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Dec
31

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....
Dec
22

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...
Dec
19

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...
Dec
12

Craft Custom Holidays for your RPG Campaign

Craft Custom Holidays for your RPG Campaign ’Tis the season for holiday specials, so why not bring some of the magic to your roleplaying game campaigns as well? Using an existing holiday from your game’s setting or crafting a new holiday of your own can provide a fun change of pace for the campaign, lend a sense of verisimilitude to the game world, and help your players celebrate the season in a unique way. The Reason for the Season Holidays come about for many different reasons. Cultures mark transitions that are meaningful to them, be they the changing of the seasons or years or the progression through...
Dec
3

Find Your Center and Your People with Geeky Yoga

Find Your Center and Your People with Geeky Yoga It’s never been a better time to be a geek, and now you can even get your nerd on while working out! Geek-tastic versions of yoga classes featuring such fandoms as Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, and The Legend of Zelda are cropping up at major pop culture conventions and in cities across the U.S. At these classes, you can cast off a Dementor with a wand and Warrior II, or channel the power of the Triforce in Triangle Pose. No matter your ability level or body type, you can pursue wellness while meeting others with similar interests. I caught up with Justine...
Nov
8

How to Integrate Character Backstories into RPG Campaigns

How to Integrate Character Backstories into RPG Campaigns Your players have sent you their character info for your next campaign and, as their game master, you want to incorporate their backstory elements, but you’re not sure where to start. Here’s how to break down their histories into managable pieces and utilize them throughout your campaign in a way that resonates with players. Create Obstacles Between the Characters and Their Goals One of the ways to make an RPG campaign that truly engages players is to craft a story that features their goals as subplots, sidequests, or even the central story arc. First, however, you...
Oct
26

Why Novelists Make Great (and Terrible) Game Masters

Why Novelists Make Great (and Terrible) Game Masters Last weekend, NerdCon: Stories came to Minneapolis to celebrate storytelling in all its forms. As a featured guest, I got to give a talk about narrative structure in my favorite medium for telling stories: tabletop roleplaying games. Ever since I discovered tabletop RPGs, I knew I wanted to be a game master. I wanted to be the person on the other side of the screen, the one who devises the adventures and portrays the world to the players. Coming as I did from a fiction-writing background, I thought it would be a pretty easy switch: I could use everything I’d learned...

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