Character Tips, Writing Tips

How to Roleplay a Ranger

Rangers are versatile members of any party. They can lead a group through dangerous wilderness without getting lost, track a wild beast or missing person in diverse environments, and are capable of wielding a multitude of weapons. They’re hired by travelers as guides and make excellent bounty hunters and monster slayers when the time calls for it. They’re also quite passionate and considerate of nature and the flora and fauna that live among it.

If you’re playing or writing a ranger, we’ve got some tips on how to get in their head. Dorian has played a ranger for six years and understands them quite well. Having done so for such a long time, or course, not all rangers are the same. So, for those looking to play or create a ranger, here’s what you need to know.

Roleplaying a Ranger

Playing a ranger comes down to a few key factors. No matter if you’re using the most popular TTRPG in the world, Pathfinder, Forbidden Lands, or Lord of the Rings, rangers have several things in common. Focus on the following traits when you create a ranger to improve your roleplay and writing.

Ranger traits

  • Rangers are fierce protectors of nature. They work to safeguard all that is natural in the world.
  • Rangers know their plants. They can tell the party if a plant is deadly, poisonous, edible, or has healing properties. If they don’t know, they work to do so.
  • Rangers are kind to animals. As protectors of nature, they work to understand creatures of the world, even the dangerous ones. If it comes down to a fight with a beast, they may instead choose to scare away the creature instead of killing it. Rangers are also known to have animal companions.
  • Rangers always seek to understand. Rangers tend to stick to the wilds or live away from cities. This can make them curious about the world. Going to a large urban area can seem outlandish to them but with every place they visit, they seek knowledge first. Knowing more about a place, person, or creature is highly beneficial.
  • Rangers can be difficult at first. Like nature, rangers tend to be guarded and may appear off-putting at first. Once they get to know a person, they warm up easily to them and let their guards drop.
  • Rangers are masters of weapons. There is a reason rangers are known as masters of the hunt. Not for their hunting skills, but their ability to wield and master just about every weapon created.

Famous Rangers

As writers, we find inspiration in nearly everything we come across. So, we thought to help with your roleplay, we should introduce you to a few popular rangers from movies and video games.

  • Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a Witcher, which is a fancy way of saying ranger. He hunts monsters, uses herbs to make potions and poisons, and is proficient in knowing creatures, tracking, and fighting. He’s gruff and blunt but has a kind heart and is always willing to help those in need.
  • Aragorn. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings is one of the best examples of a ranger we can think of. While known as a Ranger of the North, the title referred to a wandering people who protected the land but sought to remain a secret from others. This gave them a reputation for being distrustful, harsh, and dangerous. While Aragorn can appear quite harsh, he’s kind to everyone he meets once he learns more about them. He also has several animal companions during his journey. Brego is with him in The Two Towers and The Return of the King. While Bill the pony accompanies him in The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Ruuda Drybarrel. Self-plug. Ruuda’s backstory in our fantasy book series Thread of Souls focuses on her interaction with a group or rangers. She was trained by Deep Stalker ranger Nier Shadowsnare but was not blessed to be a Deep Stalker herself. The Deep Staker rangers are protectors of the Deep Hollows and work to ensure safe passage for travelers on the roads, protect creatures, and are hired out when needed for specific jobs. Ruuda’s history with the rangers could play a larger part in her story, but you’ll have to read and find out.

Character Tips, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Why addressing how your characters are dressed matters

Clothing is an important factor in a story. You may not consciously think about the characters’ outfits while reading or watching, but they tell the story just the same. Shows and movies are easy-to-track outfits, while books or actual plays are more challenging. Keeping track of your character’s clothing is fun and should be part of the tale itself.

Clothing isn’t Optional

Talking about character outfits is just as important as talking about them. You don’t have to describe much or go into much detail. Something as simple as stating the character wears dark leather armor and carries a belt with multiple daggers on it, gets several points — pun intended — across.

This character relies on stealth and strikes quickly. This brings to mind they may be some sort of rogue. The dark armor suggests they prefer to stick to the shadows or be out at night.

You can use clothing to quickly describe a character without outright saying what their specialty is. Mages wear flowing robes, rangers wear leather or fur armor dyed the color of nature, and clerics or healers wear colored robes depicting their deity.

Plot, plot, plot. Location, location, location

Keep in mind the environments your characters visit. Once again, clothing description isn’t meant to take up a lot of words. You’re not in school anymore, you don’t need to hit a word count. What you need to worry about is the type of clothing. If your story takes place in a cold and snowy biome, make sure the characters wear thick outfits to keep them warm.

Vice versa, if they are at the beach for a relaxing day. Put them in clothing that says beach attire. Also, don’t forget about their weapons.

For the love of all things holy. Nothing drives us madder than when characters have their weapons with them all the time! Take them away from time to time. Give them moments to use random objects to fight with. A frying pan hits just as hard as a hammer. Another thing. Please, if they get locked in prison, have the guards take their armor and weapons. Throw in the trope of having a stealthy or rogue character thoroughly searched if you have to. It’s funny.

Major plot points require outfit changes, too. These can be anything from going from one environment to another and character growth. If a character is just starting out on their quest, their outfit should be tailored to their lifestyle. Perhaps they are a professor and only wear professional-looking attire. Then, once they get thrown into the fire as it were, they come out changed. No longer are they that clean professional instructor, but an adventurer who has seen some shit. Their new clothes should reflect this. Now, they wear business attire but it’s ripped or bedazzled with color.

Keep clothing in mind when you write. Outfits make great characters and really help describe your characters even more.

Character Tips, Storytelling Tips

How to Write Wizards

Creating new characters is a puzzling yet exciting challenge. What do they look like? How do they present themselves? What do they carry with them? You may have a rough outline of them but need to give them something that makes them stand out. Welcome to our How to Write character features. Each one is designed to guide you on how to create and write characters for your story.

Thinking of characters as classes from a tabletop roleplaying game makes the process much more simple. Our fantasy series Thread of Souls is full of examples of this as each main character you meet is based on a class in such a game. Today’s How to Write focuses on wizards!

Fantasy has seen many great wizards in its timeline. Gandalf, Yennefer, Harry Potter, the list continues. But not one of those characters is similar to the other. The one thing they do have in common is they are able to cast spells.

So, what makes a wizard? How do you effectively write a wizard in a book series? We want to share the top three methods we use to create great relatable wizard characters in your story so you can add them into stories of your own!

Choose their Speciality

When creating a wizard in a tabletop roleplaying game, you get to choose the specific magic you specialize in. It’s a bit like choosing a major in college or a professional trade such as blacksmithing. No two professionals in their field are the same, so neither are wizards.

Take Thread of Souls for example. Gnome wizard Tymus specializes in Distortis magic, the study of illusion. He relies on misdirection and summoned images and sounds to overcome challenges. Whereas human wizard Vera uses Aegitis, protective magic, to safeguard allies and places.

Having a wizard do all sorts of magic can be difficult to follow. Stick to having your wizard characters focus on one specialty and your readers won’t get lost in what it is they are good at. If they need to use another sort of magic such as fire when they normally use ice, have them use a wand or magical item that uses the power instead.

Choose their Personal Effects

We tend to recognize characters by their attire, personality, or items. Gandalf is typically seen with a pointy hat and walking staff. So, giving your wizard character a particular article of clothing or item is a great way to have them stand out.

Tymus wears mismatched clothes of vibrant colors that show off his character. While Vera dresses in fine robes of pink, blue, and purple, carries a staff, and wears an oversized pair of glasses. One is more wild and chaotic, while the other is more refined and dignified.

Likewise, give a villain wizard character darker clothing and crude, yet refined-looking weapons or magic. Their staff may be ancient and withered with spikes at the top.

Tie their Personality to their Specialty

Along with their personal effects, give them a unique personality. Wizards are generally intelligent, as casting magic is all about mental fortitude. Yet, intelligence isn’t being the smartest person in the room. It’s the ability to gain and use knowledge. Therefore, you could have a bumbling wizard character who is rather skilled in their specialty.

Tymus is constantly moving and talking. It’s part of his ADHD. It makes him seem all over the place and unfocused when in actuality he focuses deeply on one aspect at a time. He’s always focusing his attention on his magic. How it can be used to distract or help bring joy to others. His clothing is also tied to his choice of magic and personality. He also has bright pink hair and a matching mustache. Both can be distracting but also cause others to smile as they are fun and outgoing like him.

While Vera is seen as the polar opposite of Tymus. She’s reserved and thoughtful, always taking her time to ponder a thought and say the right words. As the Magister of Aegitis, she is as unmoving as a wall of stone and holds true to the rigid ways of the Citadel.

Keep in mind your villain wizards too. Their magic is a distorted version of what they chose as their specialty. Mental magic could cause blood to drip from their and their enemy’s nose. While fire takes on a more sinister nature. Instead of a simple blast of flames, it appears as a snake striking its opponent.

We hope this helps you create more rounded wizard characters in your stories. Wizards are a thrilling addition to any fantasy tale and each one is different and fun to create.

Professor Moriarty is a great choice for a wizard character. He is cunning, vile, cruel, and highly intelligent.

Gandalf has his trusty walking stick. Yennefer is incredibly sarcastic yet stern, smart, and one of the most powerful wizards of her time.

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.

Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips

Top Tips to Improve your Roleplaying

We take a look at excellent ways to improve your TTRPG roleplaying skills!

For those of us that enjoy roleplaying games being in-character is a thrilling and fun experience. But if you are new to the craft, or are feeling daunted by other players’ talents at the table, don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of ways to help you not only improve, but also feel more confident in yourself and in your delivery of the character. After all, you are the vessel through which their story is being told, and we know you want to do them justice.

Expand Your Knowledge of Their Life

A great way to improve your roleplaying is to expand your knowledge of the character. After all, you can’t act out what you don’t understand. Even if these things never come up in-game, it all contributes to the decisions your character makes, how they react to situations, and their personality.

Take time to write down things about their life. We definitely recommend using any of those fun online questionnaires you find about characters. These ask a variety of questions that will have you thinking creatively about your character.

Be In-Character Outside of the Game

We cannot recommend enough how much being in-character outside of our homebrew TTRPG game has improved our roleplaying. Try to spend some time as them while doing tasks around the house. If you are with another player in the game, try just having an in-character conversation. It’s amazing how much their voice develops when you can be them in casual situations.

Add Some Narration to Your Character

Dialogue drives a story, as does the lack of something to say by a character in a situation. But when you are at the table, it can also be extremely beneficial to narrate your character’s current emotional state. This helps bring a full-body experience into your roleplaying. Try things like:

“They just sit huddled in the corner and don’t look at anybody.”

“They start stomping back and forth across the room and muttering under their breath.”

“They fidget in anxiety and keep glancing over their shoulder.”

Allow Yourself to Be Open

The final piece of advice we have is to allow yourself to be open. Being vulnerable as yourself and as your character will bring your roleplaying far. But this is where having a trusted table you play with is vitally important. Whether you play as part of a big group or are in a single-player campaign, you must surround yourself with like-minded, kind people who want the same thing you want from the game. If someone else is being open and raw with their character’s emotions at the table, it will make it all the easier for you to rise to that level, as well.

Initiative Dungeons & Dragons
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion

Why you Shouldn’t Rely on Initiative

We share our tips for running TTRPG scenarios without focusing on Initiative.

Initiative is a concept in games like Dungeons & Dragons that decides who acts when in combat. Players and enemies roll a d20 and add their Dexterity then a fight begins. It works well but it isn’t something we’ve come to rely on and neither should you.

Frankly, Initiative can bog down a game. Fights can take hours whereas traveling from point A to point B can take a manner of minutes. Not only does opting not to use Initiatve speed things up it allows everyone at the table to pay more attention. By not knowing when they are up, they may not dissappear into their phone. It’s a great way to ensure everyone, including the dungeon master, pays attention and is engaged.

Streamline Encounters

Fights tend to take a bit of time. Player turns can be lengthy and other players may tune out while it isn’t their turn. The next time you have an encounter try forgoing Initiatve altogether. Instead, narrate what is happening and ask the players what they want their characters to do. It’s best to still stick with standard action economy – action, bonus action, move, reaction – but instead of acting in turn, they act after the enemy does their action.

For instance, if the group is up against a villain who is trying to get away with an artifact. Rather then go into Initiative, have them grab it as an action then run away. Then ask the players what they want to do. By not being in Initiative, they may think differently and not necessarily jump to fight mode.

Fluid Interactions

Asking players what they want to do gives them more freedom. They don’t necessarily have to worry about waiting for another player to act before they do. No one is tied down by an order. As long as they act after the enemy or opposing force.

It’s a great time for players to try new things as well. Not being restrained by Initiative can open up some new opporunities in working together and thinking of unique ways to handle situations. It’s an idea that can really change the flow of any session and make encounters more freeing and cinematic.

Initiative Shouldn’t Mean Combat

The definition of Initiative according to the Player’s Handbook states,

“Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order.”

Saying ‘roll for Initiative’ may cause players to automatically think they should engage instant kill mode. That shouldn’t always be the case.

Cinematic Feel

When you break away from thinking of Initiative as strictly combat you start to see everything in a more cinematic view. Action movies all have intense scenes but think about all of the stuff that happens. They are generally more than just fast punches, swift kicks, car chases, and bullets. Villains monologue and characters react. Everything is so alive. By using these alternate rules, you can make more engaging encounters that don’t end in a blood bath. Why you Shouldn’t Rely on Initiative

Character Tips, Writing Tips

Complete List to Describe Character Appearance Aside from Color

We give a full list of words that will describe your character’s appearance better than just the color of their hair, skin, and eyes.

Word choice is really powerful when it comes to describing a character in your book, TTRPG game, or other story format. And while the fact that their hair is blond and their eyes are green is typically first in mind, there are stronger words we can use! That is not to say color is irrelevant. I am one of the readers that does, indeed, want to know a character’s eye color because I am a visual reader and picture things cinematically. But let’s combine that deep brown with other adjectives. These will tell us a lot more about the character’s personality.

So here is a list of adjectives to pull from when describing a character! For a fun exercise, try randomly choosing one from each list to create a character from scratch!

Words to Describe Character Build

  • Powerful
  • Slight
  • Heavy
  • Slim
  • Solid
  • Delicate
  • Strong
  • Stocky
  • Sturdy
  • Graceful
  • Petite
  • Slender

Words to Describe Character Cheekbones / Cheeks

  • High
  • Prominent
  • Sculptured
  • Chubby
  • Hollow
  • Sunken
  • Dimpled
  • Creased
  • Pale
  • Ruddy

Words to Describe Character Arms or Legs

  • Long
  • Short
  • Lanky
  • Bony
  • Round
  • Soft
  • Solid

Words to Describe Character Eyes

  • Expressive
  • Calculating
  • Narrow
  • Hooded
  • Upturned
  • Downturned
  • Untrusting
  • Round
  • Big
  • Vacant
  • Unfocused

Words to Describe Character Voice

  • Breathy
  • Flat
  • Grating
  • Throaty
  • Honeyed
  • Tight
  • Brittle
  • Gruff
  • Monotonous
  • Silvery
  • Hoarse
  • Nasal
  • Rough
  • Singsong
  • Thick
  • Wobbly
  • Husky
  • Wheezy
  • Orotund

Words to Describe Character Hair

  • Shiny
  • Dull
  • Wild
  • Untamed
  • Flat
  • Thin
  • Thick
  • Silky
  • Frizzy
  • Coarse
  • Stringy
  • Wiry
  • Wispy
  • Bouncy
  • Messy
  • Oily
  • Tousled

Let’s take an example from the end of Ash & Thunder within the Thread of Souls book series. Here we see a combination of color as well as descriptive words to give personality to the characters.

“They were the strangest pair Unolé had ever seen. One was a strong female Dwarf with fiery, wild hair of different colors. She wore hardy clothes of deep brown leathers with a purple shirt underneath. Although her thick hair was pulled around front to try to hide her face, Unolé could tell something was strange. The Dwarf’s skin had a grayish blue tone. A beard covered her jawline, but even past that Unolé could tell she was very pretty, with full, dark lips and upturned green eyes framed by thick lashes. She glanced about nervously, fingers twitching towards the two swords she had at her hips. The oddest thing about her, though, was the barrel strapped to her back.

Unolé’s eyes moved to the man. Standing barely taller than her, he leaned confidently against the bar. A cloak draped over his slender figure. She took in clothes of mostly black accented by white and silver. A hood shadowed his face, but slits in the side revealed long, pointed Elven ears. He was exceptionally handsome, with a sharp jawline and high cheekbones. But there was something odd about him, as well. His skin was gray, and two yellow irises were set in large, expressive eyes. Strands of white hair hung on either side of his face.”

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
Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs

A TTRPG Player’s Guide to Roleplaying 2+ Characters

A creative guide to help TTRPG players who find themselves roleplaying more than one character in a campaign.

While it is expected for a Game Master to juggle multiple characters and creatures simultaneously, it is not the same for players. However, being a GM and playing a player character is not as difficult as it sounds. For those playing singe-player campaigns, having a fuller party makes much more sense.

But are there any drawbacks? After all, if you are the type of player that likes to delve deep into your character and fully bring them to the table, you might be concerned about having difficultly. You might worry you can’t juggle two, or even more characters at the same time.

That’s where this guide steps in! Coming from a player who has spent years playing three characters at the same time, I’ll give a breakdown of how this can be easy, fun, and rewarding!

Choose Your “Protagonist”

This may sound harsh to your other characters, but choosing a main character for your campaign is really beneficial. This will be the character that you default to, that drives scenes, and that spends the most time talking. Collaborate with your GM regarding the campaign’s conflict, as it will help a lot if the overarching conflict is tied to this character.

Tips for choosing: make sure it is a character class you enjoy playing. You should feel really passionately about this character and more intrigued by them than the others you roleplay.

Whose Scene is it, Anyway?

While you are playing the game, determine which character benefits the most from a certain “scene”. If you are navigating a forest, perhaps it is time for your Druid to shine! If you are negotiating with dangerous people, perhaps your extraverted character with the highest Charisma score will lead. If you are back in your Ranger’s town, then they will guide the party around. Think about who makes the most impact in a certain situation, and focus on them.

Have 1:1 Moments

To ensure all your characters have time to develop, make sure they get one-on-one moments. Either with other characters or NPC’s. Having time to voice their own thoughts without overlapping roleplay is great to ensure they get their time to shine.

Collaborate with Your GM

When you are in a single player campaign, player-GM communication is key. Make it clear what each of your characters want, and what they will pursue in the coming games. This helps tell the tale of all of your characters, instead of all but one being silent.

Learn to Narrate More

Playing multiple characters at once requires some narration. This not only helps tell your characters apart, but it also helps set the scene for what each of them are doing. I’ll pull an example from our most recent game. The party just got some critical information and were taking time to digest it.

I said, “Jade has a heavy frown on her face, and it’s clear she is thinking deeply. Taliesin is curled up on himself in a bit of an emotionally fetal position. Sen doesn’t really understand the weight and has gone to get another drink.”

Through this, I was able to convey three different reactions and emotional states without having to overlap dialogue or get the characters confused.

Quick Reference List

  • Choose a main character to lead interactions.
  • Allow different characters to have the spotlight depending on the situation.
  • Give a single character private conversations with others.
  • Communicate with your DM on each of your character’s motivations.
  • Narrate scenes to avoid too much character overlap.

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 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.