Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2: Car Trouble was our second session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

A big thanks to Margot for sharing her session notes with me.

Stranger Things Season 3 — Episode 2
Stranger Things Season 3 — Episode 2: Car Trouble

Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

Our second session of Stranger Things — Season 3 was an even bigger success, as plots thickened, twists were turned, and an important character went missing. If you haven’t already, read the summary of episode 1 so that you’re up to speed.

Next up is a summary of episode 2, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 2: Car Trouble

Scene 1

Player Characters: Dustin, Mike, and Will.

The boys are back from school, watching TV at Mike’s house while it’s pouring with rain outside.

ThunderCats is playing on TV. In this episode, Mumm-Ra is planning to infiltrate the ThunderCat’s lair by assuming the identity of a common housefly.

The players then recapped the previous session and made some plans. It was a Wednesday, with Halloween coming up. They talked about dressing up as the ThunderCats, and maybe going to see Back To The Future.

GM’s Notes: Yeah, you all know the fan theories about Stranger Things Season 3 and Back To The Future.

Scene 2

Player Characters: Lucas, Hopper, and Steve.

Lucas comes into the station just as Hopper and Steve are heading out to fetch Steve’s car. Because of the rain, Hopper offers Lucas a ride.

They talk about El and Mr. Clarke, who are both acting strange(er).

Steve’s car is still parked along the side of the road, but a Brains 7 check reveals that the car has been tampered with, and a Brains 5 check lets the PCs spot tracks under the car: something with four legs and two-toed feet has ripped out the car’s innards!

GM’s Notes: I’ll share stats once my players have encountered the critters, in a later post.

Scene 3

Player Characters: Hopper, Lucas, and Jonathan.

Hopper tows Steve home, then, with  Lucas, heads to the school. They bump into Jonathan there.

Looking for El, they find the AV room locked. Once inside, they find that the equipment has been shifted (Brains 7 to spot this). On investigating, they find that the radios have been hollowed out and all their components removed.

They find Mr. Clarke and question him, but he only says that El went home. Hopper later gives Lucas an important assignment: “Watch him.” They figure out a plan to keep in radio contact, even though the radios are still full of static, which comes and goes in waves.

Scene 4

Player Characters:  The Byers Family.

The family is making dinner and talking about recent events.

It turns out that Will is still seeing visions of the mind flayer. He gets the feeling that it’s frustrated about something, is watching something he can’t see, and waiting for something.

Joyce calls Hopper, so by now, all the playable characters are pretty much in the loop, except maybe for Max and her step-brother.

GM’s Notes: If you think you know what D&D monster is the big bad in our campaign, leave a reply in the comments. Hint: there are two monsters running amok in Hawkins, both of which feature in most versions of D&D (if not all).

Scene 5

Player Characters: Hopper, Jonathan, and Nancy.

Hopper heads home, but on the way gets a radio call from Flo. She doesn’t realize she’s passing on a coded message from Dr. Sam Owens, asking Hopper to meet him at a predetermined location — the bar.

Hopper calls El, who is uncharacteristically fine with Hopper being late.

Hopper meets Sam at the Gas Station Bar. Jonathan and Nancy are seated at the back (okay, they’re underage, oops). Hopper doesn’t see them, but they catch enough of his conversation with Dr. Owens.

Dr. Owens mentions that equipment — with big names Hopper doesn’t understand — has been going missing from Hawkin’s Laboratory. He also discovered a department that is using radio signals and running tests on subjects, similar to what was going on with Eleven.

Dr. Owens slips a key card to Hopper, then leaves. He’s obviously worried that talking to Hopper is going to get him into trouble.

GM’s Notes: Nancy should be 18 in 1985, according to strangerthings.wikia.com. Jonathan should also be 18. That’s the legal drinking age where I live,  which is probably why it didn’t even occur to me to check before. Good thing Hopper didn’t spot them.

Scene 6

Player Characters: Nancy, Jonathan, and Joyce.

At the store where Joyce works. Jonathan now works here part-time.

Nancy is picking up some things when two men walk in from the local Radio Shack. They’re complaining about thefts and that they just had to let one of their employees go. The also mention the radio interference. Joyce confronts them about it, but they don’t have any answers.

After the men left, Nancy thought she saw Barb walk past the isles. Nancy called out, following quickly after, as Barb left the store. Jonathan joined the chase, which ended in a fight in an alley with Mr. Clarke (see the previous episode) and “Barb” turning on Nancy and Jonathan. I drew the Ace of Hearts and Mr. Clarke and Barb escaped, carrying off Nancy!

The credits rolled, and everyone was left eager to play episode 3.

GM’s Notes: If you’ve been keeping score, Mr. Clarke, El, and now Nancy have all fallen into the clutches of evil! Mwahaha!

 

GMing Stranger Things

Session Planning

My planning fills three-fourths of an A4 sheet, in two columns, 12 point font. I’ll only plot out four or so scenes, with a sentence or three about which characters are involved, what’s going on, and some stats and tests. Other scenes happen organically, based off what the players want to do. I usually plan a cliffhanger ending.

It’s a lot less prep than I do for a D&D game, which usually involves a few pages of notes, hand-drawn battle maps, miniature selection, and maybe even a spreadsheet to speed up combat.

The key to prepping a Stranger Things game is to define the major characters, their relationships, and the plots they’re involved in. Then you can set your players free to discover the story for themselves.

To keep track of everything, I use Twine.

Twine

Twine is usually used for building “Choose Your Own Adventure” style games, like our own line of solo role-playing adventures (now offered through our Patreon). It’s very easy to build a simple wiki with it too.

I’m assuming you know the basics of Twine.

My first node is a menu page, with an alphabetical list of PCs and NPCs, locations, and other subjects. Every other page looks something like this:

** Subject 011 / El / Jane**

1. Notes about Jane...

Back to [[Main Menu]]

Breaking that down, it’s a heading, a numbered list of facts about the character, and then a button back to the main menu.

It doesn’t take much to expand the wiki, which I do as part of my session planning. It gives me a good idea of what’s going on so that I can roll with whatever my players want to do.

Playing and Spoilers

It happens that some of your players might not have finished watching previous seasons of the show. Life happens — I’ve been trying to get through Ant-Man since Christmas* — I know how it is. If that’s the case in your group, you have two unappealing options: spoil those episodes or play around them.

We’ve tried our best to avoid mentioning special moments near the end of Season 2, and a player asked to cut a conversation between two characters that would have revolved around the final episode. We still had fun, and our game makes perfect sense. So, personally, I don’t think it hampers the game too much to tread carefully around some of the plot endings.

Till Next Time

Our next session is a week away, so check back next month for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

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* Finished watching Ant-Man last night, almost 2 months after I got it. Loved it.

Role-Playing for Two

Role-playing is important.

I’m not going into it now, but, partly, it’s about relationships.

Many of us have spent hours role-playing with groups of friends, but couples can have just as much fun rolling dice and creating shared stories together.

Photo by Alex Chambers
Photo by Alex Chambers

Role-playing for two provides a uniquely creative, shared experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

My wife and I have played several campaigns together. She loves a great story just as much as I do, and we’ve found that RPGs are a great way to spend time together and hang out with friends.

A while back, we started playing an undersea campaign. Just the two of us. She played a mermaid, while I GMed.

It was a blast.

But, for some reason, it took a lot of effort.

We never finished the game, and I have to ask… was it worth it?

I realize it took effort because, like anything worthwhile, it takes planning, commitment, and sacrifice to keep a game going. We had to make the effort to play, instead of taking the easy option and watching a movie.

We probably could, if we were 100% honest, have made the time to play.

But it was worth it.

Any chance for me to get closer to my wife, to understand her, is worth it.

When we played, I got to see inside her head in a way that I never could elsewhere. We created a shared world, with shared adventures.

And there was no audience.

It was our private little wonderland.

And every part of the adventure was tailored to suit our tastes. If it didn’t, it was a chance to talk about and learn what those tastes were. (Apparently, she’s not keen on gory monster encounters. Good to know.)

Would I run a game, just for her, again?

Yes, totally!

There’s even a Jane Austin RPG that could make for a really fun, romance filled game.

And, if you’re looking for adventures that support role-playing for two, then check out our Choose Your Destiny line, which is built for 1-on-1 and solo play.
Death Queen and the Life Stone is the first book in the series, followed by Forest of Secrets. You can support our Patreon to subscribe to the series and get the third book when it comes out.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In was our first session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games.

Stranger Things Season 3 - Episode 1: Tuning In
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In

In this series I’ll give you an overview of our sessions, with tips at the end for running your own Stranger Things campaign. Because Stranger Things Season 3 is not out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

I described a lot of the scenes to the players in terms of the camera, and talked about what the audience might see that the characters might not know, which is what I’ve done below.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 1: Tuning In

Scene 1

Player Characters: Mr. Clarke, and any of the kids (Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, or Will).

The camera tracks in from a high angle showing the Hawkins school. It’s a cold day and there are no kids outside.
The camera moves through the main doors and down the hall, passing hand-made posters of pumpkins and other Halloween decorations.
The text “November 1985” comes up at the bottom of the screen.
The camera pushes through a door into a class. Mr. Clarke is busy explaining scientific concepts on the board, his back to the class.
Cut to a medium close-up of El, who’s staring out the window.
Cut to what she’s seeing in her mind’s eye: scenes from the battle with the demogorgon in the school, ending with her fight with the monster in this same classroom.

Mr. Clarke turns around and notices El isn’t concentrating, again. He confronts her.

After that, the kids checked to see if she’s okay, but don’t learn anything.

GM’s Notes: El is struggling to come to terms with her new life, and doesn’t quite fit in yet. She’s also working through all the horrors she’s faced.

Scene 2

Player Characters: Joyce and Hopper

The two are sitting in the car, sharing a smoke. The radio is on. Hopper has just rescued Joyce after her car broke down, again. They talk about the anniversary of all the craziness.

At some point the radio starts crackling. Tuning it does nothing; the static is on every channel. Hopper realizes that this has been happening on and off all day.

GM’s Notes: It’s a good idea to hit your players with a bunch of questions, like:
“What’s on Hopper’s mind?”
“Does Joyce have a new love interest?”

Title Sequence

The title for Stranger Things Season 3 plays. The episode is entitled Tuning In.

GM’s Notes: Linking things as much as possible really works for a Stranger Things game. If I do my job right, my players will start freaking out every time the radio goes on the fritz.

Scene 3

Player Characters: Nancy and Billy. Later Mike joins.

Nancy hears the doorbell and goes to open the door. Billy is standing there. She asks him what he wants, and he says he’s there to see her mom. When Nancy asks her mom, she’s told that Billy has been hired to do odd jobs, like cleaning the pool and washing the car, because “your dad works so hard, honey, he needs his rest”.
On the radio, in the background, Would I Lie To You, by Eurythmics, is playing.

Cut to a montage with Billy doing jobs in the yard, often with his shirt off. This hops back and forth to Nancy and Mike confronting their mom. The kids used their mom’s distraction to milk her for around $50.

GM’s Notes: I expected things to blow up, with Billy or Nancy storming off. Maybe that would have happened if Billy was an NPC, but, for now, he’s right where I want him.

Me thinks the Wheeler family is doomed.

Scene 4

Player Characters: Dustin, Lucas, Max, Mike, and Will. Mr. Clarke joins them later.

We cut to El sitting in the AV room, listening to the radio. Again she’s spaced out, and doesn’t notice when the rest of the gang walk in.

The rest of the group asks El what’s going on, and she flips a switch that allows everyone to hear the static on the radio. She turns to Mike and says “Bad Men.” She points to his forehead, then to hers, then to his again.
They notice that Will is spacing out too.

Lucas decides that, if weird things are happening again, it’s time to go to the cops. He bums money off Mike (who’s flush with cash right now) and uses a pay phone to call. Flo at the Sheriff’s Office answers, but suspects it’s a prank call. Lucas manages to convince her that it’s serious, and she writes a note, which she puts on Hopper’s desk, under his coffee stained mug.

The kids then figure out, with the help of Mr. Clarke and a radio manual, how to calculate the distance of the transmission. Using a map, they figure that the transmission is coming from the Hawkins National Laboratory.

Lucas is creeped out all over again, and calls Hopper for a second time. This time Flo contacts Hopper over the police 2-way.

Scene 5

Player Characters: Hopper, Jonathan, and Steve.

A great scene follows with Hopper — who was patrolling those fields from Season 2 — sending up a rain of gravel as he high-tails it to the school.

On the way, Hopper finds Steve kicking the tires of his car in frustration. He offers him a ride.

Along the way, Hopper asks what Steve is up to lately. Steve isn’t doing much, and Hopper later offers him a job at the police station.

Cut to the kids getting on their bikes and heading to Mike’s house, after Mr. Clarke tells them that it’s getting late and Joyce has already called the school three times.

The audience sees Mr. Clarke (now an NPC) go into the AV room to clean up. He turns on the radio and listens to the static. A dark figure hits him, hard, from behind, and he slumps over.

At the school, Hopper and Steve meet Jonathan, who now works part-time with Joyce, and helps at the school’s photography club, which he is leaving from when they meet him. Jonathan takes them to the AV club.

The door is ajar, and Hopper pushes in to find Mr. Clarke standing in front of them. Mr. Clarke says that the gang have gone home. On questioning him, Jonathan figures out that there’s something weird about Mr. Clarke’s behavior, although there’s no sign that he’s been injured.

GM Notes: I had no idea what Jonathan, Steve, Nancy, and Billy would be up to in 1985, but I figure they are all out of school, but still in Hawkins, at least in November.

Mr. Clarke is no longer a playable character, and that pool of characters is likely to get a lot smaller before the end. Mwahaha!

Scene 6

Player Characters: Flips between Hopper, Steve, and Jonathan, and the kids. Later Dr. Sam Owens join in.

Hopper takes Steve to the Wheeler house, and Jonathan joins them there. They find that Mike already took El home, and has since returned. The remaining kids explain about the radio, and give Hopper the map showing the source of the radio disturbance.

Jonathan takes Will home (after Joyce phones the Wheeler’s).

Hopper drives home to find El asleep in front of the TV. She’s been watching “Growing Pains” and there are half-eaten Eggos on a plate in front of her.

Hopper puts her to bed before calling Dr. Sam Owens. The two have a code figured out and use it to arrange a meeting the next day.

In the morning Hopper finds out from El that the Upside Down is somehow involved, but it’s frustratingly difficult to get more information out of her.

After dropping El at school, Hopper picks Steve up and drops him off at the station. Callahan and Powell have a good go at him: “Didn’t we arrest you once?”

Hopper meets Dr. Owens, who tells him that the lab ran a mind reading program, using radio waves to boost the powers of test subject 009. It was an older project, and Owens is surprised that, if it’s the source, that it would even be running now.

GM’s Notes: If I did things differently, I’d give the teens and kids more conflict to react to during this scene. Maybe Max is having issues at home, and Lucas is taking some backlash from that. I’ll talk more about troupe style play later on, and why players might be disinclined to make things harder for themselves, which is exactly what you need in a Stranger Things game.

Scene 7

Player Characters: Kids, then Hopper and Steve.

We cut to the gang during recess. El is nowhere to be seen. We cut to El in the AV room again. She’s listening to the radio, hearing static. Mr. Clarke comes up behind her and places his hand on her shoulder.
Cut to black.

The credits play out with to the sound of the very really creepy Voice Carry song by ‘Til Tuesday.

After the credits we see Steve bringing Hopper his coffee. Steve asks “About my car…?”

GMing Stranger Things

Inspiration

Search “1985 TV Shows” on Google, look at movies that were released that year, and check out fan theories about the show. You’ll have plenty to work with.

Music

Search “Top 100 1985” on Google for those special tracks that’ll help you tell your story. Play them at the right time and they’ll make a big impact.

Scary Synth Sound Tracks

YouTube has a ton of tracks you could play in the background. Just search “stranger synths” and find something you like.

Player Handouts — Making Them Stranger

If you’re super into it and want the font, you can buy it from myfonts.com. Way over my budget though.

If you just want a title screen, a cheaper solution is makeitstranger.com. The image at the top of this post was made there.

Troupe Style Play

For Stranger Things Season 3 I didn’t just want the players playing the kids. Imagine watching Stranger Things without seeing what the teens and adults are up to! Instead, I gave them access to the main characters, and let them pick who wanted to play who, when.

In many ways this worked, because the players had watched the show and knew the characters. Also, the vs. Stranger Stuff engine is super simple, so it was easy to glance at a character sheet and play.

What didn’t work was that the players were unlikely to throw challenges at each other. Nancy and Billy could have made for a tense scene, but who’s going to throw a spanner in the works in a cooperative game? Next time around I’ll give the players more incentive to be confrontational, or use some of the PCs as NPCs to stir things up.

Even More Inspiration

The following video is the whole reason for our Stranger Things Season 3 campaign. It’s a long one, but worth checking out if you’re still unsure about running a game using the vs. Stranger Stuff rules, or how it fits with Stranger Things.

Our next session is 2 weeks away, so see you back here next month for more from Stranger Things Season 3.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Edit, 25 Jan 2018: Thanks to Ree for pointing out a few of the facts I got wrong. They’ve been corrected above.

Roleplaying on the Cheap

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is about Roleplaying on the Cheap, which is something I’ve written about before.

The thing is that roleplaying is a dirt cheap hobby, and you can get by with a handful of dice and some free rules you’ve downloaded off the web, like the basic Dungeons & Dragon rules.

But of course, things are never that simple. You’ll want the massive, beautifully illustrated core books. They’re awesome, and their awesomeness comes with a hefty price tag. Believe me, I know how it feels to shell out for a hefty tome. Living on the other side of the world means shipping often doubles the price on books. My local brick-and-mortar sells the Player’s Handbook for R 850 (South African Rand), which equates to just over $69 USD.

So, what’s a fan to do?
Piracy is rife, but I can’t help feeling that it’s killing the industry and the hobby I love.

I follow three principles when it comes to buying RPG books, which has helped me grow an impressive collection without breaking the bank:

Buy Cheap

Buy books on Humble Bundle, or second-hand, or when there’s a sale, like on Black Friday. Facebook often has local geek interest groups for buying and selling second-hand stuff.

Buy Big

Buy bigger books, instead of small ones. As an RPG publisher, I can attest to the fact that bigger books give you more bang for your buck. The recent Player’s Companion, at 174 pages, is a huge resource for a reasonable $14.95.

Player's Companion, an Excellent Buy if You're Roleplaying on the Cheap
Buy bigger books that give you more content for your money.

Buy Smart

Don’t waste your money on books you won’t use often. Rather, buy books that will lie open at your table, every session. When money is easier, then you can pick up those “nice to have” titles, like extra monster books.

Support the Industry, Support the Hobby

Buying books, dice, maps, minis, coins, t-shirts, and Patreon subscriptions all keep the industry alive and growing, and you should support the hobby by buying what you love. With some thoughtfulness you can do that and still chip in for pizza and pay the rent.

Happy Gaming

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Write – Design – Program: 1 Year in Games

July 25th, 2017, marked a year since I finished 5 years of teaching in Japan and began working full-time in the games industry. That’s 1 year in games! It’s been an up and down ride, but I’ve learned so much. Here are some of my reflections.

Write - Design - Program
Write – Design – Program

Once Upon a Career Crisis
In 2011 my wife and I left for Japan. I didn’t like the route my career was taking—working predominantly in web design. I felt I could do more elsewhere, and wanted out. Five years later I walked out of the classroom and into the games industry.

Go. Go Now
I started Rising Phoenix Games on the last day of 2010. Over the next five years, in my free moments, I worked hard to learn my craft and build the company. When I realized there was only so much I could learn on my own I started freelancing, which taught me loads more, but also brought new opportunities my way. None of that would have been possible without the five plus years of banging on my craft.

Starting and starting early was critical.

Incarnate Hybrid Class Cover

Build a Runway
Jake Birkett (Grey Alien Games) mentions this principle in his GDC talk, How to Survive in Gamedev for Eleven Years Without a Hit. A runway—or savings—helps you weather the time between project launches. I’m not a big drinker, never smoked, and love a bargain, so was able to step away from my last job with enough money to see me through till sales came in. There were sleepless nights, but it really helped. I still relish the opportunity to save, and am busy installing a rain water tank to cut down on our utility bill.

More Money Saved = More Money for Game Dev.

Together
We had this slogan at the summer camp I worked at: “TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.” Cheesy, but true. Partnering up has, in every instance, taken me further than I could have gone by myself.

Because of this, being a team player is important. Time is short, and people want to work with someone they know has their back and will deliver.

Together Everyone Achieves More.

Next?
I aim to stay in the games industry,  one, five, ten years and longer. Write – Design – Program is part of that, because this series is all about sharing insights. If you’re working in games, tell us what’s working for you.

Rodney Sloan is a game design, writer, and programmer at Rising Phoenix Games, a line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games, and a freelancer. You can find him on Twitter.

Write – Design – Program: Rats With Reason

You pass the stone gateway into the dungeon. Rounding the first turn, you come face to snout with a giant rat.

In most RPGs, digital or table-top, an encounter with a giant rat or three is a pretty standard introduction to combat. Remember Fallout? I don’t have anything against giant rats, I’ve used them, but good design happens when there’s a why.

Fallout again. Those giant rats were the neon sign, reminding you why Vault 13 was such a great place to live through a nuclear holocaust.

One of my favorite movies is Hot Fuzz, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Everything in the movie has a reason, everything is connected, and nothing is wasted. That’s great design.

Good adventure design, good game design, uses every opportunity to tell a bigger story.

Love game design? Subscribe for the latest tips and tricks from Write – Design – Program.

Rodney Sloan is a game design, writer, and programmer at Rising Phoenix Games, a line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games, and a freelancer. You can find him on Twitter.

Write – Design – Program: Lets Chat

Let’s talk about making games.

Specifically, writing for games, designing games, and game programming.

These are the three areas I’m excited about, thinking about, and working the hardest to improve on.

Let’s open up the conversation, talk about the journey, about learning new skills, grabbing opportunities, and making better stuff.

How?

Blogging makes the most sense to me. The medium has to allow for the conversation to happen.

Facebook also makes sense, because it’s where most of us lurk. Facebook can feed into the blog.

BUT! I don’t want to be another voice on the Internet claiming to know stuff.

I’ve met so many great people who are doing good work in the games industry, and it’s them, you, who would make this worthwhile.

I want to tap into the brains of better people and learn from them, grow, and be challenged. I’m calling you all out, because you’re doing good work and have something to share.

Camp Nanowrimo 2016 and Planning

Well, that’s April. I finished several projects, all ahead of schedule and within the target word count. Part of what I did took place on Camp Nanowrimo, and I’m glad I took part. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with a strong “team”—even if that team is working on vastly different things—and Camp Nanowrimo, with its cabins, provided just that.

Camp NanoWrimo 2016

Planning

I pulled off some great work this month; an adventure, some location writeups and a short story. I wouldn’t have finished on time or even close to the word count goals if I didn’t plan well.

What worked was not writing until I was sure of what I wanted to write. That’s it. No bullet points. No fancy diagrams or mind maps.

Let me say it again. Don’t write a word until you know exactly what you’re writing. For my adventure, knowing was writing the Adventure Synopsis. For my writeups, it was drawing the location maps. For my short story, it was figuring out why a hero was standing in a church with his eyes closed.

Don’t write until you know what you’re going to write.

Try it. Now. Write your own version of Little Red Riding Hood—you know the story. It won’t take long. You’ll add your own voice, your own ideas, but the plot will be the same. Watch how much easier it is than creating something totally new.

In our experiment, what you knew about Little Red Riding Hood was the plan, a writing goal. Your writing, your execution, was informed by the plan/goal, but not strictly constrained by it; you had some room to embellish in your own way. Plan your work until you have such a strong concept and then write, words will flow from your pen.

Watch this space because I’ll be posting more about some of the work I did in the months to come.

At World’s End

RPG Blog CarnivalImagine you’re coming to the finale of your years-long campaign. Friends are moving away, and you want to end with a memorable bang. A big bang. A cataclysmic bang! This time it’s not just the people and things the PCs love that are at stake, but their entire world that’s on the line. There is no turning back.

So how do you prepare for a world shattering session? With the Kickstarter for Crisis of the World Eater successful funded, we’ve got plenty of this sort of thing to look forward to. Maybe you, as a GM, are feeling inspired. Perhaps, as a player, you’re about to face your toughest challenge yet.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor M. Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The topic for May’s RPG blog carnival is “At World’s End”, and the best and brightest RPG bloggers will be sharing links to related posts, right here, in the comments below.

Anything is fair game; cataclysmic events, stats for planet crushing monsters, rules for the Apocalypse, or perhaps a hero’s survival guide to the End Times. We’re not playing games anymore, now we’re playing for keeps, winner takes all!

Don’t forget to follow the Phoenix on Twitter and Facebook, it’s the best way to keep up to date with the world shattering events that are about to be unleashed by ruthless GMs the world over.

More information about the RPG Blog Carnival can be found on roleplayingtips.com.

Don’t Be Boring

We don’t have much time on this blue planet. We just don’t. If we can do anything we put our minds to, and I really believe we can, then we need to get focused and not waste our precious time. We don’t have time to be boring.

I don’t want anyone, ever again, to have a boring rpg session. I declare it, henceforth, to be “verboten”. Great, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s break it down.

What Makes a Session Boring?

Low Buy In.

If you’re not invested in your game, then you’re going to have less fun. Some easy ways to get more involved include hamming it up, putting on those accents and, I can’t believe I need to say it, but roleplaying. I’m surprised at how many people (myself included), don’t roleplay.

 

Confusion

If you’re confused about the rules or the situation your character is in then you’ll have less fun. This is largely a GMing issue, but as a player you need to make an effort to call out your confusion and work out a solution with your GM.

 

Low Risk

The more your character has riding on the dice, the more fun it’s going to be. I know plenty of cautious players, and I don’t think caution is bad, but I do think it’s worth remembering that our characters are heroes, and they’re expendable. Put them on the line and enjoy the wild ride that follows.

 

What else can cause a boring session? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment and I promise to get back to you.