Tag Archives: mike

Taming The Time Bandits: Some time-saving combat techniques

Synopsis Of The Problem In Johnn’s last blog post, “My Group’s Time Thief Revealed,” he described his discovery that the chief drag on the pace of his combat was the GM, despite his expectations to the contrary. While he did not track the components of his activity, he was able to dismiss a couple of factors out of hand – …

Perfect Skin: Some Musing On The Design Of Monsters

Monsters generally come in three parts: Stat Blocks, Descriptive passages (which some people refer to as Fluff), and Templates, enabling you to add the “monster description” to an existing race – sort of an ersatz Class. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the differing values and usefulness of books on the subject. NB: This is an unabashedly d20/3.x article. YMMV with other game systems. Reskinning…

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…

The failure of …urmmmm… Memory

The thing that I hate most about being a regular blog writer is that your best ideas come to you when you have absolutely no chance to write them down and no hope of remembering them. In my head yesterday – the only medium available to me – I wrote no less than three absolutely brilliant and insightful articles for Campaign Mastery. Of …

Experience for the ordinary person

Johnn’s recent mention of the Ostrich-GM approach he sometimes takes to the question of how Administrators and Nobles get their character levels (comments, City Government Power Bases – Class and Level ) struck a chord. There are really only two answers besides the close-you-eyes-and-hope-it-goes-away approach, and adopting one of them has some interesting implications for the rest of the game…

Clang! Crash! Pow! Game Mastering The Pulp Genre

If all has gone according to plan, you are now looking at the final part of what’s been a massive series on the Pulp Genre. This article is mostly afterthoughts and GM advice that I’ve culled from many discussions with players and with my co-GM, Blair Ramage, together with some stuff straight from my own head. It’s a cleanup article, let&#…

Bang! Blat! Whoomph! Character Conventions In Pulp (Continued)

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 context for the whole series. The…

Too Much Life for The Living: March 2011 Blog Carnival

One more article for the Blog Carnival! Next time, I’ll get back to the series on Pulp Genre Conventions, if everything goes according to plan… A Variant Combat System for D&D 3.x Is healing too easy in D&D? Sometimes it seems like Clerics are little more than magical drip bottles, especially in more tactically oriented campaigns and adventures, like the typical dungeon. Only when adventures …

Pow! Wham! Bang! Story Conventions In Pulp

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 grown so substantially that it has become 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 context for the…

Bam! Zap! Crunch! World Conventions In Pulp

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 grown so substantially that it has become necessary to split it into multiple parts. World Conventions In researching this article, a couple of other websites came to our attention, one of which divided the genre conventions for pulp fiction into three …

Lessons From The West Wing III: Time Happens In The Background

One of the best pieces of writing/direction that I’ve ever seen in a TV production takes place in a later episode of the series, in season 6 or perhaps 7, and it’s something that has made an indelible mark apon my awareness and handling of the passage of time in my campaigns. The Scene One character (Josh Lyman) has been away from the…

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 5: Rules Touchstones – Combat

In the course of part 2 of this series, which was all about overcoming a resistance to studying rules for their own sake, I suggested that the GM learning a new set of rules should watch for patterns, and use them to make understanding the rules a little easier. Starting in this part of the series, I’m going to start explaining some of those patterns. and how…

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 4: The Quality of Rules

A lot of blogs and articles talk about “realism” (or verisimilitude) in RPGs and how to achieve it. Campaign Mastery is no different in this respect, a number of my articles having dealt with the subject. Over the last few weeks, as I write this, I’ve been spending time thinking about a fundamental question that a lot of these articles …

Things Done and left Un-done

I keep unfinished article ideas in a text document on my computer. When I first started writing Campaign Mastery, I set up a list containing some seventy-odd ideas deriving from material I had produced for my different campaigns. In the past year, that list has, quite obviously, reduced in size – by all of four entries. In November, I moved apartments, and my computer was …

‘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 …

Rules Mastery For Dummies & Busy GMs Part 3: Student, Tutor Thyself

Back when I was first given a copy of the Champions Game System, it was only the third genre of game that I had ever been exposed to: The first was FRP (In the form of AD&D) and the second was Science Fiction (in the form of Space Opera). As a comics fan from way back, I was immediatly super-enthusisastic, which made learning the rules a …

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…

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…