The Higher Path ($3/month)
Happy D&D: relating a video by Ian Danskin and the way that DMs and Players approach the game the way they approach life, and why there are many things that can go wrong in a game. Investigations pursue the questions, why do we DM? And why kill our own campaigns and get the players we deserve?
Why Rules Exist: an essay about the practical aspects of rules rather than philosophical, applied directly to why equipment lists demand rules to understand how equipment is used. Some time is given to the simplification of equipment and why this creates less meaty games.
Why Experience is Vodka: a discussion of how game experience creates patterns of behaviour that are addictive to players, and how overfeeding that addiction is a bad thing. Includes a detailed breakdown of different ways to grant experience, for combat, cleverness, participation and the choice of not using it at all, with pros and cons to each approach.
Nine Flaws: deconstructing what goes wrong in a campaign, relating to the failure of following procedures and dismissing the necessities of complications, making good rules and communicating those rules to players.
Combat and Honesty: not a discussion of screens and fudging, but a discussion of why OSR combat was broken from the very beginning and why all the changes that have been made to that system have utterly ignored the fatal flaw: it is boring. Finishes with why gamesmanship for fun is a self-destructive process.
Effectively Playable: describes the precision in which rules are made in other games and how precision is so utterly lacking in D&D ~ and how that has wrought the process of constant necessary redesigns for the last 47 years.
The Road to the Last Word: a confession that rule-writing is the most boring sort of preparation that a DM can embark upon, and why it is absolutely essential.
What Makes Good Players: how D&D changes the DM's real life personality and character, and how that change, conveyed to players, creates a better gaming experience through education, permissiveness and responsibility.
Point-maps: an argument for why a DM should master the ability to make and consistently run a point-map before moving onto more complicated mapping and setting design. Point-maps aren't the end goal and they're not really a solution, but they're workable and they can act as a stepping stone.
Mnemonic: an approach towards the essentials of seeing how the world works behind the mapped curtain. Encourages the DM to see past what can be meaningfully designed on paper and into the very heart of world-active comprehension.
That's How You Get to Carnegie Hall: defines the difficulty of progressing through the creative process when we feel concern for how others will view and comment upon our work. Offers constructive but time-consuming exercises to help learn the difference between bad writing and good writing.
Memories & Creations: draws together numerous threads from earlier discussions about mapmaking, creativity and the enabling of players who have as much right to create points on a map as the DM, though this is something they must do without godlike powers.
Authentic Adventures Inc. ($10 a month)
If I haven't made it clear, these are notes on original adventure module creations and how to run them, not stories about a specific party moving through an adventure.
Dziwa: describes a dangerous journey across a desert to the town of Dziwa, introducing a description of the Mozabian Goat peoples. The challenge is to behave appropriately in a dangerous foreign country, or else face severe consequences and possible death if they fail to both trust the natives and act politely.
Beyond Dziwa: to gain more information about their quest for the Ruby Cloak, the opportunity to speak to the dead requires a journey to a desert tomb, which will be found to be infested with giant wasps. The complications and difficult invasion of the nest is followed by a fairly generous reward by the clerical guide for the party's success.
Tweggurt: describes the dangers of entering the town of Tweggurt, which is not denied to outsiders but is presently under the control of bandits who have seized and plundered the city, and now remain at the behest of the bandit queen Zegida. To reach an important clue, however, the party would have to pass through the environs of Tweggurt, which will almost certainly get them arrested; how they deal with the arrest and how forthcoming they are creates both opportunities and hazards.
On to Wed Souf: escaping from Tweggurt, a party travels along the Wadi Rir towards Wed Souf, only to experience a desert downpour. This brings the desert alives, creates circumstances by which the players will have to circumvent the appearance of many large animals who will congregate upon watering holes. The players arrive a Wed Souf to find that a vast lake has formed near the town on account of the rain.
Aflu Lake: after many scenes in the dry desert, the party finds themselves crossing a pure-and-glorious freshwater lake created by the recent rainfall. They encounter giant waterbeetles and iron feathered stymphalian birds, or merely pass them by, depending upon the DM's personal whims, in order to reach a monastery surrounded by water. There they learn of the Ruby Cloak's probably location in the town of Mandel.
Mandel: at last, the end of the adventure, wrapping up the last questions and compelling the players to think out of the box in order to finally obtain the Ruby Cloak from the desert elements. This leaves the players with a dilemma: do they keep the Cloak, which has vast power but not especially for the players, or do they hand the item over to the Taureg people in order to obtain great wealth and prestige?
Introducing Saithden: introducing a new adventure, in which a party stumbles across a deserted platform in the wilds of eastern Romania that hints of a huge treasure that was accumulated and hidden nine centuries before by the King of the Avars. The hook includes details surrounding how to patiently introduce adventures patiently and not as a "you-must-do-it-now" demand.
Pierre LeBousqat: the players meet a key NPC in discovering the location of the treasure and what Saithden is, learning that the King who took the treasure lays sleeping under a mountain, and that he is probably possessed of a crown that brings immortality to the wearer. The scene offers a pleasant role-playing opportunity for players who like to seek knowledge.
The Guardian of Rodna Tower: the players are asked to defeat an undead being to force it to yield information about where the mountain of Saithden is, so that they may go there and plunder it. Introducing Khasparr a fighter-lich of great power, who will give in only if he is met repeatedly in single combat; failure to do so will mean the party cannot continue to pursue the quest for a full year.
All of this is available for the price it costs to obtain access to Authentic Adventures Inc. If you like the posts I'm writing on Tao of D&D, these posts behind the pay wall are less frivolous, designed to help you successfully world build your campaign. They are filled with inspiration and new concepts that you need to be a better and more progressive DM.
Please support me on Patreon every month.