Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Tricks" - Appendix H From the Dungeon Masters Guide

"Most experienced Dungeon Masters will probably already have a proud repertoire of clever and innovative (not to mention unique and astounding) artifices, deceptions, conundrums, and sundry tricks which will put to shame the humble offering which follows. Nonetheless, this enumeration might serve for those who have not yet had the experience and seasoning necessary to invent more clever devices to bring consternation to overbold and incautious characters" (Gygax, 1979, p. 216).

Most often I feel that tricks are not my responsibility as DM. I am not big on traps either. I have had terrible experiences, terrible, where the neat thing had to be figured out by the players before success or progress could be had. The DM does not help when he or she chides the players for not getting the right or desired answer. What is that chiding good for? Is it my job to teach the players to be careful, with real-world advice? Shouldn't my description of an area or thing be enough to suggest that something is dangerous or difficult?

But JoMo, what about the monster's point of view? Surely the monster wouldn't want characters to get through certain areas. Well, it seems to me that such contests of wit would be as difficult as guessing someone's email password. Unless figuring out the oh so clever trick can be resolved by brute force, there does not seem a good use for the monster's point of view regarding tricks. Even then.

I also think it is lazy to say that puzzles and such are there because the boss monster at the end of the dungeon only wants the smartest minds to get through. Yes, the Mind Flayer sits waiting for only the juiciest brains to come. That's great, thanks. Let's just face that the DM wants to give the game a twist that is different from combat and traps. I challenge my fellow DMs to do better.

Gygax, G. (1979). Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: dungeon masters guide. T.S.R.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Admitting My Mistake

I really want to be right. A novel concept I know. Last week I confused two different rule structures during my game session and it led to me making an ass of myself for fifteen minutes or so. Fifteen minutes of precious game time that none of us will ever get back.

My monster had 50% magic resistance and I was adamant that there was no chance for my player's 9th level Magic User (MU) to break through with his spells. This wasn't a misunderstanding of the rules regarding magic resistance, as clearly spelled out in the Monster Manual (p. 5-6). It wasn't me trying to save my monster. This was a confusion of the rules for the spell Dispel Magic and the math involved in that. I applied the Dispel Magic formula to Magic Resistance. I figured that it starts at 50%, then I added 10% to the difficulty as the MU was two levels under the arbitrary 11th level plateau, making it 60%. Then I added the monster's 50% resistance and came to over 100%. Very confused was I.

The worst part was that I was adamant about it and wouldn't let it go. One player thought I was making a new rule. Another was ready to give up and accept my confusion as the way things would be. Then another actually read the Monster Manual entry and my brick house came tumbling down. So certain was I.
I apologized to all of my players, more than that, I begged them to keep me honest and to help me in my efforts as DM. In the end I think I gained their respect as a person, if not as a DM.

Looking forward to this week's game!

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Tarot Deck of Many Things

I use the Aleister Crowley tarot deck for my Deck of Many Things. The definitions of the cards are here. Here are some of the images from my deck.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Thank You Mr. Gygax

The only good thing about the Gygaxian framework is that it reminds you that you need a framework.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fun for Halloween

I'm not sure how much value this video has for a long term campaign, but looks super fun for parties.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


A note on my style of DMing: I appreciate how not knowing something is valuable to role-playing. If the party has not known or experienced something, I keep that information close to my chest. In this sense, the players may genuinely not know what is going to happen in a new situation. A beautiful thing about RPGs is that there are many of these new situations. There may be a temptation to let Mr. Gygax decide the truth of things going in, but I don’t trust him. Additionally, I would not want my players to count on Gygax in dealing with a situation they have not encountered in game. I would rather be wrong in my own decisions, guided by player input, than to let Gygax be wrong for me. That is my philosophy.