Session 47

Cloud giant retaliation, A dwarven party… and  holy place!

I feel like I am on to something with my prep technique… I don’t want to talk about it now. i would like to figure it out before I start writing about it. It is blowing my mind though! We have (IMHO) had a couple of amazing sessions. Next stop prepared content from Storm King’s Thunder!

Session #42…

spoiler alert Yuri! Some time ago I prepared the Roll20 version of tales from the Yawning Portal presents: White Plume Mountain! This largely involved reading the adventure then pasting room info to hidden room tokens for me to retrieve latter… And of course changing stuff here and there to reflect my group’s stamp on the world.

This effort continues to pay off as the group is somewhere in the half way zone…


Updates… it has been a bit. I started a new job. Did some bucket list stuff! My dad was in the hospital. And in less depressing excuses, I am doing Inktober!

What is Inktober you ask!?! #Inktober is this awesome deal on twitter where every day you draw a picture using only ink and then you post it on Twitter with #Inktober.

There has been some really awesome work posted! For me it is a chance to challenge myself: To completing work every day… come hell or high water, and to knock the cobwebs off my drawing ability.

one of my bucket list items is to design, illustrate, write, layout, and publish my own adventure module… so D&D stuff is kind of a theme! So far goblins… I have done 1E and 2E, tomorrow 5E!



2017 has been a year of goals for me. Specifically, to do some major rust repair on my VW beetle, get my 52 Dodge running well enough to take a load of trash to the local recycling event next month, and publish a d&d adventure. I am pretty sure the first won’t happen this year, the second is on target, and the third, well the third… jury is out on that.

I guess I should restate my overall goal, to become an RPG badass, and as previously stated, I don’t even know what that is. What I do know is that the first time I ran a game of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, I fell in love. I felt so many aspects of my life align, and at that moment I knew that I needed to be a part of this community.

Fortunately, I have a day job that is not terribly challenging, pays a living wage, and has good benefits. I figure I need to put in another 25 years then I can retire. The best part is, that is 20+ years before I need to make any income from RPGs. It is not unreasonable to think that in 20 years I should be pretty good. I do however want to take every opportunity to build my skills and positive reputation in this industry.

I have been camping on three adventure outlines I came up with. The problem is, I fell in love with these ideas and I wanted to do them right. As a result, I have done nothing with them. I asked Ruty Rutenberg for his advise on this and he suggested that there is no perfect, just the best you can do. And that you won’t have room to create more if you don’t purge those projects. What you make tomorrow will be better than today simply because you evolved.

What that means is, I want to move forward with those projects and self publish them here. For free. And I would like to put out at least one this year…

Life in the Time of Giants #46

A session Prep entry… If you are a player in my Tuesday/ Wednesday game (Also if you are playing or plan to play Storm King’s Thunder…) you may want to stop reading.  However, if you are the sort that opens their xmas presents a week early and re-wraps them in the still hours of the night, well read on. Who am I to judge.


Some time ago our heroes defeated the dreaded giant overlord Guh of the hill giants. From her they obtained the Conch that will magically teleport them to the next chapter in Storm King’s Thunder (which I prepared). Instead they decided to tie up loose ends heading to the town of Womford to hunt “The Bat”.

No problemo… Fred Love over at the Dungeon Master’s guild had created The Womford Bat A Four Page Module. It is pretty helpful and just the right size 3 pages and a cover sheet. My mighty heroes defeated the bat, pissed off the zhentarim, and flew off into the night on their airship.

Where will they go next? To defeat the fire giants of course! But first they want to message some people. One of those people happens to be a favorite NPC, who happens to been abducted by  cloud giants and is currently being tortured for information he does not have. So they go to his rescue and save him… gaining a flying cloud castle in the bargain.

< At this point I got a little impatient. THIS IS WRONG.  Everyone is having a good time exploring the world I have set in front of them. They do not need to follow the plot of the module i am using. THE JOURNEY IS THE ADVENTURE!>

They plan to follow up on some other leads as they head northeast to the fire giant’s lair. On the way they decide to do some more messaging. They learn that the Dawn Titan has been stolen from the dwarves and go to investigate. mishaps happen, they get in a fight with some drow and learn that this is part of the fire giant’s evil schemes…


So what to do, what to do, what to do? First I start with an assumption: They are going to get on their airship and fly to the fire giant lair as fast as possible. Fingers crossed. I estimate how long that will take them, in this case 8 days by airship. Now usually I would roll 3d20 (morning, noon, and night) for each day of travel and plan an encounter for anything over 18. This time I had grown bored with the random aerial encounter table provided… So I asked the good people of Twitter for encounter suggestions and decided to read the land for likely encounter locations.

@MoondustMoth suggested a pod of flying whales spewing acid out their blowholes. I like it, it is not the sort of thing anyone will be expecting. However, they are traveling over the interior… but there is a swamp. I like the idea of a spectral whale rising from the swamp to assault the party with acidic ectoplasm. I picture it like the dragon firework from Lord of the Rings except; green, whale, and coming from the ground to the sky… but otherwise that is the scene I am going to channel.

By this point, I had remembered that Maag the dwarf cleric had mentioned wanting to keep an eye out for fire giant dig sites or artifacts. So yeah, there has got to be one of them. I will just reuse a previous encounter map. should be good to go. This could go anywhere, but I really want it out in the open so they can see it from the sky. I think I will have someone from the crew offer up a bunch of featherfall potions so they can “Parachute” in… that would be a cool moment.

Then looking over the map, there is Mithril Hall, they will probably want to stop there. the module does not give much info on it, but if they stop for supplies I will just improv the whole thing with a focus on dwarf culture. the goal is to not get them sidetracked. Fingers crossed.

My brave heroes will also be flying over One Stone, a Geoglyph of a pegasus in a forest clearing. turns out there is a premade encounter… 2 earth cultists riding bulettes, who attract 20 barbarians. Sounds like a good time! Then that is it, they will arrive at their destination.

Is this enough? I think this is likely more than we will get through in a session. If it is Great! saves me a little work next time. If it is not enough, I can give my Players room to fill with role playing opportunities… or throw another combat their way, fire giant scouts perhaps.

GMing your way to a successful job interview.

When I started GMing for my group I thought, “This is going to really help my interpersonal skills.” Well I am happy to say I was right. I recently used the improvisational skills I have honed running Dungeons & Dragons into the most successful job interview of my life.

Full disclosure: This interview was for a lateral transfer. One of the interviewers was a friend of mine. and I had interviewed with many of these people many times… But when interviewers come up to you later and say things like “Wow you did really well at that interview! That is how it is done”, it makes me think I might be on to something.

Preparation: prepare yourself before the interview. I have hundreds of interview questions I have gotten off the internet and from job interviews. Find some questions and write them on notebook cards. Think about how you would answer them, make notes. When you are ready try having a friend quiz you on them. Feel free to answer the questions as your favorite D&D character to break the tension!

In this day and age, most interview questions want you to answer in the form of a story. You want to pick out a handful of experiences from your work life that can work for a number of situations. If push comes to shove, answer in the form of how you would deal with the situation. Try to keep it positive, focus on what the employer is looking for, and how you will benefit the organization. Just like planning out a social encounter!

Role playing: Also try to  figure out before hand, what the employer wants and how you satisfy that want. Figure out in your mind why you are the best candidate for the position and speak from that place. This is something I have always had difficulties with, because I am a pretty humble person and it feels weird to gush on about how great I am… but this is a JOB INTERVIEW, not real life. if you don’t tell the interviewer how great you are, no one else will.

Positive Energy: There came a time in running games where I did not have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I could feel it in my group and the  sessions. I did not like it. I vowed to try to bring a lot of energy the next time. It works… even if you have to phone it in a bit. people respond positively to people being positive and excited and full of energy. Seems simple, but it WORKS.

I am not an expert in this subject matter, but I did notice a dramatic change in my interviewing. The above are the areas I think made a difference to me. I sincerely hope someone out there finds this helpful. Good luck and good gaming!

I’m back!

At some point I picked up a copy of Complete Kobold Guide To Game Design by Wolfgang Baur et. al. The last third of this book focuses specifically on writing, pitching, and publishing for freelance RPG creators. In reading theses essays i began to form the impression that there is  a bit of depression that happens after you wrap up a big project.

A big sucking pit of nothingness if you will… And I fell smack into the middle of it after play testing Capers. I am not 100% sure why. But it is definitely a thing to watch out for. I suspect part of it was the novelty of working on a deadline. Another component was all of the things I put off to make the deadline caught up to me. Also while I was working on the project, one of my dogs hurt his back and lost the use of his back legs… so I had to deal with that as well.

(Over the past month he has been making an excellent recovery and now is able to walk around on his own)

The problem is getting back to it… I have got myself into not doing it and focusing on other areas of my life. I have made it a point to play some video games, and watch some movies… that stuff is important as a Game Master to recharge your batteries. Problem is it is even harder to get back to writing because now there is crushing guilt.

But it is time. Time to crawl out of the sucking pit of nothingness and get back to work. I have got to leave all that baggage behind and just move forward. Failing is as much a part of the creative process as succeeding, probably more so. Just got to own it and move forward.

If you feel this happening to you I suggest acknowledging it and move forward. The sooner you get back to your creative endeavors the sooner you can leave the sucking pit of nothingness behind.

Freelancing Ain’t Easy

Freelancing Ain’t Easy

I am falling behind on my goals for this blog. Last week I put all my effort into getting ready to play test Capers for Nerdburger Games. Capers is a Game set in the Roaring 20s… but with superpowers, so it is kind of like Boardwalk Empire + Justice League. Also it uses cards instead of dice for conflict resolution and randomness. It’s pretty awesome. you should check it out.

I started building the rules into a Roll20 module for my play test group. This started last Saturday. I spent several hours dealing with the character sheet design… Mainly that I do not know HTML and then several hours using what tools I had to make something that works. I then spent every spare moment last week copying text from the PDFs and pasting it into Roll20 handouts. I gave up editing fairly early.

But I discovered that I have 2-3 hours of free time a day. Almost an hour in the morning while I wake up before work. Then there is the hour or two from the time I finish with cooking, cleaning, showering, and miscellaneous chores before I fall asleep.


well well well. Welcome Readers. (How pretentious is that?) So it is Friday, end of a long week. I am tired and I just want to relax. I had a fight with myself about posting tonight… but I am waiting for a download so my mind is made up. Has it really been a week since I bought this domain? Yes. Yes it has. and I have not done much with it. =(

What I intend to do dear reader is to post a 500 word article per week, and also do some diary posts. Is that happening this week? Sadly, NO. But I am making progress on organizing and prioritizing all the time commitments I have made. I have cut back to DMing games per week (3 was too much to keep in my head) and I need to finalize a drainage design for my inlaws and get that out to bid… Once that happens that should free up some mental band width.

With these Diary posts I mean to do a stream of consciousness type thing. It is a good writing exercise. Also I have this thing where if something needs to be perfect, it makes me freeze up (like yes there is a whole extra step called editing and proof reading… I get that, but I feel like it has to be perfect before it gets to that stage… you will not find that here.)

Also if I do successfully publish some fantasy adventures and have quote end quote made it I would like for people who are where I am at now to see the progression. That is a big part of these diary posts. It seems to me that in the RPG industry (and many others) there is seldom a clear line from aspiring to do it and actually doing it. I would like to help change that.