RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.
Week Four: Past and future
- Name a game that had an impact on you in the last year.
- Your gaming ambition for the next year.
I recently finished playing in a Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition) campaign, and the same group is now planning for the next one, in the same setting but with all new characters. We’re even using D&D Beyond for it, because if we’re going down that rabbit hole we might as well go all the way, right?
And going through character creation has got me thinking again about fantasy races in D&D, and pondering yet again the age-old question: what in the Nine Hells is up with the Half-Elf and Half-Orc races? What makes them so special that they get treated as distinct races in their own right? Why can’t I play as any other type of hybrid, like a half-elf/half-dwarf dwelf? Well, this time I actually decided to do something about it.
You can play other types of hybrid in D&D 5e. Read on to see how.
RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.
There’s no way of answering this in an objective way. There are so many RPGs with art that is evocative or appropriate or just plain badass. Too many for me to count, let alone name. Instead, I have to be completely subjective and pick the one RPG I’ve played in which the inspiration for my character came directly from the artwork: the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Specifically, the example female half-elf from the Player’s Handbook (right). Just look at the contempt on that face. It’s glorious.
The wider picture is apparently of a martial class (fighter or rogue, I guess), but I played a warlock who had made a deal in infancy with an archfey. She was raised by humans but convinced (on the basis of no real evidence) that she was the daughter of some powerful lord of the Feywild. She was one of my first RPG characters after rejoining the hobby and I made some critical errors in designing her (she had the highest Charisma in the party but rarely bothered to talk to people, for instance), so I was not quite able to capture the awesome of the image when I played the character, but I was satisfied with the campaign anyway. The last we ever saw of her she was leaping recklessly into the Feywild, heedless of the fact that there would be no way back again. She’s probably still there, I guess.
I’m in a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign at the moment, and the players recently had an ethical debate about something that happened a couple of sessions ago. This debate wasn’t about Alignment but, when talking ethics in D&D, Alignment is impossible to avoid.
The concept of Alignment elicits some very powerful emotions among roleplayers. I am not immune to this. I have strong feelings about Good and Evil in particular, but my headcanon is largely incompatible with the way that Alignment is used in D&D itself.
D&D Alignment does double duty as a reflection of your personal morality as your position in a great eternal conflict between cosmic forces of unimaginable power. It has accomplished this serviceably well for decades, but I think that this splitting of focus can sometimes confuse gamemakers and players.
However, if we narrow down Alignment’s focus to just character morality, removing any link to a heavenly absolute Good or infernal absolute Evil, then it can become a lot more nuanced. What if individuals didn’t have a fixed Alignment, but one that varied according to how much they cared about other people? Would this make it more useful as a tool for analysing characters in other games, or more generally?