Melissa’s Customized Session Cheat Sheet for Game Masters

In my experience, having a 1 page cheat sheet for each session has benefits that far outweigh the time that it takes to build it.  I recommend creating a unique sheet for each session, a new cheat sheet for that specific game.

Plot Hooks – You should create hooks for every session, not just the first adventure.  You want to get ‘buy in’ for each game so that your players and their characters really care about what is going on in.

Locations/Encounters/Scenes – Depending on the structure of the game system you’re using, having a bullet point list of the locations such as dungeon rooms, waypoints on the road or unique places can be a loose guide to keep your game on track.  If you’re running a more crunchy dungeon delve style of adventure, having a list of probable encounters is just as valuable.  As a storyteller, I find that having a list of possible scenes provides me with a loose framework for the story.  Bonus Points: Create a scene tailored to put each player in the spotlight. Continue reading “Melissa’s Customized Session Cheat Sheet for Game Masters”

x-wing crash

3 Warning Signs that Your Campaign is about to Crash and Burn

We’ve all stuck to a campaign that was well into its death throes. It can be hard to give up on a story that had a lot of work put into and characters that took time to create.  Sometimes shooting a dead horse is a mercy.

No One Shows Up – if your group meets together regularly and suddenly you have schedule conflicts, take a hard look at your game.  Is the reason it’s hard to fill the gaming table due to a lack of interest in the campaign?

Your Players Don’t Care – if the pre-session banter takes twice as long as usual,  your normally attentive players are more interested in their cell phones and almost anything starts a non-gaming related discussion, your players aren’t into your game.

You Don’t Care – It takes a lot of time and effort to run a campaign.  When all of that work feels exhilarating and you can’t wait to run your next session, you know your game is a hit.  If going through your session notes, creating story hooks and figuring out what to do with plot holes is unbearable drudgery, there’s no reason to continue.  If you’re not enjoying the campaign, your players aren’t either.  They can sense that you’ve given up on it.

This advice is easier said than done.  I’ve run my share of dud campaigns and it can be hard to throw in the towel.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re only 3 sessions in or 30 sessions in.  If no one is enjoying it, acknowledge it.  Discuss with your players what went wrong and move on.

Picard Face Palms

5 Things Every GM Wishes You Wouldn’t Do

My most recently played game was a Call of Cthulhu boxed adventure being run for a large group of eight players, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. We had a fantastic, patient and knowledgeable Game Master but the game was disappointing. There was one player whose behavior almost ruined the night.  It’s rare to have a single player enact so many terrible gaming habits in a single session but nonetheless that’s what happened.  Below are the bad behaviors of the offending player.  Take heed my gamer friends and avoid these.

Show Up Late – In my most recent game as a player I had a bad feeling when the game master had to call a player to check if they were coming.  She was coming, but late.  There’s nothing worse for the players and the GM than sitting around a table with nothing to do waiting on someone with poor time management skills.  Arrive on time.

Don’t Bring Your Character – I am as guilty as the next player on this taboo.  If you forget your character sheet often, give your game master a spare copy just in case.  The guilty player in this last game wasn’t only late, they still had to make up a character.  If you haven’t even rolled a character up yet, please show up to the game early.   Continue reading “5 Things Every GM Wishes You Wouldn’t Do”

Melissa, the evil GM

New Project – Writing A Module for Publication

It’s been far too long since I’ve FINISHED a major project.  I’ve done a few small things but it would do my soul some good to complete a project start to finish.  To that end I’ve decided to write a module for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons through the DM’s Guild.

While I’m tempted to work on my own game system and home-brew setting, creating an entire game from scratch is a severely long term project.  I need a decent-sized project that I know I can finish within a few months.  This rules out coming with an entire system from scratch.  It also rules out my video game projects that are always on the back burner.  So why am I going with a D&D module?

  1. The system is already there and is highly polished.  Most of my tabletop gaming hours under my belt have been spent with D&D 3.5, World/Chronicles of Darkness and Call of Cthulu.  Of those three, D&D has recently opened up a wonderful pipeline for authors to write modules and game products using their 5th edition rules.
  2. The setting already exists and there’s plenty of material to draw inspiration from.  I’ll be writing my module for The Forgotten Realms Setting.
  3. I’m re-reading The Dark Elf Trilogy for the third time.  I’ve always been in love with The Drow and have run many adventures with them used as the antagonists or with the players creating their own cunning Drow as the protagonists.  If you’re excited about a project, it will be less like work and more enjoyable.  I also believe I’ll be more likely to finish a project that I’m really stoked on.
Karl Moritz Jr

A Tribute to My Father

My father was so gregarious! He loved people and made friends wherever he went. Dad loved the companionship and conversations he shared with others. He always greeted folks with a big smile. His upbeat sense of humor was contagious.

Today I want you to remember him at his happiest, when he was surrounded by friends and family.

Dad looked forward to holidays at the Moritz home and at the Bignell farm. He enjoyed family reunions and picnics in the summer.

Many weekends he went to the farm to help with chores and chat with my uncles, who were like his own brothers. He enjoyed visits to his mother’s home where he could spend time with his sisters and nephew.

Dad enjoyed participating in sports: golfing, bowling, softball and billiards. He loved to feel included and thrived in his league bowling team and summer church league softball team. Continue reading “A Tribute to My Father”

Melissa, the evil GM

Morgan – Werewolf & Deadly Assassin

Obsidian Portal Character Sheet

Blood: The Fox
Bone: Lone Wolf
Auspice: Irraka
Tribe: Hunter in the Darkness

Attributes
Intelligence 2
Wits 3
Resolve 2
Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Stamina 2
Presence 2
Manipulation 2
Composure 2

Skills
Medicine 2
Occult (The Hosts) 2
Athletics 3
Brawl (Bite) 3
Larceny 1
Stealth (Surprise Attack) 4
Survival 1
Persuasion 2
Streetwise 2
Subterfuge 3 Continue reading “Morgan – Werewolf & Deadly Assassin”

The Plan

My current game design / programming project involves creating a very simple, barebones RPG.  It’s important for me to go through the entire game development process, start to finish.  That’s why I’m not going to create anything too complex.

I made a simple video game, Retro Space, a few years ago.  For that project , I used the Game Maker engine.  I’ve decided that I want a more robust engine and after looking at Torque 2D and Unity I’ve made my decision.  Since I have some experience with the old Torque 2D, that’s the direction I was originally leaning. Continue reading “The Plan”

Why I Shuffle My Cards Backwards

I have many fond memories of card games as a child, but in every one of those memories, I’m shuffling the cards wrong.  I have no intention of learning how to do it ‘right’ either.

My mother taught me how to play my first card games: Go Fish and Slap Jack.  I was 3-4 years old when I sat across the kitchen table from her, learning how to shuffle cards.  Despite being severely right-handed, I shuffle left-handed due to my attempts to mirror my mother’s hands as she shuffled.  When I was a little older, she taught me how to play Pinochle and Solitaire.  Pinochle was difficult because of the ‘meld’ phase and figuring out the score after each hand.  I felt ‘grown up’ when we played Pinochle though. Continue reading “Why I Shuffle My Cards Backwards”

Sergeant Riley Morgan – Spider Cop

My gaming group was very excited to get to playtest Beast: The Primordial for Onxy Path. Here’s the information about my character.

Character Sheet PDF

Sergeant Riley Morgan

  • How has life changed/remained the same since you became a Beast?
    • Riley’s career has greatly benefited from her improved confidence and sense of power. She has earned a place in the community policing program – a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime.  This has actually helped Riley to feel more like she fits in and gives her a sense of purpose.

Continue reading “Sergeant Riley Morgan – Spider Cop”

The Contingent – Cases

Energy to Spare – The high school kids are raving about a new energy drink, Ümph. However the teachers and administrators have banned the drink from all school property in the district. They’re claiming Ümph makes some kids act out and cause trouble. Security will be tight at tonight’s homecoming game. Let’s hope nothing terrible happens.

Dark Science – Hidden beneath the prosperous downtown of Red Wing, sinister experiments have been conducted on unwilling test subjects. The resulting supernatural side-effects have spread quietly throughout the town. Who conducted this research and why? What exactly was done to the people trapped in these dank cells? Who covered-up the entire project? This game will focus on research, exploration and investigation.

Red Wire or Blue Wire? – Ümph the energy drink’s unintended side effects are considered well within corporate safety parameters. Three more trucks are scheduled to leave the bottling plant this week. Chester needs your help. The shipments must be stopped to protect innocent consumers. The test product is only being produced from one location. Destroy the facility and the secret recipe.