Critical Role’s Netherdeep shows how rivals can improve a campaign
Many beginners to Dungeons & Dragons were introduced to the game by critical role. The nerdy voice actors made the game accessible and exciting for thousands of viewers who had never played before. Even after seven years as a company, critical role Always attracting new players with every live stream, book, comic, and anime series they release. Call of the Netherdeep is the newest addition to the critical role franchise.
Call of the Netherdeep East critical roleis the first official J&D adventure mods. This module guides players and Dungeon Masters through an epic adventure in the world of Exandria by Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer. The adventure is filled with exciting dungeons, powerful magical artifacts, and terrifying enemies, but the biggest part is the rivals. Early on in the adventure, players are faced with a compelling cast of characters advancing alongside the party, a concept that could enhance any campaign.
D&D rivals can incentivize role-playing
The rivals in Call of the Netherdeep are characters in their own right who have their own hopes and fears that drive them. The Dungeon Masters will have as much fun to play as them and players will have to face them. Several times during the adventure, the player characters will have the opportunity to speak with the rivals and learn more about them. Players have the freedom to develop very deep and personalized relationships with these rivals, making each encounter all the more meaningful.
Players who are hesitant to roleplay might be more motivated to do so when rivals are added. Most other NPCs in Dungeons & Dragons games are usually quest givers, traders or enemies. These are characters that can have very simple social interactions where players are just trying to get something out of them. The transactional nature of these characters might make players less likely to treat them like whole people or engage with them as much.
Rivals work differently from these other NPCs. Rivals are equal to players in almost every way. Neither rivals nor players need anything from each other, giving rivals a lot more agency. Players don’t have to worry about losing a quest or item because they irritated rivals, and rivals don’t desperately seek help from players. They can knock players back and taunt them in ways that other NPCs cannot. Players and rivals hold equal power, which might motivate players to take these NPCs more seriously than others.
Gamers aren’t the only D&D heroes
In Call of the Netherdeep, players and rivals are trying to achieve the same goals. Depending on how players interact with rivals, they can be trusted allies, bitter enemies, or indifferent competitors. Regardless of the relationship, the rivals will pursue their goals with or without the players. If players don’t act fast enough, rivals will steal the show and become the heroes of the story.
In many campaigns, players will see themselves as the only important people in the world. These are the heroes the world has been waiting for and nothing will change unless they decide to act. Adding rivals to a campaign can make players realize that this is not always the case. Rivals can complete missions and build relationships that players weren’t proactive enough to complete on their own.
Rivals add a real sense of urgency to the game. There is always the possibility that rivals will get to a location first or complete a quest before players. The possibility of missing a reward or glory will cause players to focus on the main quest. The legitimate threat of rivals getting too far ahead of them or beating them for treasure should be enough to spark a competitive spirit in any player.
The risk of failure without death in D&D
Although rivals of Call of the Netherdeep are obstacles for the players, they are not villains. Unless players do something bad, rivals won’t hate them or try to kill them. If a fight breaks out between the two groups, the rivals always do their best to make sure no one dies. This allows players to occasionally fail without death being a consequence.
Any good adventure needs a chance of failure to be entertaining. The threat of defeat makes victory all the sweeter, but a character’s death can be devastating and derail plans. Battling against rivals allows players to fail without death being the result. If players fail to acquire a magic item they need, rivals might rush in and take it. Even if the players have lost their initial opportunity, they will have another one the next time they face their rivals. Rivals can add a new layer of depth to a campaign and improve core game functionality.
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