Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Character Prompt – Rune Layout

Creating a character is a difficult process. No matter if it’s for a book, ttrpg, video game, or LARP. You have to think about their past, present, and future and their goals, ambitions, and overall attitude. Developing a character is a fun and engaging process that requires a bit of brainstorming and critical thinking. We’ve talked about using prompts to create a story with tarot cards in a previous post. This time, we’re using runes to build a character by using the Runic V layout.

The Runic V Layout

  1. What influenced your character in the past?
    • The top left rune is Dagaz. It represents day, awakening, and new hope. The rune symbolizes discovering new insights, something unknown, or a fresh idea.
  2. What is influencing your character in the present?
    • The next rune, Kenaz, is associated with knowledge and the quest for truth. It is represented by learning one’s true and full potential.
  3. What is a future goal for your character?
    • Raidho represents the character’s personal journey. It symbolizes growth and movement towards control and rationality. The character may wish to learn who they are and who they want to become.
  4. How to achieve that goal?
    • Pertho symbolizes something hidden and is often represented by good omens, unexpected surprises, and forces of change. This could be a mysterious or dangerous challenge your character does not wish to take part in but must overcome in order to grow.
  5. What is your character’s attitude?
    • Jera is assocaited with patience, seasons, and waiting. To reach your goal will require time and understanding and you may not be ready to accept that. You’re character may be quick to take action or take their time.
  6. What problem stands in their way?
    • Mannaz is represented by humankind and humanity. Other associations include reflection, planning, analysis, and self potential. The struggle coud be caused by another person or even within yourself. The actions of another or your own could prevent you from reaching your goal.
  7. How to overcome the problem?
    • Algiz is represented by spirit guides, protection, divinity, and a teacher. It symbolizes going beyond yourself to connect with something spiritual or finding your higher self.

Progressing Story
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

A Handy Guide to Progressing the Narrative in Your Story

Plot is important to keep the narrative moving. We discuss ways you can push forward the story to keep readers, viewers, and players engaged.


There have been times when we watch a movie or play a game where the plot just bogs down. It may not pull us out of the immersion but it can make things a little less fun and interesting. Stories should constantly be developing and shifting. It’s what makes them captivating and intriguing.

As fantasy authors, we fell in love with Lord of the Rings. While watching Fellowship for the thousandth time the other day we noticed ways the movie progresses the story. There is always something else that happens to advance the plot. We’re not talking about how Frodo has to take the ring to Mordor. It’s deeper than that.

It’s in the moments where the crebain from Dunland arrive and the party is forced to take cover. Or when the Fellowship must choose between going over the pass of Caradhras, through the Gap of Rohan, or into the Mines of Moria. There are multiple examples in the films that constantly usher the narrative forward. Without these moments, the story falls flat. It would just be a montage of the main characters traveling from point A to point B.

Beginning – End

Having a starting point and an endpoint should be the first things you come up with. Knowing where you want your story to go will help you fill out everything in the middle. This works for novels, movies, Dungeons & Dragons, and comics.

Like with Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power has returned and found itself in the hands of a hobbit. The main characters learn it must be destroyed within the fires of Mt. Doom where it was created.

Everything in the middle is where you develop characters and introduce obstacles. These can be summed up as encounters.

roleplaying

Encounters, Encounters, Encounters

When you think about structuring a story like a game of D&D it makes it a bit more simple. Encounters are designed to challenge characters. They can range from social interactions, combat, and travel. One of the most important factors of an encounter is it should always advance the plot.

For example. In the Two Towers when the refugees are traveling to Helm’s Deep the caravan is attacked by orcs and wargs. It lets the viewer and characters know Sauron is watching them. He knows their plans and is actively trying to stop them. If it were just some random orc attack it wouldn’t mean much for the story. If that were the case it would be an inconvenience and readers wouldn’t connect with it.

Every encounter your characters come across should revolve around the story. Whether it lets the characters know the enemy is onto them or reveals a detail about a character, plot thread, or villain.

Lore Driven

Encounters are also great ways to introduce lore. If you’re writing a book, it makes more sense to tell a streamlined story without filler or fluff. But there are times when even the best of novels introduce threads that lead nowhere. It’s best to avoid these altogether so you don’t leave your viewers confused.

This can best be summed up with random encounter tables in D&D. They have their place but we’re not big fans of them. If you do end up using a random encounter table make sure it is connected to your story. It could be connected to a character, NPC, or the overarching plot.

We’ll pull an example from our fantasy series Thread of Souls. In book two Ash & Thunder, a few characters find themselves in ancient elven ruins. Brought there by Jade’s brother to investigate a strange creature.

“As they turned into another room, they pulled up short and stifled surprised gasps. Curled in the far corner was a giant spider. The size of a horse, it was clearly dead and had been for some time. The torchlight cast its twisted shadow three times as big on the wall behind it. “Yuck,” Heron shivered.

“I have never seen one so big!” Skar gasped. “I am going to take one of its hairs.” He shuffled over, already getting out a pouch. Artemis glanced sidelong at Jade. “Do you get big spiders in Oceala?” The Druid stared at the dead creature, perplexed. “Well, no. But come to think of it . . . It has been awhile since I’ve seen a spider.” “One this size?” Unolé clarified. Jade shook her head, chewing on her lip in consideration. “No, any spiders.”

The missing spiders are the driving force of our story. Instead of delving into some unknown ruin, this reveal makes the story feel much more connected. While other characters may have known this information, Jade and the others just learned it.

In the case of the mysterious creature, it helps paint a better picture of the Deep Hollows where the spiders have the largest presence.

Here are some quick ways you can advance the plot:

  • Notes, Records, or Ledgers
  • Character Monologue
  • Characters Discover Information
  • An Enemy Tracks the Characters
  • An Enemy Becomes an Ally / Vice Versa
  • An Obstacle Presents an Opportunity

Lord of the Rings Magic the Gathering
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, News, Opinion

What to Expect from the Magic: The Gathering Lord of the Rings Crossover

We create a few cards we think would make perfect additions to the Lord of the Rings Magic: The Gathering card set.

We are rather fond of Lord of the Rings and watch it a few times throughout the year. We also recently got back into Magic: The Gathering with the release of the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms set. As storytellers and game designers, we’ve also created our own board games and thought we’d try our hand at making a few Magic cards for the future Lord of the Rings set.

Magic includes Lands, Artifacts, Creatures, Sorcery, Planeswalkers, Instants, and Enchantments. We’re going to talk about four of these that have been on our minds ever since the announcement at Magic Showcase 2021.

Lord of the Rings

Planeswalker: Gandalf the Grey

Gandalf the Grey

Mana Cost: 2 Plains, 2 colorless

First Ability +1: Place a +1/+1 counter on Gandalf.

Second Ability – X: Counters act as hobbits or dwarves. Subtract counters to reduce damage to life points or Gandalf.

Third Ability – 7: Create an artifact creature token that is either a dwarf or hobbit. It has “This creature’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of counters on Gandalf .” This creature has first strike and lifelink.

Enchantment: The Fellowship

Mana Cost: 1 Plains, 1 Mountain, 1 Forest, 1 Island, 1 Swamp, 1 colorless

Ability: Enchant creature gets +X /+X per named creature you control. Enchanted creature has vigilance as long as you control all members of the Fellowship.

Lord of the Rings

Creature: Gollum

Mana Cost: 3 Mountain

Gollum is a +4/+1 creature with first strike and vigilance.

Artifact: The One Ring

Mana Cost: 5 Colorless

Attach Cost: 2 colorless

Ability: The One Ring has shroud.

Once attached to a creature, they too gain shroud.


Lord of the Rings
Fantasy Topics, News

One Card to Rule Them All, Lord of the Rings Coming to Magic: The Gathering

We discuss some big fantasy news of the week as Magic: The Gathering announced it is making a Lord of the Rings card set.

When Magic: The Gathering announced a Dungeons & Dragons set we ordered 500 cards as soon as possible. One of the game makers’ next crossovers is Lord of the Rings and we couldn’t be more excited. Announced during Magic Showcase 2021, the set will release in 2023.

That’s a long way off from now but it gives us time to speculate on what kind of cards will be included. Characters like Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond have great potential to be planeswalkers as do Saruman and Sauron. Whereas heroes such as Frodo, Samwise, Gimli, and the rest of the Fellowship would make great legendary creatures.

Gandalf artwork

“It is such a big world. So many stories, so many characters…and the only way we could pull it off was to do a full set.” Said Mark Heggen product architect for Magic the Gathering. “We have these characters with so much backstory and their own personality and their own history and now we get to put them on a Magic card and we want to both be true to their spirit and put a little Magic twist on them.”

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth will also be releasing on MTG Arena and Magic Online.

fantasy comics
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion

Comic Books Fantasy Fans Should Add to their Pull List

We list our favorite fantasy comics fantasy fans should totally check out. From Dungeons & Dragons to Isola and Monstress.


Every Wednesday we like to peruse the latest comic books to hit Comixology and comic stores. As authors, we are always looking to read new books and comics to get us inspired to create. Comic books provide stunning visuals to go along with the story so you get a clearer picture of what is going on. They’re great for light reading and for those who want long story arcs with fully developed characters.

While superhero stories may be the most popular comic book genre, they aren’t the only ones. We much more prefer to sit down with a fantasy comic to fuel our writing for our book Thread of Souls and D&D game. Here are seven of our favorite fantasy comic books that we think any fan of fantasy will enjoy.

fantasy comics

1. Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish

A Darkened Wish follows an adventuring party from level one to level 20. It’s about as close as you can get to translating a game of D&D into a comic book. It is written by B. Dave Walters with art by Tess Fowler.

2. Monstress

Monstress takes place in alternate matriarchal Asia in the 1900s. It’s a dark and gritty story of gods, magic, and war. It follows Maika Halfwolf as she struggles to survive in the war-torn world and her mysterious link with a powerful monster that acts as her missing arm. Monstress is written by Marjorie Li with art by Sana Takeda

3. Inkblot

If you’re looking for an entertaining fantasy comic about a cat made out of ink then Inkblot is for you. It’s about a magical cat formed out of a drop of ink that leads characters to adventurers. Some are hilarious while others are full of action. All of them, however, tell a larger story about character growth and development. There are also dragons and mystical creatures. Inkblot is written and drawn by Rusty Gladd and Emma Kubert.

4. Rat Queens

Rat Queens is another example of a TTRPG game transformed into a comic book series. It follows the adventuring party known as the Rat Queens as they take contracts, fight monsters, and get into trouble. It’s a great example of a tabletop game gone of the rails due to its sarcastic but captivating characters and engaging plot. Rat Queens is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic.

5. Isola

Isola was the comic that got me into fantasy comics. The art is pleasing and soothing to look at and is great for inspiring creativity. The story involves Captain of the Guard Rook as she figures out how to reverse a spell on the queen. It’s also inspired by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki who understand how to make a great story. Isola is written by Brendon Fletcher and Karl Kerschl with art by MSASSYK and Kersch.

6. Delver

A Comixology original, Delver is about a dungeon magically appearing outside of a small town and the adventurers who dive into it. Some win big while others don’t return. It’s got monsters, creepy caves, and lovable characters. We’re really hoping for a follow-up series. Delver is written by MK Reed and C. Spike Trotman with art by Clive Hawken.

7. Critical Role

The Vox Machina Origins stories are fun and thrilling. The comics are built for avid fans of Critical Role and those just joining the party. If you like rolling dice and role-playing this comic is for you. But it’s also for anyone who enjoys Lord of the Rings. It’s an epic tale of heroes who may not be all that heroic but are still likable in a strange way. Critical Role is written by Matthew Colville and Matthew Mercer with art by Olivia Samson.

Moana Dungeons and Dragons
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Moana is a D&D Ranger Whose Favorite Enemy is Celestials

We discuss Moana and how the movie presents one of the best ways to build a ranger with a favored enemy as a celestial.

We watched Moana for the first time this weekend. We liked it a lot and saw a lot of similarities to Dungeons & Dragons character classes. One in particular; the ranger. There seems to be a lot of criticism for the way rangers are designed in Fifth Edition. They are more than just ranged fighters with bows and animal companions. Moana, for example, is a ranger. But instead of hunting beasts or dragons she went a different path and took celestial as her favored enemy.

Celestials aren’t the first and probably aren’t even a thought when considering a favored enemy for rangers. One of our first D&D characters was a duergar ranger who just so happens to have chosen celestials as her favored enemy. We saw a lot of similarities between Moana and our ranger while watching the movie and it inspired us to write this article.

Moana = Ranger

Rangers in D&D are nimble, agile, and versatile. Moana ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a ranger. She would much rather explore the ocean than stay cooped up inside a town; she is a creative and strategic fighter and wields an ore with expert precision, and she tracks down multiple celestials in the movie. If you want to go one step further, she even has a chicken animal companion.

Celestials as a Favored Enemy in D&D

Celestials may be an unorthodox creature for rangers to track but the decision can open up such a wide array of story possibilities. Taking Moana as an example, your ranger’s story could revolve around them searching for a celestial being to end a catastrophic event. But like the movie, make sure the ranger is the hero in the end. Dungeon masters should make sure to always make the hero of the story be the character.

Another example could have the ranger hunting down celestials who do wrong. Ones that may hurt or harm people, lands, or animals. Or the ranger could be searching for a celestial to fight a god directly like in our dark fantasy series Thread of Souls.

“All three of them turned to Ruuda, who stood with her arms crossed and an uncomfortable expression on her face.

“And you, little one?” Xidime asked. “Do you have no questions about your own life?” Ruuda was silent for so long Taliesin didn’t think she was going to answer. But the smile never left Xidime’s face, as if the woman knew what was already on her mind. And when Ruuda spoke, it was with a much darker tone than Taliesin had heard from her before.

“I need to kill a god.”

Wash and Unolé stared at her with wide eyes. Xidime chuckled. “I don’t like talk of gods, Dark Dwarf. But to kill one, well, I will see if I can help. I must warn you all that my magic is . . . unusual. But I will get you the answers you seek so long as you trust me. You will not be harmed. The rituals will be under control.”

It’s also quite unexpected for any dungeon master to hear the fact that your character’s favored enemy is celestials. We once played a game with B. Dave Walters. He was appalled my ranger would simply look at a planetar and be like “come here, you great blue bastard!”


You can read more about Ruuda in our book series Thread of Souls.

Ascension Eternal
Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Ascension: Eternal 10th-Anniversary Board Game Review

A fun, Magic the Gathering-inspired deckbuilding game


We were given a free copy of Ascension: Eternal, in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are our own. Ascension: Eternal was designed by Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, and is manufactured by UltraPRO.

Ascension: Eternal is a fast-paced blend of Magic the Gathering and action role-playing video game. Each game can be played in as quickly as 20 minutes with two players. Up to six can play with expansions. At first glance, it can appear overwhelming with its large abundance of cards and tokens but it’s actually rather simple in its design. Players build a deck of Heroes and Constructs to be the first to collect the most amount of tokens. It’s all about strategy and playing the battlefield.

Ascension Eternal

Lore

For anyone who is a fan of lore – like us – there is an entire backstory to Ascension. It reads as follows:

Welcome to the world of Vigil. The barrier that protected Vigil from distant realms is collapsing. Samael, the Fallen One, has returned with an army of monsters from beyond. You are one of the legendary warriors capable of protecting Vigil from annihilation, but you cannot do it alone. Recruit mighty heroes and wield powerful constructs to aid you in battle. Each honor and defeat Samael’s forces to save the world!

How to Play

We checked out the 10th-anniversary edition of Ascension Anniversary. The massive box comes with 181 cards – all of which are stunning – and one layout mat to help you keep track of card placement. Each player starts with a deck consisting of 10 identical cards. Cards include either Runes that are used to buy new cards or Power that is used to fight monsters and cultists.

Ascension Eternal
Gamora the cat getting in on the action.

Players draw five cards and use them to gain new Heroes and Constructs or fight Monsters. The original deck grows and expands over time as players gain new Heroes and Constructs. Both cost Runes and help to defeat monsters, draw cards, or grant other boons to gain Honor tokens. Whereas Monster cards can only be defeated by Power and grant you certain abilities upon beating them.

The game ends when the last token is collected. Players then add up all their tokens and Honor points listed on their cards. The one with the most Honor is the winner.

Thoughts

It’s all about knowing what cards you have in your deck and what is out on the field. It’s a strategic game but isn’t complicated in any way. The rules are presented in an easy-to-understand and straightforward way. And the board gives a clear presentation of where cards go and how to set up the game.

There is one major thing we wish were included with the set. The addition of a simple handout for players to keep track of rules would be useful. Ascension is played similarly to Tyrants of the Underdark which does include a guide for each player. Having to pull out the rulebook each time to check what to do can slow down game time.

Ascension Eternal

Another thing is to see who plays first. It’s a pet peeve of ours. Ascension says choose randomly which is fine but there could be a more fun mechanic to see who starts. Other games use fun, quirky mechanics, like ‘the last person who ate a doughnut’ or ‘the oldest or youngest’.

Verdict

Ascension: Eternal is built for fans of Magic the Gather and Dungeons & Dragons. It may look intimidating but can be learned in a short amount of time. Each game can be played quickly as well leaving you plenty of time to play multiple games per night. The cards are beautiful and the lore is engaging and allows players to role-play out moments if they so choose.

We give Ascension: Eternal a 9 on a d10!

Dragon Age: Dark Fortress
Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Dragon Age: Dark Fortress Review

It’s comic book Wednesday! This week we’re taking a look at Dragon Age: Dark Fortress

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, Dark Fortress is a three-issue series packed with familiar faces and an engaging story. It follows several characters from the Dragon Age games and comics like fan-favorite Fenris. Its fast-paced action and detailed characters drive the plot and build upon previously placed lore elements to tell a truly fantastic story.

Returning to the narrative are (my favorite characters) Vaea and Ser Aaron Hawthorne – introduced in Dragon Age: Knight Errant – along with Tessa and Marius – introduced in Dragon Age: Magekiller – and Francesca the mage – introduced in Dragon Age: Deception. Yes, there are a lot of people to follow and you don’t necessarily have to read any previous material to follow along – though it helps – and I highly recommend you do so.

Story

They team up with Fenris – albeit hesitantly – as he hunts down a Tevinter mage. Something Fenris does quite often and quite well. The group is searching for a magical artifact in the possession of an Orlesian dignitary. It has the capabilities to create a powerful warrior similar to Fenris. The Qunari also join in on the action as they do in just about every situation involving mages and things get worse for everyone involved.

The story manages to tell quite a lot in a short amount of time. The villain and his motivations are developed quickly and effectively and the stakes are high. The writing is smooth and flows well with the art and all together tells a wonderful story that sets up future events. From epic backdrops to individual character portraits, everything artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa draws is stunning and full of life.

Dragon Age

Characters

What is so fascinating about the Dragon Age series as a whole is how it treats its characters. While they are capable warriors and magic practitioners they each feel real and have their own motivations. The comics get to dive into them more so than the games as well. Dark Fortress sheds more light on Fenris even though Dragon Age 2 told a lot of his story. The writers do a fantastic job at showing his emotions through the way he acts and speaks. It’s something they do well with each one of the characters.

Each character also gets a moment to shine throughout the short three-arc story. Vaea shows off her rogue skills, the charismatic Ser Aaron distracts and outwits opponents, and Francesca learns to utilize her magic and grow more powerful. These details are typically something you see in a lengthy game or movie but the comics do it just as well if not better.

It’s more than a story about fighting evil and stopping the villain. Dragon Age has always been about character development and it’s nice to see it carried out throughout the comics. You really get to feel and understand each person.


Dragon Age: Dark Fortress is highly recommended for fantasy fans! It is thrilling, beautiful, and tells a great story with an even better cast of characters. We give it a 10 on a d10.

Character Flaws
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics

The Ultimate List of 100 Character Flaws

We provide your one-stop list for character flaws, as well as a fun exercise to create dynamic characters!


Creating a character is a difficult task. There are several things to consider from what do they look like, how do they sound, how do they act, and what makes them who they are? All of these things and more should be focused on when building a character. But you should also focus on their weakness or flaws.

These types of traits can be anything from fear, a vice, or failing. They could also be something another character can use against them or hold over their head. It may even be another person. Someone they are afraid to speak with or even see. Whatever it is, characters with weaknesses are more engaging to readers as they are more realistic.

Character Building Exercise: Choose five numbers randomly, or use one of those random number generation tools online. Or roll a d100 five times! Write down those five traits and create a character out of them. Decide how this personality happened. What in the character’s past caused these traits to form? How do they use them? Do they fully understand them? If there are contradicting ones, what caused this internal battle?

  1. Absent-Minded
  2. Abusive
  3. Anxious
  4. Arrogant
  5. Bashful
  6. Belligerent
  7. Betrayal
  8. Bigmouth
  9. Blunt
  10. Bold
  11. Childish
  12. Clumsy
  13. Compulsive
  14. Covetous
  15. Coward
  16. Crude
  17. Cruel
  18. Curious
  19. Daydream
  20. Deceitful
  21. Disloyal
  22. Driven by Goals
  23. Drunkard
  24. Egotistical
  25. Emotionless
  26. Envious
  27. Fanatical
  28. Fearful
  29. Fickle
  30. Finicky
  31. Flawless
  32. Flirty
  33. Forgetful
  34. Gambling
  35. Gluttony
  36. Greedy
  37. Grumpy
  38. Hubris
  39. Hunted for betraying someone
  40. Ignorant
  41. Immature
  42. Impatient
  43. In Debt
  44. Infamy
  45. Inquisitive
  46. Jealous
  47. Judgmental
  48. Kleptomaniac
  49. Klutz
  50. Lazy
  51. Lewd
  52. Lies
  53. Lustful
  54. Manipulative
  55. Materialistic
  56. Messy
  57. Meek
  58. Mischievous
  59. Naïve
  60. Nervous
  61. Nosey
  62. Obsessed
  63. Obsessive
  64. Pacifist
  65. Paranoid
  66. Perfectionist
  67. Pessimistic
  68. Poor Hygiene
  69. Powerless
  70. Predictable
  71. Prideful
  72. Procrastination
  73. Rapacious
  74. Rebellious
  75. Reckless
  76. Remorseless
  77. Rude
  78. Sacrilegious
  79. Sarcastic
  80. Seducer
  81. Selfish
  82. Shallow
  83. Shameful
  84. Showy
  85. Shy
  86. Skeptical
  87. Solemn
  88. Spoiled
  89. Stern in Thought
  90. Stubborn
  91. Superstitious
  92. Suspicious of Others
  93. Swindler
  94. Timid
  95. Too Trusting
  96. Unable to Trust
  97. Unfaithful
  98. Unreliable
  99. Vain
  100. Wrathful
Dragon Age
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, Video Games, Writing Tips

How Adding A Neutral Party can Enhance your Story

We look to series like Dragon Age and Pirates of the Caribbean see how adding a third neutral party can help you tell more engaging stories

It’s typical storytelling to follow the protagonist versus the antagonist. But what if there was a third party introduced to the mix? One that got in the way of both others. One with their own agenda. How would that change a story? We’ll use Dragon Age and Pirates of the Caribbean as examples of how you can use a third party to develop your story.

Story Example

The next Dragon Age game may be a ways off but the stories and characters of Thedas span more than just video games. There are several novels and comic books you can sink into until the fourth game’s release. The most recent comic being Dragon Age: Dark Fortress.

SPOILER WARNING: Content may spoil events from the games. You have been warned. We will avoid major spoilers.

Dark Fortress follows fan-favorite character Fenris as he hunts down the son of his former master Danarius. Throughout the three-issue run, we learn that Tevinter mages are creating another powerful warrior like Fenris. It’s something the Qunari aren’t huge fans of either so they show up to put an end to it. Fenris teams up with characters from previous comics and they work together to track down the mages.

Towards the end of the run, events collide and the three groups end up facing off against one another. It’s a story that is familiar to the Dragon Age series and plays out many times throughout. Yet it never feels overused: Quanri vs

Things are going rather well for the protagonist when all of the sudden, the Qunari arrive and they have to rethink their strategy.

How You Can Adapt it

It’s an example that can be used in Dungeons & Dragons or any TTRPG or novel for that matter. It is a great way to increase tension and build lore in your world as well. Your characters may think they are the only ones hunting down a specific enemy, item, or person but what if they weren’t? Perhaps a third party shows up at inconvenient moments to get in their way. Plots like this are a great way to develop your story and add suspense and action to the mix.

Just when the characters think they’ve got the upper hand, the third party comes in and trips them up. This third group can be evil, good, or neutral. Their motivations can vary from stopping the other two parties, stopping one party, or just adding a little chaos.

Take the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie for example. On Stranger Tides follows Spanish and English soldiers as they search for the Fountain of Youth. The third party consists of Jack Sparrow and the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The climax sees English troops fighting the pirates over control of the fountain before Spanish soldiers arrive and destroy it. After their task is done, they just walk away without fighting anyone.

Introducing a third party to the story can change the flow of the narrative. It’s interesting, adds detail to your world, and gives your payers a reason to think of new ways to handle situations. Although, don’t overdo it.

So, give it a shot the next time your characters are after the BBEG or magical artifact. You never know how it will change your story and keep everyone on their toes.