By - March 26, 2015 - 7 Comments

Multiple motivations for your D&D games »

MaximusWhat if every player character in a one-off adventure came with a backstory featuring their own individual goal? Designing such a module or convention game where different members of the party possessed their own unique motivations is challenging for the writer yet can reward everyone with memorable roleplaying.  You want to allow players to really get into being a pre-rolled character and stay true to their temporary roles.  However at the same time as a Dungeon Master you need to keep an eye on the overall game.  Here are 2 ways to balance the realism of personal plans within a group that still needs to work together and the 1 challenge that this story structure presents.

Initially, it is imperative to give each character a compelling reason to join (and then stay) with the others that goes beyond the ‘You all meet in a tavern,’ cliche. For instance, you have a party that forms because they are trying to break a criminal kingpin out of a maximum security prison. One of the characters may actually be doing this because they have an ulterior motive of trying to kill him as revenge for something the kingpin did to their family.  Another may be trying to genuinely save him so as to demonstrate loyalty and perhaps rise in rank in the organization.  And another may desperately want a specific item or piece of information from him that is crucial. Thus all the characters may be subtly making different decisions throughout the adventure due to their true motivations and yet they all have the impetus of getting to the crime kingpin.  Shared goal, different reasons for that shared goal.  And ultimately, an exciting resolution of these conflicting goals.

The 2nd way to balance diverse motivations in a party is to make the encounters challenging and require a diverse array of skill sets. Even if characters have a compelling reason to stay together, there might still be points where one feels another member is not important to their own ends. So a well-written adventure tries to make each character necessary for the party’s overall success. If the players can be made to realize that they will not be able to complete the mission without the whole team, they will be left with the choice of staying together or risk failing. Skill based challenges, from traps to puzzles to a certain type of knowledge that requires different classes, ensures that the characters must rely on each other.

Finally, the 1 main challenge with the structure of individual goals is that secret motivations might cause your characters to split up or need to speak with NPC’s or you in private. The key to these meetings is balance.  If different players are constantly going off and having private and separate interactions it will hampers game play and slows down everything for everyone else.  Success is to keep the whole party engaged and interested even when talking to certain people individually.  So pass notes, but pass notes sparingly and perhaps have them pre-made to speed this part up.  And don’t take too long if you do have any one-on-one conversations; NPC’s time is important!

Several friends and I team formed a team we named Redeemed Revenant to design a game that utilizes these principles: a 5th Ed D&D convention style or 1-shot adventure called Khatogon (Cat-oh-gone). It is designed for four 4th level characters and we think it’s criminally fun.  Check out our Khatogon Adventure if you want to see more.

Leave a comment (7 comments so far) »

By - March 17, 2015 - Leave a comment

13 things unlucky players might hear »

house_of_cards_fan_artAt the very end of the adventure, as the players head into that final room to confront the main enemy, what will the big monster say to them?  Well this article gives you 13 catchy bits.  We’ve been going over some of the more vivid quotes from the inaugural (punny) season of the Netflix political drama House of Cards.  They’ve been organized by what I’ve seen as the various personality aspect of the show’s main character, Frank Underwood: benign, malign, and monstrous.  We started with those things NPCs helpful- benign- to the party would say.  Then we went over those things NPCs antagonistic- malign- to the party would say.  Now we’re left with the truly wicked.  The downright monstrous; Latin monstrosus.

Stuff that dragons or demons or vampires would utter right before they started their attacks or declare during a suitable ‘pause’ in the action.  And this dialogue isn’t always easy to come up with, especially on the fly.  So to help you get in the improper mindset of a very evil non-human NPC, here are 13 cringe-causing quotes, all courtesy of FU, to try on for monstrous size.

  • “I’m feeling hungry today.”
  • “You seem far too relaxed.”
  • “You know what I like about people?  They stack so well.”
  • “Nobody can hear you.  Nobody cares about you.  Nothing will come of this.”
  • “When I end something I end it.”
  • “Doesn’t matter what side you’re on, everybody’s got to eat.”
  • “Remember this moment when you resisted me.”
  • “This is where we get to create.”
  • “It only takes 10 seconds to crush a man’s ambitions.”
  • “I have often found that bleeding hearts have an ironic fear of their own blood.”
  • “I will make it my mission in life to obliterate all hope and happiness that you manage to cling to.”
  • “Did you think I had forgotten you?  Perhaps you hoped I had.”
  • “For those of us climbing to the top, there can be no mercy.  There is but one rule:  Hunt or be hunted.”

There ya have it.  Straight out of the mouth of those who eat babes.  Like all acting, practice makes perfect: if you can try these out a few times beforehand in front of a mirror to work on the right intonation and affect, it will feel more comfortable, therefore delivered more naturally, and the end result can be positively dramatic.  (Especially since these all should definitely signal that bad times are a-coming)  Remember that in this portion of the shared storytelling you’re acting as a guest starring role.  Make the most of this opportunity!

Alright, any of these 13 Frank quotes seem particularly monstrous?  Have a memorable one-liner you’ve delivered to your players?  Please let us know in the comments below.

Leave a comment »

By - March 13, 2015 - 1 Comment

more kick-ass quotes from House of Cards’ 1st season »

imgres-1Last time we looked at various phrases of dialogue from Netflix’s hit political drama House of Cards that could be used by those NPCs who are benign to the players and want to actually try to help them.  Now we’ll see what NPCs who don’t have the PCs best interests at heart might say, as coming from the mouth of HoC’s main character Frank Underwood.  If you’re able to find videos of Kevin Spacey actually doing scenes with these quotes in them, it will greatly enhance the way you recite them at the table.  Especially if you practice and channel your inner Keyser SözeHere are 20 lines that NPCs with some sort of power over the players- whether from stats, magic items, position, or leverage- might say to them at some point.

  • There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong or useless pain, the kind that’s only suffering.  I have no patience for useless things.“
  • “I love her more than sharks love blood.”
  • “We’re in the same boat now.  Take care not to tip it over, I can only save one of us from drowning.”
  • “From this moment on you are a rock. You absorb nothing, you saying nothing, and nothing breaks you.”
  • “Do not misunderstand what I mean by ‘loyalty.’”
  • “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy. And casualties.”
  • “It’s so refreshing to work with someone who’ll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.”
  • “They talk while I sit quietly and imagine their lightly salted faces frying in a skillet.”
  • “What a martyr craves more than anything is a sword to fall on.”
  • “You are never to dictate to me what I can or cannot do.”
  • “I revised the parameters of my promise.”
  • “I’m a powerful friend to have.  Maybe your only friend.  So don’t defy me.”
  • “This is the part where you leave.”
  • “The truth would have ended the conversation before it began.”
  • “I’m not going to lie.  I despise children.  There I said it.”
  • “I want to know who lied.”
  • “I have zero tolerance for betrayal.”
  • “Once someone is exposed, they’re at your mercy.”
  • “I don’t shackle myself to people I don’t know.”
  • “I’ve worked too hard to get in arm’s reach of the prize, only to have my hand cut off before I seize it.”

So these might come from the mouths of the Baron, the guildmaster, or anyone functioning in a leadership role, even if that individual don’t have an official title.  But they could also be spoken by someone who is blackmailing the characters or otherwise in a position of power over them.  The key with these 20 lines drawn from the malign side of Frank Underwood is that the NPC is able to confidently declare them without fear of (immediate) retribution from the characters.  In fact, it helps if the NPC uttering these makes the characters scared or at least a little nervous.  Because every campaign should have at least one such figure.

We have one more part of Frank Underwood’s personality to deconstruct for dialogue: things that actual monsters might say.  And these are truly terrifying.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, what’s the most intimidating thing an NPC has gotten away with telling a PC?  Or just as interestingly, what’s the most intimidating thing a PC has gotten away with mouthing off to an NPC?  Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a comment (1 comment so far) »

By - March 12, 2015 - 3 Comments

kick-ass quotes from House of Cards’ 1st season for your NPCs to say »

1AAD76E9000005DC-0-image-75_1417460692096-1House of Cards is to political dramas what Breaking Bad is to shows about teachers. Kevin Spacey in easily the greatest role of his career transforms into a ruthless politician who will stop at nothing in his rise to power. And literally nothing that will further his goals is off limits. Everything from blackmail to (spoiler alert) outright murder is on the table.

However although Frank Underwood (aka FU as the show shows us) is a literal embodiment of Neutral Evil, he’s an incredibly complicated character. In fact, while re-watching the initial season to catch up for the 3rd one that just was released, it seems as if you can divide Francis into 3 parts: the one who is helpful,the one who is hurtful, and the one who is Hellful. Each of these 3 pieces can represent 3 main categories of NPCs: benign, malign, and monstrous.

For today we’ll focus on Benign NPCs, or those who try to assist the players. This doesn’t mean they don’t have their separate goals or distinct personal motivations but in general they will aid the party, especially if it furthers their own agenda. Kevin Spacey as the real estate office manager John Williamson in Glengary Glenn Ross, is a suitable example of a benign NPC.  Here are some things that this version of Frank Underwood has said in House of Cards’ 1st season that you can use as dialogue for helpful NPCs:

  • You not only need the keys in your back pocket. You need the gatekeeper.”
  • “The nature of promises is that they remain immune to changing circumstances”
  • “I never make such big decisions so long after sunset and so far from dawn.”
  • “I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.”
  • “Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries.”
  • “There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt then with a flood of naked truth.”
  • “Friends make the worst enemies.”
  • “Generosity is its own form of power.”
  • “There’s a value in having secrets.”
  • “Competence is such a rare bird in these woods that I always appreciate it when I see it.”
  • “Kindness isn’t kindness if you expect a reward.”
  • “Proximity to power deludes some into believing they wield it.”
  • “We can’t close one wound by opening another.”
  • “I don’t want to have to say this but maybe you have to hear it.”
  • “You need to cool down and think very carefully about what you just said.”
  • “I will march forward.  Even if I have to do so alone.”
  • “I’ve just sat too many times on your side of the table not to enjoy the irony of finding myself on this side of it.”
  • “My father believed that success is a mixture of preparation and luck.”

Again, they will help the players provided this aligns with their own interests.  Of course not all NPCs will even do that.  Some are not only selfish, they’re outright antagonistic to the point of being adversarial. We’ll see what some of these folks might say in the next installment.

In the meantime what sort of stock phrases or other dialogue do you use for your NPCs that could possibly aid the players?  Please share with us in the comments below.

Leave a comment (3 comments so far) »

By - March 2, 2015 - Leave a comment

DM’s MBA: Commerce and Trade in Roleplaying Games »


Meme from

This column proposes some new ideas regarding trade and commerce in fantasy roleplaying games. Admittedly, I play Pathfinder almost exclusively so I’m using that ruleset but you’ll be able to extrapolate for whichever particular game suits your fancy. There are a number of ways you and your players can participate in commerce during fantasy roleplaying. From simply selling each piece of loot for half the listed cost to more nuanced ways of exchanging services and valuables, the economics of your roleplaying games can get as reality-based as you wish.  Here’s one method.

The Haggle Roll – Commerce as Combat

Roleplaying games focus on combat with simple trade and commerce guidelines – so as to not distract from monster slaying at the table. But what if commerce was as exciting as combat?

Commerce as Combat is a variant that allows for opposed rolls in place of the traditional static commerce rules. So each exchange of goods and services can be broken up into rolls. The buyer and the seller act like opponents in combat but instead of melee weapons and fireballs they’re using wit and words. (That’s not to say that a character can’t threaten or use violence as part of negotiating, it’s just that in the spirit of dickering, we’ll remain on fairly friendly terms for most transactions.)

Simply put, hagglers roll opposed d20’s. But which skills should affect this roll?

Diplomacy: In typical commerce you have two sides negotiating a price, therefore it should be easy enough to understand that the core skill for haggling should be Diplomacy. Therefore anything that would modify a character’s diplomacy score would increase his ability to haggle a price in his favor.

Craft/Profession: Not every craftswoman has a silver tongue but that her knowledge and experience can shore up her position. Therefore a character can use the appropriate craft or profession skill in place of her diplomacy skill. But, in a modification to the core rules it stands to reason that any affect that would modify a character’s negotiating skill should also affect this roll as well. (I realize this might mean that shopkeepers and craftfolk would typically have an advantage here. I believe they should – this is their expertise, not fighting monsters.) In fact, a shopkeeper who is in her own place of business (store, tent, caravan, etc.) receives a +2 circumstance bonus for having the advantage of being in her own familiar environment.

So a basic Haggle would be opposed d20 + Diplomacy or Craft/Profession skills + appropriate modifiers.

How many rolls? –Players may get bored with a 30 minute haggling session so it’s the DM’s responsibility to determine how many attempts could be made in any given exchange. Too much dickering might offend the shopkeeper, while too few might make one side seem weak. Start with five opposed rolls and determine the final price at the end of that.

If the rolls are tied, there is no movement in the price, but if one of the hagglers rolls higher than his opponent, the winner’s price moves 5% (of the standard selling price of the object according to the core rules) in his favor. In other words, if one is purchasing a Cloak of Resistance +1 off the shelf for 1,000 gp, then the 5% is 50 gp one way or the other. But if one is trying to sell a similar cloak to a shopkeeper for 500 gp, then the 5% is 25 gp for this exchange. For every 5 OVER the opposed roll a haggler makes, it further modifies the price 5% in his favor.

[Example: Lem is trying to sell an ancient necklace to a possible buyer. He faces off against a curio dealer. Lem’s Diplomacy modifier is +10 and the curio dealer is using his Profession (shopkeeper) modifier of +10. But the shopkeeper is a shrewd businessman and has a trait that enhances his negotiating plus it is his tent in the bazaar so he gets the +2. This gives him an extra +3 for a total Haggle modifier of +13. They roll their opposed Haggle checks: Lem rolls a 13 + 10 = 23. The Shopkeeper rolls a 5+ 13 = 18. Lem wins this round and the price moves 10% of the market base in his favor (5% for his initial success and another 5% for rolling more than 5 over the initial Haggle of his opponent.]

Critical success! – If a haggler rolls a natural 20, that haggler can roll to confirm a critical success. If the confirmation roll beats the initial opposed roll, that haggler has obtained a critical success. That means that the price being negotiated moves an extra 5% in the critically successful haggler’s favor.

Critical failure – If a haggler rolls a natural 1, that haggler has to roll to confirm critical failure. If the confirmation roll is still lower than the initial opposed roll, that haggler has committed a grave error in negotiating and moves the price 5% towards his opponents favor.

[Example: Lem continues to dicker with the curio dealer. Lem rolls a 15 + 10 = 25. The curio dealer rolls 20 + 11 = 31. This is a possible critical success and so the curio dealer rolls to confirm. The confirmation roll is an 18 + 11 = 29. This is a critical success and the price swings in favor of the curio dealer an extra 5%. So what was 10% in favor of Lem has changed to 5% in favor of the curio dealer (+10% Lem – (5% initial success + 5% for rolling more than 5 over + 5% critical success) curio dealer = +5% curio dealer.]

If this particular haggle ended after two attempts, the price would be 5% in favor of the curio dealer and so Lem would not get as much gold as he was hoping for.

There should be other factors that modify a typical Haggle roll and we can go over those in the next column. Until then, thanks for reading and good luck shopping!

Leave a comment »

By - February 19, 2015 - 2 Comments

A tale of two fund drives »

dWteI-1Crowdfunding whether from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe is the new way to make dreams happen.  But its not just passing the digital hat, it’s involving people in the process.  Believers become backers who become beta testers.  And then they become supportive consumers before ultimately (hopefully) fans.

Right now there is an RPG Rennaissance even bigger than the d20 era.  If you ever wanted to have an adventure or sourcebook or even a rule set published, now you can.  Assuming you’re both good at your ideas as well as good as getting those ideas noticed. There have been 622 RPG projects in ‘Tabletop Games’ just in Kickstarter. Currently 29 are actively live and 377 were successfully funded. is fortunate to have writers who have been involved in getting their ‘gaming baby’ born via crowdfunding; Pure Steam a unique steampunk setting designed for Pathfinder.  It was called “THE definitive steampunk resource for Pathfinder, 4.5 stars” by an expert named Endzeitgeist and that was his 1,700th review so he truly knows what the frak he is talking about.  We’re looking to see if the Pure Steam team can write more about that process, as beneath every DM is an aspiring (wanna-be) game designer.  Moreover they’re actually going to be running yet another Kickstarter in the next month to help create a new Western expansion (Pure Steam Wild West) for their setting.

But we’re here today to talk about 2 other fund raising efforts, both polar opposites.  The first is for a card game called Exploding Kittens, and if you haven’t heard of it yet then you will. Even more than Cards Against Humanity, this “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” has an absurd amount of support. 200,000+ backers pledging $8.4 million dollars. That’s Million million. For Orcus’ sake they’ve left 54,000 comments! This is the 50 Shades of Grey of games. I have no idea how good either the cards or the movie will be but I fully expect to be seeing both at some point.  And if you hurry, you can too- drive is still on through 02\19@9pm. Leave the Shades movie for a rental.

Now contrast all that incredible record-breaking raising (Exploding Kittens is literally the 2nd most funded project in the history of Kickstarter; chew on that for a moment) with an effort to help a sick gamer, via the awesome folks at d20pfSRD:

A fellow gamer needs a liver transplant and you might be able to help. We’re having a 50% off sale and donating the proceeds to his GoFundMe fundraiser. Click More details to see the info or “Ok Got it” to go about your bbidness

The gamer’s name is Joe Flores and he lives in Myrtle Beach, SC- land of the mini golf courses. He’s hoping to get just $5,000 to help him cover travel and medical expenses associated with the life-saving procedure he’s been approved for.  In 6 days, 50 people have raised $1,400ish. Not exactly a record. And it’d be nice to change that.

Here’s the link to buy good gaming stuff for this good cause:

Again, through 03/13 all proceeds go to Joe. “Goooo Joe!” [GI-Joe theme song] PLUS if you spend $20, you’ll get a free PDF from 14 titles ranging from wands to fighters to Evil. Lastly and perhaps most awesomely, thanks to a ‘Multi-Vendor Special’ you can also get a bundle of 18 (EIGHTEEN) titles for a measley $10!!

But lest you think the purpose of this piece was solely a guilt trip aimed at pulling your heart strings enough to get some of you to open your wallets for an impulse purchase with the added bonus of helping a man in need, fear not.  For there is a lesson in this Tale of 2 fund drives. And that is, quite simply, that if you are ever going to make a game, make a game that somehow has comical cats.  Why? Because there are at least 8 million reasons to.


And also, frak terminal diseases.

Leave a comment (2 comments so far) »

By - February 7, 2015 - 2 Comments

Playing D&D with football fans »

72d656aad53034590068069ad86943d930b08fea15c651956c7e625d062b61d1At DungeonMastering we CRAVE comments.  It’s the best way to give feedback & let us know how we’re doing.  We need you to tell us what you don’t like and what you don’t.  Case in point, our piece about lessons from the latest Super Bowl drew a serious rebuttal from one reader, Marcus.  Remembering the adage ‘for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent,’ with a few dozen others who felt the same as Marcus, responding via article format seems best.  So here we go…

1. “Cheating at D&D is a problem when someone is bothered by it. Most of the time my group is so much more concerned with story telling, fuzzy math is ignored.” The story is indeed important.  But D&D is a game that completely originated from & still revolves around those funny-shaped dice.  There are plenty of other RPGs out there who are ‘dice light’ to use a term.  Heck, there are even games which are completely, totally 100% diceless: Amber, Dread, Everway, Marvel Universe, Nobilis, to name drop.  But if you’re playing Dungeons & Dragons the assumption is, based on the inherent design of D&D itself, that there’s going to be a lot of rolling and a lot of number crunching.  While you could hack down into a barebones d20 clone, there are other games which focus more on storytelling using mechanics such as from a bidding process for resolution to spending tokens to determine truths to literally not having a GM.  Granted, these games are a lot smaller than D&D to the point of being classified as ‘indie’ (as in ‘independent’ not as in, ‘the guy named after the dog.’)  But if you want true story-based, then smaller is better.

What I’m getting at is that for D&D the system to matter, than the numbers that drive that system should matter; they should be as accurate as possible.  And if they really don’t matter in your group, and your numbers are usually off from where they actually should be, than why are you guys playing D&D?  Why not use a much simpler engine to run your fantasy game?  By the way- this is all responding to the Fuzzy Math argument.  I’m going to assume that every DM is 100% against their players purposefully cheating.  If not, please stop reading and go Mod your Xbox.

2. “It’s far more productive to talk about WHY someone got emotional than instituting a zero tolerance policy on outbursts. What if they’re actually facing a legitimate tragedy, and so they got angry about something trivial? Talking without listening is not good group management.” Technically what I was suggesting was actually a 2-strike policy- true zero tolerance is a One And Done, usually involving a school administrator over reacting to a young child bringing/saying something harmless yet still seen as a serious weapon/threat.  So what I’m advising is that if someone has an emotional outburst, then its immediately talked about and through this process they’re hopefully helped.  If not, then they most likely need to take time away from the group to get things sorted out, and can possibly rejoin when their life has gotten back to normal.  Better for them that they focus on their personal issues, better for the rest of the group, and the game overall.

This of course assumes that they’re socially adjusted enough to actually care they’re seriously impacting the enjoyment of everyone else.  Again, I think we need to use some common sense to distinguish between a player who is going through a rough time versus one whose personality is such that they cause constant disruptions.  DMs should not deal with drama; we’re game masters, not therapists however if someone in you know (around your table or not) needs help with a crisis you should direct them to professional assistance: 1.800.273.8255

3. “Nothing will cause a group to fire their GM faster than a TPK-finale to a long running campaign. If it looks like the group is going to bite it, that’s a great opportunity to take a time out and figure out what the group wants to do as story tellers. Maybe they plan their escape, instead, maybe there’s a deus ex machina that let’s them survive, but underscores their failure; there are more ways of dealing with a hard battle than mass player death and deciding together can make every member of the group feel more involved.”  As they say,  you can’t be fired from a job you don’t want.  If I was running a game which had a TPK (Total Party Kill) finale and the player’s were going to just quit and go home because of how the end went down, then frankly it wasn’t a good fit anyways.  To be clear, I’m not advocating wanton wipeouts for the sake of declaring ‘victory’ and I want to pimp slap DMs who brag about their kill stats as if it’s a sort of badge of honor.  But come on, time outs?  Huddles?  Do overs?  Save that stuff for football.

There’s actually a ton more we could write about the important issue of TPKs, so much so, that its going to require its own separate article.  Meanwhile, what do the rest of you think: how do YOU handle cheating?  Have to deal with any disruptive players?  Join in and let Marcus and I know.

Leave a comment (2 comments so far) »

By - February 3, 2015 - 5 Comments

Cheating, unsportsmanlike conduct, & bad play calling: lessons for D&D from Super Bowl XLIX »

Now that the 49th Super Bowl has become the most watched show in television history (you lose yet again, M*A*S*H series finale from 1983) it’s time to look back at it from the vantage point of being behind a DM screen.   Or, how can the latest Big Game help your D&D games?  The short answer is, actually a lot.  But here’s the 3 biggest ways.

Super Bowl FootballEven a whiff of cheating can make a game stink: This year there was controversy even before kickoff, and not from the usual off field, WIL Save-failed shenanigans.  Allegations that the Patriots had been playing with underinflated balls became a scandal funnily referred to as Deflategate.  The reason being, less full balls are easier to grip.  {we at are not going to bother making an innuendo from this low hanging fruit}  In any case, one test said 11 out of 12 playoff pigskins were below the league PSI minimum.  However, another report completely contradicted this saying only ONE of them was below the minimum.  Whatever the end result, just the suggestion of impropriety will leave a taint of scandal.  In RPG’s, cheating is common than we’d care all to admit.  And whether from ‘fuzzy math’ or outright changing the number rolled it taints the game.  FIX IT BY: insist that any official dice roll is only counted if rolled in a dice tray, and that the dice must be left there until all calculations have been finalized.  You even have the right to refuse the use of dice that are too small or too hard to read; i.e. those psychedelic ones.  And be wary of polyhedrons that have purposefully been rigged…

imgres-1Craptastic conduct deserves more than a flag: XLIX featured a few cases of ungentlemanly behavior that ranged from ‘juvenile taunting’ to ‘Wow, that’s gross.’  (Not to mention a brawl.) Suggestion to professional athletes- save showboating until afterward, because before that whistle blows, anything excessive could result in a penalty and maybe even cost you the W.  But sadly enough, jocks aren’t the only ones who can be imbeciles during games.   Whether with name calling, yelling, tantrums, or even table flipping us geeks can hold our own in the Dick Department.  And these outbursts can quickly become recurring episodes.  FIX IT BY: Nip outright misbehavior right in the bud.  The very first time somebody sitting around your table- and make no mistake, while behind the screen it is your table- pulls a juvenile stunt, stop everything.  Call for the session’s end to show that you’re serious.  Then on the boards or over group email, publicly say what was wrong, why it was wrong, and state how that’s the last time it will be tolerated.  Then stick to your guns.  If it happens again, demand the offending player be booted or say you’ll leave yourself.  Like nuking a site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure the entire group doesn’t become corrupted by childishness.

imgres-2Pick power plays: Ever notice how if a coach makes an unorthodox call and it succeeds, they’re a genius.  But if that same call falls short they’re a bonehead? Part of that is just the nature of winning versus losing, and where the buck stops although sometimes you have to wonder what the heads under the headsets are thinking.  In this Superbowl the losing coach is being blamed for the play selection of their Offensive Coordinator: a slant pass route from the 1 yard line on 2nd and goal instead of a running play with the guy known as ‘Beast Mode.’  Now, there have been some analysis that this choice wasn’t the fault of the offense but rather how the defense managed the clock.  And that even Beast Mode isn’t that beastly when going from the 1 yard line.  However, let’s translate this scenario to D&D terms.  The PC’s opponents look to be with striking distance of victory.  They’ve driven the party back, looking to steal their success. But rather than use the obvious attack- the primary attack- despite being totally in advantage, the villains suddenly shift to a subterfuge strategy.  Imagine a dragon electing to not fire its breath weapon instead doing a tail slap on a cornered threat.  Wouldn’t. Happen. FIX IT BY: Go hard or go home.  If a Bad Guy is giving the PCs a bad day from a specific tactic, then unless their personality/backstory dictates otherwise, keep it up.  Don’t suddenly go soft.  Pound away until the bad day becomes a really bad day.  If the player’s don’t flee or at least adapt, then their doom is on them.  Not going with the tried & true when it’s clearly called for is a losing proposition for everyone; the bad guys blow a W they should have gotten, while the players get one they know they didn’t deserve.  After all, the whole worth of a victory is that it is earned.

Sports have a lot to offer our tabletop contests, and big sports have big offerings.  Even if you aren’t a fan, consider including some of the elements from them into your D&D games.  Their lessons can be….wait for it…Super.

Watch the Big Game?  Disagree with our 3 selections?  Tell us below.


Leave a comment (5 comments so far) »