Category: Crumbling UpKeep

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Crumbling UpKeep: Teenage Angst and Things from the Flood

I am 38 years old. I was born in 1981. That puts my graduating year as 1999.

Have you started caring yet? Don’t worry, I plan on giving you many more dates and numbers inconsequential to your own life.

The reason I mention this is that my prime teenage years were during the sunset of grunge. The economic growth of the late 80s crashed into the recession of 1990. There was a sense of fatalism and that the cultural excesses of earlier times had robbed us of some important authenticity. It’s not a new story, as “The Catcher in the Rye” had been telling it since 1951, but it’s a good one. Nineties culture just made the story that much dirtier.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Your Magic Sucks

A while ago, I wrote an article about describing your combat. People like to think that role playing and combat are two separate things, but they don’t have to be. The way your character fights says something about them too. Does your fighter hammer away repeatedly with their sword, relying on their strength to batter away the enemies defenses? Or do they dance away from their opponents sword, spinning underneath their blade to stab forward under their guard? Both of those are very different and very visually pleasing.

What about magic, though? People often fall into the same trap. “I cast magic missile.” Roll some d4s. Done.

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Crumbling UpKeep: A Penny for My Thoughts

Sometimes I like to buy RPGs without knowing a thing about them. I love when stores have sales on their old stock for this reason. It might be the gambler in me, but I don’t mind dropping ten dollars on something I might not ever play. It could turn out to be awesome and that in and of itself is a fun game to play. It could also turn out to be a ten dollar waste, but…. meh.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Campfire XP

Player’s have this long and elaborate backstory. They have 20 some years of tragedy written out, just waiting for that moment their character can be vulnerable and explain what dire straights have forced them into this life of adventuring. Normal well adjusted people don’t want to go sleep on the ground in the cold woods to save the world from whatever abominable threat has reared it’s head this time. Hell, I get cranky if I just skip breakfast.

But what if that moment of vulnerability never comes? What if the heroes are so busy running around killing the baddies and solving the mysteries that they just don’t get that opportunity? Sometimes I want to know about a character’s first love, what their favorite smell is, what keeps them awake at night, and their best drinking stories. The players generally want to share that with you if you just give them an opportunity.

Enter Campfire XP.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Elements of Horror

Once upon a time, I was a young DM playing Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition. Yes, that does date me a bit. Long before Curse of Strahd was a thing, there was the Ravenloft box set, which contained all the world building and additional rules you need to play in the demiplane of dread. Vampires, ghouls, zombies, and mists that would wrap you up and take you away. It had all thing things it needed to be scary.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Better Random Encounters

Personally, I love random encounter tables. RPGs are games of mitigated chance. Characters make dice rolls to hit monsters, negotiate deals, and fly spaceships. Why not have the GM make them to see what’s around the corner? The element of randomness gives both the players and GM something to play with, as the unexpected happens.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Giving Your Cities Character

Heroes can spend a lot of time out in the wilderness. There is a lot of action outside of town, what with monsters ravaging the countryside, forgotten dungeons, and that pesky environment to contend with. Eventually, the characters are going to come to a settlement, however. Maybe they just want to grab supplies or have a long rest without worrying about pesky Anhkegs for once. Perhaps the city is actually a focus, and you’re planning to run an urban campaign. Whatever the reason, the forests and plains are giving way to wood smoke and buildings. How do you make this community stand out? Continue reading “Crumbling UpKeep: Giving Your Cities Character”

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Crumbling UpKeep: Campaign Prep in Bullet Points

When I’m running a streaming game or recording an episode of our podcast, it’s not enough that I have plans for whats going to happen in the game; I also need to know when it’s going to happen. I prefer to have each episode reach some sort of completion. If there is a cliffhanger, I want that to be intentional.

So how do I keep a game going where I need it to go? I think in threes.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Abuse is Not a Game

It’s been quite a week in the RPG world. An abuser was outed unequivocally as an abuser that has often tried to silence others in the community. I don’t know that I have much to say that hasn’t already been said in ways much better than I could, so I’ll say this.

Support gaming companies run by women and POC. Here are two great options.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Bringing Madness to DnD

Most people play dungeons and Dragons to be heroic. They want to save the day while staring gruesome monstrosities and certain death in the face over and over again. Their characters just grit their teeth, look demons in the eye, and spit. Unlike real life where I get startled when there is a knock at the door, nothing scares a D&D character.

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Crumbling UpKeep: Traps. Who does this to their home?

Traps are a classic part of Dungeons and Dragons, so much so that entire books have been made about them. They grown to be ever more complicated through the years, always adding more pulleys and strange fail safes in an effort to confuse and trick the players. Until recent editions, they were one of the big reasons you always had a thief in the party, as no one else had a chance to notice them.

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