Category Archives: Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup: Ennie Nominated Edition

We were both excited and very humbled on Friday to find out that the blog (yes, this one) was nominated for an Ennie award! There are a lot of great nominations in the blog category as well as the podcast category (the two races we had a horse in) and we encourage you to check them all out. The entire list of Ennie nominations is here. On the list of nominations, we think you’ll find a lot of familiar names and products, as well as some new stuff you should probably get interested in. And now, on to the articles…

On this week we learned that parenting tips can also be DM tips. How? Read on.

Someone on Twitter this week pointed us to an article in The Smithsonian Magazine that describes the lives of London’s sewer prospectors in the mid 1800s. We point you to this article for two reasons – one, to give an idea as to what poverty might look like for a campaign, and two, because some of the “sewer rumors” in the article could serve as adventure hooks. You’re welcome.

Amanda Valentine had some great thoughts on why you need to get kids involved in gaming. Your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandkids. Bring them to cons, play games with them, get them involved in the community. Here’s why.

There’s a fairly new webseries on Youtube called “Tabletop.” Featuring Wil Wheaton, it highlights some of the board games you know and love. The latest episode features the RPG Fiasco. If you haven’t checked it out, do so; learn a new RPG, and enjoy a new webseries. Two birds.

Do you need some insults for your NPCs to throw at the characters? Look no further than the mix and match list on Big Ball of No Fun this week. Roll some dice and insult the players characters.

If you’re wondering why your players have lost interest in your plot, maybe you should try giving them one of these general questions to answerExchange of Realities finds questions like these are what keeps her interested in a plot.

We really like the Troll in the Corner series on “reality makes the best fantasy.” This week, we find ourselves asking what the adverse effects of heat are. Someone needs to turn heat stroke into a disease track. We are, after all, fans of describing the scene fully, and incorporating the seasons into your game.

Finally, The Dungeon’s Master this week talked about some things that we normally consider taboo in our RPGs. If you game with a mature group, it might be time to incorporate some of this in your game.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: 2011 Ennie Nominations Edition)

At Daily Encounter this week, Obsidian Crane pondered the criteria for labeling a D&D adventure as a “classic.”  Lots of good points here, and definitely worth a read.

Weekly Roundup: Your Date For The Ennies Edition

Just this week, the Ennies Dream Date auctions started. We were very surprised at the volume of awesome stuff you get if you win the WotC one – a bunch of primo merchandise, a private sit down with Mike Mearls to talk D&D Next (ask him anything!), a D&D session DM’d by Chris Perkins, and front row tickets to every WotC session at Gencon! Paizo also has a dream date auction up, and in the coming weeks, more dream date auctions will be added. You can find the WotC Dream Date auction here. The Paizo auction is here. And if you want to keep an eye on the other “Ennies Dream Date” auctions that haven’t started yet, the list is here. They include Jennifer Page (actress) and Tom Lommel (better known as The Dungeon Bastard, and is MCing the event).

Gaming As Women had a good article up this week about talking to people, especially those of the opposite sex. Let’s face it, gamers aren’t known for their social graces (broad generalization) and really, these tips are good for all people – gamers and otherwise.

The Penny Arcade TV series “Extra Credits” had a great video this week on power creep. While most of the argument lies around computer games, the theory also applies to many other games like Magic and yes, D&D. (We talked about power creep in our podcast a while ago too).

Alphastream tackled the history of magic items in D&D, and how it looks they’ll be treated in D&D Next. As an aside, there has been a lot of really great content on his blog recently, and we’d recommend checking out some other articles while you’re there.

Check out the megadungeon map by The Mule Abides this week – what struck us was how much it looked like dungeon geomorphs, except on a “dungeon level” scale versus a “dungeon room” scale.

Ben’s RPG Pile had a fun arts & crafts project for modular “heads on pikes.” When they’re modular like this, you’re sure to find quite a few places to add them as an element of foreshadowing the horror to about to befall the PCs.

Finally, Board Enterprises had a fun idea for coming up with NPC (and PC) names that doesn’t require one of those online generators.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: Secret Project Revealed Edition)

Geneome showed us how he made the Ritual Tower from the Dark Sun adventure “Revenge of the Marauders.”  This is as simple and inexpensive as a project can get, and it still looks great!


Weekly Roundup: DnDpr Edition

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out the new DnDpr Tumblr, which is a spoof on NPR. So public radio from a high fantasy point of view. It’s pretty funny, and we hope to hear a lot more from these guys in the future. On to the articles…

First up this week, we have a great feel good story that made us smile. If someone tells you gaming is a waste of time, just point them to this story from Breakfast for Owlbears.

Neuroglyph Games had a great article on how the new bounded accuracy rules will change the game. Some great thoughts, and even a little bit of D&D history.

In case you hadn’t heard, there is going to be a new D&D movie released on the SyFy channel titled “The Book of Vile Darkness.” After seeing the trailer, Randall over at This Is My Game posted his thoughts (including what they should have made).

IntWisCha wrote an article this week that responds to the contention that you’re not roleplaying if you’re using disassociated mechanics. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is… there’s an explanation.

It’s no secret that WotC is planning on making the rules of D&D Next modular. It’s being touted as a feature. Well, this week Jester made a pretty comprehensive list of optional rules modules that he hopes to see.

Starting a new campaign sometime soon? Did your character just die, and you need to make a new one? Check out the advice Reality Refracted gave on creating character backstory.

The Douchey DM had a great idea for making a better DM screen. When you’re familiar with the rules, what do you use that real estate for? Try this, and see how your game goes.

Finally, The She DM posted a short article with her thoughts about how the loss of interrupts in the current D&D Next rules has made the game worse for her. We’d tend to agree, and (on the podcast) have often spoken about how interrupts engage players even when it’s not their turn.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: Beyond the Stat Block Edition)

NewbieDM had a guest article on making flying stands for minis.  We’ve been thinking about doing this very thing for a while now (even have the extendable “antennas” sitting around here somewhere), so it was nice to see a tutorial to save on trial and error.  These look really good!

Weekly Roundup: Free RPG Day 2012 Edition

Well, another Free RPG Day has come and gone. What sorts of swag did you get? Unfortunately, we were not able to make it out because we were out of town and there wasn’t a single participating store in the entire state. Sad. But next year, we’ll be sure that we’re home for Free RPG Day 2013!

We’re always interested in new ways to conduct large scale conflict in our D&D game. We’ve even linked a few in past Weekly Roundups. Check out the system created by That Robed Guy and see if it would work in your campaign. (Incidentally, this is very similar to the system that The Learning DM came up with.)

We had a (too short) discussion on Twitter this week about whether the D&D sourcebooks help a DM create a good story. It reminded us of the article @Alphastream tweeted this week of Pixar rules of thumb for creating great stories.

And speaking of Alphastream, there was a great two part article on his WotC blog this week. It discusses whether D&D Next should stick with the 4e style of monster stat blocks or whether it should stick with what they’re presenting in the playtest materials. He makes a compelling argument (and one we agree with).

Greywulf’s Lair discussed how the next edition of D&D should be published. Should WotC stick with the 3 book template (PHB, DMG, MM) or should they try something else?

Finally, if you need a dice calculator that you can use offline, look no further than the one posted by A Walk In The Dark this week.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: Etsy Edition)

Some Space to Think discussed why the Underpants Gnome school of thought is a good way to plot out your campaigns.  Also, don’t miss the follow up article with specific ideas.

Weekly Roundup: Post Charm City Gameday Edition

Yesterday I attended the Charm City Gameday in Maryland. In the morning, I learned (and played!) the Dresden Files RPG, and in the afternoon, I participated in my first ever Fourthcore Team Deathmatch. Both were awesome and fun in their own very different ways, but the one constant was the friendliness of the players, GMs, and even the store staff. I will definitely be attending the next one, and perhaps I’ll see you there! (In case you’re wondering, my team lost the deathmatch; we’ll be discussing more details surrounding that in the next podcast…)

Robot Viking brought to our attention the latest Legends & Lore article which outlines one of the most exciting new developments for D&D Next. We can’t wait to see how this works. It simplifies the system in a very positive way.

We also have a non-traditional link for you this week – a really cool graphic entitled “This is an Adventure” by Tim Denee. See if you can guess which class would be carrying which kit of items (or just admire the art).

Jennisodes announced the Gencon Social this week. It’s a chance to meet and mingle with other gamers and a whole slew of podcasters. If you’re going to be there, check it out.

Speaking of conventions, check out a few of the seminars that were recorded from Origins this year. There’s the gaming and social media seminar, and the designing in public. Both included Tracy, a designer for Sand and Steam Productions.

If you want to know what some old-school D&D players think of D&D Next, you should check out the thoughts posted by Greyhawk Grognard this week. These sentiments (cautious optimism) seem to be the norm in the OSR community.

Geek Ken proposed a few ideas on how he intends to tweak the Advantage and Disadvantage mechanic when he gets a chance to playtest D&D Next. We look forward to the verdict.

Finally, on the non-D&D-yet-still-nerd-related front, we have a list of 13 books that every nerd should read over at Critical Hits. Agree or disagree, it’s worth checking them out. Of the library. (see what I did there?)

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: How We Find Our Articles Edition)

Paul from Blog of Holding posted an amazing graphic depicting all the monsters in MM1 by level and environment.  We can’t imagine how much time this took…

(Editor’s Note: You can now buy this graphic as a poster as well as the “Dungeon Generator as a Dungeon” poster at the site. I own both, and highly recommend!)  


Weekly Roundup: Why I’m Taking A Hiatus Edition

So, D&D is in a unique place right now. As is my life. Lately, I’ve felt as though 4e content is in less demand because of D&D Next. However, D&D Next is still in a playtest phase, so designing something for that would just be silly. I don’t have any interest in discussing my thoughts on the playtest beyond what we intend to do on the podcast (more episodes to come), so what’s a D&D blogger to do? At the same time, I’ve been feeling really crunched lately in my personal life, and also as though this blog is sometimes taking up more than its fair share of my free time. So, I’ve decided to back off on the amount of posting I’ll be doing during this summer. Don’t worry though, I’ll still post periodically; when I do, it will be on Thursdays. I will also still be doing the weekly roundup every week. The sorts of things you can expect in this timeframe will be system neutral for the most part. Perhaps some hand drawn dungeon maps, dungeon accessories articles, and general thoughts on DMing. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on my D&D reading, focusing on my weekly D&D summer campaign, and spending time with my family.

Speaking of the playtest, there was a new article in the Protection From Chaos series at Loremaster this week. It’s written by an attorney, and it discusses the playtest agreement (that you most likely didn’t read).

IntWisCha had a great article on different types of treasure. Not the normal gold, gems, and statuettes, but rather all sorts of paper items that the party would consider non-traditional treasure worth pursuing. Lots of good hooks there too, if you’ve hit writer’s block this week.

On Twitter this week, SlyFlourish linked to this controversial article at UAD&D which is an open letter to WotC about the new edition. (It’s kind of long, but well written. Set some time aside for this one)

At Alphastream‘s WotC blog, he talks about the influence of other genres on D&D. Also, don’t skip over the link in the article to Last Stand At Camp Starfall, which will take you to a full adventure that he wrote as part of May of the Dead.

And speaking of May of the Dead, it wrapped up this week. You can head over to Going Last to see the whole list of articles from the carnival; lots and lots (and lots) of really good stuff there. We were impressed.

Finally, if you were following the One Page Dungeon Contest, the winners were announced this week! Check them out, and download some free one page goodness!

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: New Kickstarter Widget Edition)

If you’re currently feeling in a more cerebral mood, you should definitely check out the article at Geek Related on what RPGs teach you.  That, and there’s apparently an International Journal of Roleplaying.  Who knew? (link to the Journal in Geek Related’s article…)

Weekly Roundup: D&D Next Playtest Is Here Edition

So, the D&D Next playtest is here, and that’s what everyone is excited about. We’ve tried it out as well, and will save our thoughts for a podcast or article or something. Also, we thought we’d evidence our receipt to the Wayne Foundation for the RPG Charity Pack Match we did:

Speaking of the playtest, a lot of people have blogged about it (predictably), but one of the coolest articles we saw this week was from The Online DM. He analyzed the math behind “advantage” in D&D Next (if it stays as published in the playtest…)

At Fearless DM we have some thoughts about lessons learned from 4e, and a followup article in response to one of the comments. It’s always great to see bloggers interacting with their audience.

Of course, Geek Dad over at interviewed Mike Mearls, so that’s one you’ll want to check out. They talk about the playtest, as well as the direction D&D Next is probably headed.

Not to be outdone, Kobold Quarterly also interviewed Mike Mearls

And finally, Big Ball of No Fun had a great article on using Lords of Waterdeep as a plot generator. This is a great idea, and worth a look, especially if you’ve hit a little writer’s block.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: Finished Mini Edition)

Age of Ravens had a thought-provoking article on when a player should reveal their character’s back story, and more importantly, secrets.


Weekly Roundup: Tweet RPG Edition

If you’re one of those people who sometimes wonder what Twitter is “for,” then perhaps this is right up your alley – it’s an RPG game that is being run on Twitter for whomever wishes to take part. It’s called Tweet RPG, and players collectively control a single character by following the story and voting on next actions. Catch up on the story, get a Twitter account, and dive in! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter too…

Over at Blog of Holding, there was an article about some designers’ comments trying to allay fears about 2nd edition D&D. Some sounds familiar; be sure to read the comments as well for a good dialogue. It’s also interesting to note that we saw a lot of the same fan comments in the magazines when D&D moved to 3rd edition.

At his WotC blog, Jester talks about what the playtest process is. This is a good companion article to the one we linked to at Greywulf’s Lair a few weeks ago.

Geek Native had a cool infographic this week about the history of dice. It includes a d20 from Roman times, a d12 from Egyptian times, as well as lots of other dice related archaeological finds.

There was a great post at ENWorld this week about how to run a great convention game. With “Con Season” coming up, this post couldn’t be more timely.

Frivology tackled the thorny subject of sexism in gaming. While this subject has tons of diverse viewpoints, it’s always interesting to hear a female’s point of view (especially in a hobby dominated by males).

Finally, speaking of ladies in the hobby, over at Character Generation Liz waxes philosophical about not feeling “geek enough.”

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: 100th Post Giveaway Edition)

Over at his own blog, Geek Ken asked an important question that deserves an answer: Where is the WotC support for Gamma World? 

Weekly Roundup: Unhallowed Grove Map Edition

So this weekend, I decided to dust off Dundjinni and whip up a quick map for Friday’s Unhallowed Grove encounter. You can find it below, and I’ve also added it to the article’s page. The article’s page includes explanations. It’s not super fancy, but then, it’s been a while since I used the program. I’m beginning to remember how easy and fun the program is, so I hope to make some more maps in the coming months.

There was a great article at The Illuminerdy this week about how to make cons more fun. Everyone needs to add the phrase to their vocabulary, so that we all have more fun at cons.

Steve Winter at The Howling Tower mused upon the random encounter. Once a staple of D&D, it has in recent editions gone away. Steve takes on what a random encounter should be, and how to make them a good part of your game.

The Dungeon’s Master this week addressed the use of torture by PCs. Also, how intimidate is not the same thing. We have also addressed this subject (from a different angle) here.

Alex Schroeder, the guy who runs the One Page Dungeon Contest, wrote up a cool little post on how he strung together some of his favorite one page dungeons from the contest to make a campaign out of them.

We haven’t linked to The Labyrinth in a while, but they’re still making some beautiful, free world maps over there!

From The Sorcerer’s Skull posted the true story of a cave that was found in North America, full of skeletons and treasure. Complete with a map just begging to be dropped into a game.

The Retro Roleplaying blog talked about why some OSR players reject improvements to the D&D system. We disagree to an extent, and feel that the author cherry picked some of his examples, but it’s still worth a read.

Finally, in Wired this month, there was a very interesting article that I think absolutely should have talked about D&D. But it didn’t. Apparently the author, Clive Thompson, doesn’t know what we do. Check it out, and here’s a quote – email the author if this sounds familiar:

Paracosms are the fantasy worlds that many dreamy, imaginative kids like to invent when they’re young. Some of history’s most creative adults had engaged in “worldplay” as children. The Brontë siblings, in one famous example, concocted paracosms so elaborate that they documented them with meticulous maps, drawings, and hundreds of pages of encyclopedic writing.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: Last Call For Dungeon Geomorph Dice Edition)

Initiative Or What? had a cool article this week on different found objects that were useful as props for their D&D game.  We especially like the idea to use novelty ice cube trays for casting 3D terrain decorations.

Weekly Roundup: Wayne Foundation Charity RPG Bundle Edition

In case you didn’t know, there is currently a sale of an RPG bundle going on to benefit The Wayne Foundation. By purchasing this bundle of RPGs, you’re not only getting a ton of awesome content, but you’re also benefitting a charity that is dedicated to eradicating undearage prostitution. To further entice everyone to buy the bundle and contribute to this charity, we will donate $1 for every bundle purchased, up to $1,000. Just send us the receipt from Drive Thru RPG. You can purchase this huge bundle of RPGs and RPG content (including 4e content!) from Drive Thru RPG by using this link. You can track the status of our match over on the sidebar there. 
(UPDATE: You don’t need to send us a receipt, just buy a bundle. We now have access to the total number of bundles sold.)

First up this week is not a blog article, but a fun little choose your own adventure game that we thought we’d link to in honor of the May of the Dead carnival going on over at Going Last. It places you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Legend4ry DnD begin a conversion of the old school Dyson’s Delve. We’re excited to see the final product. The original Dyson’s Delve (here) was written by Dyson Logos.

With the public playtest of D&D Next coming up on May 24th, Greywulf’s Lair tackled the issue of playtesting, and what it is (and isn’t).

Every once in a while, we see an article that really sparks our imagination. DMG 42 hit the ball out of the park this week. He described a system in which worldbuilding between the DM and players was collaborative in a really hands on way. We really really want to try this.

Dungeon’s Master did a little thinking this week about the fate of the Character Builder.  Has it become as necessary as the PHB? Do you hope it sticks around?

Finally, at Cinerati this week, a mystery of gaming history was brought to our attention. Who was Gigi D’arn? Even if you’ve never heard of her, by the end of the article, you’ll probably want to figure it out…

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: D&D Perfume Edition)

At-Will had a discussion of what sorts of challenges you should throw at your epic tier players.  No, not what sorts of monsters.  What sorts of challenges.  Check it out if you’re struggling with your epic tier storyline.