5 Tips for Gamemastering an RPG System for the First Time

5 Tips for Gamemastering an RPG System for the First Time Inspired to try your hand at running a new roleplaying game for the New Year? Approaching an unfamiliar ruleset can be daunting, but with the right tools you can learn the mechanics more quickly and easily, making for a smoother first session when you finally have a chance to play! Here are my five tips for teaching yourself a new RPG system. Tip #1: Equip Yourself with a Beginner Game, Starter Set, or Quickstart Product Publishers have tried to make it easier than ever to pick up and start playing their games. Rather than starting out by reading the whole core...

Choose Your Way to Better RPG Session Prep

Choose Your Way to Better RPG Session Prep The Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and The Witcher video game series have all made names for themselves by forcing players to make important choices throughout the game. Although decision points in tabletop roleplaying games aren’t bound by a studio’s limitations the way video games are, many game masters (myself included) don’t capitalize on our medium because we don’t consciously consider giving players meaningful choices while we plan a campaign. Instead of preparing an adventure by assembling a series of encounters, game masters can design their narratives around...

Mini RPG Campaign Template: Session 3

Mini RPG Campaign Template: Session 3 Welcome to Session 3 of the Mini RPG Campaign Template, our own Empire Strikes Back of the universal hero cycle. You’ve introduced the PCs to a supernatural/powerful mentor or ally in the previous session, and after the PCs traveled to the first new location they tackled the first of three subplots (or side quests). Having been introduced the world, the conflict, the actors, and the stakes, we’re headed into Act 2 territory. A word of caution as we proceed: the second act is notoriously difficult to plan and prep. You might have experience with the slog that is the...

ConTessa: Games by Underrepresented Voices for Everyone

ConTessa: Games by Underrepresented Voices for Everyone The organization dedicated to building diversity in tabletop games by increasing the visibility and number of women-led events at gaming conventions is expanding its umbrella to include all marginalized people. Founded in 2012 by Stacy Dellorfano, ConTessa has been running tabletop games online and off, hosting panels on the creative process and professional development, and offering articles on everything from gaming tips to designer diaries “by women, for everyone.” As of December 2016, ConTessa has expanded its representation from women to everyone on the LGBTQ+...

The Top Five Crits of 2016

The Top Five Crits of 2016 2016 is almost over! (I think we all have some opinions about that.) I struggled, I rumbled, I grew, and I celebrated various successes. I was extremely thankful to be invited to write for the Geek & Sundry blog and to speak at NerdCon: Stories in Minneapolis. I got to hear so many strong women speak at GeekGirlCon in Seattle, and I had a blast catching up with my college gaming group at Origins in Columbus. Come 2017, I look forward to being the guest of honor at GamerNationCon 4 in Austin and to announcing some exciting projects that I began work on in 2016....

Give the Gift of Mental Health to Yourself or a Fellow Gamer

Give the Gift of Mental Health to Yourself or a Fellow Gamer As much as we gamers love to talk about our favorite games, characters, and designers, it can still be immensely difficult for gamers suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental disorders to talk about their own experiences and reach out to professionals and to their friends for the support they need. After the tragic suicide of a colleague, veteran journalists Russ Pitts and Susan Arendt with clinical psychologist Dr. Mark Kline created the Take This charity to help gamers struggling with mental illness know that they don’t have to go it alone. The 501...

Split the Party without Dividing Interest

Split the Party without Dividing Interest Tucked away on the copyright page of the fifth edition Player’s Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons, the publisher writes, “Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, […] or saying yes when the DM asks, ‘Are you really sure?’” In dark dungeons that are designed for full-strength parties of adventurers, splitting the party almost always leaves the groups too weak or ill-equipped to combat any monsters and hazards. Splitting the party can be dangerous to the player characters, but it represents another deadly...

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