Category: Tools for GMs

The Prince of Redhand, one of the great social encounter scenarios. (Dungeon 131, February 2006.

As I run almost exclusively in the d20 fantasy sphere of games — Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, d20 Modern — one of the tools that gets used often is a combat grid, whether it is a published or dry-erase footmat, HirstArts tiles of my construction or printed cardstock tiles. But should you use the grid for social encounters? You might think the default decision for social encounters is to never use the grid, reasoning that if the players aren’t focused on the table, then they […]

I recently completed a few months of public play that went far better than I’d imagined. On Wednesdays last fall, we played D&D Encounters. At my table, I had a drop-in-group of 4 or 5 pretty consistent players, with several more who showed up for a session or two. They completed the Encounters storyline in early December, then travel and holidays reared their head–along with confusion as to what we’d tackle next. When we broke, the GMs were divided on the next step since we […]

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Some game designers, GMs, and podcasters have been discussing racism in fictional worlds. It’s an issue that touches fields well beyond tabletop roleplaying. Your game may benefit from the strategic introduction of racism to the game world, though it can easily go wrong. Below are perspectives on incorporating racism in games, in tabletop and video games. (Note: Discussion of race and handling race can be terribly fraught. I’m not the best guide, but follow the links and you’ll find worlds of perspective to consider.) Recent […]

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I recently picked up The Art of Ian Miller, a gorgeous book jam-packed with illustrations by one of my favorite fantasy artists. I picked it up not only because I love Ian’s artwork and I’ll enjoy having the book in my collection, but because it gave me an idea: The “art book campaign,” a campaign built around and inspired by the contents of one or more art books. Here’s how it works, broken down into steps with my own examples for each step. 1. Buy […]

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Admittedly I’m a bit of an easy sell when it comes to inserting technology into my tabletop games. My viewpoint tends to be one of “take any tool given” and try to find a way to make my games better. So when I heard about Syrinscape my interest was piqued, essentially since I’m a big fan of incorporating many senses into one’s games. Using audio in your games isn’t groundbreaking, but Syrinscape brings a new methodology that might fit right in your wheelhouse. Many Sounds, […]

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As promised, here is an example of the method presented in the earlier article Random Mega Generation Via 5 Room Iterations. The method aims to create a large scale megadungeon in modular chunks with minimal work. Our first step is to create the main map by combining a random number of 5 room dungeons. Each room will represent a realm, a large dungeon area with an overarching theme and several smaller sub-areas. I started with a 1d4 roll for the number of 5 room chunks […]

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Mega dungeons are difficult to fully detail because of their sheer size. Here is a random dungeon generation system that helps make the process easier in two ways. First, it creates chunks all at once instead of single rooms, and second it’s modular so that you can design only as much as you need and have rough notes on the rest of what you’ve made while still allowing you to tack on additional content later and still have a coherent whole. The basic building blocks […]