Breaking the Game II: The Secret Player

This will instantly turn your next adventure into a thing of legend.

It's Not Better to Burn Out!

How to never burn out as a Dungeon Master.

A Pirate's Life

High seas adventure in 5th edition!

Breaking the Game: Slaying Dungeon Masters

Do you know what every Dungeon Master's afraid of?

Heroic Journey II: Rising Action

The next stage of your heroic journey.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Game Table Ideas IV

The next iteration of this table led me to consider how to make the best use of empty space. While going about solving the problem of expanding the table length, I found another fantastic solution on the internet.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Game Table Ideas III

Here’s the next iteration of my game table. Found some truly ingenious ideas from websites like and videos posted by makers. There’s so many awesome features I want to add, but first thing’s first. This table needs a skeleton, which needs to be done before adding on all the extra bells and whistles (like making it glow!).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Game Table Ideas II

The holiday season is coming up and guess what Santa, I want a game table! Well, maybe this one is too big for the fat man in red to deliver, so this’ll be a gift from me to me. I went back to the drawing board and came up with two new designs. Let’s dive in.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Erebus Player's Guide

Hi folks! It's been a few of weeks. RL got a little too hectic, but now I'm back! Got some really cool content for you today and in the coming weeks. I'll be going back and concluding a few posts that were left as cliffhangers, like the Ultimate Bard, my Gaming Table, and most recently World Spells. Today's post has a Player's Guide for the World of Erebus with 50+ pages of lore and info for creating characters. I've also edited it to omit some of the larger world secrets so that your players can enjoy Erebus' epic twists and turns. These omitted sections are included in italics in the full version of the guide, so you Dungeon Masters can give you're players the regular version and keep the world secrets to yourselves (until you're ready for the epic reveals). If you're already a fan, this pdf will shed a little insight on what kind of D&D 5e characters roam this campaign world, along with ideal starting locations among other things. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

World Spells

The Civ IV mod Fall from Heaven II introduces a new feature to the base game: magic. But this ain't your uncle's spellbook. These spells affect entire cities. Then there's this really cool feature each civilization has called World Spells. They are literally spells which affect the whole of the game world. As far as I can tell there isn't any kind of spell system for 5e that covers magic on such a large scale. It's a really cool idea so I'm going to try my hand at whipping something up (+1 for mixed metaphors!).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Journey's Quest II

After obtaining some additional information about the temple and what was there, the crew set out into the desert to find the Celestial Compass that was in the hands of the Yuan-ti. A full day of travel later the crew reached their destination. Andargo rushed ahead (as usual) and was quickly attacked by the snakes warriors guarding the entrance. With a swift victory, the crew ventured inside. The entrance was, surprise, more warriors, but one escaped and raised the alarm. Further inwards tougher Yuan-Ti with pet snakes greeted the heroes. It was tough fight. However, the crew were able to defeat their foes and toss the leader of the pack, a Yuan-Ti Abomination, into a pit at the center of the room. Cleared of all danger, the crew faced a choice. Which door would lead to the Celestial Compass?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Journey's Quest

Last session Journey, a player in my Pirates of the Aegean campaign, wrapped up his quest. It gave me a nice break to recharge from all the Dungeon Mastering I’ve been doing this year. It was a ton of fun to see him take the reigns and deliver up an epic tale. I also got a little munchkining out of my system by playing a Tiefling Weretiger. Here’s how it went.

After the crew of the Ever Valiant landed at the Malakim port town of Baldurham they discovered a city under siege by an army of dark elves lead by Vorn’s brother Torn. They decided to leave the city and head south towards Andargo’s home town of Bourne.
On the way they encountered a small force of Malakim soldiers preparing to engage the enemy. They were determined to take back the port town of Baldurham even if it was a suicide mission. Andargo managed to convince the general leading the soldiers to wait, and head south to Bourne where the heroes could muster an army large enough to liberate Baldurham. The general agreed, but only if the crew would complete a test of faith, to survive the desert with only what they could carry.
After completing their test, the general agreed to turn south. Capt. Dagfinn and his officers Quimby, Trystem, Vorn, and Andargo set off once again to Bourne, and encountering on the way a sprite riding a tiger. The sprite was hunting for Journey, a former member of the Captain’s crew. The sprite claimed Journey was responsible for the butchering of his clan. The Captain & Co. had their own score to settle with the mad tiefling. The crew agreed to follow the sprite to find Journey’s camp and exact revenge, while Trystrem the Lady Killer lead the Malakim soldiers the rest of the way to Bourne.
The crew followed the sprite as it rode the tiger into the desert, coming across an old man being savaged by dust devils. The crew attacked at once, but were unfortunately unable to save the old man. Before the stranger succumbed to his wounds, the crew managed to learn Journey’s last known location, a large encampment deep in the desert. Quimby took the man’s body, hoping to return him to his family.
When the crew came upon Journey’s camp, they were surprised to see not a rag-tag group barely surviving, but a large tent city. It was filled with people of all nations living alongside the Journey’s army of flesh golems. The laughter of children could be heard in the street as they played under the watchful eyes of lumbering behemoths. Quimby was able to find the man’s home, returning the body back to his granddaughter. She was glad that to recover her grandfather, comforted by the knowledge his flesh would become one of the ‘awakened,’ and travel with her to Journey’s promised land.
After some searching, the crew found Journey’s tent, the largest one in the city. Inside they were greeted by their old comrade Journey, sitting upon a throne of flesh, blood and sand.
Journey was ecstatic to see his former crewmates, reminiscing about old times while the rest of the heroes get a watchful eye on the ever present flesh golems. Despite this, the sprite’s tiger, Battle Cat leapt at Journey and mauled him. It was then that Battle Cat revealed he was actually a tiefling cursed with lycanthropy, his tribe wiped out by flesh golems. The mighty Andargo jumped forward and wrestled the weretiger to the ground. Journey sympathized with the lonely creature, despite the attack, having found his own clan slaughtered in the desert. He submitted to a magical test of truth telling. Battle Cat accepted Journey and his golems had nothing to do with the deaths of Battle Cat’s family. The weretiger then pledged himself to his fellow tiefling.
Journey was then able to explain to Captain Dagfinn why he stole the Salty Lass, and all that had happened since. He asked the captain for his forgiveness and his help in retrieving an ancient artifact from a temple deep in the desert. In return, if Dagfinn & Co returned within four days, Journey promised the captain a force of golems to use against the Svartalfar (dark elves). The captain agreed and led his officers deeper into the desert...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Gritty Realism

Short rest = 8 hours
Long rest = 7 days

Ever since I read the passage on Gritty Realism in the Dungeon Master’s Guide I’ve wanted to try this. Imagine a game where going to sleep doesn’t heal every wound. Imagine a game where getting hit by an ogre with a greatclub matters. I think it’d be pretty cool. My players, on the other hand, had different opinions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Travels of Alistair

Ten years passed. Alistair lost count of the souls he’d sent to rest eternal. Like his youth spent chased through the wilderness, it was all blurring together. No matter where he followed the ill winds, nor how many cultists of Entropis he reaped, Alistair was no closer to finding the source of the ethereal storm.

It was like chasing a hurricane. Whenever he seemed to get close, the winds would change direction. Sometimes they’d disperse as if nothing were there. Yet every day the souls of the departed rose from their graves to cross over, only to be buffeted about and ensconced in a never ending typhoon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Secret NPC: Ephenia, Cursed Druidess

Here’s an NPC I thought up last year. The idea came to me as a question. What if a Warlock used Voice of the Chain Master to portray themselves as their familiar? It was my first quest in 5e where I introduced her as a witch living on a lonely island. She presented herself to the heroes as the pseudodragon, but was actually nearby and invisible. Originally, I thought it’d be interesting to have the pseudodragon occasionally turn up while the heroes were sailing around (this is the Pirates of the Aegean campaign), all the while the NPC was actually a member of the crew who went by the name of Swabs. This is what the players know about her from the campaign website:

Monday, September 14, 2015

City Squares V: Haven's City File

Today I’m going to share with you my city file of Haven. This is what I referred to during my players’ time there. I’ll be using the format I’ve described previously (1. District, I. Location, A. Contacts, i. Information, a. Leads). As of now the heroes have left the port city with no plans to return. Just in case my player’s do check this out, I’m going to leave the portions of the city they didn’t investigate whited out so highlight for spoilers. Feel free to drop Haven in your game and tweak it to fit your campaign.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cooperative Worldbuilding

Last night hit the local gaming store with my buddies from the Pirates of the Aegean campaign - Kintaro, Journey, and OrkbossJo. My group got in a game of Elder Signs, and then Vampire: Prince of the City. Wouldn’t recommend the first; love the second. Also, ran into Wargamer Fritz who was trying out the Spanish Civil War game with Prima Lucem. I didn’t quite pay attention to the mechanics of that one, but the setting is incredibly interesting. It took place in the 30s right before WWII, and really embodied the ambiguity of the times that we today so often miss, because our point of view of WWII is that of hindsight. At the end of the night, in preparation for Kintaro’s upcoming campaign, we tried out something interesting inspired from the Dresden Files RPG.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Games within Games

Previously, I’ve talked about using 4x video games (like Sid Meiers Civilization IV or Civilization V) as the world map. Currently, I’ve been doing some research for my next PDF which touches on this topic, and it got me thinking about interfacing Dungeons and Dragons with other game systems. As part of my research I played The Quiet Year. It was fantastic.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The World of Erebus

If you’ve read my blog, then you know I’m a fan of Fall from Heaven II. It’s the best dark fantasy setting you’ve never heard of! The setting’s foundation is based on the Princess Rule: princesses do not find their prince charmings and there are no happily ever afters. In this world, angels fall from heaven while the God of Hope is presently planning the slaughter and damnation of every man, woman, and child. Hence, dark fantasy.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start Your Squarecrawl

Hi folks! I’m working on something that’ll make it easier to run your own Squarecrawl. But first you need to start one, so let’s talk about mapping your Square/Hexcrawl. There are a variety of tools out there to buy or download free. The problem is those all require work. To state the obvious, Dungeons and Dragons is a game. It should be fun, so why shouldn’t worldbuilding be a game, too? I think it should, that’s why I use Civilization IV for my world maps.

Civilization IV is an incredibly addictive game that came out over ten years ago and is incredibly cheap. There’s a variety of historical nationalities to choose from, but what’s more important is the Fall from Heaven II mod you can download free. Wanna play Vampire crusaders? Check. How about a nation of Pirates who worship Cthulu? Check. Dwarves? Yep. Elves? In both light and dark varieties. One of the most hilarious is a nation of Clowns ruled by an insane archmage from a previous age. Do you want to play a D&D campaign in a world that has all of the above and then some? Download this mod:

“Fall from Heaven II is a dark fantasy mod for Civilization IV. The Age of Ice has ended, what is left of the once great empires of man have formed into small tribes, ready to rebuild and retake that which was lost. But the world is not empty. Hordes of barbarians await these new civilizations. Wild animals stalk hapless scouts and reckless emissaries. Giant spiders lie in patient wait in the jungles and the forests waiting for their prey to take that last, fatal, step.

“There is great evil, but also selfless good. There are those who strive to remain neutral in the coming conflict as opposed ideologies break the world asunder once again. The first goal, is survival. The second goal is power, for good or ill. Will you pursue power through strength of arms or arcane studies, through piety or blasphemy? Choose carefully. On each path you will allies, and bitter foes, and the deeper you delve into the secrets of combat, or sorcery, or the divine, the harder it will be to turn back.”

Once you get a hold of this you’ll wanna look at the FfH Manual for a great introduction and guide to the game. Then go check out the Lore Compendium. If nothing else, read some amazing short stories you’ll never forget.

When you’re ready to start your own Squarecrawl in the Fall from Heaven setting, check out my PDF Magic of the Gods for new feats and mechanics made especially for this incredible world.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Multi-Square Megadungeon II

My journey in dungeoncraft has finally led me back to crafting that megadungeon. Except this time it’s for my Glorious Bastards campaign instead my first and still ongoing Pirates of the Aegean game. Turns out my pirate players decided to sail west and leave Haven behind. I find the player’s of my Glorious Bastards game in the sewers underneath Kwythellar, one of Erebus’ largest metropolises. Since the it’s one of the largest cities, I think the sewer system should be large and labyrinthine as well.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Oath of Reaping

Last time you got to read about my character concept - a man who's been possessed by a demon since childhood. Throughout his life Alistair experienced incidents when the demon was let out and caused great tragedy. This ultimately leads him to attempt the unthinkable, except the demon won't let him die. Alistair is convinced he is unable to die (and in 5e it can be pretty hard), so after receiving a life changing vision he dedicated himself to the god of death in the hopes of earning his eternal rest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A New Hero

One of my players, Kintaro, is starting a new 5e campaign in his homebrew setting. Sadly, that werewolf game never took of so I still haven't gotten to be a player yet in a serious campaign this year. I've talked with Kintaro about my character concept at length, and he's allowing me to do some really cool things. In a few days I'll post a new paladin Oath I put together, the Oath of Reaping. For today here's the introduction to my new character Alistair, a cursed paladin. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Advanced D&D 5e: Skills

Hi folks! The other day I was talking with one of my players, OrkBossJo, and one of things we discussed was how great it’d be if there were more choices in the skill system. As is, you pick your skills at character creation...and that’s it. Unless you want to spend a feat (no thanks). I fondly remember the skill system from 3.5. While some might complain about the book keeping, every time you gained a new level there were a variety of things a player could do with their newly minted skill points. And does anyone remember when a high intelligence gave you extra skills?

I think it’s high time we bring a little more complexity to skills, and with it more choices for the players. Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is an excellent game. It is my favorite edition of D&D by far. However, when the R&D team at Wizards was designing the game they were creating D&D for every target audience. I think the experienced players and anyone who wants a few more choices at the price of a little more complexity should get it. So for today I’ll give you guys the first thing me and OrkBossJo came up with.

Currently the skill system only distinguishes between trained and untrained skills. You always get to add the appropriate ability score modifier. The only distinction is whether you’re adding the proficiency bonus. What if there were a third category? Enter stage right: Untalented skills.

These are skills a player is not only unable to add their proficiency bonus to, but makes those checks with disadvantage. That’s right. If you’re untalented in a skill there’s only a snowball’s chance in hell of something good happening when making a check. Every class will have a handful of skills for which they are particularly ill suited. Yes, we’re adding a penalty, but there’s an upside.

Intelligence matters again. You can choose a number of untalented skills equal to your Intelligence modifier, and upgrade them to untrained skills. If your modifier is a penalty, you need to choose an equal number of untrained skills and downgrade them to untalented. Wait, there’s more! Let’s make the skill feat matter again too. If you take the Skilled feat, you can choose any number of your untrained or untalented skills and make them trained skills, in addition to upgrading a couple of untalented skills to untrained. I think this system will not only make the skill feat more relevant, but give more flavor to your character by making you worse at skills you already weren’t using. Plus, don’t you think it’s a little odd that every Orc with a decent Intimidate skill is also better suited to persuade people with argumentation and the art of deception?

Sample Untalented Skills List

Barbarian: Arcana, Investigation, Medicine, Religion
Bard: None
Cleri c: Acrobatics, Survival
Druid: Investigation, Sleight of Hand
Fighter: Arcana, Nature, Religion
Monk: Arcana, Performance, Sleight of Hand
Paladin: Stealth, Sleight of Hand
Ranger: Arcana, Performance, Religion
Sorcerer: Athletics, Medicine, Religion
Warlock: Insight, Medicine
Wizard: Athletics, Acrobatics, Survival

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Middle Muddle

Learned some lessons today. Too many plot threads leads to none of them getting resolved. Second, quest hooks need to have a specific way to be solved. Leaving it wholly up to the players to resolve things can lead to an unsatisfying experience, and players leaving the game frustrated is something I aim to avoid. There has to be a way to determine in advance how quest hooks/plot threads can be resolved without railroading the players.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Barbarian Archetype: The Reaver

This here is a new subclass for the Barbarian put together by my friend Kintaro. It has some really interesting mechanics where the Barb generates temporary hit points while raging and can spend those hit points to do some crazy stuff. Check it out:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Reader Mail Bag: July

Welcome to the next installment of answering your emails. First up a light one, then a good meaty one!

From Cat:

So, my girlfriend and I are playing D&D together. We both have two characters and change turns being DM. She is new to the game and I'm trying to keep her interested without being to pushy. I'm struggling with building a game she can enjoy. So far we've been playing adventures that are all wrapped up in one session and are about to try HotDQ. I was hoping you could give some ideas on how to keep her engaged.

My response:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Winging It in a Sandbox

It's been a busy month. Work, write, work, convention, work, etc. When it came time to run the next quest in my Glorious Bastards campaign, I was exhausted. There was nothing special I threw together for that night's prep, but something special happened. Here's how it went.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Injecting Emotion into Your Game

A murderhobo romp can become quite forgettable as every group of bad guys become little more than a target number of hit points to kill. Social interactions with NPCs can be reduced to mere receptacles for quest hook without emotional attachment. These problems started to coalesce in my mind when I needed to come up with an NPC on the fly, and while stumbling for a different name than I’ve used before one of the players said something to help me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Multi-Square Megadungeon

Let’s make a Megadungeon! Add hype here! As I do before any major undertaking, I want to remind myself of the criteria for creating this: 1) Does the content provide an interesting choice giving the players agency? 2) Am I following the rules of dungeoncraft? 3) Does it show the uniqueness of the campaign world?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NPC: Agent of Esus

This is an NPC no player wants to run into alone. It's an assassin you'll never see coming, and if you do you might think you're looking in a mirror.

Here's a passage from the Fall from Heaven Lore Compendium:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

BfS Tournament this Saturday

Hi folks. First off, I got my Youtube channel up. More videos to come later today. Secondly, this weekend my local gaming club, the Battle for Salvation, is hosting an awesome event. If you like X-Wing or Warhammer 40k Apocalypse games, come on down to our tournament! Entry is $20, and is half off for members. The X-Wing tournament will follow all of the Fantasy Flight Games official rules, judged by UltraBob, and the 40k apoc game will be run by Wargamer Fritz. That's right, it'll be run by the legend himself. Here he is pitching the club:

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Piss Off Your Dungeon Master

Sometimes people do things that simply make no sense. As a dungeon master I put in a lot of work into my games to try and create a great experience for my players. After putting so much work into a campaign, and each quest, encounter and NPC, every now and then a player comes along that makes you want to tear your hair out. I've had some experiences at the table lately that have really clarified my thoughts on this matter. If you are a player and you want to completely piss off your dungeon master, here's how to do it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Trying the Other Side of the Screen II

I got bored with the first character concept so I put together this one using both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trying the Other Side of the Screen

A friend of mine is running a one shot in the old World of Darkness Werewolf system. I can't remember the last time I was a player, so definitely psyched for a nice change of pace. Here's what I put together:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Creating the Ultimate Bard

How do you optimize a build? I think there’s a little more to it than min/maxing. When optimizing you need to think about what roles to fill and how to efficiently execute those roles. Let’s take a look at an arguably weak class in 5e. He’s a jack of all trade and master of none. Introducing my take on the Ultimate Bard, level by level.

At first level you get cantrips, a couple of spell slots, and four uses of Bardic Inspiration assuming a Charisma of 16. Simple so far, but depending on the race and background combo there’s a variety of options. Damage is another consideration. What is the go to damage die? Crossbow? Rapier? Vicious Mockery? Remember this is about more than min/maxing. We’re not looking for merely the greatest output of damage dice and maximizing armor class. This is about executing a role in the party that contributes to a synergized whole.

As a bard the primary roles to fill are buffing and/or debuffing, with a secondary role as the skill monkey. With that in mind, the damage dealt directly by the bard is least important. Increasing damage dealt by allies and reducing incoming damage from enemies is where he’s going to shine. Hence the Ultimate Bard as I see it is a member of the College of Lore. The College of Valor is a cool idea, yet barring a unique multiclass build its abilities are distractions from where a Bard’s true strength lie.

Cutting Words is simply amazing. Going up against a big bad with one shot kills? Tell him its mother was a hamster and its father smelt of elderberries. While deadly, those one shots are much less likely to connect. And just wait until you get Additional Magical Secrets for Hex. Disadvantage to saves plus a Cutting Words penalty to attacks means a big bad is having a real bad day. Don’t forget about Countercharm, either. Enemy debuffers will struggle getting charmed folks to play nice or tanks to turn tail and run when the party has advantage their saves.

Knowing we’re going with a College of Lore Bard will help with our race and background choices. Anything that gives a Charisma bump goes to the top of the list. This means Drow, Lightfoot Halflings, Humans, Dragonborn, with Half-Elves and Tieflings at the front of the line. There’s only a need though to look at the last two. While min-maxing is not the end-all-be-all, it has a place. While fire resistance and Infernal Legacy is nifty, there’s no contest with +1 to two ability scores of choice instead of intelligence and two shiny new skills to boot. Fey Ancestry is nothing to sneeze at either.

As a 1st level Half-Elf Bard, you’re getting proficiency in any 5 skills plus whatever the chosen background adds on. Let’s consider backgrounds. No matter what we’re getting two more skills which might be redundant at this point, so what’s important here is tool proficiencies and the feature. As tool kits go, Thieve’s Tools and Navigator’s Tools are by far the most difficult to replicate via spells or other features. Lost in a megadungeon? Find the Path is a 6th level spell. May whatever you pray to help you without a navigator. Is the rogue too busy in the fray dishing out sneak attacks to deal with those rolling balls of fire? A second party member to disable traps can be clutch, especially if the party has no rogue in the first place. The stand outs for background are Criminal, Sailor, and Urchin.

Evaluating these features really depends on knowing you’re Dungeon Master and how well he’ll utilize your Criminal Contact or City Secrets. If you’re a Pirate with a Bad Reputation, there’s always going to be use for that. Remember that a D&D hero is a murderhobo at heart, and sooner or later you’re bound to get in trouble with the law. Assuming you haven’t done anything too egregious, just whip out your bad reputation. This choice gets even easier when the party already has a rogue. Next time, we’ll stat this bad boy out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do You Really Need a Cleric?

The other night saw the first quest of my new Glorious Bastards campaign. Throughout the course of the adventure, I realized something important. Clerics are NOT a necessity. My other 5e campaign, Pirates of the Aegean, has a cleric and with it I’ve found that the CR system is woefully inaccurate. Every encounter thrown at that group has to be a deadly encounter if I want to make even a small dent into the players’ resources. This other party has no cleric, and at the quest’s end a humdrum deadly encounter pushed the party to the brink of death (which is my goal). It makes me wonder if the CR system works only with parties who don’t have a dedicated healer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Thoughts on the D&D Economy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

State of the Blog

Hi folks. Recently, blogging had to move to the backburner for the past week due to an unexpected family tragedy, after which I came down with a nasty cold. Now that a particularly bad week is finally behind me I can get back to blogging. Let’s start with a couple of updates.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Pirate’s Life V: Ships of the Line

We’re back to the high seas! Today I have around twenty ship stat blocks for you from the Age of Sail. Starting with the stat blocks from Sid Meier’s Pirates! and the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I tinkered with the statistics to come up with a meaningful manner of integrating ships into the Naval Travel & Combat system put together so far. First, let me walk you through the DMG’s ship stats, where it’s lacking and what’s needed to fix it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Game Table Ideas

Been a little obsessed this past week drawing designs in sketchup. I want a gaming table. Not only do I want one, but I want it all. The table I want has to accommodate any kind of game. The problem was the space where I can put it is a little cramped. A full table would work for gaming, since you don’t need to move around much. Basically you’re standing in place or sitting in a chair while moving the minis around. But then I have to live with a monster table in this small space. What to do? The first idea that came to me is to make it fold.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Breaking the Game III: Deviating from Established Lore

At the start of my Pirates of the Aegean campaign, one of the players came to me with the concept of a Tiefling Druid. The problem was that there were no such things as Tieflings in the Fall from Heaven setting. My options looked like I could either tell the player there are no Tieflings in my Special Snowflake Setting so go make another character, or work it in. What was I to do? I dug into the lore of the setting and with a little elbow grease found a nice niche for tieflings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Heroic Journey II: Rising Action

The next stage in the heroic journey is often called Tests, Allies, & Enemies. As it relates to Dungeons and Dragons, it's that time after the hero leaves the ordinary world for the extraordinary. The bulk of a hero’s adventures occur in this stage. On his travels he meets new people, making friends and enemies all the while facing challenges which not only test his skills but his perseverance to achieve his ultimate goal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dangerous Treasure: The Necronomicon

Today I'd like to share with you a very special magical artifact from my campaign. It's full of evil goodness and ready for you to drop into yours. Have fun watching your PCs try to get rid of this!

***Spoilers for my Players in the "Pirates of the Aegean" Campaign***

Thursday, April 23, 2015

City Squares IV: The Sixth Rule of Dungeoncraft

HavenGrid.JPGToday I’m gonna go through making a lead and how I use it to provide my players with clues pointing towards a secret. These are going into my game. Feel free to use them for yours or as examples for making your own. We’ll connect the leads and determine which of those treasure-boxes-disguised-as-NPCs-filled-with-info (which is the treasure) is the most interesting. After finding the best ones that simply scream, “Investigate me!” we’ll drop the Sixth Rule of Dungeoncraft on it to make the lead not only a PC magnet but something that will immediately propel the players to adventure.

Breaking the Game II: The Secret Player

This is a really fun way to trick the rest of the party (while still maintaining player agency), and will instantly turn your next adventure into a thing of legend. Start by getting in touch with one of your players and ask them verbatim, “I got something cool planned for next adventure and want to know if you’re up for a role-playing challenge?” I’d be surprised to hear if this ever gets a negative response. Then let the player in on the secret you’re about to unleash.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

It's NOT Better to Burn Out!

Today I want to talk about how NOT to burn out as a Dungeon Master. This won’t be your typical trite 10 tips to avoid burnout garbage. I want to tell you how I am constantly inspired to create and run a campaign so you can do the same. It’s not something that comes naturally but takes effort, although not hard effort. Maybe effort is the wrong word. What I’m trying to say is it merely takes Action. I think I’m going to channel Yoda here: Do or do not. For the sake of argument let’s choose Do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

City Squares III: The Fourth Rule of Dungeoncraft

On my second attempt at making a city square I now have some experience to refer to. Got some ideas where the gameplay worked well and where things got clunky. The layers worked alright. What needs to be polished is the investigate action. For some reason my players aren't taking to the idea of investigating to explore a city like they do when moving on the battlemap to explore a dungeon. It might be because they see the city as a treasure exchange of items for gold. I’m also unclear on the specifics of where exactly skill checks should come in to play. Let's explore these thoughts and see where they go.

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