Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some blogs that helped me learn to be a better DM

In no particular order:

Jeff's Gameblog: How To Awesome-Up Your Players

-Helped me to put in perspective how to focus on my player's goals and brought me to the realization of not really caring about backgrounds, as the real character gets built from the ground up by what the player chooses to spend their time doing and what they succeed and, more often, fail at trying to do.

Rotten Pulp: Matt Rundles Anti-Hammerspace Inventory Tracker

-I really like the idea of a more pulpy item system and brought this into my game in a modified way (higher strength characters have more slots) and it is nice for certain situations that can destroy an inventory item (backpack) or cause them to lose something from a pocket. I have had a player go unconscious while another player hoisted them up and grabbed a healing potion to feed them while running away. They lost the Dexterity check so they rolled to lose one item from their pocket. It just so happened that out of the half a dozen small items they had, he randomly dropped the key to the Inn they had recently acquired, meaning they were now being chased by a tribe of orcs and locked out of their own Inn.

Rotten Pulp: How My Campaign Works

-This one just appeals to the ways players seem to get involved in everything and anything they get involved in invariably turns out horribly for everyone else involved.

Hack & Slash

-This blog has too many favorites to count, but has put out amazing quantity and quality of content regarding everything under the sun. More interesting treasure, tricks, traps, and encounters, which has helped in many ways to formulate some of the basic ideas behind the algorithm and styling of my DM Screen program. There are many blogs about keeping player agency alive while still having many interesting (and deadly) tricks and traps. I have gotten a lot of miles out of reading this blog, and it updates very regularly.

False Machine

-A great source for really off-the-wall random tables and ideas. I love a certain amount of weirdness to keep my players on their toes and False Machine genuinely delivers if not in execution then certainly in all the villainously insidious ideas that those tables generate. Take a look at Twelve Kinds of Dark if you want an idea of something crazy to keep your players questioning what is really beyond the next door in a dungeon or in the world.

Telecanter's Receding Rules

-Telecanter puts forth a wealth of interesting material but what first helped me as a DM trying to improve my craft, I looked to his house rules document for some really amazing rules that both simplify the rules and make the game more interesting for the players. Really cool ideas though, are in his Deadly Distractions documents that showcase a new kind of deadliness for the players, things that go against their expectations.

Monster Manual Sewn from Pants

-Cool crafty stuff aside (i.e. sewing together the entire monster manual from scraps of cloth), these random tables are another one of my favorites. The, pull-no-punches, absolutely crazy tables are a constant source of inspiration and ideas for my own tricks, traps, and encounters.

Hex Crawl: Hex Basics

-This blog really helped convince me to go from a word and map only overland map style to a physical hex map for the overland map. It also includes, in the subsequent parts, the basics of generating such a map. I really helpful tool for anyone looking to get at the basics of how to run a hex-crawl map.

Rendered Press: My Petty God Mythos

-One of my favorites because it brought about a change to my usual treatment of the D&D mythos as simply being a pantheon of distant and powerful gods to a whole spectrum of demi-gods and petty gods vying for power all the way to the mightiest of gods. It has also given me more ideas of having these gods actually interact with the players and react to their plans.

Rather Gamey: The Six Million Dollar GM

-I like Rather Gamey for a lot of reasons, the random drawings, the random inspirations and ideas, but most of all I really liked this short post on ways to really improve. It is rather snarky, but I like snark, and I realized I had been doing most of those things. I would defer to rule books during a game, fudge dice to make encounters more epic, and I planned way too hard (burned me out more than a few times).

Once I get the hang of this blogspot thing, I will probably add a bar along the side that links to the blogs I am currently reading.


  1. Hey - welcome to the Blogosphere. Thank for reminding me I wrote that post. I fell off the wagon and really needed the advice again. :)

    - Ark

    1. Thanks! I'm glad I could be of help? Hope you find that wagon, I hope the 1d6 damage didn't hit to hard when you fell out.