It makes certain decisions easier #DND #RPG #Hero

What does your group do between adventures? Why do they even adventure at all? Those are interesting questions that come up for role players. And if you think of your game characters as Superheroes rather than as ‘ordinary people’ they become much easier to answer.

One session in our game in Denver Jimmy was looking at the costs to create magic items, and what our characters could make and wondered why we didn’t just make items and sell them for a profit. And he had a good point. Between our characters, we could have all made a tidy living creating and making potions and wondrous items, without ever having to adventure again. Assuming that you are able to obtain the rare materials needed to craft the items there really is no need for characters of a certain level to adventure at all.

The answer really lies in looking at the Superheroes. When you look at Superheroes, why do they do what they do? Look at the Avengers again, because they are pretty well known and omnipresent in popular culture. With the exception of Captain America and Thor, these are all people with skills that would make more than a decent living. Tony Stark doesn’t have to do anything, he has enough money that he could just sit around and drink all day, and his skills and talents make it clear that he could make more than enough money even if he had to start from scratch. Bruce Banner is clearly smart enough to make more money than he could ever need. Hawkeye and Black Widow are clearly both skilled at more than just being support personnel, they could walk into any number of companies and make very good livings without ever having to face another bullet or fist. Even Thor does not have to do anything, he is the Crown Prince of Asgard, he has an army at his command. You could run down the same list using the DC heroes if you wanted to.

So why do they do what they do? Why put themselves in harms way? Because they have a calling, a feeling of heightened responsibility, they need to do this? Maybe because they are the only ones capable of handling these threats. Maybe just because helping others is the right thing to do. Or maybe because they are the team for the job, an enhanced special operations team, SEAL team 6 on super steroids.

Well as a GM, when crafting adventures, I prefer the last approach. The first approach is okay, there are Evil creatures out there and it is up to the Good characters to find them and defeat them. But you cannot rely on that, players are not always going to want to do the right thing. Or maybe they realize that they could be making a good living without putting themselves in danger. So I like to go with the approach that the party is a kind of special ops team, at the disposal of the local Lord.

There are reports of strange sounds and lights in that tower in the woods? The neighboring Lord is in need of help fighting off an Orc invasion? There’s a team for that.

Could you run a game where every adventure somehow links to one of the characters profession? Or craft an adventure with basically zero downtime, like a continuous story. But I don’t think that is as interesting, or it requires a lot more out of your players than some players are willing to put in.

(As an FYI I will be on vacation next week, so there will be fewer posts. I am running the game for the boys on Saturday so I should get out a post about that, but otherwise I may not post next week. Please keep coming back to read, and I promise lots more posts in the weeks after that.)

Let’s do some comparisons #DnD #RPG #Hero

In another idea from this concept of player characters as real Heroes, or even Superheroes let’s look at some characters for comparison. The comparisons are not going to be straight across, due to the differences in worlds, but I think it is an interesting comparison. Let’s compare the Companions of the Hall, from the many R.A. Salvatore books to the Avengers from the first Avengers movie.

The Companions of the Hall at the core consist of Drizzt Do’Urden, Drow Ranger, Bruenor Battlehammer, Dwarf Fighter, Cattie-Brie, Human Fighter/Mage, Wulfgar, human Barbarian, and Regis, Halfling Rogue. Looking at that core it was a pretty combat heavy group. By the current books, Bruenor is the King of a Dwarven Nation and the most revered Dwarf leader in the Forgotten Realms. Drizzt is considered the toughest warrior in the land, capable of tackling Demons almost singlehandedly. Cattie-Brie is now a powerful Mage, with Divine powers as well. Wulfgar is still seemingly one of the strongest warriors in the land. And Regis is now a competent alchemist, in addition to his startling rogue skills.

The Avengers are Iron Man (billionaire, philanthropist, playboy), Captain America (Super Soldier), Thor (Demigod Alien), the Hulk (yeah), Black Widow (Spy, renowned fighter), Hawkeye (archer supreme.) Yeah, this group obviously rocks in combat, from the nearly unstoppable Hulk, the tactical cunning of Captain America and Black Widow, missile fire from Iron Man and Hawkeye, and Thor for tackling the biggest members of the opposition. And obviously important figures as well, from Thor being Crown Prince of Asgard, to one of the richest men in the world in Iron Man.

Again, comparisons won’t be straight across for all the characters, in part due to the settings. But some of these can be pretty interesting.

In many ways Wulfgar is a cross of Hulk and Thor, even using a hammer. Wulfgar is ridiculously strong and fearsome. He is prone to barbaric rages where he goes kind of crazy.

Bruenor is closest to Captain America in terms of being the old wise one and having all those years of training. In addition, his quests and leadership are often what keeps everyone together as a team.

Regis fulfills the roles of Hawkeye and Black Widow when it comes to rogue actions like infiltration, spying, dealing with traps. And in some ways acts as the heart of the group that the others fall back on.

Cattie-Brie is probably the toughest comparison. But in the recent works, she is probably closest to an Iron Man role, at least in combat. Providing the magical firepower like Iron Man provides the technological firepower. In early books, she was the archer, closer to a Hawkeye figure.

Drizzt is definitely unique. He is the best fighter, which in many ways compares to Captain America. But he is not the leader, instead, he often does his own thing to help the team, be it missile fire, or infiltrating, or challenging the best opponent. And he is the most alien and feared, making him more like Thor or Hulk.

The big thing about this is that these are all classic D&D characters, and when treated as a team they can all be treated as a Fantasy equivalent of the Avengers. And more interestingly there is no reason that a person who is creating a character in D&D or Pathfinder could not look to an Avenger for inspiration as much as a Forgotten Realms book character. And by extension, when the characters get sufficiently advanced it stands to reason that they could have just as big of an impact on their setting and world as the Avengers have in the Marvel Universe.

Role playing characters, especially in fantasy settings, have been derived from books for the most part. And if you told a traditional player that they could look to a comic book for inspiration they would likely disagree vehemently. My point is that there is no real line there. A powerful character is a powerful character, and it doesn’t matter if their story is told in print, graphics or on screen.