One of the wonderful things about this hobby is the vast array of creativity that it elicits from enthusiasts and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of blogging. Here you’ll find people enthusiastically discussing their favorite settings, systems, and companies with the sort of fervor that is usually reserved for fighting over politics and religion; but you’ll also find new ways to improve your game. Whether you’re looking for a new monster, an adventure hook, a creative house rule, or just some inspiration for your next game there’s a blog out there waiting to provide you with just that.
I have a guest blogger today! One of my favourite blogs, Dyvers Campaign, is written by Charles Akins. I recommend it highly. Charles has written a guest blog entry here on EN World, in which he lists ten RPG blogs (which aren't his or my blogs!) that everybody should be reading:
Today I’m going to share ten blogs that everyone should be reading. These blogs represent different systems, styles of play, and range far and wide from what you might consider a stereotypical gaming blog. Yet in spite of all their differences these blog share one thing in common: they’re filled with great ideas that you can use in your own games – regardless of what system or edition you’re playing.
10. The Dungeon Dozen by Jason Sholtis
The concept behind The Dungeon Dozen was to provide a Dungeon Master with a d12 chart of fantastic ideas each time it updated. In the four years since the blog began Jason Sholtis has produced over 420 tables ranging across a wide range of topics from what sort of corpses you encounter in the dungeon to what’s at the bottom of the pit you’ve just discovered. The sheer volume of output from this blog can be intimidating but you shouldn’t let that give you pause in bookmarking and exploring it because it has an easily searchable index and continues to update with outstanding content on a regular basis. You can also use an index created by Jeff Russell, of the blog Blessings of the Dice Gods, which has arranged most of the tables by topic so that you can quickly find the chart that best suits your needs.
If you enjoy this blog’s output then I would also encourage you to pick up Jason’s first compilation The Dungeon Dozen from LuLu which has lots of art and two hundred tables that you can use for your games.
Style of Game: Open system
Posting Frequency: Nine posts per month
9. Chirine’s Workbench by Chirine ba Kal
The game of Tekumel was created by Professor M.A.R. Barker and at one time it was considered the pinnacle of what could be done with the Dungeons and Dragons game. Then things got difficult with TSR and Tekumel disappeared from the wider gaming culture, but that doesn’t mean that it stopped being played. Professor Barker continued to run the game for years afterwards and Chirine ba Kal was one of his long time players and a close friend.
This blog is filled with Chirine ba Kal’s remembrances of playing in Professor Barker’s games along with his experiences playing with Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax. Yet this blog isn’t focused only on the past. Instead Chirine writes fascinating articles about how to run convention style games (which he’s done for decades), Braunstein games, and his on-going personal campaigns that have been going for years. He also discusses miniatures and how they were used in the games he’s played in the past and even today. Perhaps the best part of this blog, though, is the constant reassurance that you can do it all yourself. You can make all of the miniature terrain, buildings, and props from scratch. You can carve the miniatures you need and make up the rules as you go along. You can use things you find at the pet store and at Dollar General instead of spending every spare dollar buying Dwarven Forge terrain and Games Workshop miniatures.
In a hobby where we are constantly eschewing our own talents for the prefabricated efforts of corporations Chirine has become something of a clarion call reminding all of us that we are more than just a fistful of dollars. We are what make the games matter and no rulebook or supplement can change that.
Style of Game: Tekumel and War Gaming
Posting Frequency: Eleven posts a month
8. Tenkar’s Tavern by Erik Tenkar
Arguably in the last five years no movement within the hobby has had a greater online presence than the OSR and yet in spite of all its adherents defining the movement remains an elusive task. This is because the OSR is a nebulous idea that harkens back to the early days of the hobby when what you did with your game was more important than what any publisher might provide you with in its stead.
If you were looking for a blog that has it’s pulse on the OSR movement than you couldn’t find a better place to start than Tenkar’s Tavern. Erik Tenkar has produced a blog that ranges across many of the topics that connect to the rpg industry; yet it’s the community of commenters that he has cultivated to his blog that makes it so special. Whether he’s asking about how you use NPCs or discussing his latest house rule you’ll find a vibrant community that expands and diverges from his original comments to produce a wide variety of thoughts that will help you reexamine your own beliefs on those topics and be better for it.
Where this blog really shines, though, is when Erik begins talking about many of the rpg Kickstarters that have been launched over the last few years. He has produced numerous reports that have been valuable in shining light on the crooks and flakes who have used Kickstarter to their personal advantage. Through his tireless efforts Erik has helped keep many of these people honest and has ensured that the worst offenders are shown for what they are in the light of day.
The Tavern has a wide audience that consists of mostly OSR gamers but Erik has produced a blog that welcomes everyone regardless of the style of game they play. It’s also one of the most prolific blogs in the blog-o-sphere having produced over a thousand posts in each of the last two years.
Style of Game: OSR with a focus on Swords and Wizardry
Posting Frequency: 78 posts a month
7. FATE SF by John Till
When I first learned about FATE I foolishly dismissed it as a heartbreaker system that wouldn’t provide me with the same sort of flexibility and enjoyment that Savage Worlds did or that GURPS promised. Then I ran across FATE SF by John Till.
John possesses a seemingly endless supply of enthusiasm and creativity that FATE has only exacerbated. His blog is filled with great monsters, space opera overtones, brilliant adventure locations, and tremendous adventure opportunities. Yet the best part about all of his efforts is that it is so easy to convert them over to your favorite system. This blog has sold me on the FATE system and John’s continued creativity has only impressed on me the possibilities available in picking it up.
Style of Game: FATE
Posting Frequency: Fifteen posts per month
6. Elfmaids and Octopi by The Prophet Konsumterra
Elfmaids and Octopi has been one of my must read blogs since I first ran across it nearly two years ago. The author has one of the most distinctive writing styles I have ever encountered, and it takes some getting used to before you’re able to fully engage with the blog, but it works perfectly.
The Prophet Konsumterra has steadily built up a blog filled to the brim with some of the most creative writing I’ve ever run across. His game session reports read like front line missives one week and the next like a conversation in a friendly bar with a good band playing in the background. Yet as good as these are they aren’t the best part of this blog. Where he really shines is when he starts exploring his gaming worlds (in particular the Planet Psychon series is outstanding) and builds these amazing d100 lists that each provide the reader with more ideas than a lifetime of gaming would allow them to fully explore.
As if all of that weren’t enough the Prophet Konsumterra has also published his work for his Home Chimera game which combines his favorite elements of each D&D edition from First though 3.5. Reading through his efforts is like finding an old friend who keeps telling you that you don’t have to limit yourself to the things you’ve always been told and can instead go your own way. Having a voice like that in this hobby is essential if we’re going to continue to grow beyond the standard fare.
Style of Game: Homebrew Chimera (mix 1-3.5 D&D)
Posting Frequency: Twenty-four posts a month
5. Barking Alien by Adam Dickstein
Most of the blogs written about rpgs tend to focus on the narrow genre of an imaginary, Medieval Europe where we all fight dragons and rescue feckless princes while we tell jokes that are only funny if you were there. Not so with this beautiful blog. Instead Barking Alien focuses on the wide breadth of role-playing games outside of D&D.
It’s a refreshing break from the monotony of the standard fare as Adam brings a unique perspective to the hobby and is constantly pushing against the imaginary constraints we impose on ourselves. He is a passionate proponent for gaming and nearly every post he writes contains brilliant bits of advice that will help improve your own games even if you’re not playing the same system. Perhaps the best part of this blog, though, is when Adam discusses his internal group dynamics and makes an effort to genuinely think about what’s happening and how to improve the games and situations he involves himself in. I’ve learned so much about how to deal with his style of play – which is far different from my own – and it’s made my own games better as a result.
Style of Game: Currently Supers / Space Exploration
Posting Frequency: Twelve posts a month
4. Gaming Ballistic by Douglas Cole
Before I started reading Douglas Cole I avoided GURPS like the plague. I labored for years under false beliefs about the game and foolishly ignored a robust system that would allow me to play everything from a Space Pirate to a Cowboy in the old west. Then I found Gaming Ballistic and everything changed. Douglas Cole has a way of making GURPS into one of the most attractive systems you’ll ever read about. Through his tireless efforts he has helped demystify the game through his Melee Academy series and his GURPS 101 series. And he always seems to come up with great adventure ideas, locations, and enemies that can easily be moved into your favorite system.
Even if these efforts weren’t as impressive as they are his blog would still make my list for his Firing Squad interviews. He makes an effort in each interview to put his guest at ease and to discuss a wide range of things going on in the hobby; with the end result being some of the best, far reaching interviews you’re likely to find today.
Style of Game: GURPS
Posting Frequency: Thirty-two posts a month
3. Hack & Slash by Courtney Campbell
If you’re looking for a blog that aggressively works to provide some of the best content on the web then you’d be hard pressed to find many better than Hack & Slash. This blog covers the breadth of the hobby moving from esoteric topics from the earliest days of the hobby to building new backgrounds for D&D 5e. Yet the far reaching scope of this blog isn’t its best quality. Instead what makes it so valuable for the reader is the author’s unerring belief that what we’re given isn’t good enough, we can do better, and he’ll show you how.
Reading Courtney’s blog will leave you with the belief that the standard monsters that have grown trite and predictable shouldn’t be left that way; instead we should reimagine them and make them better than the boring things they’ve become. Our old adventures and paths, which everyone has trod before us, should be abandoned for new grounds where we can do the unexpected again. Courtney is the sort of reinvigorating figure that this hobby needs to prevent us from stagnating under the pressure of our collective past.
Style of Game: OSR
Posting Frequency: Thirteen posts a month
2. Aiee! Run from Kelvin’s Brainsplurge! by Kelvin Green
To try and sum up the entire breadth of topics covered by this rare blog would be a fool’s errand. Instead I will tell you that over the course of the last eleven years Kelvin has managed to craft an exceptional blog that is capable of both a deep study on the esoteric ephemera of the hobby and of developing new content on a regular basis with a seeming ease that I am frankly jealous of. He has explored so many topics during his run with this blog that I can honestly tell you that if you’re looking for somewhere to begin developing your own thoughts on this hobby that exploring this blog will help you see both where we have been as a hobby and where we are going.
Kelvin’s keen intellect and consistently high standards of blogging have made this blog one of my favorites to explore as every delve into his archives is rewarded with a plethora of new ideas for my own games and a re-examination of my own thoughts on the hobby. I cannot recommend this blog highly enough for any reader.
Style of Game: Multiple systems
Posting Frequency: Four posts a month
1. Goblin Punch by Arnold K. Adult Content Warning
httWhen I am looking for inspiration in my own games the first blog I look to is Goblin Punch. Arnold is a fantastic writer who has carefully crafted a blog that explores the fertile grounds of his imagination to produce some of the most provocative monsters and locations today. His creative re-imagining and invention of monsters have provided me with a wide array of nightmarish fodder to launch on my unsuspecting players. Then there are his adventure locations which are as beautifully written as anything coming out of Monte Cook Games and can easily be dropped into your own world without losing all of their beauty.
There is so much to this blog that I enjoy; but I don’t want to spoil everything for new readers because exploring the depth and breadth of this blog is half the fun. So instead I’ll be brief and simply say that if you’re looking for a blog to read that is not only a creative powerhouse but a well-written and enjoyable read then this is the place to start.
Style of Game: Open System
Posting Frequency: Ten posts a month