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...

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...

Day 22: Novel Advice for RPGs

Day 22: Novel Advice for RPGs As any reader of my blog knows, I’m an aspiring writer. And like most aspiring writers, I’ve often substituted the act of writing with reading about writing. While this hasn’t done much for improving my craft in a practical sense, it does mean that I’ve absorbed a lot of narrative structure and literary element theorycraft. (It does help a lot with developmental editing, however.) For this reason, I’ve always approached RPGs from an author’s perspective, which isn’t always useful considering that one medium is interactive and...

Is Too Much Player Agency a Bad Thing?

Is Too Much Player Agency a Bad Thing? Last night my players turned to me and asked, “Where do you want us to go? You’re the GM; what do you have prepared?” I blinked, smiled, and confessed, “I’m equally unprepared for both options! What would your characters do?” Crickets. (Prep-lite is both a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.) After getting burned by a few sessions where my own character had been outclassed and outwitted this summer, I wanted to avoid the dreaded “railroad” in my own game, opting instead for a sandbox-style world. I based the story...

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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