No man is an island, inspiration does not come from nowhere, and there are too many people to whom I owe thanks for developing my skills as a Dungeon Master. Today feels like the day to thank a lot of people, I’m coming to ten years a slave to the hobby (is that reference in poor taste? Eh, I don’t care) and I wanted to share with you guys the people who have shaped my experience, and how.
Nathan Rigby: Here’s the guy who started it all, him and a guy called Pete who appears to have vanished into the unknowable abyss beyond social media’s grasp. I was asked if I wanted to play, I said sure, was told I was the Dungeon Master, and replied “Sure, what’s that?” My early experiences as a DM were highly encouraging, and while I’ve been through some bleak patches in which I relied too heavily on tools that did me no favours, but I’m better now. Nathan only ran a few games for me, but he snapped me out of a few bad habits early on, encouraged and coached me through some basics by observing my style and correcting it.
Eddie Alcock: A lot of players you will talk to will have Their DM, that Dungeon Master who will always be the one who inspired and enthralled them, whose campaigns and stories are first brought to mind whenever conversation turns to the subject of RP. Eddie would be mine, a master of narrative, a brilliant creator and inventor, and a master of ripping things off in such a way that you’d never notice. One of my most entertaining characters thrived in a world of Eddie’s creation, and since playing in his games I have learned how to make my players feel more at home in the worlds I create for them. Cheers Ed.
Chris Smith: Owner and proprietor of my local game shop e-Collectica, my association with Chris goes further back than that. Here is the man I rely upon as my catalogue of gaming knowledge, and he has introduced me to so many board games, and more than a few roleplaying systems. In short, without Chris I’d be stuck fully on Dungeons & Dragons and would never have dabbled outside of my genre, I’m still a firm fantasy man, but at least I’ve stuck my nose outside of the box.
Chris Perkins: Since the days of the early podcasts with Mike Krahulik, Scott Kurtz and Jerry Holkins, before taking to the stage with celebrity guest after celebrity guest in front of hundreds of PAX attendees. Chris is a professional author for Wizards of the Coast working on D&D, in other words one of my dream jobs, and being in the field means that D&D is as much a part of his day to day life as it is to me, but he has a showmanship that I can only aspire to for now.
These are only some of the DMs that have built my expertise over a decade of role play, formative in my early years of the game, but I have not stopped learning from others. People like Raging Swan Press, Matthew Colville, Matt Mercer, and – dare I say – me, we all like to share our styles, stories, our advice to anyone and everyone who’ll listen.
Show some appreciation to your DMs, we work hard to give you the best gaming experience we possibly can.
Building upon the last few weeks of breaking down the moral alignment chart from Dungeons & Dragons fame, I wanted to break down a character by their place on the axes between good and evil, law and chaos. Inspired by this article by Falcon Game Reviews I asked for suggestions on characters I could break down, but sadly got no ideas for anyone I felt confident enough to analyse in weird levels of detail.
So I sat, and I deliberated while chain-watching episodes of Constantine, scrolling through my Steam Library, IMdb, Deviant Art, YouTube, my bookshelves, and any number of geeky Facebook pages searching for inspiration. Someone who’s morality and methods may come into conflict, someone compelling who would be interesting to break down. And it took until about mid-day on the day I write this for me to notice what kind of an idiot I was being. (more…)
Villainy comes in all manner of forms, from the cool and conniving, the corrupt, the vicious and spiteful. It can be crime so organised it seems impossible to pin down, cruel enough to seem capable of anything, or suitably unpredictable to be considered dangerous beyond all others.
There’s a much finer line between Chaotic and Neutral Evil than one might believe, both are driven purely by self-interest without a damn given for the needs and feelings of anyone else, but there’s a line there to be drawn. Chaos is rebellion, be it in the interest of a people free to live their lives, or in the interest of no one stopping you from doing whatever you want. It isn’t necessarily the brutish violence of a conquering monster, or the man on a mission to undo everything in his path… it can be those things, but ultimately Chaotic Evil just wants to go wherever its whims take it, and doing whatever it wants when it gets there. (more…)
We sink ever deeper through morality and into cruelty, malice, desire placed above need, ambition put before consideration, ends always justifying the means.. It’s important to recognise here that the most evil amongst us are the ones who don’t consider themselves evil, perhaps they are just motivated enough pursuing their goals to overlook the damage they might be doing, or perhaps they feel as if they are doing the right thing, and those who try and stop them are being unjust. Or perhaps their malevolence is born of some great injustice done to them, real or perceived.
Oh how I love a good villain.
So while I quietly persuade myself not to get too political, let’s take a look into what can earn someone the label of Lawful Evil. (more…)
Meet the Robin Hood of the D&D moral alignment system. Here we find the vigilantes, the renegades, and the rebels willing to stand up for what’s right in a world gone tragically wrong, and most importantly the heroes of freedom. For those who swing towards chaos on the side of goodness and the rights of the people the call to heroism comes when tyrants, slavers and oppressors threaten the people and their ability to live their lives in peace and quiet, without the demands of others to intrude. Sticking up for the little guy has the potential to lead people into trouble, and a tendency to run afoul of the law, but that’s all part of the fun for a CG character.
It’s one of the easiest alignments to play, but it’s worth looking into how to play Chaotic Good well. (more…)
One of my favourite discoveries of recent months, the works of Creighton Broadhurst and his group Raging Swan Press have served as an inspiration and a great resource for me to call on in the quiet moments where ideas are running short and just need to be given a push until momentum takes over.
As it stands I am not short of ideas, but after spotting this headline I’m prepared to push a few planned articles back a week. Creighton‘s list and mine will differ quite radically though, I’m not so interested in running famous dungeons or campaigns, while I sit and peruse some of the classics from time to time I’m a firm believer in finding my own style and adjusting as I play, rather than finding someone else’s style and adapting it to my own, and after ten years and forty articles I’d like to think I know my style at this point. (more…)
Deception is rarely fun for everyone concerned. Ok, so the longer you can keep the grand reveal from your group the more incredible it may be, but in between there’s a long stretch of frustration because people prefer to know things than be kept in the dark.
Ah, but when someone is in on it, then things get more interesting. Bringing someone into the fold makes for an interesting dynamic, pitches the group against one another in the best possible way, and can make for a few rather interesting story moments that will leave your group exchanging dirty looks at one another for years to come. (more…)
I use the term DM or Dungeon Master to describe those running role-plays because my preferred set of rules is Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve dabbled in many a game system, discussed others at length, and even made some efforts into making my own. With the explosion of diversity in rules spanning genres, creating worlds or plunging players into worlds they’ve always wanted to explore, but so often you’ll find there’s something missing, or that your chosen campaign doesn’t match up with the rules at hand.
I’ve been watching Farscape lately. I love it, I forgot exactly how much I love it actually, after getting reacclimatised to the hastily-made (but still high quality) practical effects, the occasionally hammy acting and rather harshly episodic nature of the first season, it’s a forgotten gem of science fiction that occupies a rather amazing niche filled with action, a rich world and at times some very progressive themes that Star Trek would never have touched. It strongly fits within the “fantasy in space” field of sci-fi, and it got me to thinking about something I’ve observed in other series as well.
In D&D amongst other RPs that you all know, the characters fall into some quite specific roles. In most MMOs they’d be the tank, healer and DPS, D&D gives us the classic four-part set up of Fighter, Cleric, Rogue and Mage, along with the variety of extras that add variation to the themes. Others, like Shadowrun, Call of C’Thulhu take the same roles and apply their own themes. They stem from the sword and sorcery genre of pulp fiction styled by people like Robert E. Howard, and the epic fantasy works of people like Tolkien. (more…)