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?

Get to Know the Merfolk

It might seem like just a few days ago, I was talking about spooky creatures and practices in honor of Halloween. Well, now Halloween is behind us, and our next holidays in the US are Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. To that end, I will be covering the wide variety of militaristic and martial turkeys that dot the Dungeons & Dragons landscape. We’ll first cover the turku, a kenku variant, and then move into the gonzo stuff, like the turketaur and the turkesaur. Just kidding, let’s talk about merfolk.

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 Age of Retiarius

I had something else planned for this week, but then I read the July round of rules answers  in Sage Advice. One of the questions was about the net, and if attacks with the net were always made with disadvantage. The answer was the net was specifically designed so a net attack was always made with disadvantage, without an intervening factor, like a special feature, advantage to offset through something like faerie fire, or the net itself is special. Unfortunately, neither barbarian or fighter seems to have a special feature to offset this penalty in the core materials. Alas, it is up to all kind folk to make an impassioned defense of the retiarius, the net-fighter.

Five Essential Lessons for New DMs in D&D

Since the release of 5th Edition, I’ve run into many DMs trying their hand at D&D for the very first time. Some of these folks are coming to the table with previous experience in Pathfinder, Star Wars, Gurps, etc., but others are as green as it gets. With that in mind, I’d like to welcome the new DMs to the wonderful world created and maintained by Gygax, Greenwood, Salvatore, Elmore, Hickman, Weis, Easley, Perkins, and many, many more. I’d also like to impart some of my hard earned knowledge from 20 years as both a player and a DM with five essential do’s and don’ts that can easily make or break an adventure. Keep in mind that a lot of my advice is geared toward DMs running their own original homebrew material and not all of it may apply to pre-generated adventures.

4 Weird And Wonderful Homebrew Campaigns

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that reads my stuff that I’m a huge fan of homebrew. Except for most of the things in the Players Handbook, I homebrew until the cows come home. The adventures, the campaign, the dungeons, the magic items, the cities and towns, and sometimes even the campaign world itself are all my own creations. Over the past twenty years I can count the number of pre-fab adventures I’ve run on two hands and I have no regrets.

5 Fantasy Series You Should Read If You Play D&D

Movies, television, and theatre are wonderful places to get ideas, concepts, and even plot-lines for great D&D campaigns. However, for true inspiration and a real feel for how adventures/characters should play out, nothing beats a good series of novels. When you have several volumes to work with and each one is hundreds of pages long, authors can really immerse you into their character’s world. This is exactly what DMs should do with their players and a really good fantasy series can show you how.

The Art of the Apocalypse – 5 Ways to Destroy Your Roleplaying World

One of my guilty pleasures is a love for the end of the world movies/television shows. I’m not sure why these have always fascinated me but I suppose they are a grim reminder that this world we’ve built is always just a few events away from total chaos.

Five 2nd Edition D&D Boxed Sets That Deserve 5th Edition Makeovers

Back in the eighties and early nineties, TSR decided to release 2nd Edition material in boxed sets. In my opinion, these sets were top notch and provided exactly what most DMs needed: playgrounds. They provided just enough information to get an adventure or a campaign started and left more than enough blank spaces for the DM and players to fill in with their own ideas and material. There was usually a fully developed pre-fab adventure to introduce the PCs to the location/setting and then the box was jammed full of extra goodies like NPC pre-gens, very high quality maps, and monster manual supplements. Aside from my core books, these boxed sets were the most used materials in my library by a very wide margin.