Behind the Screen: Puzzle Dungeons Done Right

Behind the Screen: Puzzle Dungeons Done Right

Jul 18

Since last time we talked about a lot of the “DON’Ts” of puzzles and puzzle dungeons, I felt it was only fair to add a few “DOs” to the pile to balance out the brow-beating. So, I’ve collected some creative ideas for making puzzles and puzzle dungeons a fun facet of your tabletop game (or at least, not an obnoxious one).   Mechanics for...

Unreal Worlds: How to Build a Conspiracy in Five Easy Steps

Unreal Worlds: How to Build a Conspiracy in Five Easy Steps

Jul 16

You may have noticed that we talk a lot about conspiracies around here. There are a couple of reasons for that, the primary and most important being that they are interesting. Really interesting. Looking at the world through a conspiratorial lens is simultaneously empowering (“I’m important enough that they’re trying to get me!”) and disempowering (“Their resources...

Another Year, Another ENnies Nomination

Another Year, Another ENnies Nomination

Jul 14

So the nominations for the Gen Con/ENworld RPG Awards (“the ENnies”) came out earlier today, and I am enormously pleased to say that theIlluminerdy.com is on the list once again as a nominee for Best Blog. We stand with some other excellent gaming blogs, in a field of entirely excellent nominees. It is an honor to be part of this, and one for which we sincerely thank the ENnies judges...

The Arkham Archivist: Lovecraftian vs./and Smithian Icons in 13th Age

The Arkham Archivist: Lovecraftian vs./and Smithian Icons in 13th Age

Jul 09

One of the beauties of 13th Age is that it comes with a fully-fleshed setting, the Dragon Empire, with 13 icons who provide compelling forces in your campaign. However, those icons, and even the empire and world itself, are not necessary aspects of a 13th Age game. Players are encouraged to take the rules into any fantasy or other setting. But what does one then do about the icons? In their FAQ, the designers encourage shifting settings and icons to fit the needs of your game:

Behind the Screen: Puzzle Pitfalls

Behind the Screen: Puzzle Pitfalls

Jul 04

So we’ve talked a bit about occasionally doing something other than combat in your campaigns, and I intentionally left out one of the most popular alternatives to combat I’ve ever seen used by GMs: Puzzles. I hate puzzles – I should get that out there from the start.  I pull the stickers off Rubik’s cubes, I Google crossword clues, I even ordered back issues of Nintendo...

Dispatch Ultra: A Man of Appetites

Dispatch Ultra: A Man of Appetites

Jun 25

Bzzzztttzzz. Dispatch Ultra back online. Have relocated to new temporal and physical quadrant. Am now prepared to resume transmissions. Our move was precipitated by security concerns. We have recently uncovered new information about the rise of Nazi power during the Second World War and the rationale for much of the Nazi actions in Europe. This will be the focus of many of our future...

100 Word RPG Hook: The Truth is Out There

100 Word RPG Hook: The Truth is Out There

Jun 23

The truth is dangerous. For every researcher who realizes that the pyramids were designed to be part of a massive crystal generator powered by the rotation of the Milky Way, there’s a guy accidentally igniting an atomic explosion, destroying Sodom. And Gamorrah. That really happened. It also caused a pole shift that buried the cities on Antarctica, but at least the Lemurians had time to draw...

Behind the Screen: The 45-Minute Rule

Behind the Screen: The 45-Minute Rule

Jun 20

It took me a while to realize that each session of a tabletop game is like a pizza:  the more slices you try to carve it into, the smaller each slice gets, and the hungrier the sad sack eating that tiny slice is going to be.  Now imagine the pizza is how much time you have to game, and each slice is the focus you can put toward a given player’s character. The hunger they feel is more or...