So, last week, I introduced the problem I was having with making engaging combat encounters with my teenage player group with a DnD homebrew system I’m running. And I promised an answer for my game design woes. Well, here it is:
I don’t really enjoy combat encounters myself. (Was that dramatic reveal worth the wait? Don’t answer that).
And from what I’ve seen, my players don’t either. But games like DnD are literally designed around combat encounters (or at least the first four editions were, I don’t have much experience with 5e); your character gains power and levels through EXP and loot obtained after beating up baddies. It’s more than something you’re encouraged to do via game mechanics; it’s the game’s M.O. It’s how you play the game.
Continue reading Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 2)
Wait, shouldn’t it be deserted island, not desert island? Wikipedia says that “desert” used to refer to any “desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied” place. Whatever; times change, language is mutable, we all face the looming inevitable–but until then, comics! Our panel of contributors shares their picks for absolute must-have comics for an island getaway/shipwreck scenario.
Continue reading Going Around: Desert Island Comics
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: scratchy sweaters, stuffing your face with pumpkin spice everything, and huddling around the ol’ bonfire for some skin crawling stories with friends. October is simply 31 days of all the best things that Autumn has to offer. Among these offerings is the beloved (and at times anxiety-inspiring) tradition of “Inktober”. Created by Mr. Jake Parker in 2009, the premise is simple: make an ink drawing once a day, for thirty-one consecutive days. Much like its literary sibling “NaNoWriMo”, Inktober is meant to inspire and challenge artists to improve their skills, and experiment with new ideas.
This year will mark my third consecutive Inktober, and I could not be more excited. You can bet your buns I’ve got a sketchbook and fresh pencils just waiting to be put to work. While Inktober is meant to be a fun creative exercise, sometimes it can be tougher than you thought to squeeze that drawing a day into your schedule. Perhaps you only have ten minutes to dedicate to your drawing, somebody’s getting married, you’ve begun living the plot of a heist movie, you’re facing a rough depressive streak or, maybe, you have just plain run out of ideas. Well, no worries babes, Miki’s gotcha.
You can find Mr. Jake Parker’s official Inktober 2017 page here.
Parker’s prompts tend to be single words, implying action or character qualities. I’m here to provide a list of 31 alternative/additional prompts to keep tough stuff like you producing quality Inktober magic when the going gets tough:
Continue reading Fresh Ink: 31 Prompts to Get the Creative Juices Flowing this Inktober
A generational gap that divides opinions on what makes a game worth playing
My first roleplaying game experience takes me back to when I was 12 years old. I stepped out of a December snowsquall into Phoenix Games, a hole-in-the-wall game store squeezed into a strip mall five minutes down the road from my house. After purchasing the 3.5 DnD Player’s Handbook there, I joined a game group made up of kids who would become my closest friends for the next six to fifteen years. The game was run by the owner of the store, a late gen-X geek in his mid-twenties who got paid either nothing to way too little to put up with all of our teenage bullshit for the next few years. It was a seminal time for me, is the picture I’m trying to paint here.
Continue reading Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 1)
Over the years, I’ve noticed a divide in the kinds of media that my friends and I consume. Most of the time, across mediums, my tastes tend strongly towards work with high production value; I’m all about skilled musicianship and a clean mix, and typo-ridden or trope-heavy writing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t believe production value is the be-all end-all of art, but I’m way more likely to give something a chance if whatever sample I’m checking out bears the hallmarks of careful craftsmanship. This means that a lot of the styles of media my friends love (like bedroom folk-punk and fanfiction) never really grab me. We’ll come back to that, but first, I need to tell you about how I couldn’t stop yelling about Dragonoak.
Continue reading Dragonoak and the Politics of Production Value
I can’t write to you about how to overcome behavioral addiction to video games because I haven’t done it yet.
I can, however, tell you a little about how I’ve struggled with it, and am beginning to learn to cope.
Continue reading On Overcoming Myself
Gryphonson Brews is a brewery and mixer founded by Kvelis Gryphonson, a wild elf paladin of the trickster god, who settled down after receiving a signal to retire from her deity. She has turned her adventuring fortune into a successful business in specialty liquors. Most Gryphonson Brews are made with mundane ingredients and can be found in taverns throughout the land, but the high-end Limited Collection, themed after challenges or locations the owner encountered as an adventurer, is made with exotic ingredients. One or two new brews are added to the Limited Collection every year, while old brews may retire from production.
Continue reading It Came From The Cellar: Five Fine Fantasy Alcohols
Music is really important to me. I grew up in a musical household and have to restrain myself from foisting jams on anyone who will listen, and my written work is often very much informed by music. While I’m inspired by everything from Carly Rae Jepsen to Cattle Decapitation and back, I can’t write to anything but instrumental music and red noise . Today, I thought I’d share four instrumental pieces that I enjoy working to and that hopefully are new to you. Explore; be curious. You never know which piece of music could be the key to coaxing out your next masterpiece.
Continue reading Four Pieces of Unusual Instrumental Music
In my last article about NPCs, I wrote that NPCs are memorable when they’re consistently useful or adversarial to the party. Outside of exchanging goods and money with the PCs, or harrying them at every turn, how can you make your party care about an NPC? Here are twenty possibilities.
Continue reading 20 NPC Traits Your Party Cares About
After reworking the haunted manor, I had just enough time between sessions to whip up the dragon’s lair it connected to before my group found their way to the mural in the furnace. Sorry the map is a little messier this time; I’ll admit to cutting corners and freshening up the original map I drew instead of using the old one as a reference for a new copy. To sweeten the deal a little, I’ve included a print-out-and-cut-up puzzle component. Once again, 5th Edition D&D terms are included here, but feel free to change, convert, or ignore them as you see fit.
This is the subterranean lair of Nakryativatka, the rare sort of black dragon that prefers trickery and traps to direct confrontation, and her kobold servants. All rooms are pitch dark and hollowed out from marsh clay unless otherwise noted.
Continue reading Dungeon Days: The Black Dragon’s Lair