Saturday, 29 May 2010

Cleric starter pack - A pack for first time players.

As you maybe aware, I am new to the 4th edition so I have been dabbling around the books today and learning how it's different from 3.5 edition in the process. I have some friends who will be coming sometime next week to try out D&D and none of them have ever played it. So... as I was learning the ropes of 4th edition I decided to create the characters for them and type up an information sheet to help them understand how to play.
The list doesn't include how the combat works but that is up to the DM to explain how the combat works. I'll type up a combat reference sheet at a later date.

I haven't filled in a character sheet for this Cleric character yet, but you can find printable character sheets here.

Below are some notes about the cleric that will help you fill in the character sheet for them.



Deity – Bahamut – Lawful Good

16 – Str / +3

16 – Wis (+2 from race)/+3

13 – Con/+1

12 - Charisma/+1

13 – Dex (+2 from race)/+1
10 - Intelligence/+0

Skill (+2 nature, +2 perception)

Able to use Longbow and short bow

Considered a fey creature

Group awareness: +1 bonus to perception checks to allies within 5 squares of you

Wild step: Able to shift on difficult terrain without penalty

Skills (+5 bonus)

Religion (int) = 5

Heal (wis) = 8

Diplomacy (char) = 6

History (int) = 5

Nature (Wis) = 5

Perception (Wis) = 5

Feats: Weapon focus (mace), ritual casting

Equipment (100G)

Chainmail (40gp)

6AC, -1 speed

Mace d8 (5GP), remember weapon focus

Holy Symbol (10GP)

Ritual Book (50GP)

Ok, now onto the real thing, just copy and paste below into a word document and print it out! Make sure you have "Cleric" as the header and the page number and number of pages at the bottom. Make sure "Combat" and "Role playing" are on seperate pages. Sorry about the spaces, no idea why blogger does that when I copy something from Microsoft word. Just staple the character sheets and the text below and ask the to have a quick read through it.
I'll be writing up another character tomorrow, so keep up to date!


Look at this page whenever you have a combat encounter with enemies. There are 3 types of attacks, At-Will, Encounter and Daily. At-Will can be used whenever, Encounter powers can be used once or twice per encounter and the Daily power can be used once per rest.


Lance of Faith

A brilliant ray of light sears you foe with golden radiance. Sparkles of light linger around the target, guiding your ally’s attack.

Standard Action: Ranged 5 (Target 1 creature within 5 squares of you)

Attack: Wisdom (d20 + 3) vs. Reflex

Hit: 1d8 + Wisdom modifier (3) damage and one ally you see gains a +2 attack bonus to his or her next attack roll against the target (you choose any one ally you see to increase their chance to hit against the same target you attacked).

Priest’s shield

You utter a minor defensive prayer as you attack with your weapon.

Standard Action: Melee (Target 1 creature adjacent to you)

Attack: Strength (d20 + 3) vs. AC

Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier (3) damage, you and one adjacent ally gain a +1 to AC until the end of your next turn (Yourself and an ally next to you gain +1 to AC, making you harder to hit. This effect is gone when it is your next turn).


Channel Divinity – Use 1/encounter

Divine Fortune

In the face of peril, you hold true to your faith and receive a special boon.

Free action (Personal) – This can be used at any time during your turn.

Effect: You gain +1 bonus to your next attack roll or saving throw before the end of your turn.

Healing Word – Use 2/encounter

You whisper a brief prayer as divine light washes over your target, helping to mend it’s wounds.

Minor Action – You can use this, and perform a standard action as well.

Target: You or Ally within 5 squares of you

Effect: Target ally spends a healing surge and regain an addition 1d6 + 3 (wisdom modifier) of hit points.

Divine Glow – Use 1/encounter

Murmuring a prayer to your deity, you invoke a blast of white radiance from your holy symbol. Foes burn in it’s stern light, but your allies are heartened and guided by it.

Standard Action: Close blast 3 (choose a 3x3 square that is adjacent to you and use this skill, it will affect every creature caught in the blast, enemy and ally).

Attack: Wisdom (d20 + 3) vs. Reflex.

Hit: 1d8 + Wisdom modifier (3) damage vs. reflex

Effect: Allies in the blast gain +2 bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn (All the allies caught in the blast will gain +2 to attack rolls, increasing their chance of hitting a target. This effect is gone by the end of your next turn).

Elven accuracy: Encounter Power – Use 1/encounter

With an instant of focus, you take careful aim at your foe and strike with the legendary accuracy of the elves

Free action (Personal)

Effect: Reroll an attack roll. Use the second roll, even if it’s lower. (If you didn’t like an attack roll you got on the d20, you can reroll and use the new value).

Daily Attack

Use this skill wisely as you can only use it once before you have to rest to be able to use it again!

Avenging Flame

You slam your weapon into your foe, who bursts into flame. Divine fire avenges each attack your enemy dares to make.

Standard Action: Melee (Target 1 creature adjacent to you)

Attack: Strength (d20 + 3) vs. AC

Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier (3) damage, and ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends). (If you hit with this attack then the creature takes damage, and then the creature will take 5 damage on the start of its next turn. If the creature attacks during that turn, then it takes 5 damage on it’s next turn. However, if the creature does not attack during its turn, at the end of the turn it will roll a d20 (a saving throw), if the result is 11 or more the effect disappears. If the result is 10 or lower the creature will take an additional 5 damage at the start of it’s next turn. This continues until either a successful saving throw is done, or death).

Role playing Encounter

Below is some information about your skills that can influence the outcome of role play encounters. Also a small bit of information about how your character should behave towards the other characters.

Your character

You are a Lawful Good Cleric, so you believe in everything that is true and you wish to smite evil wherever possible. The deity you follow teaches you to protect the weak and to defend what is true. You are a nice person who treats others (who are good) with respect. You are rarely scared by a challenge. The rules set by society are correct and true and every being must follow these rules. Those who do not follow shall be punished. In combat, your main role is to ensure the other members of your party are as healthy by healing their wounds with Healing Word. If you’re confident that they are ok, you smash enemies whilst at the same time providing boons for your allies by using skills such as Priest’s shield and Lance of faith.


Skills determine how competent you are in an area. The more points you have in a skill area the better you are at it. Your character has these skills with the assigned values. If you wish to use these skills, just ask Edd at any time:

Religion (int) = 5

Due to being a cleric you have knowledge about gods, religious traditions, ceremonies and divine effects. You are able to roll a check to reveal information about the strengths and weaknesses of the undead.

Heal (wis) = 8

You know how to help someone recover from wounds, poisons or diseases. You can stabilizes some one who is dying (who is below 0 HP) by rolling a skill check with a DC of 15. Upon success the character stabilizes and stops dying. You can also help treat a disease by rolling a heal check vs. the DC of the disease (Edd will know this). This can be used on yourself or another ally.

Diplomacy (char) = 6

You can influence others with your tact, subtlety, and social grace. Make a Diplomacy check to change opinions, to inspire good will, to haggle with a patron, to demonstrate proper etiquette and decorum, or to negotiate a deal in good faith.

History (int) = 5

You know past events about the area, such as wars, leaders, legends, laws, traditions and memorial events.

Nature (wis) = 5

Due to your elven heritage you have an connection with nature, you can make your way through the wilderness safely, have knowledge about natural beasts and recognising natural hazards.

Perception (wis) = 5

Due to your elven heritage you have a bonus in this skill. You have keen eyes and ears to spot for clues, detect secret doors, find traps and listen for sounds beyond a door. Just declare to Edd when you want to use this skill to look for traps, secrets or listen at the door.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Spending XP, an alternative to leveling up in D&D.

There are some Role-playing games out there that have a different stance on how to level up. As I have lately been playing Final Fantasy 13 and Dungeon Lords I have been looking at a way to incorporate their levelling system into D&D.

How the levelling system works in those two games is you gain experience points (or crystal points in Final Fantasy 13). You can then spend these points into levelling up your attributes (such as strength or magic) and learning new skills and abilities (such as learning new spells). This is different to the normal levelling system in dungeons and dragons where you gain feats and abilities upon reaching a certain amount of points. You don't spend the experience points, it just represents how much your character has learnt across encounters.

However, this method feels unrealistic as we learn and apply abilities as we encounter them. We don't become better lock pickers by watching people over a few weeks and then trying it out our self and instantly becoming better at it. It's all about trial and error. We learn better by watching first then trying it out our self.

I prefer levelling up by spending experience points because you don't have to wait a long time for an exciting spell or waiting to upgrade your attributes. So, I thought, why not try and incorporate it into Dungeons and Dragons?

To be honest, I struggled. I do have the 4th edition books but I don't know a lot about 4th edition yet and how the levelling system works. So I blew away the dust on my 3.5 D&D books and reminded myself of the levelling system. I decided that the abilities you should be able to level up using this method would be skills, abilities and feats. I left out health points, base attack bonus and base saving throws because I felt it would complicate things even further.
I looked up how much experience a level 20 character would acquire over their development and it would be 190,000. Now assigning how much experience should go into each domain (ability, feats and skills). The most experience should be assigned to the ability area, less in feats and the area with the least amount of experience should be skills. Therefore:

190,000 experience all together
Abilities - 80,000
Feats 60,000
Skills - 50,000

For everyone rank increase in ability, feats and skills, you increase the amount of experience points you need to spend to increase it. This is to ensure that you don't get 5 ability points spent within the first 5 levels and therefore over powering. I wanted to make sure that every 4 levels you gain 1 ability point and 1 feat and spend all your skill points.

Regards to skills, this is a difficult area to figure out as different classes have different amounts of skill points to spend. Also, intelligence influences how many points you can spend as well in skills. Therefore, I think one way to figure it out is to assume firstly that one skill point will be spent per level. Once that is worked out, you should divide it by the skill points available. For example, a rogue has 8 skill points to spend per level, if they have +1 intelligence modifier then they have 9 skill points. Lets say we worked out it costs 200 experience points per rank to increase a skill up by one rank. For example, to increase it to the 5th rank you would need to spend 1,000 experience points. However, as the rogue has 9 points to spend per level, it would cost around 110 experience points. You can see how messy this is but I know something can be sorted out!

To be honest, math isn't my strong point so any mathematicians out there who is good at creating formulas then get in touch below and contribute! Any other comments are very welcome as well!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Caves of the Dead - Opening Adventure

This could be slotted into any campaign or adventure.

You've travelled for a few days now and feel tired and weary. The wind and rain batters on your back, a storm is coming. The rain is so heavy it's making it hard to see, however squinting in the distance you notice a large cave. Holding your arms up to defend your face you slowly make towards the cave entrance. The wind is blasting against you, trying to force you back, or warn you, but you are determined to get to the entrance of the cave.

Finally, shelter. The interior of the cave is decorated with green mold patches covering the dripping walls. It's a dark sort of rock and the cave floor moderately declines deeper. The rain has caused the floor to be wet, so it feels quite slippery.
Easy DC acrobatic check to see if they walk into the cave safely, if not then a moderate DC reflex check, upon fail a character slips down into the darkness and disappears from the rest of the party. If all party members fail this roll, they slip down the slope in darkness. They hit the bottom and take easy damage).

Descending to the bottom of the cave you enter complete darkness. A void surrounds you and a coldness envelopes you. You shiver and feel uneasy about this place. Pure silence greets you as the sounds of the bellowing storm fades to nothing from the outside. The only company is the sound of the party's breathing and the sound of a small drip coming somewhere nearby. Looking around with a light source the cave has suddenly got smaller and there are no other passage ways. It could be a good place to rest for the night.

(Players can rest here for the night, a passive perception check of a hard DC notices a small lever on the east side of the cave on the floor. Players can actively search the room for this with a hard DC. Upon failing them both, the party can rest or wait. If the party want to return upwards and out of the cave, they can do a moderate acrobatic check to get out of the cave).

If Sleeping
(Sleeping players need to make an easy DC passive perception check, however ignore this is there is one character on guard or meditating. Upon failure, the zombies grab the nearest player and gang up on him or her. See zombie grab in the monster manual)
(Character being grabbed) You feel a cold but strong grip on your arm, followed by many other grabs on various parts of your body. Your eyes snap open and through the sleepy haze you see a gang of zombies trying to rip apart your flesh.

If Waiting
The sounds of moans slowly but surely echo around the cave. The grinding sound of a rock can be heard, as if it's being slid across. Suddenly, the sounds of moaning and shuffling feet fill the cave with noise.

If Pulling on the lever
Pulling on the lever causes a nearby rock to suddenly jump to motion. It slides across revealing a new room to encounter. Peering into darkness you see dark humanoid figures slowly travelling towards you. It seems a group of zombies are hungry for some flesh!

(Regardless of how the players behave, it's a moderate EL).

With the last zombie slain the now open rock beckons for adventure...where does it lead?

From here onwards you're welcome to do what you want with it. Maybe it's an undead infestation? Or the lair of a Lich? Or maybe a necromancer's home who conducts experiments on corpses and tries to find ways to reanimate them.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

5 steps to writing a "first time DM" adventure

This article is more aimed at DMs who are new to D&D and may find writing an adventure pretty scary. It really isn't, this guide will help you write up a simple adventure to guide your friends through. Recommended for a first adventure for a first time DM with a party of 5 members. The steps are below:

1. Plan

A good plan means a good adventure. Firstly, you need to write down the main quest you want to send the characters on. Write down one line for your main quest. Such as defeating X person, or escorting Y person, or retrieving Z item. The Dungeon Master's guide provides a few good ideas.

Once you have your main quest, you're ready to expand out a bit now. You need to think about where the players are going to start, in a tavern? Woods? Wandering around a village? Don't panic too much about how the characters got together as you just want to give a story for now.

Next thing is to think about he setting around the main quest and to give it a location. For example, if your main quest is to defeat a powerful Warlock, is this Warlock in some caves? A castle? Deep in some woods? Inside a haunted crypt? If it's an escort quest, do you have to travel across the desert? Woods? Snowy mountains? Through a mountain?

Write a few sentences for all those areas. Yes it's shallow but we want to keep it simple. You technically have a beginning (where the players are starting), a middle (the context the main quest is in) and an end (the goal of the main quest)

Now you need to think about why there is a main quest going on. Write down quite a few sentences about this...does the magical item have healing powers and they need to cure the sick? Has the dragon in the nearby cave been terrorising the city? Does the merchant need to get his goods safely through the mountain? Write a good few sentences for this one, the more detail the better. But don't worry about too much detail as this is your first time and you want to keep it simple! need to write an adventure hook. This is quite simple as you have all the background you need now. An adventure hook is an event that happens that draws the player into the main quest. You could over hear a conversation of troubles in the pub, go to the mayor looking for work, or just talk to the towns people to find out about the local area.

Your plan is now done! Great, onto step two!

2. Encounters

So you now know what is going to happen in the quest, you now need to think about how it's going to break down into separate events. This is where the idea of encounters come in. Encounters are like scenes in a play or TV episode where important events are played out. Each encounter has an encounter level (or EL for short) assigned to it. EL is basically the level of the encounter, or how hard or easy an encounter would be to over come for a party.

For example, a level 1 encounter for a level 1 party would be a moderate difficulty encounter to overcome and a EL of 5 would be impossible to over come. If a level 5 party did the same level 1 encounter, they would find it easy and find a level 5 encounter standard.

Within each encounter make sure you have some lines about what you would say (The DM) to describe to the players what is happening. Describe briefly the town, what is in the area, population and describe the interior of a cave etc. You firstly need to set the scene.

Once the scene is set, you need something to happen, this would be in the case of a monster fight, travelling/exploring, or the players encountering another character (or NPC - Non-player class).

You would then need to scribble down how the encounter would end - this is usually when all the monsters are defeated, or the players have finished talking to the NPC or the players have finished exploring. Usually the player would declare they are finished, just say something like "Are you ready to move on?". The players could also say "I want to head to the castle now", which basically suggests you should move on.

If it's a combat encounter, you'll need to choose what creatures will appear. A good idea is to look in the monster manual as they already have templates for various EL. If you want level 1 monsters, look at kobolds or goblins as they are one of the weakest enemies.

You'll probably want about 5 encounters for a first time DM. First should be a role play encounter, this is where the players are hooked in, then you want 4 combat encounters. Regards to the combat encounters, you would want the first one to be equal to the party level (for a first time DM, it should be a level one encounter), then have the last encounter to be two level higher than the party (or a level 3 encounter for a level one first time party). The last encounter essentially would be a boss battle and the toughest of all encounters. The middle 2 combat encounters can be whatever difficulty you want. For a first level party, have one of the combat encounters EL 1, and the other one EL 2.

Finally you'll need to determine the experience earned from encounters. For the combat encounters, it's pretty easy, just add up all the experience that the creatures give and then divide it by the party members.

3. Maps

So you've done your outline and you've prepared the encounters and now you need to prepare the maps for the encounters to appear on. You can either buy tiles from amazon, on which to place your miniatures on top of. Or, if you like the cheaper version (like me!) you can buy graph paper and you can draw your map upon this. Within the dungeon master's guide there is an excellent method for randomising dungeons if you have a lack of imagination (like me, again!). For the first encounter (the role play one) you don't really need a map, unless you like drawing maps go ahead, it will act as a visual aid for the players. For the combat ones, you will need a map for the players to place their figurines on. Don't worry about placing traps as this can change the EL and you just need the experience of running an adventure first. However if you're feeling up to the challenge, read the traps and hazards section of the dungeon master's guide and give it a go. Make sure you have a few doors and chests to open which can be locked to be a barrier the party must over come together.

4. Treasure

Now to allocate treasure. Within the dungeon master's guide (again!) there are treasure parcels which need to be given out. You can do this how you want. Have a read through that section and start distributing treasure. If you want to hide some treasure under some rubble, for example, then do so, make it an easy or moderate search (vs DC 15 or DC 20 search check for a level 1 party) and give the member the treasure. Maybe place some treasure in some chests you've plopped down. Or you could put all the treasure at the end as a giant horde in a room after the boss has been defeated, something very exciting for players to uncover! Make sure you only use about 5 or 6 parcels of treasure, as there are only 5 encounters (assuming you have followed this guide). Make sure there is at least one magic item in there that is useful to one of the party members.

5. Play

Now all your hard work is done you are ready to play your adventure. You maybe nervous but that is natural, the players will be understanding of that. Just take your time and you'll be ok, after all this is a very simple adventure for the players! Take a look at my explanation of combat, it is 3.5 edition but there are similarities. The players will gain around 625XP each (around 1,000XP for a level 1 character to get to level 2). Once you feel happy that you played the adventure well, then start looking at the skills in the Player's guide and traps and hazards in the Dungeon Master's guide and incorporate them into your next adventure. Take it slowly, there's no rush to understand everything at once and you'll fine you'll come to enjoy D&D a lot more!

I hope this helps new players, please place your comments and criticisms below!

Anyone else want to add anything they think would be important for a first adventure?

Friday, 21 May 2010

4th edition - taking the magic out of magic items

I recently bought all three 4th edition books as I decided to keep up-to-date with the Dungeons and Dragons world. I am a 3.5 edition at heart, after being introduced into D&D by playing Neverwinter Nights. When I was playing Neverwinter Nights, I never thought I would go so deep as buy all three manuals, but I did and it fueled my passion even more for D&D.

But it was time to move on, 3.5 edition is starting to collect dust on my shelf now as I start flicking through the new manuals. Overall...I'm cautious of it. I'm not here to rant or rave about how bad 4th edition is because I don't really have a lot of experience of it. However, when I first got the manuals I wanted to see how the treasure system works.

That's one aspect I loved about 3.5 edition, the random rolling treasure system. It was exciting to roll for treasure when even the DM cannot even predict what will come up. My heart would race when I would roll that rare magic wand or winning that useful invisibility potion that the rogue can use. I enjoyed the randomness, as it took the decision making process for me, as I can be quite an indecisive person sometimes. I would keep rolling until the allocated gold piece value per encounter would have been used up. When planning my sessions, I would always leave the treasure towards the end because it was always something to look forward to.

So, excitedly flicking the pages I came across the treasure part of the Dungeon Master's guide. I have to say, my heart sank. Firstly, they suggest after around 10 encounters you should gain a level. Over a few pages, they have generated parcel packages for each level. Within each level, there are 10 parcels which must all be used to ensure that the party members get the correct amount of treasure. Breaking down each parcel they provide either monetary value (including gems and healing potions) or a magic item level. These parcals are recommended to be distributed amongst the ten encounters, some encounters receiving no treasure and other encounters receiving a lot of treasure. Around 4 of the parcels have one magic item in each parcel. Each magic item in each parcel has a level assigned for it. You are then required to look in the player's manual to look up magical item equipment and choose for yourself. No rolling, no randomness just choosing. The Dungeon Master's guide further suggests that you should give the treasure that the players want, that they should put a list forward about what sort of equipment they want such as a new magical short sword or a necklace. This is annoying, this takes away the idea of finding random treasure and being surprised when you find something. Now it's just Warlock: "Ohhh, find this magical short sword under this rock", Rogue: "Yeah that's for me, I asked for a magical short sword".

In 3.5 edition the players found treasure and then if they didn't need it, they would sell it. Simple. It was exciting finding a wand that no one could use, or a longsword when there wasn't a fighter in the party. It was just exciting finding any magical item and selling it. Thus the gold gained from selling would go towards new things. Now, in fourth edition, what do you spend your gold on if you practically have everything given to you? What about a nice set of potions? No, there are only 4 potions to choose from and they are all healing ones. Gone are the fun potions of invisibility, gone are the fun potions of creating your own potions (like my infamous "Mage armour" potions). I can't believe they took away all those fun potions! In 3.5 edition you could even create your own magical potions by choosing a wizard or cleric spell, putting it in a bottle and looking up the value of it in the dungeon master's guide!

Naturally I should look at the perks of the 4th edition treasure. It does save time, rolling for treasure was a time consuming process. Packages are already made for you and all you have to do is choose 4 magical items and you have all your treasures prepared. You could easy replace the gold gained by similar priced magical items. Also, within the DM's guide it shows how to change the parcels to how many party members there are. If there is one character only, then take away a few parcels. If you have more then 5 players, it tells you which parcels to double up on.
Looking at all the magical equipment in the player's guide it was exciting to read all the different equipment. Such as enhancing damage, using abilities and increasing your defences. There seems to be a feeling of a lot more depth to these items in comparison to 3.5 edition. However, there is not the customizability that was prevalent in 3.5, to be able to create your own items...which I find the most exciting part. The ability to be able to customise the magical treasure would ensure that the equipment was tailored to the players if you wanted to give them something.

All in all, I feel that treasure in 4th edition has been completely simplified. They have taken away the ability for DMs to create their own treasure that they could proudly give to their players. The parcels do save time when planning sessions. But, to be honest, 4th really have taken the magic out of magic items!

What do you guys think? Any 3.5 edition players here who moved onto 4th edition? Do you enjoy randomised treasure items or creating your own magical items? Any magical items you created that you are proud of?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Players ruining my passion

My first year at university and I was taking up the role of Dungeon Master. I recently bought the board game to help me get started and help me understand how the world works. I have to admit, it was 3.5 edition because it was back in 2007 and 4th edition was released in 2008 I believe, the most up-to-date edition. Once I played the board game with my friends I naturally assumed the roll of DM because I bought all the products and invited my friends to play.

The first few adventures were very linear and very easy. I was still learning the ropes so to speak and still trying to understand how encounters work and so on. Over time they became more complicated, less linear along with a deeper plot. However, it got to a point where it just got boring writing up D&D games. It took up many hours and I don't think the players really appreciated my efforts (as they preferred to listen to David Bowe on a stupid plan radio). This added to my frustrations and I seriously wanted a break. But at the same time they wanted more from me.

To counter this situation I decided to transfer the DM power to one of the players for one of the sessions.I was doubtful that she would be able to crate a good game but she was an intelligent person so I left it up to her. I gave her a week to write up a story. I told her not to make it complicated, just make it a simple story or even just a dungeon run with rooms and monsters in. Anyone could pretty much do that once they were shown how. Considering we were both first years we didn't have a lot of work anyway so she had plenty of time.

A few days passed, had she done anything? No. A few more days had passed, still nothing. The morning of the evening session, nothing. An hour before the session? She had wrote 3 lines and I told everyone to come round to my flat for a session of D&D. I had nothing to give to them. So...everyone arrived, and I told her I would play the role of an assistant DM and she would have to improvise. We both had our laptops and was ready to begin...

It was a disaster, she had to improvise and then I took over every now and again to try and develop the plot a bit, or to give direction to players. Eventually I felt like I was playing the role of DM and doing the match (she was looking at hello kitty stuff on amazon at this point). Complete failure of a session, I left feeling unsatisfied and frustrated that I couldn't even have a break from Dungeon Mastering. I think I would have felt less frustrated and felt more motivated to write up a session if I felt I was appreciated for my efforts. I wasn't, I became angry at my players and eventually gave up. Players had ruined the D&D world for me and I was only a few adventures in.
Few of the players said thank you, there was little feedback to help me guide my next session and they generally just seemed bored with the game. What's the point of pouring all this effort in to not get appreciated?

However, I have moved on from that group now, and with a new group they seem to be more involved with role play, more appreciative and provide ore feedback to help me improve as a DM. I feel more motivated to write up more sessions and I find them exciting. However, I have yet to find the day where another player will take over as the role of DM and for me to take the players sea to join in a story that another DM writes without already knowing the plot.

So, what about you guys? Do you feel you group enhances or ruin your passion for D&D?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

5 ways Dungeons and Dragons could help you survive a zombie outbreak!

Yup! I've thought of 8 ways D&D can help you with a zombie outbreak...Yes it could happen one day!

An epidemic has occurred! A virus has been leaked from a nearby science lab that kills humans! Problem is they come back to life being mindless flesh eating zombies!
You're in your house with your housemates and you learn of this outbreak on the news...what do you do?

Teamwork would be essential for the survival of a zombie outbreak. Playing D&D has helped you learn how to get along with other people. How to distribute resources (such as food, guns and ammo), sharing and the ability to resolve conflicts in the group. This includes clear communication between other members so you can warn others the presence of the undead shuffling nearby, or in case you're suddenly in trouble!

You know about zombies
You've done this before! Your characters have battled hundreds of zombies to keep them away from your flesh! You've learnt about the behaviour, the sounds they make and how they detect you. Best of all, you know how to defeat them, just cut the head off and the body will follow! This gives you an obvious advantage to those who know nothing about the undead.

Quick evaluation
As your characters frequently encounter novel situations, you're constantly having to think about what to do and what will happen if you do what you do. You're aware of the consequences afterwards without a personal cost (but an obvious cost to your character!). All these experiences will add to your wisdom, so the next time you encounter a situation with hundreds of may know what to do.
This quick evaluation ability can be applied to evaluating yourself. You can quickly know your (and others) strengths and weaknesses so you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Maybe pushing a bit to a stretch but after watching numerous D&D films and Lord of the Rings you'll be indirectly learning how to use weapons. You may have role played some scenes which involved weapons, or performed actions with a wooden sword. In the UK a gun could be hard to come by so you'll most likely have to use a kitchen knife. You could even try and equip two if you play the role of a ranger! With the use of this knowledge you are able to combat one or two zombies. If you use miniatures in a D&D game you can quickly plan tactics with others by imagining the position of the miniatures on a board. You can draw on tactics that you used before in the games that were successful, thus saving time planning and increasing your chance of survival. This would be an obvious advantage.

Knowing where to look
With my group, I always ask the players where they are exactly looking in a room before doing a search roll to see if they find anything. Over time, they have learnt key areas to search in to find goodies. If your group does this, you would have learnt key areas to look for. This can be applied for real life, if you need to look for something you'll most likely know where to look. You'll save time and this means less chance of being attacked by a group of zombies!

What do you guys think? Any other qualities and abilities D&D players have that could help?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Top 10 tips to being a good DM, Part 2

Part two continuing from part one yesterday, the final five! Get ready...go!


This is another important aspect, the ability to be neutral. Yes, in life we have favourtism, we prefer our group of friends over people who are not in the group. This can even lead to the superficial level, we prefer to talk to good looking and well presented over ugly and badly dressed people. No point denying it!

Neutrality must be enforced in your sessions, having favouritism can cause other players (who do not feel favoured) to feel jealousy towards the favoured player. This saps the enjoyment out of games. For some people it can take a lot of mental effort to treat all the players fairly, but it can be done. Favouritism can also work the other way as well. We, as humans, like to treat those that we do not like negatively such as ignoring them or inflicting cruelty. As a DM, you have the power to manipulate characters by providing experience, gold, equipment and monsters. Don't be mean to a player you dislike by causing all the monsters to attack that character, or deducting gold or experience. The other players will probably loose trust in you as a judge of situations. Loosing trust in a DM is one of the worse things that can happen in any game. No trust, then the players will keep secrets, which will fuel the distrust even more. If a player is behaving badly then take the player aside and tell the individual their behaviour isn't appropriate. Try and find the source of their behaviour, are they bored? Frustrated? Under valued? It can be a difficult thing to value each player equally without your biases coming into play, but it can be done! However, at the same time you want each player to shine at a certain point in the session, at least once!


A good quality to have in everyday life is the ability to be flexible. Being able to adapt to the different players demands can also be a difficult, but do able thing. If the rogue wants to steal from a nearby house, then let the player do that, even if it's not part of the story you wrote! It requires thinking on your toes but also requires good knowledge about D&D. You need to the ability improvise to be able to be flexible. For example, I once had a group of players who attacked a guard and I had to improvise the party being chained up in jail with all their belongings with them. I had to quickly think how the characters would be able to get out of jail, how they would get their belongings and how they would get past the guards. It was no problem, the players felt creative tonight! The wizard cast ray of frost into he rogues face (to make him look blue), the rogue then got a blanket around him and managed to successfully scare the guards away by convincing the rogue was a ghost (a good roll on a bluff check haha!).


Just how a bard can enchant everyone with his stories and how a joke can be seen as funny it's the way the stories and jokes are expressed to get this effect. Varying your tone, maybe throw in a few funny accents and gestures then you're on your way to being a good story teller! You ever listened to speeches and switched off? Bored? Most likely the speaker was very monotonic with his or her voice and had a lot to say. The evidence is clear when the person next to you has fallen asleep.


I don't mean the spell clarity that makes you immune to all mind-affecting spells but how the DM presents information. It's important to have clarity, be clear about what you want the players to do, expectations. Be clear about describing the locations of places and about what is happening. It's important not to mumble, for key information you want to communicate will most likely be lost in a sea of grumbles. A clear DM is a happy DM...Kinda...


Think about happy things in happy places. Nah...this last point is about having an upbeat and positive DM. This emotion can be infectious and from personal experience, I sometimes feel like I have to be a cheerleader to urge my group to role play and play the game! Positivity can be displayed on a vocal level, using positive language, saying nice things and being helpful to players. There is also a body language level, use open palm gestures, smile and avoid frowning. This can be applied in real life and people will find you more approachable, including your players. Having a grumpy DM will make the players feel like they are a burden and feel uncomfortable playing the game with the DM. So, be happy, mon!

There it is, my top 5 tips. Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Top 10 tips to being a good DM, Part 1

My top ten tips to being a good DM! This is in a two part series and the second half will be posted sometime tomorrow. So come back to check it out! Anyway here it is, my top ten tips:


Being organised in general has it's many benefits. It enables preparation of events foreseen in the future. This is applied to D&D as well. Having simple stuff such as pens, pencils, papers, rubbers, figurines, boards, laptop/computer and the manuals at the session will speed things up a bit without having to fumble around for a pencil to write the new health points down. Also an organised DM will attempt to break the paradox of preparing for the unprepared. This means an organised DM will be able to adapt to a sudden change in the party's direction, such as wanted to explore a nearby cave instead of continuing on with the main quest. The organised DM would have a list of NPC (non-playing-characters) names, shop names, names of locations, maps and spare figurines at hand. This is so he can improvise with previously organised material without wasting time thinking of new names and stumbling over what words to say.


Knowledge, it is our human nature to seek out and learn new things about our hobbies and the world around us. A good DM would be one who has learnt a lot about their edition of D&D such as spells, feats, monsters and equipment. This is to save time instead of looking though the players or dungeon master's guide to see what ability a monster has and making the other players wait around. It also gives off an aura of competence and knowing about D&D and therefore your players will respect and trust you more.

Good Imagination

The ability to imagine other worlds, conjure up new cities, plots and legends. We all have imagination, this is what enabled us to be great scientists. We can all imagine strange beings and places by drawing and mixing our experiences together. A good DM would be able to have a good imagination to be able to create enchanting worlds that will draw the players in, or thinking up original quests that compels the player to keep going deeper into that dangerous cave.

Good writing ability

To be able to write up an adventure that anyone can follow. It get difficult when you make rough notes that misses out so many words you can't even remember what you were originally on about. This applies to describing an area the characters are in, there should be a good description of where the party is, what's it like and any key points in the area/room. This usually required a good writing ability.

Good verbal ability

A good crisp clear voice to communicate exactly, without ear straining, what the characters are doing and where they are. No one likes a mumbling DM with a monotonic voice. Change the tone of your voice every now and again to keep the players interested. If you can pull of accents, great, then go for it! It's more about not what you say but how you say it. That's why the same joke spoken by one person can be funnier compared to another person who explains the same joke but it doesn't seem as funny.

Any thoughts? Or comments? Any personal experience where you think you were a good DM?

Come back tomorrow for part two!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Goodies and Gold Grabbers - When Players get greedy

This is something that happened to me quite recently. I'm designing adventures so that players each have a chance to get some gold and goodies and something special to hold on to. However, just recently I've had to change the way I distribute my treasure because of the behaviour of one player. I'm sure there are many other players out there like it.

The type I'm talking about are those players who grab all the treasure and gold they can. They are magnitised and their soul and body is drawn towards unopened treasure chests. They generally play the rogue so they are able to safely unlock and disarm traps. Room full of well armed goblins? Forget that, I'm going for the chest! It's even gone so far as the rogue finding something that another character would be able to use (such as a magial longsword) and selling it regardless of the players pleas and cries for the powerful weapon. It just got to stupid point and I needed to sort something out.

So I did something I never did before, incorporate the idea of a magic bad. This bag was unable to be tampered by the players and whenever a new piece of treasure was discovered, or gold, it would be magically transported to this bag at the end. The players were told what it was, then it was sent to the bag itself. At the end of the adventure or the session, I would then begin to distribute the contents of the bag evenly to all the players. Firstly, I would begin by declaring what were the useable contents of the bag (such as potions, weapons and scrolls). If a player argued over who should get it (aside from just wanting to sell it), they would have to roll for it. All the treasure that is left behind and unwanted is then sold. The gold is then distributed evenly to all players.

Yes it can abolish the idea of merit, about how players who do more should get rewarded more but I was desperate. The other 3 players were finding the game boring because they couldn't get their hands on anything. The rogue kicked up a fuss saying the lime light of the treasure finder was being taken away...however he was still finding the treasure but that treasure was being distributed evenly. He was still using his skills and abiities to find the treasure, I was just making sure they were working as a team.

Any DMs or players care to share their experiences? You think it was a good idea to introduce this magical treasure bag?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Why do we play D&D? The psychology

As I'm finally finishing my three year degree in psychology, I decided to write a blog that integrate my two passions: psychology and dungeons & dragons. It feels strange to suddenly stop learning about psychology by my lectures or essays, so I should keep my psychological knowledge fresh by interpreting why people play D&D.

Have you ever thought about this question? Why do you play D&D? The most common answer would be "because I enjoy it". But lets stop and think for a minute (as psychologists do!) and imagine what Freud could say. Using psychosexual analysis he could suggest that we displace our hidden desires and wishes onto our characters. This could especially be true if you play your character as trying to hit/sleep with someone, as this is your primative instinct to mate and reproduce. He could also suggest that it's some form of escape, to get away from reality and enter a fantasy world because the mind becomes damaged.

Another area of psychology...behaviourism. Behaviourism suggests we have no mind, but we learn associations by the use of classical and operant conditioning. To put it simply, if we do something and get rewarded for doing it, we are more likely to do it again. For example, if you paint a picture for fun, and then get paid for it, you're more likely to paint another picture again in anticipation of getting rewarded. Applying this to D&D, behaviourists could suggest we find it rewarding. Whenever we perform actions in the game such as killing a monster, performing a quest or helping someone out we get rewarded for it, usually by experience points or money. We can use experience and money to develop our character, which becomes more powerful. These two areas (gaining money & experience and developing your character) is rewarding, and therefore you are more likely to do it again a.k.a. play the game again.

Humanistic psychologists may say that we play D&D so we can develop who we are. As we play different characters we can explore the different personalities that different people have. If we like certain aspects of the characters, we will apply it to the self (because the personality characteristic is believed to be benificial e.g. to be able to lie or bluff convincingly). As we apply more personality characteristics to ourself, we become a better person.

As a critical thinker, I like to put my spin on things and come up with my own theories! I think that the sorts of people who play the game are "powerless" and/or "vulnerable" and don't have a strong stand in society i.e. teenagers and maybe the unemployed. People do not like this feeling of being powerless and vulnerable so they create a character that slowly becomes powerful over time. They gain a sense of power as their character in game overcome obstacles such as defeating monsters and completing quests. If the character doesn't feel very strong or powerful, the player is likely to change their characters to something that they believe is more powerful. As the player enjoys this sensation of power and strength, they continue playing so they can keep gaining that sense of strength. I for one like to develop a character from the beginning and look forwards to unlocking the stronger spells, feats and abilities. theory is quite controversial and there isn't any evidence, but it's all for the fun of psychology!

What do you guys think? Any thoughts about why you or other people play dungeons and dragons?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

5 steps to making a good role-playing character

You've just filled in your character sheet...and now possibly wandering how to make a good back ground for your character, never fear because I have 5 easy steps to make a great background for your character! So here it is:

Step one:

You may have already done this but you need to generate a name for your character. I can usually come up with fantasy names pretty quick however, if you lack a bit in the imagination department, try out Wizards of the Coast name generator, it provides a real name and some alternatives that your character could be known as by the commoners.

Step two:

You need to choose your alignment now. I would suggest being a similar alignment to your other characters in your parties so you can all get along. A chaotic good character would not get along with a lawful evil character in the same party! I wouldn't suggest choosing a random alignment either, as alignments influence how you role-play your character.

Step three:

Character physical traits. You need to think about how the character looks physically, firstly deal with height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, face shape, body shape (muscular/lean?) and then beards (if a male of course!). Now, add one or two physical attributes that will make your character even more unique, as a rule of thumb I have at least one unique trait on the face and maybe at least one unique body trait. Regards to the characters face, does he or she have a scar? A patch over one eye? Different coloured eyes? An ear missing? A tattoo on his face? A birth mark? Does he have a lisp when he talks? A high pitched voice? When thinking about the body, does the character have a missing limb? Does he walk in a funny way? Does he have a tattoo on his arm? A magical tattoo that glows? A missing finger? I'll let you decide that lot!

Step four:

Now you need to develop your character's personality. From your alignment that your character has, you can visit this page and choose traits that suit your character best. Once you've picked a few, if any at all, you need to think about other behavioural aspects of your character. Try to think about at least 2 to describe your character. For example, does your character have strange habits? Does he like/dislike particular creatures? Is he incredibly shy? Is he mute? Does he like to attempt to charm the ladies (halarious if you have low charisma!)? Is he fussy? Does he hate seeing blood? Is he focused on being clean all the time?

Step five:

The final step, and usually the biggest step. You need to write a background for your character. You can be as imaginative as possible but there are limits, such as it's not a good idea to say your human character was born on another planet...however you need to check with your DM to say if it's ok or not. The thing is, writing this part of your character won't be as bad as it seems, a good idea to start is to write a couple of sentences about how your character aquired their personal and physical attributes. Did you say your character was a ladies charmer? Maybe your father did it alot and you wanted to follow in his foot steps. Does your character have a fear of spiders? Maybe he had a giant spider try and attack him when he was younger.

You also need to think about your parents, they either are alive, or they died, or your character is unaware of their parents and were adopted. Regards to where your character grew up, the most popular choices would be either in a city or a country side, however you could have been brought up in a cave or in a tree.

I hope this helps to create some awesome characters out there! You think anything else needs to be added? Maybe you could add your own character stories here, or e-mail them to me and I'll choose the best one for next weeks blog!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Campaign Manager - 3.5e manager tools for a DM

I am a nice person. Yes, it's true. I recently added a blog about Masterplan, a 4th edition DM planner. After reading some comments on reddit about the article, one reader, KramitTheFrog44, asked for some help. KramitTheFrog44 wanted to know if there was a 3.5 version out there of Masterplan. After some searching, I managed to find something. It may not be as good as Masterplan, but it's still a good quality for a free product. Below I'll break down the elements again so you can get a taste of what it does. However, I would like to point out I've only played around on it for about 20 minutes so it will be quite limited!

Writing the plot:

Of course this is a very important element. Whenever you create a new campaign you firstly create your world. You can select a pre-made D&D world from a list (such as Eberron), or you can create your own. Creating your own leads to interesting methods of customisation. You can of course name the world, set the time and day, name the days and prepare a calander of events (such as festivals or rituals) to name a few. The great addition I thought was the fact that it generates a weather programme for you, which tells you what the weather will be like on each day. It even shows how full the moons will be on certain nights. This adds depth to the adventure without any preparation, a massive bonus!

After you have created your world, you can further customise by selecting which materals (the D&D optional books) are included/excluded in the world.

However, when it came to actually writing the campaign itself, I couldn't find anywhere to actually write it! There was a "notes" link to click on, however nothing happened when I clicked on it. But, it's still in development so I'm confident that some sort of plot organiser will be in place pretty soon.


I didn't find anywhere you could design your own map or dungeons. However, apparently according to the forums on the website something will be implemented at a later date. So keep your eyes peeled for further updates!


I couldn't find anywhere where you could make traps or hazards per encounter. However, there is a simple combat system. It has incorporated the monster manuals so you can easily add the monsters and players into combat. Initiatives are not rolled, however you can easily use the dice roller within the programme to work out everyone's initiative. You can let people take damage, heal themselves, look at detailed stats and apply images to each creature. All in all not bad regards to combat.

Player Client:

The player client is a seperate download on the website which enables another player, over the internet and in a different location, to join the DMs game with their own character. I couldn't explore this function because I needed a seperate computer. All I know (from reading a bit on the forums) is that other players can connect with the DM and play a session. Players and creatures can also be equipped with gear and they can also obtain gold.

Concluding thoughts:

It may not be the greatest programme in the world but still is a very good quality. You must take into account that it is still in development but I have high hopes for it. It's brilliant that other players can connect to the internet to the DMs computer and play together in different locations. I love the fact it has a large monster and item database for everyone to play around with. If it does incorporate a map system and/or a plot helper then I'll definately use this growing gem.

Best of all, it's free, so check it out here! You can even download test versions of it and provide feedback.

Anyone else used this before? What do you guys think of this software?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Masterplan - Fantastic DM tool for 4th edition

Today's blog won't be too long I'm afraid, I'm mid-way in exams!

However, I am still blogging today! Hurrah! I was browsing the web when I stumbled upon a little gem which I thought might help my readers whenever they write up their adventures.

The software is called Masterplan. It enables DMs to actively write a story, prepare encounters and even design the maps themselves. I've played around with it for about 20 minutes today and it's absolutely fantastic. I'll break it down a bit so you can understand it a bit easier:

Writing the plot:

The plot is obviously the biggest part in any D&D game. No plot means no story and therefore no adventure to go on! There are the exceptions of those dungeon crawling types where you just smash monsters in each room and find treasure with no goal in mind (aside from possibly exploring the whole place).

However, this piece of software enables DMs to write a plot but not just as a chunk of text...oh no, but actually as seperate plot points that you can link to each other. This enables the DM to break down the main story into digestable elements for the player, and also allows to maybe pop some side quests in there as well.

The plot writing aspect of the software can help DMs keep track of where they are within the main plot and can type notes of character's actions etc without having to fumble around for pieces of paper or looking up the place to type it in a word document. A very useful tool.


You can create maps using this software. You can download additional tiles from other places, however after looking around I couldn't find any (any help would be great with this! Leave a comment if you find anything!). The tiles can easily be dragged and dropped to a large grid and can easily be connected together to create a dungeon. Tiles include dungeon floor, water and doors just to name a few of them. Once you've created your dungeon you can save it and load it back whenever you wish.


Encounters can also be created. You can create traps, hazards, skill checks or combat encounters. The nifty thing is, it works out the Encounter Level (how hard the encounter will be) so you can assess how hard or easy it will be for your players to over come. This applys to all encounters you can create. I played around mainly with making a monster encounter and realised there is a grey bar at the bottom that fills up the more difficult it becomes and provides an encounter level. Very useful if you want to mix and match some of the monsters. On top of this, if you have made a map you can also drag your monsters to their starting positions in your dungeon!

Regards to combat encounters, you can add the players onto the map and then run the combat how you would. The software automatically rolls for initiatives for the monsters, you just have to fill in the players and place them on the board. Then, it orders the initiative for you and you can move the monsters/players around the board for the combat. I thought this was a brilliant part of the system, but I didn't find an in-built dice roller? However, you don't want to completely take away the player experience, they have to do something to be involved...which leads me to a final point...

Player view

The software assumes you will hook up the computer to a monitor or another laptop/related device that the players can look at. This enables the DM, from his computer/laptop to display to the players what their characters can see. The DM simply clicks on "Player View" and this enables the players to see where their characters are in relation to all the monsters. You can include cool features such as "fog of war" or "line of sight" which shows only what the character can see within the dungeon. An absolutely fantastic addition to the software!

Concluding thoughts

All in all I am very impressed with this software. It can be a bit confusing at first and muddle your mind up a bit but once you have the basics it will be able to save so much time for a DM when he prepares. With already pre-made monsters, the DM doesn't have to fumble around the Monster Manual to look for a goblin when he has the stats right in front of him. If you're a D&D insider you can apparently download tiles and monsters from there. But apparently you can get them for free if you search on the internet...but anyone can contribute here if you like! The fact you can show the maps and encounters on another screen I thought was absolutely fantastic, and best of all, it's free.

Yes, FREE: Get it here!

Anyone used this software? What did they think? What about those extra tiles and monsters...did anyone find anywhere else you can download them?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Playing with demons - How Dungeons and Dragons was seen as a sin

This was seen to be a big issue. Those geeks in the 1980s that were locked down in the basement with their 3 manuals battling goblins and finding treasure were seen as sinners. Why? Well before I explore that issue, I stumbled across a comic on the internet which I thought was first of all ment to be a comical can be found here.

D&D was seen as evil and sinful because it was associated with witchcraft and occultism. They assume that players would attempt to cast real spells like they would with their character in the game. Or the player could join a cult in real life after being influenced by the game. The figurines and the stories apparently are associated with evil, they represent evil and the bible teaches to keep away from all evils. The manuals apparently contain "authentic magical rituals" which could be re-enacted in real life and associated with Satan (the devil). The game blurs the boundaries about what is right or wrong, as alot of a character's actions in D&D are usually justified somehow but not seen as right and wrong completely. Also, the fact that a character can choose to follow several deities at once shudders the foundations of Christianity -- They believe an individual most follow one God.

But what are the effects of playing such an evil game?

Individuals have apparently performed rituals or acted out fantasy moments in the game by sacrificing their own friends. The game enables demons to possess an individual and to do bad things. The demon tricks them and enters thoughts in their minds to do these things. The website mainly reports people who were in their teens who have performed such terrible deeds. The most interesting one to me that was reported was how an 18-year-old girl was murdered by two friends that she played D&D with frequently. The killers were also heavily into D & D. The victim was bound and gagged and died by strangulation. It sends shivers down my spine as it reminds me of the cruelty of human nature. The game desentises indiviuals which enables to perform such cruel deeds coldly without thought.

Maybe D&D is evil...I have to admit I've only played 3.5 and a bit of 4th and 3rd edition but were the first few issues of D&D very demonic and voilent? Did they involve alot of demons? Rituals? Killings? You think that maybe D&D has toned down alot over the issues published?

I can understand how people can be worried about the effects of D&D on their children and themselves, it does, at it's core (aside from role-playing) involve alot of combat and killing. The most creative DMs have the ability to creatively guide the players on very disturbing stories. Even if the Christian view (well...the hardcore Christians) that D&D is evil and you don't believe it, don't you think that's telling us something?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bored Players - What's a DM to do?

One of the worst things that can happen in a D&D game. The players get bored, but what should you do as a DM?

There are a few signs of boredom that plays display and you, as the DM, should look out for. The signs described below are also useful for everyday life, if you're chatting to a friend or chatting up someone you like, you should look out for these signs and react appropriately by changing the subject of conversation.

The signs to look out for:

The player is looking around a lot -- He or she is looking at everything else but the board game. Everything in the room suddenly becomes more interesting then the game at hand. The behaviour can be amplified if there are distractions in the room such as a radio and TV playing in the background. The player is very bored if they keep looking at the door as well. Whenever the player performs this behaviour, it is as if to say "I want to exit from this situation, because I am bored".

Hand to the cheek gesture -- You maybe aware of this one. Whenever a player has his cheek in his hand, then it displays boredom. The more the face is resting on the hand, the more bored they are. Usually the gesture starts with hand on the chin, and then gradually the hand moves to the should realise they are bored when they have fallen asleep!

Having a "half-arsed" attitude -- Being "half-arsed" means only putting half the effort in. When the player is asked to do something such as rolling the dice or role playing they may perform the action lazily. They can't be bothered playing the game anymore.

The problem is, because we humans are empathic, we tend to mimic other people's behaviour. In other words...when one person is bored, it's most likely other people will be bored too! Have you ever seen someone yawn, only to yawn yourself? That's a form of empathy. So it's important to remedy that bored player as soon as possible before it spreads to the other players, and even you! But how does one do that? Well there are some tips for that as well, just below:

Take a break -- Probably one of the best tips out there. Regardless of any activities we do, we need a break at some point! Even if we are doing something we enjoy we still need to take a break because we get tired. We change activities so our mind can think differently about things. Have you ever had a really hard math problem, only to dwell on it for an hour...then you take a mini-break and then realise how to answer it? This is the idea I'm getting at. Take a break, do anything else apart from the game for 10 minutes, don't even talk about it!

Rearrange the game -- Yup, nothing is stopping you from re-arranging the game...yes it can be frustrating because you spent hours preparing the adventure but on the other hand you don't need to do any preparation for when your group meets up next! I think this should be a last resort.

Change the pace -- Yup, you could be going too slowly and some players would like you to speed up to get on with the story. On the other hand you could be going fast and you could have some players lost...then again it's better to be confused then to be bored!

Have a sudden change in story -- This sometimes does work and doesn't work, it depends on how bored the players are. Just have a subtle change like 3 goblins suddenly jump out of a bush and attack, a bar fight suddenly occurs or a tumble of rocks suddenly rush towards the players (which could knock one or two off the edge and some of the players could have to save them!).

So try and counter boredom as soon as possible, as this can spread to other players and make it a boring experience for everyone. If you are in doubt if the players are bored then you should ask them to react accordingly. If the players are continually bored, then maybe you should change the story or maybe look for a new set of players.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Microsoft Surface - Dungeons and Dragons

I just recently stumbled across this video.

How cool does this look! Imagine how interactive games would need for boards, but apparently you still need the miniatures. It would probably take less time for the DM to prepare as he can drag elements into the game quickly and easily. It's like a giant iPhone with a stupidly big application. I like it, but I think I would probably spill my drink all over it to be honest...

It would probably bring the younger generation in but maybe scare away the older audiences to have such an intimidating piece of machinery, it looks huge and you can't really shift it a couple of inches like you can the TV when it has a massive sun glare on it.

However, it looks fun, poking a screen instead of poking a keyboard seems the way forward. Also, if you have a couple of thousands lying around, over £8,000, then you might as well give it a try. Are you suprised it's from Micro$oft? The money grabbers?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Miniatures, are they really worth it?

Ever considered this question? Are miniatures really worth it? What about the paper ones, can they pull off the same magical effect of telling a story? What about using the imagination?

Miniatures, you know, the plastic figurines that can be plonked on the board anywhere. The hero figure which looks like it's face has been sat on by an ogre, or that really cool red dragon that takes up an epic 2x2 tile space only to be taken by your younger sister to be involved in a carefree tea party, where teddy bears have ears missing. Speaking to my group they say it enhances their experience, they enjoy it more and provides clarity of what's happening. That's an almost indirect way of saying...yeah I have no imagination...sorry DM! They are nice to look at and they do add a nice touch to your Dungeons and Dragon's game but it does add the cost up a bit...lets say I've spent over £50 on figurines so far *bites tounge* eeep! There's also the annoying case that you want to get something to represent a hill giant...only to find that a small gnome figurine (well I think it was) does the trick!

Then there's the paper version...or just have cut outs of the characters and monsters and you can just whack them on the board. It's basically a 2d version of the 3d figurines explained above a.k.a. crappier (Well depending on your drawing skills, and it would be funny to have a Mona Lisa floating around the board). If you don't have the right one, you can easily quickly create one within minutes and add it to your collection. Obviously a cheaper option compared to above.

Finally...there are those hardcore players. Yeah, the lets-use-our-imagination group who use more brain power and get their creative juices following to keep up with the plot. Combat can be a bit complicated...From my experience the combat was random, the monsters kept changing targets every round and I wasn't allowed to flank (Well, suppose that's a good thing, considering I was playing a wizard). However, visualising what was going seemed more magical then just staring at some blobs of plastic on a board. This seems to be the cheapest and quickest method for setting a story.

So, what do you guys think? Are figurines worth it? Should people be more imaginative with their games? Are they fun to use? Leave a comment below!