The GM's Guide

In-depth podcast on how to improve your campaign, focusing on the adventure, world and character design. We apply proven and practical game design techniques to the world of running pen and paper campaigns. There's a lot to get into, so let's get started.
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The GM's Guide


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Sep 23, 2016

How do you make something scary to your players, when they know they're the heroes? We develop the core concept of the camapign's key setpiece and build Ravenshadow's creative playlist.

Sep 16, 2016

We start creating the foundation of Ravenshadow's world and design a way to get the most out of our player's characters.

Sep 11, 2016

The beginning of my richest stories was within the ashes of transformers style action.

May 23, 2016

We all have worlds we love. Let's make them feel as real as possible.

May 15, 2016

"Why would anyone play a human fighter?" "Why would anyone ever play anything else?"

May 1, 2016

Dan designs an adventure from scratch live on the podcast.

Apr 8, 2016

Tips and tricks and example villains.

Apr 5, 2016

Three principles go into making a great villain for a heroic campaign.

Mar 24, 2016

Here's a bunch of traps I've made and run for my players. Feel free to introduce them to your own players.

Feb 20, 2016

Traps have a huge history in RPGs and they're a MOUNTAIN of missed opportunity.

Feb 13, 2016

Dan takes apart some of his adventures to show how they work. It's also an example for how Climactic Event Structure and Four Act Adventure Structure work in practice. Feel free to take any of these ideas for your home games.

Feb 6, 2016

When new GM's ask me for advice on how to build a great dungeon, this is the foundation of it all.

Jan 28, 2016

When new GM's ask me how to create great adventures, this is what I go through first. No, it's not the hero's journey.

Jan 21, 2016

We're back! Story Structure is one of my favorite topics and I've spent more time studying it than probably anything else. If there's anything I can give to new GM's to help them set up great adventures, it's this basic Story Event Structure.

Dec 25, 2015

It's The GM's Guide's Christmas gift: The third and final installment of the epic difficulty trilogy!  Today we dig into the secret of weaving in the benefits of high difficulty adventure design into any campaign, while sidestepping the problems that sometimes pop up. We also answer some listener questions. It's good stuff.

Dec 17, 2015

One podcast wasn't enough. Today we dig further into why High Difficulty is the sonic screwdriver of rpg adventure design and how to implement it successfully into a campaign.

Dec 13, 2015

High Difficulty is the sonic screwdriver of RPG design. While not technically necessary, it does SO many things, comes with SO many advantages to make your games extremely difficult that I can barely imagine a running a game without it.

Dec 5, 2015

Don't set your encounter in an empty box. 

Nov 26, 2015

Why does D&D's own Creative Manager include "Throw out what the rulebooks say about building encounters" in his advice to new DMs? Because the rulebooks have been leading us wrong for years. Tune in to find out how you can shake things up and make your players scream. Whether it's in delight or terror is up to you.

Nov 19, 2015

DMs have to create tons of characters to fill their world. Here's how to make them interesting and memorable.

Nov 17, 2015

Players want meaningful choices that determine what happens in their adventures. Here's how you can add them to your game without needing to create lots of extra content.

Nov 17, 2015

The Dungeon Master's Guide provides useful and practical advice on how to deal with a DM's greatest challenges. In the process, we learn about game design. It's as awesome as it sounds.

Derailing is like any crime, it needs motive and opportunity. Here's how to solve it.