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Showing posts from September, 2014

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

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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…

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

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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?

The Evil GM - Minis or Tokens?

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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 importa…

The Evil GM - How detailed are your Towns?

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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…

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

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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.

The Evil GM - Where Do the Walls End?

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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 …

The Evil GM - Handing Out Favor Points.

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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…

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

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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."
Everyo…

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

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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?

The Evil GM - Actual Play Podcasts, Thoughts?

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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:
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.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 …

The Evil GM - Gaming and Drink, Bad idea?

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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 consider…

The Evil GM - Gaming Props - Coins

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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?

The Evil GM - Encumbrance, do you keep track?

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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 a…

The Evil GM - 9/11 Never forget.

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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!

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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 r…

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

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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…

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

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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 a…

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

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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 …

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

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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 b…

The Evil GM - Sexy COSPLAY Friday

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

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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 hi…

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

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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 med…

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

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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 play…

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

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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. 



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