Author Archives: Johnn Four
Author Archives: Johnn Four
By Johnn Four Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1206 Doing something new is scary. Add in strangers, characters, someone called a game master, roleplaying, and weird dice, and stress levels rise. To help give you more confidence going into your first few games as a player, here are a few specific things you can do ahead of […]Continue reading
A Brief Word From Johnn Think too small and think too big. We’ve got a critter making a nest under our deck. We can’t see it because it’s found a good crack to inhabit. But we can hear it. It’s chewing something. Leaves maybe. Paper perhaps. The bones of some poor victim, most likely. Or […]Continue reading
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1201 Brief Word From Johnn Today I have some tips for when players get distracted by your beautiful maps and don’t pay attention to your encounter details. But before getting into those, I wanted to mention there are additional some Reader Tips this issue at the end you might want to check […]Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Today’s tips from Jonathan cover a problem I’ve experienced many times, especially at conventions. What do you do when one player goes off the rails? I especially like the example of the ranger who seemingly isn’t on the same page as the party and wants to ask “dumb” questions. While the […]Continue reading
Delegation comes naturally to some. For others, we don’t think of it, worry we might bother or offend folks, or just want to control too much. We do not have to take on the entire burden ourselves. Getting players to help us out makes the game experience better for all. Because some players want to […]Continue reading
Terve Johnn, What do you do when the dice betray your players? When the party seems to meet a dead-end? When your adventure stalls due to bad luck or bad choices? That’s the topic of today’s tips. But before you dig into them, please take the associated poll here: How to Prevent Dead End Dice […]Continue reading
RPT GM RF emailed me this question: Johnn, I’m about to start a brand new group in my AD&D 1e campaign I call ‘In a Handbasket’. All players have Dungeons and Dragons experience, but most have never played 1st Ed. I have run this campaign twice before. Once for my kids and their friends. Once […]Continue reading
Today I’ve got some great ideas for when we hand out too much treasure and game balance goes sideways a bit. And in the Reader Tips section at the end, I’ve got a 5 Room Dungeon and Campaign Puzzle tip for you. One thing in the 5 Room Dungeon tip resonated with me because I’ve […]Continue reading
* Tips on keeping better campaign notes without slowing down the pace of sessions I’ve been in the same boat. For me, I never want to cause a pause in gameplay. So it feels like I’m always too busy to take notes. However, there are a few things we can do. While I produced with […]Continue reading
Sandbox games often challenge you to fabricate encounters on the spot. I take a simple approach for this. It’s kind of cheap, when you think about it. lol. But it works. When RPT GM Scott K. emailed me, he said something that made me think about this aspect of sandbox games today: I am really […]Continue reading
From Jonathan Hardin, sojournersawake.com Hello Sojourner! My players know all of the stats for every villain I place in their path. Through searching on the internet, hours studying monster manuals, and good old fashioned wits, my players have found a way to circumvent the wonder of being surprised in battle. As GM, I want to […]Continue reading
From JohnnFour I was excited to play but bored within minutes. It became difficult to focus. I noticed other players starting to zone out too. We were on Zoom, making it even harder. Ideas and collaboration stopped. It became GM => Player => Repeat. No flow between players. No flow between party and GM. And […]Continue reading
From JohnnFour Plot Factory Tips When something automagically generates valuable plot hooks within your System, Story, or Setting, I call that a Plot Factory. Plot Factories have been mentioned before here and here. And to help you worry less about your plot hooks and adventure seeds, I want to show you today how to craft […]Continue reading
RPT GM JS asked me this question about allowing a certain player action: Hey Johnn, If you have a player cast charm monster and then speak with animals. Would you let them communicate with a Worg? I know by the letter of the rules it is a NO. But I wanted to get your take. […]Continue reading
You pour yourself into crafting the perfect ensemble of NPCs. Smith, soldier, spy. Cooper, captain, King. Game day arrives and with relish you walk them onto the stage. And guess what happens next? That’s right: Player 1: I attack the King! Player 2: I charge the spy! Player 3: How much XP is the smith […]Continue reading
When there’s good communication, it’s invisible. When there’s bad communication, everyone feels it. As an anti-social, only child introvert, I’ve always considered myself as having a low emotional quotient. I’m much more polite in writing. 🙂 At work I’ve been called direct due to my questions. Being direct is effective, in my experience. It helps […]Continue reading
Make your adventures wondrous with terrific drama. We want tension in our plots and gameplay that escalates as players get close to the climactic ending. To increase drama we raise the Stakes (what’s in it for the characters) and toughen the Conflicts (foes, hazards, obstacles, challenges). However, we shouldn’t make every encounter even more tense […]Continue reading
Dia Dhuit Johnn, How can you make travel and exploration more interesting? And what can we do about players who like to kill everything and ignore roleplay? I’ll share a couple of tips on these topics, triggered by recent emails, with you today. Too Hack & Slash Focused Roleplaying Tips GM JG emailed me yesterday: […]Continue reading
I remember getting caught with my pants down running Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. One player had magic claws that could chew through six feet of rock each round. When the party finally made their way to the villain’s lair, they bypassed an entire page devoted to the magic barriers, traps, and tricks by digging through […]Continue reading
How do you make your next combat fast and exciting effective 3 Round Combat Plans? And what are we supposed to do in each round? What is our strategy here? That’s what I show you in today’s tips, which are taken from my brand new Faster Combat 5E course launching this spring. Today, I’ll go […]Continue reading
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0796 Today I have three quick resources shared with me by RPT readers that you might be interested in. Weather Tables The first is a weather generator one-page cheat sheet by Rick Herron. He wrote in response to a Musing where I talked about a weather die-drop table for my Demonplague campaign […]Continue reading
One of my players, Colin, has stepped up to GM our group through the D&D 5E module, Out of the Abyss.
We’re taking turns being GM. He’ll run his game, then next time I run Murder Hobos, and so on. This means I’ll be GMing about once a month now.
My character is a third level cleric of Helm. Guiscard Windholme, brother of another player’s PC, Raphael. Mike and I chatted by email about making our PCs family. Raphael is always getting into trouble, and Guiscard is always trying to save him.Continue reading
Bypassing a trapped stairwell, they descend into a room with three terrible monsters (umber hulks) trapped behind bars on one side and a tough metal door on the other. The Hobos quietly investigate. However, they hear a voice on the other side of the door: “Has anyone got pants?” Then a loud thunder crack nearly shatters the portal.
This enrages the umber hulks and the creatures start battering their cage. The portal opens. On the other side is a shovel-wielding pantless half-elf. (Welcome new player James and his bard, Captain William Blien!) “Hello. I have no pants. Can you help?”Continue reading
Memorable non-player characters are distinct. Whether you created an NPC or it came out of a published adventure, it is up to you as game master to make each quest giver, tavern goer, and orc slaver different from the rest.
The key to creating a believable, distinct cast lies in your performances. This might seem daunting, especially since every other player at the table has only one character to worry about while you have dozens.Continue reading