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:

The Endless Character Stats Debate

Here’s a question that every DM gets asked a hundred times: How do you roll stats/attribute scores? Doesn’t sound like a terribly tough question; but, depending on your players and the kind of avatars they are accustomed to playing, the answer to this question can be the foundation for the entire future of the character. I mean let’s face it, over time a Fighter with 8 Strength is going to get laughed at and a Wizard with 19 Intelligence is going to kick some butt. That’s just how the math works. So this week I thought I would look at some of the more popular, successful, and interesting variations on finding your perfect, or at least acceptable, attributes.

5 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer

Fundamentally, I look at D&D campaigns as stories. Each adventure or event is a chapter and the campaign as a whole is a novel. It should have set-up, background, main characters, side characters, plots, sub-plots, victories, losses, triumph, and heartbreak. Maybe characters will die along way (Boromir) and maybe new characters will come to the party late (Lando). There should be some twists and a few unexpected detours and the end result should never be certain. Danger should be stalking you at every turn. But most importantly there should be fun, excitement, and camaraderie. If those three things are present, the story will almost write itself.

4 Simple Steps to Creating a Campaign

“How do I create my own campaign?” is a question that gets asked a lot by both players and new DMs alike. Unfortunately, the answer is as varied as their creators. Some DMs like to start with a story, others like to start with a problem that must be solved, others still will start with a villain and work out from there, and so on. There’s really no right or wrong answer other than to say, “whatever works for you”.

However, if you’d like a bit of insight as to how my personal method goes, what follows are four simple steps I follow to create many of my home-brewed campaigns. For reference, I will use an example of a campaign I wrapped up just a few months ago.

D&D 5e Combat – Initiative House Rule Option #2

This is the second article I have written about house rules for initiative. I haven’t thrown the initiative rolls out the window, yet. After play testing Robert Schwalb’s Shadow of the Demon Lord action economy system, I have found that it works, but I want to try out some other methods of determining play order.

D&D 5e Combat – Initiative House Rule Option #1

I wrote an article about initiative, strategy and team play.  Recently after reading some more, and playing, I am ready to just throw Initiative out the window.  I am more in favor of what Robert Schwalb has going with in his new game “Shadow of the Demon Lord.”  He uses an Action Economy system and a simplified system that let’s the players go in what ever order they want. I really like that system, but want to use it for D&D 5th edition. So let’s first look at how initiative works in D&D. The players all roll a d20 and perform a Dexterity Check to determine initiative order

D&D 5e Combat – Initiative in Adventurers League

So after playing for a while with people in D&D Adventures League games, I’ve noticed a strange behavior when players roll for initiative and the dexterity check is a tie. When they tie, they will compare each other’s dexterity, or do a d20 roll off. High number wins. DMs usually don’t even institute this, and it’s almost an automatic reaction by the players. It is like a competition to see who will get the better initiative. And