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Sunday Seven: 2014-04-13

April 13th, 2014

My Friday night game went FANTASTIC. We all had a great time, and much undead slaying was had. My Saturday night game is winding down since the host is moving out of town, so we’re falling back to board/card games until he moves. We played several rounds of Zombie Dice, and several rounds of Chupacabra. Then we broke out Arkham Horror and proceeded to almost defeat Cthuga on several occasions, but the dice and cards just didn’t fall our way. We ended up awaking the Elder One, and that was pretty much the end of the game. We didn’t have the goods to directly defeat him. Ah well. Such is how it goes.

Now that I’ve summarized my gaming week… On with the links!

Inversions Attract: Another Quick NPC Generator

Most “quick and dirty” NPC generators focus on the stats. Sure, those numbers are important, especially if the NPC is there for combat purposes. However, most NPCs are probably there for some sort of social interaction. Unfortunately, most of these NPCs are “blank slates” without much backstory or purpose beyond handing out the next clue or misdirection. I know this is the case when I run the games because I just don’t have the time to backstory (even minimally) most of the NPCs in the game. Mike gives us some techniques for a “quick and dirty” background that’s actually applicable to the game itself. I’ve already printed this blog post and tossed in my GM folder for quick reference and use while doing my prep work. Thanks, Mike!

A Quick Guide to Convention One-Shots

Need a guide to pacing your convention one-shots? It’s really not all that hard. Many people avoid GM’ing (and some playing in) convention games because of the short time frame of the game itself. Most sessions are four hours in length. Some rare ones can stretch to six hours, but those are usually special events. When getting ready to run a one-shot, make sure you keep real life time in mind. This needs to be done at the prep level, not when you sit down behind the screen with a bunch of strangers. Paul has some simple, yet great, advice on how to approach this time constraint in your prep time.

Writing to the limits of longevity

Another great article from Mike! This one expands on the ideas of how to keep ideas, thoughts, niblets of your mind, and your notes around for longevity. I’m a software engineer by trade. I spend quite a bit of mental effort writing “readable code.” Where the software is necessarily convoluted, I always leave a comment or three in the code to make sure people (especially me, six months later) know why I did what I did and how the code works. Having “readable notes” that will spur your memory and ideas is equally vital. I’m not just talking about the legibility of your handwriting, but the coherency of your notes and ideas. Never, ever make the mistake of proclaiming, “This is so important, I’ll never forget it.” When that event or NPC or item pops back up in the campaign five months later… Yeah… You’ll have forgotten the key details. Mike has some great approaches at note taking that will assist you in your mnemonic acrobatics.

[Friday Map] Fedor’s Pass Upper Levels

More maps from Dyson! I haven’t linked to his site for a few weeks, so I wanted to highlight these maps of Fedor’s Pass. It contains lots of wide open spaces that could be used for… well… almost anything! For some reason, I’m seeing high ceilings and giants. That’s just where my mind went. Where did you your mind go when looking at this maps?

Adventure Hooks: Welcome to the Jungle

Sweet! Here’s nine great adventure hooks for a jungle environment for you GMs out there. Ameron does a fantastic job not only giving you some ideas, but leaving it open enough for your imagination to run free and wild with it. These should be easy to incorporate into almost any ongoing game, or they could the inciting incident that gets the ball rolling. Enjoy them!

Some of My Favorite Books of Random Fantasy Tables

This post is very much like an “Appendix N of Random Tables.” If you don’t have the books highlighted in this post, run out and get them (if you can). I looked through Martin’s list of random table books, and I found that I’m missing a few of them. I gotta run out and track them down.

Random Poisons

Need some random effects for poisons of different types? Here are 20 of them from noisms. There are no names, just effects of the poisons. By using this chart and your imagination, you could easily come up with loads of different named poisons to attack your players with.

Belated Friday Five: 2014-04-06

April 6th, 2014

Another week has come and gone. More planning for the big writing conference my non-profit runs every year has happened. We’re closing in on that date, so my chances to post here will become even more scarce as conference time (late April) arrives.

Anyway, on with the links for the week!

Ten Million Stories: Breathing life into an urban population

When PCs arrive in a large metropolis area, how do you detail the population? Of course, “large” and “metropolis” have different meanings for different time periods and genres. This could be London circa 1100 with a population of 15,000, or it could be the same city a mere 200 years later with a massive population of 80,000, or it could be today’s London with a staggering 15 million people in the metro area (though “only” 8.3 million in the city proper). Quite a few differences between building out population details between the same city, but in three different times. Fortunately, Mike’s put together a wonderful technique for generating quick stories for key people and some random people as well. I’ve run through it a few times myself, and it only takes a few minutes. However, this is a few minutes the players are staring at you while you’re playing with cards all by yourself. This means that I highly recommend adding this process to your before-game prep work. Thanks for another great idea, Mike!

The Need for Fresh Blood in Gaming

I love playing new games! I love discovering their strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and unique styles. At one point in my life, I lived with two roommates and we were all gamers. We had our “Wall of Knowledge” which were a series of cheap shelves struggling to support three gamers worth of material. We had so many games and PCs going on at once that I created a spreadsheet to keep track of systems, PCs, GMs, status, last played date, etc. We cycled through games fairly quickly. Then again, we gamed almost every night. It’s just the nature of gaming with three of us in the house that love RPGs. That’s what brought us together as friends, so it was just natural. As of last week, I’m now down to just my monthly Pathfinder game. This makes me a sad gamer because this gives me fewer chances to taste fresh blood.

I Love 4×6 Photo Cards & You Should Too!

I have three printers in my office. One is a B&W laserjet for printing my manuscripts, character sheets, and other B&W paperwork. Another is a high-quality color inkjet, and the last is a photo printer. I rarely use the photo printer, and I’m kind of afraid of the state of the ink at this point. However, I use the color inkjet for printing handouts and props. I’ve just never thought about using the more sturdy photo paper for such projects. That’s a great idea! Thanks, Don!

Found Objects

I sometimes go through my older RPG stuff with the weak intent of getting rid of things I haven’t touched in decades. Then I stumble across many different notes, maps, adventures, dungeon crawls, and character notes from decades gone past. I can sometimes remember the very room and the full cast of people I was with when the artifact was created. Wow. Those blasts from the past are fantastic, and I always end up carefully putting things back in their folders, boxes, books, or whatever, and sliding them back on to my shelves.

Playing at Different Power Levels

One of the things I absolutely love about point-buy systems (GURPS being my favorite), is that you can easily play at different power levels. Want that orc to be deadly? Easy. Want only a archangel or high lord of a demonic plane to be a threat? Easy. Need something in between? Also easy. As a matter of fact, this is one of the key questions you need to ask your group when starting off a campaign with a point-buy system: What power level are we at? It’s a serious question and one that should not be taken lightly. It will determine much of the flavor of the game moving forward.

Saturday Seven: 2014-03-29

March 29th, 2014

Today’s “Friday Five” is intentionally late. I had seven great links for this week, and I just couldn’t bring myself to leave any of them out. I started putting together this post last night, but I decided to delete it in favor of posting today with all of the links.

Hope you enjoy them!

Avoiding the Familiar

As creative types, most role players (especially GMs) are inspired by the media they consume. There are books, short stories, movies, TV shows, comics, and more that we pour into our brains. It’s inevitable that these ideas will leak into our own creative endeavors. The trick is to make these “stolen” ideas unique to our own vision. The point of Walt’s post is to take these ideas and twist them in such a way that they are no longer familiar. Make them your own. Make them unique to your world or story. This will not only impress your players, but it’ll keep them from getting too comfortable with what they’re doing.

Swell And Lull – Emotional Pacing in RPGs Part 2

I linked to part one of this post last week, and this follow-up post is just as excellent as the first part. Mike delves deeper into pacing, and tugging on the emotions of your players and readers. He again includes some great visuals to help you out. The main point here is that you can’t keep your players on the edges of their seats at all times. There have to be lulls in the action and intensity. This will make the players enjoy those “high moments” even more. If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, think back to that first lick of the needles against your skin. It was a jolt of endorphins and excitement and eagerness and fear and pain and wonder. Now think to the end of getting that same tattoo. The needles have been hammering through your skin for so long (my first tattoo took a little over an hour to do), that all of those emotions were calmed down. I was under a constant barrage of sensations for an hour. I was nearly numb to it all by the end. Don’t do this to your players.

[Tuesday Map] Isometric Dungeon Experiment #5

This is a fantastic isometric map! It’s clear at what level each item is, and includes a very fascinating drop hole (secret trap?) into a pentagram at the bottom. What could be the intended purpose of this chute? How could it be used now? What’s at the bottom? Is something being kept in? Out? Wow. So many thoughts about this map. Well done Dyson!

Puzzles – Players & Characters

Some puzzles hit the players’ abilities to solve them. Some are intended for the characters to solve with a few dice rolls by the players. The best puzzles are the hybrid of the two facets of the player character. Allow the player some ingenuity, but base it on what the character knows or is capable of doing. Peter delves deeper into the topic, so check out his post!

The Gassy Gnoll: When Did It Become Us vs. Them?

Huh. A “DM Kill Board” has been found by the Gassy Gnoll. Interesting concept. To me, it’s interesting on the level of gaping at the carnage of a car wreck. Something you can’t take your eyes off of, but you know it’s a little piece of horror injected into someone’s life. I really can’t condone GMs bragging about how they’ve used their creativity to destroy another person’s fun. I’m with Gassy on this one. RPGs should be collaborative storytelling, not a “Me vs. Them” mind set. I was curious as to what various people from behind the screen were bragging about, but I decided finding such a thing on the Internet would not be conducive to my calm, yet energetic, mental state. I’ll stay away, thank you.

Strangers sharing ideas: RPG writings in a Collaborative World

Here we go. Another post about collaboration, but this time between people to build a world. I’ve done this before. It was a heck of a lot of fun. We each took turns drawing out coastline features around a medium-sized continent. Then we took turns throwing in land features. After this, we drew some national boundaries using the natural landscape. Then we took turns throwing names into the nations, and split them up fairly evenly between everyone. We came back to the game a month later (yeah, a whole month!) and compiled our thoughts together. We were on our way to a fantastic world that we all wanted to play in because we’d put so much into it… then the guy hosting the RPGs found himself in the middle of a divorce, and we were all booted from hanging out at “her” house. We never managed to find a decent place to play that we could all agree on (strange that we could create a world, but not find a house….) I’d love to go back to that concept with a medium-sized RPG group and see what could possibly happen.

A Micro Odyssey – Managing Micro Campaigns

Looking for a quick campaign to test a new system or new concept or new approach at gaming? Need some advice on how to swing something that is more than a one-shot, but isn’t going to drag out into months and months of gaming? Well, look no further! Phil has a fantastic post about how to properly execute the idea of the micro-campaign. Thanks, Phil!

Yet Another Belated Friday Five: 2014-03-23

March 23rd, 2014

I gotta get my stuff together on Friday nights. I used to be really on the ball with Friday Five postings, but I’ve been slacking lately. Perhaps I should rename this column “Sunday Six” or “Sunday Seven” and collect a few more links throughout the week and just post things on Sunday like I have been….

Anyway, here are are the five links from the previous week that caught my eye.

[Tuesday Map] The Granite Shore

I love this map for the clean lines and sharp angles, but not everything is set at 90-degrees to each other. I also like what appears to be a great hall that steadily climbs upward to where a bridge crosses a river into unknown territory. So many different adventures can be held here!

Places to Rob Adventurers, from Best to Worst

As a GM, I always feel nervous about setting up an encounter with the idea in mind of taking things away from the PCs. If it happens, that’s fine, but it feel cheap to me to do it. However, as a player, I’ve had a few encounters where the highly-intelligent enemy has snagged things from our camp and run off with it. It’s always amped up the tension and adventure, so I don’t mind it from the player’s side of the screen… so long as the tactic isn’t overdone or abused. I know these two views are dichotomous of one another. Perhaps I should readdress my GM view a bit?

For the First Couple of Sessions, PCs are Protean

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Players don’t always know the rules quite well enough to get themselves at a good starting point that will lead to where they want to go with their character’s career. It may also be that there was miscommunication between the group at the table. The players might make a character that just doesn’t fit in with the other characters, or with the GM’s idea of the theme of the campaign arc. The characters might need to be thrown out whole cloth or just tweaked a little bit. I allow three gaming sessions for players to, with or without reason, change/replace their characters. At the start of the fourth session of the campaign, the player is locked in with the character unless they come up with a halfway decent reason for the change. Of course, I’m not a hard-ass about this. If someone simply is not enjoying playing their character, that’s a good enough reason for me. However, I’ll delve deep into the why behind the lack of enjoyment with the player. This will help ensure they won’t have the same reasons for the lack of enjoyment after a few sessions with their new character.

Sharpening The Saw

Back in my Society for Creative Anachronism days, I had an Arabic saying (written in proper Arabic) around the circle that formed the main body of my gorget. This is the piece of armor that protects the neck. The gorget was made of leather, and etched into the armor was the saying, “Learn. Master. Teach.” One of the most enjoyable parts of building my armor was building this one piece because I firmly believe that everyone should attempt to do these three steps with at least one discipline. This article covers the first two parts of this saying very well: Learn. Master.

Swell And Lull – Emotional Pacing in RPGs Part 1

I once taught a class on pacing and tension in writing novels for an old writing group of mine. The workshop was assembled with a different speaker and topic in mind, but the speaker bailed very much at the last minute via text message. I wasn’t too happy with the speaker, but I knew the workshop had to go on. I pulled a half-baked presentation from my back pocket with no prep. I scribbled charts and graphs all over the whiteboard, and I was told later that I had pulled it off quite well. If you want to learn more about pacing in storytelling and gaming and how tension should rise and fall (yes it falls during the course of a story), then check out Mike’s wonderful article. He’s embedded some wonderful graphics in the article to help you grasp the concepts of what he’s talking about. This is an excellent article and should be read by all writers, screenwriters, game masters, and storytellers.

Sunday Seven: 2014-03-16

March 16th, 2014

Friday was my monthly Pathfinder game, so I didn’t have time to post that evening. I tried, I really did, to post during the day, but work slammed me pretty hard. I had the site open several times, but each time I tried to post some links, something came up. Yesterday was my 16th wedding anniversary, and I promised my wife that I’d spend more time with her than with the laptop. Sounds fair, right? So here we are with another late Friday Five, but it’s here!

The Howling Cavern

Awesome map. Hands down a fantastic piece of artwork with just enough background to spark your imagination!

The Torn Mountain Collected!

Yep. Another map. This was is the Torn Mountain all put together in a single map. I especially love how the chasm is incorporated into the map. That’ll make for some fun and interesting combats or tricky traps around that area.

The Pillars Of Assumption: A Source of Plot Ideas

Mike nails this post. There are so many things we assume will just happen. Up and down. Day and night. White vs. Black. This is a great tip for taking a natural assumption, twisting it around, and seeing what the players will do when the natural order of their world is shattered.

No-Win Scenarios: Making Sure PCs and Players are on the Same Page

I’ve been in exactly one “no-win” scenario. It was based on a novel the game master read, but he didn’t railroad us through the book’s plot. He was too good for that. I wish I could recall the title and author of the novel, so I could link to it. Basically, a large swarm of Von Neuman Machines were making their way through the galaxy and taking out star systems. There was nothing we could do but run and hide. We did that fairly effectively, but along the way we met a crazy “artist” robot who used human internals to build his sculptures. We also encountered a biological form of Von Neuman Machines that we dubbed “green flies” and released them from their holding pen to do battle with the black boxes. We did the best we could, but I never felt that we “won.” We merely survived, and sometimes that’s all you can hope for. I did feel a little cheated because the GM didn’t let us know up-front, but at the same time knowing up-front that we had no chance for total success would have ruined this particular game. Take your games and groups on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the players need to buy in. Sometimes it needs to be sprung upon them.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Need some stuff on how to improve your GM’ing skills? Well, look no further. Phil has compiled a great list of resources for you! Click through and see what he has to say.

[Friday Map] Three Underworld Temples

Yep. Another map. I’m just a sucker for a well-drawn map. These three separate, but tied together, temples are rife with role playing opportunities. That’s the first thing I look for in a map. The second thing I look for is the eye candy that makes the map pleasing to look at. As usual, Dyson delivers!

Interesting Non-Magical Treasure, Part II

Last week, I linked to Part I of what I hope continues to be an ongoing series from Peter. He’s put together some fantastic ideas to keep your three-sentence description from turning into “comb 250 GP” on the treasure list.

Saturday Six: 2014-03-08

March 8th, 2014

Migrating an Internet presence containing five different web sites and a whole slew of email addresses for a non-profit from a failing hosting service to two different platforms sure does consume lots of time. I have the initial phases of that project well underway, but there’s lots of work to do. The initial launch took much more time than I had originally planned, so I was up until a wee bit after midnight last night. This morning started way too early for a weekend, but here I am at the keyboard again.

With that little tale told…. On with the links!

Check Out The Amazing Artwork For Orin Rakatha…

If this artwork doesn’t inspire some serious creative juices, I’m not sure what will! I’m tempted to back the Kickstarter linked to in the article just to get the art! Wow!

Taming The Wild Frontiers

I think the most important question this article raises in my mind is, “Have we become too soft?” I recall distant memories of hoping to get to a high enough level with enough followers and carrying enough wealth to build a stronghold and establish my own nation or city state or guild or trading company or school or temple. I’d draw map after map of what the stronghold would look like. I did this for many characters. They wanted to go forth and conquer. The wild frontiers were theirs for the taking. However, something’s happened over the years and, as Mike put it, political correctness has gotten in the way of these ideals. I vividly remember one game where we were shipwrecked on an island full of native elves. They had loads of gems, but no real ability to work metal. My character was a dwarven smith (he was also a fighter), so I took what metal I could from the dregs of the ship and forged it into pots and pans that I tried to trade for a plethora of gemstones. Another player stopped me and told me, “I’m not going to let you buy Manhattan Island for some chunks of metal.” I stayed in character and told him I didn’t want the whole island, and I didn’t realize it had been named “Manhattan” by anyone. He didn’t get it. I’d love to find a game where “go forth and conquer” is a central theme…. Thanks, Mike!

Taking the Chair for the First Time

Everyone should game master a session or three. I’m very adamant about that. I won’t force someone to sit behind the screen, but I’ll use every tool in my social toolbox to get them to do so. Seeing the game from that perspective helps improve you as a role player… and you never know! You might enjoy it. I recall getting a good friend of mine who had been a player for almost three decades behind the screen for the first time. She ran a great game, but stopped it after three sessions because she didn’t realize how little control the GM actually had over the proceedings of the game. After this, she became an even better player!

Wilderness and pursuits

You chase them. They chase you. *yawn* Roll some dice. You got a higher number, you catch up. You got a lower number, they catch up. *yawn* Andreas has some fantastic ideas on how to amp up the chase scene and remove the boring roll after roll after roll that eventually leads to uneasy safety or combat.

The Envelope Is Ticking: Insanity In RPGs

Tick-Tock goes the clock. Drip-drool goes the character. I love tinkering with a character’s grasp on the world through messing with the players. Sometimes it bleeds over into the player’s grip on reality… if done right and done well. I’ve never been a fan of the players that say, “Oh. Scary thing. *yawn* Okay. I’ll tick off some sanity points and shoot it in the face.” However, a reaction like that can be completely avoided with the right set up by the GM. The best horror-based game I ever played in was a series of vignettes in Ravenloft (2nd Edition AD&D) run by a fellow named Jim. We didn’t change the ambiance of the playing area from our typical epic fantasy games, but I swear the room darkened a bit when Jim stepped behind the screen. His tonal qualities and body posturing painted such a vivid picture for me. I still get chills thinking about what my wizard/thief went through at his hands.

The Dungeons of Lost Coppers

Wow! Click through and look at all these fabulous maps people have put together. I’m completely blown away by the different approaches and interpretations of what Dyson started. Excellent work, everyone!

Belated Friday Five: 2014-03-03

March 3rd, 2014

I headed off to a writing retreat this past Friday. I had hoped to post the Friday Five before running away from work, but work things blew up. I ended up leaving work an hour later than I had planned, so I didn’t have time to post. I’m uber-sick right now from pushing myself too hard (physically and mentally) with the retreat. I’m starting to collect links for the upcoming Friday Five, so I figured I’d at least post the links from last week. Sorry, but I don’t have the mental energy to make any coherent comments. The sinus meds I’m on are kicking my ass hard right now.

Tomb of Xaxthos (Not one to waste a map)
The Personal Computer analogy and some Truths about House Rules
Dyson’s Delves II has arrived!
[Friday Map] Torn Mountain – Map 1
Friday Question: Trap Monsters
Get To The F&%$#ing Monkey

Belated Friday Five: 2014-02-22

February 22nd, 2014

Another late Friday Five. Once again, work has kept my brain so full and busy that I was a full four days behind in reading any of my RSS feeds, let alone the RPG-based ones. Some of those RSS feeds relate to work, as well! Ugh.

I just caught up on almost 500 articles (many just skimmed), and compiled my list for this week. Here they are!

Getting The Most Out Of Brevity

Brevity is not my forte. Never has been. At least not in my fiction writing. I’ve written a few flash pieces, a good number of short stories, but most of my words go down in novel-length works. This bleeds into my prep as well. I over-prep. I plan for “every” contingency. I think things through. I try to anticipate “all” choices that could be made… Then I sit down with my players and two-out-of-three of their decisions are things I never thought of, and all my hours of prep are out the window. I’m learned (but slowly) to prep the basics, and let the cards fall where they may. You should do the same, I think.

The Very Hungry Rust Monster…

This was great! I loved this comic…. though I still hate rust monsters.

Further Explorations in the Dungeon of Lost Coppers

Here are a few examples of folks finishing off Dyson’s map. They’re great! I love the different styles and interpretations on what Dyson started.

System Or Setting?

Setting, then system. Always. I actually take it a bit further. I choose genre, sub-genre (if applicable), setting, style, theme, and then system… in that order. Each one limits the next set of decisions and they logically chain things together. I’ve been in groups that have chosen to play Pathfinder, and then agreed to tell a space opera story… and tried to shoehorn things together to make it work. We spent more time hassling with house rules than playing the game or telling a story. It’s not worth it. Trust me.

I See It But I Don’t Believe It – Convincingly Unconvincing in RPGs

I can’t believe Mike wrote this article! Okay. Maybe I can. :) He’s written a great article on how to get your players to believe in the world/setting/stage/characters/events/etc. that you’re throwing at them. It’s nuanced. It’s detailed. It’s subtle. It is usually easy, but when it gets hard, look out! Mike helps walk you through those rough spots.

Sunday Six: 2014-02-16

February 16th, 2014

I think I’ve been offline since Monday evening, maybe Tuesday morning. Something like that. I’ve had Internet access, but I’ve just been way  too busy to actually keep up with what’s going on in my virtual worlds. I didn’t even get a chance to read any of my RSS feeds since that time. I finally got a chance to catch up on things while doing a massive software upgrade on my server. The upgrade just finished, and things look solid enough for me to make this post.

However, I have a huge video editing project ahead of me, so I do’t have time to make any comments.


The twisting tunnels of Burlagoon
[GMing] Introducing People to Complex Settings
The Two Page Prep System
The Fields Of Magic
A Really Extreme Case of Player Entitlement?
Relationship Advice For Your Campaign

Sunday Ten: 2014-02-09

February 9th, 2014

No alliteration today in the title. That’s okay.

I couldn’t do the Friday Five on Friday because work kept me slam-packed busy, then I had to race from work to my monthly Pathfinder game. The game was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.! The players finally got free of the opening dungeon crawl and into the city where they have a bit more freedom to make choices and move. That really opened up the role playing. By the end of the night, they were wanting to make it a twice-a-week game instead of a once-a-month game. As much as I would love to do that, it just ain’t gonna happen with my current life load.

Saturday rolled around, and we had a huge event for a non-profit I’m president of. That consumed the entire day, but went off really well. Only a few hitches, and I’m not sure the audience at the presentations even noticed.

Now we’re here to Sunday, and I checked my bookmarks for the week. I have ten of them. Normally, I have five-to-eight things bookmarked. Not this week. It was a great week in the RPG blogosphere! Time to get on to the links!

I Want To Explore This World…

Yeah. Me too. The thoughts and desires of adventure these images evoke are excellent. Great finds!

The Application Of Time and Motion to RPG Game Mechanics

As a game designer, this post really hit the nail on the head. Taking Mike’s advice, I’m going to have to go back and review some of the rules I have in my game system to ensure they’re not overly complex, require looking up each time they are used (D&D 3.0 grapple rules anyone?), and that they flow smoothly with the narrative being told.

100 Things 4e D&D Players Never Say

These are hilarious! The last one (#1) is the best. Killing a character off in 4th edition D&D requires some real effort on the part of the GM, and some really bad choices by the player… all at the same time.

Bring Out Your Dead – Some Ideas for Effecting PCs When Returning From Beyond

These effects on characters after they are raised from the dead are excellent. I’ve printed this blog post and thrown it into my folder along with tons of other “flavor effect” articles that I use during games. Well done, Eric!

Saying Isn’t Feeling: Evoking Emotional Engagement in Players

In addition to being a gamer, I’m also a writer of fiction. One of the rules you hear repeatedly is, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s such a brief statement that it’s hard to wrap your head around the full impact of the advice. Many people just don’t get it at first. I certainly didn’t. It’s just too brief. Too succinct. This post by Jeff explains things really well for writers as well as GMs and players.

[Tuesday Map] Traven’s Redoubt

Another great map from Dyson! Need I say more?


This good-sized post by Runeslinger is a top-notch one on how to handle powergamers and give them what they want while maintaining some sense of game balance/continuity. I’ve always struggled with this, and this post really helped me out.

Eight Tips for Using Travel as a Plot Device in Fantasy Games

For my monthly game, they’ll (probably) be leaving the city in the near future. I’m figuring there will be a few adventures within their undead-riddled city before they head out and get on the road. This post helped me prep for the eventual cross-country travels through the chilly country of Brevoy in the Inner Sea area of Golarion.

Pick #92: What does a real sword weigh?

Back to my writing. I write fantasy. I tend to pick the time period around 1000 CE to for my representative time period of when the world exists. When I describe warriors rolling, dodging, and smoothly moving in their armor, I’ve always had a few people call me out on it. That’s partially a fault of my writing in that I don’t specify that the armor is leather (I’ve fixed that), and partially a fault of peoples’ concepts of what “real armor” is like. This post links to a few other pages that really help clear things up. I’m temped to print the linked articles, so I can throw them at people that want to believe armor is always shiny plates of metal that weigh in at 200 pounds and prevents a warrior from standing up once he’s fallen down after tripping over a rock.

[CONTEST] The Dungeon of Lost Coppers

Woo Hoo! A contest from Dyson! Take his unfinished map, finish it off, and email it to him by February 23rd to be entered into a drawing for the deluxe copy of Dyson’s Delves. I bought a copy of the book when it became available, and it’s an excellent book. Well worth your time to enter the contest if you don’t already have the book. More details found at the link.

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