Tools to Keep Your Table Emotionally Healthy


Gaming should be fun. Metaphorically crawling out of a session of gaming feeling horrible usually isn't fun if that wasn't the intended result. When we're roleplaying, emotions can run high, things can get too difficult to deal with, and unpleasant past traumas can be triggered in our memory by the fictional circumstances we're in during a game. We have to give our players and GMs tools to play games without doing serious emotional harm to themselves. Pre-Game The first time I saw someone … [Read more...]

IMPROVe Your Roleplaying: 5 Tips from Synaptic Chaos Theatre

Logo for Synaptic Chaos Theatre

There always seems to be a sort of overlap between geeks and improv theatre. Most geeks I know are huge fans of improv shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway, and many people have described tabletop roleplaying as, “improv with dice and spreadsheets.”  There are even geeky improv groups, coming out to cons and other events to provide a dose of Whose Line is it Anime or other nerd-flavored comedy. I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar led by one such geek improv group, the funny guys … [Read more...]

You Don’t Have to be Shakespeare: Playing a Romance Well in your RPG


Romance happens in games— when we let it. We’ve all seen romances done poorly in table-top campaigns or during a live-action chronicle. But romance doesn’t have to be an exiled storyline; done well, romances can build and destroy kingdoms, take people to war, or lead to a cascade of passionate, unforeseen consequences.   Don’t violate their personal space When chemistry starts sizzling between your character and someone else’s, there’s a lifetime of instinct to reach out and touch … [Read more...]

Gimme A Break: When Roleplaying During The Holidays Is Too Much To Handle


As a complete and total RPG geek (and a professional in the industry), I spend my days encouraging people to roll up characters and play. My readers already know how passionate I am about gaming, and most of you don’t need any encouraging from me to get out your dice anyway. So what I’m about to suggest in this article may shock you. During the busy holiday season, it’s OK to take a break from RPGs. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind, or (even worse) gotten burned out on RPGs. I love them … [Read more...]

Is This An RPG Or A Drinking Game? Adult Beverages At The Game Table


Real life isn’t always easy. We all have hobbies and things we like to do to put the problems of real life behind us and have some fun. Gaming is one of the many activities that we use to help us wind down and relax after a stressful day. For some, having a drink or two is another. Whatever helps you get rid of the day’s worries, right? If one relaxing activity is good, what about combining two of them? Would having those drinks during a gaming session be even better for your mood and stress … [Read more...]

Sometimes A Quickie Will Do: In Praise Of One-Shot Games

One year

Like many gamers, I love long-running campaigns. There are so many wonderful story elements, so much character development, and just so much fun to be had. The possibilities are endless, and I play in one every chance I get, whether they’re going to last a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. That said, I still have a whole lotta love for the one-shot. A one-and-done game is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. Whether they’re published modules or original adventures, one-shots are an … [Read more...]

Size Does Matter: Small Game Groups Vs. Big Game Groups

Would you say this game group is too big, too small, or just right?

When it’s time to get a new RPG campaign started, there are lots of things to consider. What game system? What campaign setting? What’s the main plot? And, perhaps most importantly, how many players should be at the table? You can’t play a tabletop RPG by yourself. Well, I suppose you technically could, but it wouldn’t be much fun. The interactions between the GM and the players, and between the players, are what make the game entertaining. Beyond that, those interactions are what drive the … [Read more...]

The Battle From Hell: The Perils Of Never-Ending Combat


Into even the most roleplay-heavy game, some combat must fall. That’s why there are slots on character sheets for weapons and attack bonuses, and why massive tomes full of monsters to fight exist. The hack-and-slash part of RPGs is fun, especially when it’s for the greater good, and sometimes it’s just fine for most of a night’s gaming session to be spent in initiative order. There are times, though, when a single combat drags on too long and becomes work instead of fun. While I’ve … [Read more...]

Gaming on Demand: The Pros and Cons of a Play-by-Post Game

keyboard legos

Nothing truly compares to the experience of sitting around a table with your friends to play an RPG. The social interaction is a huge mood boost, and a lot of the fun of the game comes from the expressions on the other players’ faces when the GM drops the BBEG in their laps, the spontaneous puns and one-liners that have everyone rolling with laughter, and even breaking bread together before the playing starts. In a perfect world, we’d all have a wonderful game group to meet with and have this … [Read more...]

Stepping Out from Behind the Screen: When A GM Finally Gets To Be A Player


As someone who is almost always the GM, it can be a strange experience to fold one’s screen and take one’s place in a different seat when someone else wants to run a game. Since tonight was the second session of my husband Steve’s Star Wars campaign, the first game I’ve played in quite a while, it seems like an opportune time to talk about this subject. It’s a delicate balancing act. You want to have fun, and you want to be as engaged as a player as you wish your own players would be. But you … [Read more...]