RPG Blog

Working On Publishing My Homebrew World For Tabletop RPG's Part 1

It is no secret that for a couple years now I have been working on my homebrew world to eventually publish. I have multiple projects started for various regions that include factions, NPC's, monsters, magic items, and dieties started. When I am inspired I add more to the various projects.

I've planned on...

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Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Is Here To Stay

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition since the play test. I've loved almost every aspect of the system and how they implemented new options. By doing the play testing in the Unearthed Arcana articles it is just wetting our appetites as fans of the game. Plus the fact they aren't releasing tons of books at an alarming rate it making it more digestible. The one concern I do have though is the open gaming license and DM's Guild seems to be over saturating the 3rd party market. Ultimately though Wizards of the Coast is doing things right.

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The Rifts Setting and What I Love About It

It would be easy to say that I love it because you can run any game in Rifts that you can imagine. This is true but that is not why I love this setting. You will hear people say that the setting is gonzo and over the top but it doesn't have to be. The story is what you and your play group make it out to be. It can be as balanced as you want by restricting some of the more extreme OCC's at either end of the power scale. None of this is what I love about the setting though. The thing that I truly love about the setting is the Coalition!

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Planning for a Healthier Game Night

Found out recently I have Type 2 Diabetes. This has me thinking a lot about what I need to do to get back on the right track. One of the things is eating better and focusing on portion control. Game nights can lead to indulging in chips, pop, candy, and more.

One of the things that I have always done is killed a 2 Liter of Mountain Dew. Drinking something other than pop while others have it may be difficult for me. Sure I can drink water and that is what I will need to do but what are some healthy alternatives? Well I was thinking that I could make some fruit smoothies for myself or ask people to bring things for fruit smoothies. I could also do some juicing.

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Returning From Hiatus of Six Months

It has been a very busy past 6 months. I have changed jobs multiple times to end up where I am now. Where I am now is where I have wanted to be for a very long time. Around September things really began to come together for me. Was offered a job in management at a company I once worked for in the city I wanted to be in. You may be curious what this has to do with RPG's. The new job, house, and location will help me take my RPG hobby to the next level.

Working in management keeps me busy. Currently working a lot of hours but the job has helped provide 2 gaming groups for me. I wasn't even in my new house yet and people were asking to come over and play D&D Fifth Edition. We played 1 session with a couples group and it was great. I think both groups are going to be a lot of fun.

When we bought our new house I knew it was perfect for gaming. I have a craft room in the basement which I need to set up still. It will be perfect for painting miniatures and terrain. The basement is completely finished and even has a bathroom about 8 feet away from our gaming table! In our previous house we had to use our dining room table to play at and I had some stuff down in the basement and other stuff up stairs in my office. The convenience the new house provides is amazing. Look for me to show it off in a future YouTube Video.

This location is fantastic too. My kids will be in one of the absolute best schools in the state. We are also within 30 minutes of multiple good gaming stores. I work 4 minutes from home. All of this makes it easier for me.

When I took some time off originally I didn't think I would be away until February. This time away has helped me refocus on some very important things in my life. It has also given me the itch to play again. My project of writing out my personal world information has come back too. While originally I had plans to have it done by November I lost 3 months on it. So now my goal is to have it done by the end of April. While I probably won't be releasing the same amount of content as before I hope you will still enjoy the work I put in for you.

Tools of the YouTube RPG Gamer

What's Needed To Participate In The Tabletop RPG One Shot Group?

This question has come up a few times. I have answered it countless times. That is ok though I understand there is a lot of information out there to sift through so this is going to be my guide to what is necessary, recommended, and preferred.

Most people run games over Google + Hangouts. So you will need a G+ account. A YouTube, Roll20, and many others are recommended though. If you have a YouTube account you can broadcast your games. If you have Roll20 you can use grids and many other tools. There are many other resources out there but those are the most common.

Now it is mandatory you have some sort of microphone so the other players can hear you. I personally use a cheap Logitech Stereo Headset H110 (microphone headphones combo) that sells for about $10. Many people use Blue Snowball (do not get the ICE CONDENSOR SNOWBALL), and Blue Yeti (most recommended) because the sound quality is a lot better than built in microphones on laptops and the cheaper microphones out there. Headphones are important because without them you will pick up sound from your speakers and make the experience tough on the other people in the game. This is one of the more annoying things when playing a game. I have used my iPhone ear buds before and it does the trick just fine.

Next up is a camera and there are people out there who won't allow a player in their game without one. I am not one of them but I know of a few who require it. A built in laptop camera should be sufficient enough but if you really want to there are some quality webcams you can pick up. I recommend the Logitech HD Pro C920 because it offers up to 1080p but works just fine at 720. Anything above this I feel is certainly overkill for live plays.

So if I was just getting into everything I would focus on the microphone above all else. When playing in an online game that is the most important aspect. The Blue Yeti is going to give you the best sound quality but may not be necessary if you are just playing in a couple games a month though.

Problem Players Discussion

This past week has brought up the Power Gamer discussion again. Your Main Man Ander Wood from WoodWWAD on YouTube had messaged me a few months back after watching a video I did a few years ago which you can watch here. He followed up last week with a video of his own which you can watch here. Once he did that video many others began to debate whether or not power gamers were killing the hobby. I decided to weigh in once again with why I think people even bother debating this. Now this has all had me wondering more about the various types of problem players. 

Power Gamer - Many don't agree to the definition of what a power gamer is and I find that is why people don't always agree with Main Mans point that they are destroying the hobby. Everyone agrees that a disruptive player hurts the experience though. Power Gamers aren't to be confused with optimizers, min/maxers, or hack and slashers. Some view power games as people who try to optimize their character and some view it as more than just that. I used to think it was just someone who optimized. My idea of what a power game is has changed though. I personally think a power gamer is someone who tries to sneak a combination of abilities, powers, spells, or multi-classing by a game master and group of players.  By this definition since they are using a mechanical advantage at the expense of the group they are a power gamer and I think they are bad for the hobby. If you have a power gamer you need to speak to them and explain what you and the group are striving for. If the player just wants a strong character that is ok as long as they know they need to work within the style of game you the game master and the rest of the group are striving for. If they can't change their disruptive behavior it is time to let them go.

Loner Character - The player who is playing this character can be very disruptive. They force the game master to split their time between the one character and the rest of the group due to splitting the party frequently. RPGs are a group activity and if you are playing a character that doesn't fit this model then they probably are best not being played. If they can still work in the group though then they may be ok. I recommend avoiding the loner characters though. If you have a player like this talk to them and tell them it is ok to be that character but they need to find a way to work within the structure of the group. If they can't do that then they will need to make a new type of character to fit within the group.

Rules Lawyer - The rules lawyer can be very disruptive by cutting off other players or the game master. Whether they are wrong or right about the rules they can be really obnoxious. I know because I tend to do this sometimes as a player. I am working on fixing this! Anyways the rules lawyer may have good intentions. If you let them know your house rules up front and also if you establish when it is ok for them to say something this can help with this player type. Another thing you can do is have this player write down any rules you or the group got wrong on a piece of paper. At the end of the session they can give it to you and you can review the things before the following session. At the next session before starting go over these rules with page numbers for reference to help the whole group.

Thespian - The thespian can be a fun player but can also be very distracting at the table. A lot of times they can demand a lot of attention. They may also stifle a session with the dreaded phrase "that's not what my character would do." In a game where it is collaborative storytelling if the group is trying to do things but one player refuses to do what the other want to do it can ruin a game night. It can cause a lot of problems for other players who want to seek out a specific adventure or quest. Sometimes you may need to pull them aside and ask them to compromise at times for the benefit of the group. You can also ask this player to help you share the spotlight with some of the players who get less "screen time" than the rest.

Multitasker - This is the person always on their cell phone, drawing sketches, knitting, sculpting with clay, or generally doing other things. This can be distracting to them or other players even. Some people don't mind this as much as others. I find that if it slows down play or is ruining anyone elses time at the table then they need to be talked to and asked to stop. Ask this player to take notes on the session so you have a timeline of events for example.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$27.51
By Wizards RPG Team

Spotlight Hog - This player wants all the glory whether in RPing with the NPCs or being the best in combat. This player can be all of the above problem player types or even none of them. They just require a lot of attention or they get bored. Give this player a job whether it is keeping track of events by taking notes much like the multitasker or something else.

Sometimes the problem isn't even that they are a bad player. It might be that everyone can't agree on a play style whether that is hack and slashing, investigations, or some other type of game. A majority of people for example don't want a hack and slash type of player in a Call of Cthulhu game. The type of player that is good for that type of game is someone who enjoys puzzles and investigations. There may be a time with the right group of players and game master though where a hack and slash player could play a fun game of CoC though. Point is though really think about what the problem is at your table before throwing around labels at people. Don't confuse combat as non RP and social interactions as RP. I have played in games with great combat RP and terrible social interaction RP. You can RP everything in a game. If you like to get past encounters with social interaction that is great but that doesn't mean the other players who enjoy combat don't like RP. If you find that your group has styles that clash talk to them to see if both sides can compromise at times for the better of the group.

These are just some of the types of problems/problem players and potential ways to handle them. Keep in mind at all times it is a group experience and if anyone at your table is making it less fun for others then they may need to be talked to. Try to think of ways to make them help the group though before talking to them so you have some constructive suggestions. I hope you found this article helpful. If you did you can help support this blog by purchasing something from my Amazon links on the side or by subscribing to my channel on YouTube. Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

How Do You Handle Technology In Fantasy Games?

Here in America the past few weeks fireworks have been going off every night. If you live in heavily populated areas you probably haven't been getting a whole lot of sleep as the blasts go off into the middle of the night. Last night while trying to fall asleep between the firework blasts I was thinking about explosives and gun powder in my Dungeons and Dragons games.

Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding
$16.65
By Scott Hungerford, Jeff Grubb, Michael A. Stackpole, Chris Pramas, Keith Baker, Steven Winter, Jonathan Roberts, Monte Cook, David Cook, Janna Silverstein

I don't usually have gun powder in my games but why not? Is it too game breaking? Is it too powerful? I don't really think so but again why don't I have it in my games? This is something I am going to start having in my games only it will be extremely expensive to buy. Anything that can do as much damage as a gun or explosive should be expensive. In turn it really shouldn't be practical to use.

Gun powder should also be very rare. Whether it is a concoction only some know how to make or if it is a natural resource it should be hard to come by. If it wasn't hard to come by technology will advance really quickly with things like vehicles, or other things that come with combustion.

It's going to be hard to find any guns or know of people who know how to adequately design explosives. It would take a lot of trial and error to figure it out. Just experimenting would lead to deaths and disfigurement. Could make some interesting NPCs in your campaign though. The richest man in town could be missing his arm or hand and be a little wacky. You would have to be a little quirky to risk your life like this right?

These are all just thoughts for my own home brew campaign. If my players want to try and seek this stuff out they can. It isn't too powerful because guys can summon lightning bolts and fire out of their finger tips without consequence. It could add to some fun. Imagine Kobolds or Goblins evening the odds by hurling explosives at players. They could deal better damage and for some extra entertainment you can even have them blow themselves up to show how dangerous it can all be.

So don't be afraid to add some technology into your games. It could add some fun or even give you some interesting encounters when you are struggling to come up with a good idea for that session.


Free RPG Day 2015

Free RPG Day 2015 has passed us by. This year the store I pick my stuff up from was having a Magic the Gathering Tournament which meant that no RPG events were happening. They had the stuff laid out on the counter though for anyone to just come up and get what they want. I had taken my 4 year old daughter so she could get something and she chose the Pathfinder Card Game Cards, the Pencil, and Valiant. I picked up the Coin, Munchkin Bookmark, 13th Age At Lands Edge/Nights Black Agents The Harker Intrusion, Castles & Crusades Shadows of a Green Sky, Atlantis Second Edition, Fifth Edition Fantasy Into the Dragons Maw, Through the Breach Recruitment Drive, Dungeon Crawl Classics Judges Screen, Pathfinder Module We Be Goblins Free. 

13th Age RPG Core Book
By Lee; McConnell, Aaron; Heinsoo, Rob; Tweet, Jonathan Moyer

Last year I picked up just as much but ended up giving most of it away to people I thought would enjoy the things I had. There is a lot that people can try out for the first time and that is the beauty of Free RPG Day. I highly recommend people go out and pick up whatever they ca especially if they are new to RPGs or looking to try them sometime.

The thing I always do first when I get all of the free stuff is look through the products and cherry pick ideas for the games I am currently running. Then anything that stands out I will tend to use. If everything seems good like a full adventure then I may consider converting it over to the system I am currently favoring. This year that would be 5e. So Fantasy products are the go to for me.

This year the things that really stood out to me were the Goodman Games Fifth Edition Fantasy Into the Dragons Maw, Atlantis, and Castles & Crusades Shadows of a Green Sky. The Dungeon Crawl Classics Screen has some useful crit hit and fumble charts I like and I like the artwork too. The coin is really high quality as well.

Into the Dragons Maw is perfectly compatible with 5th Edition D&D. The adventure is solid, and has a really cool monster that I want to use pretty bad. They also have some new magic items in the back which are decent. I am planning how I can use this in one of my upcoming games. This would be something I would use in my family D&D game.

Atlantis is a really nice product that I have only skimmed over. The system seems interesting and actually looks like it may be pretty simple. If I gamed a lot more I would probably consider picking up the core book for this game even.

Castles & Crusades is a good game and there product last year gave me a lot of inspiration. This year I have skimmed through it but haven't felt too inspired yet. I am hoping once I read it I will get a lot of great ideas. 

All of the products are great and they are FREE! They lead to great chances to try new games and I am surprised more systems don't participate. For example Dungeons & Dragons could have taken their FREE PDF and made a print version for this event. Wouldn't that be great? I will wrap this up by saying next year don't miss out! Get out to your local game store and pick up the items they are giving away for free if you like RPGs.

Last Minute Prepping

Here it is Wednesday and I am supposed to run a game on Friday night. This post will be my thought process and my prep notes for Fridays session because I haven't prepped it yet. I have some ideas for what I would like to do though.

Step 1: Where did we leave off?

The players had just walked into the base of the Cult of the Dragon and witnessed a negotiation between the Necromancer (Leader of the Black Hand Army) and some Half-Dragons leading the Cult of the Dragon. The players found out that these two factions are 2 pillars of the 8 Pillars of Death. Once the players found this out they left by way of the Valley of Endless Caves. They fought a Manticore in one cave and two Owl Bears in another. They then camped as the Cult of the Dragon marched through the valley. The players seemed interested in exploring more caves though instead of chasing after the Cult of the Dragon.

Step 2: Where might the players go?

I think there are three strong options here. They may follow the Cult of the Dragon or as they began to talk about go to the Dwarven City to warn them and possibly get reinforcements. They might continue to explore the Valley of Endless Caves.

Step 3: Random encounters for each of the choices.

If the players stick around the caves I have some potential Orc raids as random encounters. If the players follow the cult I have some random wildlife encounters of either spiders, or wolves attacking. If they go up to the Dwarven City they will be ambushed by bandits.

Step 4: Prepping the different scenarios.

Scenario 1 - Exploring the Valley of Endless Caves

So for this I am going to keep it simple. I have some cave modules that I can plug in as any of the caves I want. I will use some of those to reduce the amount of prep needed here. I can also just pick monsters I would like to use and craft caves on the spot to reflect how those monsters may live adding in interesting terrain that can be used for or against the players. Stalagmites that could fall at random. Blood bugs (Stirges) are a favorite to use too.

The players will be expecting some interesting treasure by doing these so maybe I will throw them a bone. So far most treasure has been martial character heavy. So time to throw in some things for our magic users. Possible items Pearl of Power, Deck of Illusions, Wizards Staff, Magical Necklace (increases spell DCs), Bracers of Defense (Our Wizard and Sorcerer don't wear armor and everyone else is heavy armor wearing).

Scenario 2 - Following the Cult of the Dragon

If they follow the Cult of the Dragon they will lose the trail. Being a day behind will make it tough especially when the storm begins. The players will enter a swampy area with dark storm clouds constantly hovering overhead. The road they are on will have rune symbols that get brighter as they walk along it. If the players look off to the sides of the road in the distance they will see bright lights. Those are Will-O-Wisps and they won't approach the road due to the warding on the road but if the players go out and attack they will enclose on the players. Players would be smart to avoid them at all costs. Eventually traveling on the road the Wisps will disappear and the rune symbols will fade. The players will enter a really bad swamp though with Bullywugs which the players have fought before, but these ones worship the 3 Hags of the swamp.

Scenario 3 - Going to the Dwarven City

Doing this will lead to what I envision being a fun encounter with a Red Dragon. Yes, a Red Dragon! When the players arrive the gates will be opened and as they walk in the guards will freak out when they see the Large Red Dragon flying in about to douse them with flames. The players will join in to defend the city for a bit and eventually the Dragon will flee. During the battle or after the players will notice that a lot of the Dwarves Armor and Weapons look to be made of the highest quality imaginable. A DC15 check will uncover that it was forged with Dragons Fire. The players can investigate and hear rumors of a Red Dragon being held hostage deep under the city.

Those are the 3 things I have so far. There is still a lot of improv left but the ideas are down in writing now. There is still some flavor to add before the game on Friday but now I have a clear idea of what MIGHT happen. Would love to hear your feedback. Not bad for just writing this up in about 45 minutes.

So if you have any ideas to add to this or fun ways to make this even better feel free to toss me some of your ideas.

Tabletop RPG Tip For Players And DMs (Taking My Own Advice)

I have been into RPGs since 1997. When I first found my love for RPGs I didn't game very often and struggled for years to find a steady group. I tried play by post, play by chat, voice chat and webcam on Yahoo Messenger, and even in store games like D&D Encounters and Pathfinder Society. It was an endless struggle and one that made me appreciate what I have now. When I look back at the struggle it makes it even harder to say no to games today. Due to me having a hard time telling people no to games I think I get burnt out often.

Much like anything in life if you do something too much and stretch yourself too thin you can get burned out of it. It is important to take a break and recharge your batteries every now and then. This is something I am learning at this time in my life because I have never found it as easy to find a game as I do today. A year ago I was struggling to find people to game with even.

The debut of the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group led to a lot of online games happening. I've played in tons and tons of games. I believe as of January of this year I had played in about 30 online games in just a few months. The Provokers Campaign has led to a lot of people asking me to play in their games too. It is a lot to keep up with and I don't even play in a lot of online games compared to some of my friends.

In person I run two home campaigns (as I have said before), and I run D&D Encounters at GrandLan Gaming Center here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On any given night I have something going on that is gaming related or work related and it can be taxing. I have friends like Matt Click and others who have said they take breaks from gaming altogether for a couple weeks every now and then. I never thought I would want to but lately it seems like I should.

I took some time off from Encounters for Christmas but not from my home games or online games. I took time off from my home games, and Encounters when my son was born in March but not from online games. So I haven't really taken a break from gaming as a whole for any period of time since August of 2014. Gaming is a true passion of mine and I want to continue doing it for a long time but I have found myself at times just going through the motions in some games and that isn't fair to other people.

What are you saying Juce? I'm say that if I have one tip for anyone out there it is to take a break from gaming every once in awhile to give you that spark of energy and enthusiasm again. I am still excited about running and playing games but I want to give it the proper attention it deserves when I sit down to play or run a game. Plus taking time off from your hobbies is a great chance for you to focus on your family or career too.

Do you find yourself needing to take a break from RPGs every once in awhile? Maybe it is some other hobby that you need to take a break from? I would love to hear about it below. Leave a comment and if you like what you read today please share this blog post.

Also check out that sweet Skeleton Dragon Tankard! That would be awesome to have at the gaming table.

Tabletop RPGs How Much Control Should Players Have?

Was talking to some friends on Facebook  the other day and we got to talking about how much control over the game should players have? This can be when it applies to the specific scene and surroundings. It could also be in regards to the world setting too. Maybe a player wants to be from a place that you didn't have in your setting. Should they have control over other players characters in a scene? Should a DM veto something the players do? How much control over these things should players have?

When it comes to a combat or an RP encounter the players may want a chandelier hanging over the group for example. Do you allow it? You may or may not choose to do so. Do you allow a player to state that they cut down the chandelier falling on the bad guys, giving up full control of the scene to your players? Maybe you are the type to allow some control but not total control when they have the floor. Where is your line?

Everyone has had a player at some point that has wanted to play a race that either wasn't in their setting or wasn't typically a player race. The real question is how do you handle that situation? Do you allow it without question? Do you try to work it into your setting? Are they there from another plane, planet, or time period? To some people this could be very disruptive but to other people it won't change anything. How do you handle this situation?

In more narrative or cinematic games there may be a time when a player wants to take control of another player in their scene. For example the strong fighter in the party picks up the halfling rogue and throws him at the BBEG (big bad evil guy). Maybe the rogue had other plans like sneaking around the pillar to backstab the BBEG. Do you like it when your players are doing things like this?

This is a similar situation to the one before except it is with NPC's. Maybe you handle this differently because it isn't effecting other players at your table. Maybe you would want things to be the same whether PC or NPC. It could be something as simple as the player taking the spear from the NPC and throwing it in the same turn and now your NPC is unarmed.

Something that I have heard people say can ruin immersion is when a DM vetoes a player. An example of this would be if the player attempts to jump over a chasm and the DM says you can't do that. Another example might be when a player wants to use a weapon in a certain way "I want to throw my great sword at the running bandit." How do you handle these types of things?

How much control should players have in your games? As a DM I don't usually like it when players take liberties that effect other players. There is a line and I want it respected. When it comes to other things like player races or certain actions I think about it for a second and usually will allow it. I think it is important to let your players know up front before a campaign begins what types of things you may allow. It is never fun when a campaign starts and you realize early on this person won't allow you to play in a way that is fun for you as a player.

Hope you found this article helpful and it at least gets you thinking a bit more about your own games. If you found it interesting please go over and subscribe to me on YouTube or follow me on Twitter. You can also find me on Facebook as well as in the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group on Facebook which now has over 2,000 members.

RPG Prep Road Block

I have been trying to prep for my Saturday home game of Dungeons and Dragons for awhile. I've had ideas but felt stumped which is a frequent problem in this campaign for some reason. Been analyzing why it seems so difficult for me and I can't quite put my finder on it. A lot of sessions I have had to improv because I couldn't come up with anything ahead of time I felt would be good. So tonight in a chat on G+ Hangouts that was posted by Chepe in the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group I asked people for feedback. Some of the potential reasons for my road block that were suggested were as follows...

  1. Maybe I haven't made my story personal enough to the characters.
  2. Maybe I give too much info at times.
  3. Maybe I should focus on the little things more.
  4. Maybe I should invest more into individual NPC's and let those interactions drive where the players take the story.

So I began to think about if my story has been personal enough for the characters. It clearly isn't. The story of the campaign is about a Long Forgotten God who has his body parts scattered around. There are rumors that he can be brought back to life. The players also know he may have suffered split personality disorder which also explains him being a Cleric and a Wizard. The players have stated it doesn't make sense that they would want to bring him back to life yet they have retrieved some of the body parts. There is a personal side quest I tried to get the players involved in but they didn't seem very interested in that either. Maybe this campaign is lacking that personal touch and I need to give them that.

If I am going to add some personal inspiration to the game there are many ways I can do this. Bring character family members into the mix. Get some background info from the players about their characters. Ask their characters in game why they adventure and what their characters life goals are.

Is it possible I info dump at times? Sure this is possible but I think the real problem with this is I can be quite vague or general about it. If I am going to info dump I should give them more info right? Give them the bits that will make it fun or interesting. Not just the info outright. Maybe make it a plot hook to go retrieve something.

I've played some great games that focused on the little things and I don't do this much in this game on purpose. Sometimes going on a quest to clear an area of bandits or goblins is just what the party needs. This can be a fun session and give some ok loot. It might not advance a story but it can lead to some fun interactions with an NPC as you build up a relationship between PCs and NPCs.

There is a great website by Johnn Four called Roleplaying Tips. You can go to the site and subscribe to his newsletter. Some of the things he recommends is always introducing a new NPC or two in a session as well as a plot hook or two a session. When he talks about the NPCs all NPCs should have a secret, and a descriptive trait. These NPCs should provide plot hooks for future games or the current one. NPCs can be the lifeblood of a campaign so focusing on them is a great way to get players invested in the story.

Some campaigns write themselves and prep is easy. Others for some reason or another seem more difficult. This group is awesome and I love my players. They are great people that I always look forward to getting together with so I want to provide the best experience possible for them. I want to thank Philip Posey of Maps & Dragons, Mike the Piper, and "Lumi Jo" Joseph Becker for helping me come up with some interesting ideas for my game Saturday.

Have you experienced RPG Prep Road Block? How did you overcome it? Where do you usually get caught up in prep? If you found this helpful be sure to leave a comment and share it with your RPG friends.

Why I Craft Terrain For D&D

I have had many people ask me why I craft terrain for Dungeons and Dragons games. This seems like a simple answer but there are so many reasons that I do it. The number one reason is I get personal enjoyment out of the act of crafting. The second reason is I get personal enjoyment out of seeing players reactions to the crafts. A third reason is it is relaxing actually crafting things. A fourth reason is that it can add some nice dynamics to a game that otherwise aren't there.

The personal enjoyment I get out of crafting is the best part for me. It is awesome being creative and getting ideas out there. When I begin a project I don't always know how it will come out. When I am finished though it is neat seeing what I could do. While I know I am not the best at crafting and am certainly not the most patient it is still pretty awesome seeing what I can do with some glue, cardboard, and paint.

The first time I slapped down some things I crafted on the table with my wife and my gaming group gave me a lot of motivation to do more. The first time I crafted anything it was for a 1 on 1 game with my wife. She had said before that she wasn't into miniatures or terrain but that game changed that. I incorporated a puzzle into the terrain too which she loved. The first time Nate from WASD20 (CLICK FOR HIS WEBSITE) saw my crafts he began to take photos of it all because he loved it. I love seeing their reactions to really cool things I have worked on.

Crafting can be very therapeutic. When I sit down to paint whether it is terrain or miniatures I feel at ease. It allows me to clear my head and not worry about anything else in my life. When I spend hours crafting the same thing happens. My focus goes to what I am making and the game I am going to run. It is the best way to escape reality I think. It is also a fantastic hobby that you can do with friends, children, spouses, or anyone really.

Painting Wargaming Figures
$23.43
By Javier Gomez Valero

My fourth reason and one of the better reasons is it allows players to visualize everything on the battle field. You don't have to worry about them not hearing your description of the boxes in the corner or the balcony they could swing off of because they can see it the whole time. This can help make for some really cinematic play if your players are adventurous like that. Plus changing up things like room shapes and sizes I feel has more impact in this scenario.

Those are just four of the reasons I enjoy crafting. I posed the question in the DMs Craft Facebook page and got some interesting answers like "chicks dig it" from my good friend DMG on YouTube. Go check out his amazing crafting channel. Also go join the DMs Craft Facebook page to see some excellent work by some of the best crafters I have ever seen.

If you want to see some of my crafts you can subscribe to me on YouTube as I post videos every now and then of things I have made. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Motivation For Prep, Painting Minis, and Crafting Terrain

My biggest struggle with gaming is motivating myself to do things like prep. This carries over to painting miniatures and crafting terrain as well which is something I love to do. Considering my preferred way to game is with miniatures, and terrain this makes things even more difficult for me. Coming up with inspiration is easy for me but motivating myself to sit down and unplug from the internet or television so I can prep, paint, or craft is the true struggle for me.

Realizing this is one of my biggest weaknesses I need to force myself to sit down and spend a night prepping for my various games. I think part of the reason I struggle to do these things is because I find that I need to be doing it so often for all of the games I run. D&D Encounters is run weekly, and I have two at home campaigns I am running. Then there are games I run online. Most of the time I can't prep while listening to Podcasts, or watching YouTube because I get distracted too easily. 

Prep can take me as short as 30 minutes or up to 3 hours depending on the adventure. 30 minutes if the players are possibly picking up where things left off and it wasn't finished. 3 hours if we wrapped things up in a previous session and I have no idea where things may go. I find that if I prep the introduction, and just the encounters the session runs a lot smoother than if I try to anticipate a bunch of potential directions the players may go.

Painting miniatures and crafting terrain is something I am not the best at. It is also a lengthy process for me to sit down and do it. My wife keeps the paint up stairs in her crafting desk. I keep my unpainted miniatures in a box in my basement. I don't have a designated area for painting miniatures at this time. The combination of these things makes it feel like I spend an hour just getting everything I need ready and in one place. Then cleaning up is just as taxing for me. 

Once I have my game space in the basement all set up I will be able to do my miniature painting, and terrain crafting much easier. Getting this stuff done I feel like may motivate me to prep a lot more too. So setting aside time once or twice a week to just sit down and prep, another night to paint or craft terrain should do the trick. The trick for me will be to set times in my schedule to do these things and force myself to see them through.

How do you motivate yourself to prep, paint miniatures, and craft terrain? Do you have a designated area for these things? If not do you think having a designated area would help you? If you do, does it help you to sit down and just jump right into things?

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My Own Game Room

Working on your own game room can be quite a daunting task. About a year ago my wife and I bought our house and of course I began planning out ways the basement could be made into my game room. It wasn't until a couple of months ago that my wife got on board with my ideas a little bit. I say a little bit because she thinks I am crazy to want to make the basement of our 1920's home into a gaming area.

So a couple weeks ago I found a table and 7 chairs through an online garage sale site for $50. It will make a fantastic gaming table. Now one of the players and I have talked about putting a raised part for the battle mat and miniatures on top of. I am also considering building a DM station or just adding about 14 inches off the one side of the table for my area. I've spent some time looking over a lot of different tables hoping one would stand out more than the rest to me.

One of the things that is important for my gaming space is shelving for my miniatures and books but preferably keeping them separate from each other. There is a do it yourself glass case I have seen which would be really cool for my miniatures. I am thinking something like that or a regular case with glass doors would be good for miniatures. I want to be able to display them so even when they aren't in use they can be seen by anyone hanging out in the game room for the evening. As for the book shelves I am going to build some simple book shelves. I haven't spent as much time looking at these as I have looking at tables.

The final thing is purely for show. I'd like to put up a wall for pictures, and posters gaming related. I have quite a few things I have been wanting to put up for a really long time but haven't had a place to put them. Behind this drywall we will be putting in a bathroom which is already partially done. Having this be only about 10 feet away from the table will be very convenient.

When my gaming area is finished I will be posting a before and after video of my game space. Having a designated area for me to play my games will be nice. Some of the other things I will be doing in this space is painting miniatures, and terrain. Filming YouTube videos will take place in this area. Also I will probably be doing most of my game prep here. Having a TV and a DVD player in the room will help.

Do you have a designated game room or area? How is yours set up? Can you share pictures? I would love to see and hear all about your current or dream gaming room set ups.

Please show your support by checking out my other social media sites. You can also support me by clicking on my Amazon links and purchasing something.

The Tower Shield in D&D5e

I don't think there is any reason to up the AC above 2. Armor class is very powerful in the scope of how Fifth Edition works. I felt that if I upped the AC it would make it a no brainer to use the tower shield over a standard shield for all builds. Giving up your action for a huge bonus to AC by way of 3/4 cover was the way to go in my opinion. This is a bit better than using the dodge action during combat. 

Movement being halved is because you have an extremely large shield that is hard to lug around a battlefield without it getting in the way. It is also pretty heavy. Losing half your movement isn't a major thing but it certainly can be inconvenient. While I don't think this will turn too many people off from using a tower shield there will be times in game that this could become a problem. For example a player involved in combat away from you may really need some help. If you can't get there it could mean death for that character.

If someone in your party has a reach weapon this is when the tower shield is at its best. If the pc with the tower shield gives up his action to use it for cover another player with reach can also benefit from the 3/4 cover as long as they are right behind that tower shield pc.

So overall I don't think this is too over powered but I also don't think it is too under powered. This is intended to give another option for a shield but not be the only option. Much like the buckler shield I wrote up I think that these could be fun options for people to use in their own games. Obviously anything I suggest on the blog like this you must run by your Dungeon Master first to see if they agree with how these can be used.

AC +2
Movement Halved
As an action can declare 3/4 cover
Party Members can stand directly behind you and use you for 3/4 cover as long as you give up your action as well

One On One, Solo, and Duet RPG Adventures and Campaigns

For many people it is very difficult to find a group that some would deem a full party of adventurers to play Tabletop RPGs. When I got into gaming this was the case for me. I struggled to find people to play Heroes Unlimited which for me this was the game that I loved when I was 12 and loved up until recently. My first RPG group was 2 players and a GM. When the GM moved it made it near impossible to game because we had it in our mind you needed multiple players to play the game properly. If we only knew about the possibility of playing with 1 player and a GM our RPG experience would have been drastically different.

The 1 player and 1 GM format I have seen called different things. I have seen it called 1 on 1, solo, and duet campaigns. What the actual correct terminology is I am not quite sure. What I do know is that this is a great way to run and play games for those of us who may struggle to find groups to play with. Some people use these types of games to help players catch up after mission a session. Some people use these types of games to teach a new player how the game is played. Either way it is a great way to game and can provide a vastly different experience than you may be used to.

A few years ago I attempted to run a Heroes Unlimited game like this for my wife. Our first session was a lot of fun. She played a Mega Hero that we rolled a lot of the stuff randomly. That character ended up being very similar to Thor which was pretty interesting. The idea of those first few sessions was that she had no idea how things worked on Earth. She broke an elevator door and beat 2 guys into a coma when they tried to kidnap her. Unfortunately the campaign didn't last very long because we ended up moving.

We tried again to do another duet campaign using Pathfinder when I was really getting into that system. The idea was that my wife would make and control a few characters. Her party was an Aasimar Sorcerer and an Oread Barbarian. We played a couple games and this was fun but we wanted enough players for a full party. This game died off but only because once again real life stepped in and we moved again.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$36.03
By Wizards RPG Team

There are many ways to play a game with one player. Maybe that player controls only a single character or they control a whole party of characters similar to how they would play a video game like Baldur's Gate. Maybe they handle all of the groups social interactions with NPCs or maybe they only control their single characters social interactions while the DM controls all of the other members of the group in social environments similar to Dragon Age for example. In the latter example the players choices could lead to some members of the party leaving the group. No matter how you choose to play this can be an extremely fun way to game.

This style of play is one I wish I was able to try sometime. I would love to play both as just a single character without a party and also a campaign where I play as a single character but in combat I can control a whole party. If I had a DM who was good at improvising I think this could be one of the most enjoyable ways for me to play a game.

On YouTube there are at least 2 channels that cover this style of game. Matt Click's afistfulofdice on YouTube and has recently started running games on his channel for his fiance. He is also my DM for the Provokers campaign and is a very good DM. Andrew Armstrong known as DawnforgedCast has a couple games in this style on his channel. One is with his wife, and the other is with one of his viewers. To see how these games can be played go and check those channels out. If you are interested in running or playing a game in this style feel free to join the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and seek it out.


The Buckler Shield in D&D5e

One of the things I have been thinking about ever since Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition came out was different types of shields. Due to standard shields being AC +2 it leaves a lot of room to use small shields like the buckler and also larger tower shields. Both of which I have come up with some ideas for how to implement them mechanically. This post is about the two common types of buckler shields.

The one handed buckler shield should be an AC +1. It also should be a shield you can use as a reaction if you aren't armed with it and using a single handed weapon. This will allow players to use long swords two handed and encourage it. Most players will still choose to use a greatsword or long sword and standard shield. 

Then there is the buckler shield that straps to the forearm or is part of the gauntlet. This one allows players to still use a greatsword, maul, spear, polearm, or any other two handed weapon. This one will be an AC +1 shield but it will also be a -1 to hit using two handed weapons. The reason for this is because without the -1 to hit everyone who uses a two handed weapon would want a buckler shield. With this rule I would even entertain the idea of a character having two of these for a AC +2 and a -2 to hit. 

I hope to start testing these out in future games ran in the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook. What do you think of these potential home brewed items or rules? Are they over powered? Do you think they are balanced enough? If you end up using them in your future games please share your results and opinions of them.

Here on my blog there will be more home brewed things like this so continue to check back for more.

Inspiration From Easter

***This is not a post about religion. ***

The story of Jesus is that he was sentenced to death on the cross and then rose from the dead 3 days later. This was to signify the forgiveness of our sins. Thinking about this has made me wonder how this could be used in an RPG today.

While thinking about this I was considering how I would implement this into an NPC for a fantasy RPG. They would need to be a polarizing figure with many very dedicated friends/followers. Maybe they are a Cleric or Priest but they could really be any class as long as they have many people who believe in their cause. 

A huge Government or Faction would need to oppose this cause. At first it shouldn't be much of an issue but as the NPC gains influence it should become more and more of a problem. Eventually this will need to blow up. The NPC will need to be caught and imprisoned or sentenced to death. 

Make the imprisonment or death sentence a huge event. This will get the importance of this NPC across in your game. His followers could try to help him escape but maybe this NPC refuses and thinks it is his destiny to carry this out.

After death he could ascend to being a diety in your campaign. Maybe he just comes back from the dead by resurrection spell which depending on your games could be a common occurrence. If it is common though this may not be as impactful as you would want. Personally I like the idea of this person becoming a diety.

Obviously you could change the story at any point however you want. The character could be battling for freeing slaves, or equal rights for a certain race for example. Maybe he wasn't sentenced to death and was murdered instead by an assassin. This story could be modified to be a really fun background story over a large campaign.

I would love to hear how you have used holidays or stories from the bible for inspiration in your Tabletop RPGs. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments below.