Tag Archives: Newbie DM

Weekly Roundup: Helping Sandy Victims Edition

Most of us have probably heard about the storm (named Sandy) that hit the east coast of the USA this past week. While we were not affected in any significant way (being far enough inland), we know of many people who were, and have seen the devastation on TV. We would like to help, even if it’s in a very small way. With that in mind, we have set up three charity auctions on Ebay to auction off the Hirst Arts dice towers that we make. All proceeds of these auctions will go directly to the Red Cross. (Ebay has it set up so that we don’t even touch the money. It goes directly to the charity.) If you’re interested in one of our really cool dice towers, and would like to help out the victims of Sandy, please bid in our auctions. They’re only up for seven days. Here is what the dice towers look like:

Since each item is handmade, each will look slightly different, but this gives you a good idea of the final product. (Differences will be minor, mostly the exact appearance of the moss around the tower.) The three auctions are there: One, Two, Three.

This week Newbie DM mused upon what the next set of reprints from WotC will be. They’re on a kick of bringing back the old stuff… what might be in the pipeline?

Greywulf’s Lair opined about the flexibility of the D&D Next Character Generation, and how many options players have… if they’d just open up a bit.

Critical Hits covered how to deal with potential bottlenecks in your game, especially tied to skill checks. Your players need to succeed, and they don’t? This article is for you.

RPG Circus asks us, “What color is that potion?” and gets on their soapbox about things that are (and aren’t) described in our games.

Dungeon Mastering is taking the spirit of November (thankfulness) and writing about why they’re thankful for D&D. The first author weighed in this week.

Finally, we’ll be posting one NaGa DeMon project a week on the roundup here, and this week, it’s the Online DM‘s project, Gods & Champions.

Blast From The Past (Weekly Roundup: One Year Old Edition)

Rules as Unwritten had some thoughts about item rarity, as well as another way to motivate your players past the 5 minute workday – ideas to make more item powers ramp up with consecutive milestones.

Weekly Roundup: Dice Tower Winner Edition

A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away a dice tower. Aaaaaand the winner is…… Benesky! Congrats! I’ll be contacting you shortly. On to the articles!

Extended Rest recounted a Thanksgiving Gamma World adventure he put together on the fly. We love flying by the seat of our pants, we love Gamma World, we love random tables, and heck, we love Thanksgiving too. So I guess this was bound to be roundup material.

Over at Rule of the Dice, they posted a rundown of the goods and bads of playing by blog (and how it’s different from playing by fourm). If you’re looking for an online play by post game, this is worth a read to understand the ins and outs.

There was an excellent discussion at Strange Magic about how elves aren’t just people with pointy ears, and how we can possibly roleplay in ways to set them apart from humans. This reminded us of discussion at the Gencon monster design seminar where the panelists were talking about “science fiction morality” and how “orcs AREN’T people too!”

If you’re looking for reviews of Heroes of the Feywild, we’ve got you covered. You can either check out the review over at NewbieDM, or read the review posted on Enworld by Neuroglyph Games.

Campaign Mastery posted a discussion of different types of plot structuring. This is worth a read, especially if you’re in the planning stages of a campaign. Also, check out the list of past articles on the topic at the end.

Finally, in cast you missed it, The ID DM posted a frakking THESIS, complete with research, graphs, and tables on the power creep he sees in 4e. Set aside some time for this one. Very well thought out.

Blast from the past (Weekly Roundup – Thanksgiving Edition)

Jared Von Hindman over at Wizards of the Coast wrote a highly entertaining and thought-provoking article about a town’s economy and motivations when adventurers show up.  There are some great ideas there for a “looks like a regular adventure, but looks can be deceiving” type adventure.  Just read it, you’ll see what I mean.

Weekly Roundup: Shameless Plea For Votes Edition

This week, the folks over at The Illuminerdy posted the finalists to their RPG Hook contest, and we’re on the list! Head over there and vote for your favorites, and if one of your favorites happens to be the one by @bandofmisfits, well, we won’t complain… but really, we just want to see LOTS of votes!

This week, The Learning DM listed a few ways to use poker chips in your game. Leave something in the article’s comments about how you use (or would use) poker chips in your games.

Newbie DM had some great ideas for getting poster maps printed on the cheap.  Also, there is an online printer listed in the comments that you don’t want to miss.

Some Space to Think had an excellent article analyzing why you don’t see enough role playing in your game. You may be surprised at the answer.

Reality Refracted raised some interesting points about social combat in RPGs this week.  While we wish there had been more of a resolution to the problems presented, there were a lot of issues that we were nodding our heads to. Especially check out the “There Are No Social Hit Points” paragraph.

Finally, if you’re one of the 3 RPG players that have never heard of Obsidian Portal, check out the advantages of using it from Geek Ken this week.


Weekly Roundup: (Mostly) Post Gencon Wrapup Edition

We’re back from Gencon! Check out tomorrow’s podcast for Benoit’s thoughts and experiences (among other things).  Until then, here’s some Gencon goodness in the Weekly Roundup (plus some other stuff).

First, we’ll do a quick roundup of bloggers that blogged about their experiences at Gencon this week:

Also, we would be remiss if we did not provide a link to the Ennie winners (click through to the pdf).  Congratulations to everyone who won!

Finally, Critical Hits did a great summary of the Wizards of the Coast New Products seminar.  If you want to know what’s in the pipeline over at WotC, check it out. Also, Alphastream included a few links on his blog to followup information on the new products, as well as his thoughts.

And then some non-Gencon articles we noticed:

Every DM knows that inspiration for their campaign is all around us.  From paintings, to literature, to actual history.  If you’re looking for historical inspiration, check out Illuminerdy‘s primer on the ancient Mexican city of Chichen Itza, complete with campaign and plot hook ideas.

Heroes of Shadow posted a brief overview and review of the Neverwinter Fortune cards.  We’ll be discussing them in tomorrow’s podcast as well, so tune in for that.

At-Will wrote about why it’s hard to make hard encounters.

Finally, where current events and gaming meet, we find this story about some London looters and a Games Workshop store. (Edit: We’re not sure if this story is for real)

Whose Gencon wrapup did we miss?  Link it in the comments!

Weekly Roundup: Beyond the Stat Block Edition

This week, we received an email from Corey, letting us know about his web project – Beyond the Stat Block.  We could describe it for you, but instead we’ll use his words:

A new project launched a couple of weeks ago, with the goal of providing flavor text for every creature power across the D&D 4e universe. It’s all starting with MM1. You can sign up for an account and start writing, and you level up (and gain editorial powers) as you write flavor text and gain XP. It’s a big, ambitious project that really needs help from the community.

That’s right.  The community is being called upon to provide flavor text for monster powers.  Get those creative juices flowing, go forth, and write!  But first, read some articles!

 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!

Critical Hits reviewed Conquest of Nerath, WotC’s new D&D based boardgame.  There’s been a lot of talk about this one because it does not follow the same template as earlier D&D boardgames, and is instead more like “Risk.”

The Labyrinth wondered if GenCon is turning into a board game convention. The numbers are impressive, but we think it’s also important to note that RPGs have been steadily increasing every year as well.

In recognition of Origins this weekend, we thought we’d point you to Eclipse Phase‘s Jack Graham. In his blog this week, he discusses why the Origins Game Awards still matter.

Intwischa talked about the importance of maps in your campaign.  This was one of the stark differences I noticed when comparing the re-made Gamma World adventures to their originals.  The originals had detailed maps of locations.

Finally, in light of that, we thought we’d point you to Dave’s Mapper.  It’s not a blog post, it’s an instant dungeon (cavern, city) generator that we just discovered this week.  It’s fun to play around with, just don’t lose track of time… The best part about this dungeon generator?  It uses actual art by other bloggers.  Check it out!

Hope everyone at Origins has fun.  If you see Hamblin, be sure to say hi!

Weekly Roundup: Finished Mini Edition

This week, I finished painting the mini for the winner of our “name the podcast mascot” contest.  Here is the finished product.  The mini is Reaper’s “Gilam, Dwarf Rune Spelunker.”

Click for full size

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did use what I’ve been learning from Gregwa’s “How to Photograph Miniatures” series when I took the pictures of the mini.  Check it out if you want to learn more.

And now, some articles:

Unless you were living under a rock this week, you already know that Paizo has announced a prepainted plastic minis line.  If this is news to you, get more info at Troll in the Corner where they make the announcement.

Also out this week was the new D&D 4e video game “Daggerdale.”  Now, we’re not ones to buy video games because of the cool cover; we usually check out the reviews first.  Lucky for us, Critical Hits did just that.  Find out what they thought of the game before you decide to buy.  Or you could click here for other reviews.

Rob at Some Space to Think proposed a “unified GM rating system” and solicited ideas from the RPG community for categories that should go into the system.  Check it out to see what goes into the “Donoghue Score.”

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

Finally, TheSheDM (via NewbieDM) wrote about bribing her players to participate in worldbuilding and campaign maintenance this week.  While “bribing” players for all sorts of reasons is nothing new, her method is unique.  Check it out.

If you’re an RPG Blogger, don’t forget to check out our new Game Night blog carnival, kicking off this Tuesday!!

Weekly Roundup – D&D Perfume Edition

So, here’s something interesting we stumbled across this week: you can make your own D&D perfume at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s website simply by choosing a race, class, and alignment combo.  Interesting, at the very least, and the prices don’t seem too out of line with how much fragrances cost elsewhere.  We wonder what a chaotic neutral halfling rogue smells like…. and now, while you ponder that, read some of this week’s articles!

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.

Speaking of campaign hooks The Undungeon was the topic of a massive post over at Greywulf’s Lair this week.  If you’re looking to start a new campaign soon, this article could be a great resource for you, and is chock full of ideas to steal.

Just yesterday, Dave the Game posted a discussion of the economics of pricing plastic miniatures over at Critical Hits.  If you’re interested in why WotC discontinued their minis line, this article pulls back the curtain a bit.

Over at the Wizards of the Coast community blogs, we noticed a new article by The Jester who had a great discussion of balance in games.  Is it good?  Can it be ignored?  Read and decide.

Blog of Holding had a discussion of why he thinks that 4e does not, in fact, discourage roleplaying.  An old discussion, I know, but worth checking out, as he makes some points that you may not have heard before.

In case you missed it,  Newbie DM made a call to all you DMs out there for pictures of your DM’s binder.  We use a clipboard, but if you use a binder, feel free to submit it to the gallery.

Finally, as you may or may not know, Star Wars day was this past week – May the fourth.  As in, “May the fourth be with you.”  In celebration of this “holiday,” we point you to Death Star PR‘s 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Star Wars Day.  Yes, we know it’s not D&D related, but considering our audience, we thought it was relevant.  Plus, we chuckled.

How did you celebrate Star Wars day?

Weekly Roundup – Did Ya Miss It? Edition

Oops, looks like we missed a week of the weekly roundup.  Last week.  What, you didn’t…?  Ok, nevermind.  Here are some articles from this week in D&D.  Enjoy!

While this first item isn’t an article, per se, it is something that piqued our interest, and we’ll be keeping an eye on.  Apparently, there’s a “history of D&D” book in the works.  It will be called Of Dice and Men, and will be written by David M. Ewalt of the Forbes blog Metagamer.

Newbie DM had a great guest article by Mike Lemmer who will be blogging about his experience with running MyRealms adventures for a Living Forgotten Realms group.  It’s called 7 Weeks in MyRealms, and this first installment includes some interesting data about turn length and session planning.

Ever wonder if “traditional” 4e D&D would play well with Gamma World?  So did At Will‘s Gamefiend.  Wonder no more, my friends.

The most famous monster of all time?  The one that keeps coming back in every edition? No, no, not dragons, or even zombies.  No, I’m talking about Flumphs! What’s that you say? They didn’t make it to 4th edition?  You are wrong… so very very wrong.  Thank the folks over at Nevermet Press for this one.

While this isn’t really the point of The Dungeon’s Master‘s article, I found the idea of having character “trees” in this article intriguing.  Does anyone else play with a stable of characters as opposed to one character?

Finally, if you’re feeling too ADD to digest an entire article right now, there was another installment of D&D Twitter tips over at This is My Game .

What did we miss?  Leave it in the comments!  See you next week!

RPGKids! – Aborted Playtest & A Freebie!

This weekend, I was all set to test the RPGKids! system with my kids.  I had the tokens.  I read the adventure.  I had the dice ready.  Then, Sunday evening, the three year old was wound up beyond any hope of being able to sit and concentrate on… well, anything.  So we didn’t play.  In the downtime created by her hyperactivity, however, I had a brainstorm. 

Every player is supposed to start the game with two vials of medicine.  Instead of using the checkboxes on the character card, why not make a token that the player has to turn in when they use the medicine?  And, of course, you can hand out more medicine tokens when the party finds treasure.  Of course, I had to take that a step further… why not a whole bunch of potions to hand out to players? 

I’m a big proponent of tactile elements to the game; from the dice to the miniatures to the poker chips I give my players as Action Points.  So, here are the potions I came up with; when I first made them, I had something specific in mind, but upon further reflection, the symbol on each one could mean a lot of different things, so I also included some ideas for using them.

Red Cross

Ok, this one is medicine, and I wouldn’t recommend muddling the issue by assigning a different meaning to the symbol.


Makes the character fly for a certain amount of time
Gives the character the ability to talk to birds
Falling from high up doesn’t hurt the character
Character can control the wind
Character can run really fast


Character can breathe underwater
Unlimited water gushes out when you open the stopper
Character can talk to water creatures
Character can walk on water

Human Outline

Turns character invisible
Smashing causes a “twin” of the character to appear for a certain amount of time


Character can see in the dark
Character can see invisible things
Character can see far away
Character gets a bonus to search checks
Character can make someone else blind

Circular Arrows

Grants a reroll
Character can switch their “role” (e.g. a healer can become a
wizard) for a certian amount of time
Character is swapped with another character at the table for a certain amount of time
Character can go back and change a decision they made


You can download the PDF here.  I’ll be adding it to the downloads section soon, and if you appreciate the work involved in making these, that’s where you can donate to the blog.  They’re one inch wide, so the round punch mentioned in the last RPGKids! article I wrote should work great to cut them out.  I would also use the foam mentioned in that article as backing for the tokens. 

Have fun!

What other uses can you think of for the potions?  What kinds of potions would you like to see me make next?

RPGKids! – A Token Problem

Back when NewbieDM first came out with his updated version (1.5) of RPGKids! the praise for it was so fierce that I went and bought it, downloaded it… and let it sit on my hard drive.  “This would be a great game to play with my kids,” I thought to myself, though finding the time to pursue such an idea was a bit hard to come by.  Ok, maybe that’s a lame excuse; “we find the time for the things we want to do,” yes, I know.  At any rate, the PDF sat quietly in my “D&D” folder waiting to be rediscovered.  Then, just last week, NewbieDM got a nod from the superblog Boing Boing, and my interest was reignited.  I printed out the PDF (in color!), and flipped through the awesomely simple rules and the included adventure.  “This is great,” I thought, “my three year old may be a little young, and my eleven year old may be a little old, but I’ll make it work.  We’re going to play this weekend.”  As an aside, I will say that this is a very complete product.  Printed out on a color printer, you have the rules, the adventure, tokens, character cards, and all the maps you need to run the adventure.  Perfect.

I had a problem though.  I wanted to use the fun monster and player tokens that came with the game, but even printed out on cardstock, they were difficult to pick up and move around the map.  Definitely not kid friendly.  So I went to work to make them better for little hands.

To make the tokens easier to use, all I really needed was a third dimension.  Paper thin tokens (quite literally) are difficult to get your fingers under, and you end up either sliding them to the edge of the table, or bending them to your will.  Well, ok, just bending them.  My solution to this problem was stupidly simple: foam sheets.  I don’t know if there’s an “official” name for this stuff, but it’s a sheet of flexible foam about 1/8″ thick, about the size of a sheet of paper, and comes in all different colors.  You can find it in the kid’s craft section of your local craft store; you’ll spend about $2 for the amount you’ll need for this project… and will have lots left over for the tokens in the next adventure Newbie is inevitably going to write.

Now, technically speaking, that’s all you need, aside from a ruler and an exacto knife or a pair of scissors.  There is one tool that would make the job easier and quicker, but it is a little expensive if all you’re doing is making the tokens for RPGKids!.

Most craft stores sell different types of hole punches in the scrapbooking aisle (oh, the places I go for you readers…).  You can get shapes, borders, and yes, 1″ circles.  The punch runs $10 to $15, but be sure to look for the weekly “40% off 1 item” coupon that most craft stores put out.  I was too cheap to buy one, but if you’re the type to make your own tokens on a regular basis, I would highly recommend such a tool to make token manufacture simpler. (Note: I actually found the “make your own tokens” article on Newbie’s site while I was writing this article, and after I had completed the project, though I realize that it makes me look like a big cheater.  I do think the foam is a better medium than metal washers or wooden discs.  It’s way cheaper and lighter.)

I chose red for the monsters and green for the PCs, just so the kids would have another visual cue when playing the game.  I also wrote the monster’s name on the back so that there’s a “hurt” side.  If I had been feeling especially ambitious, I would have printed out a second set of the tokens for the reverse side, and put a red dot, or X or something on them to indicate hurt.  The actual cutting of the tokens and foam went really quickly; the foam is very soft material, and I just had to zip off 26-ish 1″ squares.  A little elmer’s glue, and voila!  Lightweight, kid-friendly tokens.

It’s funny how, for me, these little “prep” projects really get me excited to play a game.  As I said before, I’ll be playing this weekend (hopefully), and I will definitely be writing about how it goes.  I’m interested to see if the three year old “gets” it, and if the eleven year old gets bored.  I’m thinking yes to the first, and no to the second, but then, I’m an optimist.  Until then, I’ll be studying the adventure!