Tag Archives: dm-advice

Interviewing Potential Players

How to find local gamers You have a vacancy in your gaming group and decide to advertise for a new player. Because there are many places online and offline potential players might look for groups you put ads in several places, casting a wide net, hoping to get a response. To your surprise, you get a few responses. However, now …

“How Hard Can It Be?” – Skill Checks under the microscope

Fans will recognise the quote used as the title of this article as something often said by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear when the trio of presenters are about to attempt a challenge posed by the show’s producers. Since it inevitably turns out that the correct answer is “Very!”, it is usually followed by one or both of the other commentators yelling “Don’t Say …

High Elf Generator + Dice Giveaway Contest

Win a set of Elven Rune dice – details at end of post Q-Workshop sent me a set of orange elven dice. The design and graceful script on their faces would give great luck to any elven PC or NPC, I’m certain. Very nice dice. Continuing on with the series started last month with a random political plot generator , this month…

Jolting The Status Quo

I created two illustrations for this article and couldn’t decide which one to use. So I’ve used both. Life’s full of surprises. Some are pleasant; others challenge us, and may even seem overwhelming. Take me, for example: I’ve been living in the same rented unit for the last 20 years or so. Last week, I was sent a termination of lease by the landlord; …

Ask The GMs: Puzzles In Your Games

William Wiese asks the GMs, “I’ve been trying to think of different ways to implement puzzles into the game and to find some that are not riddles.” Johnn’s answer: Puzzles are tricky beasts, William. And thanks for the question; it’s a good one. Tricky bit #1 My tips below will assume your group is ok with using players’ intelligence and knowledge to solve …

The Anatomy Of Evil: What Makes a Good Villain?

I’ve been watching some of my old Stargate: SG1 episodes during the last week, and (as often happens) some of the commentary (in the season 9 extras) sparked an interesting question. The discussion was about the relative merits of Apophis, Baal, and Anubis as villains. This in turn connected in my head with a discussion that I had with my co-GM in our Pulp campaign about a villain created…

A Picture Should Be Worth 1,000 Words

How good are you at doing two things at once, both of which require concentration? That’s what I thought! Few people are. And yet, we GMs often seem to expect our players to be able to do just that, and on a regular basis. We expect them to be able to take a verbal description of a scene or setting, integrate a…

Ask the GMs: What we have here is A Failure To Cooperate

Campaign Mastery was asked, GM Izzy: “I am a very green GM running a pulpy run around campaign set in modern day London, everyone has a laugh each session but it is impossible to progress with any major plot points because the party stoically refuses to coalesce into, well, a party! I have tried throwing in threats to their…

I’ve Been Framed

Curse of the Crimson Throne Pathfinder dice Q-Workshop sent me some lovely Pathfinder Curse of the Crimson Throne dice. These dice are beautiful and they made me think of politics, which then made me think about plots where an NPC or PC has been framed for a serious crime they did not commit along with clever use of spells as the punishment. What better way to celebrate …

Lessons From The West Wing II: The Psychology Of Maps

Credit: Eurobas at en.wikipedia It’s time for another of my occasional Lessons From The West Wing . This draws heavily on concepts put forward in a single episode, Episode 16 of Season 2, “Somebody’s Going To Emergency, Somebody’s Going To Jail” . Some people have decried the episode as one of the weakest in the West Wing’s repetoir, others found it illuminating. As it happened, it…

Action Trumps Description

Wise words for game masters. Authors are advised to always show, never tell. So too it is with gameplay, where more fun comes from playing things out than listening to a GM drone on. Next time you are about to start a monologue, stop and put the game back in player hands. Do this by setting a scene and giving…

A Monkey Wrench In The Deus-Ex-Machina: Limiting Divine Power

This article deals in subjects that are sensitive issues to a lot of people. Everything contained within is written from a roleplaying context and no judgements are intended regarding the validity of any individual perspective on theology or on any social issues that may be referred to; no offence is intended. It’s just a game, people. Deus-Ex-Machina…

Break Down The Door – 5 Encounter Seeds

In my article about how to be a confident game master , I mentioned I have encounter seeds ready during games that I categorise as break down the door. Campaign Mastery reader Will asked to see what these were, so here they are. Thanks for the request, Will! If gameplay slows, or if I get stuck for an idea when the NPCs do something, …

Pulling That Lever: The Selection Of Leaders In RPG Societies

Nobles from ancient Mede Okay, so for the first time since we started this online magazine/blog, one of us has missed getting a post up. Johnn struck problems with his planned post at the last possible moment, and then tried to rewrite it but missed the deadline; thought that he would be able to get it up a day late, …

Grow The Hobby With Great Game Mastering

How to tell compelling stories about your campaign to non-gamers. This month’s RPG carnival , held at Mad Brew Labs, covers the topic of growing the hobby. Topics of new player recruitment and teaching come to mind. We might also consider the industry’s image, how game companies market their products, which companies get shelf space in book stores and …

Ask The GMs: Rubbing Two Dry Words Together

Why have different languages in an RPG? How can they be used to enhance a story? And what’s wrong with Universal Translators, anyway? I have a question about using languages in fantasy RPGs. There are numerous articles and advice out there on how to create fictitious languages and make them sound realistic or add verisimilitude to the campaign setting, but that’s not my question. My question is…

Dungeonaday.com Sponsors Campaign Mastery

I love the idea of Dungeonaday.com . I use a laptop at the game table, Personal Brain software to organize my campaign, email to organize my group, and an iPad to generate content. I’m all about digital. Yet, I still have book cases filled with beloved RPG books, box sets, modules and maps. I have a large pile of books I use for my Riddleport…

Blog Carnival Wrap-Up – What Inspires Your Games?

Thanks to all the bloggers and commentators who participated in June’s carnival about what non-game media have most inspired your games and how . I was surprised by the variety of answers. I think there’s an idea or three here for any GM’s tastes. Good job everyone! Lizard Games was inspired by the clone wars, which were not explained in …

Like Sand through the Klein Bottle: Time Travel in RPGs, Part 3

Hopefully, this will wrap up the article on Time Travel! Part 1 looked at the problems of Time Travel in RPGs, and reached the conclusion that the GM had to have some understanding of the nature of time in his campaign before he could adjudicate the complexities that could result. Part Two comprised excerpts relating to the Nature of Time from…

A Journey Of 1,000 Years: Time Travel in RPGs, Part 2

.| Spiral |. by Clix The first part of this article looked at two simplistic solutions to the question of how to handle time travel in RPGs, and found that as they stood, neither was satisfactory. A number of readers were kind enough to write in, suggesting additions that could be made to these two solutions to make them more practical for game purposes. This…