I can't believe the amount of time that has elapsed since I last wrote one of these. However, I'm ecstatic about breaking this drought by talking about Robert Schwalb's blog.
From the start of my D&D "career", I've heard wonderful things about this man. I followed with glee the tweets and blog posts of those who were lucky enough to meet him. He's a prolific writer and while I try to read everything he writes, I still have a lot of catching up to do. And his blog is making this even more difficult. Recently I've felt like I should take down my little shingle and just direct people to his posts because they are that good.
Not only are his posts full of good advice, he lets his own personality shine through. He talks about his fears, his gratitude, his weaknesses, his industry and his preferences. Whenever I see that he has a new post up, I feel compelled to stop what I'm doing and read it. His productivity is hurting mine.
- Ask Doctor Evil - Rob let's his dark side out and invites us to ask him anything
- Gnomes, Gnomes, Gnomes - A behind the scenes look at his recent DDI article about gnomes and why even small creatures can generate a long articles
- Austrian Pineaples - Getting the gang together on a regular basis is hard.
- Lighting Cigars with Dollar Bills - Some great (hard-won) advice on being an RPG freelancer
- Spit & Polish: Old Monsters Return - Rob professes his love of creating monsters and brings back the Anaxim Battleguard.
I hope you give his site a try and enjoy it as much as I have!
There might not be a ton of entries in the Spend a Healing Stirge blog, but the entries are full of great tips, especially for DMs. The author is especially interested in bringing music to the table, with tips on how to incorporate it and, just as importantly, provides some recommendations on music to use. In addition, there are a number of sensible, buy-from-your-local-store DM tips, such as using non-stick kitchen rubber mats to keep dungeon tiles in place and using pipe cleaners to mark figures.
- Assault on New Avalon - Describes how he would use the song "Assault of New Avalon", from the World of Warcraft - Wrath of the Lich King soundtrack, in a game.
- GameMastery NPC Decks - Tips on how to use GameMastery's NPC decks in a game.
- 3.5 Reskin: Magic Sniper Rifle - "[A] weapon that does d20 damage? That's ridiculous!"
- Achievements in D&D - A way of bringing renown to your world, or at least to your table.
- DM Pressure, more music! - More info on how to bring music to your table.
Just by itself, the Sly Flourish blog would be considered a great resource for those 4e DMs out there. Written by Mike Shea, the posts are concise, well-written and accompanied by excellent pictures. The monster optimization series alone is a great resource. Not only does it give DMs monster combos to place into their own campaigns where appropriate, but he explains what it is about the combo that makes it awesome, effectively providing a learn-by-example tutorial on encounter design. It definitely makes you look forward to Mondays.
- Three D&D Tips I Learned From Dragon Age
- Monster Optimization: Foulspawn Mangler + Foulspawn Seer
- Powerhouse Dragons
- James Bond Encounter Design
- Monster Optimization: Ghouls and Deathlock Wights
- Evernote for Dungeon Masters
- Giving 4e an Old School Feel
- Monster Optimization: Shadow Dragons
- Ten Ways to Challenge Powerful Parties
- Scaling 4th Edition for Six Players
- Magic Gems for Item Reward Flexability
If you need your fix more than once a week, fear not, Mike gives out great ideas throughout the week through Twitter. Followers of the @SlyFlourish twitter account are treated to small nuggets of DMing and story telling wisdom.
Recent Twitter D&D Tips
- Cross-train your RPG reading with King's "On Writing", Tharps "Creative Habit", and Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side o/t Brain"
- Try out a Stephen King style and foretell coming events: "That was the last time you saw your home town before it burned."
- When using published adventures, don't be afraid to replace NPCs with those already known and loved (or hated) by your PCs.
- Give your players a lot of different quests, each with a well-designed quest card so they can keep track of them.
- Does a PC have a big moment coming? Try using a music playlist based on that PC selected by that player.
In addition to the blog and twitter account, Mike created a really nice 4e blog aggregation site, 4eBlogs.com.
I'll admit, I might be a bit biased on this one. The blog author in this case is one of the players in my somewhat weekly game. However, I think he has some really nice ideas and content and I encourage all of you to check out his blog, Mike's D&D Blog. As for a little background, Mike has been playing D&D since 1988. He started DMing with 2e and is a great source of advice and information on a large number of gaming systems as well as other sorts of games.
- Reputation as a Matter of System - Your party is gaining in level and nobody's heard of them yet?
- Getting the party inside your character’s head - What was Aoefel seeking to avenge?
- Fantastic Phones - Communication, does it need to be so hard?
- Snow and Ice - It's winter but yet the party travels unhindered?!?
- Combat Tactics: Gorilla's Paw - Making enemies out of allies since 535.
He definitely keeps me on my toes. And for all of you DMs out there who are wondering what your players might be thinking, he's a great resource. If you want to follow him on twitter, he can be found @TheMikeKatz.
The At-Will blog provides inspiration, techniques and more for D&D 4th Edition. The blog is maintained by a team of 6 contributors. I particularly enjoy the focus on 4E content since that is my preferred game. The posts are well researched and are often aimed at the Dungeon Master, giving the DM items they can incorporate into their campaign. Recent post categories include: skill challenges, music, advice, game mastering, wave and rules.
- Gamefiend, a.k.a. Quinn Murphy
- He is the owner and Editor-in-Chief of the site. Considered a jack of all trades he is an aspiring game designer/freelancer. He can be reached on twitter @gamefiend.
- Gentian is Gamefiend's wife.
- Ethan has been DMing since 1996, originally using secondhand AD&D materials. He has run a number of D20 campaigns.
- He was first introduced to D&D during summer camp when he was 8.
- Milambus, a.k.a. Jake Fitch
- Jake is a lifelong player of video games, card games and board games. Like me, he didn't start playing tabletop RPGs until the release of 4th edition. He can be reached on twitter @Milambus.
- Rudolf Kraus
- Rudolf began playing D&D when he was 9.
Iain Norman, @teknohippy, writes a great blog called Buccaneer's Guild. He writes a bunch about using Photoshop to improve your game through maps and handouts. In particular, he loves drawing maps, both with pen and paper and digital tools. I hope to sit down with some of his tutorials soon and learn how he crafts his great images.
- Hurried Handouts 5 — Hook, Line, and Sinker
- One Hundred Random Post-Apocalyptic Junk Items
- Hurried Handouts 4 — Creating Quick Parchment in Photoshop Video
- Hurried Handouts 3 – The Power of the Press
- We Build Worlds
- Hurried Handouts 2
Softrope - Soundtrack for Your Games
In addition to the great blog he writes, Iain also works on Softrope, an RPG sound mixer for DMs. I've used an earlier version and I'm hoping that my netbook will be able to run it as well.
Softrope brings customisable organic soundscapes like rainstorms, battles and creepy dungeons as well as spot effects such as growls, screams and explosions to your tabletop RPG. Music tracks can also be added to any scene.
Softrope allows you to build a collection of sound-based scenes. You build each scene with simple single sound-effects, layered up to create a more complex soundscape.
Musings of the Chatty DM is a blog written by Philippe-Antoine Ménard, an extroverted gamer geek with over 25 years of game master experience. He aims to capture that feeling many get when they enter their favorite gaming shop and are enveloped by conversations from people who love to talk about the games they are in and the ones they wish they were in. He is doing a lot of cool stuff and I enjoy reading his posts on his blog and on Twitter. In addition, I can't wait to hear more about a number of new projects he has in the works. If you need further endorsement, Wil Wheaton recently gave him a big thumbs up on Twitter.
Some Recent Posts
- Campaign Weariness: Ending a campaign before its time
- Turning D&D 4e's Economy on its Head
- Mouseguard Diaries: The First Duel
- City of the Overmind: Nipples of Chaos, Part 2
- City of the Overmind: Nipples of Chaos, Part 1
Successful session planning requires inspiration and execution. We will help with both! Learn how to foster ideas, mine tropes from TV and movies, and tailor content to your players with this workbook from the GenCon 2008 workshop. We will also explain how to take those concepts and compose your session notes by creating a development cycle and packing your notes with the essential elements.
From Here to There. Because no PC should ever relax.
Published by Goodman Games, this collection is aimed at giving game masters encounters to throw at the party during their travel to or from other locations, such as dungeons. They are meant to be challenging for parties while not taking away from the overall campaign.
This week's post actually includes two blogs, all done by the same person, Michael Shorten a.k.a. @chgowiz. Michael has been playing tabletop RPGs since 1979, when he bought the boxed Basic set. As his personal blog states, he enjoys sharing the fun of original D&D, one game at a time. In addition to his blogs, he is involved in two campaigns, writes reviews on Game Cryer, is an active user of twitter and provides a number of RPG resources on his personal blog. Besides RPGs, Michael is a former amateur stock car driver and he has served in the US Army and US Air Force. While I don't always agree with him, I always enjoy getting his point of view, especially since it tends to involve being creative and doing what seems right, not necessarily what the books say.
- Rob Zombie defines the "E" side of the 9 Alignment system
- Making clerics relevant
- Handing out cookies...
- More illustration previews for Tombs of Hulkursag
- We Play Swords & Wizardry - Quick Start demo
Chicago RPG Examiner's Articles
- RPG News Roundup (11/9)
- Update on this weekend's D&D Realms event
- Playing RPGs on Google Wave
- Review: Twilight Sector campaign setting
- Gamestore review - Cat and Mouse - Bucktown
Swords & Wizardry
Michael is a big fan of the Swords & Wizardry game by Mythmere Games. As described on their website, S&W is a "retro-clone" of the original version Gary Gygax published in 1974. The makers of the game create products that support free-form roleplaying games, those where there is a light framework of rules instead of a compendium of rules that attempt to cover every situation. With its lighter rules, the goal of the game is to encourage imagination.
A number of other sites have picked up on the awesomeness that is his blog. Wired's GeekDad blog included this blog on its list of the five great RPG blogs. His post about creating custom tokens was republished in OPEN GAME TABLE: The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs, Volume 1.
Some Recent Posts
- “Dragon Age: Origins” releases today!
- To Fudge or Not to Fudge, That is the Question
- NewbieDM Review: Dungeon Magazine 171
- Pre-Campaign Player Questionnaire
- NewbieDM Review: Kobold Quarterly 11
- Warstories: Player vs. Player at the table.
As a bonus, newbiedm.com is running a contest for a signed copy of “The Ghost King” by R.A. Salvatore. He is looking for readers to email him with their best hand-drawn sketch of Drizzt and his black panther Guenhwyvar. Microsoft Paint is also fine, but if it looks like a 3D render or something similar, it will be disqualified. The person who draws his favorite sketch will win the book. He is encouraging everyone, regardless of skill, to enter. The contest ends Friday, November 6th at 11:59 PM Eastern time and all entries may be posted on his site.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that he also started a great new DMs group on the Wizard's Community Site.