Author: John Arcadian

About The Author

John Arcadian

John Arcadian is a freelance writer and art director, a website developer, a builder of sonic screwdrivers, and a purveyor of kilted mayhem. When he isn't out causing trouble in his kilt... Well, no, that is pretty much what he does when he isn't running RPGs or or trying to take over the world.

What Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog Can Teach You About GMing asd
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What Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog Can Teach You About GMing!!

So if you didn’t catch Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog while it was around then you missed out on something incredible and must now go purchase it on Itunes. For those who missed it, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog stars Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, a low rent Villain trying to get into the Evil League of Evil. He has a crush on Penny, played by the incredibly hot Felicia Day, who he loses to his Arch-Nemesis The Hammer, played by Nathan Fillion. It is Joss Whedon’s writer’s strike project and an experiment in non-studio distribution methods. 1...

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Ah, the good old Scry and Fry. asd
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Ah, the good old Scry and Fry.!!

Ah, the good old Scry and Fry. The term Scry and Fry was brought to my attention recently and it got me thinking about information gathering techniques in games. In most any type of game setting there is always some element of information gathering that the player characters engage in. Whether it is asking the village elder about the dragon’s cave, going into deep intel mode before attempting to take over the rival yakuza’s base, or the ever popular “I listen at the door, what do I hear?” method information gathering is fairly key to any kind of mission....

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Tell Me How To Run a Super Short Game asd
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Tell Me How To Run a Super Short Game!!

I’m going to be running a few convention games at Origins this year. Mostly demo games for a new system, so they will be structured with all the elements layed out before I go. However, a few of the games will be games that are fairly standard but very short. 2 hours for the full game.  I’m a little nervous that I can get a good enough game out of that little amount of time. My thoughts on making it work so far? Focus On The Cool The concepts for the games are pretty interesting. Movie style zombie hordes...

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The Smell of a Good Wine, The Sound of a Crushing Bone asd
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The Smell of a Good Wine, The Sound of a Crushing Bone!!

One of the things that I love to do at the gaming table is to create a sensory experience for the players. I like to use music to set the mood, handouts and props to give a tactile feel, and unique pieces of scenery on the gaming space to create a sense of perspective. I love to get the players mentally involved in the game with outside props like this. I often fail. I start out with the best intentions. I prepare a bunch of unique props to bring into play. I lay out play lists of songs that...

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Game Balance or Catering to the Players? asd
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Game Balance or Catering to the Players?!!

Almost as big as the debate over GMs fudging or not fudging die rolls is the debate over whether games should be balanced to the rules or cater to the players enjoyment. Well maybe not so much, but it is definitely something we talk about in my gaming group. Game Balance Games (in any system) that focus more on the balance of the game elements and the rigidity of the rules are examples of this. These sorts of games usually appeal to the no fudge set. They are by the book and work within the established guidelines. Pros: Players...

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Making Challenges That Players Love To Beat asd
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Making Challenges That Players Love To Beat!!

I talked a bit before about what inspires cool gaming moments. The hardly subtle (the b is silent) tone of that post was about GMs molding their games to the players to make cool things happen. This is one of many ways to get players to talk about a game’s moments after the fact, but it is far from the only one. Here are a few more ways that I can think of. Impossible Odds When the players overcome something that is not viable in the real world it is incredibly cool. When the players overcome a challenge that...

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The Inspiration for Cool Gaming Moments asd
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The Inspiration for Cool Gaming Moments!!

For all the times that I have run a game, it is never a full campaign that is talked about after the fact, but the individual moments that make the characters shine. When Sun the warrior battled the mythic beast in one on one combat, or when Quincy, Harq, and Rikana broke into the banking guild, teleported out, blamed Merrix D’Cannith and turned the Lord of Blades against him. So what inspires moments like this? Campaign Factors A lot of GMs would like to think the design and details of their campaign inspire these moments. In some cases this...

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The Tools Of The Game asd
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The Tools Of The Game!!

The way a GM sets up their personal fortress of solitude at the gaming table is very indicative of their style. Some GMs run their games behind a stack of books and official published material, while some GMs run their games with just a pair of dice, a pencil, and a notepad. Some of us turn everything digital and call their laptop savior, while some of us make elaborate binders and organizers full of information. If the GM plays it fast and loose without dipping into the published material or setting, then the players are going to feel less...

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Illustrations vs. Descriptions: And the winner is . . . asd
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Illustrations vs. Descriptions: And the winner is . . .!!

As I’ve started to run more and more published settings and adventures, I find myself doing something new to my GMing style. I’ve been turning the adventure/setting/rule book to my players and just pointing to art that is built into the product. Using pictures to backup description isn’t a new practice to me, but I usually try to first use a verbal description to hook the players into the story, and then back it up with a picture. I also tend to find my illustrations from web sources, like Flickr) and Deviantart), or by using the awesome Firefox tool...

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