The GM’s Smithy: Forging a Campaign to Suit Your Habits

In today’s article I’m going to tackle a few things; namely why I cancelled my most recent D&D campaign. I decided to take some time to reflect on what it was about my previous campaign wasn’t doing it for me, and how I could help other GMs in crafting a campaign setting to avoid burnout, …

Managing Macroenvironments

Critics commonly like to joke that sci-fi and fantasy authors have a poor sense of scale, and indeed it’s true that sometimes our reach can overextend our grasp. Any GM has doubtless fantasized about planting larger-than-life worlds into their games, whether those worlds take the form of sprawling megacities, kilometers-long starships, or space stations the …

Monster of the Month: No More Wolves

Last time I wrote a piece about bandits, but this time we’re going to talk about another monster with a very specific narrative role. Except this monster isn’t a monster at all. It’s just an animal. Those of you who read my last article saw this one coming a mile away. I’m talking about wolves. …

Monster of the Month: No More Goblins (or Kobolds either)

This month, I’m lumping goblins and kobolds in together because they’re pretty much interchangeable in terms of their world-building role. They’re diminutive but clever humanoids that eke out meager lairs in caves and grottoes, generally underground – hence why they tend to be the default enemies for Player’s First Dungeon. Another reason they make great …

Monster of the Month: No More Bandits

The bandit in D&D is a strange creature. Medieval bandits were bullies who wanted money, so they hid out by the roads of trade routes or pilgrimages and then threatened to whack people with big sticks. The D&D bandit, however, is wealthy enough to afford leather armor, a scimitar, and a crossbow with ammunition, yet …

Monster of the Month: No More Skeletons

The spooky month of October is upon us, and to celebrate I’ve begun writing a series of articles focusing on my favorite part of Dungeons & Dragons – the monsters. Every person who has ever played a campaign of D&D started, at some point, at Level 1. During their time as a Level 1 character, …

Another Chat About Initiative

Two weeks ago, I talked about why players shouldn’t roll for Initiative – because it takes time. I explained a system by which GMs could prepare the Initiative orders for each of their fights, Players Characters and Monsters alike, ahead of time. But now, let’s talk about the other half of the combat – the …

Why I Stopped Rolling For Initiative

Combat is the place in an RPG where you’re most likely to lose people. If one player spends too much time taking their turn, you’re going to have the rest of your players’ minds wandering, and they’re going to lose interest in what’s happening. Every minute spent on math is a minute not spent on …