Friday, July 9, 2010

Celebrating our 15th Session Mark

I'm pleased to say that my all-girl campaign has now reached it's 15th straight session. Meaning we have been consistently at it for about four months now, playing once a week. For those of you who know teenagers or know the way teenagers play Dnd, this is a rare feat indeed.
This has been the longest running game I've ever DM'ed, and for many of my PC's it has been the longest continuous adventure.
I'm very grateful to have had the dedication of my PC's for running a long-term game has so many benefits that 2 or 3 session campaigns just cannot provide. My improvisational game style coupled with the amount of time I've had as a DM has allowed a beautiful world ecology to spring up. An adventure that just started as a run-of-the mill slay the werewolves scenario has yielded many different countries, races, and cultures. My map grows every session much to my delight, and I keep liking what I find there. The long term game has also allowed a more complex religious system to the world, and a great train of mythology that players discover almost as rapidly as I do.
I never expected to get this far. My player's have loyally progressed almost to the end of a huge overhanging story arc. Our game has actually survived one of the PC's moving across the country. We've had dragons, dungeons, fights, marriages, political intrigue, and even a little time travel.
If you haven't had a long-term game yet, I highly recommend trying to start one. And if you have, then you know the brave new world I'm walking into.
So here's to my PCs! Birdie, Fawkes, Kavin, Isis, Momo, Saelana, and Pel, you are the best friends a Dungeon Mistress could ask for :)

Monday, July 5, 2010


One of the most interesting (and most challenging) aspects of being a DM deals with the creation of dungeons. Dungeons as a title trademark have to be exciting mixes of combat and traps (and a couple great treasures as well) to confuddle both the brawny and the intelligent characters in a party. And consequently one of the best things about designing dungeons, are designing the puzzles.
There is nothing better than creating a puzzle that sets your players wondering, a puzzle that hearkens back to the dungeons in Legend of Zelda video games is just so satisfying!
And yet creating such encounters are not easy, typically I draw my inspiration from games or obscure fantastical literature.
I once created an entire puzzle dungeon, for several PC's who were willing to do away with combat for a while. Creating that dungeon really challenged my DM skills and forced me to question just what line DM's should draw when puzzling their players.
There are three main types of puzzles that I have observed:
1. Word puzzles- I think every DM out there has thrown a riddle at their PC's now and then. Usually these are employed to get past doors, or nasty creature guards
2. Physical- This is when you shoot your characters out onto a giant grid and they have to figure out that to move safely they must follow a certain pattern. Or they must touch the statues in the correct way to open a door
3. Situational- These puzzles are the most complex, for they usually role-play based. Often you have an entity who wants something and the players must determine what exactly that thing is
I'm always looking for new puzzles and traps to use in my campaigns, if you all have any suggestions of where to look, or want to share your all-time favorites, the floor is open :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Overcoming Stereotypes...Trying to Get those Folks to Play

Let's face it...I love Dnd. And it's a big part of my weekly regime (two nights of my week). And consequently I wish to share this love amongst my friends and comrades. Because one, I'd love to have them understand how cool it is to be able to cast a level 5 teleportation spell or why it isn't crazy to turn them down for a hang out because I'll be busy being a Dungeon Master.
One such individual I would love to expose to the game is my charming younger sister. She has participated in a brief 4.0 session (not a true indicator to what Dnd is), she has actually asked to play once upon a time but I already had 7 people in the group...and now when I remind her of that, she claims to not remember -_-
This phenomenon seems to occur very frequently. I have a couple of friends who straight up refuse to play. My other DM has been trying to get his wife to play for what is so scary about Dungeons and Dragons?
The most common reason I hear is that "it is too complicated", most people look at the character sheet and turn pasty white looking as if they are about to run. Then a careful explanation on my part ensues in which I have to promise only a little addition is required. And true enough it does take a couple hours for a newbie to make their sheet...and by then you may have lost them.
This is why I have come up with my sucker-punch strategy. I'll have a new player just roll up ability scores, health, and I'll give them a weapon. Then you play a gentle (yet sufficiently cool) encounter to let them catch their footing and slowly introduce extra rules. I find a rat-infested cellar is usually a good setting, though for my brother I made a fight-club located through a secret panel in a bar.
For now, I've given my sister a copy of "Confessions of a Part-Time Sorcerer," a personal narrative about how a girly 30-something woman gets involved in Dnd and totally loves it. I'm hoping the comical approach and easy to understand explanation of rules and look at gamer myths will do some good...otherwise I'll have to sucker-punch her