Blogs I Love: Robert J. Schwalb

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.

Recent Posts

I hope you give his site a try and enjoy it as much as I have!

Blogs I Love: Spend a Healing Stirge

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.

Recent Posts

Blogs I Love: Sly Flourish

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.

Recent Posts

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,

Blogs I Love: Mike's D&D Blog

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.

Recent Posts

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.

Blogs I Love: At-Will

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.

Recent Posts

Blogs I love: Buccaneer's Guild

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.

Recent Posts

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.

Blogs I love: Chatty DM

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.

@wilw: @ChattyDM Have I told you how much I love your blog? If I haven’t: I love your blog.

Some Recent Posts

Additional Writing

GM-fu: Session Prep
In addition to the great advice on his blog, you can get even more great advice from this free booklet.

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: A Collection of Nine Traveling Adventures

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.

Blogs I Love: Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog

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.

Recent Posts

Chicago RPG Examiner's Articles

Recent Posts

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.

Blogs I Love: newbie dm

The Newbie DM blog has a lot of great information, some of which I've pointed out in previous posts. The man behind the blog is also quite active on twitter, @newbiedm.

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

The Ghost King by R.A. SalvatoreThe Ghost King by R.A. Salvatore

Current Contest

As a bonus, 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.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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