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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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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.

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.

Ways To Deal With Too Few Players

This morning I saw a post on Facebook in the Tabletop RPG One Shot group about a DM asking if he should make a GMPC for a group of 3 PCs currently. He expressed that he wanted to play too which was part of why he wanted to do a GMPC that would cover what they don't already have in the group. Personally I think 3 players is a good enough size to not tamper with things too much. I gave some suggestions on how to handle small groups of players that may work for them but wouldn't fix the want to play along side of his PCs. In this article I will offer some of the same tips for various potential solutions to small groups.

Remember as the GM/DM you get to play more than anyone else at the table. You control every single character in the world besides the PCs. You also control the setting, weather, and everything else! 

First it is important to figure out why players chose the races and classes they did in order to figure out the type of game they want to play in. The next step is to figure out if it is important that they satisfy the typical 4 classes Fighter, Healer, Rogue, and Magic User. For example if the group as a whole wants a low magic game you may not need the Magic User. Before starting the game talking to the players about any potential ideas can be pretty important.

Next up if you decide it is important to fill all of basic party rolls there are ways around that. Below is a list of ways to do that without forcing a GMPC with the group. Some of these can be used with others too. Not all solutions will work for everyone either.

  1. You can allow all of the players to dual class. Example at 1st level they may take Fighter/Cleric. So at 2nd level they would be 2nd level of each. This would give them a lot of power as a single PC but make it easier to cover various needs.
  2. You can let each player control 2 characters. This can be a lot for newer players but just make sure they know that they don't need to RP for both of them. The GM/DM can RP the ones the players don't want to in a lesser role.
  3. Let the players recruit NPCs at times if they choose to but at a high cost. This is one of the better ways because it also allows you to sometimes make it not feasible to recruit an NPC tagalong.
  4. Substitute items to make up for things. More potions of healing to make up for the cleric. Better weapons and armor to make up for lack of a fighter. Scrolls, and Wands plus the ability for everyone to cast magic from them can fix the need for a Magic User. Some creative thinking here can create ways to fill certain roles the party doesn't have.
  5. Max HP each time they level up.
  6. The DMG for D&D5e has some good solutions for short rests and long rests to adjust the feel of your game. A lot of these can make it easier for small groups to handle things. For example adjusting short rest to 5 minutes and a long rest of 1 hour.
  7. Healing of any type from potions, short rests, or spells always do max healing.

There are many ways to cover things the party is lacking. In my opinion the worst way is adding a GMPC because it is easy to step on peoples toes that way. Players want to feel like the heroes as they can blame a GM/DM for stealing the glory when they are also the ones running the game and presenting the situations in the first place.

1 or 2 PC's are usually where you would want to use some of these alternate ways to help them without taking away their spotlight. 3 to 5 players is just the right amount of players and shouldn't need too much adjusting but occasionally you may want to try the items or other means to help your games.

If you think of any other potential solutions please let me know of them in the comments below. Hope you find some of these helpful for your games. Some of these may be useful in your groups that do cover the basics.

Thanks,

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Thoughts

So the three core books are all released and we can begin talking about the actual game now. Many have said they were concerned about how the game would be after all the books were released. The Players Handbook had all the rules in it and the Dungeon Master's Guide has only optional rules really. To me it was odd hearing people concerned about giving an opinion based on the PHB and MM only. They seemed to think the DMG would give you more of the core rules but really it didn't. The PHB gave you everything you needed. Very curious to hear what people now think about Fifth Edition.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$29.95
By Wizards RPG Team

I knew with the Players Handbook this edition was something fantastic. The rules are great and very simple to run. They have everything you need to ever run or play a game. For me right now there wasn't anything rules wise that I think needs to be changed. They are good as is for me.

Monster Manual (D&D Core Rulebook)
$31.61
By Wizards RPG Team

When the Monster Manual came out we got to see how they truly balanced the encounters. It seems to work for me and again I don't have any gripes here. The Monster Manual covers the basic monsters you will need for any game. You can re-skin monsters really easily to set up things for your own games without changing much.

Check out the video reviews of each chapter for the Dungeon Masters Guide by clicking here!

House Rules for Dungeons and Dragons

Lately with the release of the new Dungeon Master's Guide it seems like the talk of house rules has come up a lot more. Personally I do try to run my games by the book but some games are more fun with some minor changes here and there. For instance Lloyd of the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook began asking about initiative the other day. This has started a whole conversation about this and how other games handle it. 5e even has some variant rules for it in the DMG.

Some things I have thought about house ruling personally are critical hits and critical fails. We have talked about creating our own tables for our games to help with this in future games. If I do this you better believe I will have them up for download here on the website too. What sort of things would be on this? Well I would probably have things like max damage is dealt on a critical hit. Other things might be disadvantage for that enemy in the next round. Obviously this is using 5e's system too. Then critical fails could be things like slipping and hurting self. Could also break your weapon on a critical fail.

Some other common things to house rule are things like downtime activities. Personally I will always allow my players to learn more skills if that is how they choose to spend their downtime. I am also only going to allow multi-classing based on backstories before a game, and downtime studies.

I try to make it possible for my players to make the concept they want. If I have to bend some rules for that then so be it sometimes. If I feel like the concept is just for power gaming reasons and them taking advantage of how flexible I am though I will not allow it. Sometimes I just won't allow things based on principle alone.

There are a lot of things that can be house ruled to make a game more fun. So with this blog post I would love to hear more about your thoughts on house rules. Leave a comment below please.

Best Part About Online Gaming

Back a few months ago I decided to try and do a live chat on YouTube which led to some fantastic times talking to other gamers I had never met before. There was one chat that will go down as a life changer though. It is the one that founded the Tabletop RPG One Shot group. In that chat the forefathers of the group were FaunTrodden (Chepe), AJ Pickett, Sr2joker, Robert Ogre, Tenjou Mitchell (Grubbs), and Frank Frey. Since that day I feel privileged to call these guys friends.

On that night I never would have thought we would have came up with a group concept which now 500 people are enjoying on a daily basis. Games like Splicers, D&D5e, Cthulhutech, Heroes Unlimited, Stalker, and so many more are being played there. We still need more people running games but that will come in time I think as people get more comfortable.

Onto the best part about online gaming. Since that night I have been able to play in numerous games with these guys (and more) and I think it has only brought us closer. Every time you play in a good game with people there is a bond or connection made it seems. You have stories of these great memories that you created as a group and nobody can take that away. Isn't that what makes gaming in person so great? Really there is very little difference in my opinion between the two.

If you are interested in making YouTube videos gaming with people online leads to a lot of good video ideas as well for your channel. If you have a blog you can come up with great content for that. The positive vibes around the RPG One Shot group are fantastic and it makes me so proud to be part of such a fantastic community.

So go out and jump into a game or run a game when you can. Personally I am running a D&D5e game next Thursday for the One Shot group. Decided to bring in mostly newer members that haven't played yet. Then invited my friend sr2joker to play in it and help the others along. Should be a really fun game. Then in January I am starting a Heroes Unlimited campaign which is all because of the One Shot group as well. That game is full but should be a fun watch on YouTube for the masses.

If you feel a little nervous or apprehensive about  running or playing in a game online it is ok. We have all been there at some point but once you do it you will begin to wonder why you ever had any doubts about it. Then you will wish you got into this much sooner. It is fun and you make great friends. What more could you ask for?