• Dead Poets Society

    Working With New Players

    Now that I’ve got my do’s and don’ts out the way, I want to start to dig a little deeper. One thing that’s definitely changed about my games over the

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  • Jamie Smart, Get on with it then

    TPKtalk for Mar 1

    It’s a brave new world here. My house is soon to be occupied by eleventeen people as we edit some video like mad. It’s going to be exciting, and I

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  • Ray gun grandma

    My Do’s

    Today’s post is a bit late in part because there was much fretting about what I consider an essential “Do” in a game. Things like “Cooperate” and “Don’t be a

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  • Science Pony

    TPKtalk for Feb 22

    Today I’m hurling my pasty body into frozen water to help children with special needs in the KW Polar Plunge. I am excited but no doubt already cold. To keep

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  • Dexter

    My Don’ts

    The 40th anniversary of D&D gave me a chance to really reflect on how my GMing style has changed since I started playing. I’ve gone from teenage autocrat to adult

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  • moulin-rouge-photo

    Valentine’s Grab Bag

    One of the things on my GMing bucket list is to have a PC fall in love when it’s not their idea. It’s one thing to have a PC dream

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    TPKtalk for Feb 1

    Just a short roundup this week, but a good one. A dice rolling hammer, the LEGO you always dreamed of, and some pretty good advice about some pretty good things.

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    Playing With Others

    Breaking Down the 20 The last three questions of the twenty question background are probably the hardest to answer because they’re usually answered in a state of ignorance. It’s difficult

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    TPktalk for Jan 25

    It’s the 10th anniversary of Opportunity! That little rover has been running around Mars for ten years! That’s a whole other planet! For weird space things, art things, and other

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  • Scrooge McDuck

    Money Isn’t Everything

    Once, when collecting my student loan money at university, I found out I’d already been approved for a grant. I wasn’t about to say no to a free $800, and

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  • Beholder (Dungeons & Dragons)

    My Beholder Hatrack

    Recently, my D&D character helped kill a Beholder. A small one. We did what adventurers do, looting its treasure and making off with its prisoners, and I paused for a

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  • D&D alignment defined by GM attitudes

    I Love Alignment

    I know I’m practically the only one, but I do. I love that it’s super vague, and I don’t like the move away from it in newer editions of D&D

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  • Farm Boy

    Adding Some Depth

    Breaking Down the 20 Very little of the twenty question background explicitly asks players to tell stories, these ones definitely do. No one cares that your character has a memory

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  • Final Fantasy IV

    Religion as Values

    Two weeks ago I wrote about three ways I’ve seen religion used as a cultural force in rpgs as a preface to talking about the way that I like to

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  • Magic Sword by Capcom

    TPKtalk for Nov 23

    Wicked things are happening this week. If you’re local to Kitchener-Waterloo, you can find me tonight and tomorrow playing at the G33K Art Show, from 6:30-8:00 tonight, and 4:30-6:00 tomorrow!

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  • Gary from Pokemon

    All About Enemies

    Breaking Down the 20 I just added a number of new players to both my D&D games, and was reminded that it’s high time to finish this series. Every D&D

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  • Batman

    TPKtalk for Nov 9

    Remember, when failing a blogging challenge, it’s important to fail it as much as possible kids. No, really I’ve just had a lot going on and had trouble finding my

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  • Vladimir Putin judo throw

    Stealing Like an Artist

    30 Days of GMing Day 5 Today’s topic is Stealing like an artist: what inspiration have you drawn from other games, books, movies, etc? I struggled with this post a lot.

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    Advice for New GMs

    30 Days of GMing It’s my first post in the 30 days of GMing, and I’m excited to get this challenge going. I’ve written a lot of new GM advice,

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    TPK Talk Basically all my favourite posts this week came from various writers at Gnome Stew, which isn’t that surprising seeing as it’s one of the best gaming blogs around.

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D&D Next

Everyone else is talking about D&D Next, even the New York Times, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. I’ve been playing since 2nd edition, and remember starting as a grognard among grognards, complaining that we didn’t need a new edition despite having never played it. It’s been a long road to recovery, but I think I’m well on my way, so I’ll try to keep the complaining to a minimum. All in all, I’m pretty excited not just that there’s going to be a new edition, but how Wizards of the Coast is going about it. Read more

Wiki Update: the Aecha Ostai

One of the things I wanted to have in Temir were politically powerful and interesting factions that people could be a part of. Knightly orders, guilds, secret cabals, that sort of thing. I think that being part of one or more of those helps players get invested in the setting, and provides a backdrop against which the history of the setting unfolds. Happily, D&D was ready to accommodate my desire through the association rules in Player’s Handbook II, which pprovide a way of designing factions and setting them up to reward PCs for joining them mechanically, as well as any thematic rewards which come from it. This is the first of the factions in Temir, the ancient wizards’ guild known as the Aecha Ostai. I’ve stripped out the relevant charts and whatnot, but you can find them here. Read more

At My Table: Lax Attendance

Scheduling is probably the biggest issue facing tabletop groups. It wasn’t an issue when we were teenagers and had all the time in the world, but now there’s responsibilities, papers to write and children to care for, all of which put constraints on our time. I had games lapse for months at a time as we tried to find a point where all of our schedules lined up. Lax attendance is the best way I’ve found to ensure that the game goes on, regardless of how many people are there.  Read more

Wiki Update: Collision Course

I try to reward people for taking extensive notes, because I like having that kind of data on the game, and can’t always take my own. The idea was that I would then take those notes and transform them into some kind of narrative that was interesting to read, but then grad school and assignments and other things got in the way. This is the first installment of what was to be though, and I have some things in place that will, with their permission, get some things up about subsequent sessions on the wiki in beautiful prose. For a look at the rest of the wiki, you can visit http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/ilderantales. Read more

Theory, Planning, Knowledge

I like games. A lot. I grew up playing games, playing board games, playing tabletop, and playing video games. When other people were over, I’d try to get them to play a game. When nobody was there, well, hell if I didn’t try and play those exact same games by myself. When I was a kid, I loved just reading about games, whether it was flipping through Game Player reading about all the new stuff coming out for the Genesis (which I didn’t even own) or reading about the Queen of Hearts’ hedgehog croquet in Alice in Wonderland. I made up games, pretend games with my friends on the schoolyard, boardgames at home, and I’ve still got three or four iterations of rpgs I wrote when I was ten. I didn’t understand how the elements worked, or that you needed to have mechanics, only that there ought to be numbers and stuff with cool names. Imagine my surprise when I got into high school and found people who loved games almost as much as I did, and then I got the internet, and found out that you could play just about anything on there, from Go to Doom (both of which I lost at quite handily). So when I finally thought I wanted to write about something, I thought “Games!” It took me a bit to get going, but we’re moving. Now, let me introduce some core principles.  Read more

Wiki Update: Setting Overview

Here’s the first wiki update, which is just a broad overview of the setting. A few notes about the wiki. First, anybody who has any idea about a good way to organize this kind of wiki, let me know. I’ve got basically no clue. Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I’m not sure about the legalities of posting WotC pics and the like. Once I get that cleared up, I’ll start throwing some in. I hope you enjoy your introduction to the land of Temir, and look forward to hearing your comments! Read more

Roles in 4e

In an earlier post I discussed how I encourage thinking about roles at my table. I want to expand on that now, and talk about how the ways in which we think about roles can show how we’re thinking about the game as a whole. For me, the perfect example of this is 4th edition D&D, which was the first time to my knowledge where roles (rather than class combinations) were made explicit in the design of the game. First I’m going to briefly go over each of the roles, and then discuss the implications of them. Read more

Fairness Wrapup

So over the past few weeks I’ve addressed why I think fairness is an ethical concern for GMs in terms of the decisions they make, and given a few examples of how you can make the game more fair. Today I want to talk a bit more about fairness as an idea, and about what you can do when questions of fairness arise.  Read more

Fairness As Practice

New site! You should update your bookmarks, and there’s an rss button just to the right, so that’s cool. I’m still working out the design, so if you think there’s something which should be added, let me know. I’m definitely going to work on updating my blogroll, and work on a new About page, as well as an index for posts. I’d been holding off on it until my term was over, but now I can really put some time into it.

In the meantime though, I want to look at fairness as a practice. I hope I made a sufficient case last week for why fairness should be considered an ethical principle at the table, so I want to take the opportunity to talk about some ways in which you can ensure fairness as a practice . Read more

Gm Ethics: Fairness

Last week I laid out some terminology and some ideas that I want to use to explore the kinds of ethical obligations we have to each other around the gaming table. Specifically the relation between the GM and the players, but a lot of this is also applicable to the relations between players as well. I established how the players are stakeholders, and why they have a larger stake in the actions of the GM, because the GM can affect their interests in a more powerful way. This week I want to expand on that and talk about fairness, specifically fairness in principle. Why is it important to be fair, and what does it mean to talk about fairness? Read more

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