5 Lovecraftian Game Ideas that aren’t Tentacles

I’m not a smart man, Jenny, but I do know what “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” means. It means it’s time for me to write something that doesn’t require loads of research because I am still full of opiates. Opiates, for when you will still be in pain, but you don’t care because you are riding a cloud that is shaped like a dog-headed crow, and now you are pretty sure that you are fighting ninjas. I should have pursued that advertising career, after all. Isn’t that right, opiates? Anyway, things are still tough for me, but enough of that. Let’s talk Lovecraft.

Gobble-ins, Centaurkeys,and Thanksgiving One-Shots

Happy American Thanksgiving, everybody! I expect most people are reading this on Thursday, because they are drinking as often as possible on Wednesday. This is going to be a hard holiday for a lot of people, and I bet bars and liquor stores are looking forward to Black Wednesday. Let’s assume for a minute that you are woefully hungover and are reading this from your smart device while praying to the porcelain gods. First, I feel your pain, and suggest you pop some alka seltzer and make yourself an egg cream. Second, double up on the mashed potatoes, heavy on the butter. Third, let’s talk about a Thanksgiving themed one-shot you can run while everyone is barely keeping it together.

e-D&D and Parallel Experiences

In a lot of ways, I’m a curmudgeon of a luddite who is afeared of technology. I mean, sure, I’ve literally worked on space telecommunications, but for some reason podcasts seem new and terrifying. Video streams, and even YouTube channels, don’t seem weird or foreign, but podcasts? It’s strange magic performed in the woods by the Sheldon gang summoning the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. Shubby N. is a good dude, I’m sure, but we have a hard time relating to each other. We just have very different backgrounds, ya know?

6 Ways to Save Your Campaign from the Holidays

This week is Canadian Thanksgiving and my campaign is taking a week off. Halloween, U.S. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are all right around the corner too. Holidays are awesome, but they can create challenges for GMs running a scheduled campaign in the weeks at the end of the year. Today on the Campaign Trail I’m providing 6 ways to save your campaign from the holidays.

Get to Know the Erinyes

We’re official into October. For many people I know, October means one thing: Halloween. While I am certainly not opposed to a fancy dress party, not to be confused with the Fancy Dress Party, I’m not exactly someone who goes crazy for the holiday. I like making stuff, but going to a party means I have to socially interact with people, all of whom might realize at any moment that I am the worst. Rather than have it be proven, I prefer to stay at home to cultivate my mystique. I might have veered from the point. Regardless, this time of year sees a whole host of devil and fallen angel costumes, of the classical, re-imagined, scary, or sexy variety. A kind reader (you can tweet to @tribality or @standsinthefire if you want me to cover something, or just complain about/to me) asked if I would cover demons or devils in the new future, and this time of year is perfect for it. Without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favorite devils: the erinyes.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow | Erinyes

Get to Know the Kenku

Last week, I spent a little bit of time talking about a creature I thought was cool and didn’t get enough recognition — the azer. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I thought I would discuss one of my other favorite creatures in D&D: the kenku. For the unaware, kenku are awesome crow people (except for when they are hawk people), and have an entire weird culture built, on the surface at any rate, around the idea that crows are clever thieves. Kenku are much more than that, and have some pretty great backstory that is modular and capable of fitting into many a campaign.

Get to Know the Azer

One of my favorite creatures of all time is the azer. Even though they have been around since 1983, I have never played in a game in which azers have featured, nor have I heard of games friends and acquaintances run that feature them. This is a shame, because azers are incredibly interesting, and are a great alternative to traditional elemental representation. Even better, the lore is easy to insert into a variety of situations and games. If you are looking for something underrepresented to feature in a game, then look no further than the azer.

The Personality of Ron Weasley (and Backgrounds)

With the advent of new Harry Potter material, what’s old is new again, and I can talk about the Wizard World without feeling old or silly. Let’s ignore the fact I don’t want to discuss the play⸺I’m a big believer in the idea a play should be experienced and not analyzed from the script or note. Instead, I want to talk about Ronald Weasley and the background system of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Specifically, I want to discuss the idea that Ron Weasley is the most all-in of any character at the Hogwarts gaming table.

Puzzles in a Pinch

If you had asked me a decade ago, I would never have said I would be in a spot where I need to have multiple puzzles ready to go at a moment’s notice. Well, time makes fools of us all. I’m not saying I’m a world-class detective with a top hat, courtly manners, and a weird orange shirt, but I am saying I run a few games with a variety of players and mediums. This means that I need to have a similarly diverse spread of puzzles. This can be a tricky feat, as puzzles can be time consuming to create and difficult to run in a satisfying way. Over time, I’ve found some time-saving, but still satisfying, solutions to this problem. Hopefully, these techniques will save some time for a GM in need.

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.