Pay to Play

I’m seeing more ‘Pay to Play’ type of TTRPG either online or in-person (with more people getting vax and local govt. lifting restrictions).  Pay to Play is where players pay the DM/GM to play in a RPG game. You may also lump in RPG Gaming cons in this category as well. In general, I’m not a fan of pay to play. We typically play with friends, and I don’t see why I would charge friends or even acquaintances to play. Trying to make a quick buck off someone doesn’t feel right. We do have people chip in for group pizza order or bring a dish for pot luck or BBQ events

However, some folks are running games online or at public locations like game stores with game sign up and strangers. I’m not sure if they are charging to play to make money / profit, to cover book / service costs (like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20), game maps/minis/accessories, or their personal prep time for game.  If you are charging people to play in your game or campaign, I hope that you are bringing value and unique elements to the game. Having played or GM a certain game for several years or knowing the games rule set doesn’t qualify as unique value to me. Lots of people could qualify for those criteria.


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Adventure Modules: Layout, Organization, Adventure Hooks


As a DM, you can choose to write your own adventures, run a pre-written module, or combo by homebrewing up a full adventure with mini pre-made scenarios for your game session. I tend to use pre-written modules as I don’t have time to write up my own adventures, but I do try my best to weave a connecting backbone / overarching story line to try to connect the different adventures together for the player’s campaign.


This article is not directed at open hex or dungeon crawls.


One challenge I have is the transition points in the adventure module and connecting different locations together. Why do adventures want to goto next location? How do they find out about it? What is the hook? How does level 1 connect to level 2? How do you get to that secret section of the caverns? This is especially annoying when there are key pieces in the adventure that need to be found in a certain location that lead into the next location. If you don’t go into this one secret room in the tomb, you won’t find the map to get to the haunted castle. To get to this tomb, you need to talk to this one drunk guy in the tavern that’s only mentioned in like 1 line of the module. If its not a critical piece, I just make up something and create an adventure hook. Sometimes there might be several leads that will get you to the tomb, but they are scattered all over the module. 


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XP Rewards / Other Rewards 

XP Rewards / Other Rewards 

In RPGs, how do characters get more power, spells, better skills?                                         Usually by level advancement.

People act on what they are rewarded and punished for. In game, they will make decisions to maximize reward and minimize punishment. 

Rewards usually revolve ultimately around:

  • Gaining XP: Defeating monsters, finding treasures, completing quests and adventures.
  • Getting Magic Items or Other unique items: Getting magic and unique items to help build their character out.

XP is doled out for Defeating Monsters (killing, out smarting, getting around etc.) with most parties defaulting to killing monsters if they can. The more powerful a monster is (either HD or special features), the higher the XP. Finding treasure (1 GP = 1 XP) is another though there are variations on how to count: counting everything that you find, counting only what you can carry back, counting only what you spend or donate out. Challenging adventures or quests can also result in more XP upon successful completion. (more…)

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OSR vs. Modern RPG Tabletop Games:  Pros/Con

OSR vs. Modern RPG Tabletop Games:  Pros/Con

D&D has become more popular than I would have ever imagined in my youth. This is great for the RPG tabletop industry and RPG gamers. However, 5th edition of D&D / Fantasy is by far the most main stream. I grew up playing AD&D 1E, B/X, and BECMI primarily, and then Call of Cthulhu (1E-3E) with some Warhammer 40K – Rogue Trader mixed in. Today, our group play mostly OSR game/systems. I have played 5E and do enjoy it too. 

There appears to be a pretty hardline with old school gamers in disliking 5E and Pathfinder / 3.5E. As with anything, there is a balance and OSR and modern systems (post 2000’s) both have pro/cons pending your gaming group preference. The strength of one system is the weakness of the other pending preference. (more…)

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DM / GM Prep and Game Aids

DM / GM Prep and Game Aids

This article is about being a DM/GM and some basic prep/game aids that will make your life easier and more organized when running the game. We all have busy schedules with work, family, and other obligations so having some basic tools and systems in place will help you enjoy gaming vs. spending time during game doing prep work or looking for basic info. For many folks with busy schedules, game time is their only personal time and time to escape. Maximizing that time is important.

If you play online with like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, those platforms already have many things prepped for you like dice, character sheets, maps, managing combat initiative, monster/enemy stats etc. which is great. There are still things that you need to manage or if you play pencil/paper, you’ll need to manage yourself. (more…)

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