Role-Playing Resources

A repository for things that all gamers will find useful in breathing life into their characters and the world around them.

Table of Contents:

  1. Player Resources
  2. Dungeon Master Resources
  3. Alignment Resources
  4. Character Personality Resources
  5. Paladin Resources

1. Player Resources

There is a huge wealth of player resources available, and it is of note that these resources are also equally useful for the DM. By far

  • Player’s Strategy Guide (The absolute MUST-READ for any player. I am not kidding. This comes as the single most highly recommended item on this entire page for anyone. No other resource listed here has the depth and breadth of quality information that this guide does. It covers everything from role-playing presentation, character portrayal, mechanical concerns, combat tactics, player types, and simply having fun as a group at the table. A Google Drive Link.)
  • Player’s Handbook Races – Dragonborn
  • Player’s Handbook Races – Tieflings
  • Ecology of the Dragonborn
  • Ecology of the Hengeyokai

2. Dungeon Master Resources:

These particular links include resources and guidance that a Dungeon Master would find useful for spicing up their game, their descriptions, and for more actively engaging their players. Among these links are also tools that a DM will find useful for world-building, and while some of these may verge into the mechanical, they are “role-play” enough that they can be safely included here (which also keeps DM’s from having to page around too much).

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(From Dragon Magazine #393: Legacy of Nerath)

Backgrounds can include personal quests for characters to pursue. You can choose to treat these as atmosphere and roleplaying tools only, but it’s better if you make them integral parts of your campaign’s story. There is no reason why they can’t be as important as any other quests the characters undertake, or why they should be rewarded any less. When a player selects a background quest, decide (based on the player’s desires and the DM’s vision for the campaign) whether it should be a minor or major quest and whether completing it should earn a reward for the individual or for the entire group. Don’t rule out the possibility that what you thought would be a minor, personal quest might become a major, group quest before it’s accomplished. Quests have a way of doing that.

When a quest is fulfilled, the DM ought to reward the characters the same way they would would for any other quest according to the level when it’s accomplished and the difficulty of the quest. Because these are personal quests, try to make the rewards personal, too. This is a perfect opportunity to award a sought after rare or uncommon magic item or one of the legendary boons described later in this article. Quests which are taken on in heroic tier should be accomplished in heroic tier, but that doesn’t need to be the end of the story. Each background suggests three possible quests. When one is completed, players can select (or begin thinking about) their next one. The suggested quests are not the only possibilities; use them for inspiration and create quests that will make this campaign memorable.

The idea of personal quests was introduced in the Player’s Handbook Races: Dragonborn book. You can find more information and suggestions about it there.

3. Alignment Resources:

These are links to various sites and informational pages that offer very in-depth information for those seeking to expand their view of character alignment. You won’t find the typical “stupid good” and “stupid evil” stuff here (surprise: evil alignment works just fine within a D&D party. Intrigued?). Enlighten thyself adventurer.

(WARNING: You will find some very interesting things below that may challenge one’s notion about alignments. These links seek to elaborate on and expand upon the too often narrow and arbitrary view of alignment, in the hopes that providing clearer depictions for all may allow us to come to a greater understanding of what alignment constitutes within the construct of the D&D world. At the end of the day, remember that everyone wants to enjoy playing together, so use these tools to facilitate discussion as a group and come to a better understanding on both the individual and group level for what fits the game world you play in.)

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Remember that Alignment is not a strait jacket, but rather a reflection of your character’s beliefs, personality, outlook, and actions; this means that a character’s alignment is not permanent or static. This also means that one should be aware that acting outside the bounds of your initially chosen alignment means that your alignment will shift to reflect your character’s actual tangible personality, outlook, and actions as appropriate. You’re not Good if you don’t uphold the ideals of Good a majority of the time, for example, and so-on-and-so-forth for every alignment. People change, for good or ill, and characters are people within the game world. The extent to which this will matter will vary from DM to DM, but it is something to keep in mind in any case.

4. Character Personality Resources:

These are links to various sites and informational pages that offer a wealth of information on fleshing out a character, from things such as ideals, flaws, and bonds, to the very incredible and comprehensive Ashami background builder guide. Use these as support and thought-provokers for which to further establish the image of your character!

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Ideals motivate the character to act in a certain way. This encompasses everything from the character’s life goal to a core belief system. Ideals might answer any of these questions:

What are the principles that this character will never betray? What would prompt this character to make sacrifices? What drives this character to act and guides its goals and ambitions? What is the single most important thing this character strives for?

Flaws represent the vices, compulsions, fears, and weaknesses of a character. Flaws might answer any of these questions:

What enrages the character? What is the one thing that he or she cannot bear to witness without becoming angry? What is the character afraid of? What’s the one person, concept, or event that he or she is terrified of? What are the character’s vices?

Bonds represent the character’s connection to people, places, and events in the world. Bonds might answer any of these questions:

Whom does the character care most about? To where does the character feel a special connection? What is the character’s most treasured possession?

Whenever a request or statement in an interaction touches on a character’s ideals, flaws, or bonds, it might have a positive or negative impact on the character’s reaction, making it  easier or harder to persuade the character to act.

Here are some examples:

• A druid’s ideals include protecting the forest. Asking the druid to help burn down the forest betrays this ideal and would shift the druid’s reaction toward hostility.

• The head of the Thieves’ Guild holds ideals involving profit and larceny. Asking the guildmaster for help in pulling off a heist plays into this ideal and might get a more positive response.

• A barbarian chieftain’s flaw might be a fear of being perceived as weak. Trying to persuade him to back down from a fight would play right into that fear, shifting his attitude toward hostility.

• A farmer’s flaw might be an overwhelming fear of orcs raiding his farm. Persuading him to flee his home is much easier if the characters can play off that fear.

• A noble’s bonds might include his love for his dearest daughter. Asking him to put her at risk for any reason threatens that bond and shifts his attitude toward hostility.

• A paladin’s bonds might include his fondness for his home village. Asking him to help defend the village from attack is a relatively easy task

5. Paladin Resources:

These links include things useful for both Dungeon Masters and Players in regards to handling paladins, the paladin’s oath, taking advantage of the fact that there is a paladin in the party, and creating engaging role-play options and scenarios in relation to the paladin. This section is specifically included because many Dungeon Masters and Players do not pay proper respect to the class, instead playing into and abiding by very poorly-constructed and played stereotypes and thus it has become universally known as resulting in issues on both sides of the table.

It is my hope that this section will prove enlightening in many ways for any who care to explore it, whether Dungeon Master or Player, and hopefully stem the tide of poorly-played paladin stereotypes and in turn create a foundation of thought from which more intuitive, wise, and critically-thinking paladins may arise.

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I find it prudent to remind readers of something very important that is too often ignored, misunderstood, or entirely forgotten in regards to paladins:

Anyone can simply smite evil and call themselves a “paladin”. The fighter can do that, the rogue can do that, the cleric can do that. But being a paladin is about more than just smiting evil. Your faith must show in more than just your sword-arm my friend: it must show in your foresight, your benevolence, your fairness, your wisdom, your mercy, your bravery, your honor, your humility. Those who gaze upon you and your actions should be able to see the very grace and goodness of the gods in living mortal flesh. You must be an exemplar of right and morality in all aspects of the word. That is what it means to be a paladin.

Paladins have the very highest demands of ideals placed upon them, but to walk the path that so very few are willing to (and to walk it by choice even!) is something that sets them apart from the crowd, but not above it (humility in action). Being a paladin means striving to do the right thing, not the easy thing; it means taking the right course of action, above lesser but more expedient courses. Being a paladin means living by the code, not finding ways around it.

That, seris what it means to be a paladin. So go forth noble soul, you who would call yourself a paladin, and bring light to the far corners of the realms!

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