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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...
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...
Sep
25

Don’t Let Fear or Anxiety Keep You Out of the GM’s Chair

Don’t Let Fear or Anxiety Keep You Out of the GM’s Chair As with any activity that requires you to perform in front of other people, GMing can be nerve-wracking. Some amount of nervousness is to be expected, but when your fears overwhelm you and you consider cancelling the session at the last minute, you can unwittingly put your entire campaign in jeopardy. Many of us creative types know how anxiety and depression can interfere with the way we want to live our lives. If you haven’t already heard Wil Wheaton’s powerful talk on anxiety, depression, and recovery, you owe it to yourself to have a listen. Our inner demons are...
Oct
13

Day 8: How do you prep for each session?

Day 8: How do you prep for each session? Almost two years ago I wrote the first post for Day 8 of the 30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge. With two more campaigns under my belt, my prep style has evolved (perhaps matured?) into a method that works for me. Well, two methods really: one I call “scene-based” session prep, and the other one more resembling a “sandbox” full of toys and other plot hooks. Which one I choose depends on the needs of the session as well as the campaign. For a linear campaign or adventure, the scene-based prep session works just fine, but for matrix-style...
Oct
17

Day 16: Investigation and Mysteries

Day 16: Investigation and Mysteries My first real roleplaying game campaign was Dark Heresy in 2008, which my friend had managed to pick up during its immediately-sold-out first print run by Black Industries. Dark Heresy was also the first game I ran myself as a fledgling GM later that year. It was serendipitous that I was able to introduce my boyfriend to the Warhammer Universe and roleplaying itself during the Dark Heresy Second Edition Beta, which as you might have heard is being revamped for rerelase next month! When asked to describe Dark Heresy in only a few words, I immediately think...

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