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Too Much Information

The Tyranny of Exposition

There is a  disturbing trend in mass media (eg movies and RPGs, whether tabletop or digital) to give too much background information, too much explanation about plots and characters.  Some background information is nice and gives the plot depth, but the primary storyline should not suffer because of it. In short, plots these days simply […]

An Assassin, a Mystic and Two Nightbanes Walk Into a Bar

An Assassin, a Mystic and Two Nightbanes Walk Into a Bar

Role-playing campaigns often start in a bar, public house or other public meeting space.   Players take turns describing their PC in general terms, sit at the bar and wait for the plot hook to sink in to their back and adventuring begins. There is nothing wrong with this, but it feels forced and artificial. […]

Liege-Killer--Post-Apocalyptic Role-Playing Inspiration on Space Colonies

Liege-Killer–Post-Apocalyptic Role-Playing Inspiration on Space Colonies

Liege-Killer by Christopher Hinz is an older novel, but still well-worth your time. Since this series of posts focuses on a post-apocalyptic campaign, the Earth is, of course, blown all to hell. However, rather than a standard “devastated earth with survivors” motif, LK moves the action to a series of very large space colonies orbiting […]

Short and Great vs Long and Mediocre–Campaign Lessons from Television

Role-playing campaigns can learn much from the failures of television series. There is nothing worse than a long-term campaign that drags on past its sell-by date, slowly rotting like old milk. Plots grow convoluted, game master’s creative well runs dry and epic power is in the character’s hands. Rather than squeeze the last drop of […]

The Tyranny of Epic Heroism–Small Stories Have Powerful Role-Playing

Sometimes it is the smallest act that defines someone as a hero. A copper placed in the hand of a street urchin, ignoring a violated law when humanity trumps justice or helping peasants evade an onerous tax are all heroic, but not on the scale of most fantasy novels or role-playing campaigns. Characters in RPGs […]

Poor Public Speaking Skills Among Role-Playing Game Masters--Some Solutions

Poor Public Speaking Skills Among Role-Playing Game Masters–Some Solutions

Role-playing game referees require significant public speaking skills. The essence of a GM’s job is to tell a story and a huge portion of that story arrives as spoken words. Poor speaking skills diminishes the story and is a sure recipe for a bad gaming experience. Over the years I played RPGs with literally hundreds […]

Flogging a Dead Orc–When to End A Boring Combat Encounter

The  dead minions lie piled high in pools of blood.  A battered PC party stands before the wounded demon lord, weapons ready. Sensing defeat, the demon lord moves to his profane circle of power and begins healing. The battle continues…the players groan. Combat is an integral part of many role-playing games.  It adds an element […]

Extinguishing the Blaze of Glory — PC Death and Modern Gamers

Every story has an end. Whether it is the last page of a book or the final frame of a film, everything ends. There are many good endings, but the best involves the death of the protagonist. History and literature offer many examples, the Alamo, Leonidus and his men, Custer, Hamlet. The list is endless. […]

Integrating a Stock Market into Your Role-Playing Campaign

My loyal readers are well aware of my eternal quest for greater realism in my games. I believe touches of realism can add to the underlying structure of a game campaign, making it more tangible and enjoyable for both the players and the DM. One aspect of most RPG campaigns I find truly annoying is […]

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