Oh fuck tomorrow’s game night.

 

Game night is tomorrow. You want to do some prep but time is limited. What should you put your effort into and what shouldn’t you?

What to Prep

Structure

Having a linked structure allows you to create depth even in a relatively prep lite game.

I’m a big fan of the three clue rule as popularised by the Gumshoe system and this blog over at the Alexandrian. Effectively you think of three interesting things the players may investigate in your scenario and link them together so that each of them has 2 clues that each link to the other ones.

These things could be fairly abstracted like town, dungeon, forest near town, caverns in forest. Or you can go highly specific, such as a single NPC, an event such as an assassination or one house in your village. Naturally a mix of both works too.

 

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The carrot is mightier than the stick .

Lot’s of Games Master’s decry that they cannot control their players. Why wont my players roleplay more? Why do my players always want to murderhobo?  Why can’t they take it seriously? I sympathise with them. The best games would be ones without any players.  However there’s an incredibly simply solution that the many  GM’s seem to entirely miss. A solution that can have your players doing whatever you want while totally under the illusion they’re making choices for themselves.

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Oh fuck it’s game night.

In my final year of university I decided to knuckle down on a really long and complex piece of work that I felt my experience had built myself up to. No it wasn’t my dissertation. It was a massively open world Dungeons and Dragons game. I was going to have five different continents ,  dozens of factions all vying for power over one another. Dragon Kings of the North and Warrior monks of the east. The world would have its own complex pantheon and creation myths from the bottom up. The players could be anything they wanted, do anything they wanted. The world was going to live , act and react around them.  In fact I was going to run multiple groups in the world at the same time and they’d see the effects of one another an be able to interact. It was ambitious, beautiful, mind exploding.

Unsurprisingly this didn’t exactly come to fruition especially as it coincided with the break up of a five year relationship and my rapid descent into mental health hell.

I called a hiatus on my group for a period. See I didn’t want to run as the goals I had set for myself above I realised were impossible in my current state. Of course they were also virtually impossible from the get go but I’ve a bad habit of my ambition never matching my actual capacity.  My group eventually badgered me to just run a session and I went fuck it and did exactly that.

It was through this process that I learned how to improvise. For about half the year I ran a weekly , 6 hour ( God I miss university) D&D game with no prep what so ever.   Before this I’d always meticulously planned my games. It wasn’t uncommon for me to bring a 3000 word document of prep to every session. So it was quite a step out of my comfort zone to say the least.

Yet I managed it and in the process I learned that I could carry a group through session after session with nothing but a stack of books, some hastily printed off maps and my wits and guile. Also probably a lot of cider.

The best part about improvisation is that you go to a session with as little idea as the players what they’re going to encounter and what will emerge from the various choices made at the table allowing you to be just as excited as they are. Emergent gameplay is a wonderful thing to behold and allows a group to stitch together memorable stories and adventures.

So I share with you now some of my tips on improvisation.

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Fudging round 2. This time it’s creamier.

In my last article I discussed whether or not games masters should fudge rolls in their game.  In this article I want to talk about the other forms of ‘fudging’ that can occur within a game and how to deal with them.

Monster Mashing

After many sessions of adventuring players approach the fortified chamber of the dread Storm Lord Morax, General of the Northern Hordes, BBEG and antagonist to the party.

You’re expecting an epic showdown however due to a mixture of luck and skill on the players part the Storm Lord is getting his bare hide handed to him and he’s on his last legs.  You therefore decide to up the ante and give him an additional powerful spell, say a one shot of Disintegrate, on the fly.  Is this fudging and does it impact player agency?

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Fudging – delicious games master treat or hazardous game breaker?

Boy is this one a hot topic. Fortunately I have the definitive answer.

Don’t fudge in your games.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me on twitter @lines_pete and let me know what you think there or in the comments. Happy gaming.

…Oh okay it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

In it’s commonly understood form fudging is the act of the games master altering a dice roll behind the scenes. In most games we’d call a player rolling one dice and pretending it’s another cheating however the games master has a unique role within D&D as a neutral arbiter of the gameworld, ergo it’s within the GM’s remit to alter a dice roll if they feel it’s appropriate

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Magic Item Creation Rules 5E D&D

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Magic Item Rarity Chart and Crafting Time

Rarity Cost Time Min Level
Common 100 GP 4 Days 1
Uncommon 500 GP 20 Days 3
Rare 5,000 GP 200 Days 6
Very Rare 50,000 GP 2000 Days 11

* Divide all of these component values by 4 for any consumable items such as scrolls or potions.  E.G. A Common Potion of Healing will cost 25 GP of components to craft.

** Divide these time and component values by 2 when reducing an item into residuum. An uncommon item takes 10 days to reduce and produces 250gp of residuum.

***There are rumours of spellcasters who are able to craft items beyond even these levels although they would need to possess god like power.

Magic items are incredibly rare within the world. This is in part due to their difficulty in crafting and the natural tendency for those with them to horde, bury and protect them as well as the Spell Plague which destroyed huge swathes of magical items that existed in the world. Even relatively uncommon items are highly prized family heirlooms owned by only the wealthy and few and the rarest can often only be found out in the world of adventure.

The magic of the Weave is like energy, it cannot be created or destroyed simply manipulated.

Spellcasters with knowledge proficiency in Arcana can craft magic items from formulas they know. This process takes 20 days for an uncommon item  (See Chart) and requires 500 GP worth of residue. Higher rarirty items cost more.  Formulas will often call for a specific component item(s), if these  components are provided you do not need to pay a residuum cost.

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