July 10, 2014

The New D&D: Swaying Opinion

Earlier, I expressed my doubts concerning D&D's 5th Edition. However, since then, I've had a look at the Basic Rules, and read some impressions from other gamers. In particular, there's a line in the Basic Rules which says "You don't...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2014

The New D&D: 5E, Next, or... Whatever

When I first heard of the new, new D&D - the 5th Edition, or D&D Next, as it was called for a while, I was interested. 3E had been a really good streamlining and improvement on 2E, and 4th Edition...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 7, 2014

Letting Go

The Reboot proceeds apace. But one of the things that it has to include is letting go of some of the old stuff I liked, as well as the old stuff I'd gotten tired of. In particular, the jump of...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 3:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2013

Rebooting a Campaign World

I am a creature of sudden enthusiasms, and unlike many of my friends, I never quite let them go. I can go from not having thought about something to being evangelistic about it in hours, sometimes minutes. Epic Metal, WWI-era...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2013

Providing Setting Information

Having stepped back from interventionist gods, and looking to maximise story potential, I find myself with an interesting quandry - how should information about the setting be provided to the players?...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2013

Maximising Stories

I've been thinking, as I carefully meander around the creation of a new campaign world, about how to maximise the potential for stories within it. I don't anticipate giving up my old world, mind; there's still more I can do...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2013

Interventionist Gods and Limited Narrative

When I set out to develop a fantasy campaign world, about fifteen years ago, I hadn't really had the chance to run proper long-term campaigns before. Sure, I'd run games that lasted up to a year, maybe even more, which...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 3:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 3, 2012

Relationship Diagrams for GMs

I've been making use of relationship diagrams in tabletop games for years, at the campaign level. It's only recently that I've learned to make use of them at a session level. Basically, the idea here is that any session must...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 4:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2012

Long Campaigns

I run long campaigns. I didn't think I ran long campaigns until well after I got online; the letters pages of Dragon convinced me early on that the average campaign was about ten years, and that assumption stuck with me...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2012

Keeping a Campaign Journal for RPGs

One of the reasons I occasionally get a massively twitchy urge to develop a whole new campaign world in a whole new cosmology is that I've learned a huge amount from my current one, and there are lots of things...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2012

Reverb Gamers: Necessities

Question #8: What's the one gaming accessory (lucky dice, soundtrack, etc.) you just can't do without? Why? I'm pretty sure there's no such beast. I like my dice, certainly. I like my folders of notes. But I am capable of...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2012

D&D 5th Edition: Something Deeper

There's some very interesting stuff being circulated about the approach Wizards of the Coast are taking to the new edition of D&D. Greg Tito of The Escapist played in the session that David Ewalt was in as well. He's got...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:31 PM | Comments (0)

D&D 5th Edition

WotC have announced that they've started work on a new edition of D&D. Assuming they stick with numbers, and don't call it "iD&D" or "D&D: The Next Generation" or something, this will be the 5th edition. It'll probably be out...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 9:24 AM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2011

D&D 4E: Minions

I've been doing some thinking about minions in my D&D game. "Minions" are a distinct monster type in 4th Edition - they're generally low-powered monsters who hit hard with basic damage, but only have 1 hit point. Any successful attack...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 9, 2011

Legends of Anglerre; First Session

We went ahead with the conversion from Fate 2.0 to Legends of Anglerre - it took about 2.5 hours for a group of four players. Some of them had some familiarity with the rules; one of them had none, but...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2011

Legends of Anglerre

I'm about to switch systems again for my main campaign world. This setting started off as 2nd Edition AD&D. We added buckets of house rules, and then converted to D&D 3.0. Then we changed to 3.5 as that came out....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 9:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2010

Smallville: The RPG

Given my recent interest in the Smallville TV series, I was amused to note that there's now an RPG in the same setting. I was surprised, though, when it was hailed as the next best thing since sliced bread on...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2010

Flowcharts in RPGs

So, in my planning for the last D&D session, I ended up making a flowchart. It was a very, very simple one, now, with two decision boxes and a total of two possible outcomes. But still, it was something I...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2010

RPG Supplements

I was catching up on The Adventuring Party, our local gaming podcast, on the way to work this morning. The episode for 18th August 2010, to be precise, all about RPG supplements, and how many of them are terrible, but...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2010

Less System, More Work

I've been experimenting with tabletop rules systems. More specifically, I've been experimenting with less and less in the way of rules. Fate 2.0 - which I use, almost unmodified, for most of my games - is already a massive step...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 4:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2010

The Virtue of the Dungeon

I've been running a 4th Edition D&D game for a couple of sessions now. It's a very lightly plotted (from my point of view, anyway), drop-in, drop-out sort of game. The characters are directed by a Duke, who sends them...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2010

D&D 4th Edition

I've owned the books for 4th Edition D&D for more than a year. Indeed, it may be creeping up on two years now. But I hadn't played it until the end of February. Mostly, this was because I had plenty...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 8:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2009

Traveller Atlas

At any given time, I have at least six - sometimes as many as twenty - tabletop rpg campaigns waiting in the wings. Some of them are rough sketches and no more, others are sequels to campaigns I've run before,...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2008

Vague Thoughts about GNS

I read Ron Edwards' Sorcerer recently, and I've been mulling over the Gamist/Narritivist/Simulationist points of gaming that he more or less invented. I could best be described as Simulationist, and most of the people I play regularly with are Narrativists....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2008

D&D 4th Edition

I have finally got my hands on the D&D 4E books. They weren't a priority for me, since I've no immediate intentions to play the game - we switched to Fate 2.0 some time ago, and I'm very happy with...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:04 PM | Comments (0)

Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth

One of the items I got from the bring-and-buy stand at Gaelcon this year (which I was running, so I got first choice on everything) was an RPG called Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth. I've been trying to read it...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2008

PDF Previews

At some point in the recent past, it seems to have become standard for tabletop RPGs to do a preview release, or even an alpha release, of a PDF some time before the full game is released. I think this...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 8:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2007

D&D: Dungeon Survival Guide

One of the new releases for D&D is the 3.5 Dungeon Survival Guide. People were expecting this to be something like the 1st Edition Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, possibly with an added dash of something like the recent Cityscapes material. Instead,...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2007

D&D 4E: Points of Light

There's an article up on the new Dragon/Gleemax thing (you need to register and log in to see it, sorry) about one of the concepts that the designers are using for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Here's a quote, which...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 4:41 PM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2007

D&D 4.0: Reactions

On the Thursday of this year's Gencon, Wizards of the Coast announced the launch of the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The reactions, as ever on this topic, have been mixed. On one hand, there's a certain resentment of...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:07 AM | Comments (6)

June 12, 2007

WotC Moving Online

So, Wizards of the Coast pulled back the Dragon, Dungeon and Dragonlance licences recently. Now I'm reading on Gamasutra that they're planning a "MySpace for gamers", under the rather odd name of Gleemax....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:01 PM | Comments (2)

May 29, 2007

Games I Want To Run

One thing I can definitely say for the change from D&D to Fate - it has my mind doing overtime on games I could possibly run. Since I have two campaigns currently running, and a third mini-campaign starting soon, I...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 4:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

D&D 3.x to Fate 2.0

Recently, I did something I've never done before - I changed rulesets for my tabletop fantasy campaigns. Sure, we went through the change from AD&D 2nd Edition to D&D 3.0, and with less impact, 3.0 to 3.5. This time, however,...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2007

Starblazer The RPG

Those of you brought up in the British Isles in the 80s may just about be able to remember the Starblazer comics. They were small-format, the same as Commando, which is still on the go, and centred on space-opera style...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

WotC Obfuscation over Magazines

There's an "interview" with one Liz Schuh (Wizards of the Coast Brand Director for Dungeons and Dragons Publishing) on ICv2.com about the move of Dragon and Dungeon from print to the web. Unfortunately, it can be pretty well summed up...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2007

Green Ronin: A Song of Ice and Fire

Green Ronin have announced that they're to publish an RPG based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. This follows the collapse a few months ago of Guardians of Order, who had previously published a game...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:54 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2007

WotC pull back Dragonlance Licence

Following Paizo's licence not being renewed for Dragon and Dungeon, news has now arrived that Wizards of the Coast are not renewing the licence for Dragonlance, either. Margaret Weis Productions have announced on their site that the licence will not...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2007

Dragon & Dungeon Magazines Ending

Good grief. According to a press release, as Paizo's five-year contract to publish Dragon and Dungeon ends, there won't be any more of either magazine. I've been reading Dragon since I was 12, and have every issue since #200 in...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 8:40 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2007


I'm not sure how I managed to miss this, but there's a new game coming out soon which I think I may want. Mongoose Publishing's Flaming Cobra imprint presents Cthulhutech....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2007

White Wolf to Release EVE Tabletop

According to a post by a developer (Will Hindmarch) in a thread on the RPG.net forums, White Wolf are definitely planning to release a pen-and-paper EVE RPG....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2007

RPGPundit Interviewed

There's a rather magnificent interview with the RPGPundit here (site in Norwegian, but the interview is in English). The RPGPundit is a Canadian living in Uruguay. He has opinions....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2007

Interview with Wolfgang Baur

Wolfgang Baur is one of the most respected game designers and writers out there. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his work, influences, and future - here's what he said....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 5:10 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2006


Ptolus is a huge, huge book. I think it must be the biggest RPG book ever produced. And Niall was good enough to lend it to me so I can peruse it. I'm not even halfway through yet, but I...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 9:10 PM | Comments (2)

August 27, 2006

Flag Framing & The Conflict Web

I've just been reading of two very interesting tools for running games, Flag Framing and the Conflict Web. The Conflict Web is one that I've used - albeit not so formally - myself before, and found to be very useful....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 6:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006

D&D Red Box, 1983

During my lunch break today, wandering around Dun Laoghaire and poking into the various charity and second-hand bookshops, I came across something rather unexpected: a copy of the 1983 D&D Basic game, the Red Box. I seized it. I (gently)...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 1:22 PM | Comments (2)

August 19, 2006

Castle Builders

riprock, on the rpg.net forums, proposes an additional category for Robin Laws' player types: the Castle-builder. Being as this is my own play-style, I'm somewhat pleased to see someone describe it, and I recognise some of my players in it...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 6:16 PM | Comments (0)

Review: Power of Faerûn

I'm not generally a fan of the Forgotten Realms setting books, but I got a loan of Power of Faerûn from a friend, who recommended it highly. And I'm glad I did. It's not so much an FR sourcebook as it is an extended guide on how to make the best possible use of the concept of Leadership - both the feat and the actual concept for role-playing purposes.
Posted by Drew Shiel at 3:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2006

How To Organise Excellent RPG Campaigns

The logistics and organisation of an RPG campaign are often what turns a good game into a great game. Here's a shopping list of ways you can go about organising things so that your games run more smoothly.
Posted by Drew Shiel at 2:51 PM | Comments (3)

August 2, 2006

Begin at the End

The rpg.net forums provide some brilliant ideas, and the discussion of gaming theory, rulesets, and campaigns there means that it's on the list of sites I don't look at from work, lest I be sucked in for hours. Even considering...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2006

Scheduling Games

There's an excellent column on the Wizards of the Coast Site at the moment about scheduling games, when you're dealing with a group who have other commitments, from kids to church. Wizards have been publishing more and more stuff like...
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2006


iresprite pointed me at the Fate RPG this evening. It is quite possibly the best set of RPG rules I have ever seen. It seems to be absolutely perfect for my style of play....
Posted by Drew Shiel at 11:46 PM

July 26, 2005

Switching Systems

I've been running a campaign world for about seven, eight years now, and it's fairly well-developed. I've been using D&D 3.5 to handle the rules so far, and while it works well in and of itself, it comes with a package of expectations that's very difficult to break through - such that I've taken to called it "d20 Fantasy", rather than "Dungeons & Dragons". However, I recently got my hands on d20 Past, a variant on d20 Modern, and I'm wondering if it wouldn't be a far better way to manage things.
Posted by Drew Shiel at 3:14 PM

June 3, 2005

Levelling Guide

I play D&D a lot, and some of my players are newcomers to the game, or more interested in the roleplaying than the rules. But there is a difficulty - levelling the characters.
Posted by Drew Shiel at 10:54 AM