Published on 12/25/2009 Written by 2 comments

Happy Holidays Everyone

I hope everyone has a great holiday and eats too much, has a nap, has a second dinner, eats some dessert, has a few drinks, has another nap, gets some presents and maybe has a bit more pie. Well you get the picture. Get off the internet and spend some time with your family and friends... and if you can, have a game or two, I hear zombie Santa is on the loose and we need some brave adventurers to stop him.

Happy Holidays!

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Published on 12/20/2009 Written by 13 comments

Three Simple Rules

I am gearing up for a new campaign and in the process of finishing all the fun bits and pieces. This is my favorite time, just before the show starts and the lights come on. I am trying very hard to create a campaign that will execute maximum awesome with minimum stress.

I try to follow three simple rules when I create a new campaign and get ready to throw my players into it.

1) Your players are your campaign - Make the campaign for your players, not for you. Its that simple.

2) Create stories, not a story - Its always a temptation to go all Lord of the Rings with a campaign. DON"T.... you are not Tolkien and this isn't Middle Earth. Creating an epic over-arching super story that binds the characters into an amazing epic adventure is almost always doomed to fail. Create many stories for your world and let your players own ambitions create the epic story.

3) Make the campaign intriguing not cool - If everyone is an uber-cool ninja gangster, and there are a thousand cool races and places and monsters and... well there is only so much cool before it just gets cold. But if you say something like, "this campaign is gonna be kinda Gangs of New York meets Feudal Japan", people may not get it, but they will be intrigued and probably want to know more. I have found that the more players are intrigued by an idea in the beginning the better the campaign in the end.

These usually work for me, what works for you?

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Published on 11/11/2009 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

Unfortunately I don't remember where I found this picture or who the artist is. I am pretty sure it comes from DigitalArt.org but I can't say for certain. I think its a great piece and an inspiring looking place for adventures in game.

I just imagine the PC's  entering a lost kingdom high in the mountains full of dark secrets and powerful magic. It also reminds me of  Hyberborea from Conan the Frost Giants Daughter, and anything that reminds me of Conan is awesome.

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Published on 11/10/2009 Written by 7 comments

The Whiner at the Table

In my years of gaming I've dealt with rules lawyers, power gamers, mix/maxers and almost every RPG stereotype. But in my opinion the worst, most irritating and contentious player is the whiner.

A whiner is never satisfied. When their PC is is in the spotlight, they complain they that the spotlights too bright, and when they're not in the spotlight they complain that they can't see. In they're minds they are always running at a deficit. Somehow, someone is always getting the better of them and making their little lives oh so difficult, and they want you and everyone else to know it.

Its unfortunate that some gaming groups are plagued with the whiner, and in some cases due to friendship or politics have to keep that person in the group. I have had to deal with it twice in my gaming history and I've developed some rules to help the situation.

1) Whining will get you a loss of XP - This one works with moderate whiners. No one likes losing XP or not getting the full benefits from a given encounter. This works well, and docking XP for being irritating in most cases quells the urge for whine.

2) The gamer time out - This one works with excessive whiners. You're being a whinny dick, go sit on the couch and shut up while we finish up here. The hope is that the person can see the error of their whinny ways and join in later. I have had success with this technique. I think its because its embarrassing for the person to be castigated in front of others, especially when you're at someones house to play a game for fun.

3) If you don't like it you can F**K OFF - This in my opinion is the only way to deal with the extreme incurable whiner. Absolutely no good comes from having them in your group.

Have you ever had to deal with a whiner at the table? What did you do to deal with it?

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Published on 10/22/2009 Written by 3 comments

To Dave, Phil, Graham and Danny... Thanks for creating the RPGBN

I don't know any of you guys beyond the words on your blogs, but I wish I did - because, after all the shit you've put up with over the last little while I would take all of you out for a beer and some good food.

Thanks for creating the RPGBN and through it introducing me to so many blogs that I never would have known about. Thanks for making my blogging life better, easier and more fun. So thanks Dave, Phil, Graham and Danny, you guys rock!

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Published on 10/15/2009 Written by 3 comments

Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon

In case you haven't had your dose of 80's cartoon cheesiness you can watch every Dungeons and Dragons cartoon episode here. Don't watch them all at once or you'll go blind from consuming so much cheese.

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Published on 10/14/2009 Written by 18 comments

The Gender Swap

I was reading this post over at Critical Hits about gaming women. As I was scanning the comments I noticed a few people stating that although they didn't game with women, the men in their groups would often play women. In my twenty eight years of gaming, I have gamed with men and women, both straight and gay and no one has ever played their opposite gender. So I have to ask, does gender swapping in game matter?

To me gender in a game is a non-issue. A player can create and mold their character in whatever image they want within the bounds of the campaign we're playing. So if a man wanted to play a woman, or a woman a man because that was the vision they had for their character, I don't think I would have a problem with it. Unfortunately, this has never come up for me so I'll just have to wander into hypothetical land for a minute here.

If a player desired to play the opposite gender in a game I was running, I think I would immediately ask them, why? If they answered that it was part of the way they saw the character, or they think it would be interesting or it just feels right, then I don't think I would care. If they looked at me all creepy and said, she/he is hot, and then snickered while pressing their hands together, I might refuse... and probably not invite them back to play again.

That's really all I can say. Does gender swapping matter in your game? If you have some experience with this, let me know. I am really interested in hearing about it from both the players and gamemasters perspective. Please comment away.

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Published on 10/13/2009 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

This weeks picture comes from artist John Howe. He is best known for his Tolkien art, but his other works are pretty awesome as well. His depictions of Middle Earth are some of my all time favorites. I find his vision of Tolkien's world somewhat darker than most artists, which is probably what I like most.

This is one of my favorite pictures of his, and also the current desktop picture on my computer:

Check out John Howe's art for yourself and get some good ol' inspiration for your game.

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Published on 10/12/2009 Written by 2 comments

Have your PC's suffered enough?

Suffering follows a hero like stink follows a Stench Kow. If you take a look at almost any hero from mythology you have the immediate realization that being a "hero", or for that matter anyone of consequence in history is a pretty shit deal. Not only are there terrible responsibilities and grave decisions to be made, but almost everyone you will ever meet is probably dependent on you in some way or another.

So, I guess this begs the question:  If being a hero is so damn shitty why would anyone want their characters to even bother with it?

Simple answer,  its a game. You don't have to suffer the travails of your character, but you get to reap all the fun from going through them. What, suffering is fun? Sure is, if its imaginary.Where real suffering sucks, imaginary suffering brings you closer to the character you're playing.

We are all bound by our suffering. It is a universal truth and the root of compassion and empathy. So it makes sense that if suffering evokes emotions in reality it will also evoke emotions in the imagination. When our characters suffer we feel it in some small way, and are drawn closer to them and the world they inhabit. We all know what it feels like to fight a crazy awesome battle in a game. You barely survive, but in the end you triumph over great adversity and the game is enriched by the shared experience. Real battles are awful, you never for one second want to be in one, especially one from the medieval era. But damn it feels good at the game table.
If imaginary suffering is good, and makes your players bond with their characters, how can it be utilized in a game?

I have to put in a disclaimer here:
In absolutely no way do I support gamemaster douchebaggery. Making your players characters suffer needlessly, ridiculously, or as some type of power play is not only despicable but hints at a pathology that left untreated will result in a sad lonely life bereft of friendship or love... and also fuck you for being a dick.
Moving along.

The kind of suffering that I'm talking about is meaningful suffering. After it happens you've grown in some way as person, or an imaginary person in the case of role playing. I typically use three ways to up the level of meaningful suffering in my campaign.

  1. A hopeless situation where loss is inevitable but some greater good is served. Example: The players must stay and fight to protect the city. They are hopelessly outnumbered, but if they can hold off the mad wizards hoard the people may have time to escape through an ancient tunnel system and get word out to the neighboring kingdoms. If the players manage to survive (and a good GM will give them at least a chance, and avoid pulling a Deus Ex Machina) they will have, to turn a phrase, been through the shit and come out shinning. This would also assume that the GM took a fair amount of time establishing the city and its populace as something the players wanted to save and actually cared about.
  2. Bad guys acting badly. You have to be careful with this one. You can't pull a "orc's ate your family, you better get out there and fight 'em." This one is best suited for individual characters. For example: Having the wizards beloved familiar killed by the henchmen of the big bad guy. Not only is the wizard saddened by the loss it also fuels his desire to defeat the antagonist. Real bad guys always strike us where they know it will hurt, so why wouldn't fictional ones. Just be careful not to go overboard or be to cliche with this one, or the only thing you'll succeed at is pissing off your players.
  3. Oh Tragedy. The granddaddy of suffering, tragedy is often the destiny of the hero, that is if if every Greek myth is to be believed. Example: The PC's rescued the beautiful priestess of Isis from the demon of  Set. They nurse her back to health, and one of the players starts a burgeoning romance with her. All is good until she is slain by a random arrow in a simple encounter with some goblins, nooooooooooooooooooooooooo...
Although there are many ways to help players bond with their characters, I have found suffering to be one of the most effective. What do you think?

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Published on 10/11/2009 Written by 5 comments

The Top Ten Ways to Know Your Campaign Sucks

The RPG top ten for this week is...

The Top Ten Ways to Know Your Campaign Sucks

10) Everyone meets in a tavern.

9) A dark robed man enters the tavern looking for "adventurers".

8) There's a fight in the tavern. Because every fantasy world has all of its taverns filled to the brim with mercenaries, thieves and assholes just looking to fight anyone who happens to be around, regardless of the consequences.

7) The only thing that the players remember from the last session is the pizza, and it wasn't that great.

6) Your NPC's are way more important than your PC's. Its your world by jebus, and you don't want "players" screwing it up.

5) Your Elf/Dwarf hybrid race the Dwelves are not well received. No one recognizes original ideas anymore.

4) You're using the world of Synnibarr for your campaign.

3) For dramatic effect you demand that players dress and speak as their characters when they enter the games room in your house... and by games room in your house, I mean the alcove under the stairs in your Mom's basement.

2) At the end of the night the table is obscured by a massive dice fort constructed during play.

1) You're this guy.

If you are guilty of any these RPG crimes you need to turn in your GM's badge and find your local division of  bad GM's anonymous and get some help.

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Published on 10/10/2009 Written by 0 comments

Is This A Good Idea - Part II

I have been working on the outline for a new campaign world and I will have the first drafts ready in about two weeks. I would like to thank  Zzarchov, Tyler and  seaofstarsrpg for their comments from my previous post. They helped a lot in gaining some perspective on a somewhat muddled idea.

I am looking for people to collaborate with on this project. I have plans to publish it, and already have a few other people on board and would love to have more. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but if you're interested email me at: jack(at)ruleofthedice(dot)com and we can talk.

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Published on 10/10/2009 Written by 1 comment

A Brand New Rule Of The Dice

I finally got around to updating the site. I was never really satisfied with any of its previous incarnations, I found them, well, kinda ugly. Not that aesthetics should take away from content, but a nice design certainly makes for a more enjoyable writing and viewing experience. Man, I sound like an interior designer, which is only half as bad as a graphic designer, which I actually am, and is what I do for a living. So as you can guess there is absolutely no excuse for shoddy design work here.

I also dumped the Jack Crow moniker, because I realized I'm not in grade 10 and people won't steal my soul through the internet. So from now on I will be known as "Super Cool Arch Awesome Amazing Monster Slaying Game Mastering Master of Disaster Dude of Awesomeville", or John L. Williams (my actual human name. My Elvish name is too cool for anyone to know) for short. I also had to drop the Jack Crow moniker when I realized it was James Woods character in this awful movie.

I will be posting regularly starting next week. I hope everyone likes the new site.

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Published on 9/09/2009 Written by 6 comments

Is this a good idea?

I've had an idea for a campaign world floating around in my head for the better part of ten years. Its an idea thats always there but as soon as I get close I start to get uneasy about it. You see, this idea is out of my usual pulp sword and sorcery genre and that is disconcerting to me. For some reason as much as I want create it, I just chicken out.

Here is the basic idea:

Add 1 part collapsing Roman Empire
Add 1 part wild west
Add 1 part Steampunk
Add 1 part H.P Lovecraft
Add 1 part Harry Potter (at least the idea of vast magical institutions)

Mix all ingredients and hope for the best.

I envision a vast empire struggling for its last breath. As the empire dies new masters are claiming their stake in the once rich and now unprotected outer provinces. With the diffusion of power new technologies are birthed unaffected by Imperial stagnation, and while the old world crumbles a new one is born.

The old world is still there of course. Some with old world values have become more rigid in their views (the Priests) while others have adapted and even prospered (the Mages). Many of the old orders have disappeared but some new ones have been created (knights have become gunslingers, of course inspired by Stephen King).

All the while dark forces are looming in the shadows, and sinister secrets that have been hidden for thousands of years are waiting to be discovered.

Thats about all I have so far. I want to create this world and I want to publish it, at least in a limited way. So what I really need to know from you is... Is this a good idea, and what do you think?

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Published on 9/08/2009 Written by 0 comments

Viking Dad - Some Shameless Self Promotion

I debated whether to post this, and then I figured what the hell. Most of the rpg bloggers and readers will probably get a kick out of this. You see, for the better part of a year I have been working on a comedy web video project... about a viking... dad.

It all started last summer at my friends cottage. We had been drinking, which is a standard cottage endeavor as everyone knows. Well the drinking led into a who would win in a fight debate, which degenerated into a "my dad, can kick your dad's ass" debate, which degenerated further into a "my dad is a freakin' ninja and your dad's a pussy" debate. Somewhere in this mess of dad insults and mayhem, my friend Suzanne said "well my dad's a viking and a viking can kick anyones ass", to which I replied "a viking. Viking Dad". Just the name Viking Dad made us laugh, and alas our hero was born.

I can't say much more but everything will be revealed in the show itself. This is the project that has been keeping me away from blogging for the better part of the summer. We are now in full production, our scripts are done, the cast and locations finalized and we are looking to release episode 1 some time in October.

In the meantime check out the trailer on the Viking Dad website. We have a growing Facebook group you can join and get all the updates for the show, or maybe ask Viking Dad a question or two on the discussion board (he will awnser in a videocast if he likes your question). If you do go to the Facebook group you will see that I am the creator of the page. Thats right my actual name isn't Jack Crow its John Williams (just like that John Williams), a little internet white lie, but a harmless one.

I would also like to extend an invitaion to anyone who belongs to the rpg bloggers network to advertise any of their projects on the Viking Dad website. These projects can be rpg related or otherwise. This is of course free, absolutely no charge. We geeks, nerds, grognards and (insert witty appellation here) have to stand together and support one another. If you are interested email me at jack(at)ruleofthedice(dot)com and we can talk. I am also always looking for script writers and editors (for scripts) for the show itself, just contact me if you're interested.

Visit Viking Dad and let me know what you think.


John (aka. Jack Crow, or is it the other way around, I'm confused now.)

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Published on 7/17/2009 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

This weeks picture is by one of my favorite artists Justin Sweet. His style is a similar to Frank Frazetta (like almost every fantasy artist) but he has a unique coloring and line style that is very striking. From what I know he works a lot on the computer using Corel Painter for illustration as well as traditional mediums. He has done the art for several video games including the old Icewind Dale game (a favorite of mine along with the Baldur's Gate games), and did several concept paintings for the movie Prince Caspian.

The picture below is a simple concept picture, but I love the color and style.

As much as I like chainmail bikini's I think this is far more practical attire for the female adventurer.

Check out Justin Sweets website.

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Published on 6/12/2009 Written by 10 comments

How Lost Can Make You A Better Gamemaster

I thought I would hate it, I thought it would suck, but in the end I gave in and started watching Lost. I usually completely disregard the TV advice of my fellow geek friends, especially after they recommended that I watch the new Battlestar Galactica, which I hated every minute of with a smoldering dragonfire like hatred. So when they started recommending Lost I didn't listen. I didn't listen for five years, but three weeks ago everything changed.

My girlfriends brother gave us a copies of all the first four seasons of Lost. She started watching them first, I just sort of let them play in the background while I was doing other stuff. Eventually they became the other stuff, and I'm proud (and somewhat ashamed) to say that I have watched four seasons in three weeks, and I'm hooked on the show like it was heroin.

Because of this recent obsesion I have tried to incorporate some ideas from the show into my current campaign, and I think the show has a lot of valuable ideas for any game master.

If you haven't seen Lost you might not get where my ideas are coming from, but if you haven't seen Lost you shouldn't be reading this you should be watching it.... right now... I mean it... stop reading this and go watch Lost.

Here are what I consider to be the best "Lost" lessons for gamemastering:

1) Keep them Guessing - Never, ever, ever reveal anymore than you absolutely have to in any campaign. You want your players to feel as if there is something bigger going on that they don't quite understand, but they know is really important.

2) You're lost, now survive - Dungeons are strange places, easy to get lost in and hard to get out of. The best adventures are always the ones that are the hardest to survive.

4) Secrets, Secrets everyone has secrets - Players should have secrets from the other players. Maybe these secrets are only revealed as the campaign develops, or maybe they are so important that if someone knew everything would change... and does.

3) The players are incredibly special and crucial to the campaign... or are they - Players like to the center of attention and rightly so. Maybe they are so important to the world that the world itself can't exist without them... or maybe they're just being manipulated into believing that for someone else's gain.

5) I got your antagonist here, and here, and here and possibly here - Wow you just killed the big baddie... oh shit he was just working for the real big bad, and the guy that I though was the big bad might not even be bad, and who the hell is that guy. You get the picture.

6) The big reveal is only there to reveal a bigger reveal - I thought we had it figured out finally, oh that wasn't it. What happens now?

7) Hang the end of every adventure off the edge of the cliff with hungry tigers below and a mouse chewing through the vine the players are holding onto - I think this one is pretty self explanatory.

8) 4 8 15 16 23 42 - Push the button.

Any thoughts?

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Published on 3/08/2009 Written by 2 comments

Out & About

I finally got some time to sit down and catch up on my blog reading. I haven't been out and about the RPG Bloglands for some time, its nice to see that everything is still as good as ever.

There's an Open Game Table Logo contest at The Core Mechanic.

Also at The Core Mechanic, it looks like Open Game Table recently hooked up with Indie Press Revolution.

If your interested in a first impression look at the RPG Blogger Anthology head over to The Fine Art of TPK.

You can always count on James Raggi at Lamentations of the Flame Princess to start a good nerdfrontation. In case you're wondering what a nerdfrontation is you can check out my post.

Role Playing Pro has an excellent post on How Roleplaying Video Games Have Affected Tabletop Roleplaying Games.

At Greywulf's Lair, Greywulf chimes in on the recent WOTC GSL update with his post Dungeons & Dragons not Licenses and Lawyers.

Mega-Dungeons everywhere...

First there is the new Dungeon A Day Monte Cook project. Its a paid subscription website mega-dungeon thingy that's in "the old-school tradition", using 3.5e rules.

ChattyDM is also getting geared up for a mega-dungeon of his own using 4e rules.

James Maliszewski of Grognardia is getting ready to mega-dungeon it up as well.

Blogs like Sham's Grog 'n Blog, and Alex Shroeder are also talking about the subject.

But the mega-dungeon project that I am most anticipating is from Oddysey at How to Start a Revolution in 21 Days or Less. Her mega-dungeon idea is pure freakin' genius, just read the post you'll understand.

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Published on 3/04/2009 Written by 0 comments

The Godfather of Gaming

One year ago today we lost the godfather of gaming, Gary Gygax. On this day lets all pause to remember the impact and incredible inspiration his creation has had on our lives and the lives of millions of others all around the world.

Get out those old school books and game.

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Published on 2/28/2009 Written by 5 comments

How I play the game

This is a re posting. I am still too busy to do a real post, but someday soon real life will no longer interfere with my blogging life. I wrote this post originally as my first post for the RPG Bloggers network and then foolishly backdated it by accident, so I'm pretty sure a lot of people haven't read it. The post sums my play style and general philosophy of role playing.

To me, world and campaign building are the meat and potatoes of role playing. I am a homebrewer through and through. I hardly use any published material, as a matter of fact the amount of RPG books that I own can fit neatly on one small shelf. On the other hand the amount of homebrewed material that I have wouldn't fit neatly into a large room. Creating worlds and campaigns is what I do best, and its what I love most about gaming.

I have used many game systems over the years, but I find myself becoming more indifferent to the system with age. I've always found that you can argue the virtues of a game system until the cows come home, but the system isn't worth shit without great adventures, cool campaigns and an awesome world to host them in. You can always change the game system you're playing, but you can't turn off the suck from a terrible campaign. For me play trumps system any day.

I like to build my gaming worlds with as little detail as possible to begin with, usually just a map and jot notes about the overall concept. I like to be able to sum up the entire world in three paragraphs (I've also found three paragraphs to be the maximum mental retention for the average player... I'm being facetious, but only slightly). This allows for evolution during play and gives plenty of freedom for my players to rock out with their characters.

For campaigns I create the meta plot first and just let the players do what they want, working out the details as we go. I have found that allowing my players ambitions in the game to be more important than my own ambitions in the game, always results in an awesome campaign. This doesn't mean that I don't spin a good yarn when we play, it just means that I let them "play" their characters the way they want, and I facilitate their experience in the game world... and sometimes punish their stupidity, which is also quite fun.

My in game play style is what I would call organized improvisation. I prep minimally and leave lots of space for development as we play. I know the world and the campaign, but I don't know where the players will end up over the course of a game session. This might terrify some gamemasters, but I love it. I'm playing the game too, and improvising keeps me on my toes and playing right there with the PC's.

That's how I play the game, what about you?

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Published on 2/22/2009 Written by 5 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, my real life has been busy so of course my blogging life has suffered. I should be back to blogging sometime this week with new posts on a regular basis and a few new features.

This weeks awesome picture comes from the master himself, Frank Frazetta, arguably the best fantasy/science fiction artist of all time. If you are unaware of Franks art, and it is almost unimaginable to me that anyone would be, you NEED to check it out. This is the man who created the archetypal image of conan, and almost every fantasy artist that has followed after him has been influenced by his style.

So without further ado this weeks awesome pic, Dark Kingdom by Frank Frazetta.

All I can say is I want all my characters to look this badass, and be doing whatever it is he is doing.

What do you think?

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Published on 2/11/2009 Written by 2 comments

Top Ten Ways to Know if You’re an Old School Gamer

I am preparing several new posts for the site and they will be up in a few days. In the meantime, just for fun I am re-posting the first post I wrote here at rule of the dice. Just so everyone knows, I am an old school gamer who started with OD&D and I still love a good old school megadungeon from time to time. This is just for fun, if you happen to take offense to it you can go here instead.

The top ten ways to know you're an old school gamer

10. You still think Elves should be a class.

9. You always make at least three characters per session.

8. You have at least one story of someone whose D&D books were burned by overzealous Christian parents.

7. You bought the wilderness survival guide, unfortunately.

6. The only threefold model you understand is this one.

5. You think everyone needs more orc’s in their game.

4. Gnome Illusionists.

3. You don’t understand why everyone hates THAC0.

2. You were there for the release of the original Dark Dungeons Chick Tract.

1. You skip straight to the dungeon.

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Published on 2/05/2009 Written by 2 comments

Conspiracy Theories are Great... For Your Game

If you talk about alien abductions, shape changing pan dimensional beings and the secret cabal of the Illuminati in real life you probably need a psychiatrist. In real life conspiracy theories are ridiculous, but for role playing games they're great. Using conspiracies in a game add depth and a sense of mystery to a campaign.

Imagine playing a modern game where the Illuminati were the sinister group conspiracy theorists believe, and they were really trying to bring about a new world order. Throw in some David Icke pan dimensional reptilians and you have the makings of a great campaign.

Its fairly easy to translate conspiracies to any game world from our own world. Take the DaVinci Code, for example. Every scholar worth their salt knows the Da Vinci Code conspiracy is nonsense, but it does make for an excellent story, as Dan Brown's bank account can surely attest. But the premise is easily translated into a campaign. What if that famous prophet wasn't really what he's claimed to be, and the vast power structure of your worlds religion is based on a lie. Now the PC's have just discovered the scrolls that reveal the truth and are lost in the depths of the conspiracy trying to find their way out. Throw in some pan dimensional reptilians and BAM, adventure gold, trust me you'll understand in 2012.

There are thousands of wacky conspiracy theories out there to plunder for great adventure material. We all want to believe... just don't believe too much.

Do you use conspiracies in your games?

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Published on 2/04/2009 Written by 0 comments

Down and dirty NPC creation

Lets face it most NPC's are fodder for the hero machine. You will be lucky if your players remember your NPC names, let alone the details of their lives and interests. So because of this I find it best to create as little as possible in the beginning and fill in the details as you go. I call this down and dirty NPC creation and its served me well for years.

Before you even start creating an NPC you should first consider these three things:

1. Remember that no one gives a rats ass about your pet NPC's

That's right no one cares that Sir Fightsalot has an awesome back story and all sorts of cool skills and powers. As I said before, you will be lucky if your players remember your NPC name.

2. Speaking of names

Give your NPC's great names. There are many awesome name resources on the internet, so there is no excuse for creating lame ass names (except maybe ignorance). If you want the players to remember your NPC's they have to have great names... or really stupid ones.

3. The best NPC's evolve with the game

Leave room for the NPC to evolve with the game world and in the campaign. If you create everything all at once and the PC's don't care in any way about the NPC, the only thing you have succeeded in creating is wasted time.

Now you've considered the above and categorized the NPC you can start the creation process. I have always found the simple journalistic five W's (and one H) to be the best formula for the initial creation. You don't need much more than a few sentences for each, just enough information for the NPC to make sense.

Who - Who is this dude or dudette and whats their name?

What - What is their motivation and what part do they play in the campaign?

Where - Where are they from?

When - When did or does the NPC become relevant to the campaign?

Why - Why is the NPC relevant to the campaign?

How - How are you going to fit this character into the campaign?

You can expand and detail more as the NPC is used over the course of the game. As for stats, just write a bunch up one day when you're bored and assign them as needed. Thats it, simple down and dirty NPC creation.

How do you create NPC's for your campaigns?

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Published on 2/03/2009 Written by 3 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

This weeks awesome pick of the week is from a warhammer concept drawing. I don't know the name of the artist but its from the wild elves concept art on the Games Workshop site. Warhammer has some of the coolest art in gaming, I might even be so bold as to say they might have the best art in gaming. The art is dark and really portrays a gritty world, and if you've ever played the Warhammer RPG you'll know that the game is very dark and gritty.

So here is the awesome pic of the week:

To me this picture is what a crazy fantasy battle should look like. Wild Elves on horses fighting beastmen, while giants and walking trees look on, its pretty awesome. This would be a great scene to reenact in a game, an awesome epic battle in the forest. It makes me want to play warhammer again.

What ideas come to you when see this pic?

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Published on 2/02/2009 Written by 9 comments

Help me make a magic system that doesn't suck

I have a love/hate relationship with magic systems in role playing games. I haven't had to worry about using a magic system in my last few campaigns because we were playing in a very low magic world. The campaign I am currently working on is going to be a standard fantasy world where magic is relatively prevalent, and this raises the irritating question of what kind of magic system do I want to use.

The game system I'm using is going to be a stripped down d20 (no feats or powers, or 4e generally) with a mingling of old school AD&D thrown in for colour. I would love to have my own game system up and running, but time and wanting to actually play are outweighing that project so it can simmer on the back burner for a while longer.

You might be wondering why I'm not using D&D's magic system, and the answer would be, I fucking hate D&D's magic system, and always have. I might lose old school cred (I don't think I have any anyways) for that statement, but who cares. D&D's magic system will not fit what I'm looking for, and unfortunately I don't think anything will. I need a completely original system, and that's where you come in.

I need help designing a magic system, obviously. If you have any cool or insightful ideas I would love to read them. If you help me I can offer lots of gratitude and praise, but not much else. But you will have the satisfaction of knowing that a fellow GM thinks your idea is awesome and is going to use it in his game.

I have four criteria that I want the magic system to meet:

1. The magic must make sense.
I know this sounds silly, it is magic after all, but knowing how magic works and why is very important. Who can use magic, and what is its relationship to the world and the worlds physics etc... these all have to make sense and be translatable into game terms.

2. Magic has to be more than just spells.
What is the philosophy of magic and why is it used. I don't want a magic system that is only a series of progressive spells and nothing more, it has to be more meaningful than that.

3. Magic is magic.
Magic is undifferentiated. Priest, wizards, shaman and everyone else have access to the same powers, but for different reasons.

4. Magic has to be awesome.
That's all, it just has to be awesome.

If you want to help me out leave a comment. Please help me by doing my work for me... seriously, I will think you're awesome forever.

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Published on 1/31/2009 Written by 6 comments

Awesome Worlds and Kick Ass Campaigns 1

Awesome worlds and kick ass campaigns is a weekly post on creating... well, awesome worlds and kick ass campaigns. For my first installment I am going to talk a bit about preparing to create a campaign world. Anyone who has ever been through this process will understand the points that I'm making here, but if you've never embarked on a homebrewing adventure I hope this advice helps.

Four things to consider before you start your kick ass campaign.

1. Pick your genre well because you’re stuck with it.

This might seem obvious, but I know everyone has made the mistake of playing something they weren’t into and the campaign suffered because of it. You can avoid this one by getting together with your players and discussing what kind of game everyone wants to play.

2. Know thy game system.

Once you have your genre decided be sure that the game system fits the genre. D&D is fine for heroic fantasy but it doesn't work well in a gritty real world medieval game, without a lot of modification. I know, I have made the opposite mistake and used a “realistic” game system (Harnmaster) for a heroic campaign… and everyone died. So know thy game system.

3. Good ideas are always better than good intentions.

You might have all the best intentions, and want to create the best campaign ever but without a good idea it isn't happening. I have done this many times. I get my players together, I say we're gonna play a campaign really soon, and then I can't think of a good idea and everything falls flat.

4. Never underestimate your own laziness.

Most campaigns fail to be fully developed not because they’re bad ideas but because the GM got lazy. If you don’t think you can make it all the way down this road its probably best to get on another road, written by someone else. I have entire binders filled with half created worlds that I just got too lazy to finish. Maybe I’ll combine them one day into a super awesome world that is completely perfect… I want a sandwich… maybe I’ll re-watch Firefly tonight… I really like cookies… what was I thinking about. Anyways, you get the picture.

I am pretty sure most seasoned GM’s already know these things, but it never hurts to be reminded. I hope that new GM’s will take these ideas into consideration before they start down the long road towards building a campaign world.

(Because I back dated my last post by accident I would like to say hi to everyone on the RPG Bloggers Network again, thanks for letting me join the fold.)

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Published on 1/29/2009 Written by 0 comments

How I play the game

I'm very happy to have been accepted into the esteemed company at the RPG Bloggers network. I figured for my first post on the network I would talk about what I love about this hobby, and how I design and play a game. I think this is a nice way to introduce myself to the community and give everyone a little background on my experience with role playing games.

To me, world and campaign building are the meat and potatoes of role playing. I am a homebrewer through and through. I hardly use any published material, as a matter of fact the amount of RPG books that I own can fit neatly on one small shelf. On the other hand the amount of homebrewed material that I have wouldn't fit neatly into a large room. Creating worlds and campaigns is what I do best, and its what I love most about gaming.

I have used many game systems over the years, but I find myself becoming more indifferent to the system with age. I've always found that you can argue the virtues of a game system until the cows come home, but the system isn't worth shit without great adventures, cool campaigns and an awesome world to host them in. You can always change the game system you're playing, but you can't turn off the suck from a terrible campaign. For me play trumps system any day.

I like to build my gaming worlds with as little detail as possible to begin with, usually just a map and jot notes about the overall concept. I like to be able to sum up the entire world in three paragraphs (I've also found three paragraphs to be the maximum mental retention for the average player... I'm being facetious, but only slightly). This allows for evolution during play and gives plenty of freedom for my players to rock out with their characters.

For campaigns I create the meta plot first and just let the players do what they want, working out the details as we go. I have found that allowing my players ambitions in the game to be more important than my own ambitions in the game, always results in an awesome campaign. This doesn't mean that I don't spin a good yarn when we play, it just means that I let them "play" their characters the way they want, and I facilitate their experience in the game world... and sometimes punish their stupidity, which is also quite fun.

My in game play style is what I would call organized improvisation. I prep minimally and leave lots of space for development as we play. I know the world and the campaign, but I don't know where the players will end up over the course of a game session. This might terrify some gamemasters, but I love it. I'm playing the game too, and improvising keeps me on my toes and playing right there with the PC's.

That's how I play the game, what about you?

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Published on 1/24/2009 Written by 1 comment

Best Wizard Fight Ever

So my girlfriend has really been getting into Harry Potter recently. I am not a big fan of the books but I think my twelve year old self would love them, and J.K Rowlings is a very good writer. So over the course of her reading the books we've been watching the movies together. I did think the movies were boring until I saw Order of the Phoenix, and more precisely, until I saw the best, most kick ass wizard fight ever in order of the phoenix.

Most wizard fights suck. No one thinks Saruman spinning Gandalf around in a circle is cool, its lame, as a matter of fact most magic in movies is lame. But holy shit the wizard fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix is kick ass. It has everything that I want in a wizard battle, fireballs, fire serpents, water globes, spells flying that I can't even describe, and Voldemort is one scary ass mofo.

I want the magic in my games to look and feel like that movie scene. Even if you don't like Harry Potter, watch the end of Order of the Phoenix and let this amazing wizard duel blow your mind and inspire you for a game.

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Published on 1/24/2009 Written by 0 comments

Exploring the RPG Bloglands

I was out and about the RPG blogs this week and found these treasures, after killing the monsters guarding them and taking their stuff, of course.

Killer GM or Selfish GM - This post comes from the always awesome Gnome Stew and asks the question: Are you runnig the game you wish you were playing?. Are you?

How much campaign do plan before you start? - This is a post by Johnn Four of role playing tips/Campaign Mastery on gauging your preparedness level when you start a new campaign. Its fun to think about, and insightful if you've never bothered to think about it before.

DM's Toolbox: Patrons - This post comes from John Lewis at RoleplayingPro. It is an excellent article on the use of patrons (very powerful npc's) in a campaign world.

Not the revolution I signed on for - This post comes from Jeff's Gameblog and is about the Old School Renaissance project and the controversy regarding the possiblity of a comittee being formed to judge the "real old school" from the "poser old school". This post won't be of much interest if you're not into old school gaming, but if you are its worth the read.

F.G.F#2: Conan the Barbarian 1982
- This posts comes from Tankards & Broadswords, and because it involves Conan it is awesome. The post also has cool ideas on themes for RPG's lifted from the movie.

Those are my favorites for this week, what about you?

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Published on 1/24/2009 Written by 0 comments

New Campaign = Awesome

I haven't been posting much over the last while because I have been working on a campaign, which I feel is a pretty good excuse. It turns out that I am going to be running two campaigns, a solo campaign and newbies campaign. I've decided to keep the campaigns separate because I know the newbies are going to need some coaching and I don't want it to slow down play for the other player who is experienced. I plan to merge the two campaigns at some point when the newbies learn the ropes.

Now I need some advice. I haven't had a lot of experience coaching new players, most of the people I've played with over the years are experienced gamers. What do you think is the best way to get new players immersed in the game and used to the rules?

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Published on 1/23/2009 Written by 9 comments

Gamemastering WTF Situations

Every gamemaster has had a WTF situation while playing a game. A WTF situation happens when players do something so absurd, ridiculous or unexpected that you have to sit back and go, "WTF... really you wanna do that... really." Sometimes a WTF situation is funny, sometimes its stupid, sometimes disastrous, but it is always guaranteed to be good story afterward.

I've had several WTF situations while GMing, but one WTF moment always sticks out in my mind.

The players had all just been captured and imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit and were facing possible execution in the morning. They knew they had to escape. They were each locked in single cells, the mage was bound and gaged so spells were out of the question, it was up to the thief and the fighter to come up with ideas. Now I had prepared several possible avenues for their escape, but I never expected in any way the route they, and by they, I mean the thief would go down.

They discussed several ways to escape. It was exciting, they were brainstorming a lot of cool ideas, when suddenly the thief asks "is there a chamber pot in here?". I was somewhat taken aback by the question but thought maybe he had a new idea, so I said "yeah, its in the corner." He said "great, I'm gonna go over and have a big dump right now."

Now I'm used to having my players do weird things with their characters from time to time, but I never expected one of them to have their PC have a big dump in the middle of a tense planning session. At this point all eyes were on the thief, not literally, we're not into that kinda thing, but we were all curious to know what the hell he was thinking. I really didn't know what to say, so I waited.

"Is my character done shitting now?" He said.

Trying to play the part of the impartial gamemaster, I said "sure... I guess that counts... as an action for this round."

"Awesome, is that guard still patroling the cells down here?." He asked.

"He is, but he isn't here right now." I said

"Good", said the player "my character is gonna pick up his dump from the chamber pot and wait for the guard to return."

It was at this point that I asked my player, "So... whatcha doin'?... just curious is all."

"When the guard gets back I'm gonna chuck this shit in his face." He said, quite confidently.

I looked at him, and said "Oh... I see... why?"

With a very serious tone, that suggested a great deal of thought, he said "Because, I figure if someone threw a big shit in my face while I was doin' guard duty, I would bust in his cell and smash that fuckers head. Now you see, when he gets pissed and comes to kick my ass, I can take him down, get the keys, and we're all out of here."

"you do know you're a thief right, and that he's a fully armed and armoured warrior." I said.

"Yeah but if the fighter did it he probably wouldn't go into his cell and kick his ass, he's too strong looking. But me, I look like a weak ass girl."He said.

"If this happens that way, you may very well get killed." I said.

"that's a risk I'm willing to take." He said.

Now faced with some strange rules improvising, like what skill does shit hurling fall under, I tried to figure out what might happen. I could see that there was some logic to what the thief was doing, so I figured I would give him a 25% chance to accurately throw his dump. I then figured that the guard, if hit, would have a 15% chance of freaking out and laying the beats on the thief.

It was dead quiet at the table, when the thief readied his "weapon" for hurling.

"The guard is back, what do you want to do?" I said.

The thief's player looked around the table, paused a second, and said "Its on, I didn't have this dump for nothing."

... and he rolled, and I'll be a son of a balrog he freakin' succeeded.
... and I rolled, and no word of a lie it was 5%, the guard freaked and burst in to kick his ass in his cell.

The combat that followed was brutal, and yes the thief did use the chamber pot as a weapon. After several rounds the thief finally managed to get the upper hand, and after nearly dying himself, finally won the battle. The thief quickly gathered the keys, released the others and they escaped. This was one of the only combats I've witnessed where the players who weren't involved enjoyed it as much as the one involved.

And the moral of the story, when those WTF situations happen in a game, let them. Let them happen, even if they are absurd or ridiculous, because they do make for great stories later.

What are some of the WTF situations you've had while gamemastering?

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Published on 1/20/2009 Written by 0 comments

Congratulations America

Congratulations America, you have elected yourselves a pretty awesome gamemaster.

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Published on 1/17/2009 Written by 5 comments

What's your class baby?

I thought it might be funny to take the various schools of RPG thought and assign them a D&D class, and then determine what class (or multi class) I would be. I'm going to use the four standard classes, fighter, thief, cleric and magic user, but with a little imagination I'm sure something could be figured out for other classes as well.

Old School/The Fighter - The old school grumbling Grognard, heavily armoured, hard to kill and always ready for combat. This group is by far the hardiest of the RPG schools having weathered many storms and seen many battles. But even after many campaigns the old soldier keeps on playing... OD&D.

New School/The Thief - The new school of RPG's "borrow" liberally from their predecessors, but like any good thief deny that they did, or were even there, or were even in the city at time that that happened... I don't know a Gary Gygax, never met him, never... OK...I stole your twenty sided, but you can keep THAC0, no one will buy that shit anymore.

The Indie/The Cleric - The Indie's are the preachers of the RPG world. Always pontificating about the superior quality and clarity of vision in their chosen games and the relative lameness of your "mainstream"and "generic" game. The more obscure the game the more fanatical the devotion... thats a lot like a...cult. YOU WILL CONVERT.

The Theorist/The Magic User - The mage uses his powers to deliberately mystify and confuse his opponents much like the theorist uses his post modern take on RPG's to mystify and confuse... well everybody not on the forge.

So after careful thought it turns out I'm a multi classed fighter/thief. I love the old school and still play "outdated" games but I also like some of the improvements in the new school RPG's, and a multi classed fighter/thief is actually my favorite class.

So, what class are you?

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Published on 1/16/2009 Written by 2 comments

Play me a Solo

So I think my next campaign is going to be a solo campaign. I have GMed one other solo campaign and it was one of the best games I've ever run. I don't lack players, but I do lack players I want to play with. If that makes me an elitist asshole well so be it, I will take one great player over ten mediocre ones any day.

I want an involved and evolving game in a non-linear sandbox setting. I guess this could be done with a group but I'm pretty sure it would much harder to maintain consistency. I already have the world developed (pretty much anyways) and just plan to let my player run wild. I expect a lot of improvisation, which is something I excel at, and I expect my player will riff along with me into some pretty awesome new territory.

I think I am going to use heavily modified AD&D 1e with some world specific races and classes. The magic system is always my Achilles heal because, unlike a lot of older gamers, I hate the Vancian style of magic and D&D's magic system in general. So I am going to have to come up with something I like.

If anyone out there has any ideas for me feel free to comment, I am open to any suggestions.

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Published on 1/13/2009 Written by 0 comments

Blogs I like and you should too

I am going to be doing a weekly post on blogs I think every role player should read. I am going to try to cover at least six links a week with a small write up about the content of the blog.

For week one Here is a list of several role playing blogs that I read on an almost daily basis.

1. Gnome Stew - This blog is exclusive to gamemastering and has several great posts. If you need some good advice on how to run a game this is the place to go.

2. The RPG Bloggers network - This place is great, there are hundreds of awesome blogs that can be found here. I can spend (waste) an entire day just checking out all the sites available. At some point I will put in an application to join the network when I have a little more material on Rule of the Dice.

3. Musings of the Chatty DM - What can I say, Chatty has a bit of everything. He is one of the most prolific bloggers in the RPG community, if your looking for something RPG related chances are he's wrote about it.

4. Jeff's Gameblog - Old school gaming goodness of all types can be found here. I particularly love this post.

5. Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG - Yet another old school game blog. Lots of awesome insight into old school gaming can be found here, and this post on adventure writing is one of the best I've ever read.

6. Dungeon Mastering - Now that I've put up a couple of old school links I figure I should balance it with some new school stuff. Dungeon Mastering deals pretty much exclusively with the newest versions of D&D. But Yax still has some good general advice for the non D&D crowd like this post on NPC's.

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Published on 1/12/2009 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

Here is this weeks pic:

What can I say, who doesn't want a city set high in the mountains in their game. Maybe this is a city that was built as a gift to humans by some dwarves in a previous age. Maybe a group of immortals live here and waste their days in decadence and despair. Or maybe this is a lost city, whose builders have long faded into the obscurity of a forgotten past.

Whatever this place is it looks like a damn good setting for a lot of cool and original ideas. I can already see some type of dragon siege happening here, that would be pretty intense. I can also see airships and all types of winged creatures that are used for transportation.

That's just a few ideas, what do you think?

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Published on 1/12/2009 Written by 0 comments

My RPG New Years Resolutions - Better Late Than Never

Well here are my RPG new years resolutions, better late than never:

1. I will work on my blog Rule of the Dice. I have wanted to write this blog for nearly two years and have putting it off again and again. I am going to do my best to write at least one post a day.

2. I will be more active in RPG community. I have been reading RPG blogs and forums for years and have never really bothered to get involved in the online community. So I'm going to do my best to comment on blogs and forums and try to let the community know I exist and that I think that the role playing community rocks.

3. I am going to finally design a game sytem that I want to play. I have been putting this off for a long time and I really want to do it, and with the game system I am going to create a kick ass mofo of a campaign world.

4. Last, but most importantly, I am going to game the hell out of 2009. I have players, I have ideas and I ain't got no more lazy ass excuses not to.

Cheers and good gaming in 2009. May all your campaigns be awesome and the polyhedral dice gods smile on your skill checks.

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Published on 1/11/2009 Written by 0 comments

What's in a name...

I was reading a post at Greywulf's Lair today about a character that he badly named in a classic D&D game and it got me thinking about names in RPG's. What is a "good" name for a character or a place in a campaign world is a matter of taste and style but I've found that following a few simple guidelines produces much better and more memorable names.

1. Keep it simple - The more complex or strange a name is the less chance the players are going to remember it. If you keep the name simple you can avoid a lot of things like, "GM: Zardarakstinera is a great city state in the eastern isles... Players: I guess we'll go to that Zardar place..."
2. Give the name a context - Relate the name of a place to some relevant event or person and give character names a backstory. By creating names that have a story it is easier to remember and makes the place or person more interesting.
3. Don't use cliche or famous names - This one should be self evident. There is only one Aragorn and sorry Drizz't is and always will be a stupid name.

Now I'm gonna travel to Zardarakstinera and meet up with Voldemort Constantine, talk to you later.

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Published on 1/10/2009 Written by 5 comments

So ya wanna fix the system eh…

I am almost always disappointed with the mechanics of an RPG system at some point, but I never bother to do much about it. I’ll make house rules, modify a few things but its really just a band-aid solution. So I’m going to do something about that and create my own damn game system.

You’re probably thinking why do that there are countless games out there just look and find one you like. Well the problem with that is that the big games (D&D, White Wolf etc…) while balanced and play tested are tedious after a while, and the indie games, much like indie rock, are 90% pretentious garbage and 10% brilliance, and in the time it would take to wade through the trash I could just make my own.
I want to capture the spirit of the old school games but not necessarily make an old school game. I am not sure what the exact model for the system will be yet but I will try to steal from the best sources. I am not interested in creating something “original” I am interested in creating something that is fun and easy to play. I have had my fill of the d20 mechanic for now so I think I might move to the mighty d100 and make my game a percentile based system.

I have always liked the simplicity of the percentage. Your character is X% good at sword fighting is a lot easier to explain than you take a d20 add a bunch of modifiers, or minus them and try to beat a difficulty levels. I also want the system to be skill based and have limited powers associated with the classes/professions as they increase in level. This might limit choices to a slight degree but it will increase ease of play and make for more fun and less irritation.

Well thats some basic ideas. I will post my progress as it comes along, and if anyone has advice or wants to help let me know.

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Published on 1/08/2009 Written by 3 comments

Old School Gaming

I have been reading a lot about old school gaming recently. Maybe its because the Godfather of Gaming passed away, or maybe us older gamers are longing for the days of our youth and pining over our favorite long faded campaigns. Whatever it is there seems to be a marked upswing in the old school gaming racket. This got me thinking, what does old school gaming mean to me?

My old school gaming was dungeons & dragons, killing orcs and bad storylines that involved killing more orcs. None of the crew that I played with knew what the hell we were doing, but holy shit did we ever love playing. Our games were a hodgepodge of convoluted rules placed in campaign settings that resembled Heavy Metal magazine a lot more than the Forgotten Realms. But it worked somehow, it always worked. It worked not because of the rules or campaign setting, it worked because of the spirit of adventure. We all had a spirit of interdependent creativity, we were in it together and everyone created something. If a rule didn’t make sense we made one that did, if we thought Dragon with lasers might be cool it got added to the campaign and if we needed an adventure someone always stepped up with a cool idea. It was a great time to game even if a few of us got the nasty end of a Pulling panic.

I would compare old school gaming to classic metal, balls out crazy riffs and fucking awesome solos. When its good, its Sabbath or Zeppelin, but if its bad, its Stryper (and for all you music nerds out there who don't like this analogy, I just want you to know I don't care about your opinion... at all.). While I think the new school of role playing is a lot more like Nu metal, its cleaner and the production value is really good, but somethings missing. No amount of rules streamlining, emo character backgrounds or gaming theory makes up for pure unadulterated heroic adventure. If I can't play a fucking hero who does heroic things in a fucking heroic world I don't want to play in your game. If I want realism I'll just go to work.

So to me old school gaming is all about that spirit of adventure. I want to feel like I've been through some awesome shit at the end of a session, whether I'm playing or GMing. I want everyone involved to feel like their characters are the badassingist badass badasses in the badassiverse. If I can accomplish this I've done my job and I can have the good graces of the role playing gods.

I am glad that old school game blogs like Jeff's Gameblog, LoFP RPG, Grognardia and many others that I am too lazy to name right now exist in the vast wastes of the blogosphere. These guys reminded me that old school gaming isn't dead its alive and well, and could well be taking over. Keep up the good gaming and Viva La RevoluciĆ³n.

What does old school gaming mean to you?

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Published on 1/07/2009 Written by 2 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

I have always found that looking at good art, or sometimes bad, will inspire some great ideas for GMing in my old dusty brain. I have thousands of pictures that I have collected from the internet for this purpose and whenever I need a bit of inspiration I dive into my pictures folder and soon the beginnings of an idea start.

I am going to do a series and showcase a new awesome picture every week with a few ideas that are inspired from the artwork.

The first piece I am going to showcase comes from the website InterArtCenter.com. I unfortunately don't recall the artists name but search around the site and you'll find who it is. This site is pretty awesome they have quite a few cool pictures that I have pinched for later perusal.

Well without further ado here is this weeks pic:
When I look at this I imagine all sorts of cool shit. To me this would be an abandoned hermitage for an obscure cult of ascetics. They were all killed somehow and now the whole place is filled with undead. But there is rumour of an artifact that the monks guarded and now the PC's have to get it before the undead... but maybe its the cause of the undead blight?

I just imagine crazy fights on rickety bridges and a great combination of dungeon and exterior environments for all sorts of kick ass adventure.

Well that's my take, what do you think?
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Published on 1/06/2009 Written by 0 comments

How to awesome up your players characters

I expect my players to create characters that they think are completely awesome, and it is my job as a GM to facilitate the awesome within the context of my campaign. Repeat this many times, let it be your mantra and your players will love you forever.
Everyone wants a unique and cool character to play. Whats the point in playing someone who is mediocre, if we wanted that we would play Administrators & Secretaries not Dungeons & Dragons. Heroic characters doing heroic things in a heroic world filled with heroic adventure is what we all want and it is your job as the GM to deliver it.

Here are four suggestions for players and GM’s to awesome up a player character.
1. Delete unawesome elements - If the game you play has boring, useless, fluffy or irritating character classes or races, get rid of them before you start playing. This way no one will feel either compelled (the super role-player type) or obliged (the “balance the party type”) to play them. Now this is different from group to group, but as the GM you should know what your group likes and dislikes.
2. Add awesome elements without remorse - Make every race and class compelling. As GM Sit back and ask yourself, would I play a ? and have an awesome time. When the answer is yes to every one of them you are done.
3. Back story, back story, back story - Nothing exists in a vacuum. Your players need to create their characters history and what motivates them and why. I know some players hate this (munchkins, power gamers I’m lookin’ at ya) but without a back story a character is just stats. You don’t need to write a novel a paragraph will do and it will make a world of difference for playing. It is your job as GM to create or inform your players of all the interesting elements of the campaign world so they can have a good back story.
4. Make sure the character has character - This is something I will do an entire post on soon, but simply put a character without character is two dimensional and boring. Give your character some unique and interesting traits. Maybe he has an accent, maybe he walks with a limp or carries the picture of a lost loved one. All of these things give him character and set him apart from other characters. Make it unique, we are all sick of loner mages in dark robes that sit in corners.
I’m sure there are plenty of other good ideas out there. How do you awesome up your players characters?
This post was in some part inspired by a post on Jeff’s Gameblog called “How to awesome up your players”, thanks Jeff.

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