Monday, December 22, 2014

A Gamer's Prayer for this holiday season!

Oh, Konami!
Up-up, down-down, left-right, left-right, B, A.
Up-up, down-down, left-right, left-right, B, A!
Up-up, Down-down! Left-right! Left-right! B! A!
Start!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hammers of the Duchy, Session 14

Finally, it's here!! Join our intrepid adventurers as they strive to escape from the caverns underneath the monastery!

Hammers of the Duchy, Session 14

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Evil GM - Enough Already OSR..






I am growing a little tired of the posts about people defining the OSR, and then arguing about what it TRULY means. After reading this Post here from Tenkar's Tavern I had to laugh and then get annoyed (not at Erik) but at everyone thinking they can define the OSR, thinking they are the "Godfather of the OSR".



No one owns the OSR and there is no real way to define it. It means something different to everyone, but yet it's really the same if you look at.

"Play the game you like, the way you like it."

That's what the OSR is about, its not about this certain game, or that certain game. Its not about just Dungeons & Dragons, its more about capturing the spirit of how games should be played.

The important part of playing roleplaying games is having fun, it seems most people are too hung up on defining what that fun is and then making sure everyone is having the SAME EXACT FUN they are having.

I used to be hard core saying, the OSR is basically anything that was Pre-2000 game wise and that anything after that was just pure crap.

Then I started becoming more active in the community. 

I witnessed all the fights, and even joined in on them, hoisting up the flag saying, "They are right!". 

Joining in on these battles only caused me to gain enemies and people hating me, instead of all of us holding our dice up together celebrating things.

Then one day it just hit me. I am a dumb fuck. What am I doing?

I am playing games after 2000 and I enjoy them just as much as that game written in the '80s. Why? 

Because I realized I am applying the style of playing I learned back then to all the games I played, which basically made all games I was involved with an OSR type game.

Oh Shit Really? That's what OSR means to me, because I realized I was playing the way I wanted to, and I liked it. 

Others did too.

Hate me if you want, I don't care. I am here to have fun and just play RPGs.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Evil GM - Kids around the table, Let them play or No way?


When I was doing the Roll For Initiative Podcast this past Sunday, we had a question from a listener asking about what is the right age to bring your kids to a convention to join in on the fun.



Each host had their say in what is the right age based on their own situations and experiences. While everyone was mostly in favor of bringing your kids after the age of 11, another topic sprung out of that question of home games, and should you bring in your kids in to start playing there?

Before we get into home games, there are a few things to consider before bringing in your little one to a convention.

You have to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will your child be able to focus on the game?
  • Does your child actually want to be there or are you pushing for them to be there?
I believe those are the main things you need to think about when bringing your child. You have to consider a lot of options, because with conventions you have to remember people are paying to play in the games. 

Now with home games its a different story, because its either your house or a friends house, BUT you still need to consider those two questions above and as well you now have to consider this question:
  • Will it hinder game play fun for your friends?
Meaning, does your group maybe drop a word here or there not suitable for your child to hear, or maybe the theme of the game is more slanted towards PG 13 to sometimes R. 

Bringing your kid to the game would prevent those such things from continuing...

I know personally, when I go to game each week that is my chance to unwind, enjoy a few laughs with my friends and not have to worry about the bullshit of work, and the politically correctness of the world. 

So when its my house, the rule is all members must be 18 or older to play in my games. If its another player's house, its their rules. 

To end this, bringing your child to conventions is cool, but to a private home game, it may not be the best idea. I know personally, myself and another player of a group stopped RSVP'ing to games because the host decided their 9 year old had to play in the games and we told him that. So we parted ways for gaming. We are still friends, we chat here and there as friends do, but gaming is out. He respected the honesty and would rather we not play in a game we were uncomfortable with.

Hey its my choice to have this opinion, don't like it? Cool, we won't game, simple enough.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Evil GM - Details... details...is it in the Details?


How important are details in your campaigns or adventures? It's easy to miss a detail or two for certain things while running a game.

We've all done it, we've improvised a scene for our players because it just "felt right" to do it at the time. Maybe it was an NPC, that turned out to have a riddle to help the characters move forward, maybe it was a special way a magical item was uncovered.

I've done it many times and I will admit, a lot of those time I never wrote down what I did. Did this come back to bite me in the ass? Sure did. 

So it's important to write down details of important events, or things you improvise in your games.

Has something happened to you like this?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Evil GM - Minis or Tokens?

 

When we game we always tend to have some type of visual on the gaming table, because not everyone is able to picture the scene in their mind. This mostly applies when it comes to combat, we all like to see where we are, compared to the baddies and figure out how we can plan our attack on them.

Some people enjoy minis (painting or buying pre-painted) saying it enhances the game and helps them visual their characters actually fighting.


Others say tokens are just as much fun, doesn't cost as much, and you really only need something to show where you are in the combat.

I personally fall under both, and sometimes don't really care to use them at all. Minis are nice to have, but I feel they do cost quite a bit, while tokens are cheap and you can print them off your printer or go to staples and have a whole bunch printed up for the cost of 5 minis.

Both do the same job, represent your character's position in the combat, so for me either or will work.

What do you use, and is it important to have minis or tokens at all?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Evil GM - How detailed are your Towns?


The other day on the Brain Storm Podcast - The Think Tank, we recorded an episode (yet to be released) that myself, +Glen Hallstrom and +Erik Tenkar had brainstormed out our own towns for the listeners. 


We put in details like, the name of the town, its location, the type of people, what it looks like (inside and outside), it basic history and key NPCs for the town. You'll have to listen when that episode drops for the exact details of what we came up with but let's talk a little about why its important to have these things jotted down.

For me, I like to have the name of the town, important NPCs and key locations. I also like to have a general sketch of the town layout. My reasoning behind this is that I tend to use my town as a "base of operations" for the players, at least for the lower levels. I believe its a good way for the characters to build up relationships with the town, and give them some roots to a place. If they spend some time in a certain place, they will want to help out, because its almost like their home.

I've experienced other DMs that basically just do towns on the fly and treat them as if "who cares really". We'd go to a town, get a few things, meet a few people and go out adventuring. The game for the day would end, we would meet back up in two weeks, we go back to this very town, names are forgotten, and new names are made back up for those key NPCs we met.

I honestly think its important if you are going to do it on the fly, at least write down the names you decide to assign to NPCs and their locations.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Evil GM - Kick Starter "Gamer's Notebook"


Saw this post yesterday Oubliette Magazine's blog and I thought it is an interesting idea for a kickstarter. I've seen note books where it was graph paper, and just plain notebook paper, but this combines both and its on wire-frame bind, which makes it excellent for working with on the fly.

Quoted as:
"The sheets in the notebooks will be litho-printed in grey on both sides. One side will have a 6mm grid, and the other side will have lines for notes. This will make them an ideal tool for writing game notes and ideas wherever you may be. The notebooks would also make perfect campaign diaries, in which players can collate maps and other essential notes as a game progresses.
The front covers of the notebooks will be left blank allowing you to write your name, campaign title, etc. The back cover will have a Squarehex.co.uk logo printed on it at the bottom."
Best of luck to +Peter Regan and I hope its funded.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Evil GM - Where Do the Walls End?


This is on the topic of railroading having to say, "no". Well its more about when to put up the wall and say, "No" and how it can become disruptive when players get out of control. I personally never like to say "no" to a player when they attempt to do something, instead I'd rather say, "Okay let's try it..".


Now I will do that if its not disruptive to the other players. A good GM has to know how to balance the disruptions so the entire group as a whole will enjoy the experiences. While its the job of the GM to entertain the group, a group should also put some effect into the game to entertain the GM, with excellent decisions, role-play and ways around the dilemmas presented to them.

I had a player in one of my groups, I finally had to deter away from being disruptive. He constantly on every action he had, wanted to do something outlandish or "off the hook" as he called it. Each time he was trying to top the last time. Each time would require a stop in the game play for him to explain out what he wanted to do or some of his actions he wanted to demonstrate that if it can be done by him, it was possible for his character to do it. 

I allowed him to do it for a while, as it was entertaining to everyone and with the groups agreement, we decided that if he could do it in real life he could do it in game with a little bonus.

One example I can think of, while typing this up, was he said he wanted his character to roll off a ledge and go forward over a small box (2 ft height) and when he rolled over the box, pull out two daggers to stab a baddie who had his back turned. So we had him start on the couch and used an ottoman as the box. 

Short of the long, he was able to do it, so we let him make the move with a +2 to hit.

Things like this went on for a while, until the point when he started doing the top the last move more and more until the group started to get annoyed with him.

Finally one night, the group plotted before hand (with out my knowledge, it was out of game I guess via email) to just slaughter this guy's character by fire. 

I saw this coming and stopped the game for a 10 minute break, and then questioned why this was necessary to happen. After a little talk, we come to find out if they just asked him to stop, he would have, as he was only doing it because he thought everyone was having fun with it.

So I just said, let's play and save the outlandish stuff for really special moments.

What do you think?

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Evil GM - Handing Out Favor Points.


Giving out favor by the GM/DM, has been a common thing since gaming was invented. It started as just a thing around the table, where the DM would award a player a special "favor" in the game for their character. 


The favor could be a +1 on their next to hit roll, or even something like you get a free re-roll on a d20 roll in any situation, but it's nothing more then a "one shot deal" favor given to a player. 

Far as I know this rule has never been written into a book, its always been just a "thing" that people did when playing. I know D&D 5E actually has something like this written into the rules.

The problem I find about favor is that sometimes its very lopsided towards one player who is more outspoken, who is funny or can think the fastest for cool ideas. Now not EVERY thing should be rewarded, but I've seen a guy in one of my groups who was able to crack everyone up with some funny idea and he was given tons of points or special favors all the time. 

Is this fair? Maybe, Maybe not.

Was I jealous? Sure.

Did I try to step my game up? Sure did.

Do I use favor in my games? Very rarely, it has to be super inventive or something that is amazing the whole group agrees he gains the favor. 

I honestly see favor as the whole, "Parent favoring one child" thing and all the children are fighting for Mommy's or Daddy's favor. 

I honestly don't think a favor rule should be included as a rule in books because it makes the brand new player to RPGs think, "hey its in the book, I should do it."

Do you use favor?

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Evil GM - "I'm the DM, My Campaign, My Rules."


DM Fiat, we've all experienced a game where the person running it changes the rules to fit the situation at hand. Maybe you don't care much about it as long as the game is fun or maybe it drives you up the wall to the fact you've moved on from playing with that DM.
Either case, does the DM have the right to say, "Well this is my campaign, so we are going to follow these rules."

You look over these rules and he is restricting various classes, races and even alignments. Examples of this would be: 

  • No Evil or Chaotic Neutral aligned characters.
  • The following class is not allowed
  • Background type is not allowed.
  • Certain skills can not be used
  • Certain spells are not allowed
  • Whatever other rule is not allowed here.
I've done some of these things in my campaigns, but I explained to my group why these things are not allowed, and the option of not playing that game was always on the table, with no hard feelings. No player has ever said, "No I am not playing."

Everyone seemed to agree and was okay with the adjustments.

But is it truly okay for a DM to remove things that come standard in the rules?

I know most people will argue that if its in the main core rule book of whatever edition your group plays, its considered valid and can be played!

So does the DM have the right to strip things out of the game to fit his campaign world? Does this unbalance the game or its fine as long as its not too much, its fun and the group agrees to it?

Thoughts?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Evil GM - DM Style, On the fly vs Prepped


Some people claim that on the fly DM'ing is a natural skill, improving things left and right to entertain their players. While other DMs will prep every little detail, making sure there is no unanswered questions that come up for the most common things, there is no lull, there is no lack of consistency at all in his games.

I mostly fall under the DM'ing on the fly, and will jot down only key points that happen when I am "making things up". 

Most people enjoy either style, while most people dislike on the fly DM'ing, because things are not constant and things happen to change too much for their taste.

I did an entire Actual Play podcast, called the Book of Sorrows, where all I did for prep was jot things down on a yellow sticky note at work before the game. Could the players tell? Yes. Did they have a great time, Yes.

What style do you enjoy or use?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Evil GM - Actual Play Podcasts, Thoughts?


Do you listen to actual play podcasts that float around on the web? Do you find listening to other game masters weave a story and see how the players react? Maybe you steal ideas from the GM for your games, maybe you don't. 



Being a person who hosts podcasts and has done actual play podcasts in the past, I try to accommodate to the listener. Listeners drive the show, give you your feedback, your ratings and the reason you do it, so why not cater to them?

When I say cater to them, I mean I do the following:

  1. Give them audio quality - Meaning, I do not plunk a crappy recorder down in the middle of the table. I don't know about you, but for me, I hate that. I enjoy actual plays where everyone is mic'd well as if almost it was an actual podcast. All players on Skype, or something like Team Speak.
  2. Gather up a group of people that are outspoken, not afraid to be recorded - There is nothing worse (or boring) then listening to something where you get one worded answers or someone that just isn't into it.
  3. The story is entertaining - Face it, you can have a great cast and super quality audio, but if your story for the campaign sucks, no one will be into it.
  4. Make it crazy - Something I noticed when doing actual play, people love when things just get really wacky or crazy.
  5. Website - always have a website with character profiles, journals and whatever else you can think of. Why? it gives the listener something to look at while they are waiting for the next cast to come out. The more you have, the more you can hook people.
What do you think? Do you enjoy actual plays? Why style do you like?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Evil GM - Gaming and Drink, Bad idea?


So you sit down to gaming, after the entire week of working and in comes a buddy or two with a bottle of his or her favorite drink. The person brings enough to share with the entire group, regardless of the fact if anyone wanted it.

Maybe you enjoy having a libation or two.

Maybe you aren't interested.

The point being its at the table a few of your friends are par-taking.

What's the right thing to do here?

I've been in a bunch of games where everyone was drinking including myself and we all had a great time.

I've also been at games where a few people were not drinking and everyone else was. The ones not drinking seemed to not be having a good time, rolling their eyes a lot.

What wound up happening was that if the entire group didn't drink then no one would drink. This annoyed a few people and they stopped coming if they were players.

I've also seen:
When one of the people drinking was the one running the games, he seemed to "forget to invite" those he considered "party poopers".

Hmm..

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Evil GM - Gaming Props - Coins



Great little site I've stumbled into, and it maybe worth looking into to get a few of these for your campaign or adventures. There is nothing like putting a prop in your players hand to show what you are describing. 

Check out the coins..


I like to give out props or use visuals when I can in my game, I think it helps players get in the mood of the game. It also does show your players that you have taken the time to prep, and put great care into the game you are running.

While some GMs could careless, run a great game, and the players will enjoy it. But could that extra step make it go from a great to awesome?

Do you use props? How do you feel about them?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Evil GM - Encumbrance, do you keep track?


In all editions of all games there is always a rule about encumbrance, defining how much a character can carry on himself before it slows him down or puts a strain on things they would normally be able to do with no issues.

Players will (if the DM allows it) turn their character into little hoarders, pocketing anything and everything they can get their hands on. Hey, you never know when you will need something, right?

Normally I am not a hard-ass when it comes to keeping track or enforcing it. I will within reason say things like.."Well, I will let you carry.. X and Y, but you will be a little bogged down."

I also am upfront to my players, telling them I am very laid back and will always make sure fun ensues over a rule, and will make judgement calls on the fly to keep the action going.

With that said, when it comes to encumbrance, I tell my players there is a reasonable amount and I will let them know if its too much, which they are fine with. I also tell them, if this is not acceptable then we need to find a new method or please jot down how much weight things are, keeping track of everything so it remains true to the rules. I haven't had one player want to do that.

Face it we are in the game to have a good time and if people don't enjoy sitting around being the accounts the game wants, its always fun to have a DM just kind of waive a hand.

Now with that said, there are some people that love to play with numbers, keeping track and playing it as real as possible, which is cool too. To each their own I say.

What method do you fall towards and how do you handle it in your games?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Evil GM - 9/11 Never forget.


Today is 9/11.

We all remember what happened. 

We all remember what we were doing that very day.

You can never forget.

I will never forget how I lost a family member that day. I lost my Aunt.

She was a wonderful and kind person, who taught me a lot when it came to computers. She was tech savvy, and had a keen eye for things.

What hurts me the most, was the reason she was in that situation was because of me. 

I was offered a job to do desk-side technical support for Goldman Sachs, which was located in the towers.

I declined that job for some odd reason, but referred them to my Aunt who had just recently ended a contractor job. She took this job.

So I wasn't going to post this or anything about it, but +Erik Tenkar 's posting about 9/11 inspired me to get on here and dedicate a post to her.

The Evil GM - TPK, OH NO! It happens!


You've been in a great adventure, things are looking up, your character has made it past level 1, level 2 and finally made it into level 3, where he is a bit more stable. Suddenly the DM is throwing different monsters at you, the rewards are getting bigger and you decide that its time to take a few more risks.
One night when you believe one good solid night of adventuring will level up your character to level 4 and start down a new path of excitement. You and your party are down in dungeon crawl, but it seems you just can't get it together to tonight. You convince the party to skip a few rest periods to push on, going deeper into the dungeon, looking for anything. Your party is ambushed, but your party seems to have it under control. Suddenly the tides turn as your fellow party members start missing on their attacks and the enemy is hitting now, and hitting hard.

One by one your party members start dropping like flies, and finally its just your character left. So you decide to run, the monsters give chase and finally corner your character due to a wrong frantic turn. You decide to fight for your very last breath...

*FADE TO BLACK*

The group all throws their hands up in the air as the last character finally drops down to the ground dead, screaming at each other with blames, and then finally turn to the DM, blaming him for being so cruel. 

Is it the DM's fault?

Was it the Party's fault?

I think it can be a mix of both sides for the correct answer. 

Face it, a TPK is memorable, but in the long run is not really all that fun (except for the DM).

In this very situation, the party could have decided to not skip those rest periods and be "XP greedy" as I've heard some people call it. Maybe if they rested properly they could have survived what seemed like an easy encounter.

Maybe the DM should have not had the monsters pursue the character that attempted to run away from the monsters.

But doesn't the DM have the right to play the monsters as he sees fit?




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Evil GM - Oh no, that magic item... SIGH.


Sometimes in a game we as the DM will design these awesome looking magical items and they look great on paper, but when we give them out during game play we often regret giving them out. Sometimes these items are just killers for a campaign or maybe that one adventure you designed up for the night. 

You also know the player will make sure his character holds on to it like its gold, knowing that he has an "edge" on things. 

I've seen plenty of DMs who will try to take it back from the character by throwing all these monsters or even find a way for someone to steal it with a "no chance you will catch him" scenario. I had a person like that, he would give us these awesome weapons one week, and then see what havoc it caused to his game and suddenly took them away the next week. It came down to the point we just started writing things on a sheet of scratch paper to toss in the trash because we knew it was going away. Did we talk to him? Yes, did he stop? Nope.

I've also seen some DMs who will just go with it and watch the wonderful campaign he has created crumble and fall apart due to this mistake. I've seen this mostly at convention plays and some local gaming store groups. The DM just goes with the mistake and tries to ignore it, hoping the player will come to his senses. 

In this situation I would talk to the player on the side and let him know of the mistake, and ask him  to kindly give it up, and maybe offer him up something a bit different in exchange. Most players will take the offer knowing that it will help the game play and the story for the DM as well as keep the fun rolling for the group. Face it, we've all been in at least one game where one character get this super awesome thing and destroys all. Its kind boring for everyone else.

As the DM, do you have the right to "clean up your mess" or "let the cards fall where they may?"


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Evil GM - No Show, NO XP! But I'm falling behind!


Now we all know life happens. We all love the game, but sometimes real life prevents us from gaming, and it just can't be helped. You want to play, you really do, but you seem to miss every third game or maybe you miss 2 games in a row as the rest of your friends are able to make it each game with little to no issues. You hate to keep doing it, but crap happens. 


What can be done to keep your character in line with the rest of the group, when no one wants to play the character, and the DM is not using him or her as an NPC.

In these instances, I like to say the character ran off on his own journey and will still gain experience points. I normally will give the missing player half the amount each player would get. So when I award each person say 500 XP for the night, the missing player will get 250 XP.

Players who do as we call in the call center I run, "No call, no show" they will get nothing. Don't have the courtesy to call me, text me, email or throw a rock with note attached threw my window then I don't have to extend it back to you. NOW if that person has a reason they feel comfortable telling me or provide then the  next time we meet up, then 0 XP is removed.

While this will not solve the whole issue of them falling behind, it still does keep that missing character from falling so far behind, the player will just drop out of the group. Some people have limited people to play with and someone dropping or showing up can make or break a group. I think this is fair.

Do you think this is fair? 

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Evil GM - The no show player, what to do?


I am sure all of you have had this happen to you at one point or another as a DM or as a part of a group you play in. Most groups play once a week, some play more depending on how much time everyone has to get together. Some groups get together even less, maybe twice in a month or once a month might be the amount of time they can spare for gaming. Hey whatever it is, its sure to be the night you are most looking forward to doing. Who goes to gaming night saying, "Oh damn, its time to game.. I hate this.."


So anyhow, you are looking forward to that game and you get there only to see that empty seat of a player who normally shows. Sure it can tick you off, especially if that person didn't shoot an email, text or even call someone in the group. 

Life happens. We all know this and we can't control this. BUT we can control what happens in these types of situations with gaming. There a couple of things you can do in your group to keep the fun flowing and not even notice old empty chair over there.

Establish some rulesSomething the group will agree upon when you first start playing the games. If you do this upfront, there will be no questions about what to do. Now these rules could be things like:
  1. The Auto Pilot Character- The character fades into the background and follows the group on auto pilot. This allows the player's character to remain with the group and no one has to really account for him. He will be there, but not really be there. 
  2. The Runaway Character- Suddenly the character decides he wants to run off and do a side quest. The party experiences this character getting all wild eyed, talking about needing to get away and then runs off, slipping away from the party.
  3. The Sudden Quest Character- The character decides that his deity has given him a spiritual quest to go on to find himself. The character parts ways with the party saying he will be back soon (aka next game).
  4. The DM Controlled Character- The DM decides to be nice, and runs the character as if it was an NPC for the night. Yay, extra work for the DM!
  5. The Body Snatcher Character- Another player runs for this character. We always called it the body snatcher character because the character was there, and basically was acting the same, but something was just off about the character's personality. Cute little hat tip to the movie. *Grins*
  6. The Sudden Death Character- The character has a heart attack or dies or somehow gets killed before anyone can do anything. Kinda mean and cruel huh? I've seen this happen when I was younger. I had a DM who liked to just kill characters. Hey we were kids.
Of these rules I've listed here are some of the things I've seen over the years and I am sure I am missing somethings. What I've done (and seen quite a bit) is option #1, #2 and #4, with #5 coming in as a last resort.

Is #6 fair? Hell no, but I remember this happening to one guy in our group when I was a player as a kid. Man was he made when he came to the next game.

What do you do?


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Evil GM - The Disinterested player, what to do?


We've all seen it as a DM, sitting there at the table, one player not paying attention. You might not think anything of it and keep things going thinking maybe the person is just distracted today. But as the game goes on, you see that you really have to draw this person's attention and they are not willingly contributing to anything.
In my experiences over the years, I've seen many DMs handle this in different ways. The first thing I've seen is the DM completely ignores that player with the "If you aren't going to pay attention to the hard work I've put into this, then its your loss" attitude.

I've also seen a DM panic and its not hard to tell, as the DM shifts focus entirely onto that one player's character, completely ignoring the group. Suddenly that character is the star of everything, gets everything and is making all the decisions. 

In my opinion, either of those methods are a bit extreme and I've discovered a few things that CAN HELP bring that bored player back into the game. Now I am not saying its 100%, but its turned a few people around. We all know, if someone is just not into it, he is just not into it.

First thing I normally do when I see a bored player is call a short break for like 10 minutes or so to refill the snacks and drinks. During this time I will engage the player who is bored, asking them for any feedback on the game. Notice I said you ask them for feedback. I don't say, "hey John, you look bored, why?" 

Normally a good player will take this chance to dive into reasons to improve your game, or at least say things like, "We need more combat" or "there is too much roleplay for me tonight". Sometimes it could be real life issues or stress (which you can't do much about, just have to let it slide).

Next thing you can do is if your adventure takes the party into a dungeon, you have this player be the caller. Now if you are not familiar with this term, its an term that was often used back in the older editions, where one person would call out the decisions of the party to help move things forward. Now most just call it Party Leader, or I've also heard it called, "Lead". Of course the party has to agree upon having a caller and normally no one has objections to this, at least I've never seen anyone have objections.

Finally I would try to get this player engaged a little more into the game with out putting the spotlight on him more then the rest of the players. Little things like maybe having something interesting happen during that person's character's watch, Something that will take a few moments of time, but won't last so long the rest of the group is now turning into the disinterested players.

What are some tips you have or experiences you've had over your time of playing?

The Evil GM - Sexy COSPLAY Friday

The best Lady Death I've EVER Seen. Man I love that Comic.



Awesome Lady Thor!

Little Halo Cosplay anyone?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Evil GM - What to do with players, who make dumb moves..


Most people say that Advanced Dungeons and Dragons first edition is all about paranoia and a DM getting the upper hand on his players, punishing them. Well I believe it all depends on the person running the game, a good DM will drive a story first before pounding his players into the ground.

The real question here is, what do you do with players (experienced ones, not newbies) who decide to make that stupid move, not once, not twice, but three times? Do you just wave the hand (and roll your eyes), allowing him/her to move along or do you just let the dice do the job?

For example, we have a party going into a underground temple, where it's been abandoned for years. The party has been exploring it for better part of the day, finding weird traps, and deadly monsters left and right. The party decides they found a nice safe room to bed down for the night and each person decides to take a watch to guard the door of this safe room they found. During one character's watch, he decides his Magic User will get up and explore down the hall from the room where the party is sleeping. He does not notify the group at all.

Now as the DM, I rolled to see if any of the other party members heard him open and close the door only to be fair to the group. They did not and the character was able to slip down the hall and meet up a random patrol of 6 orcs and his death. The player found this unfair and yelled. The group sided with me saying that was pretty stupid to do that, and he deserved whatever happened to him.

My question to everyone is what would you do? Should you as a the DM allow a character to run off like that and screw around or stick to the rules and roll random encounters following the guidelines set forth by the module or your adventure standards?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Evil GM - Getting back into that game you used to play..


Back when we were kids in the '80s, gaming was a big mystery, and picking up a new game that peaked your interest was happening almost every time you went into a gaming store. Which resulted in playing a new games for weeks upon weeks, until we got bored and someone found a new game to play. Then we would always cycle back into other games and the whole thing moved on again. It was easy. Some people continued playing games the rest of their life, while others stopped during/after high school and then at some point later in their life, watched a movie, read a book or just start chatting with someone about playing games, and the itch to play returns. Before the internet, this was not that easy to just jump back into the games you loved as a kid. The only thing you had to go on, was the local gaming store, and hope you found some people nice enough to help you (which people did).

These days, its very easy to get back into that old game you used to love with the internet and social media. Basically, now if you are even interested in a game, you can do a quick Google search on the game, and then start reading away. After you are done reading, you can join a forum where like minded people play the game still and chat about it. From there you can expand out, listening to podcasts of how people play or handle the game you are interested in. The only thing stopping you from getting back into your love of the game, is you.

My suggestions to getting back into a game you used to love is that first things first, buy and read the main book(s). Jot down things that do not make sense to your mind, and then Google those things, you might come up with answers to those questions. Next you could take those questions to the forums or podcasts you've found. From there you can start jotting down more notes, even start your own blog to explore your learning process as you progress. Gamers love to help new gamers learn their game. Why? because it keeps the games alive!

What are you thoughts about helping someone or getting back into a game you haven't played in a while?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Evil GM - How much gold is too much gold in your games?


A lot of people complain they don't get enough gold from their adventure, but what is not enough gold to one person maybe too much gold for another. From the standpoint of someone running the game, you might not really care, and just throw gold at the party, while another DM might just hold off on gold, giving it out sparingly.

Of those two methods, I tend to lean towards sparingly because I feel that if you flood players with gold here and there, that it will not feel "great" or "special" as a reward when they kill a big bad. Who really wants to find tons of gold everywhere, only to finish a long cave adventure only to find the same amount of gold you've been finding all along?

Characters finding gold should be something big, or major. Sure a few pieces of gold on the leader of say a bandit patrol that attacked the party would be acceptable, but to find gold on every bandit, and their entire coin bag filled with it? No I don't think so.

You want your players eyes opening up as you describe what their character sees when it comes to massive amounts of gold they found. 

I was in a group a while back, where the DM gave gold out like it was candy, everywhere and every monster had gold, nothing but gold. After a while, it became like finding copper for the party. When we finally reached the end of the quest, and returned the item we quested for, we were rewarded with... Gold.

It was like, "Yawn, just throw the gold on the pile and we will worry about what to do with it later" attitude with the party.

One of the players in the group actually decided to bring his laptop and design some type of accounting software to deal with the gold, and who had what.

What do you do in your games, or how do you feel about giving out gold?

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Evil GM - 5th Edition Rules: 1st Edition Feel! Necromancer Games Kickstarter!


Only a few days left to get in on this Kickstarter by Necromancer Games. They are a great company and if anyone remembers, they did quite a lot of stuff for D&D 3e and it did have that 1E feel to the product. 




Here is what they are saying:



Friday, August 29, 2014

The Evil GM - Sexy COSPLAY Friday..

Don't remember Ash from Army of Darkness looking so good :)


I'm sure she was stopped a lot for pics.

Yes...My..Lord..Lady!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Evil GM - National Ghostbusters day, August 28th, 2014!




Sources report that this weekend, is the 30th anniversary of the original Ghostbusters movie! 

Now you are saying, "so?"

Well that means the original movie will be released in a movie theatre near you! What better way to celebrate this classic movie, by going to the movies, seeing Ghostbusters and then breaking out the original Ghostbusters game by West End Games or even the Savage Worlds Ghostbusters. I even heard if you dig deep enough you can find a SJ Games Ghostbusters.

Do it.. Do it NOW!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Evil GM - Fantasy Grounds..$9.99 monthly fee for ultimate license? Watch out Roll20.net!


I just saw this at the fantasy grounds website, after seeing a posting from the Savage Bloggers network that Fantasy Grounds, the Virtual tabletop is now offering their ultimate license, which allows a GM to host and players don't have to pay, for a monthly fee of $9.99!

Yes you do have to download software, but the software is simply amazing, and blows away Roll20.net's web based program. You are only limited by your connection speed for how many players you can have connect and they don't need to buy the anything. 

Sure, in the long, long run, if you are playing for over a year, the cost will go over the one time fee of $149, but if you are strapped for cash like most gamers, a monthly fee is well worth it. The benefit is, you find a group. play for a few months, the group dies out, you only lost maybe $50.

So you do the math, $149 one time fee vs the $9.99 monthly fee...

The Evil GM - 5 Minute Mini-Games - Free RPGNOW product!


I was looking around RPGNOW and I found an interesting little product by Chaotic Shiny Productions, called 5 Minute Mini-Games. Its description as listed above is a simple 9 page document for your game and can be adjusted for any system, from Classic D&D all the way to D&D 5E.



It's purpose to keep the group busy, if and when you might have a situation where you, as the DM might be busy at the moment focusing on a character that is split from the party. Yes, they are basically "keep them busy" games, but at least its better then the players from breaking out iPads, phones and laptops to lose the mood of your game.

Examples include:

  • Castles and Cornerstones - The old.. here is a bunch of dots on paper, connect each line to another dot, taking turns, until someone gets a box. The most boxes at the end, is the winner!
  • Hand Jousting - Think almost like thumb wrestling.
  • Shocking Stone - Taking turns telling each other riddles and the first one to miss an answer loses.

The games are simple, and a lot of fun. Some of the games are played out by the players themselves, while others are simple dice rolls. Either way it keeps with the spirit of things and keeps the players ROLE-PLAYING. Best of all, ITS FREE! Check it out!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Evil GM - AD&D 1e - Why Race and Class restrictions in the game..



E. Gary Gygax wrote, (Dragon #29, Sept. 1979, p12):
"The character races in the AD&D system were selected with care. They give variety of approach, but any player selecting a non-human (part- or demi-human) character does not have any real advantage. True, some of those racial types give short-term advantages to the players who choose them, but in the long run, these same characters are at an equal disadvantage when compared to human characters with the same number of experience points. This was, in fact, designed into the game. The variety of approach makes role selection more interesting. Players must weigh advantages and disadvantages carefully before opting for character race, human or otherwise. It is in vogue in some campaigns to remove restrictions on demi-humans — or at least relax them somewhat. While this might make the DM popular for a time with those participants with dwarven fighters of high level, or eleven wizards of vast power, it will eventually consign the campaign as a whole to one in which the only races will be non-human. Dwarves, elves, et al will have all the advantages and no real disadvantages, so the majority of players will select those races, and humankind will disappear from the realm of player character types. This bears upon the various hybrid racial types, as well."



Straight from the horses mouth. He wanted to make it so people would WANT to play humans, and keep them alive in the game. It was for balance, it was for this or that. It doesn't matter. No where in that statement is AD&D 1e  "judging" a race or a life style. I am sick of hearing this over and over. Hey here is an idea, if you don't like it.. house rule it away. SHOCK! Hey that works. We did that for years and I still do it today. If a player wants to play something and its not allowed, I will talk with the player and allow them to play this race/class mix. Why? because common sense says that there has to be a small percentage of that race, that is that class. It might not be their favored class, but they still can be that class.

I had to post this due to the posting by Zak at his blog. Sorry it just ticked me the hell off.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hammers of the Duchy, Session 12

In this session, Cory is absent but his character has a banner day, the players are fighting for survival as they battle a bunch of berserkers, Glen's character almost kills himself by being heroic, and Fulon's character nearly borks himself BY HIS OWN HAND. Join us!

Hammers of the Duchy, Session 12

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Video Wednesday, Metagame!

Looking around the web, my eyes fell on youtube.com as I am always looking for funny things to watch or D&D related videos. I happened to find this little gem of funny and D&D, called Metagame. It reminds me of the movie Gamers, and how they cut back and forth between players and characters. Its only like a minute and a half long for the pilot episode, but the issue that the group argues over is funny as hell, check it out, support them!






Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The GM is losing their mind...and is a DICK!


An interesting topic came up the other day when I was speaking to a few gamer friends as they complained about how their GM was really controlling and basically started being a "dick" as they called him.

After speaking with them, and having them give me examples of his style of running a game, it appeared it was a new GM, just over his head. The GM often flipped flopped on rules, and always paused the game to find a rule, which he had to know, because he didn't believe what the group told him to be the truth.

My first piece of advise was to give this guy a break from GM'ing for a few weeks to get his composure and then sit down as a group to define how things will be handled.

Such as:

1. Rules will be looked up, but not take longer then a few moments as to not "ruin the mood".
2. A ruling can be made by the GM during the game to fore-go looking up rules, but it must stay the same through out the session that night.
3. Various house rules
4. Various different ways people like things handled
5. Break time

Those are just to name a few, and I am sure there is a 10000000 more things I could list, as I told them they don't have it as bad as a few people that had been in my face to face group.

Then I told them the "Story of Michael the DM", how he was a guy who had not played in 20 years and started to pick it up and run the game as written. Which is fine, some like to run it as written, no problem there.

The problem was this guy was a know it all type person, who thought he knew the rules, but really did not. 

Example of this was during a game, two players who had not played in 20 years themselves, asked if they can use a charm spell on these wolf like creatures, and instead of looking it up, he said, "yeah sure, you can do it.." I knew this was not the way to use the spell, but its not my game, and I don't like being "that guy" who tells the DM how to run his game...So these players used the beasts to their advantage and used them to protect themselves.

Also during the adventure the group was picking up various things, such as old swords, shields, pieces of armor to sell and make some money. Yes they wrote down all encumbrance, made sure it was all legal. The night ended, and fast forward a week we meet up again, and the DM has a prepared speech!!

The sum of the speech was that, the players took advantage of his lack of knowledge, and thus will not be awarded any gold or any experience for last week's adventure. Also, this game is not about going out picking up everything you see to sell for profit, its all about exploring and figuring out puzzles/traps, and thus those who picked up everything, those items are lost. He also went on to say, that its not his job to know everything little thing in the game, and should be able to trust the players, even when he makes a judgement call. Going forward, the Charm spell no longer exists in my campaign.

Half the group walked that day. This game we play is to have fun, if we make mistakes who cares. The game is what we make it, not what one person believes it should be.

What he should have done, was walked in, and admitted his mistake on the spell and said going forward it can not be used that way.

After hearing that story, these people decided to give the newbie GM a fair chance, sitting down with him, talking things out.

What do you think?

Monday, June 16, 2014

AD&D Creature Venonat



FREQUENCY: Uncommon
NO. APPEARING: 1d4
SIZE: Small
MOVE: 60FT
ARMOR CLASS: 7
HIT DICE: 2
ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE: 1d4 (bite)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Sleep Stare, Signal Beam
SPECIAL DEFENSES: N/A
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
LAIR PROBABILITY: 5%
TREASURE: Determined by GM
INTELLIGENCE: Semi
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral

DESCRIPTION

The Venonat travels around the nice warm country side or forest minding its own business. This creature is very unpredictable in what it will do. Most of the time it will just tend to run away from anything it deems a threat, but when cornered it will attempt to use its special attacks on their foe first, then resort to the actual bite attack. 

Signal Beam is a special attack, that the Venonat like to use first. This attack is done by using their antennae, the antennae will quickly vibrate, and a loud humming sound will be heard. All those around the Venonat must make a save vs breath weapon that are with 20' of the creature or become confused (as per the spell) for 1d6 rounds. During this time the Venonat will either scamper away or stand around to watch the chaos they've created. They take pleasure in creating chaos.

When the Signal beam does not work on all foes, the creature will use Sleep Stare.

Sleep Stare is a special attack. Any foe looking directly at the Venonat will see their eyes pulse and glow bright red. Any foe starring at the creature will have to make a save vs spell or instantly fall asleep for 2d6 rounds. During this time the creature will attempt to steal anything that appears shiny and run away with it. It will not pick pockets, but will take anything that will appear shiny that is visible.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Crackle's TV Show Chosen, Great gaming story line?

I found this little gem of a show on my ROKU last week, located on the Crackle network. Crackle is a network that provides various Movies and TV shows for free, but has commercials. Its a lot like Hulu, but not as popular or known as well. Crackle also produces their own original shows like everyone is doing these days.

Now the premise of this show is:

"Chosen" follows Ian Mitchell -- a husband, father and lawyer -- who awakens one morning to discover a mysterious box on his doorstep containing a loaded gun and a photo of a stranger he must kill within the next three days. Ian quickly learns that if he doesn't kill this man), he may be killed himself along with his daughter who is being held hostage. Confused and desperate, Ian is transformed from an ordinary man into an unwilling assassin who must risk everything to protect his family."

Click here for the IMDb information:

Crackle's Chosen


So onto gaming...

Could this be a great side campaign for a smaller group of players? Maybe if you know that a few players will be out of town, and you still want to gather up and play, that this could work?

Of course it could.

Ideas that quickly come to mind, a cult is targeting some semi-important people in a large town, the character finds this box at his door early in the morning at the local tavern. inside the box a drawn picture of the target, a date, and maybe a dagger in the box, or a red X over that person's picture. If the character ignores it or tries to avoid it, you as the GM can implement the same steps done in the TV show... attempted times to hurt or kill the character.. maybe they find out someone is after them, get the local "guards" involved, but the character quickly finds out that guard they spoke to was not really a guard after he or she does some digging.

With a little work, it CAN WORK.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology (no, its not a new movie!)


When I was at North Texas RPG Con, I happened to see this brochure by the elevator. Normally I wouldn't give that area a second look, but the INDIANA JONES logo caught my eye.

Now I've never been to this exhibit, but it travels around the country for all to see.

How cool is this, not only is it an interactive museum tour, but they added the flavor of the Indiana Jones movies to it!

The web page is interactive and talks about the various ways they mixed the learning with the movie itself. This is a like a gold mine for Game Masters everywhere, go there, learn about something such as an ancient tomb or mummy. Read about its history, jot down ideas, tweak it for your campaign, boom instant plot device or storyline for your game.

Check them out! Maybe it will be near you soon?

http://www.indianajonestheexhibition.com/ 

How the ARC system can help your game



I was sitting here today and thinking about ways to get the characters in my game more involved, and have each player feel like their character is a star and not just some numbers on a page. An idea came to me, and I credit the idea to Karl Keesler when we had been talking about the Ghostbusters RPG by WEG. 

He said he had found somewhere on the internet, that having each of your players write out the following - 1 Ally, 1 Rival and 1 Contact , or as he called it the 1x1x1 system (I've been labeling it as the ARC system, just for easy reference).

Thinking about this, it could really involve characters in the game, and it will open up doors for me as the person running the game. 

I know quite a few of the White-Wolf games do get into using these three things, but its only if you pick it as an advantage or disadvantage.

I think making it part of the character creation method, will not only involve your players a bit more, but will show them you are serious about your game, and its not just a "blah blah let's play because no one else wants to run something".

Do you use this in your game?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

THACO's Hammer AD&D 2e Trivia Game, Episode 3

Yes, the bug that hit Session 10 of Hammers of the Duchy struck Episode 2, but we soldier on! Join DM Glen as the host, with DMs Brian, Cory and Fulongamer as they test their 2e knowledge!

THACO's Hammer AD&D 2e Trivia Game, Episode 3

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hammers of the Duchy, Session 11

In this session, the DM apologizes for not having session 10, the battle with the Hobgoblin King Grimfang is joined, and the show gets blue with the quickness! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hammers of the Duchy AP, Session 9

Join our heroes as they seek to end the hobgoblin menace, the players battle technology once again, and a pun war starts and high-larity ensues!

Hammers of the Duchy AP, Session 9

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

G+ Community: Micro Maps

Well its time I started blogging again, I have this blog and this .com, so let's make use of it, right?

Anyhow, I've been increasing my time on G+ in the last 6 months or so, mostly due to the fact its the only interesting website I can access at work. While waiting for things to do at work, I've found a lot of interesting things. One of those interesting things is this little community called micro maps where the rules are:

"..making dungeon maps on the tiniest medium possible. That's the only rule! Examples: - Post-It Notes - Tiny Bits of Paper - Matchbooks - Fingers - Fingernails - Tiny Notepads - Etc... If it's tiny and you can draw on it, it's micro!"

I think the results that people come up with are amazing, with such little space these folks cram amazing little dungeons or maps. Check out some samples:


Well if you have a chance, stop over and try your hand at a mini map, or grab something for your game that night.

Dungeon Master Journaling, my step by step brainstorming process.

I've been asked a few times how I do my planning for any of the games I do, whether it be AD&D 1e or Marvel. I did a video on w...

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