Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " Tools & Techniques "

Wielding Character Backstories for Epic Campaigns

Common advice out there is for player characters to have backstories to help the GM. But how, exactly, are we to leverage this information? This week, I’ll share a few ways I do this, starting today with…. Part 1. Free (or Not) Hirelings Rather than whack every capitalized noun over time from PC backgrounds, I […]

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Failing Forwards & Upwards: My d6 Go-To Results to Streamline GMing

We need not know every way to Fail Forward. We only want a few reliable go-tos. In the discussion after last night’s Story Stakes Workshop, the topic of skill checks came up. For d20 games, I mentioned that a fail doesn’t have to be a hard no or a binary 0 result. Any game system […]

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Master Improvisation Using Story Stakes to Amp Up Your Game

I recently polled several GMs with this question: If you could learn anything about GMing that would significantly improve your gameplay, what would it be? The overwhelming response was the desire to improve improvisation skills. Tonight’s coaching workshop is dedicated to that very topic. It will focus particularly on setting Stakes, an aspect of improvisation […]

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We Only Think of the Gold

RPT GM Patrick writes in response to my tip about playtesting our encounters with mental playthroughs: Good morning my fellow GM! This approach has been truly amazing, as you mentioned, in addressing any peculiarities that might have been overlooked during the initial creation phase. I’ve been employing this method for several months now, and the […]

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Triple Hook: The 3 100% Motivating Factors

Got a great tip for you from RPT GM Ryan about motivating players. This tip works equally well for a question that came up on Saturday’s monthly Wizard of Adventure Q&A call about how to get players to hate NPCs. By the way, if you’re a Wizard of Adventure, you can catch the recording here. […]

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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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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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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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A New Year, New Campaign Tool For You

Here’s a Mad Lib you might find useful for your GM Toolbox. There’s a January tradition in the RPG community. It’s called New Year, New Campaign. You might start a campaign. You could also run a different game system. I like to add a third option: campaign reboot. Why not take the opportunity of setting […]

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A Game Of Clues

Clues My family LOVES hidden object games. We’ve got PC games and iPad games. I’ve got several cool hidden object books on my shelf. And for Christmas, my wife is getting a hidden object jigsaw puzzle. While I don’t use hidden object games as session props (though if I did, I’d make the PCs quest […]

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How I’m Using ChatGP For My Campaign Today

Have you ever heard a cat fart? Wizard of Adventure and loooooong-time Roleplaying Tips reader and contributor, Loz Newman, told me a funny story. He’s in France, probably preparing for another season of teaching kids and adults all about medieval archery. And he explained that, when you say ChatGPT in French, it sounds like you’re […]

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How I Prep My Basilica Campaign

How do you prep? While chatting with a GM during a coaching call, I realized I don’t prep the same way many GMs do. Let me explain, using my Basilica campaign as an example…. My current campaign is sandbox meets hex/dungeon crawl meets story path. I’m looting Temple of Elemental Evil (and hope the PCs […]

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I Set The Scene, But You Fill It Out

Aloha Johnn! Before I dive into today’s GM tip, I have a quick hint for Campaign Logger GMs. Especially if you’re transferring text to CL from OneNote on Windows When pasting text from OneNote into CL, use CTRL+SHIFT+V to bypass Windows default of pasting as an image. I explain this in more detail with a […]

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GM Toolkit: A Magic Item Template For You

Here’s a template to help you design great items. In response to my Treasure First: A Quick Hack For Creating Adventure Hooks tips from last week RPT GM Jeremy Brown sent me this fantastic D&D 3.5 stat block for magic items. It’s my hope you might adapt it for your campaigns and game system to […]

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From King To Pawn: A Simple Way To Scope Your NPCs

My business partner in crime, Jochen Linnemann, shared this great tip with me yesterday about a cool method for managing your NPCs…. Jochen: Just now, I read about an NPC classification scheme The Dark Eye uses for its publications: King: Cornerstone NPC, important for the living world and future campaigns and adventures. Knight: Important NPC […]

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Plot Your Sandbox in Under a Minute with Player Magnets

Here’s how I plot out an old school sandbox in pretty much under a minute. In the Wizard of Adventure members area, we got to chatting about how to use Campaign Logger in conjunction with the The Plot Compass technique. The Plot Compass technique is something I shared with Wizards of Adventure recently. It boils […]

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Effortless & Dynamic Storytelling

Effortless & Dynamic Storytelling Among the many tools in my GM Toolbox, the method of Wandering Encounters holds a special place. It’s a simple yet profound way to keep the game world lively, the plot on track, and the characters engaged in evolving story arcs. The core essence of Wandering Encounters lies in its ability […]

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Map, Monster, Chest: The Golden Trio of Adventure Design

The Golden Trio of Adventure Design RPT GM Benjamin asks: For an anxious and inspiring GM that tried to learn way too much for what is actually needed, how do you just sit down and say, “I’m doing this random plot, with random PCs, and keep everything afloat and fun?” My brother can improvise anything […]

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