Aug 28, 2012

Music for Gaming

Those of you who have listened to my game session recordings may have heard some of this in the background, but I thought I'd share outright: some of the music I play during my games.

It took a while to figure out a pretty simple rule of playing music during games: Keep it instrumental. That's probably obvious. Words distract people.

Also, keep it interesting: modern seems to work better than classical for most groups I've seen, as you can find some weird stuff and people seem to respond to that. Also get some stuff that fills up a background, this pours noise into the empty space people might be tempted to otherwise take up with conversation that distracts from the game. The right music can instead help immersion and prevent these distractions.

First up is Explosions in the Sky. I love this band and so do most people with whom I share it. I also find that the sound and space-filling quality of post-rock consumes dead silence particularly well, without being too demanding of one's attention.

My favorite album is this one.
So Long Lonesome made a perfect soundtrack for Leonard's funeral.

Metal is another genre people often use to game with. Since I like the instrumental style of most metal, but not usually the growling/screaming singing, I like to use Deathm0le. The albums you'll hear me use are Long Songs and Amps, because I grabbed them when they were free for a bit, but the albums are right there for nice cheap download so if you don't know your local record/CD store (you're missing out) or want to spend the money, you can always download.

Also, I know some people who like to use The Sword and when one of my players brought in a record last time it seemed to work out fine, so that works too.

Anybody with suggestions let me know.

Keep on (rocking and) rolling.

Aug 27, 2012

Manditory Reading

This is Zak S

If you already knew that, a tip of the hat to you and carry on.

If not, what are you doing here? Pick a link below and come back when you've finished your mandatory reading for being a good DM and humanoid life form who blogs about games.

You can find his blog here:

The title is explained here:

Watch him run games here:

He does art which is cool and is here:

If you are easily offended... well, please just leave the internet now and make it a better place for all the rest of us.

Go read. Now.
That is all.

Aug 20, 2012

Why DMs Should Be Good Players

I touched on this in my player archetypes post, but though it may seem obvious I feel I should elaborate on one point: DMs must be good players.

I'll touch on the most obvious points first: a DM who has never played is unfamiliar with a game with whose most intimate details he should be familiar to run a smooth and successful campaign. A DM not only has to know the rules well enough to run the game, but well enough to help his players, especially those who are new to the game. A DM who has been a player knows what information is vital to a player so that this information can be taught or given early on and the player is not instead frontloaded with mountains of information he cannot process all at once.
I've heard it said, and I find it a sound measure for a DM's success, that the only thing a player should ever have to know about the rules is what die to roll to do what he wants. The rest is, though often beneficial, optional.
A DM who knows his game well is able to take the weight of the rulebooks off his players' shoulders so that interactions can be streamlined to "This is what is happening, what would you like to do? ... roll a dX, add Y".
A DM who has played knows that flipping through books can cripple suspension of disbelief, since in real life all we have to do is see whats going on, decide what we want to do, and do it. Many players like to know mechanics, but those who simply want to act should be able to do so.
This is simply an example of the underlying principle behind being a good player: a DM who plays well knows the importance of his decision and style.

A DM who plays well also knows who he wants to play with.
The main point of my archetype post was to outline with what kind of players it is generally desirable to play. Well, no one knows that better than those who have played, and have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly side of dice-rolling geeks. A DM who has played knows who he wants to play with, and can make this decision on behalf of his group, abiding by the Golden Rule in assuming no one wants to suffer through the same shouters and whiners et cetera that used to bother him.

A good DM-player knows what is fun and also how to tell when something is not fun.
When people are complaining that something sucks, no matter how much you loved the idea, it probably sucks. You'll think they'll hold out and be glad for the fun part, but would you have? Maybe, maybe not, but try to keep in mind. Most of us have played through good and bad DMing and know what its like.

In fact, very few of these points are revolutionary because they all revolve around the same idea:
DM as you want to be DMed. Our own iteration of a rule reiterated in every culture across all of time.*

In very brief, to save you a much longer post in which one would be hard-pressed to fit an idea that has not been stated before:
DMs, play your game. Play it a lot. Love it. Because if you don't, you shouldn't be running it. Why would you expect your players to love something you didn't? Unless you don't expect them to like it either, in which case you're running a deliberately mediocre game and you should never touch the dice again.
Take what you've learned by playing and don't ever forget it for a second while you create exactly the kind of campaign you want to play, and hopefully some other people will too.
Because if you have the talent, you should be writing the book you want to read, making the movie you want to see, singing the song you want to hear, and as a DM: creating the world you want to inhabit for a few hours every week. Anything less is choosing to do less than you can and if that's the case, why are you choosing to do the thing in the first place? Go ride a bike or pet a kitten instead.
A do it the best! Pet the crap out of that kitten.

Good luck and keep rolling.

Aug 17, 2012

Some Free Pictures

I've read recently about how some bloggers have been getting in trouble for using pictures they do not exactly own, even when due credit is given and no claim is made as far as ownership of the pictures.

You can read about that here, here, and here,  but aside from spreading the word, I wanted to share a few pictures I recently took to replace my old blog background (as some may have noticed) and let you know that anyone who wants may use them.
These pictures are my own, taken by me this very morning and I claim no copyright to them. If you need a picture to go with anything about DnD or games, feel free to copy. A link back to this blog would be appreciated, since publicity is always nice, but I make no demands.

Let me know in the comments if any of these are useful.

So keep rolling and good luck staying out of copyright trouble, I hope someone gets some use out of these.