D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, News, Opinion

Let’s Talk about the Dungeons & Dragons movie Prequel Books

We still haven’t watched the Dungeons & Dragons movie trailer, but are curious about it. What has us even more interested is the announcement of two prequel books ahead of the movie: The Druid’s Call and The Road to Neverwinter. Let’s talk about what we know and what we’d like to see from them.

The Books

The Road to Neverwinter is written by Jaleigh Johnson. Little is known about it but we can deduce it will take place in the city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North. As huge fans of the Neverwinter MMO, we’ve spent, I was going to say countless hours exploring the city, but it’s 361.5 hours, according to Steam. That’s more than 15 days.

Needless to say, we are looking forward to The Road to Neverwinter.

The Druid’s Call, from E.K. Johnston, also has a special place in our hearts for one important reason. Talia’s first D&D character was the druid Jade, a main character in our fantasy octology Thread of Souls.

Tabletop Experience

The two books are exciting and they got us thinking. We’re sure they’re written like a typical story — choose a premise, characters, outline it, and write it — but we believe it be great if they were based on their own tabletop experience. Imagine if the characters in both books were played by actual people around a table like a D&D game.

The players all choose a character in the story and roleplay them and tell the story together. With A Druid’s Call following the main protagonist Doric, the actions and decisions her player makes shape the world and therefore the overall book.

The same be The Road to Neverwinter. While it’s unclear what the story is, the book must involve some of the characters from Honor Among Thieves. Our thoughts are on rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, as he is tied to the city.

However the books and movie are written, they’re sure to be thrilling. But as authors who turned our ongoing ttrpg campaign into fantasy books, it is definitely a fun way to write a series after playing it around a table with friends.

D&D / TTRPGs, Misc Posts, Video Games

Best Video Game Character Creators to Build Your Characters

Visualizing a character in a book series or tabletop game is all up to the imagination. Authors, readers, and players have an idea of how a character looks but they both may be entirely different from one another. No two will see a character the same, and that’s a good thing. As long as the author describes how they look, the reader forms a complete image in their head.

Yet, as authors ourselves, we like to see our characters come to life. To get a better picture of them, we turn to art and video games. Along with Talia’s original art of each character, making them in video games is a great way to take them from our imagination.

Whether you’re an author or a reader, here are some of our favorite video game character creators.

1. Elder Scrolls Online

Ruuda looking at nature

Elder Scrolls Online is a game where you’ll spend plenty of time with your character. The world is massive and you’ll spend hours adventuring across Tamriel so having a character you enjoy playing is key. Even more so, having one that is nice to look at is a bonus. The game is beautiful and provides so many customization options for your character.

From their height, build, muscles, and race, there is plenty to choose from. There are even accessories to go through and several hairstyles and colors to choose from. Though we’ll count off a few points for not having dwarf as a race but that’s more related to lore than a problem of the creator. For those who want to play a dwarf, as we do for our character Ruuda, we suggest making a dark elf and roleplaying them as a dwarf, or dwemer in Elder Scrolls lore.

Once you’re through with customizing your character, the next best thing is selecting their clothing. Which can be done an unlimited amount of times throughout the game.

2. Baldur’s Gate 3

Jade

Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of those games that just keeps giving. While the first two came with character creation, they were halted by the era in which they were released. Characters were little more than pixels on a screen, and while you could tell what class and race they were, it was difficult to make out finer details.

The technology of today allows for a wider range of character customization options. You’ll be able to build just about any book character you can imagine in the game — even more when it’s fully released. However, for those who want to make their character taller or smaller, you’re out of luck, at least for now. One day it would be nice to see drow women taller than drow men. Getting the lackluster part out of the way, one of our favorite additions is the ability to have two-toned hair. A great option for characters with wild hair such as Ruuda.

3. Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Jade, Taliesin, Ruuda, and Jasita

Solasta is what Dungeons & Dragons looks like when taken from a tabletop game to a video game. It’s a near exact adaptation and it works rather well. Its character creation is simple when compared to others but it’s no less worthy of being on our list. When you make a character, you choose their race and class, the class is the important part we’re focusing on here.

Classes come with their own clothing and weapons. So, if you are wanting to build an archer character from a book series you like, go for the ranger. Or perhaps you want to see what a thief may look like, select the rogue class to get a character with dual daggers and light armor. You can even give them a tattoo or face paint to hide their identity.

4. Elden Ring

Ruuda with dual hammers

You’ll spend a lot of time dying in Elden Ring, but its character builder is a worthy rival for stealing your time. It is one of the most dynamic creation systems we’ve come across. You can make characters any color you wish, which is great for making dark elves, dwarves, gnomes, and dragonborn-type characters. Everything is so in-depth, from your character’s hair to their eyes, nose, and mouth.

Choosing your starting class also gives you fun clothing and weapons. So, a mage will start with a staff and robes while a fighter will have armor and a weapon like a sword. Once you’re in the game properly, you can find several weapons and clothing to choose from to better equip and detail the specific character you are building. The one major downside is there isn’t a slider for height.

5. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-reckoning

Ruuda

Kingdoms of Amalur is one of Dorian’s favorite games. Well before Thread of Souls was conceptualized, he made characters just for fun, never having one that was his own. That is until characters such as Ruuda, Taliesin, or Jasita came along. Now, in every game he’ll build a character from Thread of Souls. Kingdoms of Amalur was one of the first that comes to mind.

You can choose from race, skin tone, eye color, makeup, hairstyles, facial hair, and tattoos. From there, you’ll play a bit of the game to unlock class options. Classes are based on abilities and your choice of weapon rather than a specific class. You can also multiclass and choose to be a fighter and wizard if you wish. So, you can make a character who specializes in melee and magic.


We’ve got plenty of other video games to choose from as well! This is merely part one of the best video games to build your characters in. Stay tuned for part two!

D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion

Travel to get into the D&D Party Mindset

Playing D&D is similar to an actor preparing for a role. You aren’t you at the table, you’re someone else. Taking time to think, act, and live like your character before a session is a great way to get into their mindset. One way to really get a feel for your character is to travel as they do.

Walk or Hike

Traveling could be just about anything. Think about the types of travel portrayed in D&D games or fantasy books. One of the most prominent is long-distance walking and hiking. You could even keep it simple by going on a short walk. Walking and hiking lets you better connect with nature and the elements around you. It’s a great time to think like your character and be with yourself and thoughts. Plus, you get a feel for what it’s like to be outside like they are the majority of the time. Don’t only go out when it’s sunny. Adventuring is tough work and they don’t quit when it’s raining.

Hit the Road

Another way to get around in fantasy is using wagons or carriages. You don’t have to rent or find a carriage, just hop in a car and drive about. You could do one of two things to get in the mindset. One is to not bother with a destination. Just pick a direction and drive. The other is to know where you’re going but not use any GPS to get there. Travel by using a map or as if you were given vague directions until you reach your goal. Oftentimes, a party will be given a direction and landmark. Rarely is it ever a straight path to your goal.

All the while, be your character. What would they think of the journey? The sights? Sounds? Smells?

Spend the Night Somewhere Different

Characters are always staying at taverns, tents, or magically created homes. Another fun way to travel and get into your character’s mind is to stay somewhere new for the night. Having a different view or sleeping somewhere diverse gives you a more unique view of the world.

We’ve spent the night in a dark creepy forest once. It was definitely an experience and one we’ll never forget.

Travel Together

Traveling with your party or a friend at the table is highly recommended. It gives everyone a chance to bond and become their character while you’re all away. You don’t have to spend every moment as your character, but spending time here and there as them will help give you more insight into how they act in the game.

Senses

When you travel to get into the mindset of your character, focus on your senses. Everywhere you go focus on everything you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Taverns often have a reputation for being loud, but is that always the case when you stay at a hotel? Roads aren’t always smooth and you can often feel every bump as you travel along. What does the air smell like as you walk through the park?


Traveling is always an adventure. It doesn’t have to be an epic journey from point A to point B. Sometimes taking a walk in your own house or yard is all you need to get into the mind of your character.

D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics

The One Ring Tabletop Game Review

The Hobbit is among one of our favorite books so when we heard Free League Publishing was making a Lord of the Rings tabletop game, we got excited. It’s like having the extended extended editions of all the movies in one, except you’re the Loremaster. The One Ring is as alive and vast as the world you see on screen and read on the page.

Right away the pages make it very clear that everyone around the table is part of telling the story. It isn’t just led by the Loremaster. Every player is there to be a part of the tale and make sure it’s a thrilling and memorable one.

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were.

The Lord of the Rings

The One Ring comes with a core rule book, and a starter set. The rule book is worthy of J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s a massive 248-page tome stuffed with everything you need to start adventuring in Middle-Earth. It’s also a rather pretty book with a stunning cover and beautifully drawn art inside. Every page feels like diving into The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings paperbacks. It’s a grand adventure.

Once you’re through creating a character and learning how to play, you can dive right into a quest. The final few pages contain a thrilling adventure called The Star of the Mist. It’s a journey that fits right into the lore of the Lord of the Rings and is a great starting point for a fellowship. It’s got bandits, dwarves, a dwarven city—a mine— a ghost, and a mystery to solve.

Going on an Adventure

Each game is split into two phases: the adventure and the fellowship. The first involves scenes related to building the overall plot. These can be a tense social encounter or a fight. Whereas the second phase is what happens between each adventure. Characters have time to take for themselves to rest and relax.

The Dice

Free League enjoys using a d6 system and it’s featured in The One Ring as well. Though this time around, they’ve added a d12 to the mix. Characters have 18 skills they can use to overcome challenges and will use both d6—Success Die—and d12—Feat Die—to determine an outcome. The combined total of all the dice is compared to a target number (TN). If the rolled total is equal to or greater than the TN, the roll is a success; otherwise, it has failed.

Each Feat Die features a Gandalf rune (12) and the Eye of Sauron (11) rune. Gandalf’s rune is the greatest result you can get on a Feat Die and means you automatically succeed regardless of reaching or succeeding the TN. Whereas the Eye of Sauron icon is the worst result possible outcome, resulting in a zero on the Feat Die.

Being favored in a skill means you’re proficient in it. When using a skill, players roll one Feat die and a number of Success Dice equal to the Player-­hero’s skill rank. Only one Feat die is rolled if a Player-­hero is unskilled.

Your Calling

Instead of occupations or classes, The One Ring includes Callings. Callings are your character class and allow you to be as dextrous as Legolas, strong as Gimli, or wise and powerful as Galadriel. Callings range from Captain, Champion, Messenger, Scholar, Treasure Hunter, and Warden. Coupled with a Heroic Culture, this decides who you are in Middle-earth.

There are three Attributes in The One Ring: Strength, Heart, and Wits. Each score describes an adventurer’s physical, emotional, and mental capabilities. These are broken down to hit points, resisting spells, and the effects of dread.

Patrons

Along the way, the fellowship gains access to a patron. This sponsor is the one who provides them with quests, items, and information to push the plot forward. They also allow you to re-roll dice, summon them to your aid, or other circumstances that aid the fellowship. It’s a fun system that brings back familiar characters such as Balin, Bilbo, and Gandalf the Grey.


Like Tolkien, The One Ring is a beast of a tabletop book. The fantasy author made everything feel spectacular and worthwhile. From the novels to the compendiums and the movies, the world of Lord of the Rings is massive and exciting to see. The One Ring makes it that much more excited to jump into and explore.

D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Symbaroum: Thrilling adventure in a corrupted land – Review

They say untold treasure lies within the forest of Davokar. That and corrupted beasts and shadows of former adventurers. Be it you’re the one looking for an Explorer’s License, I’ll not keep you from your quest. The dark forest awaits. Good luck out there.

Symbaroum is a dark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game from Free League Publishing. It’s set in a world where adventurers venture into the vast forest known as Davokar and search for fortune and glory. Players build a character and party up with others to explore, solve mysteries, and make a name for themselves in this dangerous world.

It follows similar tabletop tropes. You build a character, choose attributes to see what you’re good and bad at, select your archetype, and venture out into the unknown. One major difference is its dice system. Instead of rolling a d20 and aiming for a high number, you’ll want to do the opposite.

Building a character comes down to choosing from three archetypes: mystic, hunter, and warrior. Each one is broken down into occupations, of which there are numerous. Occupations are your character’s background and can be wizards, rangers, knights, sorcerers, duelists, sellswords, and more. Altogether there are 15 occupations.

From there you’ll select attributes and each is linked to the roll of a d20. They are broken down into the following categories: accurate, cunning, discrete, persuasive, quick, strong, resolute, and vigilant. These are what you’ll focus on throughout each session.

Welcome to the Upside Down the D20

One of the most interesting features of Symbaroum is found in its d20 system. It’s built in such a way that you’ll need to roll low to succeed. It’s backward from other popular games out there.

Say for instance you want to pick a lock on a door and have a discreet of 13. You’d roll a discreet check versus the lock’s modifier of -3. The modifier subtracts 3 to your discreet attribute making it a total of 10 for this one moment. You would have to roll under 10 to successfully pick the lock.

This makes attacking targets rather more engaging as well. Each enemy and player character has a target defense that impacts the d20. To successfully hit a target, the roll has to be below the target value. Yet, armor and character abilities can affect the overall number as well. So, it’s not as simple as hitting that goal number sometimes.

Shadow and Corruption – Who turned out the lights?

Symbaroum utilizes shadows as a way to build tension and show the spread of corruption. Both work in tandem with one another and make for great role-play opportunities. Each character and creature in Symbaroum has a shadow cast by light. It’s when a creature has two shadows, people should begin to worry.

A creature with a second shadow is considered to be corrupted. This means, they have spent too much time in an area of heavy corruption, such as the forest of Davokar; they’ve messed with magic they should have stayed away from, or cast a spell. Once the corruption spreads too far, characters become supernatural beings and become part of the forest ecosystem.

The World

The lore is as vast as the forest you’ll be exploring. Corruption spread throughout the land and Queen Korinthia searched for a place for her and her people. She established the kingdom of Ambria but it is at constant war with surrounding barbarian tribes and the monsters of the forest.

Those who wish to earn a living are tasked with venturing into the forest to find treasure, fight back the hordes of monstrosities, and defend the kingdom against barbarian attacks. There’s quite a bit to do in Symbaroum and plenty of quests and sessions to build multiple campaigns around.


Symbaroum is a thrilling tabletop experience that is wildly different from other tabletop games around. It can be daunting to figure out at first, like any tabletop game, but is worth it. The d20 system is engaging and makes you think about what skills to use in order to succeed. The world is dark and full of horrific monsters and it’s built upon such wonderful lore.

There are several books available from the Player’s Guide, Core Rulebook, Starter Set, and Alberetor the Haunted Waste adventure. Free League also makes Forbidden Lands, another excellent tabletop game.

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.

gnome
D&D / TTRPGs, Indie Feature, Storytelling Tips

“Let it Be Gnome” – Our Interview with a Gnome Expert

We chatted with James about his fun and quirky website “Let it Be Gnome”


James is fascinated by all things gnome-related and also a fan of gaming which makes D&D a particularly fascinating experience. He has a website all about gnomes which includes an in-depth look at gnomes in D&D. We talked with him about the website, as well as any helpful tips he has for role-playing a gnome in D&D!

Your website is a lot of fun! What gave you this idea to have a hub of information centered on Gnomes?

“I have always had an interest in gnomes but when I wanted to find out more about them on the internet there seemed to be a lack of information on them so I thought that I would help people by giving them more info! I love how quirky they are and that there is a wide and diverse history to them that many people seem to be unaware of and I hope to make them more informed.”

What do you like about the way that D&D portrays Gnomes?

“I love how they are not depicted in the stereotypical image of a gnome but that they have made them more humanlike but still used some of their known characteristics such as their eccentric sense of humor (one of my favorites!) and inquisitiveness. Some of the D&D gnome artwork that I have seen online is simply incredible and really breathes a lot of life into the mythology of gnomes beyond that which is in the mainstream such as the beard, hat, big boots and belly.”

What is your favorite D&D Gnome subrace?

“Mine is the Forest Gnome as I love their boldness and ability to take risks. I always find myself drawn to others that like to change things in big ways and feel that Forest Gnomes are subrace of gnomes that are most likely to do this.”

If you were to roleplay a Gnome character in D&D, what would they be like?

“They would be a fearless, swashbuckling hero! I love Forest Gnomes and how they are bold and enjoy taking risks and my gnome would be of this subrace and have experiences that others would talk about for generations. This gnome would have a talent for art and when not engaging in exciting adventures would spend their time creating original works of art that they would work on in their charmingly designed home in the woods. This penchant for art and creativity would also rear its head during battle when they would use their ability to cast creative illusions on their enemies.”

Your list of Gnome names is very impressive! What do you think goes into a good Gnomish-sounding name?

“I like a gnome name which is something that you would not expect but, after getting to know the name and the gnome, it somehow fits. I think that something like “Lutliten Twistwhistle” is a great example of this as it does not really bring up any images for me, but I think it would fit a mysterious, generally fun character such as a gnome.”

Truthfully we don’t see a lot of Gnome protagonists in fantasy settings. Why do you think this is?

“Their popularity seems to change from year to year and so I think that this is part of the reason and I also think that it is because they have generally been changed, at least in the mainstream, into this comedic character that people have as statues in their gardens and yards. I think this means that people just see them as something to make people laugh but, as D&D shows, they can have a lot more depth than this.”

However, I think that in recent years we have seen some movies based around gnomes and I think that people growing up having watched these movies who then go on to make their own fantasy stories will use this experience to make feature them as the protagonist.

What is the most interesting Gnome fact you’ve come across?

“The Noggin Clontith/youve been gnomed.wmv gnome meme video has been viewed over 14.5 million times on YouTube!”


You can check out the fun site “Let it Be Gnome” via this link!


Bardic Inspiration, D&D / TTRPGs, Thread of Souls

Bardic Inspiration: Haunting Songs for your D&D Session

Spooky music tracks to set the mood for chilling and ominous D&D sessions.

It’s the spooky season and we’ve got another Bardic Inspiration focused on creepy music for your TTRPG or D&D games. Our playlist is full of the best songs to play for eerie, haunting, or frightening situations. We’ve gone through some of our favorite tracks we use for our Thread of Souls game, to bring you the top spooky songs for your next session.


“Devils… Monsters…” is great to introduce a zombie horde or unsettling creature. Whether it be undead, demonic, or devilish, its fast-paced rhythm can be used just before the party stumbles across an eldritch nightmare. Then it starts chasing them through corridors, attempting to eat their brains.

“A thick fog rolls out from the dense gloomy woods. It crawls its way across the twisted bramble and tree roots, like severed hands reaching for their next victim.”

That’s the picture “What Once Was Lost” paints when we listen to it. It’s a dark song with an ominous undertone. A perfect track for moving through jungles or an overgrown cemetery.

“Dark Sanctuary” from Elder Scrolls Online is a great track for setting up a cult or ritual scene. Its chilling and echoing chants set the mood for a blood sacrifice or demonic summoning. It’s also quite long so you can build a scene around it quite nicely as well.

Skyrim’s “Into Darkness” is soft but sinister. Its dismal and ghastly chanting fit perfectly for traveling through a graveyard full of ghosts and ghouls.

“Opening” – Super Metroid

“Brinstar Red Soil”

Final Fantasy’s “Trail of Blood” is rather unsettling. We enjoy using it for setting the mood for psychological horror scenes. The ones where characters may be in a dream world or under the effects of a charm spell.

“Those Chosen by the Planet” sends shivers down our spines. Any mention of Sephiroth is enough to get creepy vibes. But this track from Final Fantasy VII is great for a villain monologue where they explain they were behind the murders and will now murder the entire party. Muhahaha!

The Witcher series is full of things that go bump in the night. The first time we met the three hags we were hooked but incredibly grossed out. “Ladies of the Woods” is mysterious as it is enchanting. It’s between the line of creepy and mystical and works well for scenes that may involve D&D hags, witches, or warlocks that may not be exactly what they claim to be.


Feywild
Bardic Inspiration, D&D / TTRPGs, News, Opinion, Storytelling Tips

Bardic Inspiration: Music for the Feywild and other Nature Themes

We list some of the best songs to use while you and your players explore the Feywild in Dungeons & Dragons.


Dungeons & Dragons released its latest book, Wild Beyond the Witchlight. It’s all about the mysterious and wonderful plane known as the Feywild. While it may sound like a fantastical place to visit, it’s not all fairies and unicorns and not all of them are kind. There are also sinister creatures that fight over control of the Feywild and those who live there.

The Feywild

The Feywild is ruled by creatures called archfey; incredibly powerful spellcasters or tricksters who may be good or evil. It’s a land of enchantment, nature, and mystical creatures. You’ll find hags, giants, walking and talking trees and plants, pixies, rabbitfolk, and many other animals now able to speak.

So, what music would work best for a setting such as the Feywild? We’ve got a few of our favorites all on Spotify.

Feywild Music

“Deku Palace” is for those wild and crazy nights in the Feywild. It also works well as an introduction for characters getting there. Maybe they’re at a party that gets a bit out of hand and something pulls them there. Perhaps an archfey casts dancing magic upon the party and they are forced to dance to the beat, or it serves as the backdrop of a magnificent tree castle.

“Gruntilda’s Lair” from Banjo-Kazooie is all about the main antagonist, a witch/hag. As hags can be found in the Feywild it’s fitting for meeting a hag who may or may not be evil.

“Dalentarth” from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is practically made for the Feywild. The game is set in a world that is similar to the chaotic plane. It’s full of archfey, unique creatures, and magical artifacts that fit in nicely with any campaign set in the Feywild.

The entire soundtrack pairs nicely with the overall Feywild theme.

With that being the case, we also suggest “Alabastra”. It goes well with meeting mysterious people or entering a dark and spooky area such as a corrupted forest or hag’s lair.

“Faren’s Flier” from Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is great for describing areas of the Feywild the party is about to visit. It can also make for a great backdrop to traveling.

Sticking with Guild Wars, “Auric Wilds” is one we use quite often for traversing dense jungles or overgrown ruins.

In related Dungeons & Dragons news, the “Future of D&D” panel at this year’s D&D Celebration revealed a look at what’s next for D&D. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, is a collection of an assortment of art, stats, and upgraded information regarding monsters, creatures, and more. Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse releases in January 2022.

D&D is also working on a brand new set releasing in 2024.

Hades
D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion, Video Games

How to Build a Homebrew Hades Dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons

We create a homebrew version of Hades in Dungeons & Dragons

Hades is a roguelike action dungeon crawler video game. You play Zagreus; son of Hades, who seeks to run away from Hell. It’s a game where you will die several times but each death allows you to learn grow and get better and faster. Along the way, Zag will gain the favor of his cousins on Mount Olympus to help him escape.

It honestly could be its own Dungeons & Dragons campaign guide. Theros is the closest official content available to craft your own Hades-style world. We’re going to take a look at that concept and build our own homebrew version of Hades you can play with friends or solo just like the game.

Plot

We need to start at the beginning; how does the game begin? What sets you on your quest? You could play it one of a million different ways but we’re going to present the main storyline to set the focus.

Instead of playing as Zag, you can play as a prisoner trapped in the Nine Hells. But how did you get there?

  1. You were killed on a quest and devils dragged your soul down to the Hells.
  2. You were sent here to retrieve an artifact or soul but ended up getting trapped yourself.
  3. You are a devil yourself; either a tiefling or some other fiend who seeks to explore the Material Plane.
  4. You’re a celestial who ended up there on a mission from your god but things didn’t end well.
  5. You are a traveler who slipped through a portal to the Nine Hells and are presented with a trial to get home.
  6. You heard about the escape room in the Nine Hells and just had to try it out.

No matter what it may be, you’re here now and the only way to escape is to make it through the gauntlet. The god of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus or Erebos sets up the challenge to prevent anyone from escaping so easily.

Generic Hero

If you want to play as Zagreus we recommend choosing a Gladiator from the official D&D ruleset.

Dungeons

As you escape from the Hells, you must pass through small dungeons or rooms. Each room contains several enemies, items, or NPCs to help you on your path. Exiting to the next room rewards the character with a blessing they can use to help them combat future encounters.

Enemies

There are several enemies in the game that you can pull right from D&D. Creatures such as the Erinyes are the first boss you come across. You can pull their stat block right from the Monster Manual and call it good.

Of course, some creatures may be too powerful for lower-level characters but there are some things you can do to balance out encounters. Taking the Erinyes for example, you can reduce the number of attacks they make if you’re character is low level.

It’s all about balance and knowing what creatures to throw at your characters. Though Hades is challenging there are difficulty settings you can mess with to make it less frustrating.

Other bosses include the Minotaur and Champion. As for the final boss, we recommend using the stats for a pit fiend. As for standard enemies we recommend using the following: Lemure, Manes, Dretch, imps, nightmare, shadow demons, succubus, and barbed devils. Basically, any creature that is considered a fiend.

Upgrades / Blessings

Blessings are a major mechanic of the video game and can be added into the D&D version in a couple of ways. Characters can gain access to blessings by completing one dungeon and moving on to the next.

Items. By glancing through the guidebook or online you can find a number of items to benefit your playstyle. They can be put into a random roll table and you’re good to go.

Spells/Abilities. Spells and abilities are another simple blessing system you can add to the game. Each room offers a chance to learn a different spell or skill that you can use to combat enemies.


That’s the groundwork for building a Hades-like encounter in D&D. We’re working on building a more detailed one for our homebrew game and will talk about it in greater detail when it’s complete.