narrative


Death in Roleplaying Games 5

This is one of those posts that I’ve talked about writing for awhile now, and I expect that a whole lot of people will disagree most vehemently with everything I say – in one direction or the other. It’s fine, folks. My comment section welcomes you as long as we all […]


Five Tips for Time Travel Stories

Quite a while back, a friend suggested that he’d like to see a post on how to run good time-travel stories in roleplaying games. I’m finally writing one – if not an exhaustive guide, then five pointers to make your time travel adventure as cool as possible. I’ve always loved […]


D&D 5e: Expanded Background Assets 3

In D&D 5e, Backgrounds grant a modest assortment of equipment and a pocketful of starting cash. For many campaigns, this is fine and appropriate. You’re playing wanderers, sellswords, not to say murderhoboes, and a broader base of social and material assets will at best be in a town halfway across the […]


Stakes, Agency, Consequences

This post comes out of watching a lot of The Magicians (haven’t read the books) and listening to a lot of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. Together, these have me thinking a lot about the narrative loop of stakes, agency, and consequences. I want to talk about these, and how we […]


Actual Plays, Reality Shows, and What’s Next

I’ve been immersed in three different shows over the past several weeks: Critical Role, Skin Wars, and The Magicians. Sure, I know I am literally years behind many of you in seeing these, but it helps a lot to experience them all together, because I think the synthesis of these […]


Villain Design: The Rise of Tiamat 1

In this post I’m returning to my series on villain design and implementation, this time to talk about The Rise of Tiamat. It is, of course, the follow-up to Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but it’s also quite sensibly presented in its own book, because the two arcs are entirely dissimilar in […]


Villain Design: Hoard of the Dragon Queen 4

In the same vein as my post on Villain Design in Dust to Dust, today I’m tackling the first hardback adventure series released for 5e: Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Spoiler warning, I am going to be talking in detail about who the villains are, their motives, and the adventure’s […]


Villain Design in Dust to Dust

I’ve talked about villain design in this blog before, but now that the Dust to Dust campaign is over, I want to use them as case studies in that conversation. In my view, DtD’s major villains were one of the most-right things that we did. This is not “in comparison […]


Game Design Is Input/Output

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a game designer in possession of even a modest audience must be in want of a clever new way to talk about fundamental design.” — Jane Austen, on The Forge, circa 2003, probably. This is one of those abstract-theory posts that might be […]


Emotional Play in Games

This post is a reaction to Bluestockings’s Be Vulnerable: Emotional Play and Toxic Masculinity. I’ve been chewing on it for a few days, and I find that there are important things it doesn’t say, solely relative to my own gaming space. Nothing you read here is going to reject anyone else’s […]