Sunday, December 6, 2015

Guests During the Game

I am finding that having people "just watch" during my D&D game is very distracting. I don't like telling people that they can't hang.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The DM Questionaire

I put this together for all of us D&D players out there. Would like your best answers for this test.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Just Kill Them, That's What You Want To Do

If, as a player, you think the game should be a totally free sandbox, and you should be free to do whatever you want to do in the game, including violence against the other player characters, then why not just kill off the other PC's? It would be a working strategy to make a buffed Ranger, then kill the other characters, take their stuff, upgrade, and wait for the players to make new characters. Repeat. Your character will get a lot of stuff to sell, left over cash, and XP. Additionally you don't need to worry about dangerous monsters or dungeons. Win-win.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

More Ramblings

I wanted to run a game where the players can do whatever they imagine, completely free. This kind of game is often called a sandbox, where players can make whatever they want. It has no railroad, no set path that the players must traverse. I have since learned that such a game is long in coming and may actually be unrealistic.
I have had a player whose not so obvious playing style, his goal in every role playing game, was to manipulate and assassinate the other PCs. The difficulty offered by the game was not enough for him. He wanted the power that the game allows, the ability to screw with other people's PCs, other people's art in a real sense. This player is otherwise a good guy. Yet he will never play in my game again. I have been blessed with better players since.
I believe it is the role of the player to come together with the other players, to cooperate using creativity and innovation, facing the challenges and consequences that the game provides. D&D is also a role-playing game, where players create and play unique heroes, an additional challenge compared to a game such as Monopoly. That is all.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Subtle Griping About Bad DM-ing

The Dungeon Master has easy, back-handed, furtive power. He or she can manipulate the players into doing certain things during the course of the game. If the dungeon is all that the DM has organized, then the DM can easily force his players to “choose” that dungeon. The real trick is to make it look like the players are still playing in a sandbox. I’m sure many would agree that this is ideal; after all, even a sandbox has boundaries.

Your game should be better than this.

Notice I made no mention of DM’s that blatantly state what choices the players have. I did not mention the DM that ONLY uses dungeons, where towns, the rest of the game world in fact, are only there for cashing in treasure and buying magic items. The action itself is pigeonholed. “Okay, which way do you want to go?” The DM might ask. “The path to your left leads into a pit of dragons. The path to your right leads toward a hoard of demons. But the path to the center looks pretty safe. There’s a cave off in the distance.” Of course, the center path leads to the dungeon that the DM has actually prepared, but the players do have the choice! Sandbox! But no, I am not talking about these showmen DM’s.

Do you as DM want to inspire and empower your players, gaining trust and long-term commitment? Or do you just want to have some fun for a while? You can run a company-published campaign for several months if that is all you are looking for. Have fun. Games come and go. Friends come and go.

If however you want to keep your role-playing friends, keep them role-playing in your on-going game, then you have more work to do. You must educate yourself. You must develop your world. Those cities that only exist only for the transfer of wealth, from your party to a store, need character of their own. How is one shop owner different from another? In between the cities, what are the roads like? How about the geography? Are the rivers brackish? Why? At the road’s end, why is there a dungeon? How do the dungeon’s life forms support themselves? Do the beings on the 12th level of the dungeon have the same provision as those on the 1st? But the big question is, what if the players don’t want to enter your dungeons? What if they just want to build a new city?

The players are responsible for their characters. The DM is responsible to respond to the players, always offering freedom. Do the players want to be lead around the map by the DM or do they want to do the leading? Do they want to explore their own fantasies or do they want to participate in what is prepared by another? Is participating in someone else’s story sufficient? When will they burn out or become bored only playing through content that a game company produced? In the same way that the players can accept a crap game, they can also get up from the table and refuse to.

The more work a DM does, the more immersive the game can be. It is my opinion that an immersive game allows for everything the players want: fun, action, story, a chance to develop their characters, and to live out their own fantasies. I’ve been told “no” by my DM before. I didn’t like it. Do better.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

XP for RP? And New Log

Recently one of my beloved players suggested that there should be an XP reward for good role-playing. This, he said, will encourage players to role-play. So, What is the formula for figuring XP for role-playing? What does that table look like?

Bribed the guard with a great lie.....250 XP
Told a sad tale to get a free room....300 XP
Gave an impassioned speech............500 XP
Made everyone at the table laugh......750 XP

No. Talking your way out of, or into, a situation does not make you more skilled with the blade. Further, I would suggest that players of a role-playing game shouldn't need encouragement to role-play. We are not playing Monopoly or Risk. We role-play.

I understand about newbies needing time to get a feel for Role-playing. Getting into a character in our favorite game is unique. Takes time to develop Role-playing. Certainly did for me. Newbies should be encouraged by the example of the other players (in a table of newbies, I guarantee that someone will step up and Role-play.) It really is not the DM's job, but the other players taking responsibility for each other. So, no XP.

The new write-up of Session 3 is up here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My New Campaign Is About To Start


Selangod is the capitol city in the Kingdom of Selangod. There are 20,000 souls in the large city, a mix of races: 40% human, 20% Dwarf, 15% Elf, 12% Gnome, 8% Halfling, 3% Half-Orc and 2% Half-Gnoll. Trade comes and goes at a fervent pace inside the city. As the Government collects no taxes, merchants proliferate. Competition causes the best merchants to succeed but the power remains in the government – there is no business lobby. People get several chances to succeed and are never disadvantaged by any hegemony, so long as they obey the laws. King Lecrose is fair. It is common knowledge that the Royal Family has a fortune in diamonds and with his own wise investments, the King covers the cost involved in maintaining the City, the services and the armed forces. He knows what a Gold Piece is worth.

Like many of the valleys and lowlands throughout Mu, Selangod enjoys a jungle climate. It is usually hot enough to cause one to sweat, and is always humid. There are two seasons, Rainy and Sunny with the former occurring only during the last three months of the twelve-month year. It is normal for there to be a short rain every day, soon after sunrise. The kingdom has two lakes and two main rivers. The white tips of tall mountains can be seen far to the north on a clear day.

The nearest kingdom of civilized people is three hundred miles to the northwest, whose capital is called Davout. There are occasional trade caravans sent along empty roads, back and forth between this kingdom and Selangod. Davout is at war with the mighty Ogre Kingdom. There are other settlements of peoples here and there, some nearby, but most of these are small, temporary and unmapped. The majority of the jungle is thick and wild. Very, very far to the north of Selangod is a great sea, surrounded on all sides by other great kingdoms. Over three hundred miles to the south is The Endless Expanse, water with no far edge.

The Kingdom of Selangod is currently also at war with the Ogre Kingdom. King Lecrose has raised a large army of Gnolls to fight this war, although some townsfolk have also joined the war effort. The Gnolls live in the northern mountains between these two kingdoms. They have an ancient alliance with Selangod, and seem willing to maintain it. The war has long periods of coldness where only small skirmishes occur.

The religion of the Sun God, Atura, is the main religion throughout Selangod. The traditions and laws of the church are closely tied to the governmental laws. Justice is fair but swift. The God has no symbol except the sun in the sky. Priests are very often involved in government and they see to the needs of people. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep their neighbors from struggling.

King Lecrose is known for his fairness and justice but also his generosity. During his reign he has ended the burden of taxation and built a network of care-houses that do more than shelter the disadvantaged, but strive to teach and rehabilitate them. He has also wiped out the Withering Death plague. Additionally, the old and infirm are allowed to leave the world in comfort and honor on the King’s own estate, with final support given to their families. The King has no Queen, nor any known children. It is expected that he will appoint a successor at the time of his retirement, likely an important person from the official church.

The police force throughout the kingdom is fair but strict. In Selangod, it is managed by a Master and a team of Bashers. Strangers get extra attention in town from law enforcement. Those looking the part of Adventurers get harassed as adventuring is frowned upon. Weapons and armor are rarely worn by citizens. The police themselves are lightly armed. There are no “adventurer’s” shops but there is a public black market that trades in everything. It’s not illegal to shop the black market, it’s just illegal for common folks to bare arms. Licenses to carry arms and armor can be purchased with donations made to the church.

The only official duty required of the populace is the Blood Offering. Every month, on a day of the supplicant’s choosing, adult citizens are bound by religious and secular law to provide a small share of their own blood. There are many centers throughout the Kingdom where this offering can quickly and almost painlessly, be made. There has never been an incident or accident regarding this ancient and holy tradition.

Generally speaking, the people of Selangod are happy and helpful. Those that do gripe and complain are most often focused on problems outside the Kingdom: toward Ogres, strangers, and the inefficiencies in foreign kingdoms. There is a lot of opportunity for those that embrace fair business, with those seeking to take advantage of people being run out of town. Selangod insists on being a safe Kingdom.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My New Novel

I have released my novel, "Conversion," and it has a very strong D&D feel to it. It is certainly inspired by role-playing and swords and sorcery. It is available now through Lulu:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Party Rests in Armor

I received a heavy set of steel chainmail for Christmas. I wear it around town, under my huge sweatshirt, three sizes too big. It's about thirty pounds of extra weight so maybe I will burn off some of the Holiday Cheer. In any case, I slept in my armor last night to no ill effect. So I suggest that if you require your Player Characters to sleep outside of their armor when they rest, perhaps you should make an exception for chainmail. It is not uncomfortable, and I'm a light sleeper.