Posts in this Category

Walk a Mile in Their Dice: The practical limitations of “Don’t be a dick”

“Don’t be a dick” has become something of go-to gaming advice, like a social Rule Zero. As a general truth, it’s great. I mean yeah, don’t be a dick. As advice or a rule, it’s useless. Why? There are two cases where someone is being a dick in a game: 1) Malice: The person is […]

Ben Robbins | January 15th, 2012 | syndromes | 15 comments

Benefits of Tyranny

If the internets are to be believed, the world is filled with tyrannical “behold my works ye mighty and despair” GMs, game masters who dominate the table and tell their story with the players as witnesses or minimally free-willed participants. They go by many names: storytellers, railroading illusionists, social puppet masters. Tyrant GMs. There are […]

Ben Robbins | February 11th, 2009 | syndromes | 21 comments

Bad Trap Syndrome (part 2), Curing the Bad Trap Blues

You are in a room. Before you are two doors. On the floor are ancient runes that say beyond one of these doors you’ll find the cure to the bad trap blues. Choose wisely! Door 1 — Writing a language of traps To make more and better interactive traps we would need a language for […]

Ben Robbins | March 20th, 2008 | syndromes | 16 comments

Bad Trap Syndrome

“We approach the door.” “Half way down the corridor you step on a trap and darts fly out of the walls! The first character in the marching order takes” (roll roll roll) “7 damage!” (scribbles damage on character) “Okay, we keep going. Someone open the door.” I’m willing to bet that in all the hours […]

Ben Robbins | March 20th, 2008 | syndromes | 20 comments

Initiative: the Silent Killer

“The main thing to remember is to do everything in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. Deal with your players’ actions and reactions one by one instead of all at once, or you will never be able to keep track of what round it is, and who’s doing what when.” – Dungeon Master’s Guide, 1979 In what’s […]

Ben Robbins | August 9th, 2007 | syndromes | 32 comments

Don’t Roll, Think

DM: “You see a few white, eyeless fish, and various stone formations in a pool of water about 4′ to 6′ deep and about 10′ long. That’s all. Do you wish to leave the place now?” Player 1: “Yes, let’s get out of here and go someplace where we can find something interesting.” Player 2: […]

Ben Robbins | July 15th, 2007 | syndromes | 41 comments

It’s Not A Movie

A man in a trenchcoat stands before a grave. He hears tires squealing and runs to catch a glimpse of the car before it disappears down the cemetery lane. As the rain falls softly, the camera pans back and shows a single rose newly laid on the grave… Here’s a GM Tip you’ve heard before: […]

Ben Robbins | June 25th, 2007 | syndromes | 4 comments

Buffing is not Teamwork

Buffing is not teamwork. Buffing is delegation. The spellcaster doing the buffing is transfering their own powers to the buffed character (who, let's face it, it's a fighter or rogue or someone else holding a sharp object) instead of taking actions themselves. The party becomes a micro republic: the spellcaster has elected a representative, and […]

Ben Robbins | April 8th, 2006 | syndromes | 11 comments