“Winning” at Role-Playing Games

Sounds legit.

I came to a realization recently: I’m actually not very skilled at RPGs. I mean, I know the rules, I understand the game concepts, I’m well-versed in the mechanics, and I enjoy playing. But I’m not any good at maximizing stats or synergizing abilities to wring the highest combat potential from each game session.

I will never win at RPGs, in the traditional sense. And that’s totally fine. Read more ›

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Season 1, Episode 5 – Feats

Episode 5 is here! Curious about feats in Pathfinder? Look no further!

Learn about the basics of choosing a feat for your character. Where do you start? What should you be looking for? As Amy would say, “The world is your oyster, hooommmmie.” I don’t know why she says it like that.

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Season 1, Episode 4 – Skills

That’s right! It’s Tuesday so that means a new episode of the show! In this one we tackle SKILLS from the Pathfinder RPG system. If you’re new to gaming, new to Pathfinder especially, this show will really help you get up to speed and start your character!

For more in-depth character building techniques definitely check out some of the posts here in this blog. Share these posts and videos with your gaming group and by all means drop us a comment! They really help us continue to make these videos and keep up the site! Thanks!

And without further adieu! Episode 4!

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Fighters – The Tabula Rasa Class

Felix Danger’s great post about playing a bard a little differently got us thinking; What other classes and roles have built-in tropes and stereotypes? The answer? Well, all of them, actually. Bards are often fancy lace and lute singers, like Felix said. Wizards are always wizened- hell, it’s right there in the name. Paladins have a stick up their behind as they tank their way into battle.

Pictured: A fighter with a vendetta to settle.

These archetypes have served us well and can still be fun to play. It’s easy for first-time players to hop into these roles as they get used to driving a character, so we shouldn’t discard them entirely. Not everyone’s first car is a Lamborghini (unfortunately), and these tropes are a nice, safe 2001 Toyota Camry. But if you’re having a RPG ‘mid-life crisis’, then maybe think about switching away from the tried-and-true roles, and get yourself a sports car.

Motivations, backstory, and character traits are all huge parts of creating your character. These three things all work together to invent a person from whole cloth- and most of them can be determined before you even roll the dice. Why not make all three of those things something a little different, a little subversive? If you’re feeling tied down by all the grunting brutes and murder hobos that stereotypical fighters supply, really try creating something new and specific to you. It makes the game more interesting, newer, and above all, more fun.

Getting a New Start

The easiest class to subvert tropes with is the normal, every-day fighter. Usually, he’s a big dumb brute that likes kicking down doors and choppin’ off heads. Now, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with being a big dumb brute. Heck, my uncle was a big dumb brute! But after years of playing tabletops, or maybe just not liking what you’ve seen in your two months, it’s nice to try on something different.

The fighter is the easiest class to do this with, because most fighters can be normal people. A wizard or rogue have some learned practices that you’d need to explain away with backstory, but everyone knows how to swing a sword- fighters are just unusually good at it. This makes your fighter character a blank slate- tabula rasa. (By the way, I totally call dibs on my next monk character being a mute named Tabula Rasa).

Your fighter can be, more than any other class, anything you want. Is he a farmer who was burned out of his fields because of the new evil wizard-king? Is she an imperial guard, disgraced by that one case she can’t solve? Accountant that was bored by numbers? College student that hits the gym a little too often? The tabula rasa aspect of fighters make them 100% open backstory.

Finding Inspiration

I’m sure that, this being a table-top RPG site on the internet, I can safely assume you’re passingly familiar with the Game of Thrones books (or A Song of Ice and Fire books for you purists out there). Although some characters fall into other RPG archetypes, most fall into the fighter category; The Hound, Jamie Lannister, Jon Snow… Bronn’s more of a rogue, I guess, but he’s still applicable for the template. Now look at the wide range of backstory we’ve got for each one of those characters- Disgraced and disfigured bodyguard of the prince, golden and handsome knight with questionable morals and, hmmm, “tastes”, a bastard son of a lord, and a conniving, gold-thirsty mercenary. All of them are as different as can be, and that’s what makes fighters great.

My favorite fighter character I’ve played is a great example. Because the fighter character is, let’s face it, “Who wants to hit stuff the hardest?” you get to create a really deep dude that hits stuff really hard. Wally Cleaver was a punderfully named chef and butcher who traveled with the rest of the party to find exotic recipes and spices, trying to collect as many culinary tips as possible in between goblin raids and what-not. He fought in a white chef’s hat and apron, and used a giant butcher’s knife as a weapon.

Why not have a big barbarian wielding a giant battleaxe in a sharp coat and tails, pouring tea for guests and generally being prim and proper? You could call him Axe Jeeves! In case you haven’t noticed, I love coming up with names first and going from there. If you have a character in mind, it’s up to you to add the accessories and traits to bring them to life, and if a pun is up your alley then by all means, go for it.

The Price of Being Unique

That brings me to my next point. If you’re a player that enjoys min-maxing, backstory-based accessories might not be for you. The cloth armor of a butler’s tuxedo does not make for an optimized barbarian, and the butcher’s knife or points put into cooking-related skills don’t always mean success in combat. Go ahead and min-max your characters, by all means. It’s your character, you can have that dude breaking down a castle wall by level 15. But I got to cook a meal for a king and harvest neat-looking vegetables, and that’s not something included in the fighter archetypes.

Pictured: A character you WANT to drive.

If you’re into dealing the most damage with the least amount of rolls, min-maxing can give you a flowchart of perks to pick, abilities to upgrade, and weapons to wield. You’ll be slicing off those Mind Flayer tentacles in no time, it’s true. In order to get a character that’s truly yours, you’re going to have to get off the beaten path a little. People pick big dumb fighters because, let’s face it, they work really well. But since when has picking what everyone else is doing been a tenant of Role Playing Games?

In closing, remember that fighters can sometimes get a bad rap. You don’t want a million Legolas-es clouding up your group’s ranger classes, so why does every fighter need to be Conan the Barbarian? Get out of the box, and get some creativity, even if it means a little bit weaker of a stat sheet.

Posted in Character Workshop, System Neutral Tagged with: , ,

Creating Supporting NPCs

"Only NPCs have to pay! I'm a Player dammit!"
"Only NPCs have to pay! I'm a Player dammit!"

“Only Player Characters have to pay! I’m an NPC dammit!”

If it hasn’t become clear from previous articles, I look at successful role-playing games as successful stories. And three-dimensional non-player characters make a more exciting and rewarding story. That’s a better game for everyone. So how do you make an NPC interesting? Read more ›

Posted in GameMastery, System Neutral Tagged with: , ,

Season 1, Episode 3 – Ability Scores

Episode 3 is already here and it’s a doozy. Ben finally gets to roll his ability scores. Check out what he gets and see how racial modifiers, class, and other factors can alter your decisions when assigning scores! Please watch and let us know what you think! Share the video with your groups and help bring more people into the hobby!

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Dungeon Accounting for Beginners



Ever feel overwhelmed while you’re leafing through pages of notes? Ever lose track of that scroll you found? Ever get stuck because you couldn’t remember how much that jewel-encrusted crown was worth but the player holding it couldn’t make it this week? We all have, players and GMs alike. You need a method of handling all the loot you find. Trust me, it’ll reduce bickering and time spent on “inventory management” when you return to civilization from your adventures. Anecdotally, I once had a game where we spent a good hour sorting through loot and dividing up treasure, only for one of the players to break down and bellow “THIS IS TAKING FREAKING FOUR HOURS!” After that session, the party inventory was born. Read more ›

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Season 1, Episode 2 – Class & Alignment

Episode 2 is here and we dive deep into the core character classes available to you in the Pathfinder universe! After that we give an overview of the alignments available to you. What alignment would YOU choose?

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Dealing with Character Death

“Black Leaf: Never Forget” – Felix Danger

Remember watching some safe-for-kids adventure show when you were young and wondering how so many battles could happen without a single person dying? Every shot was non-lethal. People ejected from smoking aircraft just before they exploded. Cars went tumbling down a cliff only to have people climb out at the bottom dizzy but unharmed. As we got older many of us realized that not only was this lazy story writing, we realized we were bored with a show once it became clear no one was going to die. RPGs can suffer similar fates. Read more ›

Posted in GameMastery, General, System Neutral Tagged with: , ,

Premiere! Season 1, Episode 1

It’s finally here! We’re very excited to premiere for you the first episode of Saving Throw!

Please feel free to comment, tell us what you liked or didn’t like, give us a thumbs up and share with your friends and gaming groups. The more of that we can get, the more content we can produce.

Thanks for your continued support and stay tuned for more!

This week we start Ben off with learning the playable character races in Pathfinder from Paizo Publishing. See what Ben chooses! Next week we’ll cover the basic classes in Pathfinder.

Not into Pathfinder? Never fear, we’re committed to showcasing as many games as possible. And your support will guarantee we’ll be able to do that.

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