A recent reflective epiphany. From the heart.

As a player, I like Pathfinder more than I like 5th edition. There, I said it.
I am a rules lawyer, I am going to admit it now and not look back. As a DM, for a few years now, I’ve come to know the rules through and through in order to be a fair adjudicator of the rules, and provider of fun. This has been especially true in a game store setting, where I provided an even playing field for all walks of life and RPG experience. The rules are the rules are the rules. At first, I provided unequal opportunity, not thinking about the consequences, and this caused a dispute resulting in 2 players leaving the game which really hit home for me. From then on out, I really wanted to make things equal. I developed an entire magic item buying system with tokens using the rules from Xanathar's Guide to Everything and provided gold based on level similar to Adventurer's League play. It led me to understand why Wizard's of the Coast designed the rules for Adventurer's League and to s…

GM Tips: The Meta Game

GM Tips: The Meta Game
After listening to Cannon Fodder episode 51 on the Glass Cannon Podcast and having a discussion with my GM after our semimonthly Pathfinder game it dawned on me to speak about the "meta" game of tabletop rpgs. Hopefully I will be able to write blog posts on a semimonthly schedule from here on out. To be consistent and still have time leftover.

Below I'll discuss what meta-gaming is practically in tabletop roleplaying games, and the "meta" of the meta game is for me personally.
What is "Meta"?
Meta is defined as referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential. The "meta game" in general refers to the mechanics and systems that lie outside of the game, but influence it nonetheless. For example, the meta game of hockey speaks to how the game is currently being played. In the past, the game was a lot slower-paced and players with different skill sets were more valued. The meta game of hockey has shifte…

The West Marches Season 2: Old Beginnings

The Rundown The Maps
On Tuesday will be the beginning of season 2 of our campaign. It all started from this map...

The map that was found inside a partially burnt book in Wave Echo Cave. This "map" is placed in the adventure to take players beyond the start set adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver.I used it to hook in the new players for the West Marches Campaign. The 'X's on the map were points of interest for them to explore with rumours associated with them. This was a fun approach where the players were really left not knowing what was out there. My intention was for them to explore, make notes, and mark on the map where they find things. Afterwards, the next group could build upon that information as is the style of the West Marches.
Following all of the events of the last 15 sessions or so, here is the map I will be giving the players on Tuesday. The colorful areas represent the collective knowledge of all of the characters. What they have seen on their adven…

Campaign Pitches and Session 0

I'm a big proponent for running session 0 for campaigns. When I had initially started playing and running D&D I always wanted to pack in as much action into a session as possible, to squeeze out the most fun and excitement. Without the foundation well set however, the campaign can crumble for any number of reasons.

What is "Session 0"?

A session 0 is a gathering of all participants of a campaign where the goal is to talk about what the campaign is going to be about, do some world-building, and most importantly character creation. My primary praise for session 0 is the ability for players to get the chance to understand what world they will be playing in. Will they be sailing the high seas as pirates? Scouring forgotten dungeons and delving deep into the underdark? Fighting battles on the open plains for their kingdom? Trekking deep into the mountains to confront the giants in their stronghold? 

This understanding will help in guide the players to create characters that…

Blades in the Dark is awesome and here's why... Part 1

Just like how the game is run, we're going to jump right into the score with our first obstacle in many TTRPGS, character creation.
Character creation is fluid and organic. Each choice informs the next and it is all grounded within the setting. It is an 8 step process that begins by choosing a playbook or your character's "class". In Blades, player's take on the role ofdiverse scoundrels; or rogues in the typical fantasy setting. So rogue players rejoice, this game is for you, though a lot of players can get enjoyment out of it. Blades does not exist in your typical fantasy setting however.
Next you choose your heritage, a detail of where you're from, and your background, with a note of what you did before joining your crew and becoming a scoundrel.
Step 4 is assigning your four action dots, which are essentially the skills of the game. These cannot be placed willy-willy. One must be placed to reflect the character's heritage, and a second to reflect the …

Ending a Campaign and Epilogues

The deep and rhythmic thump, thump, thump, wakes you from your light sleep. A dark, low horn blasts somewhere in the distant night. Suddenly, a massive boulder smashes into your home, taking down a large section of the wall and roof. Stunned, you see and hear more boulders crash against other homes and the walls of the town. Trumpet horns bleat in alarm throughout the town. The horde has finally arrived. The battle for the Vale begins.

Ending a Campaign Inspired by How to be a Great Game Master's video. By the end of January my West Marches Season 1 will come to a close. For many months the players have striven to stop the approaching Hobgoblin horde as it marches east towards their home. Following Tuesday's session that I felt was not as good as it could have been, I'm looking to refocus and nail down what will happen at the end, and what will happen next for season 2. I will be using the 5 Cs as outlined in the video linked above. Making it CoolKeep it ChaoticContingentCat…

Finale Session 1/3 Reflections

I may have been too ambitious with the time available. What I intended to happen in this session was to have the players accomplish a set number of tasks in the defence of their "hometown" and looking back, there are some things I would change for the future. I personally have not run something of this nature before so I am giving myself that at least. Here is a copy of my outline for the 3 finale sessions. The orange are player encounters, the grey is a choice of where to send NPCs for support, the yellow is another player encounter, and the final red block will be the finale session, a massive 10 player combat and epilogue of season 1.
Part 1: The War Council

I was definitely overzealous with the NPCs at this part. My intention was for the players to play a pivotal role in the planning of the defence of the town. I included way too many NPCs, many served no purpose, they were just in attendance for the "Hey, thanks for helping us out in the past adventures". What…