Having just read a blog post by the extremely talented Chris McDowall, whose Into the Odd has been having a marked influence on my gaming thinking recently, I've got to wondering about mechanics. Unfortunately, I end up spinning out a little, and getting all tangled up with ideas about expression. So the article about mechanical … Continue reading What are mechanics even for?
Sometimes you set something up to be a big fight or a fantastic puzzle, and the players think of a nifty way to get around the boss monster, or avoid actually having to come up with a solution. In those situations, it can be really difficult to judge whether to let them get away with … Continue reading Dropping a piano on a bandit: Weird encounter resolutions
So this is a pattern I've seen on rpg (especially D&D) Reddit recently: A GM has a hazy idea of something they don't like about their system, or wishes it played differently or had a different "feel". So they hack it, and present the hack to Redditors, who promptly proceed to tear it apart. Now … Continue reading Hacking as Learning
I'm a big fan of the OSR scene, and always looking to do more old school gaming, so this post is overdue. I thought I'd talk just a little about attitudes to having the treasure that adventurers collect give experience points - people have already talked at length about this, so I'll try and come … Continue reading Gold for xp and vice-versa
This sounds like something a drama teacher would say, but don't worry, I mean something very specific by it, which I'll go into in detail. This is the Advanced section of Rule #2: Present your checks properly. Like that rule, it focuses on GMing manner, and how you present the game to the players. Unlike … Continue reading Rule #3: Present your world as if it were real
I haven't done any new painting projects since lockdown; I rarely actually end up using the minis I paint at the table, but something about even having the option is enough to get me motivated to paint them. But that's not been the case for the last few months! So here's some of my backlog … Continue reading Ghouls and Greeblies!
There are a few traps GMs can fall into when presenting their world to the players. These problems will subtly decrease the players' trust in your adjudication, and some of them will start to erode the sense of a shared, discoverable world by reminding the players that everything is, ultimately, determined by GM fiat. This … Continue reading Rule #2: Present your checks properly
For the inaugural post on this thread, and indeed this website, I thought I'd start by digging into something that I've been thinking about for a while: How combat runs in D&D 5th edition, and why it needs to run fast, on pain of causing some serious pacing problems. To start as we mean to … Continue reading Rule #1: Run super-fast combat
I mean "metagame" slightly differently in the title to how it's most often meant. The way I mean it, it's what holds your group together. Some people talk about a social contract at the gaming table, but I want to go a little bit deeper - I want to show how the dynamic between you … Continue reading Healing the metagame: The “One Nice Thing” rule