Archive for the ‘Characters’ Category

Star Power: How DMs and PCs Create it Together

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

As we near the end of our epic D&D 5th edition Ravenloft campaign (spanning 2 real-time years!) and near the start of a new 5e home brew, I can’t help but want to share one simple yet paramount tip when it comes to starting  a new campaign:

Make sure your PCs are the stars.

Sounds simple, right?  Of course, you say, no-brainer.

The real question is how you accomplish this.  One of the best answers starts with the party’s (updated and clear!) character sheets.  Breathe life into your campaign by exploring character strengths, weaknesses and quirks.  Start simple with something like proficient languages.

After several sessions or months, whether I play or DM – sometimes I say or hear: boy, I wish I would’ve had a chance to speak this language, use this skill, cast this spell or use this cool magic item.  With so many cool ideas in your head or on paper as DM, it’s easy to forget the volumes of inspiration and adventure staring back at you from your players’ character sheets.


D&D Unearthed Arcana: Playtest Now!

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

One of the best parts of D&D Next was our ability – as passionate players, DMs and fans – to contribute to the shaping of the final D&D 5e game.

And one of the most underrated (or perhaps unknown?) parts of D&D 5e right now is its Unearthed Arcana article and survey series – where playtesting for any potential 5e rules expansion continues to this day.

(Side note: I love how careful the designers are being with any official rules expansion.  They’ve said they don’t want to overwhelm anyone, especially the DM, and risk the awful rules bloat and power creep so common in past editions.  So plenty of caution and playtesting – by all of us – makes sense.  Quality over quantity?  Yes, please!)

The many new class archetypes alone in Unearthed Arcana will win most D&D gamers over, and a survey accompanies each of these playtest options so you – as the players and DMs running the characters and campaigns – can tell the D&D designers what works ok, what you love and what you hate!

So if you’ve missed Unearthed Arcana since its dawn in February 2015, check it out now!  While the proposed new class archetypes are arguably the most exciting content (and most frequent in recent months), you’ll find new rules and ideas for mass combat, feats, quicker characters, the Underdark, Eberron and much more.

New bard colleges?  Weapon-master monks?  The cleric domains of Grave and Forge?  Oaths of Conquest or Treachery – yes, Treachery! – for paladins?  How about some beloved classics like the Arcane Archer, Knight or Samurai?  (Oriental Adventures fans, I know you’re out there!)  They’re all here for us to playtest – right now!

So find something you’d like to try in your games, talk to your DM, test drive it a while, and send in your feedback through its matching Unearthed Arcana survey.

Help shape the future of 5e!

D&D Video Gems: Critical Role

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

You may have asked, “Who’s that DM?  He’s awesome!” in last month’s D&D video gem.  I know I did!

He’s voice actor Matthew Mercer from Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role, and he and his (all-voice actor) playgroup remind me a lot of my own immersive roleplaying and storytelling DM style – and all the tremendous laughs we have at our own game table!

Loved episode 1 of Critical Role so much I have to share it:

P.S. I wasn’t sure I’d watch the whole session… but it was so awesome, including all the excited, inspired live viewer comments, that I couldn’t stop – it was an absolute blast!  Make the time, you’ll love it too!


D&D Video Gems: Curse of the Sad Mummy

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Favicon-jpgLeague of Legends is one of the extremely few games I’ve played off and on for years.  It still captures my imagination (it’s a MOBA with fantasy RPG themes) and fires up my competitive gaming juices every time.  And this is true even after several weeks or months away from the game.

A big draw for me is its unique characters, and just like in D&D – their stories are tremendous and their themes inspire.  I especially love how the the artists “re-imagine” these champions with new looks or skins.

The creators of League of Legends also draw upon, blend and unleash all things fantasy and art, like in this stunningly emotional music video.


P.S. Still haven’t watched it?  Tim Burton fan?  Watch it!  Also check out the full Curse of the Sad Mummy site.

Game Night: Play More One-Shots

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Favicon-jpgDnD_MonsterManualWant something completely different on game night?  Your game night doesn’t have to be the usual, weekly full campaign.

Want to keep D&D, Dragon Age or whatever RPGs you play exciting and easy to jump into, week after week?  Game type variety is what you need!

Full Campaigns: The Bad and the Ugly

There are two big drawbacks to always playing full campaigns.  First, full campaigns can feel overwhelming and long.  Going from levels 1-20 or 1-30 can really feel like a slog for some players – and GMs!  If the pace of XP and level gain isn’t right, you risk never experiencing the whole game – even if you play for a few real-life years!


Speak in Tongues: One Tip for Rewarding Languages

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Favicon-jpgBlue_Runes_by_FadedShadow589Imith Anala knows nine languages: Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Orc, Sylvan and Common.

Impressive!  He’s just one of a few “language master” characters in our current D&D Next: Murder in Baldur’s Gate-inspired Forgotten Realms campaign.

Immediately upon seeing that language list, I knew I wanted to do something new as DM – yet simple and elegant – to highlight character languages and make those multilingual choices flavorful and rewarding.

We’ve all seen them or created them – characters with a ridiculously long and eclectic list of languages.  Like me, you’ve probably gone the typical route when an NPC or monster speaks an unusual language – if one of the PCs knows it, you translate the scene aloud right into “Common” on the spot.

Easy, quick and yet – how rewarding is it?  Does it really add any flavor or realism to the campaign?  What about the characters who really wouldn’t understand the full details of a flirtatious exchange of Infernal between the tiefling bard and the tiefling leader of a band of noble estate squatters?  Or when an orc insults or creatively curses out that disgusting elf mage Imith in Orcish – while spitting in his face?


How To Use Story Glue: Cast of Characters & Memorable Moments

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Favicon-jpgStory Glue & Characters - LREver wish you had a quick, easy way to keep your players’ attention between game sessions?  Frustrated by no one (maybe even you!) remembering what they were doing last time, with whom, or why?

Here’s one quick way to fix this common problem every GM and playgroup faces, while keeping your story and characters brilliant and alive: use story glue.


D&D Video Gems: Santa’s a 30th level Half-Elf, Half-Gnome!

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Dungeon Bastarding for the Holidays

Looking for some D&D-flavored holiday laughs?  Then once more, you need the Dungeon Bastard!

Found this 2011 holiday gem from Bill Cavalier, also known as The Adventure Coach.  “William” strikes gold again – this time for the holidays!


Santa: Level 20, 30, or 40?

And for something completely different: if you’re curious what Santa’s stat block might look like, check out this great Paizo/Pathfinder thread.  Depending on which RPG you actually play, your level suggestion may vary!

Sorcerer or wizard?  What do you think?  Time Stop and Wish are locks for Santa, I agree!


Happy Holidays from Leonine Roar!

Your Merry GM and Player,


Fear of Death: Creating Unforgettable Character Death Scenes

Friday, October 26th, 2012

In our last adventure, after pursuing an army of darkspawn and their diabolical mage masters, Nall and his friends saved his people from death – and an even more terrible fate (reproduction with darkspawn, anyone?). 

But it was a costly victory.  It all happened so quickly, yet in slow motion.  And… I helped.


Got Character? Give Them Pain and Suffering

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Ever notice how the pain and suffering of some of your favorite characters in books, TV, movies or campaigns – and how they deal with the unenviable hand they’re dealt – is exactly what draws you into their story?  Frodo, Aragorn, Buffy, Angel, Selene and even Conan. 

There’s something about experiencing their struggles and trials first-hand, from every angle, that leads us to being sympathetic and even identifying with their scars, skeletons and fears.  They leap off the screen or from the pages – or in D&D, they vault right out of the game and gameworld, capturing your imagination. 

You root for them because of what they’ve gone through, who they are because of it and who they become.

In your D&D stories, whether you play or DM, you too can bring your characters to life by getting right to the heart of their pain and suffering.