New Games, New Gaming Group, and All Kinds of Fun.

I recently started a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign. We had our session 0 three weeks ago, session 1 a single week again, and unfortunately had to skip the session 2 we’d planned for just a couple days ago. This is my current Sunday group, which consists of three regular players, one occasional (perhaps only Honey Heist) player, and one enigma who may never show up or may begin attending regularly. Whatever their heart demands, I guess. Still, it’s a solid group of players and they all made really fun characters for our 2-4 session introductory D&D campaign. The idea is that we’ll do this short campaign as a way to do a bit of world development (I get to have their characters as NPCs once we’re done) and to get everyone a bit more comfortable with each other. After this is done, we’ll be moving on to testing out Blades in the Dark for a similar amount of time, and then move from there to other games (the specific order is TBD). Once we’ve given most of them a try, we’ll wrap back around and decide what we want to play longer-term.

Continue reading

The Dice Gods Are More Real Than Probability Seems To Be

Probability is a bunch of bullshit. I’m sure that, in the broad pools of data and the sort of large swath approach of the various social sciences and anything that else that makes use of statistical analysis, probability is a much more reliable reference for how things will play out most of the time. When it comes to dice rolling and the sorts of things that happen as a result of dice rolling, it really does seem like the dice are trying to tell a story or that the incredibly unlikely thing happens way more often than not. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve created various tables for random outcomes, done my prep work on the ones that are statistically most-likely, and then told myself that the Infinitesimal option I added for what amounts to shits and giggles is not something I need to prepare for, only for my players to immediately roll that exact one thing during our next session.

Continue reading

Picking Through Spelljammer Like A Content Vulture

Just as I was getting to the point in my Science-Fantasy D&D campaign that might include fantasy-flavored space stuff, the long-awaited Spelljammer expansion to Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition came out. For the entire time I’ve been playing fifth edition, I’ve seen people posting comments on every Wizards of the Coast announcement that amount to “Spelljammer when?” and, frankly, I’m pretty happy for that to finally be done. I bet it’ll continue in some capacity, of course, because that’s how people are, but I’m glad to finally have this out so I can inject some fun space-themed fantasy bullshit into my science-fantasy game and so people will finally shut up about it. I am a complex, multi-faceted being and I can enjoy things for multiple reasons.

Continue reading

Sustainable Characters and Short D&D Campaigns

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing (as a player, not the Dungeon Master) in a Dungeons and Dragons game. It was conceptualized as a sort of “last stand” type adventure, with four characters taken after the moment of their deaths by some powerful, godly figure, to see how long they could last against various challenges. Restored to the peak of their power (20th level) and given only mundane, non-magical gear, they are thrown together with no warning or preparation time and bounced from one scenario and battle to another, with only two instant-use short rests to allow them to recover. It has been a lot of fun to play a powerful character with no need to manage magic items or a vision for the future beyond how to mechanically apply my abilities and limited recovery from one fight to another.

Continue reading

Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns Can Last For Years Longer Than You Think They Would

As much as I love my big, ambitious Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I have so many fun ideas that I want to try out that I’m confident I’ll never do them all. Even with a campaign for every day of the week, I’d probably die before I ran out of ideas. It can be a little frustrating to know I’ll never get to even a quarter of them, because so many of them just seem so interesting and fun to explore. As someone who has been running a weekly game at the same time for the better part of a decade (at least over five years, maybe six? Or seven? It is about six and a half years if I’m doing my math right), I can tell you that even a weekly game can take a long time to play out since very few weekly Tabletop Roleplaying Game campaign actually happen every week.

Continue reading

The New D&D Statblocks Dropped A Day Too Late To Save My Players

A week ago (the day I’m writing this), a much-discussed Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook was released. Monsters of the Multiverse doesn’t add much brand-new content, instead doing the heavy-lifting to update a bunch of older content that has been out-of-line with the design goals of modern D&D 5e. It made a bunch of changes to spellcaster “monsters” (prepared statblocks for various creatures/NPCs that a Dungeon Master might want to reference) in order to make them easier for DMs to reference in combat scenarios. I’m enjoying the changes so far, along with the way they’ve updated many of the various (older) playable races with new tidbits of lore and abilities to better reflect the general states of said races they’ve released in adventures over the last couple years. All-in-all, I think this represents an improvement to the game that is going to make my life easier and help shift away from depictions of these races as monstrous via thinly veiled racism.

Continue reading

Creating Myths, Legends, and Informational Pamphlets for my D&D Games

As I’ve been working on a setting for a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign, I’ve been thinking about alternate ways to inform my players and manage various things like lore, legends, myths, and what a person in the world I’m creating would consider the truth of things. There’s a lot of willing-suspension-of-disbelief that happens for most D&D games, so there isn’t a lot most GMs and players need to make it work, but the particular game I’m running is reliant on very specific knowledge and mythology. I can expect my players to ask questions to help fill out what their characters know and I can work to understand what the average person in this world would know so I can avoid making my players roll for the basics, but I can also use my degree in English literature to create mythology and legends for the world in a way that establishes the basics. Plus, then I get to have fun writing stuff and I LOVE writing stuff.

Continue reading

I Love To Tinker With My D&D Campaign Settings

Lately, I’ve been enjoying making lots of documents for my Dungeons & Dragons games. I know I talk about “understanding can serve you better than knowing” a lot here, but there’s a point where you understand so much you start needing to record it all somewhere so you remember it later. Generally, I like to keep these documents to broad, general strokes without a lot of specifics so I can cleave to my principles as a DM, but it is very helpful to have all the specific, complex systems worked out ahead of time. For instance, in the domain of dread I’ve built for my weekly Sunday D&D, I have a list of the various tiers of effects the players can encounter, the ways various encounters tie into those tiers, how to switch between tiers, and how the world/the people in the world respond to their efforts written down. What I add whenever it comes up are the specific debilities tied to the tiers as my players encounter them. Those I do not have built out ahead of time since I don’t need a name until it’s happening and the name and specific effect should reflect the situation the player character has found themselves in.

Continue reading

The Secret To My Success As A Game Master

In one of my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I recently leveled up my players and gave them access to some a few magic items each since the next adventure hook they chose was to explore an incredibly dangerous area that can cause magic to go haywire. In the time since that session, I’ve been working with some of them to select the items they want and ensure that they understand their new abilities or powers. It is fairly typical for this group, but it’s something I provide to any player who needs it because I have a fairly broad knowledge of the content and I know enough to find anything if I can’t remember it. It’s a useful skill to have as both a DM and player, and I feel like I’ve managed to present myself as a resource to other players and DMs alike without being overbearing.

Continue reading

I Got To Play D&D In Person For The First Time In Over Two Years

Thanks to a friend coming into town for the first time in a few years, I was able to run my Sunday night Dungeons and Dragons game in-person for the first time. There is the unfortunate caveat that the game was 4/5ths in person, since one of the players was still remote, but that’s a setup I’ve dealt with many times in the past (it was the default for my pre-pandemic Sunday night game for pretty much the entire time I’ve had a Sunday night game). This time, though, the guy who was usually the remote player got to be there in-person! It was a fun change of pace, even if I had to basically dismantle my computer and office in order to get the whole setup working since most of my notes, resources, and tools are digital these days.

Continue reading