Tag Archives: tools & techniques

Speed Up Combat By Building Your Own Combat GM Screen

Photo courtesy of sdobie What is the number one way to make combat go faster? For D&D type games, it is mastering the rules. When you can make decisions based on accurate rules knowledge, not only do you have more options available, but you play with more effectiveness and confidence. You also need to make fewer rules references on or between turns. You help other…

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…

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 – …

My Group’s Time Thief Revealed – Chronology iPad App Review

Chronology for iPad helps me time combats I was curious to see how long combat encounters last in my Riddleport campaign , and how long my group takes on each turn to do our actions. I surfed around for a long time, looking for the right timer software, and then I finally found it, for the iPad. This is a review of how long we took to play out our…

8 Easy Ways to Organize Your Dungeon Tiles

This month’s RPG blog carnival is about cartography and mapping. So, I thought I’d talk about D&D tiles, of which I have several sets, and I like them a lot. If you own more than a couple sets of D&D tiles you understand the challenge in organizing them. The tiles are double-sided, so you want to see …

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…

Undead Foe Generator – and Skull Dice Giveaway

Win a set of these Who says undead can’t have personality? While rank and file skeletons and zombies will get mowed down faster than you can roleplay, you can turn any single undead into a remarkable NPC. To do that, you just need to add a few details beyond the stat block. Today’s generator will help you do this. Skull …

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…

Drow Generator & Dice Giveaway

Drow are soon to make their appearance in my Riddleport campaign. They are part of The Great Game being played out in the background as the characters struggle for fame and power in the pirate city. To help me GM the dark elves I created the following tables and references. Maybe they would be useful for your campaign too? Following are tables I crafted for drow generation. 100 Names &#…

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…

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…

40 Great Name Resources, Lists and Generators

Names resources for your games Great names are critical for immersion. Name an NPC Bob and you set a bad tone for any serious campaign. However, even the best GMs get stumped occasionally on generating great names. Following are links to several online names resources, lists and generators. Before diving into the links though, I have a naming tip for you. We’…

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…

New Generator: Roleplaying A Black Dragon

Make your next black dragon unforgettable Dragon encounters are supposed to be special. Black dragons are supposed to be nasty. Put them together and you get….crickets. It is tricky pulling off a great dragon encounter, especially when player expectations run high from watching movies and imagining Smaug and looking at gorgeous art in monster books. The good news is …

Stiff Upper Lip: Thinking about nations in RPGs

I’m interrupting my series on Psionics to bring you this timely post on sports and nation-building… As I write this, the local TV host is replaying highlights from the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since Johnn is Canadian and I am Australian, both Commonwealth countries, we find our respective nationalities on opposing sides. It’s a somewhat interesting …

Stiff Upper Lip: Thinking about nations in RPGs

I’m interrupting my series on Psionics to bring you this timely post on sports and nation-building… As I write this, the local TV host is replaying highlights from the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since Johnn is Canadian and I am Australian, both Commonwealth countries, we find our respective nationalities on opposing sides. It’s a somewhat interesting event, this time…

Plot flowchart example

Reader Yong Kyosunim sent in one of his plot planning documents. This was in response to Campaign Mastery’s recent post on plot flowcharts . Check it out: An example plot flowchart You can download the plot flowchart in better quality as PDF if preferred. Yong created the chart using Excel. Thanks very much for sending this in, Yong!

Game Master Tool Illustrated: Plot Flowcharts

Today I want to share a simple and fast way that makes planning easier. I was going through old gaming papers recently and came across a partially crafted plot flowchart. This would be a short plot in Myste Cryk, a home-base type campaign that ran 2005-2006. As the blog carnival for September covers preparation, I thought I’d roll out a picture of this…