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Showing posts from July, 2016

Gary Gygax Taught Me To Be A Better GM

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Today is Gary Gygax Day! The day we celebrate the birth of the father of RPGs. It is a day that should be revered and celebrated, like Christmas, Halloween, or Free RPG day. But why are we celebrating one man? Surely there are others. Over the years, so many people have touched the world of role-playing games and made an impact, like Frank Mentzer, Chris Perkins, Ed Greenwood, and Tracy and Laura Hickman, to name a very few (this list could have gone on for miles).

Yes, the history of the RPG is a long and storied one with a plethora of contributors that made role-playing it what it is today. However, if you want to see the seed from which this mighty redwood grew, then gaze upon the majesty that is Gary "The Man" Gygax.

"Sarcasm aside, I applaud that man's taste in Hawaiian Shirt." 
Now I know there are those out there that roll their eyes at the very mention of Gary's name. They try to discredit him, diminish his achievements, and ignore his contributions…

GM Advice: Getting Your Players To Write Your Game For You

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Game Masters put a lot of work into their games. We like to craft those significant little details into our stories that make our players' jaw drop, that make them say "Oh!" and "What?!" and "I knew it!"

Some of us, and I am not pointing any fingers here (totally me), get a kind of high from the reactions we can evoke from our players. Sometimes, however, our players surprise us by cooking up ideas at the table that are so good, we wish we had thought of them first.

Well, unless your playing with an advanced race of psychic proto-humans (we've all been there), they don't know that you that you didn't come up with it first. They have no idea what is going on behind that screen or in your meaty noggin. In these cases, if the player's notion is better than what you've written, use the hell out of it.

Shamelessly.

They say that players will write 99% of a campaign with their paranoid conjecture. I say let's let them! While players…

GM Advice: Want To Try Something New? Try Something Old!

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Game Masters! Let us make one thing very clear; we work very hard. Even when we cut corners, rollrandomly, and have our hooks all in a row, the work we do behind the screen is still sizable. Still, we put out the best games we can with a smile on our faces, a song in our hearts, and a tiny glint of evil in our eyes.

"Roll for initiative."
Sometimes we make things a little more complicated for ourselves. We see all the other GMs running games with core races and classes, keeping things by the book and we get restless. We get aggravated. Worst of all, we get bored. How can those players find any kind of enjoyment from such boring settings and boring races? So sometimes we take it upon ourselves to go back to the drawing board and reinvent the wheel.
"Keep rollin', rollin', rollin' rollin'."
We want new settings, new races, new this, new that. Until finally we are left with something almost entirely unlike the original game we intended to play. We'v…

Dungeons & Diets: A Bard's Adventure Into Better Health

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I am a man of a rapier wit, a tongue like a razor, and the charm of a 20th level Paladin. I have a larger-than-life personality. I say these things not because I am a conceded ass, but because enough people have told me so that I take it as truth. I also use my bombastic persona to compensate for a pretty glaring issue.

You see, I'm fat. Fat fat. Like, "Our next contestant on The Biggest Loser" fat. Last November I tipped the scales at a whopping 430lbs (197.77kg for my metric friends). That's a stone's throw away from being 500lbs. (226.8kg). That's a quarter ton.

 "We're gonna need a bigger bard."
I've never been small. When I was a kid, I was quite the little plumper. By second grade I was tipping in at 100lbs. (45.36kg). This was due to a childhood eating and drinking all the wrong sorts of things. Colas, fried foods, potato chips, salty everything, and chocolate. All those and in large quantities. By the time I was 12 I could polish off…

3 Things That Other RPGs Could Learn From Rifts

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It has been nearly fifteen years since I first started chucking dice (I was a late bloomer). In that time I've played hundreds of games with dozens of Game Masters in just about every imaginable setting. I've finally settled on what I consider my home systems; Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons, which sing to me such lovely notes. Still, I never forget my past and where I came from.

While many a gamer who has been doing this for more than 15 years has cut their teeth on things like AD&D and Call of Cthulhu, I was baptized in the fires of a needlessly complicated system where game balance was a laughable concept, and Mega Damage was king! I am of course speaking of Palladium's offering for the Post-Apocalyptic crowd; Rifts.

Some of you may have played this game long ago. Some may even still be playing it. And even if you've never heard of it, there is a damn good chance that, if you read comic books in the 90's, you've seen the ad for this particular gam…

Steal This: 50 Adventure Hooks To Swipe For Your Game

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Adventure hooks! For every five a Game Master dangles in front of their players, the little devils usually only bite hold of one. For the GM who is running an open world sandbox style game, or even the narrative GM looking for a brief one-off to break up the monotony of their larger story, the Adventure Hook not only serves as a means of inspiring the person that runs the game but inciting the ones who play the game.

But what Game Master has the kind of time to sit around and think up possible adventures ideas that their players might just give a hard pass? Fear not, your time-saving teller of tall tales tenders a transcendent tithe of tantalizing tropes to tempt the tastes and torture the tenacious team of traveling transients (PCs).

Voila! 50 Adventure Hooks to swipe for your game!

1. A strange-looking, low-hanging cloud hangs over the village. What's really odd is that, despite the wind, it never moves.

2. A local boy has gone missing. His friends had dared him to venture into…

GM Advice: Short Tip - Justify Everything!

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My very first RPG experience was with a little game called Heroes Unlimited. Having been a comic book nerd for a little over a decade at that point, I really dug the idea of playing a super hero. My very first character was a fellow named Mike Parker, who had the ability to fire powerful electric blasts, had quick reflexes, enhanced strength, and a minor healing factor (think more Spider-Man's than Wolverine's). His origin had something to do with alien experimentation.

 "You knew this was coming."
Being new to role-playing in general, I had just rolled randomly out of the book for powers and backgrounds. What I got was a cool character, but what I learned early on in my role-playing career was that I needed answers. Mike's powers needed to make sense to me. I needed to justify them.

I reasoned that Mike already had a healing factor, but having never been hurt badly enough for hospitalization, he never had a reason to discover this. He had spent his entire life …