When does an evil GM become truly evil?

As a GM, its basically my job to be evil. Not in the traditional sense, but one of the tasks assigned to me is to throw some peril and hardship at my players. Step on their characters hopes and dreams at least a little. Make their stories fraught with bad guys and challenges. It’s my job to make sure that victory doesn’t come free and that at the end of the game they feel like they accomplished something.

Intrigue vs Annoyingly Vague GM

I’m a fan of intrigue in my games. It’s been a while since I’ve run any kind of standard adventure romp where there are clear cut villains and goals. Hopefully this is not to my players detriment. What I’d like to spend a little bit if time considering is where the line is when mystery stops being fun and is just an annoying lack of information. I’m currently running the first case of my Dresden Files game, The Day of Bad Dreams.

Losing Players

When you have a group that’s been playing for a long time, it’s hard to lose a player. I’ve mostly been running our Friday nights over the last 6 years and during that time we’ve had a minimum of player loss. After our first major campaign we ended up losing one of our players. There was some real life issues and I think there might have been some lingering hard feelings between two of the players.

Demoing VR

Earlier this year is succumb to the pressure of technology and purchased an HTC Vive, fulfilling my childhood dream of being a reckless adult who buys toys. It’s been a thrilling ride. This holiday I spoke to my management about taking a day to bring in and demo room scale VR for some people at work. I was given the green light and I started planning. It wound up being quite a bit of effort (but fun), and one of the things I produced was the document below.

Writing for different types of games

After a year of running a Dungeon World D&D themed game, I find myself with the exciting opportunity of running two completely different games. I’m running both a Shadowrun (SR) game and a Dresden Files game (DFRGP). These systems are incredibly different, and prepping for them seems to require a completely different set of skills. SR is a formulaic game, contacts call shadowrunners, shadowrunners meet Johnson, shadowrunners go into the mission with need-to-know only, shadowrunners get into trouble because of what they didn’t know, shadowrunners get out alive (barely) and yell at Johnson for not telling them everything, Johnson tries to not pay up.

Kingdom Death: Monster

I heard about Kingdom Death: Monster (KD:M) back during the original Kickstarter. It was notable for it’s ambition of creating a long form and very high quality game. It was far too pricy to invest in, especially given the lofty goals. Since it’s successful original Kickstarter it has gotten good reviews and has been spoken of as a fantastic experience, providing organic storytelling in the way the game plays. The core game campaign covers thirty lantern years, and each year takes around one to three hours to complete, meaning that a KD:M campaign is a big undertaking requiring many play sessions.

It's a Kind of Street Magic

Shadowrun (SR) has always been a terribly dark and sexy setting for me. It’s also been incredibly intimidating, so I’m glad to be in a place where I’m trying to tackle that particular demon. My Friday night is taking a break from our Twelve Signs campaign. I’ve been running Twelve Signs for nearly 5 years now, so it’s a nice time for a break. We plan to come back to it next year sometime.

The Day of Bad Dreams

FATE! I get to play FATE! I get to run a Dresden Files game! I’m so exciting! FATE character creation is so much fun for me, and Dresden Files has a whole City Creation section. We’re going to set this in New Orleans, which I’ve been itching to set a game in. This will be a replacement for our Sunday game. We were playing Numenera previously, I’m a fan. I’ll be hoping to get back to it before long.

Twenty Gems

My current campaign arc Perfect Flaws is coming to an end soon and I’m having to do some preparation for the next arc Twenty Gems. We’re currently holding off on any discussion around what we’re going to be doing for Twenty Gems because it’s very easy to get distracted by a new game and to lose sight around completing the end of the current game. However I’m still spending a bunch of time trying to figure out some goals that I will want to accomplish for that game.


I’m getting to start a new game! I don’t know for sure that I’ll be running, but odds are good. This will be a smaller group than I’ve had for a long time and I’m looking forward to it! Right now we’ve got a number of options, but the two stand-outs are Dresden Files and Mouse Guard. It was a great excuse to pick up those books, which I’ve been pining over for a long time.

Where shall I take them?

One of the great struggles of the last 10 years for me has been note taking. I have spent a good deal of time and money attempting to find the right note taking application for my personal uses. Mostly for planning tabletop rpg games. Tiddlywiki was almost perfect, but lacked the ability to be used from phones or tablets effectively. I’m going to shill for a bit. I have no affiliation with this product, I’m just a happy user.

Perfect Flaws

A long time ago I was asked to run D&D for some friends. Many years later, I still haven’t finished. I’m not even close. Ok, I lied ever so slightly. The first arc of the Twelve Signs campaign completed late last year, clocking in just under 4 years of runtime. This year I started the second arc, using a never before played system (by anyone in my group) Dungeon World. My goal is have this one take less than 4 years to complete.


I don’t think I’ve talked about Numenera yet, which is something of an oversight on my part. I’ve been a big fan of Monte Cook’s work ever since Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition was release. His work after he departed WotC was some of the more innovative roleplaying material I’ve had the good fortune to be exposed to. Numenera was kickstarted mid 2012 and today is a robust and full roleplaying system and setting.

Null Sweat, Chummer

Never deal with a dragon. I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone running Shadowrun 5 for me occasionally over the last few months. The way this group works it probably works out to less than once a month, but it’s been nice to dip my toe back in. Shadowrun is such a fun setting, and for those crunch gamers it’s got lots and lots of toys. This week I was asked if I wouldn’t mind running some Shadowrun on off weeks.

Ha ha! Multiple entendre

I sent some money to the guys at Storium a little while back, and I’ve been trying to get a game going. My first attempt seems to have fallen through, but now I’ve got a new group and a new game. Beyond the Veil is a urban fantasy game set in southern Louisiana (you know the one). It’s an exercise in freedom of storytelling, because the rules are pretty loose, and the players have the freedom to move the story forward as they like (with, perhaps, a little gentle prodding from the storyteller).

Beginning Perfect Flaws

I began my newest campaign, the second arc of my Twelves Signs setting. The previous arc, Disharmony, was run with D&D 3.5e and for the second arc, Perfect Flaws, we are switching to Dungeon World. I ran my first combat in Dungeon World, and it’s as exciting to run as I hoped it would be. We all have some learning to do, but I can see how this is going to be a ton of fun.

A token effort

I was lucky enough to get in on a kickstarter to make some heavy duty FATE tokens. I love the feel of these things, and I am really looking foward to the clink of offering my victims players a chance at a little more power.

This shouldn't annoy me

The 5e DMG came out recently and Polygon took a look at it with the following headline: D&D’s last core book is your comprehensive guide to breaking the rules This shouldn’t annoy me, but I’ve said it before; If the first rule of running your game is, “ignore the rules”, maybe you should use a system with better rules.

its FATE

Why do you play tabletop roleplaying games? It’s a simple question but there are so many good answers to it I won’t even attempt to give a fraction of them lip service here. For me it is an opportunity to try something new out. To put myself into the head of someone who never existed in our reality, and try to figure who that person is and what he might do.

tell me a story

I don’t recall exactly how I became aware of the Storium kickstarter. Early enough that it still was climbing through its goals. “Very interesting”, I thought. I pinged some friends to gauge interest and found several receptive to the concepts. It’s a shared storytelling experience with some structure to help factiliate accomplishment, failure and progression. Useful tools, very much in the manner of some roleplaying games I’ve been interested in recently.

d20, what's my problem?

I’ve decided that if I sit down and write down my feelings about d20 I will be able to have a more rational conversation about it in the future. Right now I seem to go incandecent with rage just thinking about d20, and that just cannot be healthy. So here’s my attempt at articulating why I am trying to avoid d20 at all costs. Just to make sure everyone understands where I’m coming from, I’ve more or less been playing and running some form of d20 for the last 14 years: D&D 3e, 3.

Of mice and... more mice

Hail all those who are able, any mouse can, any mouse will, but the Guard prevail. -mouse proverb Mouse Guard 2nd edition is being printed. I bought my nephew the graphic novels a while back, and I really really want to sit down with him and other and run a game. More as it developers.

rules? what rules?

Imma link this article, you’re call if you want to read it or not, but its what set me off for this weeks rant. It’s a pet peeve of mine when someone extols the virtues of a game system, and then, almost in the same breath, talks about the large amounts of ignoring the rules they did to have a good time. Let’s be clear: the goal of gaming is to have fun.

You must gather your party before venturing forth

How often should gamers get together? Once a week? Twice a month? How much is too little or too much? It can be a tough balance between a regular game and a personal life. I am currently playing in a Shadowrun game. I think. The problem is that we only meet every other week, and we haven’t actually had a game in two months. There are all kinds of reasons for this, and mostly valid ones (probably).

Isn't it all about dungeons after all?

The Dungeon World (DW) character sheet pdf includes a GM sheet that give the priciples of running a DW game. I think it’s a good intro as to why I like Dungeon World (despite not having actually played yet). Draw maps, leave blanks I’m not good at maps, I admit this freely, and it’s definitely the sort of thing I think is best left in the hands of players. Unless you’re playing a game where geographical certainty is ascertained by advanced technology it’s one of those things where the players point-of-view is important.

I jockey data better when I'm high

*translated from Japanese Chichi, It seems that I’ve been pulled together with some other runners, and it’s turning into drek, fast. It should have been a milk run, and I guess you could say it was, but there were strings attached. The stiff we jacked really was stiff, and we wound up holding some paydata when we rolled his stash. Our Johnson was feeling loyal, generous, or possibly treacherous and keyed us in.

Its a grim world after all

I was fortunate enough to grab one of the spare copies of Grim World that was being sold from the bonus stock after the kickstarter fullfillments were completed. Once their reserve is gone it’s gone.

Dungeons and Drag-on

Late last year I began running games online. I don’t lack for local games, but I have friends who live in diverse areas and I wanted to have something to do with them. We chatted about what to play, I’d recently started getting into FATE and wanted to try that, but people generally wanted something a little more crunchy. I’m pretty sick of 3e so I vetoed that, and we ended up landing on Savage Worlds.


Boom Boom Bill and the Kaisers Kat Bill and the Royal Marines have a message for the citizens of Hamburg, “Don’t mess with the Royal Marines”. Normally it’s Bill’s job to cause destruction and mayhem, but the Kaisers kat has other ideas. Now the Royal Marines are stuck between a battalion of germans, a ticking bomb, and the most destructive kat in history. Boom Boom Bill in the Jade Tiger Mysteries In a case of mistaken identity Bill finds himself teamed up with a shoot first, ask questions later, yankee who saves Bill’s life before dropping him off a cliff.

Learning from my nephew

My nephew, Andrew, and I have a lot of fun together. I’ve been looking forward to introducing him to tabletop role playing more or less since the day he was born. Earlier this year I had an opportunity to give him a copy of Fate Accelerated Edition and a set of Fudge dice. We talked about character creation and a little about how a game would be played and the statistics of dice rolling.

Rules lawyering

I have, in the past, been accused of being a rules lawyer or at the very least of participating in rules lawyering. So when I talk about the practice, I like to think that I do so with a point of view that is informed. Rules lawyering is fun. It is fun to bend a ruleset to your whim and to out think your oppenent. It is fun to be the very best by using the rules as they are put down.

Shadowrun Returns

I recently finished the Dragonfall expansion of Shadowrun Returns. I haven’t enjoyed a roleplaying experience like that since the first Mass Effect game. The game was so deeply steeped in lore I just completely nerded out. The art was beautiful and the story was engaging and compelling. The combat and level system were good, not great. If you like cyberpunk, and especially if you like Shadowrun, I can’t recommend this game highly enough.

Atomic Robo

I’ve been reading Atomic Robo for a couple of years now. I lurv it. It really makes me happy, has a fabulous sense of humor, and action science is my favorite type of science. It turns out that just recently the guys over at Evil Hat have churned out the Atomic Robo roleplaying game. I am really looking forward to having some time to play this. Maybe with my nephew.


One of my favorite things about being a GM is when I set the scene and the players just run with it and practically take me out of the conversation loop. I love to see people being creative and I think that’s colored my mood and my opinions about roleplaying systems lately. For the last 3 years I’ve been running 3rd edition D&D, which I feel has been something of a drag to the creative process.

3 years

A couple of years back I started running a 3.5e D&D game. I wasn’t then, and still am not, a big fan of 3rd edition in any form. I’ve been running and playing some form of 3rd edition D&D for the better part of a decade-and-a-half and my problems with the system have only turned into resentments over time. And yet, here we are, 3 years later and I am still running that same game.

Into the Shadows

I am very happy to say that the bi-weekly Saturday game that I am a part of recently switched from Warhammer Fantasy 2e to Shadowrun 5e. I was having a good time with our WFG but I have been trying to get into a Shadowrun games for the better part of a decade. When our GM made the very casual comment that he recently picked up the SR5 book and “would totally be up for running a game sometime”.