Tag Archives: inspiration

Drow: Ways to avoid backstory stereotypes.

Recently, the Drow have been all the rage! Everything from the expansion pack for Dungeons and Dragons Online to the Underdark and Menzoberranzan supplements, the blood red skull spider has been blazon on my facebook and all over the internet for some time now, I recently even took the facebook quiz to find out which Drow house best suits you, and… Read More »

How To Fall In Love With GMing Again + iPad App Review of Daily Notes

Write down your ideas when they come to you. This core GM tip gets repeated often in the Roleplaying Tips newsletter for good reason. If you do not record your ideas, they could get lost or fuddled, and I find nothing more frustrating when my brain pumps out a super idea only to ignore or forget it. How To GM More Often Writing…

Top-Down Plug-in Game Design: The Perfect Recipe?

Click on the image to see a larger version As someone who writes about RPGs

It’s Reality, Jim, but not As We Know It: St Barbara

Two of the most important skills that I added to the Hero System when I was writing my House Rules for my Champions campaign were Paranormal Physics and Paranormal Biology . The first explains how powers work using game physics – and therefore can also be used to determine potentials that the character had not thought of, and training methods to bring them out. It can also be…

On The Nature Of Flaws

Disclaimer: This article was prompted and inspired by my receipt of a free copy of Player’s Option: Flaws from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, but it is largely based on my experience with the Hero System. 4 Winds did not solicit this review and did not recieve notice of the content. /Disclaimer So that we’re all on the same page, let’s start with a quick review of just…

Zot! Zap! Crash! Character Conventions In Pulp (Continued)

A real thompson submaschine gun in a violin case This article is being co-written by Blair Ramage, with whom I co-referee a Pulp Hero campaign. Although it started as a single item, it has grew so substantially that it became necessary to split it into multiple parts. The first part dealt with the relationship of genre to other aspects of a roleplaying game, and furnished a…

‘Tis The Season: A Christmas Scenario

Christmas Tree by Enimal A few years ago I ran a Christmas-oriented scenario in my superhero campaign, and it was pretty successful on a number of fronts – so much so that I thought it worth taking the time to tell you all about it. Scenario Premise The concept of the scenario itself is remarkably simple: I had the characters do their christmas shopping and then give each …

Johnn’s 2010 Year in Review

How high do you dream? Today I go over my 2010 goals to see how I graded. In part two, in an upcoming post, I talk about my 2011 goals and let you know what kind of posts and products you’ll see from me next year. I believe goals make you more effective, whether you are aiming to improve your game mastering or running a business. Focus…

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 …

All This And Psionic Spam: Examining Psionics, Part 4 of 5

Last time out, I started examining the concept of The Internet as an analogy or metaphor for Psionics, especially telepathy – but ran out of time after looking at only 7 web phenomena of a planned 21. So here we go, with the next seven: 8. The World Wide Web Everyone knows someone else who knows something useful. This information is the telepathic equivalent of a hyperlink, a connection…

The Value Of Information: Examining Psionics, Part 3 of 5

This, and the two parts that preceded it, were all originally intended to be one post, and a relatively smallish article at that. The decision to incorporate material from the game rules that I had written relating to the subject put paid to that concept, but I felt it was a necessary preamble. Finally, though, we have all caught up with each other on the subject, and…

Neurons & Lobes: Examining Psionics, Part 2 of 5

In part 1, I explained that the imminant advent in my supers campaign of a character who is a powerful psionic has had me thinking about Telepathy quite a bit recently. I then began to excerpt selected rules and background material from the campaign rules relating to the subject. The first part focussed on the metagame and game mechanics concepts around which psionics…

The Mind’s Eye: Examining Psionics, Part 1 of 5

Lately I’ve been thinking about Telepathy quite a lot. I know that a psionic character will be joining the team in the next phase of my Zenith-3 superhero campaign, and I want to have the a solid handle on all the wrinkles that come with it. I want some simple analogy that I am instantly familiar with – as will my players – to enable me to grasp …

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 …

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…

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 …

We All Have Our Roles To Play: A Functional Perspective on Personality Archetypes, Part 1

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. Filling out a team roster is often a case of players selecting from a chinese menu – “let’s see, we need a fighter, a mage, a rogue, a cleric, and once those are filled, anyone else can…

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…

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 …