM should you be looking to complete it?

First, what do I mean by complete a campaign. I think that there are a few different things, but I want to clarify a few things that it isn’t. First, it doesn’t mean that you get to level 20, in fact, very few campaigns ever get to level 20, and the campaign books that Wizards of the Coast puts out for Dungeons and Dragons, most of those stop around level 10. The reason being, anything else would be too much leveling quickly, and they don’t want to start at a mid level campaign, because it’s harder for new players to jump in there. It also doesn’t mean t hat the campaign ends for one of several reasons. When I say completed I’m talking about the story the DM has set forth being done.

Image Source: Wizards

Why might your campaign end, there are two main reasons. The group falling apart or the DM burning out. There can be a lot of reasons for the first one, the group falling apart. It can be because someone moves away, or someone gets too busy, or really anything that might divide the group. It’s unfortunate that it happens, but it does happen, and there isn’t much you can do about it. The other one of DM burnout can come for a couple of reasons. If the DM is driving the story and the players are passengers on the DM’s story, it makes it a lot of work for the DM. Or the DM can have split up there story so much that it has become too much work for them to keep all of the threads together, or it might just be that the DM has been a DM for a very long time.

But, that’s not how we want our campaign to end. Whether you’re building up to that final epic encounter against the evil deity at level 20, or the BBEG who is a Wizard you can fight at level 10, you want to finish the story. It’s more satisfying for the DM and for the players. And, if you can do that, you likely will create more people who want to continue playing or maybe try running their own game.

So what can you do as the DM? I’ll come back later for players.

  1. Keep the story varied. And by that, if you are going to have McGuffins around that the players have to collect, keep the collection process different and changing. Make the settings feel unique and make what the players need to do feel very different so that they feel like they’re not just hacking and slashing their way through the same adventure.
  2. Keep the players involved in the story telling. If you want the players to feel like their not just along for the ride, have them help you come up with details. This can be tricky if you aren’t great at improv, but if you aren’t, send out Google Surveys to your players between sessions, have them give you character names or descriptions of places that you can work into your next session as you continue planning it. This means that it isn’t just going to be your creative juices in it, so the players are more apt to stay involved with the story and you, as the DM, are less likely to burn out.
  3. Take Breaks. It’s a surprising one, but I think it’s good. If you are playing every two week for four hours, take a break every six months and just cancel a game or however often you need it. This, again, helps with burnout so that you don’t feel like you’re always pushing to your next session of the game.
  4. Don’t feel like you have to push to level 20. It’s fine for a game, and normal for a story to be complete before level 20. You might have thought you wanted the big bad to be fought at level 20, but to help with your burnout or the odds of someone dropping out, keep your story tight. That way you won’t burn out and players won’t get bored, and if you can tell a good and tight story to level 20, more power to you, but it isn’t needed.
Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

So that was for DM’s, but it’s also on the players, there are things you can do to help complete your game:

  1. Miss as little as possible. It seems fairly obvious, but if you aren’t there or if enough players aren’t there, the story probably won’t progress as fast so that you don’t miss anything important. Now, at a larger table, it might still progress, but get caught up on your own time, don’t slow down the game when you get there just so you can be caught up. And when you do miss, let the DM know as far ahead of time as possible.
  2. Be engaged. This is several things rolled into one. Being engaged means don’t be on your phone at the table, unless you’re looking up a spell or ability. That contributes to DM burnout. Be ready to help the DM when they ask for it in terms of creating the world and more of the setting. I often ask for character names or descriptions, be ready to come up with some on the fly, and if you can’t, that’s fine, just don’t be surprised when the DM asks. Also know your character sheet. It’s a pretty simple engagement, take the notes you need so that you know what you are going to need to do. And finally, be engaged with the planning of missions and the story. It’s so many things, but if you have a side conversation or if you are just even passive in the story, it causes more DM burnout and can end a campaign before it’s time.
  3. Share the spotlight. You might be always engaged, you might never miss a session, and those things are huge for keeping the DM going in the game, but if you hog the spotlight as a player, it might cause other players to do the first two items on the players list. As the RPG Academy says, “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.” And that means fun for you and fun for everyone at the table. So share the spotlight, if you see someone who isn’t engaged, get them more engaged in the game. The DM might not have noticed, but you have the same power to take control of the story and get the player engaged as the DM does in a lot of cases.
  4. Be open and honest with the DM. If you aren’t enjoying the game, or if there aren’t parts of the game that you enjoy. Let the DM know, but better yet, let the DM know what you are enjoying. Framing the positives of what is really keeping you engaged allows the DM to do more things that they know the players will like, versus having to guess at what might work only if you say what you don’t like. And this can be tricky, especially after a rough session, but take a minute the day after to text or e-mail your DM and let them know what you’ve liked or what you haven’t and you’ll find that the game likely improves and it means that the DM has something more focused to prepare.

There are going to be more tips, I’m sure, for completing a campaign. But this is a good spot to start if you’re a DM or if you’re a player. Realize, still, that there are going to be a lot of campaigns that just end, and that isn’t a bad thing. But if you can bring your game to completion, you’re going to have a ton of fun with it and create some memories in the process.

What are some things you’ve used for running a game to the completion of it’s story? Are there things as a player you’ve found that have helped you?

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D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

Here’s a hot take, I don’t like Chaotic Neutral, and I don’t think most people who play a Chaotic Neutral actually play a chaotic neutral character. Now, time to explain myself, and explain how you can play it better. My issue with Chaotic Neutral is 

D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

Welcome to the dark side of Dungeons and Dragons. Today we’re looking at the only evil alignment, in my opinion, that would make sense to join a generally good adventuring party, and that is why they make an interesting character. I also think that Lawful 

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

I debated what direction I wanted to go. Did I want to go across the top and do all of the good ones, or down the side and do all the lawful ones, or be chaotic and just randomly pick the next one to do. Eventually I decided that I’d take the lawful route and go through all the lawful options and then go to the neutral options and then the chaotic options. I think with lawful to chaotic versus good to evil, you have more interesting things to talk about.

Lawful Neutral is pretty straight forward. You don’t have that particular bent towards good or evil. Instead, you are going to take things more at face value and make a judgement on it based off of more the cultural norm. You also don’t feel the need to jump out there on some righteous quest. You’re really getting your desire to adventure more from the lawful side of things, which I’ll get to. Being neutral doesn’t mean that you’re going not have opinions on things. Thinking more about it as a drive or focus, you aren’t going to be driven to do something good, because you are a character who has focused their life on being good, or the opposite for evil.

Image Source: Wizards

But I think the lawful aspect is really what is going to drive this character to adventure. They are going to be very tied to following the laws of the land. While a lawful good person might make a judgement on laws of the land that they don’t consider to be just, a lawful neutral might realize that it isn’t just, but it’s the law of the land so they are going to uphold it. For that reason, when something bad comes to the land, like a large raid of bandits, and evil wizard who wants to take over and is breaking the rules of the land, this character is going to get up in arms about that.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if the laws of the land are all unjust and in favor of a tyrant that they going to go along with them. The laws of the land do generally need to be just. The lawful neutral character is going to consider what is for the greater good in this situation. They are going to try and depose a tyrant to set-up a just ruler and someone who will put in rules that they can follow, and they might even see themselves as that person. I think that’s something that might trip up a lawful neutral player. If a law is unjust and only helps the few, they probably won’t uphold it or see it as a fair law. Though, if there’s only a law like that, they’ll see the whole system as the greater good, it’s when that starts to be the focus of the system that the lawful neutral character will attempt to depose or to change the system.

So, what classes work well for a lawful neutral character? A fighter, especially with soldier background would make a lot of sense in that role. They are trained to follow orders and follow the rules in place and they know the consequences if order isn’t followed. A wizard would make a lot of sense as well with their magic coming from study. I do think that almost any of the classes can be lawful neutral, something like warlock or rogue lean away from that, but I think that all of them do make sense. The warlock would see the rules of their patron as being part of the rules of the land that doen’t have to be good or evil in those rules being given for the power. For the rogue, I think of the government sanctioned assassin who is dealing with NPC’s who are too hard to get to in a completely normal legal method, so the rogue has been sanctioned to be a part of the legal system when someone is too well protected to get to otherwise. I always like to find ways to play against type that way. I said for lawful good that Paladin and Cleric were in their sweet spot there, but they can be lawful neutral as well, I think following a deity of justice that helps uphold the laws of the land would make a lot of sense.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

As a DM, I think that you can use a lawful neutral characters alignment to ask them questions about how much they will follow the rules of the land. If something seems like it is fair and just and legal, are they going to do this? It isn’t an alignment though that I see getting a ton of play. Mainly because it doesn’t allow you to be a murder hobo because you’d have to deal with yourself as a character who oversteps your bounds. However, this is something that you can make into a role playing point as well if you want, as a DM.

Have you played a lawful neutral character? What traits did you lean into? Have you played against type with your class?

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Book’em Nerdo – Ascend Online Book #1.5 – Hell to Pay

Book’em Nerdo – Ascend Online Book #1.5 – Hell to Pay

Back with another book review, looking at the second book in the series by Luke Chmilenko, Ascend Online. Now, you can see that this is kind of the second book because it isn’t #2, but is instead #1.5. The reason for this is that this