Author: John Fredericks

About The Author

John Fredericks

In the early 1980's, John was given the Moldvay Red Box set as a birthday gift. The Blue Expert set soon followed and the mania has yet to subside. Over the years, he has played and GMed various flavors of D&D, Star Trek, Star Wars and the odd superhero game. Most of his recent GMing has been online using virtual tabletops. While not a current photo, John assures you that he has never looked better. Sad, but true. He is the sole proprieter of Sharp Mountain Games on drivethrurpg.com.

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IN THEORY: Approaches to Social Interactions!!

Social interactions are what separate roleplaying games (rpg’s) from most other types of games. For example, how often do you talk in character in Monopoly or checkers? However, social interactions often have more gray area than other skill tests. For example, it’s easy to determine the results of a...

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IN THEORY: Gamemaster Rolls!!

Gamemasters (GM’s) occupy an unusual position. They have great power over the game, adjudicate the rules, and make major decisions. Sometimes they willingly give up that power, rolling dice and letting fortune decide the outcome. GM’s are not really players, but they’re not quite “not players” either. In this...

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The Backpocket Adventure!!

Sometimes players zag when you expected them to zig. It happens to all of us. Often it’s easy to just adapt your current adventure to the changing situation. However, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they go off into a totally different part of the world (or another plane or planet...

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IN THEORY: WHEN NOT TO RESTART!!

In a previous column, we looked at some reasons why you might want to restart with a new campaign. Maybe players have maxed out their characters, met all their goals, or maybe you just need a fresh start as a gamemaster (GM). However, there may be times when you...

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IN THEORY: WHEN TO RESTART!!

Most campaigns have a finite lifespan. At some point you’ll either wrap it up with a finale, fade into something else, or real life factors will stop it. It’s a sad duty to end a campaign. However, it offers a chance to grow as you start your next one....

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IN THEORY: The GM Levels Up!!

What player doesn’t like to “level up”? Their characters get improved abilities, and perhaps new ones as well. They can now face stronger adversaries and overcome greater challenges. It’s one of the true joys of the game. Gamemasters (GM’s) level up as well, though not in a formal fashion....

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COSTS OF BEING THE GAMEMASTER!!

There are costs to improving in any endeavor. If you want to be a great writer, artist, or 70’s disco champion, you have to pay your dues. Folks may think that good gamemastering (GMing) is just a result of natural talent. In reality, we know that there are costs...

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IN THEORY: SAVING THROWS!!

Saving Throws have been around since the beginning of the hobby. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re always easy to understand. Sometimes it can be difficult to know when to call for a particular Saving Throw, especially in some older systems. Does a “Save vs. Spells” work for every...

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IN THEORY: CALCULATING DAMAGE!!

There are numerous ways to determine damage in a roleplaying game. It may depend on the weapon (or spell) used, the skill of the combatant, and/or the roll of the dice. In this article, we’ll look at four ways of calculating damage. It’s not meant to be a master’s...

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FORGOT MY CHEAT SHEET!!

At a recent mini-convention, I was very excited to run Star Trek using my homebrew rules. I made sure I had my session notes, character sheets, dice, and a bunch of other things. Of course, what I forgot was the rules sheet. I had created a very nice table...

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HOMEBREW: LINGERING QUESTIONS!!

It’s not as easy as it looks. If you’ve ever tried to homebrew a game system, you’ve probably come to this conclusion. Systems often have fiddly bits that interact in complicated ways. Often problems rear their ugly head only during play. Some issues can be easily fixed. Maybe two...

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ANIMAL ADVENTURERS!!

We love our animal heroes. Mr. Toad, Redwall’s Matthias, and even Donald and his nephews populate our literary landscapes. The idea of playing animal characters has been around since the beginning of the hobby, and modern games continue this tradition. So what’s the attraction? Maybe playing animal characters lets...

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THEY LOVE THEM!!

At the end of one session, I asked if next week was too soon to play again. “Are you kidding?” one player said. “I’d play every day if I could.” This made me realize how much players love both the game and their characters. That love of character is...

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BOLDLY GO… OLD SCHOOL!!

Star Trek is tricky. You can’t just reskin any old science fiction scenario and expect it to feel like Star Trek. There are conventions unique to the Final Frontier. For our October gameday, I decided to run an Original Series era Trek adventure. To begin planning, I made a...

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HOMEBREW, HACK, or TOOLKIT?!!

Gamemasters (GM’s) love to tinker. At some point, probably almost every GM has thought “I could do that better.” If you plan on venturing away from published systems, several choices present themselves. In this article, we’ll look at the options of homebrew, hacking, and using a toolkit. Let’s define...

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