First of all, sorry for not posting last week's Questing's Readings. Not having a permanent internet connection sucks right now and I'm still considering alternatives of getting a different ISP. On the other hand, that's not too bad a thing since I will be compiling posts that I've enjoyed last week together with the ones from this week. So that you would will enjoy the double goodness coming from the RPG Bloggers Network.
Before we move on with the readings, some news of what's been happening in the RPG bloggersphere. Critical Hits and Mad Brew Labs from the RPG Bloggers Network have been nominated for the Best Website alongside with websites like Dungeon-a-Day run by Monte Cook, Kobold Quarterly by Wolfgang Baur and Obisidian Portal, the campaign wiki providing service.
Although it probably isn't fair to have blogs and commercial websites in the same category but it is still quite a big achievement for the network to have 2 of its members listed out of the 5 nominees. I have featured both of these blogs in Questing's Readings before and it will be a hard choice to make between the two for the content that they have generated over the past year.
Critical Hits has been pretty much my go-to website for any RPG-related news which has a crew of writers that have good connections with the industry. These are the guys that I look up to in regards to gaming journalism and they have also produced some indepth analysis especially in the 4E mechanics.
Not to mention that Dave Chalker, Danny Rupp and Graham Poole are part of the founding members of the RPG Bloggers Network which has been the next best thing for the online RPG Community since ENWorld (who award the ENnies), in my opinion.
Mad Brew Labs has always been about thought provoking posts. Although I don't share all of his taste but we both share an interest in understanding RPGs from an academic point of view. In fact, his blog was the first that came into mind when I first posted up what is still one of the most commented post I've done for this blog.
Outside of his blog, I have known Micheal Brewer to be very active in the RPG/Blogger community with his most recent participation as the host of the June RPG Blog Carnival, the RPGBN Shared Setting and co-founding NeverMet Press.
So I would ask you to go over to both of these blogs, read through what they have to offer to make up your mind and give your votes to these guys to support the underdogs. Hopefully this will win us some recognition among the judges in charge of the ENnies to give bloggers their own category the next year.
Now let's head over to what is going to be a long post ahead of us with lots of link love to posts (and blogs) that weren't nominated but are equally deserving for their great content. Throughout both weeks, we have some bloggers sharing topics on dealing with character deaths,, staging the 'epic' and character development.
A Butterfly Dreaming
What are the Best 4E Ability Score Arrays?
A very good look and thought about the possible combination of scores you can get from the 22 point buy and the ability score arrays from the PHB. This is interesting if you are a bit of math geek and useful for the min/maxer.
Advanced Gaming & Theory
Creating a Meaning Festival
Some ideas on how to run and roleplay an archery and jousting contest with some ways of implementing them into your campaign as potential plot hooks.
Is it a Fight or a Skill Challenge?
A good reminder that DMs should not be too rigid in deciding how PCs should overcome an encounter and let the players decide. This plays against the argument that 4E does not encourage roleplaying and it is something to keep in mind.
A boss in parts
An attempt to implement into 4E an often seen monster design concept in console JRPGs with a few examples. This is certainly an interesting approach to monster design for 4E.
Beneath the Screen
A DM's Dilemma: Dealing with Deadlines
5 advice on what you should do if you are having less time to play with your group or are moving away from town. Even if you are not in this kind of situation, I think it is still good advice for DMs in order to run a fun game.
5 Tips for Dealing With PC Death
5 advice on how to handle PC deaths and how they can sometimes be an opportunity for more roleplaying.
Ask the GMs: An epic confusion, or how to stage a blockbuster finish
Someone asks the GMs whether their epic-spellcasting villain should go all out with his powerful arsenal at first when going against the PCs in the climatic final encounter. See what Johnn and Mike have to say. It's long but it has really good advice.
Fame & Fortune
staging epic conflict
Sort of a follow-up to Campaign Mastery's post on epic fights but this focuses more on how to make epic campaigns without being cheesy.
Game Design Tips from the Paizo RPG Superstar Contest
Some general advice and guidelines given by the judges of the Paizo RPG Superstar content in designing magical items. Most of these advice are not system specific and it would be good reference for those who are intending to join in next year's contest.
Jonathan Drain's D20 Source
Five Ways to Make Your Player's Life Easier
This could be summarize into talking with your players, giving them the spotlight and be willing to compromise which are generally good practices as a DM.
A look into death throughout the editions and why death should not always be a harsh penalty because of the level, financial and equipment loss that it incurs.
Beyond "You Hit": Describing Damage
A very interesting way of describing damage based on ability scores, monster type and character class.
The Art of the One-Shot Adventure
The benefits of one-shot adventures and how to implement them into your ongoing campaign.
Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer
A Discussion on Trust
An interesting look on the concept of trust, trustor and trustee and how it can be applied in-game between NPCs and PC with a few examples from his current campaigns.
Don't make the PC's ride your newbie railroad!
5 ways to improvise when your PCs goes off the track. This is normally good advice for new DMs who tend to railroad but it's good advice all around.
Distinguishing lesser and greater metagaming with the latter being more destructive to the game. There are some advice on how to handle greater metagaming.
Building Memorable D&D Characters: Race & Class
Building Memorable D&D Characters: Backgrounds
A very good list of pointers to think about when developing your character background based on your class, race and the backgrounds from the Player's Handbook 2.
Four Tip's From Robin's Laws
4 general tips taken from the GMing bible by Robin Laws if you haven't read it before.
Four Tips for Kings of the Trollhaunt Warrens
P1 King of the Trollhaunt Warrens is the first paragon tier adventure module from Wizards and it is the first chance for the PCs to experience high level action and exploration. The four tips here recommend doing some groundwork much earlier before adventure begins to increase the satisfaction when the players go through it.
Interview with Wolfgang Baur
An interview with the man behind Kobold Quarterly, his nominations in this year's ENnies, his career, his future plans and love for the pesky buggers.
A Gamer in Japan Pt 2 - Location, Location, Location
Ever wondered where do Japanese gamer meet to play? I'm surprised to read that Japan has a gaming retail chain that also caters to RPG gamers.
Developing Your Roleplaying
DM Your Way To Better Roleplaying
Dante and Stupid Ranger giving out simple ways for players and DMs to promote more roleplaying on the table.
Maslow's Sandbox Game (Or Needs-Based Player Hooks)
An interesting idea of how to create plot hooks based on the character's needs according to the Maslow pyramid.
The Gherkin Patch
The Iron Triangle of Game Design
A very interesting article based on the constraints of software engineering and how it can also be applied to game design with playability, simulation and universality as the three points of the triangle.
It's a little long and can get quite heavy at times but it does paint an interesting portrait of the limits of designing the 'perfect' system.