Archive for the ‘Planning & Preparation’ Category

Cities Of Legend: Blueprints For Adventure

The Backstory: When my pulp co-GM and I started talking about this article, it had a very different shape. The original intention was to list the cities that we considered iconic settings for pulp adventure, and explain in each case why it had been selected to receive that accolade. As the article progressed, however, it […]

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Working The Other Side Of The Screen

Not too long back, an exchange on Twitter led me to the question – does continuing to play RPGs on a regular basis make you a better GM? I’m certainly in a position to judge, since I continue to run multiple campaigns and have, for most of the last year, been a player in a […]

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Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced) Pt 8: Depth In Plotting

This entry is part 8 in the series Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced)

This entry is part 8 in the series Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced) I’ve been asked a number of times what advice I have for a beginning GM. This 15-part series is an attempt to answer that question, three articles at a time – while throwing in some tips and reminders of the basics […]

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Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced) Pt 7: Adventures

This entry is part 7 in the series Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced)

This entry is part 7 in the series Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced)I’ve been asked a number of times what advice I have for a beginning GM. This 15-part series is an attempt to answer that question – while throwing in some tips and reminders of the basics for more experienced GMs. This is […]

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Consequential Expertise: A Neglected Plot Opportunity

Do your PCs know what they are doing? Not the players (they have no idea half the time) but the characters that those players operate – are they competent? Do they have expertise – in anything? Because there’s a type of adventure intro that seems, in hindsight, to be horribly under-used: the expert witness. Why? […]

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Ask The GMs: Many Hands, Mild Insanity: Large Groups Revisited

As I explained the last time I looked at large groups, I have only limited experience in the area, so this was one topic for which I definitely wanted to source a broader opinion base. The question at hand: If you are “fortunate” enough to have a large group of players, which games could you […]

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Throw Me A Life-line: A Character Background Planning Tool

When I was a child, I knew three of my grandparents well. My paternal grandfather and namesake, however, I have no memory of ever meeting; he died before I was born, he was only ever a photograph on the wall. I was thinking about that, and about how my experience of family was not adequately […]

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Encampments and other In-Character Opportunities

When I was starting the original Fumanor (D&D 3.x) campaign, I tried to get the players to establish the sort of routines that would come naturally in real life. You see this sort of thing in Fantasy novels all the time and it’s a great way for personalities to manifest and a useful tool for […]

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Ask The GMs: A Target With Warp Drive: Maps and Minis for Sci-Fi

This is the third of these Ask-The-GMs that I’m tackling without recourse to my usual allies and fellow-GMs. Battlemats, maps, and tiles all have a valuable role to play in creating game atmosphere and letting people get on with play. The old adage states that a picture is worth a thousand words; an appropriate terrain […]

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A Palpable Difference: 14 Points of Adventure Distinctiveness

I spent most of the weekend working on the next adventure in the Zenith-3 campaign. While this adventure mines territory that will be familiar to my players, it should not feel at all repetitive to them except in the very broad conceptual strokes, and that’s because I make an effort to make each plot different […]

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Engagement vs Involvement: The forgotten balance

Every player, and more importantly, every PC, who is participating in an RPG is a member of a team. That team can be constructed to form an idealized “machine” if the players collaborate on their character designs, but more normally, things are looser. At best, you have the GM constructing a team model in which […]

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Fun in all the right places

This article was inspired by a question raised on twitter by Kevin Mason @jackmonkeygames, or more specifically, my response to the question: Q: What’s Your Best Tip for creating a memorable character? A: Enjoy the process of creating the character. That touched on a thought that’s been tickling around the back of my head for […]

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