Looking to become the next game master or dungeon master for your friends? Then let’s help you get your first game off the ground!
Before starting on your notes, you will want to figure out what kind of adventure you want to run. Do you want to use a campaign guide? Or do you want to homebrew a world?
If you want to use a campaign guide, check out the different guides available for your RPG. This option is great if you want a bit more of a pick and play option. Just make sure to take a few hours before each game to go over what the players may encounter based on their situation.
If you want to homebrew… well, the world is your oyster. Start anywhere. Want to name all the continents first? Do it. Going to make up all the maps first? Do it. Want to name each grain of sand in a vast desert? Sure, why not? Just be aware that it is going to take a lot more time to prep this kind of game.
No matter what kind of campaign you want to run, you will want to make sure you want to have some notes. These notes should cover a number of different areas.
Who are the important characters your players may interact with?
Who are the key figures of the campaign? What do they look like? What are their motives? It is key to have this information on hand so you can make sure that you are giving players correct information about a social encounter.
What does the scenery looks like?
What does the space look like? Writing out what a space looks like can be a great help when you are caught in the moment having to describe a location. Write it down ahead of time and add however much flourish you would like. When it comes time to recite the description, your players will be in awe.
Random NPC and Location Tables
No matter what you do, you are always going to have NPCs you never dreamed of showing up in your game. Having a list of names to choose from is greatly helpful in those moments of NPC improv, making it seem you knew about this character all along…
Now it’s time to run the game. You’ve got your research, your books, your notes – now what?
Running the game is the one true job of being a dungeon master, but also the job that people often feel the most worried about. The key to running any game are two rules: ‘the rule of cool’ and ‘yes, and…’.
Simply put, the rule of cool is if a player tries something that is so unexpected, so over the top crazy that it might just work… reduce the DC a bit. See if their antics pay off. If they succeed, then they have an awesome moment they are going to remember forever. If they still botch the roll, then they have a tragic miss that could end up even funnier than what they were initially trying to do.
The yes, and rule is a fundamental improv rule. Whenever a player asks to do something (as long as it is even slightly in the realm of possibility), then let them try it. The DC might be crazy high, but who knows? You may have heard another version of this rule – you can certainly try.
Now, get out there adventurer – become the Dungeon Master you were always destined to be!
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Welcome to Legend Lore! Here we are going to explore the history of some of your favourite monsters that are in numerous board games of all kinds. Whether it be an RPG, a campaign game, or a one off card game, the folklore behind these creatures can be very helpful when adding flavour to your own games!
Today, we will be covering three classic creatures that are everywhere in fantasy worlds – the coven hags, the feral werewolves, and the ancient dragons.
But, are they as simple as the games let them on to be? Let’s find out.
Hags are known under many names – witches, covenesses, weird sisters. These old women of the woods tap into the old arcane ways, crafting runes and elixirs from cauldrons.
The old stories tell tales about cruel and trickster women who are able to disguise themselves as animals and other people to torture others. The natural world around them seems to sense their dangers – animals avoid them, fires burn green and blue around them, and water begins flowing in the wrong direction. These omens are warning signs that a witch may be hiding somewhere nearby.
Different witches have different stories. The Baba Yaga is the biggest bad, kidnapping and eating children in the night. But there are also some famous witches that were known in mythology as goddesses and gods. Freyja, in Norse Myth, was one of the first ever witches to grace the planes, able to concoct elixirs and magics of all kinds.
However, no matter good or bad, witches and hags all have one thing in common – they love their tricks. Whether it be their relationship to fey or just leaning into the mysterious aspect of their nature, hags always have a trick up their sleeve.
Werewolves have an interesting history throughout history. More recently, we know werewolves as moody, ripped teenagers who get too involved with the vampire community. However, this was not always the case.
The old tale of werewolves is the tale of King Lycaon of Arcadia. Lycaon fell in love with a child of Zeux, and tried to impress Zeus with a large feast. However, Zeus was never satisfied – Zeus did not think Lycaon was a good match for his daughter because of Lycaon’s temper. In frustration, Lycaon tried to trick Zeus into eating human flesh, which angered the God. Zeus turned Lycaon into a wolf for his behaviour. Lycaon only transformed into a beast when his anger overtook him.
This old tale from Ovid is not the only rendition however. Bishop Patrick of Ireland tells how some Irishmen were able to turn themselves into wolves, leaving their human bodies behind. Their bodies had to be tended to, some they would leave them with their wives while the wolves went out to eat.
The Bishop looks at this tale with regard and awe, not as much harsh judgement as the tale of Lycaon. As they say – to each their own.
Dragons have seen multiple iterations across multiple different many different cultures. European dragons looks much more bestial than that of dragons from Asian cultures. Their personalities are also very different depending on locations. Western European dragons are historically known as covetous beasts, hoarding huge amounts of wealth. This comparison was easily drawn from the Biblical serpent, the one and only Satan, who tempted In Eastern Europe, some dragons were known to have wisdom, similar to dragons in Asian cultures.
However, this is not to say that all renditions of dragons are ancient beasts. In the tale of Sigurd, a hero of Germanic legend, Sigurd’s brother Fafnir turned into a dragon due to his greed. Fafnir murdered the king, Fafnir and Sigurd’s father, in order to obtain the family hoard. Over time, Fafnir began to change, before Sigurd found his brother transformed into a large serpent.
I guess family reunions are awkward for everybody sometimes, huh?
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We’ve all heard the stories before. There are playlists on YouTube and Reddit communities dedicated to those RPG and board game players. Always quick act, ready to back stab NPCs and PCs alike – just for the joy or coin of it.
They have their names – the edgelords, the Mary Sue’s, the lone wolves. They’re dangerous to any party because they can destroy an entire game by trying to control the circumstances.
How do you not end up as one of these creatures? Let me tell you a few tricks that will help you out.
This would should be obvious, but it can sometimes slip the mind. You are working in a party. Help each other out. Don’t go running out on your own to be a badass. You are just going to get yourself killed and have to re-roll a new character.
Some players won’t acknowledge their party at first, suggesting they are more the desperado-type. If this is pivotal to your characters back story, you can have it in there. Just make sure that you find a reason to be willing to work with the party. If you can’t find a reason, perhaps this character should be saved for a different adventure.
No matter your back story, background, anything – just make sure your character has a reason for being with the party. Otherwise, they will very quickly be out of it.
With any kind of RPG, you get what you put into it. As a DM, this means prepping sessions, coming up with plot hooks and adventures. DM’s have their work cut out for them in the beginning, but that doesn’t mean that players get to fly under the radar.
For players, you have to be willing to put in the time to help get your character invested in the game. Who amongst the party do they hang out with? How do they get along with others? Having scenes amongst yourself in the group is a great way to develop your character and find out who they really are.
Also, please, for everything holy in this world, take notes. It will save you a lot of headaches later.
Some players are very resistant to plot hooks. They will reject a plot hook by saying ‘my character doesn’t care about this‘, or ‘this isn’t something my character would be invested in.‘ This is the mark of either a new player or someone who wants to tell their own story.
If the DM offers a plot hook for you, then take it. Find a reason to want it. If you are currently running after something else, then it’s totally fine to reject it. However, if you are given a story hook by the DM, there is more than likely a good reason for it.
Not all plot hooks need to be played the same way. If it is a straight forward plot hook, then maybe there is a character aspect you haven’t explored yet that would make your character take a chance. If the plot hook is opposite to your character’s ideals or thoughts, then perhaps an opportunity for betrayal is afoot. Discuss it in-game with your party. Perhaps there is a member of your group that is holding a secret that gets addressed in this story. Maybe it is something seemingly small that will grow and reveal itself to be a larger conspiracy.
Never look away from a plot hook – you never know when it’s going to stab you in the back.
The biggest difficulty you hear about player characters is that they are resistant to change. Mary Sue’s and edgelord’s constantly believe they know their character inside and out, and no one will tell them otherwise.
Here’s the problem – people change. Characters change. Stagnate characters offer nothing.
Be open to change in the game. Perhaps an event will change your character’s mind about an event or personal aspect about themselves. When someone brings up a back story event, have a chat with them. Learn more about your fellow PCs. You never know how your character might change for the better – or worse.
If you ever confused about something, ask. Don’t be worried or nervous – your DM or fellow players are there to help back you up. An adventure is hardly ever accomplished alone. If you want more of a world question, ask as you character. That way, you can distance yourself from the question if you are nervous about asking.
In the end, no matter what monster your facing or what trial is ahead of you, everyone at the table is there to help. It is better for everyone if you are all on the same page.
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Welcome back to The Game Night Guide! Today, I thought we might be able to cover a long coveted knowledge that many wish to attain. It is an ancient art, going back generations. Some have attempted and failed miserably. But the few who are dedicated to this art create some of the finest works known to man.
What is this art you ask? Well, it is… mini painting.
It is not a simple art, but it is one that has incredible pay-offs. Being able to look to your battlefield as see your own work showcased has no greater feeling in the world.
So, how do you do it? Let’s get started.
Mini painting does not use traditional paints. Acrylic paints will not do in making your masterpiece. It will require special paints and brushes to make sure that you are going to succeed. Make sure that you get a variety of sizes for the mini paint brushes, as well as a dry brush.
The best way to get all of these items is to get a mini painting starter set. You can find these online from your local game shop!
If your mini(s) are black, then you are also going to need to prime them. Primer comes in white and grey, which will help make sure that the paint sticks to the mini. Otherwise, you’re hard work will seem squandered.
The base coat can be a bit tricky, but is by far the easiest part of the process. The base coat is the colours of your mini’s clothes and armor. You will want to diversify the colours to make sure that the whole outfit doesn’t blend together.
Depending on the size of the mini, you may be able to take a wider brush to cover the entire area in one colour of paint. However, if you are painting a smaller mini, like a humanoid, you are going to want to use the smallest brush to make sure to get all those hard to reach areas.
During this coat, make sure you double check all the hard to reach spots. You may find some white and grey areas that you accidentally missed while focusing on the more visible areas. The most common areas are the inside of the legs, underside of the arms, and underneath a cape or cloak.
Dry brushing is key to any finished mini. Dry brushing is when you take paint, wipe the excess off on a cloth, and use the little bit remaining to accent the figure. This is best done with darker colours, such as black, browns, or greens.
Before dry brushing, make sure you have wiped off as much of the paint as you can from the brush. Even if you think you have wiped off all the paint from your brush, you have not. Keep wiping it against the cloth until there is seemingly no paint on the brush.
Using black is a very good way to accent the notches and smaller features of the mini. It will help show off any smaller textures on the armor, capes, etc. that would otherwise be hidden by the first coat. Browns and greens are great to create stains of mud, dirt, or grass.
If you want a piece of armor or clothing to have a shimmering effect, dry brush with a lighter colour. Use either silver or a lighter version the same colour as what was used for that piece of armor. For example, if you want a dark blue cape to have a shimmering effect, dry brush a light blue onto the cape.
Those are the basics! Now, get out there, and start painting the PC minis of your dreams!
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Hello adventurers! I am so happy to announce a new series we are starting here at The Bag of Loot – The Game Maker’s Guide!
The Game Maker’s Guide is going to be dedicated to talking to people who make all types of board game content. From war games to campaign settings to escape rooms, we will be covering everything game making!
Today we are talking to Michael Iantorno, co-author of The Elephant in the Room rules changes for Pathfinder and the Hearth and Blade homebrew world setting (both of which he developed with his brother Mathew).
Enjoy the first episode!
Check out the Elephant in the Room here! https://michaeliantorno.com/the-elephant-in-the-room-feat-taxes-in-pathfinder-page/
Check out Hearth and Blade here! https://mammothisland.itch.io/hearth-and-blade
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Need some inspiration for your next D&D or Pathfinder game? Feeling some creative burn-out and not sure what to introduce in the next session? Trying to figure out your next character?
Sure, you could create another reskinned Aragorn, or run another Battle of Helm’s Deep. The trouble is that there is only so much you can take from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars before it begins to feel hack. Freshen up your D&D inspiration with this list of books that will help you think of your world in a whole new way.
The Name of the Wind is a fantasy classic. A part of the longer The Kingkiller Chronicles, the story of Kvothe is one known by thousands of fans across the world. If you haven’t read this series, I highly suggest you get on it right away to enjoy the story yourself.
A big reason why I suggest this as a read is because it shows the rule of cool in action. Think something is going be so cool it will change the tide of the battle, the nature of the game? Then run with it! The Name of the Wind knows how to do this while also keeping people invested in the story. There is a balance of context and adventure – something that every DM should master.
If you are planning a more light-hearted adventure, then Nicholas Eames is the writer for you. Kings of the Wyld is a comedy high fantasy adventure where adventuring parties are treated like rock stars. When one of the members of the former legendary adventuring party Saga finds out his daughter is in danger… it’s time to get the band back together. Featuring phallic puns, heist like hijinks, and other odd ball adventures, Kings of the Wyld is your next step towards a D&D game like no other.
The Troop is not your typical horror novel, and may not seem to lend itself to D&D or another fantasy setting. However, why The Troop is such a great addition to your D&D world is because of the great sense of alienation this book gives to it’s world. All of the ‘creatures’ that the characters face in the story truly make you feel ill – they are just so disgusting and alien that they become horrifying. Being able to describe monsters like this makes it especially useful when you want to introduce monsters from places like the Far Realm, or monstrosities in general.
Plus, if you like a good scare, this book has it in spades. Definitely consider it if that’s your bag.
The Locke & Key graphic novels are a great study in making the story about the characters while facing immense odds. The story follows three kids as they begin discovering keys that allow them to perform supernatural things. Their plans for these keys are thwarted by ancient creatures that wish to obtain the keys for a much darker purpose…
But the story isn’t dominated by the big bad and their plans. It has a lot to do with the characters trying to live their own lives, and how their decisions affect others. If the story were all about how the kids have to save the day, it would be dry and over done. The story gains stakes because you become invested in their lives.
This is a special lesson for DMs to learn. Let the characters take the lead of the story, not the arc. The arc is your job – the characters are your players. Let them do what they want. It will leave you all more invested than before.
What is there to say about Saga? This story is the perfect mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and family drama. It covers both the controversial and not with delicacy and ease. It makes the story about the characters, about their morals, and about their lives. They face staggering odds time and time again, yet the main characters survive with the help of their friends, family, and luck.
This is a great story to get ideas for NPCs and world building. The narrative juggles so many different kinds of conflict and how they influence one another. It is a great way to get an idea of how the world at large can affect personal relationships, and vice versa. I truly cannot suggest this series enough.
Any other books worth mentioning not in this list? Tell us down below in the comments!
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The Pathfinder RPG was introduced in 2009, taking the RPG world by storm. Many players were drawn to Pathfinder as an alternative to D&D 4th edition, which was criticized for being more of a combat strategy game instead of a role playing game. Pathfinder offered a modified version of D&D 3.5 that emphasized more role playing and customization for your characters.
With the release of Pathfinder 2nd edition in 2019, there has been a lot of discussion which edition players should jump into if they want to try the game for the first time. Where should you start? The new or the old?
What are the differences between the two anyway?
Let’s start off with the things both of these editions accomplish. Both editions operate on the D20 dice system, using the full span of dice from d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s, d20s, and d100s. Both editions are set in a fantasy world, and both utilize the classic RPG styles of class, race, and background builds.
The other major similarity that carries over between these two editions are floating modifiers. Modifiers are different abilities, skills, or other things that affect your rolls. Floating modifiers are modifiers that are not on your character sheet. Certain classes require you to do math aside from just rolling dice or a specified damage amount. This could include adding a multiplier on a damage roll based on your level, but not having it be easily referenced on a character sheet. Classes in first and second edition have plenty of these, so keep an eye out and make sure to remember when you can use them.
Pathfinder 2nd edition attempts to break from D&D by creating some of its own rules to add a larger than life adventurer. This is especially clear with the creation of Hero Points. Hero Points are given to players at the beginning of a session, as well as when players perform impressive or important actions through role play or risk taking. These points allow you to re-roll a check, saving throw, or even immediately stabilize when you are dying. With access to a Hero point at the beginning of a session allows your character to save themselves or others in a truly larger than life moment.
The biggest way that Pathfinder has pulled away from D&D is in its character stat building. In 1st edition, the character stat building rules were the same as with D&D – you either do a point buy system, or roll for your stats. With Pathfinder 2nd Edition, your stats are based on the ABC System (Ancestry, Background, Class). Each of these aspects will influence how your baseline stats (10s across the board) each increase or decrease accordingly. While this distinction does pull Pathfinder further from D&D 5e, it is interesting how the ABC System does limit a level of the role playing potential by restraining certain class-ancestry combinations, like that of D&D 4e.
The last big change between 1st and 2nd edition is class abilities. Instead of a traditionally defined class journey, you have lots of options ahead of you. Different levels give you different Feats, ranging in ability and origin. There are ancestry feats, abilities inherited from your family or race; class feats, class specific abilities that you can choose from; and bonus feats, which are accessible by all classes.
If you have a background with D&D and want something relatively simple to understand, I would suggest your start with Pathfinder 1st edition. It is grounded enough in the rules of D&D that even 5e players will more than likely be able to get a feel for the altered game mechanics rather quickly. With lots of books to be able to inspire your
If you are up for a challenge, Pathfinder 2nd edition is your best bet. Pathfinder 2nd Edition makes you feel like a powerful adventurer. You can expend Hero Points to gain re-rolls and automatic stabilization when at zero HP, and perform more actions in a combat turn than ever before. The consequence of this is that it is more that you need to remember when going into an adventure. Make sure you understand all of your abilities and skills before jumping into the game.
Do you know of more ways that the two editions of Pathfinder differ? Mention them down below in the comments!
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