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Showing posts with the label GM

That's Ammo-ray(gun)!

Being a fan of obscure holidays, they tend to serve as inspiration for my games from time to time. This time around, it's National Archery Day which has been celebrated on the second Saturday of May since 2015. I wouldn’t want to shaft this particular holiday, so in this post we'll take aim at an aspect of gaming that can sometimes get ignored: ammo. If you’re going to be playing a tabletop game involving combat, there's a good chance it will feature some sort of ranged weaponry. In a fantasy setting, this will likely take the form of longbows, crossbows, and slings (and perhaps even the occasional flintlock), along with their respective ammunitions: arrows, bolts, and bullets (or "ball" if you're a Flintlock Aficionado). Of course, you might have thrown weapons such as spears, axes, and knives, as well. A more modern setting might use grenades and any number of guns with a variety of projectile types. Something in a sci-fi or futuristic genre will probably

Hooked with a Feeling: Reaching Prospective Players through Media

“Oh man, it was so cool when…” We’ve all heard it from our friends and the people around us when talking about the media they’re engaging with, whether it be movies, books, TV, comics... you name it. For those of us who run tabletop games, words like these tend to get our GM-senses tingling. But how do you go about “making the pitch” to get them interested in joining your game? How can you take the things you know people like and build interest through them, even if your game isn’t officially attached to that media property? After all, “I heard you like explosions…” only tends to work on other GMs! - B   A: You'll probably find that there's a decent system for whatever media you overhear someone showing an interest or appreciation in. Spy movies, action flicks, fantasy shows, space operas... they all have their own systems, sometimes multiple, and often even attached to the specific property they’re interested in. It won't necessarily be what you want to run a game in, tho

It's Dangerous to Go Alone... Take These.

Close to the start of the pandemic, we talked a little bit about playing RPGs alone . However, we all know that TTRPGs tend to be a team sport. It doesn’t matter if you like to meet in person, or at a virtual tabletop, this is typically a game played with friends. Where do you start though? If you’re a newcomer to the hobby, either as a player or someone interested in running games, the number of options can be overwhelming. What game do you start with? Who should you play it with and how do you find them? Do you need your own dice? What are you not even thinking of? Help! Hopefully we can answer a few of these questions and put you at ease, even if you’re only hopping out of your current familiar game genre and into a new one. So here are our tips for those of you just starting out, and for you veterans of the table who are trying something new.  - A A: Whatever your reason, you’ve decided to try your hand at a tabletop role playing game. Maybe you have a story you’re interested in te

Whose Labyrinthine Maze is This, Anyway: Dungeon Design and Cultural History

Dungeon . The word with significant historical connotations and some modern ones we won’t get into here, but to enthusiasts of tabletop roleplaying, it means something very specific: it’s ⅓ of the name of the most successful and influential RPG of all time, after all. (We’ll discuss the significance of the “&” another time. (and maybe the other D too - A) ) Early D&D materials refer to “the underworld mazes” (note the preposition, dungeons are considered a default part of the setting), and offer some advice on making them (somewhat) plausible, but never directly consider the societies that built them. While many pre-published adventures do include some information describing long-gone inhabitants, incorporating this kind of detail into original worlds can help create a detailed, rich setting. This week, we thought we’d talk about how to make dungeons and other ruins feel like places that lost peoples made and lived in, and how to share these details in your play sessions. - B  

Open Discussion: Conversations with NPCs

It doesn’t matter if your games are at a tabletop or one in the digital realms of consoles and PCs, at some point in your role playing adventures you'll wind up interacting with a Non-Player Character. Unless you’ve a really weird game going on, you’re probably dealing with multiple NPCs regularly.  Non-Player Characters are the denizens of our imaginary worlds that bring them to bustling life. Even the most mundane outline of a person rounds out the settings we create in ways we don’t often consider. As the blog has discussed before, a lot of storytelling can come from the environment , but we shouldn’t neglect the people that dwell within the places we present and play in. Non-Player Characters are our vendors, our adversaries, our allies, our victims and our quest givers. At times they may just be part of the background, but without them our roleplaying games simply wouldn’t work. Interactions with NPCs can range anywhere from a brief visual description to a full-out member of y

Workin' d8+1 to d4+1

“Get a job!” It's a refrain we're always hearing, as well as the title of a doo-wop classic , but, as that song and anyone who has tried to join the workforce can tell you it’s rarely that easy . Tabletop roleplaying games, on the other hand, offer the freedom to give your characters any employment history you can think of (within the bounds of the setting and their character build), whether it’s the thing they did before answering the call of adventure, or what they’re still doing between your game sessions. This week, we’re going to talk about the ways characters’ former (or current) jobs can flesh out their background and present new roleplaying opportunities, no matter which side of the GM screen they're on. - B B: Of course, I start with the disclaimer that, in the game I run most ( Paranoia XP/25th Anniversary ), job assignment is part of the character creation process. Being Paranoia , of course, the player gets no say in this - it’s purely according to random chanc

A Little Action on the Side

Something that has become ubiquitous in digital roleplaying games, and even video games in general,  is the side quest. In previous New Years Resolution posts, I’ve mentioned skipping side quests (specifically in Breath of the Wild and Marvel's Spider-Man ) in order to complete the main game. After all, at worst, they're something that's easy to ignore. That doesn’t mean we should be ignoring them though - I’ve really only been doing it because of time constraints. Sure, the main story is what moves the game narrative along, but the side quest is where a lot of the gameplay is. That's where your character makes their money, gains experience and powers, learns about the world, and maybe even gets some clues about the main plot. At the very least, side quests add to the world making it feel more vibrant and real - the sort of useful and enjoyable context that we like to see in our stories. This is something that I’ve neglected in the past, and maybe you have as well. W

A Gaming Carol

Preface: We have endeavored in this Ghostly little post, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put our readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with us. May it haunt their tables and consoles pleasantly, and no one wish to slay it. Their faithful Friends and Servants, N. S. D.   B : Despite my painstaking labors in the study of chronomancy, the holiday season is again upon us, and, along with it, its attendant gremlins of stress, confusion, violent clashing over textual interpretations at both household and societal levels, and beverages that should, by no means, be alcoholic, but have nevertheless been made so. Luckily, these are all things we, as gamers, are quite used to dealing with. One story, though, seems to withstand cultural shifts, keeping its basic moral and message intact and universal through adaptation after adaptation, even in an era when media is quite comfortable preaching its exact opposite: Charles Dickens’ “Ghost Story of C

Twenty Years of Fellowship

"In the land of New Zealand, in the fires of an editing room, the Dark Lord Jackson forged in secret a master movie, to control all others...." Twenty years ago this weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring premiered in US cinemas, forever changing how the fantasy genre is seen in the public consciousness, the way movies are made and presented, and, yes, the games we play and the expectations of those who play them. As nerds who were reading, watching, and playing fantasy stories both before and after the momentous impact of Fellowship, we thought we’d take this opportunity to discuss the movie and the effects it’s had on the things we love. - B A: The release of Fellowship was quite the event. In a time when motion capture and the internet still seemed new, somehow everyone knew about and was excited for this movie. Fellowship , and to a certain extent the opening of the Harry Potter film series, marked the beginning of an era. Prior to the popularity of ep