Today, I dispense a few tips for building exploration into your game inspired by my favorite f$&%ing video game series ever.
Traps suck in D&D. They just do. Which is a shame, because everyone feels like they have to use them. So, if you must have traps, here’s how to make them suck less. BONUS: As a result of a poop, you also get a proposed experimental way to change the rules.
A long, long time ago, I promised to teach you a cool, simple system for designing and running social interaction encounters. Well, today’s the day. And it’s only a few years late!
Lots of things piss me off. But one thing pisses me off more than any other for the purposes of this article: when people ask me how to punish PC death. Isn’t death punishment enough? Why do GMs have such a hard time dealing with death?
Pacing: it’s one of those words that everyone thinks they know. And they don’t. Let’s talk about Pacing, Flow, and how to build a good pace into your adventure.
Tabletop RPG sessions are a lot like TV shows. The problem is the one very important way in which they are not at all like TV shows. If you always want to leave your players hungry for more, you have to learn how to structure your SESSIONS like episodes, NOT your adventures.
GMs suck at giving recaps. They give too much information or too little information or the wrong information or they make it boring or they let the dumba&$ players do it or they do it by e-mail. Recaps are a very powerful that no GM understands, let alone uses well. Except me. Because I’m a genius.
It started as a simple question about how to juggle two plot lines. It became an entire treatise on building campaigns with multiple plot arcs. This article is the first ever article under the category “How to Build a F$&%ing Campaign.”
They say that the journey is its own reward and that getting there is half the fun. Yeah? Well, not in D&D. Overland travel in D&D sucks. But here I come to unsuck it. Or to help you just get rid of it altogether. Either way is fine. Just pick one.
Are you looking to run better games in the New Year? Do you need ten New Years Resolutions to fail at in 2017? Then look no further. I have ten resolutions I guarantee are unlike any others you’ve seen from OTHER crappy gaming blogs.
This is it, this is my everything. This is why I’m such a great teacher. This is everything I know about RPGs and GMs and the secret order and structure that underlies them.
We play games because we don’t know how they are going to turn out. And games use several tricks to keep us from knowing the outcome. The problem is GMs only ever use one of those tricks. And it’s the worst one.
Let’s talk about the mythical distinction between players and characters. Players are characters. Characters are players. And once you accept that, it’s a lot easier to run a fun game. Warning: this gets ranty.
As a GM, apart from not killing idiot players who deserve it, your primary job is to communicate information. And that means you have to be able to manage information.
Information in your game can take many forms. Any by many, I mean three. It can three forms. And this article is all about them. And a whole bunch of other stuff.
There’s lots of things GMs might hide in their adventures. For example, traps. But how does D&D handle traps? Why does D&D suck at handling traps? And how should it handle traps?
It’s not enough to create open-ended obstacles in your game and hope your players will come up with some clever way to defeat them. Never create a problem without creating several solutions.
Running a horror adventure in D&D is a terrible idea. But if you absolutely MUST and I can’t stop you, at least I can keep you from f$&%ing it up too badly.
Why don’t people understand why character advancement is important? Why don’t people see the value of point-based character advancement? Why is it so hard to handle XP right? Well, when even Mike Mearls can’t get it right, there’s no hope for you. At least, there wasn’t. Until I came along to tell you How to XP Good.
If you give a newbie a game, he’s going to want to a campaign. If you give the newbie a campaign, you’ll be stuck with a terrible player for life. Don’t make that mistake.
I’m sick of dealing with questions about how to implement puzzles properly from GMs who insist that puzzles just suck. So, it’s time for me to act. By writing 5,000 words about it and then walking away.
There’s a difference between a puzzle and a problem. And most GMs don’t understand the difference. That’s a shame because most GMs who think they want puzzles in their game actually want problems. And problems work better.
The only thing worse than a GM with no sense of narrative structure is one who just learned some new form of narrative structure in school. This is an open letter to GMs obsessed with the three-act structure, the five-room dungeon, and Joseph Motherf$%&ing Campbell to PLEASE STOP E-MAILING ME.
This article EVENTUALLY builds a basic narrative structure for gamers. But first, it has to spend a time on some remedial lessons. Apparently, some things didn’t sink in the first time I discussed narrative structure.
Having developed a nice list of story turning points in previous articles, it’s time to turn our attention to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and see what additional turning points he’s got to offer. And to see if there’s anything MORE IMPORTANT people overlook when talking about Campbell. Hint: there is.
You can get a lot of mileage out of themes. Especially when you set up some thematic conflicts. You just have to know what themes are and how to set up their conflicts. And why “good versus evil” doesn’t count as a conflict.
People keep asking me how to draw good maps. Well, I can’t teach you how to draw pretty maps, but I can teach you how to draw useful maps. The trick is to stop trying to draw maps and start presenting information instead.
Every settlement in an RPG has its own tone. It’s own flavor. At least, it should. If you want it to be good. But how do you convey that tone without just telling the players what it is?