Sunday, September 29, 2019

Campaigns Are Overrated

Postulate 1: there are many obstacles (mostly social and logistical) to playing D&D, contributing to the infamous “looking for group” dilemma.

Postulate 2: there are more people interested in playing D&D than people who actually play it.

Postulate 3: there are more people who have played D&D than people who are currently in the regular habit of playing it.

Postulate 4: people who aren’t currently in the regular habit of playing D&D are generally considered to be inactive gamers. At least, many of them think of themselves that way.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Advanced Darkness

Let’s do some more DIY D&D and hack the rules. I’m going to introduce to you my favorite and most important houserule: Advanced Darkness.


Why do we come up with houserules? Because there’s some kind of problem. Maybe not everyone sees it as a problem, but that’s oftentimes just because people have learned to live with it and be complacent with a deficiency that could be fixed.

How do we come up with houserules? We 1) identify the sources of the problems and 2) identify the results we would like to see instead. Creating a rule is creating the “cause” in a cause-and-effect relationship. In order to know what cause you should aim for, you need to know what effect you’re after.

What do we do with houserules? We test them out and explore their full implications. We look for vulnerabilities that could be exploited. We try to break them. We consider some unintended consequences. We try to think of ways it could interact with other game elements. We playtest it. We adapt it. We eventually figure out the best ruling possible. Maybe it’s a refined version of the houserule, or maybe it's the RPG’s original ruling after all.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Electrum is Underdark Money

This is an example of why we need to make DIY D&D the norm in this hobby. I have seen, far too often, DMs dismissing an idea or mechanic or game element because they don’t like how it works when they instead could've hacked it to unlock its true potential. How many DMs don’t even bother with Alignment or Encumbrance or Darkness just because, as they exist in 5th Edition (and throughout the editions, generally), they kind of suck and need some reworking? I’ll show you how to do that right now.

In D&D, currency comes in three common denominations. Ten copper pieces to one silver piece, ten silver pieces to one gold piece. Beyond that you can have ten gold pieces for one platinum piece, and of course the infamous one, five silver pieces to one electrum piece AKA two electrum pieces to one gold piece. Electrum is the one that breaks the nice, consistent pattern. It is exceedingly rare. It seems pointless. It feels like if you received that as your treasure from the DM then they were trying to troll you a bit. So most people don’t use it and that’s that.

That’s the lame way of doing things.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

How to Make Problems for Your Players

TL;DR: The Player's Handbook gives you a list of challenges for your players that you didn't realize. I included it at the bottom.

How do you plan a list of encounters? How do you think of problems for the heroes to overcome? Do you just pick a stat block out of the Monster Manual and put that monster in the next room? Pretty easy, but I think most of us are here because we agree that a great DM puts a little more effort in than that.

What if I told you that you were thinking about this all backwards? Like, literally backwards. Maybe you should be starting at the other end.