Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #359
GM Organization - 5 Tips
This Week's Tips Summarized
GM Organization - 5 Tips
- Layer Transparencies Over Maps
- Store Tiles In Binders
- A Place For Everything, And Everything In Its Place
- Use Internet Bookmarks For Session Planning
- Record Character Stats
Readers' Tips Summarized
- Customizable Poker Chips
- A Kewl New Dice Bowl
- Get Inspired By Personal Campaign Websites
- Superstitions In Gaming
Kobold Quarterly: Small but Fierce
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Return to Contents
A Brief Word From Johnn
Finally Got My Post-It Index Cards
I had heard rumour of mythical index cards that stick to
surfaces like Post-It Notes do, but they don't stick to each
other, which makes for easy storing, shuffling, and sorting.
A perfect GM tool. However, here in Iglooville, I was unable
to turn up any, no matter how far and wide I drove my
I now have my grubby little hands on some though (thanks
Chris J.), and they are great. I can't wait to start using
them to plot world domination.
Post-it Sortable Index Cards
On a similar note, today's article theme is GM organization,
and includes some tips revisited and some new. If you have
any game master organization tips, I'd love to hear them.
Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) Pretty Good
Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, is the first book in a series
modelled after the good, old-fashioned Raymond Chandler
detective stories. It's about a modern day wizard trying to
pay the rent who gets in over his head with demons, the
police, and the Mafia. Hit the Amazon link below for more
It was a quick read and my expectations were low, but I
ended up liking it quite a it, and am now questing for book
#2. It is great source material for GMs of modern-day games
who like a little magic thrown in.
Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) at Amazon.com
Have a great week,
Return to Contents
1 on 1 Adventures #8: Blood Brothers Now Available!
Expeditious Retreat Press has released the PDF of 1 on 1
Adventures #8: Blood Brothers at YourGamesNow.com!
Designed for 1 GM and 1 player, paladin level 7-9, 1 on 1
Adventures #8: Blood Brothers is the struggle of one
soldier's mission to find his missing brothers-in-arms.
Don't forget to also check out 1 on 1 Adventures #7:
Eyes of the Dragon, available in PDF and in stores!
Blood Brothers at Your Games Now
Return to Contents
GM Organization - 5 Tips
By Johnn Four
Return to Contents
1. Layer Transparencies Over Maps
From your school days, do you remember the human body
transparencies in the encyclopedia that showed the layers of
bones, organs, and muscles? Each transparency was a plastic
sheet that had opaque, translucent, and clear parts so that
they layered over each other and told quite a story.
You can do this with maps as well, and the result is faster,
more confident GMing. Layer plastic pages over maps and
write on them with wet-erase or permanent fine-tip markers.
This gives you the ability to put lots of info on the maps
without marking the maps themselves. More importantly, it
puts more information in front of you so it's accessible and
easy to scan while you GM.
Here's what to do:
1) Scoop up a package of overhead projector transparencies
(I use Staples product #SL5260).
2) Make a copy of your maps, if possible. That'll keep your
originals safe from tape and in-game use.
3a) Method 1. Tape 3 or 4 transparency sheets onto your map.
Clear tape works best. Tape along one edge only so you can
flip through the transparencies. Don't forget to keep the
map as the bottom layer.
3b) Method 2. My preference: hole punch the transparencies
and map copies and put them all in a binder. Punch
everything at the same time with edges all lined up so you
can roughly calibrate all the sheets to the map.
4) Decide what information to put on what layer. If you use
a binder, re-ordering sheets is easy. If you've taped
everything together, plan things out well so you get your
layers the way you want because changing the order of the
sheets is a huge pain.
What information you draw on each layer is a matter of GM
taste and style. Here's how I do it:
- Layer 0: Source Map - bottom layer
The map goes on the bottom layer so it can show through all
the transparency layers.
- Layer 1: Custom Mapping
Next to the map layer I draw my customizations. If I need to
modify the map to suit my campaign, I draw and squiggle the
revisions here. I use black ink or ink coloured closest to
the map lines.
I find it best to use darker ink colours for the lower
layers so that things don't look as bright and crazy, and
don't compete for your eye so much. This makes information
on each layer easier to see and scan. Map lines should be
clear through all the layers, though.
- Layer 2: Secret Doors, Traps, Hazards, Doors
On the layer next to the map I note secret doors, traps, and
hazards if they are missing or poorly labeled on the source
map. Green ink.
In addition, if there are game rules involved, I'll note
those as well. For example, doors in D&D have difficulty
ratings for opening, secrets doors have ratings for
searching, traps have ratings for detection. All are great
to see on the map versus fishing around in notes.
One thing that gets me all the time are characters with
passive, always-on abilities. For example, elves in D&D can
detect a secret door just by walking near it. Having secret
doors and their detection ratings on the map helps me
remember to let elf characters know if they've discovered
these things or not.
- Layer 3: Monsters, NPCs, Factions
I like to know who lairs where. Drawing monster types and
NPC names where they dwell on the map lets me see at a
glance the population type and density of an area.
It speeds up my GMing because I anticipate in advance who
the PCs are approaching. I find my mental picture has more
time to form, and so my understanding and descriptions of
the situation are better.
In addition, population labels help me determine realistic
wandering monsters, and who can hear and see what as the PCs
fight and crash their way through an area.
You can also draw borders around any groupings to quickly
determine territory, factions, alliances, and resource
access. This is mostly useful during the design stage, but
it helps with descriptions and dynamic location reactions to
the PCs' intrusion.
- Layer 4: Notes And Miscellaneous Items
Ahhh, the good, old miscellaneous bucket. The bane of
organization systems everywhere. Notes about terrain,
lighting, mood, and other descriptive or important elements
go on this layer.
At this point, depending on the size of the areas I'm
drawing over, there's usually not much room. So, I'll use
arrows and callouts and put notes mostly in the margins.
Yellow or green ink.
- Layer 5: Pre-Rolled Skill Checks
Depending on the campaign, I'll pre-roll some things for the
PCs to speed up gameplay if the PCs' abilities aren't likely
to change before their visit. Search, Spot, and Listen type
checks are prime candidates.
- Layer 6: PC Detection And Senses
If it starts getting tricky managing all the methods the
party can detect things through magical means, equipment, or
abilities, I'll add a new top layer with zones and
detectable objects marked.
For example, detect magic, detect evil, heat scanners, FLIR
systems, and so on. I put this as the top layer so I can
flip the page over easily and remove the visual noise these
notes tend to make.
Red or yellow ink.
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2. Store Tiles In Binders
I recently found an optimal storage system for all my D&D
tiles. I purchased a few different plastic page holder sizes
and a pair of 2" binders.
Now I can store my tiles so each is accessible and I don't
need to flip through a jumble to find the right one. In
addition, the page holders are transparent, so I can see
both sides of every tile. The binder format makes it easy to
I keep a few empty page holders at the front of the binders
so I can pull tiles out in advance for maps I'll be using
next session, saving even more time and hassle while GMing.
Here's a short list of the page holders that I've found work
for the D&D terrain tiles:
- Trading Card Pages. Pages have baseball card-sized
pockets. (Avery 76016)
- Business Card Holders. (Avery 75355)
- Photo Pages for 4x6 photos. (Avery 78628)
- Disk Organizer Pages. (Avery 78601) These pages are
designed to hold disks and CDs. They're not transparent
though, so I'm looking for a better product.
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3. A Place For Everything, And Everything In Its Place
This is a more abstract tip, but it's key for organizing
anything. Half the battle for staying organized for GMing is
knowing where to find things when you need them. Fumbling
for charts or stats or tiles slows the game down and might
frustrate you. Shuffling through papers, Post-Its, or
computer files questing for notes as you try to plan a
session is a de-motivator. Looking for a reference book mid-
idea amongst a large collection or in several book piles
spread throughout the house is an inspiration killer.
If everything has a place and everything is in its place,
you always know where to look. You have peace of mind from
lack of clutter as well. When inspiration strikes, you don't
falter by not knowing where to put things or where to find
them when needed.
I've been in both situations: organized and disorganized,
and for me being organized helps me be a much better GM.
If everything is in its place, that means you need a place
for everything. The book Getting Things Done by David Allen
is a great guide to getting organized. The author advises
putting all your pending and disorganized stuff in a giant
pile and then sorting through it over a weekend.
For my RPG stuff, I took a staged approach last year instead
and organized in phases, over a period of months, with great
- Inventory. First, I made a list of categories of RPG stuff
I had to organize. After the list was done, I went back and
broke down certain categories into sub-categories. Books,
for example. I have modules, rules systems, game worlds,
general reference, and other types of books, and it didn't
make sense to lump all these into one stack of books.
- Media types. Next, looking over my inventory list, I
realized I had different types of media that I couldn't file
together into the same system:
Just figuring this out made my task much easier because I
realized I didn't have to create a grand unified
organization bucket for everything.
- Loose papers (years of mad musings)
- Computer notes (session plans, NPCs, writing, etc.)
- Computer files (software, maps, books, art, etc.)
- Best use. This was a tricky one, and I'm still refining it
today. Before I started sorting and filing and shuffling, I
took a step back and tried to envision my ideal GMing set-
up. How would I want to use all this stuff? Where would I
want it? How would I want to access it?
I tried picturing me doing planning, GMing at the game
table, reading, doing session prep, and at work or on the
road when an inspiring idea hits.
After mulling this over, I crafted a rough framework of how
I'd work as GM between and during sessions. This gave me
enough to go on to start organizing my stuff.
For example, I used to organize my books by game system and
edition. I realized I'd rather have all the monster and NPC
stuff in one section, all the game worlds in another, all
the magic items information in another, modules in their own
space, and so on. Fortunately, this division works on the
computer for notes and files, as well as for books and
- Final location. I created another list of gaming stuff I
had to sort out and noted the final location for each. Game
notes, past campaign binders, miniatures, books, comics,
sound files, computer programs, props, and so on.
- Piling. For any organization task, I've found it's easiest
to pile similar things together, do a sweep of everything,
and then work out final position.
In the past, for example, I'd find a sheet of paper and
immediately start to look for a spot for it. Binder, folder,
or box? Sorted with other pieces of paper?
Doing this slows down organization so much because you get
lost in the details and nothing gets done. You lose
momentum and motivation. Slotting a piece of paper might
take a couple of minutes. Multiply by a whole bunch of
papers that have been spread around the house, into numerous
binders, and shuffled haphazardly in boxes, and hours can
pass before you even get to the other things, such as books
and computer files.
I find it easiest and quickest to create a pile of papers, a
pile of books, and a directory of computer files and worry
about sorting later. If I come across an interesting piece
of paper while rooting through old campaign binders, I just
stack it on the paper pile and move on.
- Trashing. I'm not one for throwing stuff out, especially
gaming stuff. However, based on good advice I received, I
tried to find a reason to discard everything I was forced to
organize. Some stuff went to recycling, some went to the
used book store. By the end of the process I was still left
with a ton of stuff, but at least I knew it was stuff I
- Storing solution. It took several weeks of brief energy
spurts to pile things up. Once completed though, I was able
to take a step back and look at the volume of items I had to
store, per category. This told me what kind of storing
solution was required, and this approach saved me money
because I didn't go out and buy boxes or totes at the
beginning, only to realize the sizes were wrong or the style
was incorrect for what I had to store.
- Filing. Once I had containers I started filing. This took
a lot of time, but that's what watching TV is for -
multitasking. :) I was in no rush and tackled one pile at a
time. I often divided piles into smaller piles for easier
sorting. This worked well.
For example, I cleared out my filing cabinet and
recycled/shredded a whole bunch of useless papers. This gave
me room to file my gaming papers. I went through my stack of
paper notes and divided it into smaller category piles, such
as world ideas, Roleplaying Tips ideas, past
campaigns/memorabilia, campaign and adventure ideas, and so
on. Once I had a pile for each best-use category, it was
easier to sort within each pile.
As I filed, I found more stuff I was able to part with, as
well. It's never too late to toss something away. :)
- Distinct edges but large categories. David Allen advises
keeping things strictly in their own place or category. If
the edges between categories blurs, then chaos ensues
because your stuff could now be in two or more possible
To avert nuclear meltdown, I've found it effective to not
drill down too far into sub-categories.
For example, I have numerous modules and adventures from
several D&D editions. I could sort modules by character
level, game setting, or rules edition. For the value I get
though, I'm happy just having a central spot for all
modules. If I need a specific title, I'll flip through the
pile. The important thing is, I know exactly where to go to
find all my modules, and I know all modules are in one
place, so searching is stress-free and usually quick.
- File as you go. the beauty of doing a bunch of grunt work
up front in figuring out what you've got, where you're gonna
put it, and then putting it there is you have a clean system
for filing new stuff that comes across your desk.
It's at this point most GM organization breaks down. You
spend a shiny Saturday afternoon organizing all your stuff,
but it's not a system that scales or is easy to maintain, so
one year later you have to do it all over again.
If you find a place for everything (i.e., good planning,
good storage solutions), and everything is in its place,
it's easy to take that piece of paper you wrote notes on
while standing in line at the bank and filing it when you
get home. There's less resistance to put it away because you
don't have to stress out over where it goes. You've got a
specific, accessible, handy spot for it - and there's a
bunch of similar stuff there already to keep it company. :)
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4. Use Internet Bookmarks For Session Planning
If you use a computer at the table, you'll benefit from
using bookmarks to track the stuff you need for each
- del.icio.us is a good site for organizing links to
online locations, images, and files. You can assign each
bookmark one or more category keywords to keep things
grouped and easy to find.
For each bookmark you need next session, assign the session
name, date, or number as a new category keyword (tag). For
example, ForgeOfFury, 26APR2007, Session026.
- Browser bookmarks
In your browser, make a folder for each session and put in
copies of bookmarks to needed web resources and computer
- Images. For use as show and tell in-game, or for
inspiration when planning.
- NPCs. There might be lots of community generated NPCs
for your game system posted online.
- Tools. Random generators and such.
- Reference. For D&D, I link to specific rules I'll likely
need next session. In addition, creating spellbooks for
referencing spells an NPC has is a good use of bookmarks.
- Blog, wiki, group. If you use a website for group notes or
planning, link to it so you aren't fumbling for the address
each time. Ditto for specific pages, like the NPC registry.
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5. Record Character Stats
A classic tip is to record the important bits of character
information so you can secretly reference it and to prevent
constantly asking for it in-game.
For example, if you need to slow the pace down or catch
player attention, call for a group dice roll, such as a
perception check. Otherwise, the game often goes better and
smoother by rolling certain character checks yourself and
describing the results. You could even do this in advance
and record successes somewhere (such as on a map
One way a D&D combat could start is to call for Listen
checks to determine if the PCs hear a nearby threat. You
tabulate results as they come in and describe a strange
sound to successful PCs. Then you do the same thing for a
Spot check and describe a shadowy lump high up in a tree,
clinging to the trunk.
Next, players ask to make certain Knowledge skill checks, as
they always do. Finally, you ask for initiative rolls.
Whew. That requires a lot of communication, coordination,
rolling, player calculations, and tallying.
Another option is to have all this character information in
a spreadsheet or written out on a paper form. You know their
Spot, Listen, Knowledge, and Initiative scores. While the
previous encounter is wrapping up, you make rolls for the
PCs and privately note successes.
When everybody is ready, you simply start to narrate how the
characters are traveling down a narrow forest path in the
cool shade on a Spring day when Broghan and Lucien hear a
strange noise. At the same time, Lucien, Marco, and Brottor
see a strange shape high up in a nearby tree. Lucien thinks
it might be a giant insect pod, while Brottor has heard of a
creature named thusks who are known to make pods of that
colour and texture, and that thusks are flying bloodsuckers.
You tell the group that Marco is the first to react. What do
you do Marco?
That was smooth, fast, and set up a nice scene where PC
skills and abilities were taken in to account, along with
Staging information is sometimes important for pacing and
effect. You might not want to rush over everything in one
description. The choice is up to you, but recording stats
and rolling for the PCs can still save a lot of game time
and increase roleplaying, storytelling, and drama.
In the above example, you might just deal with Broghan and
Lucien hearing something, first. They'll likely look around
or tell the others they've heard something, in which case
likely every PC will look around.
So, next stage is spotting, and you've got this covered. If
Lucien, Marco and Brottor ask if they recognize or know
anything about the pod, you smoothly roll into this stage as
well (pun intended!). As soon as someone wants to take an
action, you look to Marco and tell him he's first. Quick and
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GM Mastery: NPC Essentials
NPC Essentials is a collection of tips, techniques, and aids
designed to help game masters inject detailed NPCs into any
role-playing campaign. Inside the book, you will find advice
on designing, roleplaying, and managing NPCs during the
entire lifetime of your campaigns. Also included are NPC
archetypes, encounters, charts, and an example NPC-centric
adventure. Written by Johnn Four and illustrated by V Shane.
GM Mastery: NPC Essentials at RPG Now
(Be sure to check out the 30 reader reviews at the link
Readers' Tips Of The Week:
1. Customizable Poker Chips
From: Dave Emswiler
I know that at one time there was talk of using items for
monster counters, I don't know if poker chips were
suggested. I have seen the different coins and counters that
are printable on the computer or are cardboard punch outs.
I was reading a newsfeed and it pointed to a poker chip
customizer. You print out round stickers that can be placed
in the middle of a poker chip. I was thinking of using the
chips with pictures of various monsters, NPCs, and items you
would use regularly, such as chests, chairs, cauldrons, etc.
I got a set of poker chips at a dollar store, and have
bought sturdier ones for a cheap price. Use different color
chips for creatures of different levels and abilities. Or
put a code on the sticker and just make the players paranoid
with a group of blue creatures, two red, and one white. They
will be wondering.
When the creature dies flip it over until they search it or
clear it out of the way.
Return to Contents
2. A Kewl New Dice Bowl
From: Lord Skudley
I found this "Chip and Dip" bowl at Target. Like the salad
bowl it makes a great "Rollin' the Bones" sound and keeps my
dice from scattering when I toss them. It also offers a
place to keep my dice readily available for their next use.
Dice Bowl pictures
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3. Get Inspired By Personal Campaign Websites
From: Scott Thorpe
After having the nearly unheard of luxury of playing in our
last three campaigns, I find myself preparing to slide back
into the DM seat for our group's next go 'round. One of our
group's primary DMs moved awhile back and doesn't have the
time to spare for a new group, so for the two of us to
collaborate on the campaign I have set up a wiki site for us
to use as an online planning journal/think tank. If the site
is as convenient as it seems we will set one up later for
the players to access with campaign specific information and
Here's the current wiki.
We are still in the brainstorming stage while waiting for
our players to finish the pre-campaign surveys, but I
thought it might be fun for other DMs to watch the process
of a campaign taking shape. I still find myself returning to
the Falconmoor group's new campaign site just to read the
DM recaps and behind-the-scenes insight into how the
adventures he plans and runs turn out.
The 6 Elements
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4. Superstitions In Gaming
From: Michael Erb
While working on a Halloween article for RPG.net a few years
back, I touched briefly on the topic of superstition. Many
of the strange little quirks of the Halloween holiday were
once considered to be precautions against supernatural
forces. Many were taken quite seriously too.
Throughout the ages and even in modern times superstitions
have held a valuable place in society and culture.
Superstitions were and are a means of controlling the
uncontrollable, an explanation for the unexplainable. Many
superstitions are derived from tradition, mythology and to a
lesser degree, science. In a way, superstition could be
considered the earliest form of the scientific theory. When
A happens, I do B ... when I do B, A goes away ... therefore
B counteracts A.
Superstitions also are a form of religion. Many deal with
appeasing spirits or creating a spiritual contract with the
afterlife. Many superstitions were considered ways of
avoiding death or affliction. For some, superstitions simply
became habit. Why we did them in the first place became less
important than the comfort derived from the action itself.
Below are a few superstitions that I find particularly
interesting. I leave the application of them in a gaming
context to the reader, though I would be interested in
hearing how individual GMs use superstition in their games.
I am not claiming any of these ideas as my own. They are
derived from a variety of sources and are presented here as
a basic list, not a definitive library.
- Nail A Tree To End A Toothache
This superstition is a combination of several
ideas. In early days, toothaches were considered by many to
be afflictions originating from outside the body and often
caused by harmful or mischievous spirits. Belief also held
that trees housed such spirits, as the woods were often rife
with fairies and other elf-kin.
Cold iron was a weakness of these spirits, and driving an
iron into a tree was a sure way to imprison a spirit and
keep it from causing further harm. Within a few days the
toothache would end...or the tooth would fall out. Either
way, it worked.
- Knock On Wood
Similar to the above, knocking on wood sought to ward off
bad luck by confusing the wood spirits. Often this was done
after having said something unlucky ("I hope the wagon wheel
doesn't break") or having done something unlucky to draw the
attention of such spirits.
The exact reason this worked was somewhat of a debate. Some
said it placated the spirits, the way a heartbeat might
soothe a newborn. Others said it was an offensive noise,
driving the spirits away with the discordant banging of a
human hand on wood. Others said the wood spirits, for some
unknown reason, found it amusing and seldom harmed those who
amused them. Regardless, it worked.
- Never Cross A Black Cat
A really simple one, black cats were the familiars of
witches. Sometimes they were witches. Either way, you wanted
to avoid drawing their attention, lest you gain the
attention of the witches themselves.
- Friday the 13th
A little more complex, this superstition is a combination of
Christianity and ancient mythology. Witches' covens were
believed to meet in groups of 12, with the 13th participant
being the Devil himself. Definitely unlucky. Friday was
named after the Norse goddess Freya who fell from Odin's
grace. Thus Friday, her day, became unlucky. Slap the two
together and you have a doubly unlucky day.
- Spilled Salt And Throwing A Pinch Over The Shoulder
Salt was not always as common as it is now. In fact, its
rarity made it valuable, and sometimes even holy. The
spilling of salt was not only the equivalent of throwing
away gold, but also a minor desecration.
Now, the Devil, being the wily guy he is, always resides
just behind the left shoulder of every man, woman, and child,
waiting for the opportunity to do a little evil in the
world. And what better time to work his evil than when a
holy object is desecrated and wasted?
People who spilled salt would fling a pinch over their left
shoulder and into the eyes of the Devil, blinding him for a
moment. And since the Devil could only work his evil within
the heartbeat of that moment, his devilishness would be
Some went a little further with this way of thinking, saying
that if the Devil always resided upon the left, then
certainly God resides upon the right. Therefore, the salt
must always be thrown with the right hand, the righteousness
of God punishing the evil of the Devil. Woe be to the poor
fool who, upon wasting the holy salt, made the mistake of
using his corruptible left hand to fling salt over the right
shoulder and into the eyes of God Himself.
Many fairy mythologies also used salt, with a common belief
that salt could chase away the fey folk, similar to how
garlic would work on a vampire. Some superstitious rituals
required circles or lines of salt that could not be crossed
by supernatural creatures, and a surefire way to "out" a
fairy changeling was to salt their food. If they grew
suddenly ill, you knew they weren't what they appeared to
- Saying "Bless You" When Someone Sneezes
There are several reasons for this, some fanciful, some
morbid. Some, even today, say the heart stops when you
sneeze, and for an instant you die. Blessing the person
ensures their continued health and, in a way, congratulates
them on their survival.
Others felt it was the soul trying to escape and a blessing
helped hold it in place.
Now, back in the olden days, demons were everywhere, and the
trick was you couldn't see them. People got possessed all
the time and invisible demons and devils often hovered
around, just waiting for an opportunity to spring into a
body. A sneeze could prove to be such an opportunity, but a
quick "Bless you" bestowed just enough of God's grace on a
person to prevent the possession and preserve their soul.
And you thought they were just being polite.
On an interesting side-note, I've also found references to a
superstition where a person who sneezed three times in rapid
succession was believed to be marked for possession.
Apparently the demons got a little more picky.
- If A Cock Crows As You Pass You're Marked For Possession
Or Have Already Been Possessed
Pretty self explanatory, just hope you weren't unfortunate
enough to be passing by the roost around dawn.
Now tell me, what happens if the rooster sneezes three times
before it crows?
- Flip A Fish, Sink The Boat
This is an odd one. On Chinese fishing boats, a common
superstition had to do with the evening meal. While out to
sea, the most plentiful food source, especially for a
fishing boat, would be fish, so many a meal was spent dining
on the catch of the day. Sailors were taught to eat one side
of the fish, remove the bones, and then eat the other side,
believing if they turned their meal over, the ship would
capsize and sink.
Yeah, that makes sense. What I love about this superstition
is the way a simple, everyday act can have such dire
consequences. Not every superstition has to be complex. Some
just can focus on the perils of eating lunch at sea.
And where did this originate? At what point did the survivor
of a fishing-boat accident say, "Everything was going well
until Chan turned his meal over. Then the boat sank"? It's
questions like these that keep me up at night.
- Sleeping Beneath Moonlight Can Harm Your Soul
I can't recall exactly where I first heard of this
superstition, but I do remember reading an article about a
mother sneaking into her child's room at night and covering
the windows with blankets to keep the moonlight from falling
across the child's bed. The article said she had picked up
the habit from an old housekeeper who dabbled in voodoo -
the religion, not the kind you see on television and in
movies. The most interesting part of the article was how the
housekeeper managed to subconsciously convince the author to
take-up the unusual superstition, even though the author
was, by her own account, a sensible Christian and well-
There are dozens of superstitions and supernatural stories
surrounding the moon, from madness to lycanthropy, so this
tradition quite possibly could simply be seen as a
precaution against all such things.
These are just a few superstitions I've found interesting
over the years. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, more exist.
Breaking mirrors, walking under ladders, a lucky rabbit's
foot, horseshoes, all are part of the rich tapestry of
There are dozens of easy-to-find sites on the Internet
dealing with superstitions, and many countries have their
own traditions and myths that are passed down from
generation to generation, with many people still practicing
some unusual customs to this day.
One interesting source and quite a fun read is Raymond
Feist's book, Faerie Tale, which is a horror/fantasy book
about a modern-day family plagued by fairies. One of the
main characters, the groundskeeper of an ancient estate,
becomes the town drunk to avoid the faeries' wrath because
superstition says faeries won't harm drunkards. A young boy
has his eyelids painted green with a mixture of water and
crushed clovers, allowing him to see into the faerie realm.
As the story progresses, superstition becomes the only
defense Feist's characters can muster against their
supernatural foes. A cool book.
* * *
Michael Erb is a journalist and game reviewer in
Parkersburg, W.Va. His game reviews and articles can be
found at Roll For Initiative. Other examples of
his writing can be found at Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
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Each bag contains over a _pound_ of assorted and random
dice, some non-standard, in several styles and colors.
This is a great and inexpensive way to get a "house dice"
collection started, or just get a bunch of dice at a
Picture and ordering at RPG Shop.