Revisiting the Past: Why Cantrips Bug Me in 5e

Way back when the world was flat and I was playing 1e AD&D in the mid 1980s, a book came out that threw a number of monkey wrenches into our nice, ordered existence… Unearthed Arcana. There were some cool things like Cavaliers and extended item lists. There were some weird things like the new stat…

Revisiting the Past: Knowledge Checks in OSR

As I get more familiar with Mazes & Perils, I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to get “New School” players thinking of things in the “Old School” way. Last time we talked about how the idea of a “Perception check” in OSR systems doesn’t really exist, making players be much more paranoid…

Revisiting the Past: Perception Checks in OSR

As the recent publisher of Mazes & Perils, I’ve been working on getting more experience with playing the system at the game table. I have to admit that a) I don’t GM a ton these days and b) most of my tabletop gaming experience of late has been in playing D&D 3.5e and 4e (and GMing…

The GM’s Corner: Lessons Relearned Gaming with Kids

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to play with not one, but two different groups of kids at the game table and it proved to be quite interesting. This is a bit of a break from the articles I’ve been writing lately, but I think it’s important. Group #1 The first group played…

Denizens in the Dark

We’ve talked a bit about the physical properties of dungeons, but what happens when we need to populate those structures with inhabitants? Last week I brought up the idea of the original “purpose” for the dungeon and I’d like to expand on that a little. Let’s take the history of an old dungeon as an example……

Exploring a Dungeon’s Atmosphere

As I wrote up the “Wolves in the Walls” article about crafting dungeons, I realized I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about next. I’d covered ceilings, floors, and walls. A year ago I wrote about staircases. And I have an entire book about doors. What was left? Turns out, there’s quite a…

Personality Traits, Part 1 – The Lightside

Welcome again fellow adventurers! Let’s take on Personality Traits this time. In the last series of articles we discussed alignments and attitudes – views that characters have of their world. Now we get to add a few constants of character. We are working towards roleplaying in not only your first adventure with an interesting character,…

The Wolves in the Walls

By now we’ve covered ceilings and floors, I think it’s about time to focus on the walls of our dungeon and see how we might view them differently. If you search the collective consciousness (and the insane number of idioms we have in the English language), you can find some interesting sayings or phrases focused…

Where did that come from? (Item ownership)

Every item in a game world has a story. Sure, it might not be an exciting story, but it has a story. And when you go to a blacksmith or a “general store” you have a great opportunity to use an item’s story to help inspire plots in the world – or at the very…

Don’t Forget To Look Up

Whether you’re exploring a cave system, a dungeon, a jungle, or even an urban landscape, one lesson has stuck with me since playing through my first adventures in Dungeons & Dragons: Look Up. Why? You never know what be crawling around on the ceiling! Whether it’s simply spiders waiting to drop down, wrap you in…

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