Tag: D&D

The Dungeon Jog – How to keep a D&D session moving along

Hey guys, got a year to clear one floor of a dungeon? | Made with tools at donjon.bin.sh

The new D&D campaign I’m running has wiped out all the DM burnout I was feeling, and it’s incredibly refreshing. In addition to taking some pressure off me by setting it in the historical Viking Age and populating it with Norse mythology – all of which requires basically no modification from 5th edition rules where things like monsters or magic is concerned – I’m also using this as an opportunity to try running the game in a way that is faster and gets to the fun stuff more quickly. One of the things I’ve found as a player in recent campaigns is that sessions just take too damn long. Time commitment, more and more, is what stands between players and having some fun. What I’ve found, in the last two sessions, is that I can encourage the game to move more quickly while still keeping player choice and exploration central to the experience, and we can get an adventure done in two sessions of two hours. Rather than a dungeon crawl, we’ll call it a “dungeon jog.” Read more…

The dice give a dark gift

From “The Secret of Kells”

I took a long hiatus from running my D&D campaign, and pitched a new idea to my players (among several): Set that shit in the 8th Century AD, the actual historical age of the Viking, but mythology is real. It removed a lot of the pressure on me to come up with some grand over-arching world-building and it also allows for tons of adventures with interesting angles.

I threw way more time and effort into designing modified rules for it, and then I warned my players that the world was going to be cruel, life short and sharp, and that they should have at least a couple extra characters on deck in case disaster befell them. Turns out that warning was valid: In our inaugural session this past Monday, one player died to a one-shot from a cultist (a very basic enemy) in the very first fight. He had rolled an Irish monk – that is, a scriptorium monk who learned Kung Fu from his Irish monastery, which as we all know is 100% historically accurate. I was looking forward to good times with this character, whose player really is a delight to have in the group because he really just puts his all into coming up with mannerisms and hang-ups for his characters. But no: his fightin’ monk bit the dust.

Fortunately, he had a new character ready to go, and as soon as the fight resolved, the party was astounded to witness a pooka (a child-sized rabbit fairy creature from Celtic myth) poof into being nearby, introducing himself as Sprinkle Honeystone (courtesy of a fantasy name generator program my group swears by).

Play needed to stop for like, five minutes for us all to laugh our reproductive organs off at this turn of events, and Sprinkle went on to spear a zombie to death and unleash a cloud of poison gas that annihilated a small group of enemies. It really is part of the black comedy of a D&D campaign run with maximum brutality and a group of players who are game to bury a player character or two. I’m hoping for such positive energy as we continue. I’m already altogether more excited about it than I have been in quite a while.

How a tabletop gaming framework can (and cannot) help you write a character

By Ramdlon: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Ramdlon-710044/

I’ve managed to get back into actual gaming again, as in tabletop roleplaying, where I am not the DM. It’s a pastime which I’ve missed. I’m enjoying the campaigns I’m in fairly well, but mostly I’m glad to have gotten back to thinking up and inhabiting a character again. What I’m reminded of is how the process of making an RPG character both can and cannot help you as you consider how to create a character for a fictional work.

Players in campaigns I run tell me they like my characters and stories and scenarios. I know that creating a character for a new game can seem daunting when you’ve got the books in front of you, so here’s some of my wisdom on how to go about it. Read more…

Am I nerdy? (Yes I am.) – A partial guide to building a good tabletop group


LARPers. Listed under fair use by Google Image Search. | Ralf Huels

So, this has crept up on me in the last year-and-change: I’ve been running a pretty successful, pretty fun, pretty interesting Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign with mostly the same group of players since April of 2016. The anniversary came and went without me even remarking upon it. Our game sessions have been somewhat infrequent – usually once per month for just two hours a session if we can at all manage it, with the occasional missed month due to my propensity for travel and my day job’s propensity to suck during busy parts of the summer. And, amazingly, we’ve been doing this entirely over Roll20.net, which is a very good online tabletop application which you should totally get to know if that’s your jam.

I say “amazingly” because the main impediments to me getting into campaigns in the past have been pretty much what I’ve just exactly described: A new system (in this case 5th, which I am DMing with for the first time here), vast stretches of time in between sessions that allow my addled interest to flag and thus for me to stop caring about creating the adventures, lack of face-to-face interaction around a physical table, shorter-than-average sessions that make a longer dungeon crawl – the true meat of D&D – challenging to manage. Yet, this campaign and the great group of folks I’ve played with have proven mightier than these usual stumbling blocks, and our adventures continue onward. We’ve gone from Level 1 rookies to Level 6 heroes who are rolling with tough abilities and fantastical magic items.

So what makes a good group, and a good adventure? I’ve been participating in tabletop games now for more than a decade, and I’ve learned several things that work for me and groups I run or participate in. I gave it some thought today after we had another really fun session Monday evening, and, well:
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The Revelation of Kung Fu

“Seconds Cover” by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Original image here. | Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.


Thanks to my brother and his wife for their Christmas/birthday gift of Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, he of Scott Pilgrim fame. It’s not nearly as epic a read (in the sense of length), but it had things to say that resonated with me. Sometimes you need that more than another paperback about dragons and magic. (Which I’m also currently reading, guiltily.)

I needed a break from writing about stuff for the past month, since it has been pretty crazy. I have work-coming-to-an-end-stress, family stress, holiday stress, and creative stress, so the blog just needed to not happen for a bit. I plan to unveil a bit more about what I wrote about my grandfather in the near future, but for right now, I am much more excited to be embarking upon a new project with somebody who has been a great help to me in crafting a keepsake for friends. I have to mention something about it here, because it is just plain ludicrous the degree of labor I’ve put into it.

A great long while ago, I ran a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with some good friends downstate. We had a ridiculous amount of fun, and I even met several new people through it. Since it came to an end a couple of years ago, I have felt nostalgia like no other. In part to give a keepsake to my badass party members and in part to assuage these yearnings, I slowly set about creating a book of the campaign. Key to this was the addition of some art. Sadly, none of our players really drew any of us while we were playing, so in addition to sketches of maps and notes I’d made about the adventure already, I figured I should commission some art revealing our characters.

I’d love to reveal some of the art I used, but the fact is I paid for single-use for it and I don’t want to make it available to anybody on the internet who can Google Image search. The point, however, is that I partnered with a few great artists to illustrate the work, including one who I am pleased to say I will be working with on an upcoming project.

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