• 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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Things I Wish I’d Known

Chuck vs. the Cheese Balls

New GM

This is the post my dental horror kept me from writing, the one I was really looking forward to. I’ve been running rpgs for twenty years now, from my secondhand copy of Darksword Adventures all the way to my playtest game of D&Dnext. I’ve run live-action games, story games, adventure, horror, and mystery. It’s given me plenty of time to take risks, and plenty of time to make mistakes. So here’s a lightning round of things I wish I’d known when I started.

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Setting Graffiti

Ancient Coin from Gamla archaeology site

Wiki Update

One of the things I love about settings is the little things. The facets of everyday life that often go ignored in the quest to have grand adventure and world-spanning stories. Fact is, you can have just as much of an adventure around a board game as you can with a plague of undead. There’s as much to learn from graffiti as ancient tomes. It’s all about how it plays on your values. Since I’m updating the Vale Tales wiki, I thought I’d add a bit of colour to the Nentir Vale.

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Lords of Castle Death

World's Oldest Gaming Stones


It’s been a while since we did one of these, but we’re committed to re-committing. I’d say it’s because we were at GenCon, but we weren’t. I’ve been down with the wisdom teeth blues, and Ryan’s been thesising like mad because he starts his phd in a few weeks. Nonetheless, it’s a great week to come back to the roundup and a great week for Kickstarters (also a bad week for my wallet).

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Prohibition Play

Al Capone in the Untouchables

History Hooks

I am alive! I’ve been recovering from Vidcon and wisdom tooth-related trauma, but all rumors to the effect that Ryan has killed me and seized control are false. And I have my very first history hook for opposite month! Ryan mostly discusses ancient history, but I want to bring it forward to the 1920’s and talk about prohibition and some opportunities to use it in rpgs.

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Lacrosse sticks

Wiki Update

It’s fun to invent things for other people’s settings, and when I do, I like to go big. That’s how there came to be a civilization of Eladrin long-removed from the Feywild squatting in the southern plains beyond the Vale. Gebonneauvais (Pronounced “jawbone-of-ass”) is a city of light, colour, and sports. Come with me on this journey.  Read more

Experienced GM: Other Games

Spirit of the Century

Welcome once again to opposites month here at TPK. As I mentioned last week, I want to go into some of my other game ideas that I would like to do either in addition to my current game or after it ends. I’ll be discussing why I want to make this particular game and what sort of game it will be. Of course between planning my wedding and starting a PhD program in September, I’m not entirely sure when I will have time to do any of this. But it is good to have goals so without further ado: other games!

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Experienced GM


Welcome to Opposites Month here at TPK. In August, Jim and I will be switching roles: posting in each others timeslots, filling out each others wikis, and taking on topics that our counterpart usually covers. As such, today I’ll be discussing some of the things I would like to do as I gain more experience, as my game grows, and as I start new games.

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On Preparation

Crystal Ball

If psychological warfare is about really getting to your players and their characters and putting them on edge, the best way to do that is to understand them. Not only will having a deeper understanding of the player characters help you cultivate your players engagement with the game, but it’ll make things more fun for you as you watch both PCs and players grow. So for my final post of psychological warfare month, I want to talk about listening, analysis, and prediction.

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