Alignment is an evergreen topic in RPG forums, possibly because if you put 5 roleplayers into a discussion about alignment, you’ll get 11 conflicting opinions about it. For example, the image above is a mashup of two alignment diagrams for one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Deadwood.
Most game masters have at least a few campaign ideas rolling around in their heads. It’s a natural outgrowth of the GM mentality, because you’re always on the lookout for new ingredients to add to your game. Read more
As a kid I read an illustrated version of Robinson Crusoe, and ever since I’ve found desert island questions irresistible. You know, “You’re stranded on a desert island with only one tool. What would it be?” Read more
I was reminded of the power of genre tropes last night when one of the players in my Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign complained that because all the action in the game takes place in a single city on a single planet, it isn’t very Star Wars at all. Read more
I’ve been running post-apocalypse campaigns since the 1980s, using a wide variety of game systems. Why so much love for these games, when he idea of the world undergoing a cataclysm that wipes out most of humanity is so utterly horrifying?
I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. But there is something compelling about imagining yourself trying to survive and find hope in a world at once familiar and radically different from our own.
Many post-apocalypse games have made their mark on the RPG world. Powered-armor-wearing-mutated-jackrabbit heroic explorers represents one pole, and count-your-shotgun-shells Mad Max-style survival represents another. But some of the most interesting and unique post-apocalypse games are those that put a whole new spin on the genre. Read more
You can find hundreds of podcasts covering all manner of tabletop RPG subjects, from how to optimize a Pathfinder character to storygame actual plays. But some of my favorite RPG inspiration comes from what I call RPG-adjacent podcasts.
Some of them touch on RPGs directly from time to time, but mostly I enjoy them because they help me see the world a bit differently, which is always helpful for a game master. I also get some of my best GM ideas by piecing together bits and pieces from these shows. Read more
A good game master welcomes the challenges that come with the role. A really good game master can even make money at it. Then there are game masters whose impact transcends the game entirely. This Three for Thursday examines game mastering as a craft, a vocation, and as a means of lifting spirits. Read more
Welcome to Three for Thursday!
Today we’ll take a look at the hobby’s flagship game through three different lenses.
Talk to enough Dungeons & Dragons players and you’ll realize that no one group plays it the same way. These stories explore playing the game under three very different sets of circumstances. Discover what it’s like to be someone else, at another table, playing a kind of D&D that may (or may not) differ from your own. Read more
The 100 is a post-apocalyptic TV show with an intriguing premise: Survivors of a global nuclear apocalypse have stayed alive in a space station for generations. They believe the planet below them to be uninhabitable until they send group of 100 juvenile delinquents to ground, who discover that they’re not alone.
The 100 invites criticism. Somehow humans stayed alive in space for generations without any muscle degradation or loss of bone mass. Finicky technology keeps working for decades without fail. Almost everyone is hawt. You get the idea.
But it’s also a show that provides lessons for running a campaign in a setting where scarcity pushes factions and individuals into repeated conflict. Five seasons in, here are a few of the things about the show that fascinate and inspire me as a GM: Read more
The other day I came across a post in which a tabletop RPG beginner was seriously stressed out about finding the right game. He had obviously read more than a few “this game is broken” comments and didn’t want to accidentally pick a “broken” game when introducing the concept of tabletop roleplaying to some classmates. His concern highlights a problem that pervades online discussion of tabletop RPGs, which is that we tend to confuse our quest for the ever-elusive “perfect” game with how people actually play games in the wild. Read more