Roleplaying

The Three Ways Games Approach Success and Failure

So your first-level Fighter just took a sword to the chest. Are you so wounded you can hardly fight anymore, even though you’re still alive? Do you get powered up for a devastating counterattack? Maybe you suffer no consequences at all besides losing some hitpoints. … read more »

Can Training Times Work in an RPG?

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I have seen in various roleplaying games a sort of “training time” mechanic. Basically in addition to gaining the needed experience points/levels/whatever to gain a new skill/power/attribute, your character must also devote a given amount of in-game time to training. These times pretty much invariably … read more »

How Can We Make RPG Languages Work Better?

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Can you write a column about language proficiencies as a game mechanic? Are there any games that do it right? Language proficiencies (esp in DND5e) often feel like they suffer from the problem of being too situational and thus expensive for their cost, and it … read more »

Four Fun D&D Character Builds for Power Gaming

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (5E) is one of my favorite RPGs out there. The system isn’t flawless. Between class options and the inherent randomness of a D20-based system, it has an almost comical lack of balance, leading to the infamous example of the 18 … read more »

Five Magic Mechanics That Break Their Systems

A classical painting of an alchemist working with potions.

Roleplaying mechanics can be difficult to balance, and magic can be difficult to balance, so it’s no surprise that when you combine the two, you get serious fireworks. I’m talking about powers and abilities that aren’t just overpowered; they can bring entire games to a … read more »

How Do I Balance Time in the Spotlight?

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Good afternoon! I have a roleplaying question. But first, some context: I’m a DM and my party of adventurers is about to visit Candlekeep (like a giant library in Faerûn). One of my players put a lot of work into his backstory, describing how he … read more »

Building a World for Treasure-Seeking Campaigns

Indiana Jones staring at the idol from Raiders of the Lost Arc.

Venturing out into the unknown and digging up treasure has a long history in RPGs, stretching back to the beginning of Dungeons and Dragons itself. For decades, players have delved dungeons, defeated dragons, and been rewarded with glittering gold pieces for their trouble. While this … read more »