Last Stories

Our Favorite Cantrips in 5th Edition D&D

D&D 5e’s magic system has depth. Some spells can stop time, animate the dead, and rain fire from the sky. But in a universe filled with such power and wonder, cantrips are a more humble, everyday kind of magic. The kind of magic your spellcaster can use without much effort. Don’t let this fool you.

How to make D&D really scary

DM: “The frost giant’s ice club smashes down, crushing the very life out of you for (rolls) 40 points!” Bored Player: “Eh I still have 29 left, so after the Cleric does his healing I’ll be good as new.” DM: (sighs) One of D&D weaknesses is how damage- whether from combat, traps, or miscellaneous things like

Ask a Dungeon Master: How can I make my games scarier? – Empathy

During this Halloween season, inject fear into D&D.  After all, going into a dungeon should be a scary thing as it involves life or death decisions.  Plus the monsters are real. And while I’ve written a previous column on making your games scarier via the 5 senses, there’s another technique. Empathy. I find that players

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

Designing a campaign setting isn’t all about world lore and locations populated by classes, races, and monsters. You need to have things for those classes, races, and monsters who populate your setting to do. What we’re talking about here are staples of play in d20 system games — feats — and how to avoid some

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

As the leaves turn and the skies grow cloudy, we turn our minds toward All Hallows’ Eve and things of an often creepier, spookier, or more macabre appeal. Let us turn our minds then toward a sweet sample of the garish gallery to be found in the westerly lands of the Pure Steam™ Campaign Setting.

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

Gamemastering at GenCon can be a blast. It’s a way to introduce people to a game you love, or even a game you’re trying to publish. It can also be a way to play obscure games that just don’t have a big following in your hometown. It’s a lot of work, though, and can be

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

Character classes are the gateways through which players enter our games. As DMs, it’s important for us to understand character class design and what kinds of classes our players might enjoy playing. Remember this maxim: “What works for one game or one set of players might not work for another!” I took the liberty to

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

Creating new races or writing for old ones can be a chore. Given that no matter how incredible our idea may be someone somewhere has probably already done it, we think there are a couple key design approaches one can follow to help build a better race. Races come from the land. This may sound

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design

Pure Steam™ is first and foremost a campaign setting. Settings are important to films, TV, comics, radio plays, novels, and books of all sorts. Settings are places, but settings are also more important than that. Settings are populated by heroes and villains, filled with wondrous and dangerous locales, and form the backdrops for our imaginations when

Adventure Seeds: Time Travel!

Who doesn’t enjoy a good time travel story? The idea’s been prevalent in fiction for centuries. Whether it’s something where time travel is usually just a framing device like Doctor Who, or whether its integral to the plot like in Back to the Future or Chrono Trigger. The best thing about time travel is that