Moon Pope Monday: Miscellaneous Gaming

The Moon Pope was, the Moon Pope is, and the Moon Pope shall ever be. He allows all things, and in this case his holy day is dedicated to the lighter side of gaming. Those memes no one else gets, those in-jokes every table has, and things that just set you off. Below is the archive for all things Moon Pope, and the hilarity that ensues.



For those who enjoyed the last contribution that Isaiah Burt made to my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting, there's a new novella out! So come check it out, as well as the books and videos about this little corner of the setting that can provide some extra context for what it is you'll be reading.

If you're a fan of grimdark horror, a WWI aesthetic, and a community that makes it clear your gender identity and sexuality are NOT political footballs to be kicked around, I'd suggest checking out Trench Crusade. It won't be for everyone, but damn does it look fun!

Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic has been out for a few months now, and there's plenty of stuff I still have coming. So if you want to stay up-to-date on all the stuff I'm working on, and to find community with other folks who want to play this game, make sure you don't miss this week's update!

It seems I'm closing in on the end of my 4th decade of life this month. So I figured I'd set some goals for myself, and try to get a few more notches on my gun before I have to stop putting a "3" in the tens column of my age. If you're a regular reader please check this entry out, and help me cross at least a few of these things off my list!

My latest release, World's Oldest Profession: 100 Courtesans and Concubines, is finally out... and it has done particularly well. As such, I thought I'd talk about it this week, since this is definitely becoming a trend that both I and my publisher are going to keep an eye on going forward!

I've been busier than normal this month, and some things are slipping through the cracks. With that being said, I wanted to take a moment to apologize to all my readers out there, and to explain what all is happening so you don't think I'm just laying down on the job!

I've made a lot of products over my life as a TTRPG creator. Some have been safe, and some have been risky. However, I think the contrast between two of my biggest projects really illustrates some things, and I wanted to talk about that this week.

This is not an April Fool's Day joke! If you'd like to see me go back to the well and write sequels to any supplements that I've released thus far, this is your time to make a case for it. I'm listening, so make sure you leave your comments to tell me what you'd like more of.

As most folks in the TTRPG community know, Owen KC Stephens is in an active battle with cancer. Since the American healthcare system is a pay-to-win kind of deal, he needs all the help he can get! So while his Go Fund Me is still up, there is also a bundle, as well as a great piece of art that's currently donating proceeds to help him in his fight!

Success in the age of the Internet is all about numbers... and while some of our numbers are going up on the Azukail Games YouTube channel, there's a notable plateau in another set. So I wanted to give my readers and update, and tell you all how you could help us set things to rights on the channel so I can keep making content for all of you!

It's tough to reach new eyes and ears, but there have been a lot of folks who have helped me out with this so far this year. Rather than try to do a bunch of independent posts, though, I wanted to collect all of my recent appearances here for everyone to see and hear!

While my RPG Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic is finally out, I'm already looking forward to the next, big expansion. I've got several, smaller supplements I'm working on now, but since it's on sale this week, I wanted to give folks a peek at some of the nonsense I'd love to really sink my teeth into for the future of this game!

Owen K.C. Stephens is a legend in the TTRPG community. Unfortunately, he's been waging a war against the enemy within, and as a fellow American cancer treatment is an expensive proposal. Which is why I'm boosting the signal, and asking everyone who regularly reads my blog to please stop in, and help out however you can!

Regular readers know I have a passing fondness for the grim darkness of the far future. But for folks looking for something different to run using my game Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic, it might offer a new avenue if you happen to have an Imperial Guard army, and a lot of tyranids laying around!

The games we play have a lot of moving parts to them, but one thing that can sometimes get overlooked is the scale. This is why it's often a good idea to look at the game itself, as well as the genre conventions it's following, to see whether the concept you want to play (or the story you want to run) is too big, too small, or just right.

A lot of us are used to spending a lot of extra cash on miniature, terrain, and more for our games. However, if you pick up Army Men, then you can probably get every mini you'll ever need for about the price of what you'll pay for the base book... the digital version.

I've been encouraging folks to leave their questions in the comments for Tabletop Mercenary so that I can be sure I dedicate future episodes to getting people the answers they want. The most common questions so far have been about crowdfunding in general, and Kickstarter in particular. I've got a plan to get that episode made... I'm just going to need your help to do it!

I've been coming out with content for Sundara: Dawn of a New Age for about 3 years now, and I've been asking myself what I should do to make it more unique, and to boost the signal so more people can find it. With the release of Merchants of Sundara, I had an unusual idea... meta tie-ins!

When it comes to RPGs, most of us know what we like, and what we don't like. However, the problems arise when we can't really explain why we do or don't like a thing... which is why it's worth digging a little deeper, and thinking about it. Even if, for no other reason, than to add some depth to discussions happening on social media these days.

We've all seen our share of wacky table accessories for RPGs... but if you haven't seen a puzzle board in action, I would recommend giving them a look. They're not super cheap, but they can really change the experience you have at your table by giving you an elevated, rotating place to stage your miniatures!

We're coming up on the 3 year anniversary of the first content I released for my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting for Dungeons and Dragons, and Pathfinder. While it's taken something of a back seat recently, with the new year starting fresh, I wanted to ask all of you out there what you wanted to see in the setting this year, and how you'd like it expanded!

2023


While I've been quiet about my TTRPG Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic for a bit now, we're closing in on the game's full release, and I've already got some additional supplements on my work desk for it. So whether you've been watching and waiting, or this is the first you're hearing about it, stop in and take a gander at what's on the docket for 2024!

We're rapidly approaching the end of the year, so if you've been wondering what I've got planned for 2024, my hope is to make some big changes over on the Azukail Games YouTube channel. So if you want to help shape the content that I'm going to be making over the next 12 months, now is the time to make your voice heard!

The holidays are the worst time of year for most creative professionals. So if you want to help me, or anyone else who I share the field with, this article explains why 2023 has been particularly bad for us, and the ways you can make the biggest impact on our lives going forward!

Folks have been asking for modules set in my Sundara setting off and on over the years, and as I bring Phase III to a close, I feel like an adventure module might make a good bridge project to get from where I am, to wherever it is I go next. However, if you're one of the folks who has been waiting to see more modules from me, consider leaving your input on this project!

Over the years I've shared some of the resources that I've found very useful for me as both a GM, and a creator. And while I thought I'd talked about this one in the past, it looks like I haven't. So if you're someone who wants a map for your home game, or even your own supplement or world guide, consider using the Medieval Fantasy City Generator by Watabou!

Just when you think a project isn't really getting noticed, you find out that it's got a wiki page somewhere you never expected to find it. While I'm really excited that Sundara has been featured on a place like TV Tropes, if I could get some help from the audience in expanding the entry to cover more of the setting, I would very much appreciate it!

Creators always have to keep things feeling new and fresh, and in the spirit of that I wanted to share some thoughts I had for a potential project I'm thinking about pursuing. If you're the kind of Game Master who would appreciate a break down of particular subgenres, along with advice for how to run them at your table, then this may just be what you've been waiting for!

If you're one of the folks who's been waiting for my new show Tabletop Mercenary to drop, well, the first episode went up this past Friday! And if you missed the announcement, well, this Monday's update should get you up to speed regarding what's going on, and how you can help the project grow!

Even though the spooky season is now officially over, for those who are still looking for a horror game to check out, I'd highly recommend giving Myrrorside a look. Especially if you want a game that's relatively rules-lite, vicious, and not for the faint of heart!

Sundara: Dawn of a New Age has been coming out with content pretty regularly for a few years now, and one of its supplements was recently the deal of the day on Drive Thru RPG. As such, I thought it was time to take a step back, and really look the setting over to see what I can glean from the numbers, and what path forward I should take based on that data. And if you're a fan of the series, now is the time for you to step in, and lend your voice!

I've been trying to help boost the Azukail Games YouTube channel over the monetization line for a while now, and as I mentioned in a recent episode, I've had some new show ideas hatching in the back of my mind. One that seems to get most people's attention is something I'm calling Tabletop Mercenary... for more information (and to find out how you can influence the show right from the beginning) read on!

Hitting metal levels on DTRPG never gets old, and and I've gotten something of a milestone recently! While I've had a handful of Gold level sellers so far, one of them has finally crossed that line into Platinum. If you're wondering which one, click through to read the update for yourself!

Game Masters are always looking for new and unique ways to drag their players into their games. While this isn't an "easy" way to immerse your players, it is one that can make for a truly memorable game. So if you haven't tried making in-world newspapers, radio broadcasts, and more for your ongoing campaign, consider giving it a try!

Too often Game Masters get overly attached to certain antagonists, or they want to put certain characters behind glass so that they can't be interacted with one way or another. A good rule of thumb is that if killing something is impossible, then you probably shouldn't put it on the board (or possibly even in your game).

We see a lot of supplements out there for players and Game Masters, but we rarely see things written for designers by other designers. So if you're thinking about jumping into the profession, I'd recommend checking out these supplements from Owen K.C. Stephens, and adding them to your TBR pile ASAP.

I've been talking about some of the changes I'm planning on making with my TTRPG supplements in the coming months. However, I've managed to break things down into 5, broad categories. Which of these would you find most useful at your table?

I write a lot of TTRPG supplements. However, I don't just write them, send them off into the ether, and forget about them. Far from it... these are things I use at my own table, and at my own games. That's how I know they work, and it's why I try to share them with as many of my fellow players and STs as I can... because we should all learn to game smarter, instead of harder.

I'm sort of getting back to basics when it comes to my TTRPG supplements that I'm working on right now. As such, I wanted to poll my readers and ask what they'd like to see more of so that I can put together the kind of content people would be interested in picking up!

I've been putting a lot of stuff together for my fantasy setting Sundara: Dawn of a New Age now that the whole OGL SNAFU is finished. However, while there's still some stuff left in Phase 3, I wanted to solicit some opinions from my readers about Phase 4, and what you'd all like to see come out for it!

Some folks have no doubt noticed that the offerings on my blog seem less diverse than they once were. That's because for the past year and change, I've been focusing on putting at least half my weekly content on Vocal Media. It's one of the only places that pays writers these days... but it doesn't pay you anything if no one reads it!

Christmas in July is over... but out of the huge archive of content I have on the market, there are some who've never really gotten any traction. So I thought that I'd talk about some of those things today, and let readers who might be interested in these things know they exist!

The 5th Editions of the classic World of Darkness have been coming out for a while now, but hoo boy, the behind-the-scenes look into what went on with the work on Werewolf: The Apocalypse is going to raise a few eyebrows, to say the least. If you're out of the loop, I'd recommend stopping in to take a look.

It's been one hell of a year, and it's been two steps forward, and one step back, with at least a minor crisis hitting me every 2 months or so. I'm currently facing some really serious issues, and I wanted to write this in order to reach out to the community to explain what I'm dealing with, and to provide detailed explanations for how you can help, and what that will do for me specifically so that I can get back on my feet.

Regular readers are no doubt aware that I put out a fair bit of community created content. However, due to some changes behind the scenes, that's likely to change, at least in the immediate future. If you're someone who enjoys my Pathfinder Infinite, WoD/CoD, or Call of Cthulhu content, though, I lay out some things that you can do to help keep those projects in rotation going forward.

I love the World and Chronicles of Darkness settings, and I'm always trying to find a new way to tell stories with them. For folks who want a unique experience that can act as a prequel, or a stand-alone game, might I suggest trying what I am dubbing a Mortals+ Chronicle for yourself!

For all the folks who've been wondering what's going on with my RPG "Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic," we're hard at work grinding off the sharp edges and putting our final coats of polish on. However, if you missed the initial campaign and still want to get in on this game, we just went live on BackerKit for preorders!

It's been an uphill battle trying to get the Azukail Games YouTube channel monetized over this past year... so if you'd like to see me both continue making the sort of content I am at present, as well as making bigger, more involved things in the future, this week's update will tell you how you can help!

So even though I've written 151 TTRPG supplements at time of posting, I'm a long way from being able to slow down, much less take a day off. So let me ask, what kinds of supplements would you like to see from me going forward?

While alignment as a mechanic might be something that's slowly becoming less prominent in TTRPGs, but before it's gone entirely I figured I'd share some last thoughts on this mechanic that might give it a little extra depth at folks' tables.

It's been a wild ride in this thing I call a career... and it seems, looking back on it, that I've been writing TTRPG supplements almost as long as this blog has been going. So I thought I'd take a moment, and catch my breath, while I admired this milestone. Then, sadly, it's back to work in the XP mines for me!

It's been a while since anyone had me on their YouTube channel, and I wanted to take a moment to tell folks to go check out this interview! It's a bit of a hoss at an hour and a half or so, but I talked with the host about my current Kickstarter, my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting, and the ins and outs of being a TTRPG creator.

We've been working hard on this Kickstarter, and though we've crossed the threshold for our minimum funding goal, we still need to take as much ground as we can if we want to be able to really carry our momentum forward with this game. To that end I wanted to talk about the stretch goals we've got in place for this campaign, and about how much it would help if we could meet them.

Making games is one thing... selling them is something else entirely. If you're one of the folks out there thinking about jumping into the trenches with me, then I'd recommend you keep these 4 tips in mind. They aren't going to guarantee you a life of ease, but they are going to save you some misery on your journey.

If you want to keep momentum going, you have to be planning out your next book as soon as the first one is done. I've had a lot of time to think about what additions I'd like to make to Army Men going forward, so I thought I'd share a few of them this week... of course, for us to get to that point, we've got to get the original game funded!

After many years in the making, my new TTRPG Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic is live on Kickstarter! This week I wanted to give folks a brief introduction to what the game is, and try to spread the word about it a bit. Next week, though, I'll be sharing how this game came to be, and the power of spite!

Getting sick is tough when you work in an industry that isn't known for its glamorous pay. And when you get sick with cancer, well, that can be even worse. Whether you're a fan of Owen K.C. Stephens, or you just know him by the games he's worked on, he could really use a hand up... and if we all come together, we can make that happen!

This is an odd little idea I had while working on my latest Pathfinder Infinite supplement. And if it's something folks out there think they'd like to actually see, let me know so I can start laying the ground work for a fresh series of books!

I've been running this blog for a while, now, and I've started several series on it over the years. This week I wanted to poll the audience, and ask which of these series you'd like to see more entries for... or if you'd like to see something else entirely? Leave your comments on the article, and of course, share examples of what you want on your socials to help boost the numbers to send a message!

Too often Game Masters sit down to craft whole new worlds without stopping and asking themselves the most important question; the one that should start off this whole process. Why should anyone play in my setting? What does it let them do that no other setting does? If you can answer that, you're ready to start building!

It's been nearly 6 months since I last put out feelers for what folks would like to see from me in terms of my World/Chronicles of Darkness offerings. But since we've had the whole OGL debacle and a lot of shake-ups since then, I thought I'd announce that two audience requests were fulfilled, and open the floor to anyone else who had suggestions/requests for my next round of nonsense!

We're all struggling these days, myself included. Rather than ask for donations and patrons, though, I wanted to ask my readers to do something very simple for me today... just consume a bunch of free content I made! If I can get everyone doing that all at the same time, it would really help me get back on my feet, and get my house in order.

Losing an entire party is a rough thing, and it can often torpedo an entire campaign. Which is why this week I wanted to take a moment to talk about how you can come back from this unfortunate situation, and actually finish the story you were trying to tell.

Every game is going to have NPCs in it... but a lot of GMs treat them like tissues. Good characters shouldn't be one-and-done, though, and you can get a lot more out of the characters you put into your game if you take the time and effort to make them recurring characters as the campaign goes on.

The SCP Foundation has become an ever-expanding setting of horror fiction over the years, and while there is at least one RPG that's specific to this world, I thought I'd muse about what alternative games I would use to drop players into the weird, wild world of the SCP Foundation. These are my top three recommendations, but check the comments to see if readers have left their own thoughts below!

There are campaigns, and then there are campaigns... this is the latter. A huge book with a massive, unique world that can be used in a variety of TTRPG systems and worked into a variety of existing games, The Black Ballad is something special... so go check it out!

I've had a hankering to write more stories for the coming year, but before I commit to that kind of a project I want to make sure that my readers are coming with me. So if you're a fan of Golarion, let me ask you... where would you like to see a sequel to The Irregulars set? Or, if you'd like to see more of my other stories or settings I've worked in, which of those appeal to you most?

I occasionally come across really useful terms that I wish I'd had access to for years in order to explain certain concepts in tabletop RPGs. And opportunity cost is one that I feel would have saved me a LOT of time and energy if I'd known about it years ago.

We've all been watching the unfolding drama of Wizards of The Coast's grab at power and control, but it's so much more frustrating to realize this happened a year or so with a different company, and a different property. And if you can't learn a lesson from Games Workshop on how to be better to your community, then what are you doing with your company?

As regular readers know, I've been contributing content to the Azukail Games channel for most of a year now. However, just as all this OGL nonsense hits, and folks are looking for new games to play, I'd recommend that more folks consider checking out the World of Darkness... which is what my new show Discussions of Darkness is all about!

Yeah, I'm sick of talking about the OGL power/cash grab too. But until we browbeat Wizards of The Coast into stopping, we're all going to have to deal with it. Especially since it is affecting all the creators out there, myself included. So I wanted to give readers a heads-up as to what they can expect from me now that the foundation of a big part of the gaming world just got cracked, and might shatter into a million pieces.

Folks who've gotten tired of ice breakers and introductions for the first meeting of a campaign may have considered ways to cement the PCs together before the adventure gets under way. If you've been looking for some unique ways to make this happen, consider checking out some of these unique suggestions for your next campaign!

2022


So often we insist on keeping magic rare and expensive in our settings... but when you're part of a high fantasy game, magic should be fairly common place. Especially when you consider the kind of world building that's possible when you ask how even small spells could alter the face of your game world!

RPGs are fun and games for most of us, but for creators and publishers it's a business. Love of the game and the pride of a creator is great, but at the end of the day it's numbers that decide whether a game gets expansions, or gets left on the cutting room floor. Here's how you can help games you like keep on growing!

There's a saying regarding laws and safety regulations; every one you see is written in blood. While RPGs might not be quite so serious, the general sentiment remains that if you don't make a rule about something, somebody is going to enact the worst case scenario purely because you didn't tell them not to.

My setting Sundara: Dawn of a New Age recently had a supplement on the Deal of The Day on DTRPG. Since it seems to have onboarded at least a couple of curious gamers, I figured I'd talk about what might be next for the setting, and ask all my readers out there to let me know their thoughts!

This week I wanted to talk about a game I was given a copy of the last time I was at con. Indie games are tough to get the word out on, and while I think this one is a very niche appeal, I wanted to take some time to talk about it all the same.

There are always going to be fewer people who want to run a game than there are going to be people who want to play. As such, it's a good idea not to gatekeep the position... otherwise we're going to run out of people willing to be Game Masters at all!

If you're someone who's been looking for a unique chronicle to take your players through, then this update is definitely for you. While a Faces of Death game won't be to every player's taste, it does present some unique possibilities that we rarely get to explore anywhere else.

This seems like the most obvious statement in the world, but sometimes there are games and supplements that don't have you as their target audience. Rather than making that your hill to die on, consider scrolling on past and leaving it to those who will actually enjoy it.

The World of Darkness is such a vast sea of potential that it's hard to really take it all in at once. While I've been making supplements for it for several years now, I wanted to take a moment and ask my followers where they'd like me to go with my supplements next. Vampire, Werewolf, Changeling, Promethean, Mage, Hunter... it's all on the table!

If you're the sort of person who likes you're World of Darkness games to feel like horror games, then this is going to be right up your alley. Buyer beware, though, this tool box has a lot of icky, repulsive things in it!

October 17, 2022 Let People Dislike Things
We're always so focused on letting people enjoy things that we sometimes forget the flip side of the coin; that sometimes you need to just accept that people don't like something, and respect that you're going to have to agree to disagree on this subject.

One of the oldest projects of mine that's still available, I haven't really written a lot of character conversions in recent months. However, I wanted to at least check with folks to see if you all wanted to see the series make a return before I just wrote it off.

I've been periodically releasing sci fi content alongside my fantasy RPG supplements, but this week I wanted to take a moment to ask my readers which ones they'd like to see covered... because when it comes down to it, I want to give folks the content they're looking for!

Too often players will trick themselves out for the previous enemies, environments, and threats they dealt with, only to find that they're facing new and unexpected challenges. Take a page out of great war philosophy, and try to look forward as often as you can.

It seems like every other day there's some Game Master somewhere attempting to ban basic character abilities, outlaw certain playstyles, or to take away magic items they've already handed out. This week I wanted to talk about why that's a bad idea, and offer some steps you should follow whenever you get this urge.

Ever notice how putting the same ingredients together in a different order makes a drastically different taste? Well, it's worked for Taco Bell, and it can work for you as a Game Master as well... assuming you're looking to spice up combat for your players.

Demon: The Descent is a game that got a lot of anticipation, and then a lot of flak. While it's been a while since it dropped, I've been chewing over it for a while, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on what I saw.

Death is one of those constant companions in most of our games... but the idea of a "fair death" is one that I feel we don't explore enough. Especially considering how important it can be to maintaining player investment, and game enjoyment.

From knightly orders and esoteric brotherhoods, to shadowy cults and secret societies, RPGs are just full of organizations of all sorts. Too often, though, GMs insist that only those who take levels in given classes get to be members... and this tendency is just shooting yourself in the foot.

Death is one of those things that's present in most of our games, but it's rarely something that we really think about. So I thought I'd have a ramble on it this week, and see if I could get some of our collective gears turning on the subject.

I've been putting out Sundara content for a little over a year and a half now, and I have reached what I'd call the end of Phase 1. As I start revving up Phase 2, though, I wanted to take a moment to field some questions and curiosities for all my readers out there. So if there's something you want to know, or something you've been wondering, now is your chance to ask!

Con season is upon us, and after the waves of plague that kept most of us home a lot of gamers have a fever to get back to these events... or to try them out for the first time! While I won't be doing any gaming events, myself, I figured I'd share what experience I have in the hopes it helps some folks out who might be in the same boat I was way back when.

One of the most irritating things people can say when it comes to discussions of RPGs is, "Just play the game however you want as long as you're having fun!" Sure... but "fun" is different for different people. And too often we don't really think about that.

There is a world of wonder and dark whimsy lurking out of the corner of your eye. While Changeling: The Lost can be tough to really wrap one's mind around as a player, it can be a serious bastard for storytellers. As such, I thought I'd build off my previous 5 Tips piece for the World of Darkness in general, and get specific with what I think really works for this game of beautiful madness.

I'm a large advocate letting players use whatever base items, classes, and other options they want for their characters. However, just because something exists in the world beyond those basics, that doesn't make it instantly available for the PCs to use. If you want something strange, rare, or powerful, then you need to actually work it out with your Game Master!

For folks who've got a hankering for serious audio drama that isn't just another live play, and who also love the World of Darkness as a setting, I would highly recommend checking out Uncle Yo's channel. It's good stuff, even if the project appears to be over for the time being.

I've had my head down in the World and Chronicles of Darkness for a while now, so I thought I'd change gears and offer some tips on how to really make your next chronicle pop! These are tips that I've seen a lot of storytellers ignore, and always to the game's detriment, so consider them the next time you're in the big chair.

What was meant to be a one-off palate cleanser for me as a creator turned out to be far more popular than I'd expected it to be. And when the audience reacts that positively, I sit up and take notice. So I figured I'd see if it was just a fluke by putting together a couple of other so-called meta supplements to see if folks were interested in more.

I've been looking for something to re-energize my gaming group for a while, especially after all the life changes and burnout of the pandemic. So I thought it was time to bring XCrawl off the shelf, and to introduce them to a world of utter, scene-chewing ridiculousness!

Since February I've been putting together little audio dramas taken from several of the supplements I've put out onto the market. While I still have a lot of learning to do, I like to think that I'm making some real progress so far. What do you think?

Recently there were people asking why generic RPG products seem to be so common, beating out system-specific games even in their own categories. I thought I'd do my best to shed some light on that this month.

Backstories are one of those things we all seem to agree is necessary, but which we can never get right when it comes to the amount. So how much is too much? Well, it really depends.

It's been a while since I reviewed an RPG in my Monday slot... but I figured it was time! And for those looking for something new and unique, I'd recommend the 1D10 series from GG Games... particularly the Dark Horizons book, for those looking for something post-apocalyptic!

So often I see players asking how to make a "good" character. The problem with this is, of course, there's no universal definition of what a good character is. So to cut down on arguments and frustration, you're better off being as specific as you can when it comes to requests for support.

A lot of us seem to think that games are either made up of total freedom, or they're plotted out on a schedule that will be kept no matter what. However, a more useful way to think about games might be to consider the River model... especially if you're looking for a new paradigm as a GM.

I've been releasing content for my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting for a little over a year now. But I wanted to take a break from the breakneck pace I've set to ask players and Game Masters alike what would appeal to them, and what they'd like to see from this setting going forward. So, what should I make next?

For some reason people are surprised that Paizo is porting some of their existing content over to DND 5th Edition. For my two cents, I'm surprised it took them this long to do this!

Every genre of the World of Darkness has its own, unique monsters and big bads geared toward the themes of that genre. But too often STs just whip them out, and throw them at players until they become meaningless. Savor these big bads, and use them sparingly if you want them to have real impact!

Regular readers know I've been releasing my own fantasy RPG setting for a little over a year now. Well, I thought that I'd start making some videos talking about the parts I find interesting, the direction I'm going with it, and why I think you should check it out. So come on in, and take a look for yourself!

A while back I said I really wanted to write some content for the Pathfinder Infinite platform. Well, I've only managed to take a few, teetering steps, but it's looking like I don't have a lot of rope left to play out. So if you'd like to help me build some momentum here's how you can do it!

TTRPGs are a team sport, and we all need to work together to have fun. Too many players, though, will latch onto something in the game's meta, and use that as an excuse to be a bad actor. Don't do that, and if you see someone doing it, call it out before it festers and becomes normalized.

If you find yourself trying to take a game, and twist it until it screams so that it fits a genre, play style, or even a whole different setting it was never intended for, I'm going to take this week to ask you to stop. Put it down, and back away. There are other games out there... you don't need to re-invent the wheel to make this one do what you want.

My splat book Cities of Sundara: Ironfire was recently the Deal of The Day over on Drive Thru RPG, and since it got a surprising amount of attention I figured I'd take a moment to talk about the setting as a whole. Because Sundara is on sale till the 13th, and there's all sorts of glorious nonsense between these pages!

So I know I said I was going to take it easy this year... but I may have fibbed a bit. If you're a fan of audio dramas and RPG tie-in stories, well, then you should pull up a chair and check this nonsense out, because I think you're going to have a great time.

Too often Game Masters will just have the gods of the setting show up on the mat, looking and acting just like any other character on the board. This can often undermine what they are, and take away something that can make your setting feel unique and special... so here's some of my thoughts for avoiding this mistake, while keeping the mystique of the divine in your game.

A lot of Game Masters out there use desperate situations to try to enhance the stakes of their games. That's all well and good, but too often they engineer them to be impossible to succeed in... and that is a one-way ticket to loss of player interest.

It's been a hot minute since the last installment of the initial run of my Species of Sundara series came out. For those who didn't see it, let me break down what I did with gnomes in this setting, and why you should check it out!

Meanings can get mixed whenever we talk about running horror games, or games with horror themes. That's why I wanted to take a minute or three to talk about some terms that might be useful for all the Game Masters out there, and for players to familiarize themselves with, so we can have more productive discussions about our spookier games.

If you're one of those folks who spends a lot of time on this blog, a lot of this supplement likely felt familiar to you. However, given the sheer response this supplement garnered, I figured I'd at least take a moment to acknowledge how it's burning up the charts, and to ask folks if this is the sort of thing they want to see more of?

Even the best system out there needs to leave room for players to contribute to the game. Whether you're designing a game, or just plotting your own setting or campaign, take this advice to heart. Your players will thank you.

It's a new year, and I'm trying out some new stuff. So if you've wanted to see me make videos, well, this is going to be a year where you get your wish! So come in, check it out, and find out how you can help this fledgling project grow.

2021


Half-elves and half-orcs often cause rather heated discussions around gaming tables. For my setting, I wanted to do something a little different. The result is a single species category I call... the Blooded!

Anyone who was paying attention to the debacle surrounding Games Workshop's creation and roll out of their Warhammer + streaming service (and the self-inflicted wounds it dealt regarding respected fan creators) may have been thinking this same thing. If you're from Games Workshop, please, take this idea and make it happen.

The Illusion of Choice is tempting as a Game Master strategy. However, it can quickly go wrong if the table realizes what you're doing. Keep that in mind before you decide to hang your campaign on making your players just think they have a choice going forward.

I've been changing up where some of my articles are getting hosted recently. I wanted to take this Monday to let my readers know what's happening, why it's happening, and how they can help make my current plans successful!

Halflings have long been my least favorite creatures to play in any fantasy RPG. As such, when it came time to add them to Sundara I wanted to be sure they felt organic, and that they were fun to play. I like to think I managed!

I've been gaming for about half my life now, and I've been writing RPGs and supplements for the past 6 years or so. In that time I've started to notice history has begun to seriously repeat itself... particularly when it comes to the arguments we're (apparently) still having around the table.

I've been slowly testing the waters when it comes to tie-in fiction, and it's something I'd like to do for some future projects. The caveat is, of course, that it has to be something my audience actually wants to see! So make your voice known, and tell me if this is something you'd like to see me pursue going forward.

I've lost count of the number of games that have gone belly-up because a Game Master played things too close to the vest, and refused to answer even basic player questions. Keep your lines of communication open, and if your game isn't going to survive answering questions about the genre, the setting, or the general kind of plot one should expect, then it definitely isn't going to survive when players show up expecting something different.

Most of us know that the impression we have of the Vikings is extremely off-base. These raiding pirates were only a portion of the Norse peoples, and they made up a fraction of Scandinavian culture... but to many places in the world, they were the only brush they'd had with the Northmen. Which makes you wonder... what if that was what happened with orcs, too?

While we don't often think of them this way, a lot of our RPG settings actually take place in a post-apocalyptic era... or at least in the midst of a dark age. I didn't really notice it until people started looking at the setting I'm making, and how it doesn't do that, but it's something that I think we need to hold at arm's length and really take a gander at.

Building a rich, flavorful setting is hard to do; making one that's immediately evocative and easily understood is damn near impossible. Which is one reason I wanted to suggest to Game Masters and world builders alike that you use epithets for important people and places to help highlight them to your players, and convey the important strokes of who and what they are.

When most of us think of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, we tend to think of brutal battles with corrupt spirits, mutated fomori, or bloodsucking vampires... but one of the most difficult enemies to face is actually the soulless husk that is corporate interests, personified by Pentex.

There really aren't that many voices out there dedicated to reviewing and signal boosting smaller RPG creators who don't have the kind of reach or budget to reach a new audience. Missa Reviews is one such channel, and it's just getting started, so I wanted to do my part to try to give it and its creator some love!

My Species of Sundara series continues, and I'm following up the first installment with something a little bigger, and a little bolder. I've never been a big dwarf player myself, so I added some twists and modifications to this classic species that I hope intrigues both dwarf players as well as those who usually walk right by them when it's time to make a new PC.

For folks who haven't heard the news, good and bad alike, I thought I'd sum up a lot of what's come out from Paizo of late. And then to give my thoughts on what this means for me as a creator, and what sorts of projects I might be putting out in the future.

With the Halloween season officially rolling in like a tide of pumpkins and bats, a lot of us are thinking about holiday games, and horror adventures. And if you're one of those folks, well, I've got some tools and inspiration that you're definitely going to want to check out!

This week I wanted to pick a hill to die on. And I wanted to tell all my fellow game designers that unless there are no aspects that require the game master to fill in blanks you didn't get to, then your game is not done yet.

All too often whenever you play a fantasy RPG, it seems like only humans get any real depth. For my setting I wanted to expand on what folks tend to think of when they look at a particular species, and the first in this series of splats covers elves in Sundara... but don't worry! Dwarves and orcs are on the way, as well.

There's nothing worse than a plot that relies entirely on someone making a stupid decision in order to make it work. So if your players do things the smart way, don't punish them for it by making them hold the idiot ball just so you can set off the Rube Goldberg device of traps and encounters you've built. They won't appreciate it, and no one will have fun.

I've had a lot of folks ask me why I keep putting out content for older games that not as many people are playing anymore. Rather than answer those queries individually, though, I figured I'd take this Monday's post to explain why, and what my goals are when I put out fresh supplements for folks to check out.

If you have a habit of your players going off-script and out in the weeds, part of the issue might be that you think of your game in terms of linear actions, rather than in terms of layers. If you want a bigger picture view that provides more freedom for your players, and less frustration for you, I'd seriously consider switching to the idea of an onion plot.

Choosing the right character for your game can be tough, especially when you've got a slew of ideas rolling around in your head. A conversation on an episode of the Know Direction podcast I was recently on, though, gave us a useful tool for making this decision, and I thought I'd share it for folks who didn't tune-in.

For those who've been following along with my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting, I finally took a break from outlining the cities to talk about the greater, cosmic setup of the world. In a world with no alignment, and no divinely mandated good or evil, what are the gods like? And how does removing heaven and hell, the celestial and the abyss change the game? Find out while I talk about Gods of Sundara!

I've had a lot of folks in my circles talk about Nordic LARP recently, so I wanted to weigh in with some of my thoughts on the subject. Before going in, though, I would like folks to remember this is a very personal take, and will certainly not apply to everyone. But for folks who wonder why I'm not enthused by the idea, I wanted to lay out my thought process.

It's been a while since I had occasion to talk about one of my craft projects, but I finally finished something that I got something of a kick out of. For all my Warhammer 40K fans out there, I didn't have a mini, but that didn't stop me from trying my hand at painting all the same.

People have been asking me where the bad guys are going to come from in a world that's more about cooperation and progress than it is about fighting evil cults and slaying goblins. And as an example of where you find villains in this setting, I would like to turn our attention to Archbliss: The City of The Sorcerers.

Homebrewing campaign settings is something of a tradition in tabletop gaming. It's a massive expenditure of time, effort, and energy, though. So it's worth asking yourself if the story you want to tell requires you to build a new world from the ground up, or if store bought is fine.

There's a lot of talk about optimization in RPGs. However, while people are quite correct in saying characters don't need to be optimal in order to be fun, I would point out that they still need to be functional in order to actually hold up their end of the party.

It's been a hot minute since I talked about something in my Monday slot that I think players should go out and buy post haste, but "Temple of Dagon" is definitely something you need if you want a fun, unique adventure for your players to try on for size!

When I sit down to play an RPG, I acknowledge that sometimes a GM is going to have to make rule calls, and interpret meanings. But I need to trust they can do that from a position of neutrality, rather than trying to skew everything to their personal preferences regardless of the desires of the table, or what makes for a fairer game.

Too often STs will go into huge tirades about how "broken" guns and other modern weaponry is in the World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness settings. Rather than just slap your players' hands for trying to use the best tools to defend themselves in a bleak, brutal setting, though, why not turn back the clock to a time before shooting irons if you don't want to deal with them? I guarantee your players will be far more interested in that approach.

If you've been following my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age releases so far, then you know I'm trying to get as weird, wild, and unusual as possible. If you're tired of GMs rolling their eyes at you for trying to play "special snowflake" characters, then Hoardreach: The City of Wyrms is going to be right up your alley!

This topic has been talked about a lot, but I thought I'd add my voice to it all the same this week. Because keeping the mechanics and narration in agreement with one another is extremely important, and trying to marry them together with a heavy hand can often cause even bigger problems.

It's Monday, and this week I'd like to take a second to big-up a fellow creator's signal. Because you can never have too many folks in your hobby, and Paco Jean is echoing a lot of the sentiment I put out a while back. Be welcoming, be friendly, and be an ambassador for your game if you want people to sit down and enjoy it the way you do!

If you've been thinking about stretching out and trying different games, then you might be contemplating either the World or Chronicles of Darkness (either as a first timer, or someone returning after a bit of torpor). If you're going to be running a Vampire game (either Masquerade or Requiem), I'd recommend taking some time to watch these non-vampire movies to help hone your chronicle.

For folks who've been keeping an eye on my new setting, the third installment dropped last month. And it's different than a lot of places you'll come across in fantasy RPGs for the very specific reason that it is a place where invention and advancement is the main stock in trade, and the profits go directly to the people.

A lot of the time we worry about how to use the stick to make our players stay within certain boundaries. Instead, though, ask where you're putting your carrots, and how you're getting your players to pursue them.

While it might sound repetitive, this is a hill I've staked out, and I'm more than prepared to die on. Railroading your players' creativity is just as bad as railroading the plot, and in both cases you're not doing your game any favors.

I'm a pretty big fan of the World/Chronicles of Darkness as a setting, but I've always had trouble getting into Masquerade. I've been making some strides, though, and one thing that helped suck me in was this supplement from Clinton Boomer... so check it out already!

We've all heard the arguments about whether certain necromancy spells should or shouldn't be evil, and what the effects of casting them are. If you're a player who is sick of the proscribed, inherent morality of alignment, then come to Sundara: Dawn of a New Age where places like the City of Bones (run by a guild of necromancers) is just waiting for you!

If you've been looking for a virtual destination for your game, then Mythic Table is somewhere you should definitely check out... especially now that they have a Kickstarter up for kicking everything up into high gear!

There are a lot of folks out there who either prefer rules light games, or who are considering stepping over to them. Something I'd recommend is to ask yourself how much you trust the person running the game. Not just to be fair and equitable, but how much do you trust them to improvise and write new mechanics for the oddball thing you want to do? Because the fewer rules a game has, the more often the GM is going to have to make it up themselves.

When you're a GM, and you're planning on making changes to the game, ask if you're limiting player options, choices, and freedom, or expanding it. Because the smaller you make the game, the greater the chances that your players get claustrophobic and decide to walk away from the table before things even begin.

Entirely too many game masters out there think the best way to get their players to do what they want is to levy in-game punishments or to try to manipulate them through the setting. Don't do that. If someone is being a problem, talk to them like an adult. It prevents bad feelings, and solves issues WAY faster.

For folks who saw my latest release Cities of Sundara: Ironfire, and are wondering what this is all about, I wanted to go in-depth on what's come out so far, and what I'm planning on doing in future installments with this new RPG setting I've been working so hard on.

As a goal-oriented player who's also been a GM, this is something I'd recommend everyone listen to. Because if you use challenging scenarios to discourage a player looking for challenge, they aren't going to do what you want... and that's going to frustrate everyone involved.

The Savage Company folks are at it again! I'm an unabashed fan of the energy and style of this setting, and "Machines of War" looks like another lovely addition to the games you can play in this high-octane world.

There's nothing more frustrating than the players jumping the gun, and taking out the BBEG before you had planned on it. Rather than taking away your players' victory, though, you get a lot more out of keeping your threats spread out, and de-centralized, so there isn't just one serpent that needs its head cut off.

GMs are always complaining that a game is too hard, or too easy, when they pick up a pre-made campaign and try to run it for their friends. Something a lot of them seem to forget is that it's impossible to predict what's going to show up round a table... so you're going to have to tailor the experience to suit the game you're actually playing if you want it to really work.

Regular readers know that I'm generally not a fan of rules light games... but even I've found a few that I can recommend without too many caveats. So if you haven't tried these, I'd suggest giving them a spin!

This is one of the most common reasons I've left tables in my time as a player. Because we all have preferences, and we can all make changes... but if you don't take the time to talk to your players about them, your game may very well end before it really gets going.

One of the biggest hurdles in some games is just getting players to actually throw their hats into the ring. If you embrace Rule 303, though, you'll often find that step gets taken care of in a big damn hurry.

When you set foot into the World of Darkness, or similar modern fantasy settings, it's easy to get swept up in the dark grandeur and bleak awfulness of the fantasy monsters, creatures, and threats... but don't forget, that's only have the game!

2020


If you're a game master, and you want to make sure you provide your players the best experience they can have, keep this in mind. Because nobody thinks it's clever when the GM tries to be Agatha Christie.

This is a discussion that keeps coming up in RPG circles. As such, I thought I'd weigh in today with what the major, deciding factor for theater of the mind is. Because the more specific you need the image in everyone's head to be, the more frustrating it's going to become.

With the pandemic going on, more people than ever before are taking their shot at being RPG creators. If you're one of the folks out there who wants to make a living in this field, then this week's Monday post is for you.
 
If you're frustrated there's relatively little content for Pathfinder's second edition, then you might want to take a moment to check out Chronicles of Arcaea, a miniature world guide and a solid level 1-4 "module" will help you find your bearings, and really get settled into what J Honea has to offer.
 
I've had a lot of folks ask why I'm not making more rules-heavy, crunchy content. And, sad to say, the reason is just that a lot of the time it doesn't pay a whole lot of dividends. I wish it were otherwise, but you can't argue with numbers.
 
A player's character is the one thing they actually have control over. Which is why if you, as a game master, are going to try to usurp that control you need to get the player's okay. No matter how brilliant or fun you think the story, plot twist, or reason is, you need the player to agree if you want to avoid bad blood at the table.
 
We've all had to go online to maintain our social distancing in the time of Covid-19. But if you've been on the lookout for a unique virtual portal, take a moment to check out Mythic Table! It's absolutely free, and stylish enough that it just might be worth trying out for your next campaign.
 
The past is truly an undiscovered country, and most settings have eras of history that led up to where we're playing in them now. So why not turn back time, and run a game in those older eras? Because it's a great way to get the creative juices flowing, and to create a campaign that's both new, and still familiar.
 
It's been a while since we've had a new release from the Savage Company setting, but if your trigger finger's been getting itchy then have no fear. The Infantryman's Handbook has plenty of dakka for you, along with a bunch of fun new class archetypes to field.
 
As a game master there are going to be characters and concepts that you have to say no to. But, generally speaking, you will get a lot more out of sitting down with your players and trying to find a compromise first, instead of just telling them no because you don't like something.
 
Whether you're looking for a beautiful game piece, a fun accessory, or a captivating read, you should really give the Window-Ravenswood deck a look. The project has expanded out, and become something of an entity unto itself at this point, and it's damnably impressive when you take it all in.
 
It's the little things that matter, and this is one of those tiny tweaks that can keep your players' enthusiasm going long into the campaign. Because the fewer stock lines and canned responses you have, the more enthused your players are going to be that there's actual back-and-forth between them and the game.
 
If you want to really indulge in the scary storytelling traditions of the season, but you're not sure where to get started, I've put forth a few suggestions of things that might get your wheels turning this week!
 
If you're a gamer, then you no doubt want to support designers so they can keep making all the stuff you like to play. Whether you're a fan of my work, or you want to support some other designers on your list, these are some things you should take pains to do. Some of them are free, some require cash, but I guarantee there's something on this list you can do!
 
When it comes to  making a unique setting where cultures and creatures feel unique and organic, it's important to avoid monolithic aspects. Doing that's hard, but one of the best things you can do is to make sure you think small, and start small, before working your way up to the big things.
 
If you want to get crafty at your table this year, consider putting together a handy DIY initiative tracker that isn't going to cost you more than a couple dollars, and maybe an hour of craft time to go from start to finish.
 
Alignment is something players and DMs alike constantly complain about, but it goes deeper than magic items and class restrictions. Alignment is a fundamental component of the universe in a lot of these settings, and without it the cosmic balance will sort of fall apart.
 
My latest 5 Tips piece, this one was highly requested by readers from the list. Hopefully I managed to do it justice, and to offer some useful insights!
 
Something for all the game designers out there. Whether you do it for the money, or this is just a passion project, please consider keeping some of the following tips in mind when you start assembling your new game.
 
Something that I think is worth mentioning for all the DMs out there. Because too often we assume that challenge is something the DM throws down, and that's that... but challenge isn't a statement. Challenge is a dialogue, between the whole table. 

This is something I wrote up after chewing it over for nearly a year. However, it's exploded since it came out, so if you haven't seen it yet come and check it out!
 
For folks who've enjoyed my kinfolk project, it is now available from High Level Games as a bundle! 13 tribes, and 1,400 NPCs, all for about $15. If that's not enough to get you excited, stop on in and let me remind you about what's going on just below the surface of this project.
 
As a DM, fewer things are a bigger nightmare than mass combat. While there are rules systems out there for making it work, I've found this combination of simple tracking and narrative tension actually works a lot better, while also keeping the focus on the PCs where it belongs.
 
One of the things that's rarely talked about in my experience is the idea of closure. Of finishing a story, and making room in your brain to start something new. And if you're wondering why some players seem to be stuck on certain concepts, it might be worth asking if they've ever gotten to give that story a proper telling.

I put out a LOT of content, not just here on Improved Initiative, but also on Vocal, Amazon, and Drive Thru RPG. Instead of trying to second-guess what you're all looking for, though, why not just tell me what you'd like to see this week?

Interrogations are probably the most overlooked kind of scene there is in gaming, often because DMs forget that NPCs may be taken prisoner instead of killed. This is an opportunity for great tension and good storytelling, though, so don't let it pass you by!

July 13, 2020 Pair Your PCs Up, and You'll Keep Everyone Involved
It is all too easy for players to paint themselves into a corner regarding their character's ability to get into the party. If you're worried about the taciturn loner, or the strong, silent PC getting overlooked, this strategy can help you keep everyone involved.

July 6, 2020 Party Balance is Mostly a Myth. Instead, Ask How You're Challenging The Party
Too many DMs in my experience are worried about balancing the party, and making sure that one PC can't outperform other characters by a certain degree. Remember, the Hulk and Hawkeye are still on the same team... because they each shine in different situations. So ask what sort of challenges you're providing, and if they're being slanted toward one particular character's strengths.

June 29, 2020 "Almost" A Warhammer 40K Short
Something fun I felt inspired to put together to augment a little art project I've been working on. For those who'd like to dip a toe in the grimdark, come along with me on a little ride!

June 22, 2020 Owen KC Stephens Tells It Like It Is With #RealGameIndustry
If you haven't seen Owen KC Stephens' #RealGameIndustry statements yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out. As a designer, I can say there is a lot of stuff in there that I wish more gamers knew about before they jumped into a conversation.

June 15, 2020 "The Book of Monstrous Might" Now on Kickstarter From Total Party Kill Games!
If you've been looking for shiny new options for your 5th Edition DND game, then you will not want to miss this Kickstarter from TPK Games. New monsters, abilities, and player races galore, as well as optional tactics and other rules to spice up your game!

June 8, 2020 "Abattoir 8" is Bloody, Grimdark Fun!
I've been craving something dark and nasty for the past little while. Let me tell you, Abattoir 8 hits the spot, and it's got me excited for the greater Grimmerspace universe that will be unveiled soon!

June 2, 2020 The Stories We Tell Make a Difference
With all of the protests happening right now, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone there are multiple ways to help. Use the platform you have to boost the signal, support the cause, and keep pushing for progress. For me, the messages I include in my work are one of my ways of trying to make a difference.

May 26, 2020 To Puzzle, Or Not To Puzzle? 3 Tips For Making Them Work
Puzzles in our RPGs are almost expected... but they can be tough to make work. Keep these tips in mind if you're a DM who wants their players to feel like puzzles are fun and challenging, instead of slogs to be solved only because they have to.

May 19, 2020 DMs, Help Your Players Create an Identity For Their Party as a Whole
Too often a party ends up becoming just a bunch of individuals who don't really have any glue binding them together. One way to avoid this is to make sure the party, as an institution, has an identity, tradition, and flavor all its own for those who belong to it.

May 11, 2020 A Response to The "Flaw" in My 100 Kinfolk Collection
For folks who've been watching my releases over the past year and some change, you've no doubt noticed that I'm wrapping up my 100 Kinfolk project for Werewolf: The Apocalypse! However, I came across a comment in a review the other day, and I thought I'd address the concerns left by a reader who seemed to miss the point of what I was doing entirely.

May 4, 2020 The Critical Hits Trilogy From TPK Games is Finally Released!
For folks who've always wondered why I don't write modules, well, I do! All three of the modules from TPK Games with my name on them are now out, and if you'd like to see more then help me spread the word, and increase the demand.

April 27, 2020 Orcs- Problematic, Or Poorly Written?
There has been a lot of talk about whether orcs or problematic recently. As such, I thought I'd weigh in this week to talk about the baggage our fiction comes with, the messages we include, and how we need to look at the things we enjoy honestly.

April 20, 2020 5 Strategies Dungeon Masters Should Consider Removing From Their Playbooks
There are a lot of tactics out there that are viable, by the rules, but which will quickly torpedo your players' enjoyment. I thought I'd sum up a few of the ones I've removed permanently from my games, and which I'd recommend others take the scissors to as well.

April 13, 2020 If You're a Pathfinder Caster, Try Spell Tracker For Free!
If you've been looking for a handy tool to keep track of your spells at the table, then Spell Tracker is right up your alley. And if you want to get it for free, just follow the special link in this week's update!

April 6, 2020 A Good DM Understands The Rules Before Changing Them
As we all know, Rule 0 says that we can change the rules whenever we want, however we want. But just because you can do something doesn't mean the change you're going to make is for the better. So take a moment, and ask what the repercussions are going to be before you alter the game's structure. Because you might be making things worse instead of better.

March 30, 2020 I Write More Than RPGs (Games and Giveaways)
Most folks know me as a fellow who writes, and writes about, tabletop RPGs. While I do a fair bit of that, I do create other content as well. Since a lot of us are staying home and away from people, I figured I'd do my part to sign post what I've put out there in the hopes that folks find something to fill their hours with.

March 24, 2020 DMs, Learn To Take Your Foot Off The Brake
This is a problem that I have run into a lot as a player, and as a DM it confounds me. So I thought I'd take today's entry as a moment to talk to all the very restrictive DMs out there, and to ask why. Real talk, what do you gain from telling your players no to using resources in the book? Because you might just be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

March 16, 2020 "Savage Company" is Out (And You Should Get Your Copy Immediately!)
It's been a while since I've done a review on Monday, and I thought this would be something that folks here would like to hear about. Because Savage Company is an absolute ball, and you should get your copy ASAP!

March 9, 2020 The Failure of Imagination
We often say that you can't know what you don't know. The failure of imagination is the inability to get beyond a certain box because your imagination simply can't conceive of what's outside of it. However, practice and freedom can go a long way in this regard.

March 2, 2020 How Hitchens' Razor Can Simplify Gaming Discussions
If you're looking for a quick, simple way to get to the heart of an argument in a game debate, keep Hitchens' Razor in mind. That which can be asserted without evidence may also be dismissed without evidence.

February 24, 2020 Looking For A New Gaming Podcast? Check Out Loaded Dice Rollers!
If you're looking for a new tabletop gaming podcast to help fill your listening hours, then Loaded Dice Rollers may be right up your alley. Seriously, stop what you're doing, and go have a listen to them right now!

February 10, 2020 You Are Not Obligated To Like Games Just Because They're Popular
Too often people get defensive about how popular games don't cater to what they want. So this is my reminder, as a newly disgruntled grognard to everyone else in this camp... no one cares. Trust me when I say this, we do ourselves far more harm than good when we start revving up our negativity engines.

February 3, 2020 The Five-Man Band and Your Party (Something To Think About)
We're all familiar with the idea of filling certain, mechanical roles in the party... but what about story roles? If you're not used to thinking about the meta parts of a story, and what roles characters fall into, then understanding the Five-Man Band can be quite useful.

January 27, 2020 5 Supplements For Players Looking For Character Inspiration
If you've had trouble coming up with fresh details and unique backgrounds for your characters, these supplements should provide you with some inspiration. All of them from yours truly!

January 20, 2020 Check Out Karol B Clothing and Costuming (You Won't Regret It)
Whether you're a LARPer, or you just really like the post-apocalyptic dystopia look, Karol B is the place for you to go. Seriously, if you haven't been there yet, go check it out!

January 13, 2020 Somebody Who Knows You (A DM Tool For Moving The Plot Along)
Sometimes your players just run dry on ways to achieve the goals you've set out for them. Fortunately, if their reputations precede them, the party may find they're presented with all sorts of opportunities.

January 6, 2020 Chaosium Steps Up, Offers Reward For Players Who Donate To Help Fight Australia's Fires
If you've ever wanted to be a hero, Chaosium has put out a call to arms for you. Australia needs aid, and those of us who've played the parts of heroes on our Friday nights finally have a chance to prove we'll help when the time comes.

2019


December 30, 2019 DMs, Provide Options For Characters With "Useless" Skills (in Pathfinder)
There are a lot of skills in Pathfinder that people consider overly specific at best, and totally useless at worst. However, if you read through what they really do, then you might find they can be used in quite a few different ways in your campaign.

December 23, 2019 Players, Don't Bring Antagonism To The Table
Forging a tight-knit team from a group of random sellswords and hard cases is tough enough... don't make that harder on everyone else by being an abrasive square peg on top of everything else.

December 16, 2019 Players, Make Sure Your Characters Actually Want To Be Here
There is nothing a DM hates hearing more than the phrase, "My character wouldn't be interested in that." You're in control of your character, and you need to meet the DM halfway and find a reason for your character to participate... or you could just stay at the tavern while everyone else goes on the adventure.

December 9, 2019 5 Gifts For The Gamers in Your Life (And at Your Table)
The holidays are here again, and that means it's time to figure out what sort of loot to get your friends. If you're scratching your head this year, or just looking for some stocking stuffers, this list should be more than enough to get you started.

December 2, 2019 DMs, Remember "No" Is Not The End of The Conversation... It's The Beginning!
A lot of dungeon masters out there feel that once they've told a player no on a class, feat, race, etc., that's the end of it. But your players aren't annoying children that you're babysitting, and if you're going to deny them options that are legal by the rules you all agreed to, then you should at least work with them to find something that is acceptable.

November 25, 2019 4 Ways DMs Can Take The Commerce (And The Math) Out of Magic Items
For folks who don't want their players to just exchange hard currency for potent magic items, this particular piece of advice should be just what you need as a DM to make the acquisition of this gear feel just a bit more special.

November 11, 2019 DMs, If You Want To Provide a Tougher Challenge, Alter Your Arenas
The sheer number of DMs who roll initiative while the party is in an open meadow, or in a big, square room with nowhere to run or hide, always surprises me. If you want to make your fights a little tougher, try using some of the terrain and environment rules to increase the challenge.

Novermber 4, 2019 DMs, When It Comes To World Building, There's No Such Thing As Wasted Effort
It's easy to get discouraged when your players walk right past something you've put a lot of time and effort into, but remember, you're the DM. Just because something isn't front-and-center doesn't mean it was wasted.

October 28, 2019 DMs, Don't Give Your Players A Handout When They Can Talk To An NPC Instead
All too often dungeon masters will grow reliant on handouts, notes, and other papers to deliver key information to the party. Instead of just passing around a diary, ask if there isn't some way that information could be delivered by an NPC instead... the results may surprise you.

October 21, 2019 Learning To Speak Multiple RPGs Allows You To Translate For Newer Players
Getting someone excited about a new game they've never played can be tough. However, the more experience you have with different systems, the easier to becomes to translate concepts, and to get people invested in what you're doing.

October 14, 2019 Stop Marking On Your Character Sheet (Seriously, There Are Better Ways)
If you hate how ragged and stained your character sheet gets over a decent campaign, then you might want to consider using an alternative score-keeping system. There's all sorts of handy tools out there that can save your boxes, and stop you from re-writing your sheet entirely every 3-5 levels.

October 7, 2019 Feast of Legends... Is Wendy's New RPG Really Worth It?
If you've been wondering whether you should grab the new, completely free RPG that Wendy's put out the other week, this should answer your question. Because it's certainly a corporate marketing gimmick... but that doesn't make it a bad game.

September 30, 2019 5 Rumors About Your Character (A Simple Trick For Establishing a PC)
If you've ever run a game, you know how tough it can be to get the party started when they're all a bunch of disparate individuals. However, a few rumors go a long way, and this is a trick I'd highly recommend implementing at your tables.

September 23, 2019 Affordable Metal Minis? Nano MetalFigs Has You Covered!
Metal minis are often seen as the hallmark of either an old school gamer, or one who has a lot of dosh to throw around. But if you'd like a diecast mini, and you're willing to do a little DIY to really make it shine, then I'd suggest checking out the affordable options Nano MetalFigs has available.

September 16, 2019 Consent in Gaming (If You Haven't Downloaded This Book Yet, You Really Should)
The Internet has been all aflutter over this release from Monte Cook Games, and for good reason. A simple supplement, it has a lot of solid information and strategies in it for the low, low cost of absolutely nothing!

September 9, 2019 Organize Your Spell Cards With a Portable Spellbook!
Organization is the key to spellcasting power, and spell cards are a great way to keep all your information at your fingertips. But if you want to make sure you're tracking your daily load out, I'd recommend this handy, pocket grimoire to really make things easy on yourself.

September 2, 2019 The State of Improved Initiative (And How You Can Help)
Improved Initiative has been trying to pick up speed over the past few months, and I've got a lot of side projects going on, as well. For folks who want to get clued-in to what I'm putting out, and who'd like to help me keep doing it, this post is for you!

August 26, 2019 Players, Remember, Just Because You CAN Doesn't Mean You SHOULD
There are all sorts of options available to you, as a player, when you make your character. However, just because you have the ability to spend your resources in a certain way, you should probably ask how it benefits you to do that. Otherwise you might find that you've bought a lot of little abilities that just aren't going to help you get over the finish line.

August 12, 2019 "Edgy" Games Require Trust
If you want to run a game with more mature themes, then you need to get your players to trust you. Without that trust, they aren't going to fully buy in, and the whole thing is just going to fall apart on you.

August 5, 2019 DMs, Prevent Murderhobos By Rewarding Alternative Player Strategies
There are horror stories aplenty online about murderhobos and their deeds... but often they've preventable. Which is why, as a DM, it's important for you to consider the example you're setting, and what you're giving back to players who try to use a strategy other than killing every NPC they meet and letting the gods sort it out.

July 29, 2019 Dungeon Masters, If Your Players Focus on Something, Make it Matter
Too often dungeon masters will just grit their teeth and fold their arms when players focus on background elements or NPCs that weren't intended to be important parts of the story. However, if your players' interest is caught my someone or something, you should go with the flow rather than trying to fishhook them back onto the path you intended them to be on. You'll get much better results that way.

July 22, 2019 Dungeon Masters, Embrace The Concept of Failing Forward!
Too often dungeon masters see a failed roll as a reason to punish players, or to just ignore their actions. However, the concept of failing forward is one that can keep your game going smoothly, and help ensure that your table never gets bored.

July 15, 2019 100 Kinfolk: A Werewolf the Apocalypse Project
I've written a lot of gaming supplements over the years, and I'm taking all the knowledge I've gleaned from those past projects and delving deep into the World of Darkness. Come with me and explore, won't you?

July 7, 2019 The Inquisitor's Guide, A DND 5E Review
Sometimes I get folks asking me to take a look at their latest projects, and to give my thoughts on them. This is one of those times, and it's a fairly solid offering from Marco Bertini.

July 1, 2019 Why I Think Paizo Releasing Content For 5th Edition is a Smart Move
With the second edition of Pathfinder looming on the summer horizon, Paizo recently stated they'll be releasing a 5th Edition-compatible Bestiary. And that, I think, is a glimmer of a much better marketing idea. Here's why.

June 24, 2019 DM Advice: Front-Load Prison Breaks in Your Campaign
It seems like half the games out there have some kind of thrilling prison escape in them. If you're going to do that, though, you're a lot better off doing it when the party is still low enough in level for that to be a challenge.

June 17, 2019 Can't Get Enough of Free RPG Day? Dig a Little Deeper on Drive Thru RPG!
I miss the days when my local stores actually participated in Free RPG Day. However, I've been digging through Drive Thru RPG's archives, and I've found that if you're patient there is a slew of free stuff on there worth checking out for yourself!

June 10, 2019 5 Common Disruptive Actions in RPGs (And How To Counter Them as a DM)
You can't predict every curve ball that's going to come your way behind the DM screen. But some curve balls can be hit with a bit of foreknowledge and practice... these are 5 of the most common ones I've found, and how to smack them out of the park.

June 3, 2019 Like Urban Fantasy? Take 6 Minutes To Watch "As They Continue To Fall"
If you're a fan of secret worlds, gritty hunters, and bizarre creatures, take 6 minutes out of your day to watch the short film As They Continue To Fall. Seriously, you'll thank me later.

May 28, 2019 I've Gone Silver and Copper on Drive Thru RPG!
I've been putting out content on Drive Thru RPG with several companies over the past few years, but it seems like recently a lot of it's been hitting metal levels! I'm excited, and I wanted to share some of my gains with all you fine folks out there.

May 21, 2019 Want to Run Better World of Darkness Games? Then Watch John Wick!
If you've ever wanted to know how to make a truly unique World of Darkness (or Chronicles of Darkness) game, then you should really watch how the John Wick films unroll their secret world. It's a master class in world building that sucks you in, and doesn't want to let go.

May 7, 2019 If A DM Wants Personal Investment, Their Games Needs Personal Stakes
A lot of games simply fizzle out when DMs keep providing generic hooks and randomized rewards. It turns the campaign in a grind. If you personalize everything, though, it ensures the story's spark never goes out.

April 29, 2019 The "I Know A Guy" Strategy For Adding NPCs To Your Game
If you don't want to do all the work as a dungeon master, consider asking your players if there's someone their PCs know who could help them out. It frees up your energy, and can help flesh out the world in interesting, personal ways.

April 22, 2019 5 Horror Board Games You Should Have on Your Shelf
It might not be October, but I want to take a moment to talk about horror board games. Because while slaying dragons and fighting demons is a ball, sometimes I want a shorter, tighter, madder sort of game. These are the ones I'd recommend trying out, if you're of a similar opinion.

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.

2018


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.

2017


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.

2016


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?

2015


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.

2014


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.

2013


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.

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