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Showing posts from 2016

GM Advice: The Game Master's Rule Of Three

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 QUICK TIP!
The human brain is a funny little place, with funny little habits. One of those is the psychological fascination with the number three. 
 Three blind mice, three little pigs, three's company, three doors down, three dog night, threesomes, three wolf moon, the three musketeers, the three amigos, the three brothers, the three stooges, and three times a lady.
We love it. It is a pleasing figure. It's followed us from childhood, into adulthood and beyond. Three has always been there, lending a helping hand when we need it. It is more than two, less than five, giving us just enough variety without being overbearing.
Three is the magic number, kids. That goes double if you just happen to be a member of that prestigious, decades-old order of sadists and free-thinkers; The Game Master. How does the number three and Game Mastery go together? Lay down a tarp, dear reader, for I may very well blow your mind... creating a gooey mess, thus necessitating the use of a tarp.
The Ru…

10 Reasons To Sell Your Soul

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As we approach the Christmas season, my thoughts drift to sugar plum fairies, snow-blanketed fields, and the joy of gift giving. They say that giving is the spirit of the holidays, and they're not wrong, whoever they are. There seems to be one gift that seems to net quite a bit of traction...

...a soul.

Throughout mythology and literature, folklore and reality television, we are shown people who have made pacts to sell their souls in exchange for something, be it power, money, or some other unnamed thing. Whatever the case, the being making the deal with the lowly mortal usually isn't painted in a particularly positive light...

Despite this, the mortal in question still signs over the only real immortal part of their being. But why? Why would someone make a deal with some (typically) extraplanar entity? Anyone would be hard up to give you one compelling reason to do such a thing, but I am Ed The Bard. I'll give you ten reasons to sell your soul.
As with the majority of th…

The Bardic Review: Volo's Guide To Monsters

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Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D as the kids these days are saying, has made one thing very clear since introducing in 2014; they are no longer interested in "Book Bloat". Book Bloat is the seemingly endless push to release at least one new book each month. That sort of strain can tax the creative element, forcing the designers to conjure up new adventures, monsters, classes, etc., all while attempting to meet strict deadlines.

At that pace, even with a good creative team, some sub-par products can, and most likely will, make it out into the wider world. 3rd Edition (as well as 3.5) suffered greatly from this, totaling 68 separate books between 2001 and 2007. These didn't include modules. These were all sourcebooks. While there were several great ideas in this sea of books, such as the warlock character class, there were just as many bad ideas, broken ideas, and just plain weird ideas...

...looking at you Urban Druid

5th Edition, in its two-year run (at the time of wr…

10 Side-Effects From Resurrections

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Death becomes us. It is the undeniable, inescapable inevitability of the universe. That is unless you are a divine spellcaster with the raise dead spell. Then to hell with the reaper! Get some of that bling and start raisin' homies from the grave!

And that is the beauty of magic, isn't it? Being able to bend the laws of the universe with zero repercussions. Why would there be? You're only snatching a soul from the jaws of death and stuffing it back to its meat shell.
What could go wrong?

Oh, that's right. Everything.

Many Game Masters treat a return to life like a brief vacation. You lose a level and your back at it like nothing happened. But death is not a trip to the day spa, and there should be consequences to returning to life.

Below are ten possible side-effects from a good old fashioned resurrection, sure to make your spellcaster think twice about playing God. After all, if you're invoking that kind of mojo, you should be ready to pay the price.

P.S. "T…

GM Advice: How To Make Your Session Plans Suck Less

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By Guest Writer Jack the Rogue

Nothing kills the flow of a game as surely as an ill-prepared DM. As the DM, you have to juggle rules and mechanics, storyline, and creative elements without missing a beat. If the DM hesitates, they risk breaking the players’ immersion - the magic sensation that the game is more than just a game.

I want immersed players. That’s why I’m a big fan of anything that cuts down on the number of on-the-fly decisions I have to make in-game. Clear and careful planning frees up mental capacity to spend on roleplaying convincing NPCs, giving vivid descriptions, and engaging player interests on an individualized level.

With that groundwork laid, let me tell you about the biggest adventure-planning advancement I’ve made in recent history.

The Old Planning Method: Vomit all my thoughts and possible outcomes into a Google doc wall of text.

This was clunky and hard to read in the heat of the moment.

The Future: Sexy, clean flowcharts.

This is sleek, readable, and creates an e…

The Bardic Review: Limitless Encounters

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I would not typically describe myself as a reviewer or things. Sure, I develop strong opinions that are hard to be swayed and I have no problem sharing (forcing) those opinions on any unfortunate creature within earshot, but I am no critic.

 That being said, when I was approached by the fine folks over at Limitless Adventures to take a look at their stuff, I was slightly apprehensive. I am, after all, but a simple bard with a verbose vocabulary and an occasional nugget of wisdom buried within my incessant ramblings. However, when they said "random encounters", I was sold. You know how I feel about random encounters.

I took a look at a few products; Urban Encounters and Dungeon Encounters. Just so we're clear here, I am first and foremost an honest bard. If I like something, I will say so. If I don't like something, I will rend it asunder with no regard for the person or persons who wrote it, whether it was gifted to me out of respect or not. Now that we have that ou…

#RPGaDay 2016 - Day 29: If I Could Game Anywhere On Earth, Where Would I Choose?

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Day 1: Real Dice, Dice Apps, Diceless, How Do You Prefer To 'Roll'?
Day 2: Best Game Sessions Since August 2015
Day 3: Character Moment You Are Proudest Of
Day 4: Most Impressive Thing Another's Character Did
Day 5: What Story Does Your Group Tell About Your Character?
Day 6: Most Amazing Thing My Gaming Group Has Done For The Community
Day 7: What Aspect Of RPGs Has Had The Biggest Effect On You? 
Days 8-26: The Catch-Up Game
Day 27: Most Unusual Circumstance Or Location In Which You've Gamed
Day 28: Thing You'd Be Most Surprised A Friend Had Not Seen Or Read?

#RPGaDay is getting steamy! Day 29 would be tickled pink to know if I could game anywhere on Earth, where would it be.

Well, this one might get a little... dark.

I have long been a fan of the horror genre, be it movies, games, or books. I am from Maine. We're force-fed Stephen King from birth (swell fella, almost ran him over once). I have always wanted to do a horror game, but the problem I always run into is tha…

#RPGaDay 2016 - Day 28: Thing I'd Be Most Suprised A Friend Had Not Seen Or Read

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Day 1: Real Dice, Dice Apps, Diceless, How Do You Prefer To 'Roll'?
Day 2: Best Game Sessions Since August 2015
Day 3: Character Moment You Are Proudest Of
Day 4: Most Impressive Thing Another's Character Did
Day 5: What Story Does Your Group Tell About Your Character?
Day 6: Most Amazing Thing My Gaming Group Has Done For The Community
Day 7: What Aspect Of RPGs Has Had The Biggest Effect On You? 
Days 8-26: The Catch-Up Game
Day 27: Most Unusual Circumstance Or Location In Which You've Gamed


#RPGaDay is going strong! Day 28 beseeches me in its pondering of what thing I'd be most surprised to discover a friend had not seen nor read.

Already, right off the bat, we must exclude Star Wars from this rambling. For no other reason than the bitter truth that if you have never seen Star Wars, we are not friends.

Now, in the spirit of our role-playing roots, I feel it is only appropriate to mention the series that has inspired like 75% of the genre. A trilogy of books and epic movi…

#RPGaDay 2016 - Day 27: Most Unusual Circumstance Or Situation In Which I Have Gamed

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Day 1: Real Dice, Dice Apps, Diceless, How Do You Prefer To 'Roll'?
Day 2: Best Game Sessions Since August 2015
Day 3: Character Moment You Are Proudest Of
Day 4: Most Impressive Thing Another's Character Did
Day 5: What Story Does Your Group Tell About Your Character?
Day 6: Most Amazing Thing My Gaming Group Has Done For The Community
Day 7: What Aspect Of RPGs Has Had The Biggest Effect On You? 
Days 8-26: The Catch-Up Game

#RPGaDay just cannot be denied! On day 27 I am asked what the most unusual circumstance or situation in which I have gamed has been. For many other days this month, I have had to sit and ponder, but for this one, it was an instant jolt to the memory.

It was the very end of summer. Autumn's crispness, the kind that is most prevalent here in New England, was just beginning to creep in. My gaming group at the time consisted of several guys from work and a few others that were friends of other members of the group.

We had just finished a game and Wayne, the …

GM Advice: How To Write An Adventure For Low-Level Characters

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The adventure; a staple stories and legends since time immemorial. Odysseus, Hercules, Bilbo, Captain Reynolds, each had their fair share of adventure, and each has been tested to their limit by said adventures and come out on the other side better (or in Mal's case, better and bitter).That, in a sense, is the purpose of an adventure. To challenge us and make us greater than what we were before. It is no wonder that role-playing games are primarily centered around the adventures of a small group of people able to do extraordinary things.
As every adventure starts somewhere, so too does every adventurer. Today we will discuss the benefits and challenges of writing a game for low-level characters, and how to write them effectively.

Why Low-Level Games Are Awesome As I said before, every adventurer starts somewhere. This is their starting point, and it can be a wonderful, clean experience. I use the word clean because that is what the characters are. They are clean, pure, unsullied b…