Described Damage

I use an obscure optional rule in 1e about described damage, essentially the DM has the option to tell the PC’s their HP or not, if you don’t, you are supposed to describe the damage instead.

The point of this is to add some “fuzziness” or uncertainty to the process, so the PC doesn’t know exactly how many HP they have, this mimics the fuzziness of real world combat, where you don’t always know how bad you are hurt. It also keeps combat more uncertain and thus less predictable and boring. It adds possible lingering damage options as well. But it also means the players can have a better idea how badly monsters are damaged, which helps them out.

There are two parts to the system, the first is the described damage, the second is location of hit rules that determine where the hit lands. The purpose of these is to help specify the effect if you are wounded badly. I like the idea of damage having game mechanical effects outside of strict HP loss. 1e eschews this kind of thing…
It’s been a while.

I’ve been running a new business, and that’s been eating up a lot of my time. I’m running two after school D+D programs at a local community center (the always awesome Miles Nadal JCC), and as I move through this process I thought I would blog about what I’ve learned, and what might be useful to other DM’s running games for kids. Because I run games at a community center the group is strangers, and the age range is 8-15 or so. That produced some unique challenges. The next few blog posts will be about managing those challenges.

Kids are awesome to game with, but sometimes hard to run a game for, they can be mercurial, distracted, it can be SO LOUD. I’m going to post ideas as they come up, a few every day. I invite others to comment or add their experiences in the comments.

Gaming with Kids
Age Separation: We have two groups, in the first the class is longer and the majority age is 14+, there is one younger (10 year old) in the group. In the Friday class everyone is 8-9…
Power and Authority in Dungeons and Dragons

I recent tweet by @DungeonCommandr on the ties between colonialism and D&D spurred me to post something separate so I could respond comprehensibly, I have trouble following responses to tweets that are multiple posts long.

I agree with his assertion that there is a power relationship in the game that mirrors that of colonialism, that it is baked into the game, and that for the most part DM’s do good for their players. I also agree that this doesn’t excuse us from looking at the imbalance in power.

The way I deal with this asymmetry is through:
1.Transparency 2. Agency 3. Responsibility and 4. Bounded Randomness.

I also deal with race and gender issues explicitly by discussing:
A. Race non-specificity and
B. Gender openness

I’ll deal with each individually.

1. Transparency: I discuss everything I will discuss here with the players before we game, so they know the score from day one. It takes some time but its important.

The very first thing I …
Art Imitates Art – Gaming and Fantastic Stories

So a few years ago I decided to write up the adventures in my home game for a campaign journal that I hosted at I am reproducing selections from them here, cleaned up and reorganized, to showcase the games I run at Black Dragon Games.

I run first edition Dungeons and Dragons, which has a particular flavor that is worth highlighting with a bit of narrative. 1e was meant to emulate the sword and sorcery literature, and I find that the game sessions do so fairly well, they are lethal and fast paced, and magic users are a big part of the story. Magic itself is in the hands of warlocks, otherwise it is relatively rare, and monsters tend to the horrific side.

I decided to start with a session that I did for a player that was starting a replacement character (his old character died and this was the replacement). I run a solo adventure for replacement characters where possible as it allows the player to get a handle on the new…