Tag: The RPG Academy

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 

The 7 Deadly Sins of Board Gaming

The 7 Deadly Sins of Board Gaming

So, this second post for today comes from a thread over on Board Game Geek called “The 7 Sins of Boardgaming” and I thought while reading through it, I should do that. I should write up some of my “rules” for board gaming. Obviously, each 

Win with the Min in D&D

Win with the Min in D&D

Yesterday’s article was about min/maxing a character. Just a quick recap, this is where you make the ideal build for your character so that you are the best at whatever area of the game you want to be in and have the most optimized build for your race, class, and background combo. This can be a fun way to play D&D, and provide a different type of challenge for the game.

However, you don’t have to play a min/maxed character when playing D&D, and I actually think that can lead to some better game play than if you do have min/maxed. The issue with min/maxed character can often lie with them being too good at everything and not having anything unique about them. A skilled player can role play a min/maxed character just fine so that they have depth and are a unique character, but they aren’t going to have as much to over come.

Image Source: Wizards

An example of a poorly min/maxed character is Robert Langdon from The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. In the book, he is figuring out all of these puzzles with no problem, he’s able to do fairly athletic things no problem. And for a long time, you don’t really think that he has any flaws. Then he has to get into a small car and you find out that he has claustrophobia, which is then “cured” the next page. Now, this is clearly an example of how not to min/max a character in a story so that you don’t end up removing anything interesting or unique or challenging for them. But the same holds true, in a world of magic and fantasy, when you have a character doesn’t naturally have some flaw, it’s easy to play them without flaw, and often times, without character because of that.

So instead of min/maxing the heck out of your character, you might want to go about creating a character who isn’t the ideal combination of things, but is still effective in the game. This gives them a true weakness and true strength in given situations. Let’s look at our Mountain Dwarf Fighter, the tank/fighter build that we did. Without using anything special, we were able to create a character that was going to be getting a lot of hit points each level and had a lot of armor class from the very early levels. Yes, they were weak-ish to magic, but they were meant more to deal with melee combats, and with their hit points, unless they are being mentally dominated, they are going to be tough to get out of a fight.

There are certainly other ways to bring in flaws and issues to the character for role playing purposes, we didn’t touch on the background items like Personality Traits, Flaws, Bonds, and Ideals, which I’ve done articles on previously. But those are limited to role playing for a character like our tank, and more likely than not, the person playing the tank would be there for the combat more than the social encounters anyways. So those things might be lost on the character sheet.

If, however, you wanted to create a more flawed tank, but still be a tank, you can certainly do that. When we created our tank, we gave them both solid dexterity and strength. The advantage of having both of those solidly stat’ed is that you can get into combat quickly and still hit well. Let’s say instead, for the tank, that they were actually a nerd growing up and loved brewing, keeping the Mountain Dwarf and Fighter in the mix and same equipment, we can just adjust the stats to make it a very different character.

If, instead, we keep the 14 in Constitution because it becomes a 16 with our racial bonuses, so that we still get our +3 to health each level until we hit our first ability score increase, where we can make it a four. Then, instead of doing strength and dexterity, we focus on intelligence and wisdom, we get a very different character. We still have 19 for our armor class and 13 HP at the first level, but we’re now not that great at hitting anything with a lower than average strength, since I put an 8 in there. That becomes a -1 for a modifier, though, we are proficient with the weapon, which gives us a +2 bonus for a +1 bonus overall, the damage output is just going to be bad. Now, you still have a character that can tank and is actually better at dealing with mental domination than our previous one was, but is worse at fighting.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

We’ve also created a character with a more unique backstory for role playing purposes. Why are they so good at deflecting punches and hits? Maybe they were bullied as a kid, and they never learned to fight, but instead they developed the skills to take a punch and not be affected by it, and that’s how they dealt with their bullies. That skill then translated well for them when they decided to go out adventuring to learn more about the world and find out information that they don’t know, because they can go around and if something tries to get them, they can still take a punch. That’s more of a unique character that easily comes out of the choices we made in not making a character with their ideal stats.

When you create characters, do you strive for a character that is the ideal at one thing, such as combat or social interactions, or do you seek to create a character with a more interesting story naturally built in?

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

Email us at nerdologists@gmail.com
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.

D&D to the Max and the Min

D&D to the Max and the Min

If you’ve been around pen and paper RPG players or computer game RPG players, you might have heard of a term called “Min/Maxing”. This is the practice of putting together a character that is the most efficient for what you need in a given game. 

AcadeCon 2017

AcadeCon 2017

This will be a super light week, probably the post I was supposed to have on Clerics getting posted, but that’s because we’re heading out to AcadeCon. Some exciting things with that. I’m running a Dungeons and Dragons version of Pride, PrejuDICE, and Zombies and 

RPGs: How Not to Play Batman

RPGs: How Not to Play Batman

This came up on an episode of the Faculty Meetings (either 107 or 108) from The RPG Academy recently and I wanted to talk about it in somewhat different terms than they did. The idea they were tossing about was how you can play vulnerable characters. They did a really good job of talking about it and how characters who aren’t basically Batman make for more interesting role play and stories. I wanted to touch on this some as well, but also in a broader sense.

Why Not to Play Batman

Everyone kind of wants to play that Batman character. He has a strong moral code (that is the part people will most often ignore), he’s an expert fighter, and he is super smart. In real life he has a mysterious playboy life style and women flock to him. And in RPG’s, people want to play that charismatic character who is smart and great at combat, but there are some issues with that.

First, it’s hard to tell a story around that. If everyone is awesome, especially a whole party, there’s not going to be a challenge that is too hard for them ever. Everything seems kind of paltry when you don’t have to spend time putting clues together because the PC’s are just smart enough to go take on figure it out right away. ¬†And it’s almost worse if there’s a single player who is awesome at everything. The fighter is the tank in your party, but you have a rogue that can evade so much damage and deal more damage, they might as well be the tank and striker all rolled into one. Or maybe it’s a Bard/Rogue combo so they can heal, they can cast spells, they can tank, they can strike, they can really do whatever they want. What’s the point of the rest of the party even?

Image Source: Know Your Meme

How Not to Play Batman

This is where the thoughts of The RPG Academy really comes in. They talked mainly about character flaws that really influence the game. For example, in Dungeons and Flagons, our D&D Actual Play, Tate has a drinking problem, doesn’t really get him into too much trouble, but I keep track of when he says he’s been drinking, and the difficulty of a check is higher when he’s been drinking. He’s less apt to notice stuff around him, and if he’s been drinking a lot, he’s going to distract his fellow adventurers as well. One great way not to be Batman is to have those character flaws. And sure, you might say, Batman has character flaws, which he does, but that’s not how people generally see him. Having a character flaw doesn’t just have to be something like a drinking problem, it could be being naive to the world, which FInja is sometimes.

The next thing I’d say is try not to be good at everything. For example, Tate is kind of character that is pretty good at everything. He can talk to people and either tell them the truth to get them to believe him or lie to their face. It doesn’t really matter which. Tate in some ways is almost too powerful at most skills. Nimrose on the other hand has issues with talking to people. But she has some great fighting and acrobatic skills, she is stealthy, and nimble. So when she plays, she wants to play into those traits, because she’s going to do better. Batman is generally good at everything, need something fixed, go to Batman, need money, go to Batman, need a detective, it’s Batman, need to knock heads together, call Batman. So, to not play Batman, don’t let your character specialize in everything, let each player have a spot to shine. Tate is the talker, Nimrose is the sneaker, and Finja is the healer and kind person. And we’ve had fun situations where Nimrose has had to be the talker and things haven’t worked as expected.

Finally, one thing that I like about not playing Batman and why I say, don’t play Batman, is that it gives a chance for your character to really grow. If they are good at everything, they can learn new mechanics but really won’t ever get better than they are now. When a character has a flaw or a weakness, they can have that ah-ha moment of character development in the game where maybe Tate puts down the bottle. Maybe Finja becomes more hardened to the world at some point in time when something bad happens. And if you are the player, this really allows you to take narrative control of your character. The DM might try and make you have that ah-ha moment where your character becomes more world wise, but only you get to pick when and how that happens.

Where/What/When Not to Play Batman

Alright, I got nothing left except to wrap up. Playing Batman can seem like it would be fun, and it might be for you for a little bit. But if you’re Batman character is overshadowing everyone else and other people aren’t having fun, then you are going to stop having fun as well, because the game will stop. There are points and time to pull out a Batman character, like with a one shot where you’re just playing against a huge bad guy for one session, but if you are playing a campaign, don’t be Batman.


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
Visit us on Facebook here.

AcadeCon Round-up: Nefertiti Overdrive

AcadeCon Round-up: Nefertiti Overdrive

Kristen is going to be writing a post on the Cold Steel Wardens and Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG, and I get to cover Nefertiti Overdrive. Nefertiti Overdrive is a story driven game where the more  you describe, the better chance you have. The game 

AcadeCon Roundup: Peder’s Take

AcadeCon Roundup: Peder’s Take

Alright, we are back after a week (or so) of being away. This is because we were at AcadeCon, which if you follow me on twitter, you definitely could have seen, also, I talked about it in the last video that I did. Quick recap: 

Table Top Picks: Peder’s Top 7 Favorite Board Games

Table Top Picks: Peder’s Top 7 Favorite Board Games

This idea came from a Twitter friend, @Mundangerous, one of the hosts of the ENnie nominated podcast, Total Party Thrill. Since both The RPG Academy and Nerdologists have gone away from using the name Table Topics, which you can read about in the Five Tribes post, he suggested that we go with Table Top Picks. That doesn’t make great sense for a review series, but it was too good not to use. So the next two posts are going to be Kristen and my favorite board games.*

* For this article board games can mean card/dice games as well but not RPG’s.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games
Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games

7. Elder Signs

Why: Elder Signs has a theme that I really like. Lovecraft and his world of horror is very interesting. It takes some ideas from games like Arkham Horror, where you are trying to defeat a great old one, but it takes less thinking to play Elder Signs. As compared to high strategy and traveling through Arkham, you are just in the museum, and different scenarios happen which you need to roll various symbols on the dice. It combines enough strategy with luck though to keep it very interesting and moving. And one of my favorite parts is that fact that you play different unique characters.

6. Lord of the Rings: Board Game

Why: This is Lord of the Rings. You go through the parts of the story that everyone knows which are so great. And you play the characters that everyone knows, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Fatty Bolger. Yes, this is from prior to the movies. This is another game where I can play a unique character. And we have an expansion where someone can play the bad guys, which adds a new level of stress to a game that always makes you feel like you are doing well, and then all of a sudden you are within danger of losing.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
Image Source: BoardGameGeek

5. Smallworld

Why: Smallworld if a world of slaughter and laughter. An area control game that mixes unique races and abilities, it s a blast to play. I really like the fact that with the different map sizes, the maps are never so large that you can just sit there, people will always be going after another player, and because it is so inherent in the game, And the combinations are great, dwarves who can fly, giants who pillage, or merchant elves, the game plays out differently every time.

4. Betrayal at House on the Hill

Why: It’s another horror based game and it is semi-cooperative. There will almost always be a traitor in the game, and there is always an end game. But who knows who it is going to be, and who knows what horrors the house will reveal. This game is good because, while there is a traitor, no one is actively playing against the group in the first part of the game. This means that you don’t end up with hurt feelings, and it is just a fun game.

pandemic

3. Pandemic

Why: Another cooperative game, you can see what I play most often, where you are part of the CDC fighting against diseases that are spreading around the world. It is one of those games, like Lord of the Rings, where you feel like you are doing well, and then all of a sudden, things start to go poorly, and you don’t know what to do, and are scrambling to keep up. It’s a blast to play and one that I would highly recommend that people buy.

2. Pandemic Legacy

Why: A lot of it can be summed up with – see above. However, it is a Legacy game. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Legacy games, how it sets up is that whatever you do in previous games affects the board and how things will work in future games on the board. It also tells more of a story. So you gain more abilities, and there are other things to escalate and it is always stressful and a ton of fun.

Image Source; Geek Alert
Image Source; Geek Alert

1. Dead of Winter

Why: This game potentially has a hidden traitor, it has high stress situations as you look to feed your colony of survivors, keep the zombies from getting in, and complete an objective. The fact that their may or may not be a traitor means that it is questionable if someone is working against you. It is a subtle game, and a high stress game trying to figure out what is going on with helping the colony and trying to find the traitor.

What are some of your favorite board games, or your person Table Top Picks?

———————————
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
Visit us on Facebook here.

Role-Playing Games 101

Role-Playing Games 101

As a follow-up to the post on tabletop games, and with the launch of our actual play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition podcast, one of the topics that I’ve heard many people say they’re confused about is Role-Playing Games. These games often seem quite intimidating, as