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World Building 101 – Rated M for Mature Content

posted Thursday, July 29th 2010 by Brandan Landgraff
Dungeon Mastering Advice

As with movies, video games, and books, RPG campaigns can have different levels of “objectionable” content. Different players are comfortable with varying amounts of descriptions of violence, gore, sexual themes, or anything else that might get a movie rated R. Determining what your campaign’s “rating” will be before you begin is a good idea, for you and your players, to ensure that nobody finds partway through that their comfort levels are being exceeded.

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World Building 101 – CHOO CHOO

posted Friday, July 23rd 2010 by Brandan Landgraff
Dungeon Mastering Advice

Preparation is among the most valuable tools at the disposal of a good dungeon master. It can help at every level of the game—encounters, both random and planned, quick reference to NPCs, pivotal plot points, and overall cohesion. There are times, though, when it is possible to over prepare, to the point where it can become an active detriment to your game.

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Excellent D&D Blogs

posted Thursday, July 22nd 2010 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & Culture

There are a lot of RPG blogs on the Internet, but two in particular stand out, in my opinion.

Kobold Quarterly is a Dragon-style magazine with a website full of new content. KQ frequently publishes articles to its website when there isn’t enough room in the print edition.

The latest interesting article at KQ is I Was a Gen Con Spy For TSR, an article from a TSR employee who was employed to spy on Gary Gygax at Gencon.

Critical Hits is one of the longest-running major D&D blogs. It has acquired some very well-known writers in the past year, including former WotC employee Chris Sims and Chatty DM from Musings of the Chatty DM. Just yesterday they acquired Logan Bonner, a recent WotC layoff who worked on D&D 4th edition.

Critical Hits recently posted an insightful article titled A DM’s Look at D&D Essentials, and Chris Sims’ 4E related Minions Are Spice.

Wheel of Morale-ity, Turn Turn Turn

posted Wednesday, July 21st 2010 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & Culture

Jeff Rients on why morale rules are important:

“I probably don’t need to tell you how big a difference that simple rule can make in play. Far fewer fights are to the death. Smart PCs will boldy strike large groups of scaredy-cats, alpha-striking one poor bastard in hopes of spooking the rest. And since 1gp = 1xp, you still get most of your experience even if the DM is a stingy bastard who holds back points on routed (as opposed to killed) foes.”
Jeff Rients, more morale, please

World Building 101 – Random Encounters and You

posted Thursday, July 15th 2010 by Brandan Landgraff
Dungeon Mastering Advice

Random encounters are a time-honored tradition in RPGs. When a party of adventurers goes gallivanting across the countryside, or through a stretch of otherwise empty dungeon, or wandering aimlessly through a city, one way for the DM to keep the game from becoming a rather bland travelogue is to throw in random encounters. At the same time, this idea can be difficult for a DM who prefers to be more carefully prepared for his or her game sessions, with combat encounters typically being more carefully planned set-pieces—random encounters don’t always fit into their world view. Today we will discuss a secret that will help you make more memorable random encounters if you already use them, or may help convince you to start, if you don’t.

Some encounters are more random than others. To put it more clearly, random need not be synonymous with unplanned.

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World Building 101: Using Another World

posted Thursday, July 8th 2010 by Brandan Landgraff
Dungeon Mastering Advice

We live in a culture that is rich in media. Novels, comic books, movies, video games, television shows, and more—it is a constant stream of entertainment for those who want it. There may be times when your group wants to roleplay in an established universe—to explore the same worlds that the heroes of your favourite novels or movies have their adventures in. Sometimes, others have had the same idea and have adapted a system (or created one) to allow just that. Other times it will be left to you to do this work—or it may be that you like the setting but not the system associated with it. Alternately, perhaps you have a favourite adventure that was written for a system other than the one you play in.

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World Building 101: Holy Days, Feasts, Festivals, and Other Excuses to Party Hard

posted Thursday, July 1st 2010 by Brandan Landgraff
Dungeon Mastering Advice

Creating a calendar for your campaign world is simple enough, and lets you track the passage of time in your game, following things like the phases of the moons or the passage of seasons, as well as adding a good deal of flavor through the names of days and months. To really flesh out a calendar, though, you need to create a variety of holy days, feasts, and festivals celebrated by the people in your campaign world. These can provide plenty of color to your setting, as well as potential plot hooks or interesting backdrops against which to set a session.

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