Burden of Knowledge Design

One of the common usages of “burden of knowledge” is describing a situation where you need in-depth exposure (often first-hand) to understand something. For you to perform something to the highest levels, others have to also attain a high level of mastery. Conversely, your mastery might be so thorough that no one can successfully compete against you. The knowledge base is so deep, or so well hidden, that there is never a really equal playing field.  There are many possible barriers to entry, but system mastery isn’t easily overcome. This is especially problematic when you are talking about things that are attempting to be easily accessible, as cooperative and competitive games often attempt to be. Let’s look at a timeless game—chess.

The Strange Case of the Half-Orc Champion

It turns out that having a bone surgically re-broken, getting some bone graft shoved inside you, and then having a bunch of plates and screws put in you doesn’t lend itself to quick recovery. What I am saying is, I’m still pretty medicated at this juncture, but I have tried my best to double and triple check everything below.

The Almighty Johnsons, The Power of Self, and the Reverse Warlock

I had a conversation the other day regarding clerics, warlocks, and the nature of other-directed character advancement. It hadn’t ever been something I really considered, but it was a very important issue to the people I was speaking to at the time. This got me thinking about a show out of New Zealand called The Almighty Johnsons, and how the show addressed and answered this very question during its run from 2011-2013.

A Lich for Every Class: The Paths of Transcendence (Part 2)

This is the second part of a multi-part series about the character classes developing until they become ‘lich-like;’ that is, following the path of their power until they become something more or less than human. You can read the first part here. To summarize:

The Path of the Lich – Wizards ‘kill’ their bodies and senses to free their mind in order to better study & master the arcane.

5 D&D Campaigns Inspired By Reality Television

I’m thinking about the Bachelor, Hell’s Kitchen, and So You Think You Can Dance!


Okay, I’m really not but I must admit that there’s something about the idea of combining dancing with arcane spells that makes me a bit curious. (Haste, Blur, and Mirror Image come to mind.)

However, being a bit more serious, I have conjured up five reality shows currently on television that would make excellent foundations for some very interesting D&D campaigns. These shows, with some obvious modifications to make them fit better with fantasy, have everything players are looking for in an adventure. Many of them are dramatic, suspenseful, insightful, sometimes dangerous, and often provide a great deal if insight into the human condition. And while I’m sure that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, they may provide the perfect backdrop for some groups willing to branch out and do a little experimenting.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous PCs

Either as a player or a DM, have you ever reached the point where the party’s money was going out of control? I know that some DMs are very strict with their treasure and can be stingy with their coin, but I’ve seen others that lavish their players with mountains of gold, gems, and valuables, so much so that the encumbrance rules are often bent if not broken. Judging from what I’ve seen and what I’ve played, I fall somewhere in the middle. I often give my players very small amounts of coin in the early levels and gradually increase the flow as their experience grows.

Putting The Fun in Funeral – 8 Weird Ways To Die In D&D

Death in D&D can range from the mundane to the downright strange. Maybe your character goes down to something as simple as a club to the head or maybe they get a sword in the guts. Or maybe they breathe their last staring down a deadly dungeon trap or a magnificent fireball spell. These are all pretty standard ways to go, and many of the characters I have played and died as, or have killed off as a DM, have been in these fashions. But these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hundreds of way to die in D&D.

5 Mind Blowing Movie Twists for D&D

When it comes to D&D campaigns, I love a great twist. I enjoy unfolding a mystery or a riddle slowly over the course of several sessions. And the moment when the players (or a player) figure(s) out where I’m leading them is practically euphoric for me. It’s wonderful to take my players on a narrative that has that little bit of shock value. It keeps them engaged in the story and it makes them want to return to your table week after week to understand it all and see it through to the end.

Six Pop Culture Sword Masters to Inspire Your Characters

Historically speaking, there have been dozens of legendary sword masters from all over the world. Some examples include: Tsukahara Bokuden (1489-1571) who is accredited with winning 20 duels and killing over 200 men in several battles; Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) accredited with winning 60 duels and authoring The Book of Five Rings; Salvator Fabris (1544-1618) considered by many to be the greatest fencing teacher in history; Johannes Liechtenauer (c. 1500) was the father of the German style of fencing; and William Marshal (1147-1219) rumored to have beaten over 500 knights in various tournaments and dubbed “The greatest knight that ever lived”. However and unfortunately, these are not the great sword masters many people admire in today’s society despite the fact that, in my opinion, their deeds are worthy of study and respect.

Instead, many of us currently look to movies, novels, and video games for our sword master inspiration and, in recent years, we’ve been treated to a host of impressive examples. Many of these fictional sword masters are not only talented with their blades but also show a quality that I personally feel is essential for anyone who wishes to take on the responsibility that comes with the mantle of “master”: restraint. While all of these sword masters are deadly and do not hesitate to strike when the need arises, they also exhibit a high level of patience and control. They fully have the ability to pull back their killer instinct and allow those who do not deserve their wrath to escape unharmed. This is what I believe makes the difference between someone who is great and someone who is legendary.

In roleplaying and especially in D&D, it is important to have role models for your characters. Not necessarily to make carbon copies of or plagiarize, but to inspire and to motivate. So, in an effort to inspire and motivate you, here are my top six sword masters from popular culture:

It’s A Kind of Magic

So you’ve decided to be a spell caster!

It’s a good career move with lots of exciting options and mystical powers to explore. When roleplaying, you’ll be able to use your magic to aid in searches, persuade others, deceive others, repair items, heal PCs and NPCs, speed your group’s travel, create food and water, and the list goes on and on. In combat, casting spells can be some of the most damage dealing actions in the game and they can also lend support to other characters in countless ways, especially healing. In short, spell casting is a huge part of what makes a game like D&D fun and exciting.