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Starting a West Marches Campaign – Step By Step

Starting a West Marches Campaign (Part 1) Some time ago, I decided to start a West Marches type campaign with the idea of an episodic, easy-to-prep game for a group changing players in mind. So, I started to research the topic. Reading Tips Google was a good jump off point, and I found this post […]

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My 7 Keys to a Great Sandbox Game

New RPT GM Eddie asked for advice on homebrewing adventures: I love that a campaign can be going strong that long. The one I’m running is like 6 months old. Even though I’m pretty new to the game (less than a year) I’ve been looking more into old school revival and alternative materials because although […]

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Story Sparks — A Way To Improv Better

Ever make a fire from scratch, without matches or gasoline? Every material has an ignition temperature where a spark lights it up. The shirt you’re wearing probably ignites around 267°C or 513°F. Wood is about 300°C / 572°F. And what about our encounters? What ignites them? More on that in a sec. To start a […]

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My Monsters Sucked Until I Discovered This Special Approach

I realized last month I’ve been in a rut slinging boring monsters. This troubled me because boring foes = boring games (h/t to Slapchop). In my Terror in the Badlands campaign, for example, we had a crazy battle in a ruined underground city against a white dragon. It was tricksy with its moves, actions, and […]

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Celebrate Your Encounter Locations This Way

Make your locations memorable. And incorporate the story. Do those two things to make encounters even better. Here’s how: Features => Twist => Secret Let’s see what to do for each part: Figure Out The Special Features First, give your location a Purpose. Sometimes the game role for the location differs from the Purpose. This […]

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Power Your Plots With Simple Rumour Tables

The Keep is a monthly D&D campaign, just three sessions old, where the PCs have been shipwrecked on the mysterious jungle island of Barbossa. In session one, I used a rumour table to drop several plot hooks into play to give the sandbox immediate direction. Each player rolled a d20 and received their own rumour. […]

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Storymastery: More Examples of Bad Reveal Timings

Last Musing, we talked about how to stage your prophecies for maximum effect. Reveal your prophecy too soon, and players won’t be invested. They won’t care because they have not bonded with your campaign yet. And then even the best prophecy destined to hit your table will feel like a gimmick. There are other campaign […]

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Your Campaign Agenda => Best Campaign Ever Part II

There’s a moment mid-campaign when my inner voice screams out: “I’ve lost the plot! What the #@$% is going on? What the #@$% do I do now?” (Sorry, in-skull Johnn has a potty mouth.) When I’m off the rails as a GM it’s panic time. …Everything feels like it’s crap. …The campaign’s falling to pieces. […]

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The Four Levers That Inevitably Pull Players Through Your Adventures

I’m writing right now in my Guide to 5 Room Dungeons about Push versus Pull. Push GMing means forcing players in a certain direction. But players are their own beings. They think and act independent of your wishes. You cannot control another person. Therefore, you cannot control your players. If you try, everyone just gets […]

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Create Your Special GM Moves

Adventures get repetitive and boring. “Bring me another 10 scorpion tales!” Even megadungeons and campaign paths can grind you down. I received an email from a subscriber who asked how to keep players engaged. He caught one player even playing video games on their phone during sessions. The best way I know how to keep […]

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When Do I Peel Back The Cosmic Curtain In My Campaigns?

Sveiki %FIRSTNAME%, Grand campaigns take characters from weaklings to near demi-gods. Intrigue campaigns have shadowy layers with a central truth hidden deep in the core. Mega-plot campaigns have a pyramid of villains and factions piled atop each other like an Ikea storage unit. How do we know what truths to reveal? When do we reveal them? I’ve found […]

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An Example Of The Creature Feature For Your 5 Room Dungeon Designs

Without a key idea or theme, our adventures can feel like an uninspired assortment of random ideas. Our adventures fail to make an impact and they fall apart. One awesome solution is to create a Feature. Before you begin adventure design, choose a Feature. Pick a central idea and build your five rooms out from […]

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Use The Feature Method To Make Adventure Design A Whole Lot Easier

Before you put pen to paper designing your next 5 Room Dungeon, do this one quick thing to greatly improve your design. When I build 5 Room Dungeons I often find it’s a struggle to make them more than just an assortment of encounters. Make It Pop A designer I worked with had a massive […]

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New Mad Lib: Instant Magic Items

Got another Mad Lib for you today. This one is for special item creation and is inspired by the Perilous Deeps book for Dungeon World. Just fill in the blanks to make an interesting item: This item [DOES ACTION] [TO A THING] and the wielder [CAN CONTROL IT] which [CAN BE USED SOMETIMES]. For example: This item allows for communication with predatory […]

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