Burden of Knowledge Design

One of the common usages of “burden of knowledge” is describing a situation where you need in-depth exposure (often first-hand) to understand something. For you to perform something to the highest levels, others have to also attain a high level of mastery. Conversely, your mastery might be so thorough that no one can successfully compete against you. The knowledge base is so deep, or so well hidden, that there is never a really equal playing field.  There are many possible barriers to entry, but system mastery isn’t easily overcome. This is especially problematic when you are talking about things that are attempting to be easily accessible, as cooperative and competitive games often attempt to be. Let’s look at a timeless game—chess.

The Age of Retiarius

I had something else planned for this week, but then I read the July round of rules answers  in Sage Advice. One of the questions was about the net, and if attacks with the net were always made with disadvantage. The answer was the net was specifically designed so a net attack was always made with disadvantage, without an intervening factor, like a special feature, advantage to offset through something like faerie fire, or the net itself is special. Unfortunately, neither barbarian or fighter seems to have a special feature to offset this penalty in the core materials. Alas, it is up to all kind folk to make an impassioned defense of the retiarius, the net-fighter.

The Strange Case of the Half-Orc Champion

It turns out that having a bone surgically re-broken, getting some bone graft shoved inside you, and then having a bunch of plates and screws put in you doesn’t lend itself to quick recovery. What I am saying is, I’m still pretty medicated at this juncture, but I have tried my best to double and triple check everything below.

5 D&D Campaigns Inspired By Reality Television

I’m thinking about the Bachelor, Hell’s Kitchen, and So You Think You Can Dance!


Okay, I’m really not but I must admit that there’s something about the idea of combining dancing with arcane spells that makes me a bit curious. (Haste, Blur, and Mirror Image come to mind.)

However, being a bit more serious, I have conjured up five reality shows currently on television that would make excellent foundations for some very interesting D&D campaigns. These shows, with some obvious modifications to make them fit better with fantasy, have everything players are looking for in an adventure. Many of them are dramatic, suspenseful, insightful, sometimes dangerous, and often provide a great deal if insight into the human condition. And while I’m sure that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, they may provide the perfect backdrop for some groups willing to branch out and do a little experimenting.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous PCs

Either as a player or a DM, have you ever reached the point where the party’s money was going out of control? I know that some DMs are very strict with their treasure and can be stingy with their coin, but I’ve seen others that lavish their players with mountains of gold, gems, and valuables, so much so that the encumbrance rules are often bent if not broken. Judging from what I’ve seen and what I’ve played, I fall somewhere in the middle. I often give my players very small amounts of coin in the early levels and gradually increase the flow as their experience grows.

Putting The Fun in Funeral – 8 Weird Ways To Die In D&D

Death in D&D can range from the mundane to the downright strange. Maybe your character goes down to something as simple as a club to the head or maybe they get a sword in the guts. Or maybe they breathe their last staring down a deadly dungeon trap or a magnificent fireball spell. These are all pretty standard ways to go, and many of the characters I have played and died as, or have killed off as a DM, have been in these fashions. But these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hundreds of way to die in D&D.

7 Legendary Items of the Real World

In roleplaying, we often spend a lot of time talking about or going after legendary items. This is also true of fantasy (the one ring), science fiction (kyber crystals), comics (the infinity gauntlet), and anime (the dragon balls). Characters often seek them out, adventures often hint about them, and sometimes dungeons and bosses have one. For a character to own a legendary item is really for them to be carrying around a piece of history. These sorts of items should not come along everyday and when they do, they come with a great deal of both power and responsibility.

Legendary items can vary greatly depending on the type of roleplaying game you are engaged in or the character that you are playing. Usually, legendary items are either a part of the back story of the world in which you are playing or they have an individual story of their own which is provided by your source material. Creating your own legendary item is also a fun option but keep in mind that a balance must be kept between giving your player something useful and giving them something that makes them way too over powered.

D&D 5e Character Optimization – Barbarian

There are a lot of character builds that are going to be lost on Wizards of the Coast’s community page this week (or was that last week?). One of my favorite is the Gentleman’s Guide to Proper Barbarism, and there is another that can be found on http://www.giantitp.com, I’ll Never Die! I’ve pulled together the two Barbarian build posts (mainly from the Gentleman’s guide), kept the standard Build formatting colors, build structure, and put together a compilation of those two optimization & decision building guides. There are some navigation links that will let you jump around the guide, and I hope you find all of this information useful.

The Top 5 Most Inspiring Female Fantasy Characters

Let’s face it, when it comes to females and fantasy, things have been quite skewed for a very long time. In the beginning, they were damsels in distress needing strong, valiant men to swoop in and deliver them from evil. As things progressed they also became heroines but were often depicted as side-kicks or background characters and more often than not as sexual objects simply there to get more attention with their chainmail bikinis and huge tracts of land. But eventually, and we might only be talking the past thirty years or so, females have begun to take a healthier stance in fantasy. They are now, for the most part, strong and capable people with real characters and real stories. The days of the clueless, scantily clad bimbo following the male hero around are thankfully coming to an end and anyone that thinks that’s a bad thing can, with all due respect, stick it.

Six Pop Culture Sword Masters to Inspire Your Characters

Historically speaking, there have been dozens of legendary sword masters from all over the world. Some examples include: Tsukahara Bokuden (1489-1571) who is accredited with winning 20 duels and killing over 200 men in several battles; Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) accredited with winning 60 duels and authoring The Book of Five Rings; Salvator Fabris (1544-1618) considered by many to be the greatest fencing teacher in history; Johannes Liechtenauer (c. 1500) was the father of the German style of fencing; and William Marshal (1147-1219) rumored to have beaten over 500 knights in various tournaments and dubbed “The greatest knight that ever lived”. However and unfortunately, these are not the great sword masters many people admire in today’s society despite the fact that, in my opinion, their deeds are worthy of study and respect.

Instead, many of us currently look to movies, novels, and video games for our sword master inspiration and, in recent years, we’ve been treated to a host of impressive examples. Many of these fictional sword masters are not only talented with their blades but also show a quality that I personally feel is essential for anyone who wishes to take on the responsibility that comes with the mantle of “master”: restraint. While all of these sword masters are deadly and do not hesitate to strike when the need arises, they also exhibit a high level of patience and control. They fully have the ability to pull back their killer instinct and allow those who do not deserve their wrath to escape unharmed. This is what I believe makes the difference between someone who is great and someone who is legendary.

In roleplaying and especially in D&D, it is important to have role models for your characters. Not necessarily to make carbon copies of or plagiarize, but to inspire and to motivate. So, in an effort to inspire and motivate you, here are my top six sword masters from popular culture: