If someone asked me for a single bit of advice to improve their roleplaying games, whether as a DM or a player, I would tell them to spend as much time as they can reading the great fantasy and sci-fi books that are out there. For the first several years that I was playing RPGs I was not an avid reader and had not even heard of many of the classics, including ones that everyone should have heard of like The Lord of the Rings. At the time I thought many of my friends were insanely creative or stricken by some miraculous form of otherworldly inspiration, but as I’ve read more and more of the books out there I began to realize that most good ideas in our RPGs have been inspired by or even directly ripped from other sources. For example, in one of the first D&D games that I ever DM’d a player showed up with a character named “Muadib” and I remember thinking that it was a very unique and interesting sounding name. A year or two later I started reading Dune and groaned when I realized he’d simply lifted the name straight out of that book.
Yesterday I started playing the new game Dark Souls on the PS3 and the level designs in the game are very inspiring when it comes to planning out dungeons. One of the coolest things Dark Souls, and in fact many video games, does with its levels is interconnecting different areas in creative and unexpected ways. This is also an element that I see very rarely in tabletop RPG dungeon design, and that’s a disparity that I’d like to see changed.
Charrette is a word that most likely means nothing to you, unless of course you studied Architecture or Design in school then it is a word that can mean quite a lot and the emotions it brings up vary widely from person to person. Charrette is a word used among architecture students to describe a design crunch/cramming session that derives from the French word for “cart”. The term became popular because schools in Paris would have carts pushed around to collect student’s drawings and it was not uncommon for students to continue working on their drawings for as long as possible by riding in the cart. For better or worse, the term has stuck through to this day and architecture students are still as bad as ever at finishing their projects before rigid deadlines.
Mike Shea of Sly Flourish talks to Quinn Murphy of At-Will about skill challenges. Learn the top 3 tips for effective skill challenges. Get the hot button questions answered like when to say or hide the fact that players are in a skill challenge, how do you write up skill challenges, how to add interesting choices into skill challenges, how to engage players in a skill challenge, using skill challenges in combat, and much more.
It’s good to be back! The first week of August saw us at GenCon and very happily winning a Gold ENnie award, and then in the weeks after I’ve been catching up on things post-convention and getting back into the swing of things. Lately I’ve been discussing and toying with the concept that the best world building happens through playing a campaign, and so I suggest the world building DMs out there spend less time before play and just jump into things with a published or a bare bones adventure and then let the world build from there. This also opens your game up to the possibilities for players to contribute to the world building which for me has always turned out better than I could imagine.
And so the Dungeon Master, the creator of all things, the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, oh yes, this Dungeon Master will make you fear death.
In this episode of the ENNIE-NOMINATED DM Guys podcast, Newbie and Dave are joined by Sarah Darkmagic as co-host, Dave talks to Brennan Taylor and Ryan Macklin about running convention games, NewbieDM talks to Daniel Perez about running online games, and we answer listener questions.
Because the population of a typical game world runs more than four to six, there will be a vast and diverse representation of nonplayer characters in every game, and not just the ones that want to strangle the characters with their own intestines.
Mike Shea talks to Chris Sims about designing effective encounters in D&D 4e.
Mike Shea of Sly Flourish interviewed Randall Walker of Initiative or What? (Deadorcs on Twitter) about the use of terrain in your 4e D&D game.