Party Crafting 1: Shared Backstories

When playing D&D, I find the most important and hardest step is character creation.  You’re given a slew of options and need to build a narrative, a personality, quirks, and a functioning stat line.  Most importantly, your decisions are permanent. If you’re preparing for a campaign, you might be locked into the same class and …

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 …

Player’s Perspective: Asking “What do you like?”

I recently discovered a community on the social networking site Reddit called /r/dndhorrorstories.  It’s a place where DMs come together to trade tales of woe, horror, and disgust based on the actions of their party members.  The stories break into several basic categories: A player obsessively power leveled and min-maxed above all of the other …

Rolling with Randomness: GMing on the Fly

It’s no secret that TTRPGs can quickly go off the rails. While player synergy can be a valuable tool for any GM to breathe life and excitement in the campaign, it also has the potential to make all of your best plans for the campaign go completely awry.  Something as simple as random exposition from …

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, …

Player’s Perspective: Saying No

In one of my first campaigns, set in a grim-dark science fiction setting, I effectively became a god.  My character was statistically incapable of failing any charisma checks, and he galavanted across space, breaking lore and logic with a silver tongue that allowed him to do anything, say anything, and get away with anything. While …

Rulings Without Rule books: How to Speed Up Your Adventures

Running smooth, action packed RPG adventures with as few interruptions as possible makes the game more immersive and enjoyable. One common interruption to adventures i’ve seen is stopping the game to look up rules. It may seem like a good use of time: using the rules as they are written makes sense, and some players …

The Hero’s Journey: A Mid-Length Campaign Structure

 In the 1950s, Joseph Campbell presented the Hero’s Journey in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This story structure occurs constantly in hundreds of our most famous myths, stories, and novels, and is taught in many a writing class.  More importantly, you can use the Hero’s Journey to create a campaign of 5-10 …

Streamlining Your Skill Checks

Skill checks – love them or hate them, they form the core mechanics of every roleplaying game, but too many checks or a poorly timed failure can grind even the best adventures to a halt. As a GM, if you’ve ever found your game stalling as players rethink an entire plan due to a failed …