Showing posts from January, 2009

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 mod…

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…

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…

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…

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?

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 escap…

Congratulations America

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

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 b…

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 s…

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 s…

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?

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…

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. Ther…

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 …

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 …

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 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.…

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 …