7 Simple Rules for DMing my Teenage Players

I’m currently DMing 4 campaigns right now, and although the games are different, the groups are pretty similar. They are all biweekly or monthly for between 3 to 5 players who are mostly in their 20s and 30s with some roleplaying experience. I love running for all of them, but because I’m hooked on tabletop games, I think everyone should play, including people who aren’t so demographically similar to me.

And that’s how I found myself running a game for 10 teenagers, most of whom had never played before.

You can imagine how well that went.

To fill in the details, I volunteer for drop-in high school tutoring at a local community center. Over summer vacation this year, I instead ran a weekly, drop-in D&D game, including the session referenced above. Here’s what I learned.

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Running Pugmire’s “The Great Cat Conspiracy” as a One-Shot

I run a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, and although I enjoy high fantasy with elves and dwarves, it’s nice to play in other worlds as well. One easy alternative for D&D 5th Edition (5E) players is Pugmire, a 5E hack where everyone plays as dogs. Set on a future Earth, humans disappeared centuries ago and left behind intelligent, bipedal animals, such as dogs, cats, and badgers. These animals have formed medieval kingdoms with swords and magic. Players explore the ruins of man, find ancient artifacts, and battle the “Unseen,” demons that humans could never see but dogs always barked at.

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GM Tip: 5 Adventure Structures for GMs

Let me describe how adventure preparation usually goes for me.

Immediately after the last session, I have seemingly endless ideas of how the next adventure could go. Over the next week, I keep having great ideas while I’m eating breakfast, biking, showering, and everywhere else in life. Then, it is night before the next session, and I sit down to write my prep.

And then I’m stuck. I stare at a blank screen, and then realize I have been reading reddit for a half-hour and still haven’t figured anything out.

GMs can also have writer’s block, and every writer has a trick for how they get over it. My trick is to start with an adventure structure.

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My 2018 Recommendations

Many bloggers write a “Books I Read Last Year” or “Recommended Movies” post at the end of the year. Frankly, I think most people do it because other people do it and because they’re really easy to write. It’s a total cop-out for generating content.

In fact, it’s such a good cop-out that I’m going to do it, too. It’s still a nice way to review the past year and share what I did. Here are the some things that I loved from 2018.

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GM Tip: How to create suspense in resolving actions

Short Version of the Tip

When a player takes an action that requires a roll:

  1. Ask the player to describe exactly how they are doing it
  2. Complete their description right up to the moment that decides success or failure
  3. Ask the player to roll
  4. Narrate the resolution (or have the player do it)

It may sound simple, but it’s not actually how most GMs resolve actions. Continue reading “GM Tip: How to create suspense in resolving actions”

Try out “College Contagion”, my one-page RPG!

After my last stint writing and publishing a tabletop adventure, I was inspired to take a shot at writing a rule system. With a few playtests and a PDF from an online Word template, I now also call myself a game designer by sharing “College Contagion.”

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Watching Tape

I spend a lot of time preparing for my Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games. Not only do I plan the adventures themselves, but I also watch, read, and listen to advice about being a better Dungeon Master (DM). And for fun, I watch streams of other D&D games, which is also preparation because I am studying what the DM is doing in their game. Some DMs are amazing, and some are only okay. I can tell by watching them, and that made me wonder: which one am I? Continue reading “Watching Tape”

“Spies Like You” is published!

I’m excited to announce that I have achieved #4 of my 2017 New Year’s Goals: I published a one-shot RPG adventure called “Spies Like You” earlier this month. Although it was self-published, six people (with only one self-proclaimed shill) have purchased it so far, so with a grand total of $1.94, I am officially a professional writer.

Thank you WordArt for at least one graphic.

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Running a D&D Murder Mystery

This last week, I ran my first murder mystery adventure for my weekly Dungeons & Dragons group. I have designed many adventures, written a handful of mystery stories, and critiqued many mystery book, but I had never quite combined those into writing a mystery adventure. Continue reading “Running a D&D Murder Mystery”