Skill Challenges - Needle in a Haystack

When you run a skill challenge, give players choices beyond which skill to use. Skill challenges provide a way to engage the entire party in something other than combat. A well-formed skill challenge can pull quiet players out of their shell, and they can also provide a structure in which more dynamic players can still [...]

In Favor of the Shorter Adventure

Shorter adventures break up the campaign story into chunks that are easy for the Dungeon Master to run and easy for the players to understand. My first experience with Dungeons and Dragons 4e was as a player in Demon Queen’s Enclave. One of my buddies had picked up the adventure, and he wanted to give a [...]

Winter is Coming - Terrain Powers in a Guest Post

The Winter is Coming blog festival is in full force, organized Jim (Wombat) White. You should really check it out. Many skilled writers and game designers have contributed all sorts of winter-themed content. This is a great opportunity to introduce your players to the harsh realities of a frozen adventure. Instead of writing my usual [...]

Skill Challenges - The Woodland Sneak

Skill challenges can vary from the norms established in the Rules Compendium. Pass-or-total-failure checks can make for intense moments. This past week, the heroes in my game decided to sneak through a forest occupied by gnoll raiders. This seemed like a great opportunity for a skill challenge, but I always try to deviate from the [...]

Travel Via Skill Challenge

Skill challenges provide a great opportunity for a unified travel mechanic. Travel is almost always a bit of a problem in tabletop role-playing games. Should we handle it by skipping over it, as frequently happens in movies? Should we make our players tells us who is keeping watch each night? Do we just give a [...]

Swords and sorcery is the standard trope for Dungeons and Dragons, but a few rule changes can turn the game into a grittier, more “realistic” experience. A while ago, I posted a video excerpt from The Princess Bride and broke it down as a combat encounter in Dungeons and Dragons 4e. There is a good [...]

Replacing Death with Permanent Injury - A Draft

Permanent injury can be a great alternative to character death, but how much is too much? In a recent post about character death, I talk about the possibility of using permanent injuries as an alternative to character death. Since I am a big fan of old-school random tables, I thought I would provide one for rolling permanent [...]

Terrain Powers - Errol Flynn

The high-flying, daring antics of swashbucklers can make for an exciting combat. The sword fights of Errol Flynn and the other actors from the era of swashbuckling movies are still exciting to watch.  The combat is not at all static, and the rapid pace is a great approximation of what combat might “really” look like [...]

Terrain Powers - Light Sources

Sources of light are nearly always present, and they make for great terrain powers. Whether your character is a member of an angry mob, a swashbuckling  musketeer, or an evil priest, the odds are pretty good that you have some sort of light source nearby.  In movies, the hero will brandish a torch to hold back frightening [...]

Charles Galloway - A Meaningful NPC

Taking a deep look at one character can help us explore the advantages of taking the time to craft meaningful NPCs. In four past articles, we looked at how to create NPCs with whom the characters can form meaningful relationships.  Today, we will look at one NPC in detail and see how he was created [...]

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