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Idea: Living Spell

Here’s a cool Wednesday idea for your game sent to me by Aramax over at Strolen’s Citadel. What happens when a spell goes awry? Perhaps it’s a miscasting? Maybe a foe warps three simultaneous effects cast upon him. Maybe it’s a research mishap. Of the many ways spells could change and twist unexpectedly, a few […]

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Resonance Part II: How to Create Resonance

Last Musing we talked about how to get apathetic players to care about your adventure by using Theme and Resonance. Theme is about choosing, designing, and introducing gameplay elements that focus on your campaign goal. Resonance is about choosing themes that will draw your players in and make them care deeply about what happens during […]

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Mad Lib Template for Hook, Line & Sinkers

The other day I talked about a classic GMing technique called Hook, Line & Sinkers. Use this three-part method to generate encounter skeletons fast. I remember first coming across this method in the Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine. Each issue would have a few to inspire your game. Victor Diaz recently posted about them, […]

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The Hook, Line & Sinkers Method Will Inspire Your Encounters

Here’s a great way to create encounter seeds for your next game via RPT Reader Victor Diaz. It’s  called the Hook, Line & Sinkers method. From the RIFTS Adventure Book, page 38: Hook, Line & Sinkers ™ is the popular Game Master’s tool created by Jolly Blackburn. The idea behind it is simple — give […]

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The Phantasmal Pessimist and Other Living Spell Examples

A couple weeks ago I offered a tip on creating Living Spells using a three step recipe. At the end was a challenge to use the recipe and create your own Living Spells. In today’s Musing I share with you four Living Spells, crafted by your fellow readers, that caught my eye. Here’s a link […]

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A Slick Three Step Wandering Monster System

Ever since running B1: In Search of the Unknown I’ve enjoyed wandering monsters. As PCs quested for the legendary treasure of Roghan and Zelligar, I’d roll and run all sorts of monster encounters. It gave me yet another opportunity to be creative during the game. This month’s RPG Blog Carnival hosted over at Moebius Adventures […]

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A Village Name That’s a Funny Puzzle

Here’s a funny, simple puzzle for your game. My mom is reading a book called The Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. In it there’s a place called Saint Ophere. Turns out the place was named because someone long ago misread a sign. The sign read: Stop here Stop here with some punctuation becomes […]

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Encounters Seeds Formula Part II

In a recent Musings email [Panicked Prep For Next Session] I talked about a formula to create encounter seeds fast: What if? + one source of inspiration = one encounter seed. I also provided three example sources of inspiration: The Monster Manual The News Random Page Finally, I offered bonus points if you connect encounter […]

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d10 Things You Hear In Town

I often stumble over thinking up rumours on-the-fly. Especially in my sandbox games where there are so many possibilities. I end up just slandering a character or bad-mouthing the establishment. While good for a laugh, that doesn’t drive the campaign forward. So Jochen and I just added a new generator to Campaign Logger called Town […]

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The Potion Factory for Fun Faction Finagling

The Potion Factory for Fun Faction Finagling On theme with this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, here’s an idea for arming your next faction without destroying campaign balance. We began my Murder Hobos campaign as a playtest of the D&D 5E rules using the adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver included in the Starter Set box. In […]

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Plot Your Dungeons with This Simple Grid System

The Nine Sector System of Dungeon Design I saw Castle Oldskull ~ CDDG1: The Classic Dungeon Design Guide ~ Book 1: Forging the Underworld (yup, that’s the full actual title) by Kent David Kelly in the Amazon Kindle store and on a whim purchased it. The book is a couple hundred pages of dungeon building […]

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I’m Killing Pcs and The Fun Doing This

Another bad habit I’ve gotten into is being arbitrary with encounter difficulty. This undermines player thinking and creativity and makes for a poorer gameplay experience. In my group, we don’t typically do long dungeon crawls. Encounters are a mix of wilderness, town, and dungeon, and of plot, puzzle, combat, and roleplay. So encounters are non-linear […]

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A Quick Way To Make Player Victories Sweeter

I just finished reading the Kobold Guide to Plots and Campaigns. I highlighted and flagged a few pages, so expect a tip or two I’ve gleaned from the guide in the future. On page 23 there’s a great tip about making player victories sweeter: Designing a finale specifically to a setting makes an ending stronger, […]

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Think About Encounters Like Game Tiles for Better 5 Room Dungeon design

Pizza last night was awesome. I ordered my favourite. My wife ordered the house special sans shrimp (I’m not a shrimp fan). Mmmmmhmmm. I’m a lightweight these days, though. Five pieces and I’m full. The pizza metaphor doesn’t handle well what I want to talk about today. But a board game like Carcassonne or a […]

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Encounters Are Like My Favourite Zesty Game Food

How do you think your games? My favourite unit of thought for gameplay is encounters. Encounters are like pizza. They are central to the meal. You might get pop, dips, chicken wings, and other add-ons, but the meal is all about the ‘za. During sessions, we usually order four or five pizzas, each one different […]

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RPG Adventure Themes Tie The Room Together

[http://thescript.thetake.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Big-Lebowski-rug-1024×769.jpg] Use Themes to Tie Your RPG Adventure’s Room Together A reader asked me about theme. Theme is the rug that ties the whole room together, man. As I teach in my adventure building course, get theme right, and you intensify your adventures, deepen your players’ experience, and sharpen your stories. Here’s an example. The […]

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Good Campaign Design Should Not Hurt Your Players

A good friend asked me this the other day: “All players are starting out at level 1. Now, one player dislikes playing his character and wants to start another character. He is asking to carry over his XP to the new character. “I dislike this option (which might be due this player’s actions and way […]

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Look up, what’s that falling?

Characters never look up. Let’s take advantage of that in our designs. Inspired by a recent post from Derek Von Zarovich on his Patreon, let’s turn this soggy Monday into a fun brainstorm. First, here’s the cool idea and map from Derek Map-Adventure Vault. This was a tower from a flying fortress that fell down. […]

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