Category Archives: Meta

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Blogosphere. I hope you’re out there right now celebrating with friends and loved ones! If you’re checking your RSS Feed right now, you’re either in a very different time zone, or you’re exactly the target demographic for this blog.

A few resolutions for 2011!

  1. I will buy more indie games! And by “indie,” I don’t mean third party. I mean independent. I will spend at least $10 a month on PDFs made by some person on their computer. $0.99 PDFs. I’m opening up my wallet  for!
  2. I will introduce someone to the hobby. That’s what it’s going to take to keep this hobby alive – fresh blood. We can all buy all the products we want, but if we don’t wean some of our friends off videogames and CCGs, well, then it’s going to go the way of the philatelists and hobby entomologists.
  3. I will launch this blog. Right after I start exercising and eating right.

What’re you resolving to accomplish?

Images courtesy of

And I’m Back!

the-terminator1One year, one day since my last post, and I’m back.  Let’s see if I can keep this going this time.

Nomenclature, Part Deux

Time for my second post on Nomenclature!  I’ve realized there are a few words and designations that might need a little explaining here at the Consummate DM.

First is the phrase “mini-campaign.”  I use this word to refer to a story arc within a greater campaign.  I realize that this might be synonymous with others’ use of the word campaign (without the mini), but for me, a campaign refers to however many sessions it takes to reach the end of the Player Characters’ stories.  While a given story might take ten sessions, the campaign could take years and years.  The ten sessions is a mini-campaign.

The second is a distinction in capitalization – Player versus player.  Obviously, every time I use the word at a beginning of a sentence, it will be capitalized and you’ll have to draw meaning from context.  However, in the middle of a sentence, my capitalization will matter.  But not much.  Player with a capital P means the players who are not the Dungeon Master.  They are the real world counterparts to Player Characters.  When I use the word player with a lower-case p, then I’m referring to anyone at the table – Players or Dungeon Masters.

On that note, another separation – that between Player and PC.  I think these two terms are consistently lumped together, and I want to make sure that my designations are clear.  A Player is a human body that exists in the real world and plays role playing games.  A Player Character is a character in the game world not controlled by the Dungeon Master.  I know this sounds rudimentary and patronizing, but I constantly see phrases like “If your PCs are unhappy…” or “If a PC gets an unlucky die roll…”  Player Characters don’t roll dice – Players do.

And last but not least, another example of capitalization – Drama versus drama.  Drama is bad, drama is good.  Drama with a capital D refers to the kind of stuff you find on teen girls’ LiveJournals.  Anger and bitterness, bickering, shallow, childlike behavior, and so forth.  When used with a lower case, drama refers to edge of your seat storytelling, the interesting clash between characters and forces in the gameworld.  You know, awesomeness.

And there you go.

Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, and Potatoes

After going back and forth with Tommi, I think I realized I should probably clear something up about some nomenclature I’m going to be using in my blog.

Firstly, I’m going to use the term “Dungeon Master,” or DM. Even though I rarely roll Dungeons and Dragons or any other D20 system. I just prefer the term to “Game Master,” or GM. Why? I don’t know. Nostalgia. The same reason people still ask for a Kleenex or use Google as a verb. The same reason I still call them stewardesses. Because some names and terms come with a certain cachet.

Game Master sounds so formal, Dungeon Master has that je ne sais quoi. I feel Game Master is to Dungeon Master as “You do 14 Damage” is to “You cut off his head with a dastardly blow.”

Also, while we’re working on a little nomenclature, I should clarify something else. I’m not prone to use the word ‘game’. I’ll use the word ‘session’ to describe an adventure, an evening with the players. I’ll use the word ‘campaign’ to indicate multiple, successive sessions featuring the same setting and the same PCs. I’ll use ‘setting’ to refer to the world of the campaign. And I’ll use the word ‘system’ to refer to the rule set. I will use the word ‘game’ to refer to HALO and Clue.

Last, but certainly not least, unless I’m specifically writing about female role players (Geek’s Dream Girl, I’m looking at you), I’m going to stick to the gender pronoun ‘he’. Nothing sexist, but it’s what I’m going to use. I don’t really feel the need to defend the decision.

That’s it. I’ll probably revisit nomenclature later.

The HERO System

Last night’s post about the PS238 RPG made me realize I should probably disclose something, in the interests of editorial transparency.

Full Disclosure: I LOVE the HERO System. The HERO System is my favorite role playing system, and I am reluctant, borderline loath, to run any other system. I will gladly sit down at another DM’s table and play anything. Even Whitewolf or worse, if I have to. But I will really only enjoy running HERO.

HERO is not for everyone. It’s not a perfect system. HERO can do anything, literally anything, but it can rarely do things simply. It can be a very complicated under some circumstances, but it makes up for it in being able to handle any circumstances.

For those of you unfamiliar with the HERO System, think of it as a superior and cheaper version of GURPS. Like GURPS, the HERO System can be applied to any genre – scifi, fantasy, superheroes, horror, whatever. It’s a little more complicated than GURPS, so that might be a drawback. But unlike GURPS, you only have to buy one book. One book for the player, one for the DM. One book for the monsters, one book for the spells, one book for the superpowers, one book for the spaceships, one book for the prestige classes, one book for the cybergear… you get the idea. Not one book for each. One book, period.

As a DM, and as a player, I love HERO. It’s an incredible system, and while it’s not for everybody, it is for me. It requires a mature group, since it can occasionally be prone to munchkining. And it requires experienced players, who are comfortable with RPG rules. But with the right group, there’s nothing better.

And now is a fantastic time to be playing HERO. It’s been around for over twenty-five years, either as HERO or as Champions, and we’re in a Golden Age. While the tabletop RPG market may be struggling, HERO seems to be in a good position. DOJ Games, the current owners of the franchise, led by Steve Long, are incredible stewards. They’re Fifth Edition did wonders to the game. I’m a little nervous about the upcoming Sixth Edition, but we’ll see. The books they’re churning out are awesome. The forums are unlike any I’ve seen – Steve Long chips in every day. I mean, constantly, as do many other members of the team. Feedback is constantly being received and assessed. And to top it all off, the Champions setting, the granddaddy of superhero role playing, is being turned into a new MMO by the makers of City of Heroes. Champions Online could be huge.

This is kind of turning into a review and a plug, as much as it is a disclosure of my tastes.

I intend to make this blog as friendly as possible to all system.s But I thought I’d let you know that my heart is not measured in love, but in Active Points.

You Enter a Small Room…

Welcome to my new blog, The Consummate DM.

It is, as you may have guessed, a blog about roleplaying. And all things related to role playing and being a good Dungeon Master. Movies, books, videogames, arts ‘n’ crafts, et cetera.

And to be perfectly honest, what’s the point in having a blog if I can’t occasionally talk about things that have nothing to do with the theme of my blog, but rather, because I want to spout off. I will endeavor to keep that to a minimum, though – mostly, I’ll be writing about things that have to do with being an awesome Dungeon Master, and an awesome roleplayer.

I’m not going to lie – the industry’s hurting. Video games and movies and collectible card games are taking up valuable time and money from people who might otherwise sit down with some friends and some Mountain Dew. That is why, more than ever, we need awesome Dungeon Masters.

I’d also like to point out that the economy (for the US) sucks. This is in table-top, pen-and-paper role playing’s favor – you can buy one book and it will justify play for years – video games and CCGs require a lot of money for upkeep. As such, I think a lot of cash-strapped players will turn to pen-n-paper RPGs to fulfill their imaginative exploits.

I could be wrong. But in the off chance I’m right, I’ve started a little blog to talk about my thoughts on role playing, and Dungeon Mastering, because it’s needed. Good Dungeon Masters are hard to find.