Johnn Four

Author Archives: Johnn Four

Write More Engaging Room Descriptions

Description Sorcery from a Wordsmithing Warlock Crafting concise and evocative descriptions provides a huge boon for our storytelling prowess. Descriptions serve as the bridge between our imagination, character perceptions, and player choices. A well-made description: Jeremy Brown is a repeat offender, er, contributor, to the Roleplaying Tips Newsletter. πŸ™‚ During a convo we started up […]

Continue reading

Great Snakes! What To Do When You’re GMing a Single Player or Small Group

RPT GM Kevin asks: I finally have a group to start DMing for. It’s a group of 1, well 2, including me. He’s a newer player, so I’m thinking buffing the party out with some NPCs once the challenges get tougher. Any advice? Hey Kevin! Thanks for the question. Here are a few thoughts. Add […]

Continue reading

A Mad Lib For Your Devil’s Bargains

This is Part III of a series on How to Make Encounters Fun. Read Part I, Part II, and Part IV here. On Tuesday I shared a favourite GM tool that gives us a few boons: This tool is The Devil’s Bargain, and you can read Tuesday’s article about it here. Now, there are a […]

Continue reading

How to Offer Diabolical Choices to Make Rewards Feel Well-Earned

This is Part II of a series on How to Make Encounters Fun.Β ReadΒ Part I, Part III, and Part IV here. There are three main things I look at when trying to make encounters fun: While encounters have many ingredients, dials, and levers, if you hit high notes with challenge, plot, and your energy, you’ll make […]

Continue reading

Why Story Gets the Horse’s Rump at My Table

Here’s something that might not be popular. I don’t know. But I see a lot of GMs online talk about the importance of story. And story is the last thing I care about when running a game. Ok, there it is. I’ve said it out loud. Gather your pitchforks and torches, lads and lasses! πŸ™‚ […]

Continue reading

Evolving Hex Crawls: My New Approach Where Sandbox Meets Hex Crawl

You know how my preferred campaign design approach is Sandbox meets Crawling meets Adventure Path? I wrote on that recently here. Well, over the weekend I tweaked it a bit. On the surface, it’s just wordplay. But to me, it’s an exciting change in how I do things behind the screen. First let’s review. My […]

Continue reading

Epic Tower Quest: A Campaign Seed With Strategy, Intrigue, and Adventure

RPT GM NecroFileMD shared their cool Campaign Seed with us over at Campaign Community. You might use this idea for a campaign, an adventure, or even some fascinating lore for your world. Here’s the Campaign Seed: I run a homebrew tower climber campaign based on 5E. A 100 floor tower has appeared in the center […]

Continue reading

d6 Polar Adventure Seeds

To celebrate the release of my latest GM Cheat Sheet, the Polar Adventures Generator, here are a half-dozen adventure seeds to help kickoff your next chilling adventure! Please note, the 9 GM Cheat Sheet adventure bundle sales ends tonight at midnight Eastern. Get the entire collection for 25% off here. Alternatively, you can pick up […]

Continue reading

1d6 Ways To Create Deadline Urgency In Encounters

Add some element of urgency to almost every encounter as a GM habit you develop, if you haven’t already. When we do this, we get many GMing benefits: An effective way to create urgency is to build in a deadline. Have the players and their characters race against the clock. Here are 1d6 ways to […]

Continue reading

This Diagram Offers A Simple World-Building Trick

Here’s a cool biome diagram sourced by @Jear77 on the Roleplaying Tips Discord: I hear you saying: Johnn, this isn’t a simple diagram, dude. How’s this a simple world-building trick? Roger that. But bear with me for a sec. I researched a bit to figure out what’s happening in this triangle graph. It uses something […]

Continue reading

The Merchant’s Machination of Relic Reagents

RPT GM Jabmist shared this cool plot with me yesterday: In a campaign I was running, the party had to go to the elemental plane of fire and kill a demon lord who was causing mischief. To get there, they had to trade with a merchant who collected rare and expensive things (to buy necklaces […]

Continue reading

The Riches of World-Building: Spending Party Treasure

A 5E GM expressed frustration to me over the limited ways in which players can spend their loot: The only issue with treasure as plot devices, and I already see it within the game. There isn’t anything to buy with the gold and riches you reward. In 5E, magic isn’t supposed to be bought and […]

Continue reading

Be The Ultima GM And Reward Tarot-Able Play

Here’s a fun way to reward virtuous roleplay. RPT GM Rafael reached out to me yesterday with this great tip about another use for tokens: For many years I have been doing something pretty similar to what you suggested as player rewards. It kind of looks like video game achievements, you know, when you do […]

Continue reading

When There’s TOO MANY Awesome Hooks

During a chat I had with RPT GM Omar last night, he mentioned this tricky problem: I also had a great holiday season and got a new Cthulhu-themed rulebook I’m eager to try. I really downgraded my prep in favour of a dynamic world that reacts to any player choice. That is, until some player […]

Continue reading

Add Details With Panache And Choice

Details are important for vibrant roleplay. But making them up all the time becomes difficult. Previously, @CasualOnesRay and @ExileInParadise tipped us about inviting players to provide details to help the GM out. Ask questions like: I often like to take this a step further. It depends on the group and each player. But imagine this […]

Continue reading

XP For RP? The One Thing I Reward Roleplaying Experience Points For Now

If you have time, I’d love to hear how you award XP for roleplaying. I love the idea but my concern would be that I might turn into a judge – “your roleplay was pretty good, but not great, so you get 100 XP” etc. And players roleplaying for my amusement would become a not-fun […]

Continue reading

A New Year, New Campaign Tool For You

Here’s a Mad Lib you might find useful for your GM Toolbox. There’s a January tradition in the RPG community. It’s called New Year, New Campaign. You might start a campaign. You could also run a different game system. I like to add a third option: campaign reboot. Why not take the opportunity of setting […]

Continue reading