Monday, November 20, 2017

The 5 Worst Characters Good Players Make by Seth Skorkowsky

I found this video on youtube and thought it was an interesting discussion point. I'm currently going through the rest of Seth's youtube channel for other interesting nuggets of wisdom. You should too!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Giving Thanks

Next week is Thanksgiving for those of us in the United States. While the holiday is about getting together with family and feasting in celebration of Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together, history kind of makes that a bit messy but I like the idea of the holiday. I like the idea of having a day you dedicate to taking stock of what you have and giving thanks for it.

As of Tomorrow I'll be on the road to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving with my partner's family. It means I'll have unreliable internet and thus this place will not be getting updated (sorry!)

Because of that, I want to give my thanks today.

I am thankful for all the players in the games I am in. The trust given to me, to let me weave stories, to hold shards of your psyche over the open flame. I appreciate the creativity you bring to the table, the diversity of your characters, and the boldness of your plans - even if sometimes I want to just throttle the lot of you for going so far off the expected path I need to burn my entire stack of notes. You're all amazing players, and I'm lucky to have you in my games.

I am thankful for everyone and anyone willing to sit on the business side of the GM screen, and especially for those running games that I am in. I may not always be the easiest player to have at the table, but I appreciate you giving me the chance to give the demons in my soul a form and a chance to strive towards redemption, or at least exorcism through exploration, challenge, triumph, and defeat.

Finally, but not leastly, I'm thankful to everyone who reads and contributes to this blog. I've been screaming at the sky for seven, going on eight years now, and for whatever reason you've chosen to stick around and give some time to listen. I can only hope that some of my ramblings have helped you in your own games - even if only as a presentation of things you don't want to do.

So thank you, all of you. I hope you have a wonderful week next week, and if you are celebrating Thanksgiving I hope the holiday is kind and refreshing. Either way, stay safe on Black Friday. Shiny toys are not worth going berserk over.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


War is an interesting thing when it comes to table top RPGs. I mean, if you thought a 6v6 fight could take a long time per round, imagine what happens when you upscale to hundreds and thousands vs. like numbers. Fortunately numerous systems have different ways to handle the chaos of the battle field in different abstract ways. But there is more to selling a war than just mechanics for the big fights. Today I want to talk about that.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Playing the Bad Guys

I got to play the trial of Battlefront 2 over the weekend, and one of the fun things about the game is there is a Single Player campaign where you play as a special forces operator...that works for the Empire. It's  aneat shift in perspective, and the game does a good job in the missions I saw of showing the Imperial perspective. I'm not saying it made me think the Empire was the good guy, but if I knew nothing else about Staar Wars I wouldn't be too hard pressed to think the Empire might be them (at least so far.)

Which got me to thinking - again - of the possibility of doing a game where the PCs worked - willingly - for the bad guys. There are all sorts of dangerous pitfalls to avoid when doing this, but to do a really good "Work for the bad guys" campaign, the first thing you need to is make the PCs think they're the good guys. How do you do this? You do it by controllling what goes on camera.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Discussion: The GM's Primary Role

The GM wears a lot of hats, and depending on the table you sit at the primary role of a GM can change from game to game. The question for today is what is the GM's primary role in your game?

Storyteller, Rules arbiter, combat officiator, antagonist provider, world builder, game maker. Those are the ones I see the most. What about you?

To me, and the games I play, the GM is primarily a Story Teller. The title doesn't give the full details, because the GM works with the players to tell the story, but the GM has a large burden of it. The GM pokes and prods the PCs, has the world react to the PCs, and at times has the world sucker punch the PCs to get things moving.

After that comes Antagonist Provider and Rules Arbiter in equal measure, with a dash of combat officiator thrown in.

How about at your table?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Who Is Responsible For PC Involvement?

I was lucky enough to be invited into a friend's online D&D game about a year or so back. The game is run by a friend of a friend, and said DM is new to being behind the screen so is focusing on running pre-made adventures and campaigns. Currently we're doing Tyranny of the Dragon Queen, but as we're more than halfway through we've begun some light discussion of Out of the Abyss. The fun thing is, Out of the Abyss apparently has an interesting hitch in it: for the game to work, the PCs have to be interested in returning to save the Underdark, after a particularly nasty time down there. Today I want to talk about that, and what that conversation means for all games, not just people looking to run Out of the Abyss.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Three Pillars of Adventure

This isn't new, but when making D&D 5e one of the things the designers wanted to do was return to the core feeling a D&D game should have, stealing elements of earlier editions while also taking the game a bit more away from how dedicated to the battle grid it had become in 4th Edition. To do this, they settled on three pillars for adventure that D&D would be built around: Combat, Social Interaction, and Exploration (order may be different in the book.) Today I want to talk about these 3 things, and how they're good to keep in mind for any game, not just D&D.