Bullet Journals for RPGs

Bullet journals are analog alternatives to printed day planners, “to-do” apps, and note-taking tools. Created by Ryder Carroll, bullet journals are a purposefully archaic approach to capturing life’s esoteric bits, from a list of today’s meetings to a quick note about that weird dream you had last night. Though typically used to organize your real-life, … Read more

The Three-Page Manifesto, Revisited

A hand-drawn dungeon map and gray dice with red pipes cover typed game notes.

The latest RPG Blog Carnival encourages us to “revisit the past”. Hosted by GameMastery, the kickoff post discusses writing a follow-up or sequel to a prior post. For me, that’s revisiting “The Three-Page Manifesto”. Written in 2008, the column saw me grappling with balancing gaming and fatherhood. At the time my kids were 6 and 3 and my … Read more

Rethinking Encounters and Defeating the Routine

Green and grey dice rest on a page from Volo's Guide to Monsters

“Rethinking Encounters” is the theme of February 2017’s RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Table Top Terrors. It’s something I’ve contemplated a lot over the last few years as my gaming group returned to playing Dungeons & Dragons and I struggled to come up with thoughtful and interesting fantasy encounters. That’s because for most of the Blackrazor … Read more

The Three-Page Manifesto

I write too much. This is not a new or sudden revelation. I’ve known since college that I could fill a notebook with ideas when preparing for a night’s game of Dungeons & Dragons. I might write 12,000 words to describe a three-story arc adventure, and use 1/4 of what I wrote. That’s grossly inefficient, … Read more

My First D&D 4E Character: Field General Zhoran

D&D 4E is upon us … and I’ve created my first character for the game. If I’ve learned one thing about the game in doing this, it’s that the 4E’s mechanics don’t fit easily into the old fantasy molds. To that end, I’ve been building out my own 4E campaign setting called Planetorn (detailed in … Read more

Gaming in the Round: Lessons from the Dark City

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to try a different kind of role-playing game campaign: a medieval urban fantasy that combined traditional story telling with the sort of open-ended, sandbox-like openness of games like Grand Theft Auto. The setting would be Obsidian Bay, the homegrown metropolis that my friends and I had spent … Read more

The Magic Item Compendium and Theories of Arcane Distribution

Wizards of the Coast is releasing a Magic Item Compendium reprinting 750 magic items from previous publications and Dragon Magazine articles, while adding in 500 new items. In anticipation of its release later this month, they’re running a series of articles by Andy Collins, one of the book’s designers. In the first article he talks … Read more

Designing a Play-By-Wiki Game

Running play-by-post role-playing games online is a kind of hell. Be it by blog, forum, e-mail, or some sort of real-time hookup, sustaining a game can be near impossible. While I have no hard data on this, my guess would be that only 1 in 10 online games succeed, and that’s probably wildly optimistic. The … Read more

Getting the most use out of NPC Classes in D&D 3E

3rd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide introduces five new non-player character classes (NPCS) to the game which provide Dungeon Masters with some non-adventuring options for the common (and uncommon) folk of their campaign. This article, inspired by a debate on the Greytalk listserv about the merits of having dedicated NPC classes, looks at how I use them to enhance combat, role-playing and meta gaming in my campaign