My Beholder Hatrack

Beholder (Dungeons & Dragons)

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 moment. Properly stuffed, that beholder would make a lovely hatrack in my character’s foyer. Because he has a foyer in the small house he shares with his wife. I asked if anyone else wanted the body, but no one did. They couldn’t carry it with them. That was when I figured out something important.

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I Love Alignment

D&D alignment defined by GM attitudes

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 (though I don’t like the notion of tacking it on to games that don’t have it). I know that it’s an unnecessary piece of the system that’s carried forward for the same reason that fireballs always do 1d6/level damage, and I still like it because it’s an occasionally convenient piece. Read more

Adding Some Depth

Farm Boy

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 of baking bread or that they like to whittle. It does not matter one bit. What matters is why they do it. It is the only thing that matters. The best answers often have nothing to do with adventuring, fighting, or conjuring small rodents through magic. They describe a life before these things and outside of it. Boring answers reference a character’s main skill sets. Cartography isn’t a hobby for a scout, it’s part of their job.

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Religion as Values

Final Fantasy IV

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 use it, along with some general thoughts on religion in games. I think there’s a lot of different relationships characters can have with their faith, just like in real life, and I wanted to find a way to articulate religion so it was accessible to everyone and couraged people to created deeper characters with a more interesting narrative. As an ethicist who’ll talk anyone’s ear off about values, it seems like the obvious way to do it.

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TPKtalk for Nov 23

Magic Sword by Capcom

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! Also, on Wednesday the 27th, we’ll be meeting at 7pm at the Rum Runner in downtown Kitchener for our first GM Jam, where we’ll cackle at the misfortunes of our players and swap tips about what’s best in GMing.

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All About Enemies

Gary from Pokemon

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 character that joins my game needs to answer twenty questions about their background and who they are. Answering the questions isn’t hard, but there are ways to answer them that encourage stories rather than shut things down. So I asked, they answered, and here we go. There are only eight questions left, and they break down into nifty sections.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from comic books, it’s that heroes are defined by their enemies. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, and the Aquaman has his reputation and orange shirt. So today, villains. Or enemies, at least (after all, villainous characters would have heroes).

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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 focus. I even gave Ryan the month off intending to tackle the challenge head on. That was, in retrospect, not a great plan. But I’m back, and we’re good to go with another TPKtalk!

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Stealing Like an Artist

Vladimir Putin judo throw

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. One one hand I want to say I haven’t stolen anything in a long time because I can’t remember specific instances. On the other hand, I know I’ve been doing it because everyone does it. A lot. Which means I’m probably doing it without thinking about it. Everyone does it differently, but here are some things I like to steal.

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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, from things I wish I’d known when I started to how to put a party together to the absolute basics. I love the thought of new people sitting around tables and living rooms all over the world and having fun while telling stories and smacking monsters. But I can write more about it. My biggest piece of advice for a new GM is don’t panic.

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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. We’ve also got a great video from Epic Level TV. Lightning round!

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