Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Murder Mystery D&D Session

Happy Halloween, everybody!  If you're like me, you really want to play in a Halloween D&D game where all the players are classic monsters: a mummy, a flesh golem, a vampire, a ghost...  Man, that would be fun.  Anyways, this post isn't about that.  I was thinking about what to post for Halloween when I remembered a murder mystery session of D&D that I once ran.

I had never run a murder mystery before, but I knew that I wanted to do one.  It required a lot of preparation, and more improvisation than I had done up to that point, but it really helped me learn how to run a roleplay-based town adventure that wasn't 'on rails'.  Essentially, I created a small village and everyone who inhabited it.  I gave them names and personalities, suspicions and secrets.  I made up rumors about them and gave some of them motives for the murder.  I made sure to throw in plenty of false leads, red herrings, and unrelated secrets.  I tried to make the village feel alive, and part of that was making sure there was plenty of small-town drama.

The adventurers were told by the authorities of a nearby city that they were needed to investigate some killings performed by an unknown monster in the small village of Moulle.  When they arrived at Moulle's only tavern and inn (The Giant's Bag), they were to learn that, although belief in the 'Monster in the Woods' was widespread, there was rumor going around that these killings were being performed by a townsperson.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review: Brokedown Palace

As this blog is the primary authority on matters relating to fantasy role-playing games for literally tens of people, I thought I might branch out to touch on the literary world - inextricably linked as it is to the world of fantasy RPGs.  After all, D&D was fundamentally shaped by the novels and stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance, and Fritz Leiber - among many others - and modern RPGs continue to draw heavily on contemporary and classic fantasy works.

It may come as no surprise to you that I have been known, on occasion, to read fantasy novels and stories.  As such, I am taking it upon myself to post reviews of some of these here on this blog.  And with this blog being what it is, my reviews will be made with an eye toward fantasy RPG gaming.

Brokedown Palace

The first work up for review is Brokedown Palace by Steven Brust, originally published in 1986 by Ace Books.  Some minor spoilers may follow, but I shall endeavor to restrict them, for I am vehemently anti-spoiler.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Killing Your Characters

It should go without saying that death is an important part of RPGs.  Not just the death of monsters and bad guys, but death of characters.  That isn't to say that character death should be particularly common (though in some games it is), but it should always be there, lurking in the background.  After all, the rules for death and dying don't just apply to the bad guys.  For an RPG to really feel engaging, you need the threat of death, or the players' actions aren't realistic: "Oh man, this dragon is hitting us pretty hard! If we don't kill it soon, we may all end up... going unconscious for 8 hours and then having to try again."

In this post, I'll talk about PC death from both sides of the GM screen, NPC death, and raising the dead.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Hello all! Sorry for the dearth of updates recently; I've just moved to England and have been living out of hotels for a few weeks.  Now I'm moved into a flat, but there is no internet.  Things should get up and running again by the middle of the month, though.

-your ex-pat d20 despot