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Doctor Who Magazine 545: Daleks, News, and Season 26

Blogtor Who - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 23:05

Doctor Who Magazine issue 545 takes a look ahead to 2020 Doctor Who Series 12 is coming in early 2020 and Doctor Who Magazine is ready with an update of the latest news. Also out in early 2020 is the Season 26 Blu-ray collection. Gain fresh insight with DWM about both the 1989 making of […]

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Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

SERIES 12 NEWS: The Line-Up of Writers and Directors REVEALED!

Blogtor Who - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 20:00

The full list of writers and directors for Doctor Who Series 12 has finally been revealed As the New Year fast approaches, and the high streets put on their Christmas best, the traditional strains of “It’s only November!” have begun. But early 2020 also brings the long awaited return of Doctor Who. And as the […]

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Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

Campaign Thoughts With Original Dungeons & Dragons, Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu, & A Side of Cha'alt

Dark Corners of RPGing - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 18:20

So I've been going through an  original Dungeons & Dragons recon to connect with my roots. I'm taking a vacation from the original Swords & Stitchery blog. Because while I've got lots to say my attitudes lately about the sales & marketing of the OSR have left me very jaded. Rereading OD&D has led me back to my love for M.A.R. Barker's  Empire of the Petal Throne. Empire of the Petal Throne's background leaves a lot of room to play around.  I'm sticking with the original Nineteen Seventy Five rules for EPT because these are the rule set that I cut my teeth on. They differ a bit from Original Dungeons & Dragons but not by much. The rules can be used to drop a party of OD&D adventurers onto one of the trade cities scattered across Tekumel surface.



"Tekumel, the world of fantasy and adventure. The setting for this fantasy campaign game is an alien planet, Tekumel, where a cosmic cataclysm stranded human and extra-territorial invaders eons past. A hostile world of poisonous flora and fauna, with intelligent and vengeful native races! Mankind and its allies must battle for survival with nothing save Medieval technology — but magic aids them . . . and there are certain supernatural powers which may intervene.
The game contains three large full-color maps and 8 1/4" x 11" book with a brief history of Tekumel, rules, descriptions of various races and creatures involved, and more. Share in this exciting fantasy world by playing EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE."
1975 ... TSR 1005 "
Taken from Wayne's Books section on Empire of the Petal Throne 

Now I've been involved with short run ninety day campaigns over the last five years or so due to the demands of work. This means an actual beginning, middle, & end of campaign regardless of the outcome. Over last couple of years since 2016 I've been quietly involved with the Godbound rpg. It works best with original Dungeons & Dragons I've found. But it also works well with M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne game from TSR. The good news is that I've got a ton of material sitting in notebooks for this..
When I started in on this one of the resources that I originally didn't have were Cha'alt by Venger Satanis nor Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu. 



What I'm going to be doing is attacking this campaign from a totally different avenue. I'm going to be using some of the original time line from Empire of the Petal Throne. So we'll see if the players notice this turn of events as things start getting weirder. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

CZX Super Heroes & Super-Villains: Sketch Card Preview, Part 4

Cryptozoic - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 17:00

Please enjoy the fourth preview of Sketch Cards from CZX Super Heroes & Super-Villains

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hygge Diamond Pillow Tutorial

Moogly - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 16:00

The Hygge Diamond Pillow Tutorial demonstrates how to crochet this reversible cushion that’s full of gorgeous texture – on Moogly, in both right and left-handed videos! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Yarnspirations, Clover USA and Furls. Hygge Diamond Pillow Tutorial: How to Crochet the Hygge Diamond Pillow – Right Handed How...

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The post Hygge Diamond Pillow Tutorial appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

♫ We Built These Minis! ♩

Looking For Group - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:30

We’re a playful bunch at Blind Ferret, so you shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of the product we developed was full of play potential. Our most famous example is 2017’s Richard The Warlock action figure, which I’ve talked a […]

The post ♫ We Built These Minis! ♩ appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Cryptozoic Will Showcase Latest Tabletop Games at BGG.CON 2019

Cryptozoic - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:00

Cryptozoic will showcase recently released tabletop games at BGG.CON 2019, November 20-24 in the Hyatt Regency Dallas. At Booth #404, Cryptozoic will demo and sell Rick and Morty: The Morty Zone Dice Game, DC Deck-Building Game Crossover Pack 8: Batman Ninja, DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: ANNIHILAGEDDON Deck-Building Game, and Spyfall: Time Travel.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Labs report finds cyberthreats against healthcare increasing while security circles the drain

Malwarebytes - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:00

The team at Malwarebytes Labs is at it again, this time with a special edition of our quarterly CTNT report—Cybercrime tactics and techniques: the 2019 state of healthcare. Over the last year, we gathered global data from our product telemetry, honeypots, threat intelligence, and research efforts, focusing on the top threat categories and families that plagued the medical industry, as well as the most common attack vectors used by cybercriminals to penetrate healthcare defenses.

What we found is that healthcare-targeted cybercrime is a growing sector, with threats increasing in volume and severity while highly-valuable patient data remains unguarded. With a combination of unsecured electronic healthcare records (EHR) spread over a broad attack surface, cybercriminals are cashing in on industry negligence, exploiting vulnerabilities in unpatched legacy software and social engineering unaware hospital staff into opening malicious emails—inviting infections into the very halls constructed to beat them.

Our report explores the security challenges inherent to all healthcare organizations, from small private practices to enterprise HMOs, as well as the devastating consequences of criminal infiltration on patient care. Finally, we look ahead to innovations in biotech and the need to consider security in their design and implementation.

Key takeaways: the 2019 state of healthcare

Some of the key takeaways from our report:

  • The medical sector is currently ranked as the seventh-most targeted global industry according to Malwarebytes telemetry gathered from October 2018 through September 2019.
  • Threat detections have increased for this vertical from about 14,000 healthcare-facing endpoint detections in Q2 2019 to more than 20,000 in Q3, a growth rate of 45 percent.
  • The medical industry is overwhelmingly targeted by Trojan malware, which increased by 82 percent in Q3 2019 over the previous quarter.
  • While Emotet detections surged at the beginning of 2019, TrickBot took over in the second half as the number one threat to healthcare today.
  • The healthcare industry is a target for cybercriminals for several reasons, including their large databases of EHRs, lack of sophisticated security model, and high number of endpoints and other devices connected to the network.
  • Consequences of a breach for the medical industry far outweigh any other organization, as stolen or modified patient data can put a stop to critical procedures, and devices locked out due to ransomware attack can result in halted operations—and sometimes even patient death.
  • New innovations in biotech, including cloud-based biometrics, genetic research, and even advances in prosthetics could broaden the attack surface on healthcare and result in far-reaching, dire outcomes if security isn’t baked into their design and implementation.

To learn more about the cyberthreats facing healthcare and our recommendations for improving the industry’s security posture, read the full report:

Cybercrime tactics and techniques: the 2019 state of healthcare

The post Labs report finds cyberthreats against healthcare increasing while security circles the drain appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Wednesday Comics: BABC Defenders #34

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:50
A new episode of the Bronze Age Book Club podcast is available! Check it out here on on your podcast app of choice.


Listen to "Episode 9: DEFENDERS #34" on Spreaker.

The Necropolis of Nuromen

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:28
By Justin Becker, Michael Thomas Dreamscape Design Blueholme Level 1

… introduce a group of 1st level characters to the thrills of Underworld exploration as they attempt to unravel they secrets of the evil necromancer’s lair and deal with some bandits, too.

Yes, this line is for you.

This 22 page adventure features a two level dungeon with about thirty rooms. Classic encounters harken back to a time when D&D was fresh. Inconsistencies, and twice as many words as needed, require highlighting and notes to use it as intended. 

Sweet cover. And that cover is indicative of the mood created by the adventure. There’s a malaise, or ennui, presented in parts of the adventure. A feeling of weariness. Not in the designers, but an intentional effect in the setting they have created. The cover, the Harry Clarke illustrations (does ANYONE do elves better?) the elves wearying leaving the world, the downfall and doom of the mage Nuroman; the elements combine with the writing style to produce this effect. A magical world of folklore, a weariness in it. It’s done well.

The elements present in the encounters are classical ones. Bottomless pits, rushing underground rivers, skeletal arms wielding swords, or skeletons dicing at a table. There are statues to fuck with and riddles to learn secrets to elsewhere in the dungeon. A sparseness of creatures is balanced though by the wanderer table, and I suspect we could all learn a lesson from this. Is all monsters were lair creatures, and sparsely populated, then the wanderers push the party forward, limiting their careful explorations. Ten creature encounters, about half of which are avoidable and/or triggered by a careless party. There’s a good mix of interactivity and creature encounters, with roleplaying possibilities present in a few and others, as noted, avoidable. 

There’s a decent amount of treasure, probably the correct amount for a Gold=XP game, as well as other rewards like stat bonuses and being labeled “Elf friend” by the elves. It’s always good when the party receives accolades when they choose to be good. Magic items are all generic book items and that’s a major disappointment. Not OD&D, but book monsters and book magic treasure means Holmes. Which is what Blueholme is, but it could have been better.

The adventure is plagued by two major issues: excessive trivia and inconsistent details. The later first.

Early in the adventure there are sections describing the forest, the town, the people, the road, and so on. Buried in that is a small section describing a rocky hilltop, ruins, and a black hole in the earth. Then it quickly switches to another rando forest section, leaving those two paragraphs behind. Later on when the dungeon environs proper is reached we get a second, much weaker, description of the area. It has none of the mystery and melancholy of the first section. It doesn’t feel like a writing or editing mistake, but rather a layout issue, lie someone took one of the most effective “dungeon entrance” description and just pasted it in at random earlier. All of that melancholy is lost in the actual dungeon entrance section, which is much more genero ruins oriented. To continue with the entrance, the hole is described as 100 feet deep with last fifty feet choked with rubble. But then, the actual “room one” at the bottom has none of this. It’s not the bottom of a rubble filled pit. It’s a room with a river running through it and you can see the remains of the bridge collapsed in it. And the map shows a room that is, essentially, devoid of rubble. The adventure does this repeatedly, the map and text disconnected and different parts of the text disconnected from each other. Perhaps the two designers did not marry their individual efforts well? Double Doors, mentioned in the text, are single doors on the map. Doors that can’t be closed are represented as standard door symbols. The different elements just don’t make sense together. This, then, is basic consistency checking that an editor can provide. I can be hard on editors, but MOST adventures, even bad ones, can pass some basic consistency checks. 

The encounter writing, proper, is full of trivia. I suspect the adventure could be trimmed of at least half its words and the end result would be better for it. I am, frequently, met with a common response to his criticism: “More is better, right?” and it’s cousin “The DM might need it.” No. These are not true. Excessive detail gets in the way of the DM actually running the adventure during the game. It requires a highlighter, notes and a ton of prep work beforehand. If the trivia were NOT present then the DM can focus on the elements of the adventure that actual impact the play of the game. Scanability it much easier. Everyone is happier. 

The devil, of course, is in the definition of “Trivia.” What is trivia vs what is needed to run the room, or add flavour to it. Because, of course, we want all of the flavour with none of the trivia. Room 3 is titled “The Old Armoury.” Given that this is a ruin, and that has been properly established, and that it happened in an instant, what would you, gentle reader, then make up about the room, in play, if that’s all you had to go on? The first line of the “The old Armory” is “Here Nuroman’s guards stored their shields, armor and weapons.” The adventure does this over and over again. It will introduce a room and then tell us that the Kitchen is where food was prepared. We know that. It’s a platonic quality of ‘Kitchen.’ This is a classic example of superfluous text that gets in the way. (In fact, I think the classic online example wherein I was introduced to the concept did indeed involve a Kitchen. On rpgsite?) A centipede “that has crawled in through some unknown fissure.” Again, detail unneeded. This is an attempt to explain WHY, and those attempts are (almost)always unneeded. It’s a giant centipede in a dungeon. Vermin need little explanation, except perhaps in extreme circumstances and even then perhaps only if it provides some springboard for the adventure. Coins litter the ground “where they fell from their owners frayed purses.” Worldbuild, history, justifications for what IS. “The magical bones must be defeated before the treasure can be had.” Yes, and while technically correct we do not have a line in each room that says “the door must be opened before someone can walk through it.” Padding, conversational padding. I’m not heartless, throw in some goodies every once in awhile, an aside, or something. But too much and you clog up the text, as is done here.

We do get abstractions though. A scabbard is ‘macabre.’ That’s a conclusion. A good description would make the DM and/or players think “man, that’s macabre!” The challenge is to NOT resort to a conclusion and to communicate ‘macabre’ in a terse manner. This is GOOD detail, the kind that impacts play. The adventure needs more of it. At one point there’s a key hanging on the wall. Only it’s not recognizable as a key, just as the lock it fits is is not recognizable as a lock. That’s it. Nothing more. What does the thing look like? What does the lock look like? Nothing. That’s exactly the sort of thing you SHOULD be spending your word budget on, the things that directly impact the adventure and it’s actual play.

What this all leads to is a foul smelling room, that is then described in two paragraphs as an elegant dining room. Halfway through the third paragraph we’re told it’s befouled with harpy excrement. Well shit, that’s the sort of detail that goes in the first paragraph. Things immediately noticeable should (generally) go higher up in the description where the DMs attention will immediately be focused and thus be able to communicate it to the players. While they interact and ask questions the DM is scanning the next section of text. You can’t make a DM read four paragraphs of text, during the game at the table, before they describe a room. It takes too long and it’s too much to hold in your head at once. 

I will make one more Monday Morning Quarterback observation. In one particular room there are skeletons at a table, engaged in a dice game. It you touch the dice they come to life and attack. BORING! They should instead invite the players to dice with them. Then, things could devolve in to a combat. A bit of the ultra-violence is always an option in an RPG, but it’s almost always advisable to have something else BEFORE that, or that leads to that. Plan B, stabbing the fuck out of something/someone, is always an option. It’s the fact that a Plan A also could exist that gives RPG’s some of their charm.

I’m not gonna Regert this, but it’s close. If only the writing could be gotten under control in more places.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $3. There’s no preview, but it is Pay What You Want, so essentially you could just buy it for $0 to get a preview. 


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/110292/BLUEHOLMETM-The-Necropolis-of-Nuromen?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

BIG FINISH: The First and Second Doctors meet for the first time in Doctor Who: The Early Adventures

Blogtor Who - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 10:00

It’s 1968 all over again, as Big Finish celebrates the five year anniversary of Doctor Who exactly 51 years too late. It’s a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ball of nostalgic brilliance! Today sees the release of two brand new full cast audio dramas, featuring the Daleks, a doomed companion, and a time crash of gigantic proportions. In […]

The post BIG FINISH: The First and Second Doctors meet for the first time in Doctor Who: The Early Adventures appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

Vital infrastructure: securing our food and agriculture

Malwarebytes - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 20:06

I don’t expect to hear any arguments on whether the production of our food is important or not. So why do we hardly ever hear anything about the cybersecurity in the food and agriculture sector?

Depending on the country, agriculture makes up about 5 percent of the gross domestic product. That percentage is even bigger in less industrial countries. That amounts to a lot of money. And that’s just agriculture. For every farmer, 10 others are employed in related food businesses.

In fact, the food and agriculture sector is made up of many different contributors—from farmers to restaurants to supermarkets and almost every imaginable step in between. They range in size from a single sheepherder to multinational corporations like Bayer and Monsanto.

With a growing population and a diminishing amount of space for agriculture, the sector has grown to rely on more advanced techniques to meet the growing demands for agricultural products. And these techniques rely on secure technology to function.

Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture is an advanced form of agriculture, and as such, it uses a lot of connected technology. This basically puts it in the same risk category as household IoT devices. When looking at these devices from a security standpoint, it doesn’t matter a whole lot whether you are dealing with a web printer or a milking machine.

The connected technologies that are in use in agriculture mostly rely on remote sensing, global positioning systems, and communication systems to generate big data, analytics, and machine learning.

The main threats to this type of technology are denial-of-service attacks and data theft. With limited availability of bandwidth in some rural areas, communication loss may be caused by other factors outside a cyberattack— which makes it all the more important to have something to fall back on.

Data protection and data recovery are different entities but so closely related that solutions need to account for both. Data protection mostly comes down to management tools, encryption, and access control. Recovery requires backups or roll-back technology, which is easy to deploy and the backups require the same protection as the original data.

Supply chain

The supply chain for our food is variable, ranging from farmer’s supplies to the supermarket where we buy our food. Depending on the type of food, the chain can be extremely short (farm-to-table) or quite long. You may find a pharmaceutical giant like Bayer as a supplier for a farmer, but also as a manufacturer that gets its raw materials from farmers. Recently, Bayer was the victim of a cyberattack, which was likely aimed at industrial espionage.

Given the sensitive nature of the food supply chain which directly influences our health and happiness, it is only natural that we want to control the security of every step in the process. In order to do so, we look at suppliers other than those of physical goods and systems.

Financial institutions, for example, are heavily invested in agriculture, since it is one of the largest verticals. Back in 2012, a hacking group installed a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) on the computer of an insurance agent and used it to gain access to and steal reports and documents related to sales agents, as well as thousands of sent and received emails and passwords from Farmers Insurance.

Traceability across the supply chain is increasingly in demand by the public and sellers of the end-products. They want to know not only where the ingredients or produce came from, but when the crop was harvested and how they were grown and treated before they ended up on stores’ shelves.

Physical protection

Besides disrupting the industry supply chain, cyberattacks could potentially be used to harm to consumers or the environment. An outbreak of a disease and the consequential fear of contamination could devastate a food processor or distributor.

Given the number of producers and their spread across the country, a nationwide attack as an act of war or terrorism seems farfetched. But sometimes undermining the trust of the population in the quality of certain products can serve as a method to spread unrest and insecurity.

We have seen such attacks against supermarkets where a threat actor threatens to poison a product unless the owner pays up. In Germany, for example, a man slipped a potentially lethal poison into baby food on sale in some German supermarkets in an extortion scheme aimed at raising millions of Euros.

In Mexico, a drug cartel used government information about one of the most lucrative crops, avocado, to calculate how much “protection money” they could ask of its farmers, implying they would kidnap family members if they didn’t pay.

Cybersecurity for food

In the food and agriculture sector, cybersecurity has never been a prominent point of attention. But you can expect the technology used in precision agriculture to become a target of cybercriminals, especially if resources become more precious. Whether they would hold a system hostage until the farmer pays or whether they would abuse connected devices in a DDoS attack, cybercriminals could take advantage of lax security measures if the industry doesn’t sit up and take notice.

The use of big data to enhance production and revenue makes sense, but with the use of big data comes the risk of data corruption or theft.

Meanwhile, the food and agriculture sector is operating in chains and is dependable on other chain organizations or third parties. What is true for any chain is that it is only as strong as its weakest link, which in this case tends to be single farmers or small businesses. And as in most sectors, budgets of small businesses are tight, and cybersecurity is somewhere near the bottom of the list in spending. Even though an attack on expensive farming equipment could be costly, Not to mention shutting a company down for a while in a ransomware type of attack.

You’ve got that backwards

As the farming equipment industry has no problem forcing farmers to have their maintenance done by authorized dealers, farmers have resorted to installing firmware of questionable origin on their tractors to avoid paying top dollar for repairs and maintenance. This opens up a whole new avenue for cybercriminals to get their malware installed by the victims themselves. Apparently, all you have to do is offer it up as John Deere firmware on an online forum. You can even get paid for selling the software and then collect a ransom to get the tractor operational again as a bonus.

Recommendations

While farmers are renowned to cooperate when buying and selling goods, and to exchange information about illnesses and diseases, there is no such initiative when it comes to sharing information about cyberthreats and how to thwart them. Setting up such an initiative might be a first step in the right direction.

In our society being able to track back where a product or its ingredients came from becomes more important. Implementing the traceability could be an ideal moment to couple it with data security.

For the same reason as with household IoT devices manufacturers should be held accountable for providing an acceptable level of security or the possibility to apply such a level into their products. No hardcoded credentials, hard to change passwords, or weak default security settings.

Stay safe everyone!

The post Vital infrastructure: securing our food and agriculture appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Found Inventory Sale: Convention-Exclusive Vinyl Figures and Trading Cards (NOVEMBER 19)

Cryptozoic - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 17:00

We’re having a Found Inventory Sale to sell our remaining exclusive vinyl figures and trading cards from various conventions directly to our fans! Figures include Golden Goddess Wonder Woman Movie Collectible, Black & Gold Batman DC Lil Bombshells, and Black Dragon Cryptkins. For trading card fans, we’ll have convention-exclusive packs based on Outlander, Steven Universe, and Rick and Morty!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

COMING SOON: The Withdrawal Audiobook by Geoffrey Beevers

Blogtor Who - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 16:00

The most silkily voiced Master of them all brings his own novel to sinister life for Big Finish Geoffrey Beevers’ fourth novel, The Withdrawal, was published earlier this year by Fantom Publishing. But now the actor, who played the Master in Doctor Who’s The Keeper of Traken, has voiced a new audiobook. The new version […]

The post COMING SOON: The Withdrawal Audiobook by Geoffrey Beevers appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

Leather and Yarn Earrings: Quick Cricut Craft

Moogly - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 16:00

I love a quick and gift-ready DIY, and the Leather and Yarn Earrings fit the bill! Using the Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore Air 2, you can make a pair of boho earrings in just minutes with this Quick Cricut Craft on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Cricut and Yarnspirations....

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The post Leather and Yarn Earrings: Quick Cricut Craft appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

GFL – Page 0001

Looking For Group - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 14:30

Grouping For Looks is a page-by-page retelling of the Looking For Group saga through the lens of a mirror universe where Cale is a goateed tyrant and Richard is a holy soul trying to set him on a good path. […]

The post GFL – Page 0001 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

10 Favorite Nuggets From Monte Cook’s Your Best Game Ever

DM David - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 12:10

Roleplaying games have benefited from decades of advice for players and game masters. Every year, several new books offering help to roleplaying gamers reach print. Meanwhile, bloggers like me and countless others post advice and hope someone finds it useful.

With all this coaching, who needs more? For my part, I look for topics that haven’t gained much discussion and gather the best suggestions.

Monte Cook brings credentials earned through a long career in roleplaying games. In 1988, Cook started working for Iron Crown Enterprises on their Rolemaster and Champions games. By 1992, he started working for TSR where he penned Dead Gods, one of the greatest D&D adventures since 1985. He served as a lead designer on D&D’s third edition. For his Monte Cook Games, he designed roleplaying games such as Numenera, Invisible Sun, and The Strange. Among living RPG designers, Monte surely rates as the most famous and acclaimed.

This year, Monte published Your Best Game Ever, “A tool book, not a rulebook—for everyone who plays or runs roleplaying games.” When this book of advice reached Kickstarter, it rated as a must for me.

The finished book brought a couple of surprises. First, the campaign touted a long list of contributes from roleplaying game pioneers like Jennell Jaquays to famous voices like Matthew Mercer. I expected a compilation of advice from the contributors. Instead Monte stands as the book’s primary author, with the contributors seasoning the book with short sidebars. This makes a happy surprise because Monte brings a singular voice of 30-some years experience, which gives the book a clear, consistent feel. Second, outside of starter sets, few books of roleplaying advice aim to help beginners. Your Best Game Ever starts as a primer for new players, and then builds to help veteran gamers. This old enthusiast kept noting favorite quotes and even pages.

I chose ten passages from a 240 page book to give a taste of the content inside. But as I read and scribbled notes, I kept thinking that Your Best Game Ever rates as a book I want to come back to again and again. Highly recommended.

1. Lean Into Failure (Occasionally) (p.58)

You play games to win, and you win an RPG by succeeding at your goals (defeat the villain, get the gold, get more powerful, and the like). But if you’re a player focused on story, you need to look at things a little differently sometimes, because to win an RPG from this perspective is to tell a great story. And sometimes the best stories arise out of failure or defeat.

2. Anticipating Where the PCs Will Go (p.99)

A good GM knows where the PCs will go and what they’ll do before they do. However, the GM doesn’t force them to go anywhere or do anything. How on earth do you accomplish that?

Players have their PCs go where things sound most appealing, interesting, or fulfilling of their goals (wealth, power, information, the recovery of the kidnapped duke, or whatever). And you are the one who controls the places and things that fit that description.

Sometimes, you can subtly encourage the PCs to go in a certain direction or do a certain thing (because you’ve got stuff prepared for that choice). You do this by observing and learning what the players are likely to do. Once you figure things like that out, you can guide the players and they won’t even know you’re doing it.

3. Leading Questions (p.128)

GMs should be very aware of when they ask leading questions. Now, my point here isn’t to encourage you to avoid them—just to be aware of them. Sometimes, leading questions are valuable tools. But most players will read into a leading question, so don’t use them unless you want a player to read into them. This leading question is probably the most powerful in the arsenal: Are you sure you want to do that?

4. Speaking for the Group (p.129)

Sometimes one player will attempt to speak for the group, saying something like “We turn on our flashlights and go inside the warehouse.” If that happens, just go with it. If the other players don’t object, it makes things a little easier and moves them along a little faster. You don’t have to get confirmation from all the other players. It’s their duty to pay attention and interject with “Wait, I don’t want to go into the warehouse,” or “I’ll stay outside while everyone else goes in” if that’s how they feel.

5. Answering Questions (p.129)

Sometimes a player will ask a question that they shouldn’t have the answer to. Questions like “Are the police in this town corrupt?” or “Where do criminals fence their stolen goods around here?” Rather than saying, “You don’t know,” try instead asking the player “How will you go about finding the answer to that question?” Doing that turns their question into a forward-moving action. It becomes something to do, and doing things is more interesting than asking the GM questions.

6. Pacing Within a Session—Important Moments (p.132)

Sometimes, though, it’s worth taking a bit of time with an important moment. An audience with the queen, the appearance of an elder god, or flying a spaceship into a black hole are all scenes where it might be okay to take your time. In fact, the change of pacing will highlight the importance of the moment and can, all by itself, convey the gravity you want. But here’s the thing about slower pacing—you have to fill up the gaps with something. In other words, it’s okay to slow things down, but if you do, you need more evocative description, more intriguing NPCs, or more exciting action.

7. Pacing Within a Session—Unimportant Moments (p.132)

A GM who is adept at pacing will take this a step further, to the point of perhaps surprising the players, at least at first. If there are a couple of rather low-powered guards at the entrance to a high-tech complex and the players announce their intention to take them out quickly, the GM might just say, “Okay, you knock out the guards. What do you do with their unconscious bodies?” No die rolls, no game mechanics.

That will catch the players off guard at first, but it’s going to tell them about the difficulty of the challenge and the importance of the encounter. In an instance like this, the GM knows that PC victory is a foregone conclusion, and rather than taking ten minutes to resolve the rather meaningless encounter, they simply get to the heart of the matter, which is what the PCs do immediately after the fight—do they try to hide their infiltration or charge right in? Because the GM knows that decision will affect the rest of the session far more than how much damage they can inflict on a low-powered foe. Plus, it saves session time for the challenging encounters to come.

8. Enduring Player Agency (p.136) If you put a PC in a situation where their abilities don’t work, you’re taking away their agency. Rather than negate their abilities, require them. If a character can phase through walls, don’t set up the villain’s fortress so that the walls prevent phasing. Instead, make it so that phasing is literally the only way the PCs can get in. By requiring that ability, you’ve rewarded the player for selecting it.

9. Even a Simple Game Is Fun (p.142)

The events that occur because of ideas generated by the players rather than the GM, and events that come about because of the inherent randomness of the game, are far more likely to make or break a session than the ideas the GM provides.

My point here isn’t to contend that the GM doesn’t matter. As someone who loves running RPGs more than almost any other activity, I’d never say that. What I’m saying is don’t put too much pressure on yourself as you’re getting ready to run a session, particularly if you’re a new GM. I’ve made this point many times, but I’ll make it again: RPGs are about group storytelling. It’s not all on you. It’s on the group as a whole.

10. Character Death (p.230)

Sometimes in RPGs we gloss over the effects of death in the story, but that’s not entirely believable and means missing out on great narrative opportunities. If a character dies, talk about how that impacts the survivors. Have a funeral in the story. Track down their next of kin. Build a memorial. Do something to recognize that the characters in the group are very likely close friends and would react as people who have lost someone significant in their lives.

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