• 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 Style Overview

So over the last three weeks I’ve looked at three different styles of GMing, Linear, Semi-linear, and Sandbox. I thought it’d be good to do an overview and directly compare them. The real question, of course, is which one is best? And that’s a complicated one to answer, because they’re good for different things. I also want to try and illustrate what they’re like a bit better by using example of video games which execute these styles particularly well. If you haven’t played these games, I highly recommend them. So let’s get right to it. Read more

Sandbox GMing

The time has come for the third and last of my GMing style posts, and this one’s a doozy. the first thing that I have to admit is that I’m a sandbox cheerleader. I like it, I like what it tries to do, and I think it does a pretty good job. However, I’m not going to let that distract me from the challenges that it presents to a GM who wants to pursue that style. I designed a sandbox setting about a year ago, and run two separate games in it at the moment, and have been for about eight months now. I’ve had to adjust some of the ways I think about the game and the players, and it’s been an interesting experience to do so. That said, this is definitely the style I have the least experience with. This isn’t a post about how to design a sandbox setting, just an analysis of the the strengths and weaknesses of the style. So, sandbox! Read more

Semi-Linear GMing

Last week I took on linear GMing, which is a bit of a touchy topic for me, but this week I want to explore semi-linear GMing, which is a style I have a lot of experience with. I’ve run a number of semi-linear games over the past decade, though I’m finally making a try at turning that setting into a sandbox (and at developing a wiki, the results of which can be seen here). In general, I find that semi-linear is usually a good starting point, because it accords people more freedom than a linear style while maintaining a balanced workload for the GM. Read more

Linear GMing

Something I’ve wanted to do for a while is explore the benefits and challenges of the three essential styles of GMing. Linear, semi-linear, and sandbox. To make my biases clear, I think sandbox is definitely the best, but each style certainly has its strengths and weaknesses. So here we go with linear GMing. Read more

The Ideal GM: System Mastery

It’s a bit of a loaded term, but one of the qualities of the ideal GM is complete knowledge of the rules of whatever game she happens to be running. Obviously, the best we, as mere mortals can hope for is an extensive knowledge of the rules, but it’s still worthwhile for a number of reasons. Knowledge of the rules helps us design adventures and settings which are consistent with the ruleset, and the more we know the faster and more efficiently we can do it. This consistency can be one of the cornerstones of our credibility, which allows us to act in secret without the worry that we’re not playing the same game as everyone else in the group. However, what’s interesting about the ideal GM on this subject is that she goes above and beyond this, using her system mastery in other ways in order to make the game more fun.

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GMing Goals

After some delay, I decided to make my first real post about GMing goals. It’s a lot of work, but what’s it for, when you really get down to it? I want to explore the overarching goal, some smaller goals which contribute to it, and how to attain them.

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Starting Point

I thought it would be best for a first post to define some of the terms I’ll be using a lot, so that my meaning is precise. I’ve left out more generic role-playing terms, like PC or NPC, because if you’ve made it this far, you probably already know that much.

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