Brief Word From Johnn By Orcus’s Balls, Whodda Thunk It? 700 Issues! I’m not one for reminiscing, so I’ll keep this short. 700 issues works out to about 3.1 million words according to my word processor. Words from me, and words from you. And out of all those words one simple message is clear: we […]Continue reading
Tips and ideas on how to panic and get ready for a game with only 30 minutes to prepare. I’m going to assume you don’t just wing it 100%. That requires no prep time except to go to the store to buy snacks. 🙂 Instead, I’m going to say you GM like me, where you want some ideas, notes, and rough plans, because you like a safety net and enjoy having at least some material to riff off of during the session.Continue reading
Want to design your own combat missions, fully tailored to the people, places, and things of your campaign? Today you’ll learn how to do this, including what design questions to ask and answer along the way. Let total annihilation scenarios take a back seat while you light a fire under your combat creativity.Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Dungeon Crawl Classics Is A Classic I had a blast this past weekend playing the DCC RPG for the first time. We adventured through the character funnel, 67: Sailors on the Starless Sea. The flavour of the game is great. The core rules are a toned down variant of d20, with […]Continue reading
A Brief Word From Johnn Only Hours Left On Assassin’s Amulet Deal The special price for Roleplaying Tips subscribers expires October 27 – just a few hours from now. To get the code that gives you 33% off the cover price, before the special expires, visit this link. GMing Two Weeks In A Row I’m […]Continue reading
RPG Designer James Gauvreau kicks off a short series on culture building for you with the Klok’k’ot. The Klok’k’ot are an urban desert civilization on a precipice.Continue reading
One of my players, Colin, has stepped up to GM our group through the D&D 5E module, Out of the Abyss.
We’re taking turns being GM. He’ll run his game, then next time I run Murder Hobos, and so on. This means I’ll be GMing about once a month now.
My character is a third level cleric of Helm. Guiscard Windholme, brother of another player’s PC, Raphael. Mike and I chatted by email about making our PCs family. Raphael is always getting into trouble, and Guiscard is always trying to save him.Continue reading
A guild is a group of artisans or merchants who joined together in an association to protect their members and control their trade in a specific area. Non-guild members attempting to ply their trade would either find themselves persuaded to sign up or be quickly run out of town.
Guilds have become a popular feature of fantasy RPGs, with the idea of the thieves’ guild being almost ubiquitous. This article discusses what sorts of guilds populate a fantasy kingdom and how you can construct a capsule stat block for a guild in your campaign.Continue reading
Bypassing a trapped stairwell, they descend into a room with three terrible monsters (umber hulks) trapped behind bars on one side and a tough metal door on the other. The Hobos quietly investigate. However, they hear a voice on the other side of the door: “Has anyone got pants?” Then a loud thunder crack nearly shatters the portal.
This enrages the umber hulks and the creatures start battering their cage. The portal opens. On the other side is a shovel-wielding pantless half-elf. (Welcome new player James and his bard, Captain William Blien!) “Hello. I have no pants. Can you help?”Continue reading
Memorable non-player characters are distinct. Whether you created an NPC or it came out of a published adventure, it is up to you as game master to make each quest giver, tavern goer, and orc slaver different from the rest.
The key to creating a believable, distinct cast lies in your performances. This might seem daunting, especially since every other player at the table has only one character to worry about while you have dozens.Continue reading
Getting the PCs to do things is like herding cats. It’s hard to get them all pointed in a single direction, and sometimes they get lost and confused about what it is they should be doing. If you’re trying to give guidance to the group, but don’t want to put them on the Plot Express, here are a few things you can try.Continue reading
I love space opera, laser swords, and ray guns, jet bikes in space swooping around ships bigger than they are and winning. These epic stories in vast galaxies sometimes take place a long time ago, far far away, and sometimes they’re in our own time and space, but you need to play a video game well enough to even be noticed by the star league. I love the scope, tone, and feel, but those things all play second fiddle to what makes space opera most compelling to me: the characters and their personal stories.Continue reading
The first Dungeon World principle is to draw maps but leave blank spaces. Maps are a fundamental part of world building, so leaving blanks suggests an unfinished world. However, the idea is to fill them in later. Blank areas on a map allow all manner of cool things to happen in your game. They prevent you from painting yourself into a corner at campaign outset. They let you be flexible and roll with the dice.
Here are some tips on using blanks on a map to increase the fun at your table. The tips are divided up according to the style of map being used…Continue reading
After awhile you don’t want to get ready for and run games anymore. You get writer’s block. You dread game day and find any reason to postpone. You feel uncreative and stressed out before each looming game day deadline.
It’s a tough spot to be in. And I’ve been there. Maybe you have, too. Maybe you’re there right now.Continue reading
A kingdom map helps you and your players see how your kingdom fits together. Players will use it to decide where they want to travel and what challenges to tackle next.
However, a map too detailed and complex harms gameplay. It blocks cool campaign ideas that come up after campaign kickoff. It puts players off, so its hooks fail. And prep becomes harder because you end up with too much detail to connect ideas with and GM for.Continue reading
Here’s the core tip in brief. I’ll describe the full recipe on how to create everything later in this article. Create a very short story that exemplifies the culture so you can remember and roleplay anyone from that culture at the drop of a hat. We remember stories better than cold, factual stat blocks. These stories also give you handy in-game roleplaying and storytelling prompts. And they are fast to create using my simple recipe:Continue reading
Myron Yorick, the king’s younger brother, went into the service of Our Lady in White, as was customary for younger siblings. He was a potent preacher, full of ecstasy and fire. When his discovered his brother’s plans to give preferential treatment to decadent Coraltoni wine merchants who would undercut the valuable Sweetblood trade, he resolved to do something about it.
He usurped the throne, threw out the Coraltoni pisswine vendors, and launched a war with Coralton over the trade routes to the Sword Sea. And though he eventually fell, he did not go quietly — the assassins who killed him had to poison, shoot, stab, beat, and burn him with magic before tossing him in the river, where he finally died of hypothermia while trying to claw up out of the ice. Then, as his body was cremated, he sat up in his casket.Continue reading
At the end of a long campaign, I want my players and I to feel totally satisfied. I mean the sort of satisfaction one gets when a story wraps up with no question unanswered. The kind of story that ends with every major character’s arc finished and accounted.
This is a challenge when there’s only a single person telling a story – just think of all the novels that have left you hanging in one way or another over the years. But when a group of friends gets into collaborative tale-spinning one chapter at a time with long breaks between, it is almost impossible to wrap up everything with a tidy bow.Continue reading
In my last article I talked a little about how people get around as part of a Far Future Spacefaring Civilization and putting limitations on those methods. Now I want to talk a little more in depth about those methods and how you can put some limitations on them to make them more gameable.
There are three kinds of FTL travel methods employed in various sci-fi settings: hyper drives, jump drives, and warp drives.Continue reading
Knowing who is in power is important in any game where you want locations to serve as more than a simple backdrop, because the character of those in positions of power often reflects that of the kingdom itself. Having your ruler emphasize the themes of your kingdom will hammer those details home to your players. It is also useful information to have in the back of your mind when anything that affects kingdom law or policy occurs in-game.
This article takes you through the process of choosing an appropriate government type for your kingdom and then discusses how you can use this in play to give your campaign world more depth.Continue reading
In RPT#666 I wrote an article explaining how to improvise rising action during the game. This approach adds tension at a tactical level, looking at the story one encounter at a time.
However it is also possible to add increasing tension as a fundamental structure to the story. This essay explores ways to embed rising stakes into your stories.Continue reading
What is space opera, and how do you make it? How do people get around? Why are they out there?Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Thoughts on Detecting Magic and Auras In the last couple of versions of D&D we’ve played, and Pathfinder, the spell Detect Magic also lets casters detect fading auras. Based on the strength of the magic recently in the area, or the nature of creature (demons et. al.) the caster gets clues […]Continue reading