Showing posts from April, 2016

The Mists Of Akuma Beckon You

Today we're going to do something a little different, something your beloved bard has never done before. No, it does not consist of me being short-winded or dry. That's not how this bard rolls, yo.

 I am going to get you excited. Yes, some of my previous articles have elicited some emotion of state of mind comparable to excitement, but today I am going to blow your mind the same way my mind was blown recently. 

I have been doing Ed The Bard now for a little while (since the halcyon days of January 2016). It was back in March when I was pumping out an article a day that I was approached by ENnie Award-Winning designer Mike Myler. I knew of Mike's extensive body of work and tried my best not to geek out like a giddy little girl. So, once my giddy girl-like geekery had subsided, Mike showed me something. It was a fabulous, gritty little campaign setting called Mists of Akuma for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

What is Mists of Akuma?

MoA is an eastern-style campaign setting, …

GM Advice: Why Killing NPCs Is Okay

Some may take a fleeting glance at the title of this little article, sigh a resigned sigh, and say to themselves "When isn't it okay?". A lot of Game Masters have no problem George R.R. Martin-ing their NPCs like every day was a Red Wedding. On the other hand, there is a very stringent collective of GMs who outright refuse to kill NPCs, stating that the deaths are empty and don't serve any purpose other than taking the spotlight away from the players.

NPCs are still characters. Sure, they are Non-Player Characters, but characters none the less. As such, they are as susceptible to the laws of your campaign world as your players' characters. They can die, and some of them should die. Now, I am not talking about villainous NPCs. The vast majority of them will ultimately meet an untimely end, or at the very least incarceration. No, these are your local shopkeeps, that friendly barmaid at the tavern the players frequent, the contact they have in the city's thieve…

Steal This! 5 Villages With A Dark Secret

I cannot seem to get villages out of my head this week. Hommlet has a of hold on me, not that it's a bad thing mind you. Villages are fun, magical little bastions of boredom and blandness, except that more often than not there is some terrifying secret buried just below the surface that could figuratively-or sometimes literally-tear the community asunder. These are the villages that are interesting. The ones with panache!

These secrets need not all be sinister, but sometimes shame can keep lips closed and heads turned. In a place as small as a village, everyone knows each other, but do they really? What skeletons dwell in the closet of some of the most trusted pillars of their community? What lengths will these "simple folk" go to in order to ensure that the dangerous secret they keep stays buried?

 Today I offer you up 5 seemingly unassuming villages hiding a dark secret. These are system neutral, so you can place them just about anywhere in any campaign setting. They …

Making Monster Matter: 10 Monsters To Terrify Your Players

Fear. It can be potent, tangible, irrational or downright well founded. In tabletop roleplaying games, characters face down legions of terrifying monsters on a regular basis, often without showing the slightest twinge of terror. They are fearless. That is why it is comforting, as a Game Master, that there are still certain monsters that will give not only the characters pause, but the players as well.

When these malicious monstrosities arrive on the scene, the entire game changes. Your players enact "Panic Mode", changing their usual willy-nilly tactics for something more thought out and profound. These are enemies that won't just kill your party in embaressing and painful ways, they will play with them first. They will take away everything they love about their character before finally snuffing them out, and the players know this.

Here are 10 Monsters to Terrify Your Players.

10. Gibbering Mouther
"Never look a gift horror in the mouths."
Not so much deadly as…

GM Advice: Creating The Perfect Starting Area

First impressions are important. This is as true in real life as it is in your tabletop game. The first session you run of a new campaign sets the tone for the rest of the game, and in very rare instances does that tone ever change. The first session should introduce the players and their characters to your world and give them an idea of what the rest of the campaign will be like. That being said, the place where the characters begin the story should be the embodiment of that first impression.

You gotta sell it!

Where To Begin
This really depends on the level of the game you are running. If you are staring at a relatively high level, it would make sense for the starting area to be something grand, like a keep or castle under the control of the characters, or a massive city where they hold a lot of clout. Likewise, if you are starting low, it makes more sense to begin small, in villages or small town, or in a large city where the characters are strangers or hardly known from any other …

GM Advice: You Need Random Encounters

Walking back to the inn after a nice day of adventuring can be a daunting process. You're feet ache, you muscles are sore, and though the cleric managed to keep your spine from being fully severed by the hobgoblin with the greatsword, the ordeal was at the very least mentally draining. You're looking forward dull of cold ale, a hot meal, and soft company. That is when the owlbear that has been tracking you for two miles jumps out of the woods at you.

"Well, shit." you think to yourself as it becomes personally acquainted with the flavor of your liver, "That was random."

"I'm an affront to the laws of Gods and man! Gimmie your kidney!"

For decades, random encounters have been a part of Tabletop RPGs. Little tables of chaos that can turn a peaceful walk or a night at camp into a bloodbath in the blink of an eye and the roll of the dice. These little beauties introduced a degree of, well, randomness into the Game Master's campaign w…