A package arrived today from Reaper Miniatures. We ordered some new miniatures for my kids because they love to play with my miniatures so we figured this would be a lot of fun for them. My son really loves things like squid, lobster, spiders, snakes, bees, and other animals and insects. He is always asking to play with my "purple spiders" which are just the Giant Spiders that D&D put out. My daughter just likes playing D&D. We streamed our game a couple of weeks ago and she asks me every couple days to play again. This last week when the kids were playing with my miniatures she was recreating Pokemon with them. They played for hours with those Reaper Bones miniatures. I can't wait to do the box opening with my daughter. The plan is to film it and put it out as an unboxing video.Read More
Wow is all I can say about this weeks feedback. If you regularly read my blog though you will know that I failed to post last week. Once again I am working on improving every week and I think I am delivering on that note. Many have told me how much better the quality of my videos has gotten. The amount of opportunities that have lined up thanks to this series has been amazing! I will admit I haven't grown as quickly as I thought I would but I am having far more fun this last month doing YouTube videos and managing my social media than I have ever had fun doing this. If you have known me you know this is my 2nd Tabletop RPG channel and my first one goes all the way back to 2012.Read More
Saturday was expecting to have a lot of time to work on things for the channel and website because the kids were over at the in-laws for the weekend. Well it didn't quite work out that way. Saturday received a call from some clients that wanted to see some houses about 45 minutes away from my house. That took about 4 hours of my day and then had some other houses for another client to show. Promised my wife we would go to dinner but afterwards we went and saw Avengers Infinity War. Didn't get home until after 11:00 PM and was really tired at that time.Read More
The second video was not originally going to be "What Is The GM or DMs Role" but was going to be about RPG genres. When shooting my first video "What Is A Tabletop RPG?" I was inspired to do a video about the GMs role in a Tabletop RPG. I had a lot of good ideas and thought it would be a very good video. Little did I expect how busy I would be on Mother's Day Weekend.Read More
My goals with this channel are to build a foundation for anyone new to Tabletop RPGs. That is why this first video is What Is A Tabletop RPG and is part of the Intro to Tabletop RPGs video series. If you are new to Tabletop RPGs this series is intended for you. If you are experienced and have anyone who is interested but not real experienced with Tabletop RPGs I hope you will share this with them. Don't worry eventually we will get into more and more advanced topics. We will also discuss how to play specific system, and then go into build guides, and then get into game master tips such as how to handle specific optimized builds, and more for those specific systems. If any of this sounds like it might be interesting to you please be sure to subscribe to the channel.Read More
In November of 2017, a new adventuring group started. Most of the players had only thought about playing role-playing games but didn't know where to start.
A few months earlier Paul Gerrish, the GM for Tales of Swordfall, had an idea to start a new group to broadcast over YouTube that exclusively featured new players. They would learn Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition as they played the game. If you're an experienced DM/GM you're probably wondering what mad thoughts were going through Paul's head? Why pick exclusively players who were new to Role-Playing Games, new to D&D 5e, or hadn't played for many years? Then why post on YouTube for everyone to see?
Paul explains...Read More
A lot of game masters when running games use combat encounters as filler between giving you story. I have played a lot of games where an encounter was used just to change the pace of the game and give the players something to do to pass the time. It can feel like being railroaded sometimes when this is the case too.
Most encounters should have a meaning or purpose. Do this to...Read More
I have started working on a new YouTube channel called Master the Game. It is a channel all about optimization. If you are a player and want to know the most efficient ways to build a character type this channel will have you covered. This channel will also teach game masters/dungeon masters how to optimize encounters. We hope to fill a need in our community that isn't discussed much.
Players often are looking forRead More
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...Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.