One of the great ongoing RPG debates is “Grid combat with minis” versus “Slightly abstract combat without minis.” It’s particularly interesting right now, with a new edition of D&D in development. There is, of course, no correct answer. But something odd occurred to me this weekend that will forever shade my views on the subject.
Imagine a book filled with essays on the art and science of designing role-playing games and RPG adventures, all written by some of the biggest names in that eldritch field of endeavor: Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Rob Heinsoo, Michael Stackpole, Ed Greenwood and more. That’s exactly what this book is, and it’s pretty damn awesome.
When you’re crafting the setting of your fantasy opus, it’s tempting to layer on impossibilities like islands floating in the sky and huge arboreal elf cities. It turns out the world we live in is full of fantastical settings and bizarre natural formations aplenty. Want to ground your fantasy world in reality? Check out these [...]
So there I was spending all sorts of time, crafting monster stat blocks for a chief-lieutenant type of recurring foe for my players and what did they do? They beat the holy living bejeezus out of him before he could even fire off his heaviest powers. Now my recurring foe was recumbent in death. So [...]
A while back Ed posted an article about “gritty” campaigns and referenced one that I was running for our group. Addressing all the mechanics for such a campaign will take several articles, so I decided to start with equipment, both because I think it’s very important to a gritty campaign and because it’s on my [...]
Despite the infinite variety of stories that can be told with RPGs, most fantasy campaigns revolve around the same story: a band of mercenary adventurers schlepping from kingdom to kingdom in search of gold, magic items and vengeance (somebody is always avenging something or other). What if you had a more concrete goal for your [...]
D&D Fortune Cards may have been a bit of a let-down, but to be honest, I didn’t have very high hopes. I knew they were going to be mechanical “crunch” cards instead of something a whole lot more interesting. Here’s my pitch for what Fortune Cards coulda shoulda woulda been.
Gavin O’Brien took over as DM of the regular Robot Viking D&D group this week, his first stint in the 4e DM’s chair. He helpfully explains what it was like to take his former companions for a spin on the Wheel of Pain.
Here are some interesting ideas, blogs and gaming sites I’ve been checking out lately. If you like beer with your games, non sequitur gaming chatter or frequent character death, there’s something for you here.
One of the defining characteristics of role-playing games is that they can be customized in an infinite variety of ways. The most common customization is the almighty house rule. If something isn’t working for your gaming group, you can make a change on the spot. Here are five of the best house rules I’ve found [...]
It’s all too easy to start your adventure with a meeting in a tavern, a summons to talk to the king, or a messenger offering a commission. That works well enough to get the story rolling, but adventure writers would do better to ramp up the action immediately with a classic cold open.
The default setting for most fantasy RPGs is high-magic, with a wizard in every party and a potion shop in every podunk village. What happens when you strip a campaign down to bare steel?
Don’t you hate it when your players catch on that a bunch of monsters in an encounter are minions, then metagame their strategy the whole time? “Don’t waste an encounter power on it, it’s just a minion!” I offer one possible solution: the MegaMinion.
There’s an archnemesis whose evil conspiracy has been hinted at since the PCs were second level. There’s the current adventure’s story, the seeds of which were sown in the last adventure. There’s the bard, who’s been searching for a family heirloom stolen by a golden dragon; the paladin is avenging something or other; the thief [...]