Use My Core Gameplay Loop When Your Game Stalls

During Monday’s game master coaching session, one GM, Mr. Snakes, encountered a plot block. His players had just completed an epic 5 Room Dungeon on a demon-infested ship, caught up in faction play while trying to solve a murder mystery. (Well done, Mr. Snakes!) He asked about my core gameplay loop because, after the ship […]

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How to Transform Passive Players Into Ones Who Seize the Day

RPT GM D echoes a sentiment I’ve heard from many GMs lately in my workshops and inbox: players are not seizing the plot and initiating gameplay. Instead, the GMs are doing the heavy lifting. Yet, despite carpet bombing plot hooks and poking the party with sharp irons — creating extra work and stress behind the […]

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Wield the Unseen Ripples in Your Campaign

How do you motivate players to seize the story? RPT GM D asks: Thanks for your email and tips. When I read your opening sentence I was expecting a very different tack from you. I read it as ‘GMs being frustrated that players won’t make any decisions or show initiative’ and your response was about […]

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5 Heroic Campaign Strategies You Can Apply from the Dragonlance Chronicles

Last night I turned the last page on Dragonlance Chronicles #1, Dragons of Autumn Twilight. What an amazing book. The fourth time I’ve read it. This read-through, however, I pored over the pages like I was a game master running such a story. Through that lens, I added five items to my Basilica GM’s Agenda […]

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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. 🙂 During a convo we started up […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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

This is Part II of a series on How to Make Encounters Fun. Read 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 […]

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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! 🙂 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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