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.

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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Breaking the Game: A Player's Guide to Slaying Dungeon Master's

You know what every Dungeon Master is afraid of? Killing the players. There’s a lot to that. When a player makes a character it’s often something they spend a lot of time on. It could take hours combing through the Player’s Handbook to find the right combination of feats, spells, and class abilities to not only be effective in combat but to fulfill their fantasy of “cool.” When a DM kills a player’s character, all those hours spent planning and playing are gone. The character isn’t getting played again or if there’s the opportunity for resurrection the PC takes a significant hit to his experience and abilities. You might be thinking however much time a player puts into making his character the Dungeon Master puts in ten times that amount. You wouldn’t be wrong. On the other hand the campaign can’t be killed. All that work never gets scrapped.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Heroic Journey: The Call to Adventure

Maybe because I just finished binge watching a string of RedLetterMedia vids that today’s post takes a look at character development for the PCs. What’s that you say? Railroading? Heresy! Burn him at the stake! No worries, the goal is to see if we as dungeon masters can engender player-character development without railroading by incorporating aspects of the heroic journey in our games.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Pirate's Life IV: Ship's Surgeon

In the last part of this series we explored a mini-game for a player to manage crew morale on a ship during a naval battle. Today I’d like to shine the light on what happens to a crew not mentally but physically during combat, and a player role for managing this. We’ll go over the role of a ship’s Surgeon, how many crew get injured or killed, and how the Surgeon goes about reducing this number. After quite a bit of thought, and discarding a few working theories of how things might play out I eventually settled on a system informed by enemy damage dice.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Reader Mail Bag

Welcome to my first Reader Mailbag. Instead of your usual programming, today I’d like to answer some questions from a few fellow DMs. Let’s get to it!

From Mike:
So I designed the town with a number of secrets and plot hooks in various sections. I wanted them to have options instead of being forced down a single road. The party split up and found various things. They didn’t really pursue a single option though. They kept finding different plots and doing a little investigation into each, but not enough to get to an encounter. They must have discovered five potential lines before they followed one enough for an encounter.
One player liked a different option more, and pursued that one alone while the other three did the one they picked.

My thoughts:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Pirate’s Life III: Non-Combat Roles

Let’s get right to it. We have a bunch of PCs on a single ship. One player is the pilot. The rest are gunners. The choice is pilot or gunner, and the player with the best skill bonus is the pilot. Not much of a choice. We need other options, preferably non-combat options that give some diversity to the choice. Many ships had positions whose focus was to manage the crew’s morale, from this we’ll extrapolate a few ideas from 5e’s Bardic Inspiration mechanic. Further, we need to look at another basic role that is a pillar of D&D: the healer. First we’ll start with the morale manager.

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