April 15, 2019 Redlining, and What a Well-Placed Retcon Can Do For Your Campaign
Too often we think of the incidents in a campaign as set in stone. However, if you made a serious mistake, or if the group just isn't liking where you went with that last scene, remember that you can always turn back time. And sometimes you really should.
April 8, 2019 Rules Might Limit Dungeon Masters, But They Also Protect Players
RPGs are supposed to be group endeavors, but it often feels like the boss versus all the employees. Rules, in this case, act as a kind of union contract that both sides have to follow. That keeps things running smoothly, and helps limit bad calls that can lead to worse games.
April 1, 2019 All Games Are Inherently Political
Nothing irks me more than people who demand that others, "Get your politics out of my game!" What do they think the messages and arcs in these stories are about, if not politics?
March 26, 2019 The Helpful Hireling (An Alternative To The DM PC)
Nothing can ruin a game faster than a clumsy or frustrating dungeon master trying to bring their personal character into the game. If you want to fill in a party role, consider the Helpful Hireling instead!
March 18, 2019 5 Fantasy-Themed Board Games You Should Have On-Hand (For When Players Don't Show)
There's nothing worse than having to call off your game session at the last minute. However, having something you can play instead can often salvage the evening! Here are 5 options I'd recommend keeping on your game shelf just in case worse comes to worse.
March 11, 2019 Improved Initiative is Now on Pinterest!
If you've ever wished there was an easy way to browse through all my books, gaming supplements, and the greatest hits of blog posts I've written, well you may have just gotten your wish. Check me out over on Pinterest!
March 4, 2019 Judge Dredd is Lawful Evil
I see this conversation again and again in my feed, so I thought I'd weigh in. Dredd is not a badass LG character. He's not a LN enforcer of the law. He's a fascist thug who supports a blatantly and cartoonishly brutal, unjust, evil society... that's the whole point of his comic!
February 25, 2019 The Best Design Idea White Wolf Ever Had (Villain Design 101)
Taking ideas from other games and settings is a time-honored tradition among storytellers. And if you're wondering what to snatch out of White Wolf's canon, I would argue for the concept of the Ever-Present Threat. It saves you so much time and effort it's not even funny.
February 11, 2019 Want a D10 System That Does More Than Monsters? Try Era!
If you've been looking to break out that bathtub of d10s you've had since your last Vampire game, then Era might be just what you've been looking for. With several different flavors, it's easy to pick up, and just as engaging to play!
February 4, 2019 Sometimes I Feel Like The Quigley of RPG Design
Just because I prefer not to play a particular game, that doesn't mean I don't know how. Seriously, if you want to see my take on something, this here is the place. Ask... who knows, I might just do it!
January 28, 2019 Big Stompy Robots: A Fun, Rough-Edged Game For Mech Enthusiasts
If you've been itching for a game with mechs in it that didn't take itself so damn seriously, then you should check out Big Stompy Robots. BSR is a lot of things, but dreary and boring aren't on the list!
January 21, 2019 Understanding The Difference Between Story Freedom and Mechanical Freedom in RPGs
If you've ever played and RPG, then you know you can reskin almost anything within reason. However, a reskin doesn't mean you get to re-write the rules of the game, or alter what's on your sheet. For that, you need a game that offers you mechanical freedom.
January 14, 2019 Don't Have Time To Waste With Your Games? Check Out First Five Reviews!
I like to give signal boosts to other creators doing good work when I can on my Monday posts. This week I'd like to direct everyone's attention over to First Five Reviews, because there's all sorts of useful videos over that way.
January 7, 2019 Make Sure Your Character Is As Fun To Play With, As They Are To Play
A lot of the time we don't really think about how much fun the rest of the table is or isn't having. As such, we can get so wrapped up in our own shenanigans and story that we don't realize everyone else is thinking about quitting just so they don't have to deal with you anymore. Here's an antidote for this sort of situation.
December 31, 2018 Get Your Hands On Some Tormented Artifacts! (Especially if You're a LARPer)
Whether you're a LARPer, or you just enjoy having unusual accessories in your day-to-day, Tormented Artifacts is a site you need to check out. Seriously, Dmitri's work is guaranteed to start giving you character ideas!
December 24, 2018 4 Tools To Help You Control Your Dice At The Table
If you're tired of your dice going all over creation and back, knocking over minis as they go, then I'd recommend trying one of these simple solutions on for size. Cheap to buy, or easy to make, whatever suits you!
December 17, 2018 No One Cares How You Game At Your Table (So Play The Way You Want)
There is a lot of vitriol in online discussions about gaming. However, before you get all wrapped up in another one, ask if the people you're talking to are at your table. If they're not, then why do you care what their opinions are?
December 10, 2018 If You Don't Want The Players To Win, Get Out Of The DM Chair!
This game isn't you versus the players; you're all on the same side, here. If you don't act like that, or lose sight of it, then people will very quickly get tired of your game.
December 4, 2018 5 Phenomenal Authors Whose Work You Should Check Out
If you're looking for new authors to read, I've compiled a list of some solid talents you owe it to yourself to check out. Especially with the holidays, and the new year, on their way!
November 26, 2018 Need Cheap Minis? SCS Direct Has You Covered!
Ever wish you could get huge batches of monsters, zombies, robots, and aliens at a reasonable price for your campaign? Well, here's a tip that might make your (and your players') night!
November 11, 2018 5 Dick Moves That Probably Mean You're A Bad DM
Being a good DM is hard, but spotting a bad one is easy peasy. Here are 5 major mistakes you should avoid whenever possible.
November 5, 2018 What's The Difference Between 3rd Party and Homebrew?
It might not make a lot of difference to other people, but this is something I felt compelled to address.
October 29, 2018 Endless Realms: Infinite Possibilities, Unnecessary Complication
Sometimes I like to review games that people send me. And even if this opinion isn't positive, you can rest assured it's honest.
October 22, 2018 Dungeon Masters, Do Not Add Insult To Injury (Without Consent)
Critical fumbles are all the rage, and some dungeon masters feel compelled to include them in their games. Here's why you shouldn't, and some advice for how to go about it if you absolutely must try.
October 15, 2018 I Make Stuff For 5th Edition Too, You Know
Most people think of me as a Pathfinder guy, which is generally true, but I do create content for 5th Edition DND as well. If you haven't seen some of the projects I've been putting out, then allow me to direct your attention to some of them!
October 8, 2018 Why Are Games So "Politically Correct" Now? (Hint: It's Money)
Ever wondered why games seem to be catering to the crowd who wants more black women paladins and gay half-orc, and fewer fantasy mainstays? Well, it's a pretty basic matter of numbers.
October 1, 2018 Towering Defenses Against My Chronic Bad Rolls
Dice towers are all the rage, but they're often pretty pricey. So even though I'm not all that crafty, I decided to try my hand at making a few of my own. Here are the results so far!
September 24, 2018 Have You Tried Adding Survival Aspects To Your Games?
While they may not be for everyone, survival-style games can give your table a rather unique set of challenges. Even if they're not normally your thing, you should give them a fair shake to see what you think.
September 17, 2018 DMs, Please Stop Arbitrarily Limiting Race Choice in Your Games
There are few things more guaranteed to douse a player's enthusiasm for your game than by denying them an option that doesn't break any of the rules of the game, or your setting. So the next time you consider saying no to legitimate race options, consider asking yourself why you're saying no... and how you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
September 10, 2018 If You Haven't Tried a Bennies System, You Should Give It a Shot
The bennies system may be most famously a part of Savage Worlds, but it's far from the only system that uses this mechanic. And unlike a lot of mechanics, it's one that can actually make your game more enjoyable almost regardless of the system.
September 3, 2018 If You're A DM, You Should Get Your Hands On A Chase Deck
Some DMs prefer to abstain from all the extra tools out there, focusing on the basics of the game. To each their own, but trust me when I tell you that you will never regret having a chase deck on hand when you run your game.
August 27, 2018 DMs, Stop Putting Up Barriers To Multiclassing
As someone who plays almost exclusively multiclass characters, this obsession some DMs have with arbitrarily making it harder is frustrating. Please, stop doing it. All it's doing is hurting your game, and annoying your players.
August 20, 2018 Instead of Gold, Why Not Give Players What They Actually Want?
Anyone who's played a fantasy RPG (or, really, any kind of RPG) knows what a pain it can be to keep track of all your loot. But, instead of just tossing out mountains of gold, why not just put the items you're players are going to buy anyway in their path?
August 13, 2018 Dice & Glory! Have You Heard of Ranger Games Publishing?
There are a lot of options out there. If you're looking for a universal system with some heft to it, then you might want to take a gander at the Dice & Glory system. After all, what could it hurt?
August 6, 2018 Looking For Deals on Terrain and Minis? Don't Go To Your FLGS
While I'm normally all about supporting your friendly local gaming store, if you're looking for cheap, affordable minis and map terrain, that isn't where you're going to find it. Instead, if you're willing to get a bit crafty, here are some alternative locations you should check out.
July 30, 2018 Is Pugmire Worth Playing? (Short Answer, Yes!)
If you're a 5th Edition player or DM who has contemplated Pugmire, you should absolutely check it out. This week, I thought I'd provide a general overview, and lay out my reasons for why I think it's a great game.
July 23, 2018 Avoid Submission Encounters (They Throttle Player Agency)
Player agency is one of the most important things in RPGs. As such, submission encounters tend to be all-around terrible ideas... especially if the players figure out you're just going to keep adding more mooks and/or hit points until the party loses, gives up, or runs away.
July 17, 2018 More Than One Way To Skin A Cat (Avoiding Railroading At Your Table)
Running a game is tough, and we thank all the DMs out there willing to step up and do it. However, if you are constantly creating one, and only one solution to a problem, you might be making your games into an unnecessary railroad.
July 9, 2018 The First Rule of Improv Often Applies to RPGs
If you've seen improv acting, then you know that the first rule is to never, ever say no to something that just happened. Roll with it, incorporate it, change it, mess with it, but do not fold your arms and refuse to go forward. This rule could solve a lot of problems at some tables.
July 3, 2018 5 More RPG Characters We Should All Stop Playing
My first list went up two years ago, and it has become my most popular entry by far. So I thought I'd attach this follow-up list with 5 more concepts that I think we could stand to see a lot less of.
June 25, 2018 Barbabyan- Some PCs Start Early
I love silly animated shorts featuring barbarians, and Barbabyan is definitely that. So come on in, and check it out!
June 18, 2018 Killing Characters Won't Solve Out-Of-Game Problems
How many times have you, as a DM, wished you could just kill someone's character because that player is being a pain in the ass? Well, don't do that. Especially if you think that by mercing that character will get the player to change their actions.
June 11, 2018 DMs, Do Not Pull A Bait-and-Switch on Your Players (It Won't End Well)
DMs often feel this need to try to pull the rug out from under their players. But there's a big difference between a plot twist, and a bait-and-switch. Here is why you should avoid the latter, if you want to play it safe.
June 4, 2018 Are You Not Entertained? (5 Tips For Engaging Your Players)
Player engagement is tough. If you've been having trouble keeping your players' heads in the game, here's some advice for how you can do that.
May 28, 2018 5 Tips For Better Teamwork in Your RPGs
When you sit down at the table, most of the time you're going to be part of a team effort. So if you're looking for ways to start combining your efforts, here are some of my suggestions.
May 27, 2018 I Don't Really Care What Gygax Had To Say
Too often when discussing what works or what doesn't work in RPGs, someone also appeals to statements made by famous creators. However, you can't hold up an opinion (no matter how respected the person giving it is or was), and claim that wins your argument.
May 21, 2018 Keep An Eye Out For The "Soldiers And Serpents" RPG
If you haven't read David Taylor II's book series about rebel angels and the war of heaven, you really should. Even if you haven't, though, the card-based RPG based on his setting is in open beta right now, and it's free! So stop in, and check it out.
May 14, 2018 Random Tables, Courtesy of Azukail Games!
As folks know, I tend to work on a dozen things at any given time. If you haven't seen any of the stuff I've made for Azukail Games, well, now's your chance to go check it out.
May 7, 2018 "Trust At The Table" or "Why I Like Games With More Rules"
I tend to prefer rules-dense games. The reason for that is not because I'm an elitist who wants new players to do three weeks of homework before I let them share a table with me. It's because it takes a totally different skill set to design a game than to DM one, and a lot of people who can do the latter think they can do the former when they really shouldn't.
May 1, 2018 No One Wins When You Play A Stupid Wizard
There's always one player who thinks it's a lark to play a wizard with a 10 Intelligence. It isn't. You're not helping anyone, you're not amusing, and you're the reason overcoming challenges is harder on everyone else. Instead, consider building someone who is useful, but in an unexpected way.
April 24, 2018 Grab Some City and State Flags To Add To Your Campaign's Lore
If you're tired of wracking your brain to come up with banners, crests, and lore for your game, relax. Just take a moment, and look up your city and state online. You'll probably find everything you need once you find your state seal, flag, and motto.
April 16, 2018 Looking For A New Gaming Blog? Then You Should Check Out Brisko's Table!
And now, another of those instances where I try to big-up a fellow creator's signal. If you haven't been over to Brisko's Table yet, do it now. When it blows up, you can say you were there before it went mainstream.
April 2, 2018 What Pathfinder 2.0 Means For Me Personally, And Professionally
So, there's been a lot of buzz about Pathfinder's new edition. After a lot of thought, research, and contemplation, here is what I'm seeing. Updates as the play test trickles down into my hands.
March 26, 2018 Want Cheap Minis? Wizards and Five Below Are Here To Help!
Gaming minis aren't cheap, but if you have a Five Below near you, then you might want to see if they have copies of Wizards' Arena of The Planeswalkers. Trust me, at $5, it is an absolute steal!
March 19, 2018 Dungeon Keeper Radio Needs Your Help!
When a bunch of local gamers decided to start Dungeon Keeper Radio, our goal was to reach monetization. While we hit the original requirement, YouTube changed the rules on who gets to have ads on their videos. Here's how you can help us get from where we are, to where we need to be!
March 12, 2018 Humble Peasant, The Greatest BBEG of All Time!
How many times have your PCs just roughed-up peasants for looking at them funny, or having the temerity to tell them no? Well, ask what sort an antagonist that behavior could give birth to, over time.
March 5, 2018 5 Tips For Playing Better Core Classes (The Complete List)
For folks who've been following my "5 Tips" lists, I've collected all the advice I put together for the core classes. If you want to see me keep going with other base classes, or branch out into other areas of advice, reach out and let me know!
February 26, 2018 Light A Candle, And Begin Your Epic Adventure!
This is one of those weeks when I big up a signal for someone making a quality product you should all know about. If you've never heard of the Epic Adventure Candle Company, well, now you have!
February 12, 2018 Don't Want To Make Your Own Maps? Try Axebane's Maps On For Size!
Making maps is a huge expenditure of time and effort. So, if you don't want to make your own, consider using some of these pre-drawn maps courtesy of Axebane!
February 5, 2018 5 Tips For Travel in RPGs
Getting from Point A to Point B in roleplaying games takes up a lot of narrated time. However, if you think it through, all that road time can be just as engaging (and full of RP) as the crawl through the dungeon, or the battle with the dark forces.
January 29, 2018 DMs, Think Outside Traditional Templates (Orcs Can Be Vampires, Too, You Know!)
How many times have you seen a werewolf, or a vampire, and thought, "Yup, saw that coming."? Well, if you want to keep your players on their toes, try adding templates to monsters, races, and creatures that don't typically get those templates. Vampire orcs? Demon trolls? Werewolf fire giants? Sky is the limit, folks!
January 22, 2018 Make Characters More Unique By Adding, "But On The High Seas!"
How often do we end up playing the same old characters from the same old places? Why not spice them up a bit? All you have to do is add the phrase, "But on the high seas!" to your character description to see where it takes you.
January 16, 2018 Before You Start Your Campaign, Know Where You're Going
If you're the DM, you need to have a full picture of where your game is going. That means you need to know where it's stopping in addition to where it's starting, though.
January 8, 2018 Odam's "Of Dreams and Magic" Review (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
I like to pop my head out of my comfort zone from time to time, and check out games I haven't read or played before. Odam's "Of Dreams and Magic" is a game with an awesome concept... but there are some hurdles you should be prepared to jump before you play.
January 1, 2018 3 Questions For Fleshing Out Criminal Characters
So, you're playing a criminal. Bully for you! But before you check that back story box, ask yourself who this person is. Why do they do what they do? What would make them stop? You don't want to be just another forgettable RPG thief, after all.
December 25, 2017 If You Want A Better Game, Give Your PC Connections To The World
One of the most important things you need to do when it comes to your PCs is to make sure they have actual connections and history in the world your game is taking place in. Because that history will make it a great deal easier to make them an active part of the story.
December 18, 2017 Herd Your Players, Don't Railroad Them
If you have a linear game, players are going to get bored as soon as they discover the railroad tracks. So, instead, learn how to give your players the freedom of choice, and to roll with the decisions they make. Know what you want them to accomplish, and keep the specifics free-flowing. You'll be a lot less frustrated that way.
December 12, 2017 What Are Your Victory Conditions?
If you're a DM, you probably want your combat to be engaging, and exciting. If you're noticing that your fights are getting boring, though, ask yourself this simple question; what are your victory conditions?
December 5, 2017 Raise Your Dice Cup, and Remember Wyatt Ferris
Wyatt Ferris was an avid gamer who, sadly, took his own life after a traumatic brain injury. To remember him, and to help tell the stories he never got a chance to be part of, consider making Wyatt an NPC in your next campaign.
November 27, 2017 So... I Just Found Out About Nerdarchy!
I'll be honest, I live under a rock. Sometimes, though, I get tagged by some folks doing quality work. Nerdarchy definitely falls into that category, so I figured I'd share them with all the folks who (like me) don't go exploring the corners of the net all that often.
November 21, 2017 What Does It Take To Be A Professional DM?
If you've ever thought about going pro as a dungeon master, trust me, you're not the first. And while you totally can make this work for you, it's going to take effort, prep, time, and more than a little luck.
November 6, 2017 Avoid Shoelacing Rolls, And Watch Your Game Improve
Everyone loves rolling dice, but how much is too much? If you're making your players roll checks to walk across a crowded inn, or to properly sharpen their swords, chances are you need to back off a bit. Just ask yourself this key question; does it matter?
October 30, 2017 Build Your PC Backstory Using "Knife Theory"
How many times have you wondered if your backstory has enough stuff in it for the DM to work with? Well, with Knife Theory, you'll never have that wonder again.
October 23, 2017 Avoiding Tonal Dissonance Always Makes Your Game Better
There are few things less immersive than a game filled with tonal dissonance. Even if you don't know that word, you know the feeling. So remember, establish a tone for your game, and keep it going. Consistency can do wonders!
October 16, 2017 A Skull Armchair For The Necromancer in Us All!
How many times have you been sitting at the head of your table, thinking, "I really wish I could send a simple message to my players that they're all going to die tonight." Well, French designer Gregory Besson has just the thing... a skull armchair!
October 12, 2017 Some Thoughts on Player Agency
Player agency is a bit of a hot-button topic for a lot of players, as well it should be. These are my thoughts on the subject, and hopefully they can help some players and DMs find common ground.
October 3, 2017 Want Your Games To Be More Engaging? Then Make Failing Interesting
When we fail in an RPG, most of us just slump, and pass the baton to the next player. However, if you want to keep played attention and engagement, make sure that things happen when the PCs (and monsters) fail, as well as when they succeed.
September 25, 2017 Introduce Some "Period" Technology In Your Game
While trying to argue that events or technology must be a certain way in a fantasy RPG because that's how they are in the real world is an asinine statement, there is something to be said for taking inspiration from some of the awesome things our ancestors did. And some of those things aren't common knowledge... like shopping malls, vending machines, and air conditioning!
September 18, 2017 Starfinder is My Biggest Gaming Disappointment of 2017
People have been asking what I think of Starfinder. Here are my very disappointed thoughts on the subject.
September 12, 2017 Alignment is Performative
Alignment is one of the most hotly debated subjects in RPGs, but one of the reasons for that is that many players aren't working from the same point of reference. So, to put many arguments in perspective, alignment is performative. Or, put another way, alignment is about what you do, not about how you feel about it.
September 5, 2017 Player Versus Player is Something You Need Permission For
How many times have you had PCs arguing endlessly, and you just wanted them to roll initiative and get it over with? Well, that works at some tables... but you really need to talk about it with your players before you let any of that PC on PC action near your campaign.
August 28, 2017 The "Modern Adventures" Kickstarter Has Begun!
If you've been jonesing to play Pathfinder in the modern day, this might be the announcement you've been waiting for.
August 21, 2017 Want Some Cool Props At Your Table? Check Out Paper Forge!
It seems there's an endless stream of creative types out there making content to help our games improve. If you haven't come across Paper Forge, though, you need to check them out. Here's why!
August 15, 2017 Make A Character Creation Document For Your Game (Seriously, It Helps)
Many DMs just turn their players loose when it comes to character creation. They might ban a certain race, or a certain class, but too often players are left to their own devices. If you want more fodder, and more ammunition, then have them fill out a character creation document. It makes your job so much easier.
August 8, 2017 3 Reasons I Write So Much About Pathfinder
Over the years, I constantly get people writing in to ask me why I focus so much on Pathfinder, often ignoring system specs for games like 5th edition, Fate, Savage Worlds, and others. Well, this week I thought I'd answer that query.
July 31, 2017 Don't Let FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Dictate Your Gaming Choices
How many times have you walked away from a game, only to hear from your friends who still play how much fun they're having? That feeling telling you to give it another try? That might be your fear of missing out, and it can be insidious.
July 24, 2017 Like Improved Initiative? Then You'll Love Dungeon Keeper Radio!
If you're a fan of my work here at Improved Initiative, then check out Dungeon Keeper Radio. It's a YouTube channel run by several local gamers, and I'm happy to lend them my pen, and my voice. So why not stop in, and listen for a while?
July 17, 2017 For Tighter Games, Consider Nixing Random Encounters
If you want to run a smoother, tighter game, and save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief behind the DM screen, consider getting rid of random encounters. They're needless fluff and padding, and they're making your job unnecessarily difficult.
July 10, 2017 A Good DM Knows What The Party Can (And Can't) Do
People are always looking for DM advice, so here's one of the most basic pieces that keeps getting overlooked. Know the PCs at your table, and what they are and aren't capable of. Trust me, it makes everything go a whole lot smoother.
July 3, 2016 If Your Character is Evil, Own It!
How many times have you seen players who will claim their PC, who has committed everything from cold-blooded murder to the darkest of crimes against gods and nature, isn't evil? They're just chaotic neutral. You're not fooling anyone, and you're really just frustrating yourself, and your table. If you're gonna be bad, own it!
June 30, 2017 It's Okay To Admit There Are Problems In Your Hobby
While not an official blog post, this article generated a HUGE amount of interest. A lot of hate mail (first time I was ever called a "race traitor"), and a lot of people who reached out to thank me for writing it. Mostly, I just want more people to understand that if you identify strongly with your hobby, it's important to separate criticism of it, or from people who participate in it, from criticism of YOU, specifically.
June 26, 2017 High Level Games is Taking Things To The Next Tier
If you've been following High Level Games, well, you're already aware that they're expanding their operations. What you might not know, though, is they need your help to make this plan work.
June 19, 2017 Tabletop Audio Gives DMs Free, Hand-Crafted Soundtracks For Their Games
Every DM out there has tried to add a bit of ambiance to their game at one time or another. If you're looking for great free soundtracks made with gamers in mind, Tabletop Audio has your back.
June 13, 2017 Run Smoother, More Enjoyable Games (By Removing XP)
How many times have you, as a DM, just lost track of how much XP your players have? Or, worse, you've got players killing everything in sight in the hopes of leveling up faster? Well, a good way to solve that problem is to introduce something called milestone leveling. Trust me, it's a lot easier.
June 5, 2017 Why Are We So Intent On Screwing With Paladin Alignment?
Any time paladins come up, there's always someone clamoring for their alignment restriction to be taken away. But let me draw your attention to two famous fictional characters; Superman and Captain America. You know what happens every time they stop being paragons of good and righteousness? Yeah, everyone realizes that some heroes just aren't the same if they're not heroes, and things return to their former alignment.
May 29, 2017 The Dehumanization of Other Races in RPGs
How often have you kicked in the door and started swinging without trying to see things from the other perspective? After all, they're just orcs/kobolds/goblins, what's the big deal? Aside from the fact that these races are sentient, and possess a culture and a language of their own, which could turn this quest to root out a monster warren into a 2nd-level genocide.
May 23, 2017 Time is of The Essence When it Comes to Challenge in RPGs
Do you feel you're going too easy on your players? That they're just cake-walking through the challenges you're presenting them? Well, ask yourself this... is time a factor you're taking into consideration? If not, it might be time you started.
May 15, 2017 Is The CIA Using RPGs As Training Tools?
We play games for fun, but there are some folks out there who do it to keep their minds sharp, and their problem-solving skills a little extra vicious. We don't know their identities... but we do know the alphabet organization they work for.
May 8, 2017 The "Naked In Prison" Test For Your PC
We all love our shiny toys... but what do we do when they get broken, stolen, or we just can't use them? Always ask what your options are if someone steals your gear.
May 1, 2017 Looking For A New Podcast? Check Out Tabletop Game Talk!
The name says it all, really. If you've been cruising for a new podcast that's all games all the time, check out Tabletop Game Talk!
April 24, 2017 Don't Use Character Build Guides If You Aren't Familiar With The System
The Internet is a glorious place, and if you're a gamer you will find a plethora of guides for playing every type of PC you can think of. But if you don't actually know the rules, then the guide might as well be written in a foreign language. Learn the basics first, then try your hand at more advanced stuff.
April 17, 2017 "Broken Stairs" Are Something We Need To Address in The Gaming Community
As a follow-up to last week's post, I talk about broken stairs in the gaming community. These are the people we warn other players about... but why? Why are we warning people on the down-low, instead of fixing the problem so we don't have to warn anyone?
April 10, 2017 Want To Have More Fun At Your Table? Stop Playing With Jerks!
We're all aware of rule 0: don't be a dick! If you have people at your table who regularly break this rule, ask yourself this one, simple question. Why am I still playing with you?
April 3, 2017 Rare Elements Foundry Makes Amazing Fantasy Coins
Rare Elements Foundry is one of those places you almost have to be at a con to find. And whether you love LARP or tabletop more, these coins are certainly a prop you could make use of.
March 27, 2017 Operator Error is The Biggest Cause of Problems in RPGs
I've been at my fair share of tables, and I've seen a lot of problems. I also spend an inordinate amount of time on the Internet, reading through posts by players asking for help. What I've determined is that most of our problems would be solved if we just opened the rule book, and did some actual reading.
March 20, 2017 Critical Perception Check Leads To Hidden Templar Caverns in Shropshire
How many times have you had a player randomly roll Perception while walking across a field. Have you ever wanted to just give them something snazzy for rolling a natural 20? Well, here's some real-life inspiration for you.
March 13, 2017 Remember, The Party Is Under No Obligation To Adventure With You
Heroes, champions, and determined individuals often form teams to take on greater threats. However, like any team, it's important to remember you are not guaranteed a place. If you're a liability to the team, they won't put you in the field. Just because you're a PC, that doesn't mean you don't have to meet everyone else halfway.
March 7, 2017 Alternative Adventures: 6 Adventures That Aren't Your Average Dungeon Crawl
Most adventures fall into one of two camps: dungeon crawls, and combat slogs. If you want to break up the routine, though, you should check out these 6 alternative plots written by yours truly, and published over at Kobold Press.
February 27, 2017 Sir Pencival, The Knight of The Silver Signature
Even the best of us need help sometimes. I've recently accepted a squire into my service, and you can rest assured that he is bold, brave, and unflinching in the face of the work we have to do. Allow me introduce Sir Pencival, the Knight of The Silver Signature!
February 20, 2017 Spoons or Spell Slots? How Much Energy Do You Have?
Dealing with an invisible illness is no joke. It takes a lot of energy, and every task has to be budgeted. A lot like spell slots, actually. And thus a new, and geeky, way of explaining living with an invisible illness is born!
February 14, 2017 No, That Class Isn't Broken (You're Just Throwing The Wrong Challenges At It)
Go to any gaming thread, and you'll have someone decry how this or that class, ability, feat, or strategy is broken. Nine times out of ten, though, it really isn't. Powerful in a certain situation? Sure. But it only seems broken when you can constantly rely on that solution to solve your adventuring problems.
February 6, 2017 The 10 Trials of The Master Bladesmith
While we tend to think of them as fantasy creatures, like trolls, orcs, and unicorns, master bladesmiths really exist. And the trials their work has to pass are grueling in order for them to earn that prestigious title.
January 30, 2017 The Tale of The Black Samurai (Yes, There Really Was One)
History is full of myths, and generalizations. We tend to think of countries as monolithic, especially when they segregate themselves. However, the legend of Yasuke, the only black samurai, still endures in Japan.
January 23, 2017 Miller Knives Creates Brutal Post-Apocalyptic Blades
If you're a fan of Dystopia Rising, or the Mad Max series, then you're going to love the projects Miller Knives has up. A scimitar made from a wrench, a tomahawk forged from a railroad spike, and a razor-sharp blade made from a horseshoe are just a few of the more unique pieces this YouTube channel boasts.
January 16, 2017 Don't Ban a Character Concept Just Because One Player Screwed It Up
How many times have you gone to your DM with a character you're really enthused about, only to hear you can't play it because someone the DM gamed with six years ago played that class, race, or concept, and did it badly? Doesn't that sound a little silly to you?
January 9, 2017 Make People Interact With Your Character (Not Your Class)
If you've got problems with other players pigeon-holing you based on your class, here are some simple ways you can stump them, and force them to interact with the character you brought rather than the meta concept of their class.
January 2, 2017 Post-Apocalyptic LARP Accessories That Won't Break The Bank? Check Out Karol B!
There's nothing worse than having a cool idea in your mind, but not being able to make the costume for it work. Which is why if you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fashion, a regular attendee of Dystopia Rising games, or you're prepping for Burning Man, you should check out Karol B's store.
December 26, 2016 Let Them Reap What They Sow (Actions and Consequences For PCs in RPGs)
We've all been at a table with one of those players. We're trying to advance the story, and follow the plot, and for some reason they're threatening the mayor, then burning down the inn. As a DM, you can't stop players from taking certain actions, but you can make sure those actions have appropriate consequences.
December 19, 2016 Why Pathfinder is My Game of Choice
I've had a lot of people ask why I would play Pathfinder over other systems. Systems they view as simpler, neater, and cleaner than Pathfinder. So this week I thought I'd explain why, at least for the time being, Paizo's game is sitting pretty as my default RPG.
December 12, 2016 Get Your Stormpunk On, With Rhune: Dawn of Twilight!
Rhune: Dawn of Twilight is a Pathfinder compatible setting brought to you by Jason Sonia. If you want to shake things up at your gaming table, this is a great way to do it.
December 5, 2016 Need A Character Portrait? Ask Tamaj, She Can Help!
We all have an image of our characters in our minds, but not all of us have the skill to illustrate them. Fortunately there are artists like Tamaj, who specialize in bringing our inventions to life.
November 28, 2016 Where Dr. Strange's Somatic Components REALLY Came From
Doctor Strange is one of Marvel's biggest smash hits, and it proves that even obscure characters with unusual origins can make bank on the big screen. If you've been wondering about the Sorcerer Supreme's unusual gestures, though, Improved Initiative has the scoop on where they came from.
November 21, 2016 The Realism Police Are Coming!
How many times have you had a player complain about how a game's mechanics are, "just so unrealistic!"? Well, this week I address that, and point out that game mechanics are not meant to be realistic; they're meant to create a sense of internal consistency, and to provide functional methods of conflict resolution. That's all.
November 14, 2016 A Rebuttal to The "Hack" of Using Spells to Control Your Alignment
As we all know, casting spells with the evil description is now an evil act. Ditto good, lawful, and chaotic spells, too. Sure, you can use that knowledge to nudge your alignment... but why? What sense does that kind of metagaming even make?
November 7, 2016 What is a Grognard?
The gaming community is full of all sorts of weird terms, and unusual mores. The word grognard is typically used to refer to gamers who prefer (sometimes violently) older editions of a game. Or just older games in general. But where did this word come from, and what does it really mean?
October 31, 2016 GM Rule #1: Always Review Characters Before Starting A Campaign
When I hear stories about DMs who run games without reviewing a party, or a player sitting down without getting his character approved by the storyteller, I titter a bit. Sadly, though, this seems to be a much bigger issue for DMs, especially newer DMs, who haven't learned they need to have access to all character specs... including the PCs.
October 17, 2016 Challenge Rating is Just a Number
There are some DMs out there who treat an encounter's CR as if it were an ironclad requirement. However, just because we have a certain expectation of children in certain grades, that doesn't mean we force them to meet our expectations. If they're tearing it up, we let them skip ahead.
October 10, 2016 "Multiclassing" Is Not A Dirty Word
I've seen a lot of DMs complaining, of late, that multiclass characters throw them for a loop. Why can't players just use one class? Well, because you're building a character concept, not an MMO avatar.
October 3, 2016 The Key Armory is Here to Help You Unlock Adventure
If you've been looking for some sweet gaming swag, or a gift for that hard to shop for gamer in your life, The Key Armory has got you covered. Seriously, if you don't immediately want the sword of kings to open your gaming closet, or a Final Fantasy gunblade for your armory, you might need to reconsider your life choices.
September 26, 2016 The REAL Reason Power Tiers Are A Useless Concept in Pathfinder
Chances are you've heard of power tiers by now. If you like them, you are not going to agree with anything I had to say this particular Monday. Or maybe you will, who knows?
September 19, 2016 Historians Discover Secret Libraries in The Bindings of Early Printed Books
You know when printing first became a big deal, and it replaced older, handwritten books? Did you ever wonder what happened to those copies? Well, it seems they were torn up, and used to reinforce the new generation. Historians have been finding "secret libraries" that have gone unseen for centuries, and they're discovering some unusual things.
September 12, 2016 No One Is Accusing You Of Having "Wrong, Bad Fun"
If you've ever been in an online discussion about RPGs, you've likely seen someone raise the shield of, "stop calling me out for having wrong, bad fun." This is pretty much akin to telling people to respect your freedom of speech, or complaining about how your audience is too "politically correct." You're looking for a way to block criticism without really thinking about the issue at hand, and you should stop.
September 5, 2016 There's A Huge Difference Between Power Players and Cheaters
I'd like to take this week's post to set the record straight on something. If someone at your table stacks bonuses illegally, mixes class abilities that don't work together, or ignores negatives when it's convenient for them, that person is not a power player. They're a cheat, plain and simple.
August 30, 2016 You Don't Get Brownie Points For Building Ineffective Characters
Roleplaying games are all about the story. However, that story is dictated by a set of rules and mechanics that players, as well as the DM, have to follow. If you put together a character with a bunch of frivolous abilities that aren't useful in game, then you shouldn't be surprised when you can't do what someone who invested their points differently can.
August 22, 2016 Carolina Game Tables Offers Tabletop Gamers Affordable Luxury
Have you ever wanted to get a dedicated gaming table? Of course you have! Could you afford one? Not at the prices places like Geek Chic charge. But there may be a way you can get a fancy gaming table without going bankrupt. The answer is Carolina Game Tables.
August 15, 2016 I Hit it With My Axe is Back! (Even MORE DND With Pornstars)
I Hit it With My Axe is a campaign that hooked our attention some time ago with the unique premise that the players were drawn from the adult entertainment industry. It went on hiatus some time ago, but now it's back, and ready to start kicking ass all over again!
August 1, 2016 What Are The Rules For Writing About Pathfinder?
If you're thinking about publishing your own module, or starting your own gaming blog, it's a good idea to give Paizo's community use rules a once-over. Seriously, it will save you a LOT of headache, and heartache.
July 25, 2016 Who Wants Me To DM For Them At Gen Con?
So, if you're going to be at Gen Con this year, and you're a fan of Pathfinder, why not stop on by and sit at my table? I'm running The Gravebinder's Daughter, and the details are inside.
July 19, 2016 Authentic, Handmade Calligraphy Tools From Green Man Calligraphy Supply
If you're a calligrapher, or you just want to make a more authentic-looking handout for your game table, you should check out Green Man Calligraphy Supply. Seriously, they do old school writing the right way.
July 11, 2016 Would You Like To See More Pathfinder Character Conversions?
As my regular readers know, I do a bi-monthly series of character conversions. Whether it's superheroes, the cast of Game of Thrones, or just Badasses of History like Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt, I use my knowledge of Pathfinder to create a full, playable guide. I'm running into a bit of a hurdle, though, and here's how you can help!
July 4, 2016 Why HeroQuest is So Great!
For those of you who didn't catch this video from Bardic Broadcasts, I wanted to give it a bit of a boost. Because seriously, it makes me smile every time.
June 27, 2016 RPGs Don't Require a Morality System
We're so used to seeing morality systems in our games that we never stop to ask if they're really necessary. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't... here's how you tell the difference.
June 20, 2016 Cyborgs Aren't Just For RPGs Anymore
If you've been watching the news, you've likely seen stories of the advances were making in robotic prosthetic limbs. However, you haven't seen anything like this double feature before. Something straight out of Metal Gear on one side, and a tattoo gun that will make you think about getting some ink.
June 13, 2016 6 Tournaments To Add Some Bloodsport to Your Campaign
A tournament can often be the centerpiece of an entire campaign arc. If you want to save the work, here's a series of 6 tournaments that you can add to your world to give it some additional flavor.
June 6, 2016 Why We Need To Pay What Games Are Worth
Sticker shock is a regular outrage among RPG players these days, but what lots of fans don't think about is how much it actually costs to assemble the materials they're buying. A closer look at the costs reveals that they really are getting quite the deal.
May 30, 2016 Dungeons and Dragons Finally Got Its Own Ted Talk!
If you're a follower of Ted Talks, then you know they generate huge interest in areas of technology, culture, and philosophy. Well, we finally got a talk about Dungeons and Dragons, so it's possible the world of RPGs might have a new influx of people coming sometime soon.
May 23, 2016 Why "Appeals to Fun" Are Pointless in RPG Discussions
It had to happen sooner or later. This week we talk about "bad wrong fun," and I try to remind the Internet that just because a game isn't the sort of thing you like, that doesn't mean the people playing it aren't having a blast.
May 16, 2016 You Can't "Overthink" An RPG (And Here's Why)
Whenever people stat discussing in-depth subjects like good and evil, nature versus nurture, and where players sit on the moral spectrum, someone always comes along and demands we stop "overthinking" the game. You can't overthink a game, because it's about a story. Even if it doesn't all show up on-screen, every fact you know will help shape that story.
May 9, 2016 Want Help Designing Your Own Monsters? Check Out The Genius Guide To The Talented Bestiary!
Building your own monsters isn't easy; all it takes is one wrong decision, and you've got a TPK on your hands. If you want to spice things up, without worrying you're swinging too soft or too hard, then check out The Genius Guide to The Talented Bestiary. Trust me, you won't regret it.
May 2, 2016 There's No Such Thing as "Bloat" in RPGs, and Here's Why
Whenever a game gets popular, and starts producing a lot of supplementary books, inevitably someone starts complaining about "bloat". They're complaining about something that doesn't exist, and this week I explain to you why bloat isn't real in RPGs.
April 25, 2016 Be Like Thor, Drink "Heavy Bubbles"
If you haven't seen Halfthor Bjornsson's commercial for Heavy Bubbles sparkling water yet, you really are missing out. Of course, why stop there? Why hasn't your epic-level bard signed an endorsement deal for a certain brand of lute yet? The possibilities for hilarity, and back-stabbing, are endless!
April 18, 2016 The D20PFSRD Open Gaming Store Wants to Help You Make Money
If you've ever played Pathfinder, chances are good you know about the D20PFSRD, and the Open Gaming Store that's attached to it. If you're a blogger, or just an enthusiastic gamer, the Open Gaming Store has an opportunity that can help you get paid while you game. Improved Initiative has the details.
April 12, 2016 Absolute Good, Absolute Evil, and Alignment in RPGs
The alignment system is one of the surest ways to start an argument among gamers. However, we rarely think about the underlying implication; that good and evil are objective things, which can be used to judge anyone, regardless of culture, background, history, or any other complicated factors.
April 4, 2016 6 NPC Organizations To Spice Up Your Campaign
A while ago I wrote up several NPC organizations for Kobold Press. This week I'd like to gather them all in one place for DMs who are looking for some sweet, free content to make use of.
March 28, 2016 Can We Stop Making "The Batman Argument" About Wizards?
I get it, you really like wizards. Don't get me wrong, I'm as much a fan of an arcane powerhouse as the next player. But when you decide to start measuring your endowments, maybe you should step back and realize that your home might be made of glass.
March 21, 2016 OffWorld Designs Has The Geek and Gaming Gear You Need
I go to a lot of conventions, and I meet a lot of companies who make things geeks like. OffWorld Designs is one of the most fun, and if you haven't been to see them yet, you really should check them out. Especially since I've got some sweet promotion codes to save you some cash.
March 14, 2016 Calm Down, No One is Taking Your Games Away
One of the most common negative comments people leave on social media and forums when it comes to gaming is an accusation that poster is, "taking away their fun." How, precisely? Neither I, nor they, can make you do anything, and the louder you shout, the more popular you're making the post you've taken offense to.
March 7, 2016 Check Out Chaotic Animations For Classic Animation With Attitude
Do you miss when animation had heart, and told you a story that made you sit down and really listen to what was coming out of your screen? Well, then check out Chaotic Animations as they bring a new story filled with a classic tone straight to your screen.
February 29, 2016 When Did We Stop Trusting Our Dungeon Masters?
Trust is important between you and your dungeon master... and between you and that guy who runs your tabletop game. If players aren't cool with you rolling your dice behind a screen, then it might be a good idea to find out what before you start the game.
February 22, 2016 Gargoyle Forge is Your New Destination For LARP Gear
If you're an enthusiastic live action roleplayer, you know the struggle for finding long-lasting gear. Worry no longer, though, because Gargoyle Forge is here to give you exactly what you need.
February 8, 2016 Ancient Mythology Family Trees, Fully Illustrated
Have you ever wondered what the family trees of your favorite gods would look like, fully illustrated? Well, wonder no more!
February 1, 2016 The Importance of "Session 0" in Your Tabletop Games
If you've ever noticed that your parties are always disjointed collections of bizarre characters that have little to no connection to each other, or to the campaign you're running, then you might want to institute "Session 0" as a new part of your DM strategy.
January 25, 2016 Heckler & Koch Design Real Life Boba Fett Armor
Have you ever wanted to strap on a set of Mandalorian body armor, like the sort infamous Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett wears? Firearms giant Heckler & Koch has your back.
January 18, 2016 Are You Reading Chris A. Jackson? Well Why The Hell Not!?
If you've been looking for a new author to read, and you've powered through all the offerings on my page, then why not check out Chris A. Jackson? Trust me, he's got what you're looking for.
January 11, 2016 Dungeon Crate is The Subscription Box Service Gamers Have Been Waiting For
If you love the idea of subscription box services, where you get a crate of cool stuff every month, but you've always wished there was one for tabletop gamers, well, Dungeon Crate is here for you.
January 4, 2016 Are You Following Simon Peter Munoz? Because You Should Be
Simon Peter Munoz is a fresh face on the scene when it comes to game design and blogging, but he's making up for lost time by providing a metric ton of content. Why haven't you checked it out yet?
December 28, 2015 Concept Policing is Something Gamers Should Stop Doing
As gamers, we aren't always going to agree. We each have our personal likes and tastes. However, if someone's concept doesn't violate the rules of the game, or the established canon of a world, then you saying, "but paladins don't act like that," is worth about as much as a DM's fart.
December 21, 2015 Why Character Optimization Isn't Bad (The Stormwind Fallacy)
You hear all the time how players who optimize their characters can't roleplay. This is a logical fallacy, and it has a name. That's why this Monday, I explain (and debunk) the Stormwind Fallacy.
December 14, 2015 Want More Fae in Pathfinder or 5e? Help Support The Faerie Ring!
The fae have often gotten short shrift when it comes to fantasy RPGs. They show up occasionally at lower levels, but are pretty well forgotten by the time your party becomes heavy hitters. If you want to delve deeper into the world of the mischievous and the whimsical, then help support The Faerie Ring from Zombie Sky Press!
December 7, 2015 Your Fantasy Armor May Be More Historically Accurate Than You Think
Historical inaccuracy is one of the most ridiculous points we talk about when discussing RPGs, but it keeps cropping up anyway. If you want some assurance that the armor you've given your PC is legit by the standards of actual history, i09 has dug up some of the more ballin' headcases ever to make their way onto the field.
November 30, 2015 The 5 Totally Useless Statements You See in Every RPG Discussion
We all love to talk about our favorite games. Now if we could just talk about them without using these 5 phrases, that would be great.
November 23, 2015 The Undead Feats Are Now Available From TPK's "Feats of Legend" Series!
Last month I brought you The Infernal Feats, and this month I'm following it up by making things a little more necrotic. Stop on in, and take a look at the latest project from myself, Brian Berg, and Simon Munoz!
November 9, 2015 The Iron Hand of Gotz von Berlichingen
And you thought your murderhobo was a badass. German mercenary Gotzn von Berlichingen lost his hand, and then decided he didn't need it anyway, as he had a new platform for an even more devastating weapon; the iron fist!
November 2, 2015 Dungeons and Dragons, Gangsta Edition (You've Got to See This)
RPGs have been lampooned and spoofed by mainstream culture, but no one does it better than some of our own. Mann Shorts has produced several shorts, but perhaps their most infamous to date is Dungeons and Dragons, Gangsta Edition. Check it out!
October 26, 2015 Hell Yes! TPK Games Releases "Feats of Legend" and "The Demonologist"
For those of you who are fans of my third party content, check out these two recent releases from TPK Games, both of which have contributions from yours truly.
October 19, 2015 The Reason Rules Matter in Roleplaying Games
When we sit down at a table, we are all agreeing to a social contract. If the DM changes those rules without informing the players, then he is breaking that contract. You're all in this together, and you need to treat each other like a team in order to get a good game.
October 12, 2015 A Rapier Hidden Inside a Snake Bracelet
With all the amazing weapons and class abilities in our games, we sometimes forget that reality can be even more badass. As evidenced by what most people refer to as the snake rapier.
September 28, 2015 Just How Adequate is The Adequate Commoner?
The Adequate Commoner is a third party Pathfinder book from Misfit Studios. The idea is for you to play an entire game as commoners... does it work? Yes, in its way.
September 21, 2015 A Forum For Finding RPG Job Postings
If you've been looking to break into RPG design for a while, but you haven't been able to find a good place to start looking for jobs, well, here's where your quest begins!
September 14, 2015 Bob Kramer Creates Adamantine Kitchen Knives
Have you ever felt your life was incomplete without a star stone knife? Well, you're in luck! Bob Kramer is a real-life master smith who forges kitchen knives from the hearts of fallen stars.
September 7, 2015 How To Get A Job Designing RPGs
If you've always wanted to get paid to create RPGs, instead of just playing them for funsies, here's some advice from someone with industry experience. Just remember, not every adventurer survives to the end of this quest.
August 31, 2015 "Tournament of Rapists" Creates Unpleasant Wave of Sick in The RPG Community
RPGs have had a lot of rocky moments recently, but this one takes the cake. Tournament of Rapists was not a joke, and it has led to a lot of people questioning just how far we've actually come as a hobby.
August 24, 2015 Actual Lawyer in New York Demands Trial By Combat (Because It's Not Illegal)
Trial by combat is a huge spectacle in Game of Thrones, but that spectacle may soon be coming to New York city. Or, at the very least, the idea of making that kind of demand.
August 17, 2015 Nobel Prize Winner Peter Higgs Answers Your Dungeons and Dragons Physics Questions
You know you're curious. Why not see what Peter Higgs has to say regarding physics, and how it interacts with completely made-up realms of fantasy?
August 10, 2015 Feats Reforged IV From TPK Games is Now Available!
For those of you who've been itching to get more of the Feats Reforged series to your gaming table, the fourth installment is now available. Not only that, but I'm the one who wrote most of it.
August 3, 2015 Get Great Pathfinder Content From Raging Swan Press
If you're a fan of solid, third party Pathfinder content then you need to stop by Raging Swan Press. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go look!
July 27, 2015 Esteban Colon is a Multi-Talented Performer Who is Not To Be Missed
For some of us storytelling only happens on Friday and Saturday nights when we have character sheets in front of us, and a set of dice in our hands. For some of us it's a way of life... Esteban Colon is one such performer, and you need his work in your life.
July 20, 2015 Support Improved Initiative and Get Free Stuff!,
Everyone loves free stuff! If you become a patron by the end of August I'll send you some sweet swag!
July 13, 2015 Apartment 11 Gaming is More Than Just Another Podcast
It sometimes seems like every gamer with an Internet connection thinks the world needs to hear what he or she is doing. Some of them, like Apartment 11 Gaming, are right.
July 6, 2015 The First Giant Robot Battle in History is Set For 2016!
Giant robot fights are no longer part of science fiction and manga... as of 2016 America and Japan are going head-to-head in the arena as they pilot their massive armor suits. This will be a battle for the ages!
June 29, 2015 Norse Foundry Provides The Finest In Heavy Metal Dice
Have you ever wanted the roll of your dice to leave your table trembling? Then stop by Norse Foundry today to get your hands on a set of these fine fate hammers.
June 22, 2015 "I Hit It With My Axe" Is How Porn Stars Play DND
If you've ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors when noted adult film stars play Dungeons and Dragons, "I Hit It With My Axe" is here to pull back the curtain. The only thing you'll really be surprised by, though, is how what you're picturing in your head is likely not what's going down.
June 15, 2015 Thug Notes Gives You A Break Down of "Game of Thrones"
For those still reeling from the latest atrocity to be committed on Game of Thrones, it might be a good time to get back to basics. Let Sparky Sweets lay it on the line for you over at Thug Notes.
June 8, 2015 Creative Home Engineering Will Build You A Secret Passage!
Ask yourself how often you fantasized about having a secret passage in your home. You can stop counting now, because we don't have all day. Well, Creative Home Engineering can take those fantasies and turn them into realities.
June 1, 2015 The D20PFSRD is Now on Patreon!
Patreon is a great way for us to help fund the things we love as gamers. If you use www.d20pfsrd.com, then you might want to consider giving the site a boost.
May 25, 2015 The Legend of Conan, Coming Soon!
While there have been stirrings about a Conan sequel starring Arnold for a few years now, it appears that it's finally just over the horizon!
May 18, 2015 Beyond The Barrier- An RPG Web Series By Initium
If you've ever wished someone had made The Gamers into a Youtube series, well, your wish may have just come true. Check out Beyong the Barrier from Initium!
May 11, 2015 Obscure Belts Look Like Something Adventurers Would Wear on a Dungeon Crawl
Have you ever wanted to look like you were ready for a dungeon crawl while you were at work, or getting coffee downtown? If so, Obscure Belts has just what you're looking for. Serious leather, for serious adventurers.
May 5, 2015 Would You Like To See More Character Conversions?
One of the most consistently popular pages on Improved Initiative has been my character conversions. If you'd like to see more of them then here's how you can ensure I increase my output in the very near future!
April 28, 2015 All The Zombies You Could Ever Want With Zombiepalooza Radio!
Do you like the undead? I mean an unhealthy amount. The kind where they dominate your film preferences, your books, your games? Well, if that's the case then you are in luck, because Zombiepalooza Radio is here to give you all the latest on zombies, horror, the ZomPoc genre, and more!
April 20, 2015 Crit Confirm is The Place For Gamers Looking For a New Podcast
If you're looking for a podcast that offers you a bit more, stop by and check out Crit Confirm. From forums and fresh articles to gaming videos and themed shows, they've got something for nearly every gamer.
April 13, 2015 Madness Awaits With The Sculpted Call of Cthulhu Dice Tower!
The Great Cthulhu touches all of our games with his dreams, and when he awakens it's time to roll initiative! If you love the big-C then this dice tower is a Kickstarter you're really going to want to get in on.
April 6, 2015 Fyxt RPG: Play Any RPG, and Play it Your Way!
We all dream of a system that lets us play any game we want, with any characters we want to play. Well Fyxt RPG is one man's attempt to give us that system!
March 31, 2015 Using Roleplaying Games as Fodder For Fiction
A lot of people have said roleplaying games are great for authors who are looking for a proving ground. I agree with this statement, and share some of my experiences re-using ideas and characters who started on a grid map and ended in published books.
March 23, 2015 Improve Your Combat Roleplaying With Combat Description Cards From Conflict Games LLC.
Have you ever wished you had a snappy description of your perfect sword swing, or a verbal illustration of how you applied your mace to someone's face? Well Conflict Games LLC. is here to help, with Combat Description Cards.
March 16, 2015 Special Edition Soaps Fights The War On Con Funk!
The war against gamer funk continues, and Special Edition Soaps is here to help! Check out their huge Tardis soap, and orbs of cleanliness that contain full sets of dice!
March 9, 2015 Unified Weapons Master: Is Australia Bringing Back Gladiatorial Fights?
The idea of watching gladiators fight to the finish on the sands of the arena is a fantasy we've all had. Australia's Unified Weapons Master is trying to make that fantasy a reality though; all of the full-conta, ct combat, but none of the death. Check it out to see how!
March 2, 2015 Is Valeros Mad Martigan Reborn?
For those of you who remember the days when fantasy films were rare and Val Kilmer was a heartthrob bring to mind Willow. Now imagine Valeros. The two look awfully similar, don't they?
February 23, 2015 VICE Investigates Dungeons and Dragons' History of Ingrained Sexual Harassment
We all have a story about that ONE game. You know, the one where the lone female player had her character objectified, propositioned, and perhaps raped? It isn't just a few creepy DM's according to VICE; this sort of behavior is a natural result of the culture that started the game (which is why players and the game manufacturers are trying to hard to change it).
February 16, 2015 Mark Reads and Mark Watches Are Two Blogs You Should Really Check Out
Mark Oshiro is a critic with a unique style and an interesting wit. Check out what his sites have to say the next time you're not sure about picking up the latest book, TV series, or movie you've been waffling on.
February 9, 2015 The Very Real Benefits of Playing Roleplaying Games
The next time someone accuses you of wasting your time with RPGs just show them this article from Life Hacker. Seriously, there are plenty of great reasons to play RPGs!
February 2, 2015 My Familiar As A Balloon Animal
I have gotten to meet some amazing people in my travels, and one of them was a balloon artist who gifted me with a nearly life-sized depiction of my familiar the pseudodragon Majenko. That is all.
January 26, 2015 Danish Archer Shows Characters Like Hawkeye and Legolas Might Be Realistic After All
How many times have you had someone roll their eyes at your archer, talking about how we all know that real bowmen could never match that kind of speed or skill. That's why they fired in droves, after all. Tell that to Lars Andersen, who has a very different image of historical archery for you.
January 19, 2015 Who The F@#k Is My DND Character? A Random WTF Generator For Gamers
Have you ever wished that someone else would give you your character back story? Do you long for the 2nd edition days where fate decreed what you would play? Well rejoice! Who The Fuck Is My DND Character is a simple web page that will assign you everything you need to know for your next campaign!
January 12, 2015 Vietnamese Barber Uses Japanese Sword to Deliver Razor-Sharp Hairstyles
Have you ever wondered what samurai/bards do when they retire from adventuring? Well it probably looks something like the video and image included in this week's Moon Pope Monday.
January 5, 2015 Daffy Duck Shows You How To Be An EPIC Wizard!
Daffy Duck might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a level 20 wizard, but after watching this particular clip that will no longer be the case. Not for the faint of heart, or those who can't deal with gratuitous amounts of awesome.
December 29, 2014 Make Your Own Custom Minis at Hero Forge!
Whether you want something with a personal touch, or you just can't find a mini that really works for your character Hero Forge is the place to be! This site gives you all the options and lets you customize them to your heart's content. Never be boring again when it's time to roll initiative.
December 22, 2014 Making A Sword From A Nail!
In this miniature epic we see how the fine craftsmen at Inspired to Make turned an average nail into something worthy of the world's smallest barbarian. Make swords as props for your table, or just for fun by following this video.
December 15, 2014 Improved Initiative is Giving Away Free Stuff This Holiday Season!
For our 100th entry Improved Initiative is giving the gift of books this holiday season! Check it out to see whether you can get something for yourself, and that special someone on your list.
December 8, 2014 JBM Press- Gaming Tee Shirts You Really Want!
JBM Press might not be a household name to you, but chances are good you've seen them around. Maybe on the Internet, maybe at a con, but it's about time you became better friends with them. Here are a few reasons why.
December 1, 2014 It's Not Your Imagination... Your Dice Really Are Rolling More 1s
We've all bemoaned that our dice give us nothing but low numbers some nights, but rarely does science agree with our pessimistic gamer superstitions! If you're using the wrong kind of six-sided dice then you might actually roll 1s more often than you roll anything else.
November 24, 2014 The Biggest Walking Robot in The World is a 51-Foot Dragon!
For those who've wondered where all the dragons went, the answer is Germany. A 51-foot, 11 ton monster invades the town every year, and if you haven't seen it then hoo boy, you need to check this one off your bucket list.
November 11, 2014 Jesus Wept, You Can Now Buy Your Own Lament Configuration!
For those of you familiar with Hellraiser and all of the influence it's had (Zon Kuthon, we're looking at you!) you'll be pleased and surprised to know that you can now buy your very own puzzle box! Get a Lament Configuration as your centerpiece today!
November 3, 2014 Teddy Bear Battles Nightmares in Short Film By Tyler Novo
Everyone knows that teddy bears are the protectors of children, but rarely do we get to see them in action. This new short film from Tyler Novo gives us all what we didn't know we wanted. Seriously, check it out.
October 27, 2014 This Cabinet Is The Reason You Need A Rogue In The Party
A wonder of European furniture making the cabinet used by King Fredrick William II is truly an engineering marvel. Using nothing more than springs and weights, it could be a beautifully deadly centerpiece in your game. What would you make it do?
October 20, 2014 Crit Confirm: The Place to Go to Find Gamers Just Like You
Finding great communities that produce lovely gaming content sounds easy, but anyone who's tried knows that the path is strewn with madness. You could do it the easy way though and check out Crit Confirm. Based in Indiana, this site/podcast/forum has everything you need and then some.
October 13, 2014 What's The Difference Between Devils and Demons?
Though we often use the words interchangeably, devils and demons are usually different things in RPGs. But are they also different in the real world? Yes, as it turns out. Let Improved Initiative tell you how.
October 6, 2014 Natural 20 Soaps Strikes A Blow Against Gamer Funk
There's a stereotype about gamers who aren't on a first name basis with hygiene. Natural 20 Soaps is in a fight to wipe out that stereotype, and it's providing some of the greatest geek soaps you've ever seen to do it.
September 29, 2014 The Demon Hunters RPG, From Dead Gentlemen, Is Back!
Have you ever played Demon Hunters? Well if you haven't it's obscenely fun, witty, funny, and it's from the same people who brought us The Gamers and The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising. Check out what's new, what's different, and how you can help make this game a reality!
September 17, 2014 Improved Initiative Needs Your Help (Part Two)
The other shoe eventually dropped. So let me tell you have I lost over 400 articles, a regular triple-digit revenue stream, and how Google kicked me out of their secret clubhouse all in a matter of a few months.
September 1, 2014 Sabertron: The Best Thing to Happen to Boffer?
Have you ever wanted a boffer sword that could tell the difference between a blocked blow and a solid hit on your opponent? Well then Sabertron is just what you've been waiting for all these years! Seriously, living in the future comes with some sweet perks.
August 19, 2014 Meet Brent Chumley... No Seriously, You Really Should
In the aftermath of Gen Con 2014 I have nothing witty to say. Instead check out amazing RPG artist Brent Chumley, whom I had the privilege of sharing large parts of the convention with.
August 5, 2014 What is Chivalry?
There's a lot of talk about chivalry, and what it is and is not. Chances are that unless you're a big fan of history around the time of Charlemagne though that you have no idea what chivalry actually is. Here's a flash guide to this often-misunderstood code of conduct.
July 29, 2014 Dungeons and Dragons "Influential" Admits New York Times
Mission Accomplished my fellow geeks and gamers. Even major news outlets are showing how Dungeons and Dragons in particular, and roleplaying games in general, produce nothing but the next generation of authors, screenwriters, and creative professionals who grew up honing their talents with these games.
July 21, 2014 Knight Fighting Leagues: A Brutal Dream Come True
For anyone who's ever wanted to be a tourney knight but has lamented that they were born several centuries too late, fear not! Knight fighting leagues just might be the answer to your prayers!
July 14, 2014 5 Life Hacks For Your Roleplaying Table
Life hacks tend to be brilliant in ways that make us feel stupid, but which also improve our lives. Here's a handful for your gaming table you probably didn't even think of.
July 7, 2014 "Slaughter Your World," A Hilarious Video From "Looking For Group"
For those who haven't seen the comic "Looking For Group" I highly recommend it. If you have and missed this video, watch it. If you've already seen it, watch it again.
July 2, 2014 Improved Initiative Needs Your Help
The call to action is now. If you want to stand up and offer Improved Initiative a hand, this would be the time to do it.
June 30, 2014 The Gardens of Bomarzo: A Park Full of Renaissance-Era Monsters
Crumbling gardens full of terrifying statues and macabre structures are par for the course in most roleplaying games. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to actually walk through a place like that, then the Gardens of Bomarzo, known colloquially as the Monster Park, is just the destination you've been seeking.
June 17, 2014 Game of Thrones Has Invaded My Local Bargain Bin
When I found this great Game of Thrones tee shirt, I could not hand them my money fast enough. Especially because, as is tradition, the Bargain Barn didn't ask for much of my cash at all!
June 2, 2014 Castle Magic: Contractors Who Build You A Freaking Castle!
A man's home is his castle, and the way he got it was by going to Castle Magic. Providing modern-day castles for more than 30 years, these contractors do not mess about when giving their clients a real dream home.
May 19, 2014 "Secrets of the Viking Sword" is a Documentary For How To Make Masterwork Weapons
Masterwork weapons are forged with such skill and craft that they actually increase the fighting ability of those who wield them. The Vikings had weapons like that, and in Secrets of the Viking Sword you get to watch someone forge one of these ancient blades.
May 12, 2014 The History Behind Your Favorite Monsters
What's an RPG without monsters? Not much, really. Well this week's Moon Pope Monday takes you on a historical jaunt through some of the most notorious creatures throughout both Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons to show you just where these things that go bump in the night got their beginnings.
May 5, 2014 Medieval Land Fun-Time- A Game of Thrones Bad Lip Reading
Bad Lip Reading is a Youtube channel manned by a mysterious professional who works in the media industry. What he or she does to the words that come out of the Game of Thrones casts' mouths is pure comedy gold.
April 28, 2014 The Best Gods You've Never Heard Of: The Orisha Pantheon
A large number of roleplaying games have pantheons of gods. These pantheons tend to draw overwhelmingly on Western influences though, which can lead to a somewhat stagnant campaign, culturally speaking. This photo series by James C. Lewis captures the essence of the African Orisha pantheon, and might lead to a whole new spin on the divine in your game.
April 21, 2014 Rage of Thrones (I Read The Fucking Book!)
This week we show that while laughing off the bandwagon love of the non-reading public is something lots of geeks are capable of, some of us are fed up with people who don't like fantasy unless there's special effects and choreography. Brought to you by the Axis of Awesome.
April 14, 2014 The Dead Alewives Dungeons and Dragons
One of the funniest skits to survive the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, this skit has become a meme all its own. Most people have heard the first part, but there's also a second part too! Both halves are presented in this week's Moon Pope Monday update.
April 7, 2014 Dark Dungeons, the Movie!
Based off the infamous tract by Christian comic book artist Jack Chick, Dark Dungeons seeks to bring the full realization of Chick's narrative to film. It's also being produced by the same people who made The Gamers. Stay tuned, and check out the trailer today!
March 24, 2014 Natural 20 Soaps: A Critical Hit Against Con Funk
Taking up the challenge to wipe out con funk wherever it may be, Emily Hawk and Douglas Menke have opened Natural 20 Soaps, a place where whimsical d20-shaped cakes, or soap striped in the colors of your favorite comic book hero are but a click away. Custom made and amazingly geeky, it bears witnessing.
March 17, 2014 Korgoth of Barbaria!
Perhaps the greatest (if not the only) animated sword and sorcery parody with gaming jokes, heavy metal, and Conan references, Moon Pope Monday presents the first and only episode of Korgoth of Barbaria. Don't miss it!
March 10, 2014 What's The Difference Between Witches and Wizards?
There are a lot of different spellcasters in our favorite role playings games, but where did all these names come from? Improved Initiative goes into the history of 8 different spellcasters, explaining the etymology and history of their names.
February 24, 2014 The Oldest D20 Ever Discovered
While many people think the 20-sided die is a modern invention, it turns out it might be older than god. Ancient relics discovered in Egypt pre-date Rome, and it makes you wonder what games they were playing.
February 17, 2014 Out of Context D&D Quotes
Do you enjoy Tumblr? Do you like hilariously inappropriate discussions from other people's games? Well then stop by Out of Context D&D for your daily dose of amusement.
February 10, 2014 The Starbarians!
Sooner or later, every adventuring party gets a little nuts. Hopefully you've never had to deal with something quite as cracked as the Starbarians... but it's entirely possible that you will.
February 3, 2014 Roll a D6
A classic parody video, Roll a D6 takes everything gamers know to be true and explains it through catchy music. What's your result?
January 27, 2014 Fantasy Avengers, Assemble!
The Avengers is one of the biggest films ever, and the characters have been waiting a long time for a big screen debut. It was only natural that someone would take them and give us a version appropriate for the most epic game of Pathfinder ever!
January 21, 2014 Misty Mountain Cold Rap
Everyone knows the contribution J.R.R. Tolkien made to fantasy as a genre. Today we show our love and disrespect with a song that would never have made it into one of his books.
January 14, 2014 Is Moon Pope the Best Dungeon Master, or the Worst?
The infamous Moon Pope is back, and bringing his signature, free-wheeling style to the other side of the screen. What will he green light next?
January 6, 2014 Shooter Guy
The first Moon Pope entry of 2014 is a hilarious spoof by Youtube channel Miracle of Sound. Watch and listen as first person shooters get raked over the coals in stylish fashion.
December 30, 2013 The Saga of Bjorn the Viking
Bjorn is a wizened Viking warrior looking for death in battle. Is he cursed by the gods to never find it, or is he really just that damned good?
December 23, 2013 Old Adventurers Never Die
Another demotivator, this time reminding you to respect your elders or suffer the consequences.
December 16, 2013 Inspiring Dungeons and Dragons Demotivators
Demotivators for most of the core classes, these are the posters that 1st level characters put on their walls as they dream about becoming epic adventurers.
December 9, 2013 Conan Meets Metal!
A performance by Eric Calderone, 331erock on Youtube, the Anvil of Crom and the theme from Conan the Destroyer both shredded to pieces. A feast for the barbarian heart!
December 2, 2013 Action Movie Sunday
This is what it feels like when I step out my door to head to my campaign. Every, single time.
November 25, 2013 Sometimes the DM Wins
An actual screen shot from my Curse of the Crimson Throne game, it teaches you to never, ever get too comfortable when it's time to face up to lycanthropes.
November 18, 2013 Peter Hollens Sings "Misty Mountains"
The extremely talented Peter Hollens gives us his version of the Hobbit's classic song "Misty Mountains". If this doesn't make you want to build a dwarf fighter, I don't know what will.
November 11, 2013 The Talented Mr. Ripley
A piece by Christine Wyman, turning the Moon Court Madman into a Magic card. What would you pay to summon a force of beautiful madness?
November 4, 2013 The Horrible Implication Found in Ultimate Combat
A picture is worth a thousand words, and the picture on page 242 of Ultimate Combat is one of those images. DMs, I suggest you get your "no" button ready.
October 28, 2013 It's Never Too Early For Cthulhu Christmas Carols
H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones are hallmarks of fiction, gaming included. With "We Three Priests" we really get into the madness of the season.
October 21, 2013 Taste is in the Eye of the Beholder
Meal times with gamers is always interesting. Especially when someone far beyond your CR shows up on your breakfast plate!
October 14, 2013 The Great and Powerful Moon Pope!
I would like to explain how this photo was taken at my weekly game. I really would. I cannot, and ask that you simply accept that it exists.