Mixed Signals

Straight-forward gaming

Before I knew it was supposed to be hard to do it, I converted adventures from one RPG system to another on a regular basis. It started innocently enough. I'd play in someone's Tunnels & Trolls campaign, and then go home and run the same story as a D&D adventure for my friends. It never occurred t...

Building a character for an RPG can be mildly intimidating if you're not used to it. You might think it takes special knowledge, or that it's a chore, or that it's just overwhelming. But I find building characters to be fun and invariably easier than sometimes the rulebooks make it seem. And buildin...

Are you thinking about playing D&D or Pathfinder or some other roleplaying game (RPG) like Starfinder, Call of Cthulhu, or similar? Of course you need players, and one player designated as the person (usually called the "Dungeon Master" or the "game master") to "play" the game world itself. The best...

Are you thinking about playing D&D or some other roleplaying game (RPG) like Pathfinder, Starfinder, Call of Cthulhu, or similar? You might be confused by all the trappings of such a game. For instance, there's a special important-sounding title for one of the players, like "Game Master" or "Dungeon...

At the time of this writing, Wizards of the Coast is continuing their attempt to revoke the Open Gaming License. It doesn't much matter, at this point, whether they succeed. They've made their intent clear. They've made it impossible to trust them as caretakers of the legacy of the world's first rol...

In a recent leaked document, Wizards of the Coast has apparently threatened to revoke the Open Gaming License version 1.0a by stating that it will become "unauthorized." From what some lawyers are saying on the Internet, because the OGL 1.0a license does not use the magic word "irrevocable," this is...

Pathfinder is the D&D 3rd edition rule set copied and pasted (legally permitted by the Open Game License), with a few nominal adjustments, into a book labeled "Pathfinder". Now that D&D is on its 5th edition (and heading toward its next incarnation), and Pathfinder has released a 2nd edition of it...

The Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax is probably the most famous dungeon in all of D&D. Part of the appeal of D&D for many gamers is the shared experience of playing common adventures, and because The Tomb of Horrors has been around for such a long time and has gained such a reputation for being a...

I've written about the RPG metagame debate before, and one contributing factor to what I'll call "metagame anxiety" is familiarity with an adventure. For the record, I don't usually mind the metagame. I believe it can be a fun and valuable part of the game. But some people get concerned that a pla...

The way I've always played D&D was that when your character was dead with no chance of resurrection, you built a new character and came back into the game at level 1. That's just the way me and my gaming groups have done it. Recently, I've started to pick up on the fact that not all gaming groups pl...

There's a lot of overlap between D&D and Pathfinder. Pathfinder was, originally, the D&D 3rd edition rule set copied and pasted, with a few nominal adjustments, into a book labeled "Pathfinder". This was legally permitted by the Open Game License. With D&D on its 5th edition (and heading toward it...

As is often the case, the 5th Edition books for the Dragonlance setting leaves out a lot of detail. In the page it provides for the Kender race, it doesn't mention the culture's fondness for the topknot hairstyle, the use of the hoopak, pouches and pockets, or maps. One of the defining traits of the...

Sometimes, a story just begs for a double-cross. Somebody hires the player characters to complete a job, everything goes fine, until right at the very end the PCs discover their employer was the baddie all along! Now their employer wants them dead, or refuses to pay, or intends to conquer the world...

Now that D&D is on its 5th edition (and heading quickly toward its next incarnation), and Pathfinder has released a 2nd edition of its own, the two gaming systems borne of literally the same rule set have diverged substantially. They both still implement essentially the same game, though, so I decid...

In D&D, an interesting thing happens when you cross the threshold from Tier 3 (levels 9 to 13) to Tier 4 (levels 14 to 20). No matter what the DM throws at players, the players have answers. By Tier 4, the players have likely accumulated magic items, astounding feats, powerful spells, multiple attac...

With the release of Spelljammer for D&D 5th Edition, I decided to break out the second AD&D Spelljammer module Skulls & Crossbows. I'm looking at it particularly with quick conversion in mind, but also for story and general usefulness. Chapter 5 is entitled "Rewards and revenge," and it consists o...