• 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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  • default-image

    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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    Stewriffic

    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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GM Ethics

As adjudicators of outcomes and interactions, GMs tend to be viewed as having more power than other players. Originally the GM was held to be the master of the game, as stated by E. Gary Gygax in a 2004 interview. I prefer to think of myself as a moderator rather than a master, working with the other players rather than being in charge in some kind of authoritative way, but regardless of what view you hold on the exact role of the GM, it seems reasonable to think that as an adjudicator, they incur certain ethical obligations to the other players. I want to spend some time on what I think these are, and provide some arguments not just for why honouring these obligations makes the game more fun, but why it is necessary to do so. Read more

Fudging Dice

Before we get started, a couple of announcements. First, you should head over to my MoSpace and support Movember if you haven’t already. Donate now, and decide what silly thing I do with my moustache for the last week of November. Details are here. Also, over the next month I’m going to be migrating the blog to a new domain, so there might be a bit of downtime. You’ll have to update your bookmarks and your rss, and I’ll be putting an automatic forward here just in case. I’ll keep you posted here, and you can find updates on my Twitter. Now, on to fudging dice. Read more

Safe Space, A How To

Last week I talked about why safe space is important at the gaming table because it helps encourage creativity and comfort, both of which are things that make a game more fun. It can also be used to add depth to a game and present more poignant moral challenges and choices. What I didn’t talk about was how we can go about creating that kind of space at the gaming table. It can be challenging, especially with a new group or a group which isn’t used to thinking about things in that way. It’s important to recognize that there’s going to be an adjustment period, but overall I think you’ll agree that a game in a safe space is better than a game not in one. Most of the information here is pulled from the GLSEN “Guide to Being an Ally”, a kit meant for educators looking to establish safe space for LGBT youth, and tuned for the gaming audience. If you’re looking for more information than I provide here, I recommend downloading the .pdf, and if you’re interested in establishing safe space at your local schools, I recommend it as a guide. What’s more important than safe space at the gaming table is safe space for our youth. Read more

Safe Space

overlord-ii-wallpaper-14

In one of my earliest posts, I talked about how working with players to create a safe space in which people can express themselves is an important goal for a GM, and really for any group organizer. But it raises a lot of questions about what it means to have a safe space, and why it’s important. Today I thought I’d talk about that, and give some examples of safe spaces which could be used as models. Read more

Goals, Part 2

Last week I talked about the different kinds of goals we have in games, with a focus on D&D. But not all goals are created equal. There are kinds of goals which don’t necessarily take into consideration the interests of other players, or which cut off opportunities rather than creating them. I want to outline what I think some of these kinds of goals are. I also want to take the time to look at why, although they could be reasonable goals in certain settings, they’re not constructive for a co-operative role playing game like D&D. Read more

At My Table: We Think About Roles

I think everybody’s thinking about roles in some way or another when they come to the table. But how we think about roles is going to be as important as what we think about them. Today I want to start by talking about how I encourage people to think about them and why I do that, and over the next few weeks I’ll talk about how roles work in some other games, and whether they work well or not. 4th Edition D&D focuses on roles, and that’s something worth talking about, but first I want to get through what roles mean. Read more

D&D Goals

Every time I start a D&D game, I ask for some goals related to the characters involved. Sometimes I get some. Sometimes I get a lot. D&D doesn’t include a lot of character development in the process, like Burning Wheel or Spirit of the Century do, so I think it’s important to add that in. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to talk about goals for players in D&D and D&Desque games explicitly, what kinds there are, why they matter, and some of the goals which fall short of that kind of game.  Read more

At My Table: Conversation Café

At my table, instead of characters meeting in a bar, we use Conversation Café. It’s a method of discussion which encourages deeper character descriptions and leads to each of the players having a better understanding not just of the other characters and their place in the party dynamic, but often their own as well. It’s been effective with new players and experienced ones, and serves as a kind of round robin fireside chat. Read more

Starting A Game

This is something I should have talked about right at the beginning, and happily we’re close enough to the beginning that I don’t feel terrible about it. Starting a game. It might be as simple as getting people together, finding a game, and going, but I want to take the time to consider a series of actions that can make your fledgling game a lot more fun for everyone. Read more

Problem Players

This came up in the comments here, and it’s one of those things that comes up a lot in any co-operative exercise, I think. What does a person do with someone who won’t co-operate, or won’t co-operate in a way that’s useful for the group? It’s not an easy question to answer, and I don’t think it’s possible to do it in one post, but I want to outline some of the best ways I’ve found to deal with the issues that crop up. Read more

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