Tag Archives: game mastering

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 2: Getting Enthusiastic About Rules

Last time around, Johnn described (via exerpted email) his difficulty in getting enthusiastic about reading rules. Johnn has been making a common mistake, and it’s one that I have been guilty of myself in the past. When reading rules becomes tiresome, we avoid reading and re-reading the rules because we have the impression that we have to read them in one solid…

Roll vs Boredom: Mentally Challenged

Roll vs Boredom is an ongoing project to fight off boredom from behind the game master’s screen.  My challenge to myself, to create one signature mechanic for every “adventure” I run in my current campaign, whether that be one night of play or a whole month to complete.   In the first article of this series, I discuss the…

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 1: Introduction

In October, my co-author and partner here at CM contacted me to ask, (Extensively Paraphrased:) Something that has slipped away from me this past decade is a solid knowledge of the rules I game with. This lack of foundation has a number of serious consequences. Good thing I trust my players so much. Not having rules expertise undermines my position as GM and expert. …

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 1: Introduction

In October, my co-author and partner here at CM contacted me to ask, (Extensively Paraphrased:) Something that has slipped away from me this past decade is a solid knowledge of the rules I game with. This lack of foundation has a number of serious consequences. Good thing I trust my players so much. Not having rules expertise undermines…

The Ubercharacter Wimp: Plotting within your PCs limitations

This week I thought I would describe a tool that I came up with to help me create quick and easy NPCs, called The Ubercharacter Wimp, or TUW. Three into TUW The concept is really simple: in a document of some kind, I list the highest and lowest scores for each of the stats, as well as the group’s average. I follow that with an alphabetical…

The Ubercharacter Wimp: Plotting within your PCs limitations

This week I thought I would describe a tool that I came up with to help me create quick and easy NPCs, called The Ubercharacter Wimp, or TUW. Three into TUW The concept is really simple: in a document of some kind, I list the highest and lowest scores for each of the stats, as well as the group’s…

We All Have Our Roles To Play: Personality Archetypes, Part 3

The Premise Archetypes for RPGs are usually defined either by the psychology of the character or the abilities of the character, but other classifications systems are possible. These can yield a different perspective, which can be invaluable. This series’ approach is based not so much on what the characters could do as a team, but of how the characters fit into a team. I have defined 27 …

We All Have Our Roles To Play: Personality Archetypes, Part 2

The Premise Everything that I’ve ever read on the subject has defined archetypes for RPGs either in terms of the psychology of the character or the abilities of the character, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there are other classifications that are possible, and these yield a different perspective that can be invaluable. This approach is based…

The Rule of Three

Making an interesting, evocative  scene that invokes the senses of your players is the holy grail of GMing, and it can be made a bit more achievable by following what I call the “Rule of Three.” Simply put, the Rule of Three involves picking at least three things to describe to give a bit more realism to a…

Review: DM’s Kit for D&D 4th Edition Essentials

The DM’s Kit for 4th Edition D&D’s Essentials line is out, and there’s something strange about it.  But I’m ahead of myself…I’ll get to that in a moment. First, the product itself.   This is more than just a book for the DM, it’s a boxed set for the DM.  Let’s take things one at a time, …

Dark Sun Campaign Prep – The Introduction

You awaken to the sound of trumpets nearby, and find it blends rather un-harmoniously with the ringing in your ears. Unfocused vision meets and even more unfocused mind as you begin to remember who you are. As your eyes clear, you notice the others around you. You begin shaking each other awake, and you find you have more questions than answers. Looking …

“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 …

Dark Sun Campaign Prep – the Challenges of Starting a New Game

The opportunity to start a new campaign is usually both a challenge and joy for most GMs. In the planning of my new Dark Sun campaign, the challenges appeared first. I had been wanting to start a new game for quite some time, and I had intended to run Star Wars Saga Edition. To that end, I purchased nearly the entire set of …

Let’s Have A Good Clean Fight…

I’ve written on this topic before, but only as part of a larger subject. But I recently had occasion to expand the EL-CR chart that I created for my own use, and decided to share it with our readers – and have written this Blog Post to explain what it is and how I use it. This is a chart …

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…

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…

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…

Eureka! – Some inspiring notions

There is a cooking show in Australia (it actually started in the UK, and a US version was recently announced) called Masterchef Australia. The goal of the series is to identify and winnow through the best amatuer cooks in the country until they are left with the one best cook of the bunch, who gets $100,000 and a book deal. Along the way, they are expected …

How To Be A Confident GM, Part 2

Treasure your confidence Confidence is key to having fun long term as a game master. Last week we covered several tips on how to become a confident GM , and this week we deliver more. Collaborate Say yes whenever possible. Get into the habit of building on player input and ideas instead of overwriting them. Pass ideas around so others can add …

How To Be A Confident GM, Part 1

Treasure your confidence Gnome Stew recently posted an article about running on minimal prep game . One of the points was to GM with confidence, and that got me wondering about how exactly do you be a confident GM? Following are a few ingredients to that recipe. I look forward to your comments about what you do to bolster your confidence. GMing is 80% confidence…