After awhile you don’t want to get ready for and run games anymore. You get writer’s block. You dread game day and find any reason to postpone. You feel uncreative and stressed out before each looming game day deadline.
It’s a tough spot to be in. And I’ve been there. Maybe you have, too. Maybe you’re there right now.Continue reading
A kingdom map helps you and your players see how your kingdom fits together. Players will use it to decide where they want to travel and what challenges to tackle next.
However, a map too detailed and complex harms gameplay. It blocks cool campaign ideas that come up after campaign kickoff. It puts players off, so its hooks fail. And prep becomes harder because you end up with too much detail to connect ideas with and GM for.Continue reading
Here’s the core tip in brief. I’ll describe the full recipe on how to create everything later in this article. Create a very short story that exemplifies the culture so you can remember and roleplay anyone from that culture at the drop of a hat. We remember stories better than cold, factual stat blocks. These stories also give you handy in-game roleplaying and storytelling prompts. And they are fast to create using my simple recipe:Continue reading
Myron Yorick, the king’s younger brother, went into the service of Our Lady in White, as was customary for younger siblings. He was a potent preacher, full of ecstasy and fire. When his discovered his brother’s plans to give preferential treatment to decadent Coraltoni wine merchants who would undercut the valuable Sweetblood trade, he resolved to do something about it.
He usurped the throne, threw out the Coraltoni pisswine vendors, and launched a war with Coralton over the trade routes to the Sword Sea. And though he eventually fell, he did not go quietly — the assassins who killed him had to poison, shoot, stab, beat, and burn him with magic before tossing him in the river, where he finally died of hypothermia while trying to claw up out of the ice. Then, as his body was cremated, he sat up in his casket.Continue reading
At the end of a long campaign, I want my players and I to feel totally satisfied. I mean the sort of satisfaction one gets when a story wraps up with no question unanswered. The kind of story that ends with every major character’s arc finished and accounted.
This is a challenge when there’s only a single person telling a story – just think of all the novels that have left you hanging in one way or another over the years. But when a group of friends gets into collaborative tale-spinning one chapter at a time with long breaks between, it is almost impossible to wrap up everything with a tidy bow.Continue reading
In my last article I talked a little about how people get around as part of a Far Future Spacefaring Civilization and putting limitations on those methods. Now I want to talk a little more in depth about those methods and how you can put some limitations on them to make them more gameable.
There are three kinds of FTL travel methods employed in various sci-fi settings: hyper drives, jump drives, and warp drives.Continue reading
Knowing who is in power is important in any game where you want locations to serve as more than a simple backdrop, because the character of those in positions of power often reflects that of the kingdom itself. Having your ruler emphasize the themes of your kingdom will hammer those details home to your players. It is also useful information to have in the back of your mind when anything that affects kingdom law or policy occurs in-game.
This article takes you through the process of choosing an appropriate government type for your kingdom and then discusses how you can use this in play to give your campaign world more depth.Continue reading
In RPT#666 I wrote an article explaining how to improvise rising action during the game. This approach adds tension at a tactical level, looking at the story one encounter at a time.
However it is also possible to add increasing tension as a fundamental structure to the story. This essay explores ways to embed rising stakes into your stories.Continue reading
What is space opera, and how do you make it? How do people get around? Why are they out there?Continue reading
Chekhov’s famous writing maxim applies to RPGs too. This article shows you four ways to use this technique to build better adventures.Continue reading
Do your players’ imaginations fall into a black hole when it comes to character creation? Do they fumble for great character concepts – the story and style behind their characters? Today, you’ll learn how to help your group create brief, inspiring character concepts to help them add depth to your campaigns and roleplay more.Continue reading
I love plot twists. Those gaming moments where shocked players fall off their chairs (well, mine stand up and yell and shake their fists at me). Game surprises make memories we relish as GMs and become legendary stories your players tell others. In today’s article I talk about two new plot twist approaches and a few other ways to twist your games.Continue reading
The ghost story is a classic horror tale, yet it seems to take a back seat in roleplaying to vampires, werewolves, and yet more vampires. These haunting generator tables provide some ghostly ideas for those modern GMs who want to return to the roots of the genre. This article presents three tables to help you create a ghost story.Continue reading
In my games I want a story that emerges collaboratively at the table. My current HeroQuest 2 campaign provides this for me. Yet, as I read through RPG rules for pleasure, it is clear many games reference the importance of story without providing a satisfying explanation of how to help it emerge. Spark RPG is one game that does address this issue.Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn [toc] Well met, new subscribers! If you join us via the Mega Dice Bag giveaway, then thank you for entering. I hope you win a bag full of 105 polyhedrons. What can you expect to see in the Roleplaying Tips Newsletter? And should you stay subscribed? I can’t decide the second […]Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn [toc] Longest Game Session? What has been your longest GMing marathon? Mine was when running a single player campaign for my friend Eric. We played in his basement and gamed for 44 out of 48 hours. It started Friday night with the Lost Cavern of Tsojcanth. Then we plundered the Against […]Continue reading
Players and GMs bring their own ideas, desires, and personalities to the table. This causes game friction when we have different expectations of each other and the game. To prevent intra-party conflict, use a short survey to understand what type of game your players want you to run. This survey also helps identify potential player vs. player conflicts ahead of time so you can deal with them proactively.Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Patron Secret Article #10 Released Roleplaying Tips Patrons regularly receive secret articles written by me, and I just wanted to let you know the newest article – Divine Intervention Tips For Low/Med/High Level – has just been released and is available for download in the Patrons area. In a recent Patron […]Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn [toc] Campaign Logger Android Testers Needed RPT Patron Jochen Linnemann is making an Android app version of the Campaign Logger, my session note-taking and campaign organization tool. And he needs some testers for feedback and bug-finding. If you’d like to test out the app you need: A fairly modern Android device […]Continue reading
Most cursed items range from lame to frustrating. They’re a hindrance difficult to remove and they make a character less enjoyable to play. When I’ve encountered cursed items that worked the GM had a plan for the item. It wasn’t a one-off joke or something they just dropped into the game. You can follow these simple steps to get great results out of cursed items in your game….Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Game of Thrones a Great Game [toc] How do you be a gracious winner? I’m not sure, because we played the Game of Thrones board game Friday three times, and I became King of Westeros each time. And I rubbed it in until my friends were ready to flip the table. […]Continue reading
What do you do when your game is stuck you need to kick-start the excitement again without appearing to take narrative control away from the Players? This weeks tips show you how a trickster NPC can accomplish that.Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn Number of the Beast Today’s edition represents a 666-issue beast of a project meant to help you and I have more fun at every game. I think its evolution matches the evolution of our game mastering. It started with tentative steps and wondering what kind of thing we’ve got on our […]Continue reading
Brief Word From Johnn This is the Number One Topic Request of All Time [toc] Players being jerks. That’s the gist of my most frequent topic request over the past 16 years of Roleplaying Tips. Everyone has a story of a troublesome player in their campaign or awkward social drama that took place at the […]Continue reading