Friday, December 14, 2012, 9:08 AM
Hello fellow Wizards community members. I have found whiter shores from which to broadcast myself. I'm on YouTube now under the channel PhDnD:PhDnD on YouTube
Here you can find both my theoretical & experimental ramblings on all things RPG (specifically D&D.) Check it out and sub up! Much better material than I was able to provide here. The YouTube RPG community is also very interactive and fun. Check it out!
As always, I try and reply to EVERY post, comment, or message I get. Hit me up!
Sunday, August 26, 2012, 4:17 PM
I am glad to announce my new site, DM Starfire
on Wordpress. Follow my blog to learn new ways to keep your game fun, efficient, and above all else, the best D&D game ever. Please come support me there. I'm taking suggestions for articles and topics right now so comment on my page over there or here to give me some ideas! I'll be posting soon about a new project that I've undergone to create the best method EVER for creating adventures. Check it out! And thanks for your continued support!
Monday, August 20, 2012, 7:18 PM
Hey Gamers, It has been a few weeks since the last post but I am getting away from campaign details in this post to talk about an important piece of every D&D game: preparation.
First off, you obviously need to prep your adventure and what will actually happen in the game session. I will not go into details on adventure creation here but there are a few things you need to be sure to have. Have a basic outline of the storyline as a minimum. Chris Perkins provides a fantastic example in his article here
. DM TIP!
I use Obsidian Portal to organize my campaign and outline sheets like the one above. Wizard's Community also has an excellent wiki to organize and save data like this.
Next up, you need your monsters. Have the stat cards on hand by either printing them or bookmarking the pages in the Monster Manual. DM TIP!!I use Power2ool to organize my monsters stat cards by encounter. Along with being able to link up your D&D Insider account to search monsters, you can also add magic items and scale monsters levels (althought be careful how much you scale and keep an eye on the numbers).
The DM Screen. This is not a necessity but I like having it. It separates the players from the DM which I believe is best. You are not there to be their friend and another "one of the players." You are there to run the game and be the narrator/referee. Set up your DM screen and grab some index cards. It's time to make life a whole lot easier. Fold each index card so that it can hang on the screen with a majority of the card facing you.
On one card, you will have the Easy, Moderate, & Hard DCs for skill checks based on the party's level for quick reference during game. Another index card should have a list of all skills that the players can use on it. If you need a quick way to track initiative, check out Dungeon Master Johnny's videos on youtube (username: yourdungeonmaster). I use a software called Virtual Combat Cards which allows me to track initiative/conditions for the fight but if I had not found that, I would certainly use Johnny's method. DM TIP!!!
To speed up combat, I also prepare an index card for each monster type of the night and write down its simplified tactics. Hang them on the screen during their encounter. Example: Swordwing - Uses "Armblade" to start battle and always attacks leaders/strikers.
Make sure you have your battlemats, tiles, drawing boards, etc. ready for each encounter. Also, miniatures need to be laid out by encounter beforehand so that you can grab the group and place them on the board without falling into the deadly "which miniature would work best for this monster" trap.
Have your books on hand, dice loaded & ready to roll, and music playlists prepared. All that should be left is snacks and drinks. Have plenty to keep your energy level up. This covers the basics needed for a good night of gaming. I do all of these things and more. I'm big into making every game session the best one yet. Comment and tell me what you do differently and how it works for you. I promise to respond to each and every one as I'm interested to see what the community does for its preparation.
PS - Half of this post disappeared when I submitted it. I have added what I thought was missing but may add more soon.
Monday, July 23, 2012, 9:50 AM
Hey everyone! Quick update. My party has recently split into 2 groups for a few reasons. Firstly, we were at 7 PCs with another wanting to play. Too many for an epic tier adventure. Secondly, the group was wanting to go in different directions storywise. Lastly (along with a growing tension between a few players) it worked better based on where everyone lived and how far they had to commute to play.
The first group I refer to as the Seekers (Lomian the vryloka warlock, Gauthak the goliath barbarian, Jinroy the changeling bard, and Astrid the half-elf battlemind) because they went off seeking other things. The second group is the Chosen (Three the warforged cleric, Shadow the human hybrid, Aetius the eladrin bladesinger, and Stelian the vryloka assassin) because my PCs were all originally referred to as "the God's Chosen" during this campaign. This past weekend I held the first session of the new smaller group, the Chosen. SPOILER ALERT! THIS BLOG DISCUSSES THE 4TH EDITION TOMB OF HORRORS MODULE. SKIP TO "GAMING ON" TO BYPASS SPOILERS.
The Chosen had entered Skull City for the final time. They tracked the demilich, Acererak, to this abandoned tomb after he fleed the complex on Pluton. They meant to finish him. The group made quick work of the distracting "false Acererak" fight that was meant to derail them. They found the demilich in a room filled with pillars and the battle began. After 3 solid hours of battle and the death of Stelian (whose soul was consumed), Three delivered the final blow using Ruinblade to end the demilich. In a moment of quick thinking they immediately set out to find and destroy the phylactery and were successful. They then buried the tomb and erased all clues of their adventure, agreeing to never speak of it again, as the ultimate insult to Acererak's legacy. They buried it. The group then received the Sky Citadel, a flying castle/fortress and set off to their respective gods for time of reflection. The session ended with them crashing an airship into the Nine Hells and rescuing an old friend, Vengeance the dragonborn warden. They used a planar portal and returned to the Sky Citadel for rest.
This session will be the most memorable of my campaign thus far for a few reasons. The conclusion to the Tomb of Horrors and the end to the horrible entity within was long awaited (since 14th level actually and we're at 22-24). I'm not sure if the fact that the group blasted "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors and danced and sang to it will add to the memories but it was certainly entertaining. The rest of the session was actually a bit silly. First off, we normally don't drink alcohol during D&D (I never do as DM). But once the Tomb was over, there were drinks all around the table. I can't even express the relief the players had at that point. This tells me that I made the Tomb of Horrors quite horrible while it was going on which I take pride in
. Secondly, the middle of the session was like Christmas for them. I gave them a giant floating fortress in the sky that could travel between planes and came with many ritual rooms. Their respective times with their gods paid off as each received armor/weapons from the dieties. The trip to the Nine Hells actually proved very easy and the players had a pretty big head on their shoulders by that time. Just Roll With It
This session was successful because after a year of on and off Tomb of Horrors and plenty of player death during it, the PCs finally beat it. I rewarded them with things epic players and characters deserve. The remaining battles were meant to be easy and the players were so high on themselves that it took less effort than I expected - which turned out to be the best part. They expressed joy in basically slapping around devils and barging right into the Nine Hells to retrieve a friend. One player actually let a devil hit him because he wanted it for the story later on. The guys loved it and truly enjoyed the rewards and easy encounters. After all, the Tomb of Horrors flat out sucked (difficulty-wise). Reward players above and beyond, especially at epic level. And when their spirits are high after just defeating a big villain, give them some pud fights so they can show some monsters who the big dogs really are . They'll love it and so will you. Game on!
Thursday, July 5, 2012, 9:00 PM
Tonight I played in another campaign run by a friend of mine. I love DMing more than anything but its good to get to see a game from the players' side, too. Our session tonight included ZERO combat encounters and that is what I wanted to talk about in this post.
Dungeons & Dragons with no fighting? What in the...
Tonight's game made me realize what it takes to have no combat involved. I've always known that extreme roleplaying groups can pull off no combat sessions but this was my first experience in one. I was told before hand so I was a little bummed that there was not going to be any fighting. But the next thing I knew, the session was over and I had a blast. Here's why:
Our characters were not railroaded in any way. We were free to roam town and tie up loose ends or complete small quests that involved no fighting. We were not forced into anything.
With a few quests, there was always a looming threat of action. We didn't want to get caught by the guards while smuggling the drunken prince across town. We had to make some good skill checks and our purpose was to AVOID combat at all costs in these missions. The King's Guard were much stronger than us and we knew it.
As above, when trying to remain secretive, the point is usually to avoid combat. We had to meet a drug dealer and arrange a payment. It kept us on our toes and interested while having no combat.
What really capped off the night was when we were allowed into the King's Vault to browse and choose 2 different items of our choice for saving his son's life. A night of no combat and we were still rewarded like kings.
These key components led to a night where it was more fun without combat. We still had skill challenges, tough checks, and plenty of roleplaying. A session with no combat can still be one of the most memorable.
Game on, crazy gamers.