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Jan
13

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...
Jan
8

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...
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...
Aug
7

How to Create RPG Campaign Subplots

How to Create RPG Campaign Subplots “I like to call [subplots] supporting plots. They are there to support the main plot.” – McDonald, Brian. Invisible Ink (p. 100). Libertary. Kindle Edition. Subplots in roleplaying games are the side quests you go on to help accomplish one of your goals. When the NPC you need to talk to has gone missing, or when the NPCs asks you to travel to do some task or collect some item for him before he’s willing to help you, that’s a subplot. They’re the bread and butter of video games and roleplaying games alike. The conflict added to the story by subplots both provides...
Jul
15

AoA Adventure Design School: “The Worth of a Slave”

AoA Adventure Design School: “The Worth of a Slave” I just got back from Staples with booklets for “The False and the True” and “The True Lesson Learned,” parts two and three respectively of the first chapter of Baldman Games’ living-style 4e Dark Sun game, Ashes of Athas. Once again I’m struck by the quality and depth of the adventure design, replete with maps, custom monsters, and a compelling story that balances role-play with combat very well. Indeed, my quest for these “convention-exclusives” started when I saw this on Critical Hits: [divider] I swear that the Ashes...

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