Mixed Signals

Straight-forward gaming

In 2014, probably not on April Fool's day, Frog God Games released the Book of Dirty Tricks, a sort of DMG (Dungeon Master's Guide) addendum containing advice for dungeon masters on how to make a game more challenging.

It's a fairly small book, being only about 78 pages, but it's packed...

Many people think D&D just cannot be played in under 8 or even 4 hours. Yet I've been running one-shot campaigns with friends and at local conventions for the past two years, in about 4 to 2 hours per game. Look, D&D can be laborious if it's always only an epic. Sometimes D&D needs to be episodic,...

The party comes upon a yawning chasm. On either side are rows of very wide and tall pillars reaching up to the shadows of the cavern roof. One of the pillars appears to have fallen over from one side of the cataract to the other, and can now act as a bridge. The pillar is wide enough that crossing...

It's apparently difficult to date the original Conan stories, because many of them were written at more or less the same time and then submitted all at once to Weird Tales and printed whenever the editors decided. According to Wikipedia, though, Scarlet Citadel was published in January 1933, af...

Less a cursed magic item than an poorly-made one, this appears as a high-backed wooden chair of ornate design. Upon sitting in the chair and speaking a command word (subtly carved into one of the chair's arms; careful investigation will reveal it), this item rises from the floor.

A seated indi...

Icicles hang tenuously from the ceiling. A failed Dexterity save knocks 1d20 icicles loose. They fall to the ground and shatter, creating a frosty mist that refreezes in the nasal passages and lungs, causing 1d6 damage for 1d4 rounds until melted.

The ice particles melt in 3 minutes.

A su...

As you learned in the previous article What is Git? and how to use it, Git is a version control system, meaning that its primary job is to keep track of the many different versions of a file. This means that when you make an ill-advised edit to a file, you can roll back to a previous good version...

Often used to protect something, this trap appears as the bust of a large person or god, made entirely of stone. It will radiate magic, if looked for. The bust only shows this figure from the waist up, but it is nonetheless gigantic. Its head is raised to the ceiling or sky, while its hands clenche...

Recently the entire series (er, both seasons) of the original Addams Family TV show made its way onto archive.org. I knew very little about the Addams Family, aside from the fact that there were two movies in the 90s about them, and that as a younger bloke those movies resonated with me because o...

This is either a tool of assassination, or a horrid curse, depending upon how it is used. This item appears as a somewhat battered copper drinking cup. It will radiate magic if tested for. This cup looks somewhat old, but in reality, it is quite ancient, hailing from a time when political intrigu...

A lavish cloak, embroidered with runes and patterns of great, old, and forgotten households of the frozen North.

It is unnaturally comfortable and protective, providing +1 to saves against environmental effects.

However, while in possession of this cloak, a player cannot recall their own na...

The Friday the 13th movie series is a hugely influential franchise, and when something influences pop culture so profoundly, it can be hard to separate legend and reputation from reality. The best way to be objective, or at least as objective as one can be about works of art, is to go back to the...

The walls and ceiling here are covered in metal plates, with intricate carvings and reliefs depicting terrible rites by some lunatic cult. At the GM's discretion, there might be clues in the reliefs, or there might be bodies here, burned into a charcoal state.

Either way, upon triggering, the...

It's Pi day today in the USA and any nation that expresses dates in the backwards format of day/month. In honour of over-thinking numbers, I present to you my efforts to map human ages to RPG levels.

I'd always meant to generate myself as a character in a game, but since I often play fantasy...

The Devil's Workshop is a self-contained graphic novel about a steampunk Batman in Victorian-era London, fighting alongside Harry Houdini against an unknown foe. It is stylish, gripping, maniacal, and highly enjoyable.

Frankly, this work is so effective that it almost makes you wonder whether...

This appears to be a medium shield made of high quality wood, steel, and leather, which will will radiate magic. If tested, it will prove to give its wearer a +2 bonus to both AC and all Saving Throws. It will seem light and unencumbering at this point.

Upon first being used in actual combat,...