View Profile: Annie Bulloch - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th December, 2018, 01:07 PM
    I also thought about U1 for our family game, but went with "Horror on the Hill", which is of course not "horror" at all. I only removed the Neanderthals because I found them somewhat offensive (i.e. the r* word). "Horror on the Hill" is very simple, it has practically no story at all, so it's all about exploration, but it has a range of classic monsters and a reasonable curve of difficulty as you...
    14 replies | 391 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th December, 2018, 10:44 AM
    I've been there, and my children were several years younger than your when we started playing 5e, so here's what I have done for them: 1- pregenerated characters: have the characters completely designed and the character sheets printed out, so that you can start playing immediately; have 1-2 more characters than players ready, and let them choose which one to play; leave only the name, gender,...
    27 replies | 720 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th December, 2018, 03:25 PM
    It came from you. More or less it sounds to me that all the three of you have failed. The face man player failed to want to impose his PC will on another player. You failed in siding with him and force a skill check to be the final arbiter. The Barbarian's player failed when he overreacted and tried to use something in-game against the first PC. But you are the DM so you have more...
    467 replies | 8508 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 7th December, 2018, 09:08 PM
    I voted all.
    106 replies | 2554 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 7th December, 2018, 08:25 AM
    There are many which I really like to use as a source of quests and stories, but none is sexier than Shar.
    41 replies | 1495 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th December, 2018, 11:19 AM
    Usually people evaluate monsters stats without looking at the story, but I think you point out what is a remarkable feature of this monster: if you kill it, someone will be stuck forever in the negative energy plane. If you run the game with more focus on purposes and achievements, then "winning" an encounter with a Nightwalker gets a new definition, at least for non-evil PCs. And it...
    31 replies | 1149 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th December, 2018, 11:23 AM
    You don't need anything. Half-Elf and Half-Orc are there because of tradition, and THAT is definitely worth keeping around. The rules of the game evolve, and new races and classes can become new-traditional in time, but some things should stay the same of D&D will lose its identity and legacy across editions. Then, some people want as much symmetry as possible in the game, and the fact that...
    201 replies | 6859 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th December, 2018, 07:19 AM
    Restrictions are recipes. No restrictions is like having 4-5 cooks putting everything they want in the soup. It may work fine. Or you may end up with one cook putting indian spices, the second Mediterranean ingredients, another german sausages, and the last french cream. Which, who knows, maybe it's actually good, but maybe it's garbage. Restrictions, if well planned, provides a theme and can...
    96 replies | 2727 view(s)
    4 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st December, 2018, 09:48 PM
    I am against adding options which grants spellcasters the ability to alter spells in real time. Because that is called metamagic and is one of the only 2 reasons to play a Sorcerer (the other being specific archetypes). If you give the Sorcerer's unique feature to others, then to be fair you should give other's unique features to the Sorcerer, like a feat that allows to add more known...
    40 replies | 1430 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 10:03 AM
    I think it's always best to leave such kind of situations to each DM to handle it the way they want. Personally, for me a RPG is always grounded in a story, and if I stop believing in the story I stop believing in the game. Frankly, in this particular case if the DM rules that in total darkness you can dart through doors and around objects at full speed because the RAW doesn't prevent that, I...
    53 replies | 1055 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 08:38 AM
    I think it's a feature of Wish to torture the players into choice paralysis :)
    24 replies | 973 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 08:33 AM
    No. You are making a mistake: you are basing your comparison on time alone, while the publishing pace of 5e is a lot slower. This is a bit like comparing a bicycle ride with someone else who took the same trip by car in one hour, and after half an hour wondering if you (with the bike) should be already at 50% of the journey. WotC can of course decide to kill the edition and start another...
    157 replies | 5018 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 28th November, 2018, 08:27 AM
    Yes. Yes. Yes. And notice that "just as well" includes that if they run into a wall in the dark they get hurt "just as well" as when they run into a wall in broad daylight. Then think, are you going to tell the PCs there is a wall when they are in complete darkness so that they can stop just in time to avoid getting hurt? The answer depends if your DMing style is more "gamist" or...
    53 replies | 1055 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd November, 2018, 08:17 PM
    Nope, as much as my interpretation is and has always been the same as yours, it is NOT clear, otherwise we wouldn't have plenty of people after 4 years who still claim the RAW allows otherwise i.e. to take a command action in round 1 and have the beast keep attacking. If only they added "each turn" after "If you don't issue a command" then it would put an end to the discussion. Unfortunately...
    114 replies | 4085 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd November, 2018, 09:50 AM
    Still using a fixed array since the start of 5e... it's faster than point-buy, and completely eliminates whinings like "my scores are unplayable" and "oh how unlucky I am I rolled poorly".
    159 replies | 13401 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 23rd November, 2018, 08:29 AM
    Yes, I agree, better not to do it at all costs on a class if there is no good idea. I wouldn't touch iconic and unique features such as Barbarian's Rage and Rogue's Sneak Attack... even smaller stuff like Action Surge and Second Wind should not be removed, otherwise it leaves the Fighter class without its own unique and distinctive features, it would end up being an empty shell of a class. ...
    114 replies | 4085 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 22nd November, 2018, 09:55 AM
    I won't comment much on the mechanics of these alternate class features because they are still WIP. But I am definitely on board with the whole idea of alternate class features (for all classes). It's a fantastic idea because: - they introduce more freedom and flexibility in character design without necessarily adding whole new subclasses (which need their own strong enough identities, and...
    114 replies | 4085 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 20th November, 2018, 09:37 AM
    What really the math doesn't take into account is that a flat bonus allows skills and saves to beat DCs that are otherwise not possible with advantage, and similarly a flat penalty prevents to beat DCs that are still possible with disadvantage. This consideration doesn't apply to attacks since they have the autohit/automiss rule. So as an example, all the advantage in the world including Lucky...
    43 replies | 1421 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 20th November, 2018, 09:12 AM
    Yes. Even tho I generally have some adventure come to the PCs, in which case it will be appropriate to their level, the fantasy world around exists independently from them, and that means unbeatable encounters are possible. It's not a Kobayashi Maru / Deathtrap situation if the PC group have the means to avoid or escape the encounter. The key idea is that if killing/beating the foe is...
    29 replies | 840 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 20th November, 2018, 09:05 AM
    Sorry, whaaat? It's hard for me to believe that young adults (not children) who have already played between two and four years still have troubles with basic stuff like reading a character sheet or use skills, when the latter is practically "roll d20, add a small number, ask the DM if it worked". But then, if this is how they really are, please do everyone a favor and do NOT run a game at...
    55 replies | 1902 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Monday, 19th November, 2018, 08:57 AM
    Mmm... there's many! A few ones on the top of my head: Uriah Heep: "The Wizard", "Lady in Black", "Traveller in Time", "Silver White Man" Jethro Tull: "Ring Out Solstice Bells", "Cold Wind to Valhalla", "Cup of Wonder", "Broadsword" Led Zeppelin: "Ramble On", "The Battle of Evermore", "Over the Hills and Far Away" Deep Purple: "Fireball", "Stormbringer" Thin Lizzy: "The Friendly Ranger at...
    42 replies | 1169 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Monday, 19th November, 2018, 08:19 AM
    Very important. I cannot stand a RPG book with bad art. An awesome monster picture often makes me want to feature the creature in some adventure, so by contrast I suppose that bad pictures have subtly put me off and away from a MM entry all the time. That said, quality does not have much to do with how complex or advanced the drawing technique is. Editing and printing should be of good quality...
    18 replies | 644 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Sunday, 18th November, 2018, 09:41 AM
    First of all, that's BS. Those features entitle the PCS to learn that information, but don't preclude other waysto obtain the same. In general the game assumes the DM doesn't show monsters stats to the players, but the designers are not fools and they know that many players own the MM, or know many monsters already by having encountered them before. Still, those features are useful against...
    22 replies | 635 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 15th November, 2018, 05:45 PM
    Dodging is useful if you can do it as a bonus action, or if you can do it as an action while doing something else as a bonus action. But Dodge + movement (and nothing else) is maybe only good for running away, and it's not the best choice in all cases, yet running away doesn't happen typically that often in RPG. It might also be an interesting choice in some other corner cases that happen even...
    74 replies | 2079 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 15th November, 2018, 05:40 PM
    It has annoyed me as a DM more than as a player.
    124 replies | 3968 view(s)
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About Annie Bulloch

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About Annie Bulloch
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I am a D&D player and DM who co-owns 8th Dimension Comics & Games in Houston.
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Saturday, 30th June, 2018

  • 07:05 PM - Schmoe quoted Annie Bulloch in post Graph Paper Romance: When D&D Characters Date
    Yeah, absolutely. I hoped it would go without saying, but: don't be inappropriate. Don't be a creep. Again, this is a rule for D&D and also real life. With all due respect, I think "Don't be a creep" completely undersells the point that he was making. There is nothing more inherently creepy about introducing romance in a game with 14 year olds than in a game with co-workers or a game with people at your local game store. You want everyone to be comfortable with introducing romance into a game, and it's conceivable that the groups in any of those situations might be interested in romance. But crucially, the distinction is that there are certain situations where no matter how comfortable the group is, the consequences of anything being misinterpreted go far beyond just some hurt feelings or a broken gaming group. People should recognize those situations and avoid romance entirely if that is the situation they are in, no matter what else.
  • 12:20 AM - Tony Vargas quoted Annie Bulloch in post Graph Paper Romance: When D&D Characters Date
    Do your D&D games ever contain romantic elements? Not as often as other games, like Storyteller.

Friday, 29th June, 2018

  • 09:23 PM - mrpopstar quoted Annie Bulloch in post Graph Paper Romance: When D&D Characters Date
    There are so many ways in-game romance can turn out either well or horribly, for characters and players alike. Do you ever include romantic plots in your D&D campaigns? If so, did it add an enjoyable element to your story, or create any issues?I am the Dungeon Master for a campaign that features a romantic plot. One of our adventurers has kindled a relationship with one of the non-player characters. Things happened naturally as the narrative unfolded, and I observe that it makes everyone smile whenever the couple's interactions are explored. I think the romantic plot adds an enjoyable element to the story first and foremost because it offered an opportunity for a character to gain a new bond. As a Dungeon Master, bonds are important to me because they represent important connections to people in the world I've created for us to tell stories in. Each one helps me better understand the kind of story my players want to be involved with. Most of the relationship is explored in descriptions of down...
  • 05:39 PM - DMMike quoted Annie Bulloch in post Graph Paper Romance: When D&D Characters Date
    so we just jumped in. Our DM was entertained enough by this to make us both roll DEX checks for makeout success once (I rolled a 19!), and their relationship became a minor aspect of the overall narrative. Does that mean there was a chance for critical fails? In making out? Were braces involved? Romance is an ageless plot device. It would be weird not to include it...unless your players are all murderhobos. That, and it's weird for some non-actors to role-play romance. But I think you can abstract it enough, players willing, to keep even the most sensitive (yet tough. AND manly.) players comfortable in their seats.

Monday, 11th June, 2018

  • 07:24 AM - Josiah Stoll quoted Annie Bulloch in post Creating a More Immersive D&D Experience
    Yeah, that's tricky. We tried to counter the fluorescent lights with the wall and floor colors in my shop's game room, which seems to work pretty well. It's not exactly mood lighting, but it's not like an office building in there either. What color is that? Iím no interior designer, but I love the idea.

Sunday, 10th June, 2018

  • 09:14 PM - Staffan quoted Annie Bulloch in post Creating a More Immersive D&D Experience
    Me too! I'm allergic to most scented items, and it's even worse for my husband. I think it's really cool that the products exist, but they definitely are not for everyone. Thank you for calling that out. I'm allergic to scented stuff (or at least some of it, and after one run-in I decided it wasn't worth experimenting to see how broad the allergy was), and I know from experience with other things that unless you are allergic or know someone with that particular allergy, it's easy to miss. As I was reading the article, my mind went "Oh, I'd better post a warning about that... oh, she got it. Cool."
  • 09:46 AM - Li Shenron quoted Annie Bulloch in post Creating a More Immersive D&D Experience
    Always great articles from Annie! :) Music This is a big deal for us. We have maybe a dozen playlists on Spotify to highlight the mood of certain scenes, from taverns to wilderness to dungeons and so on. The key in my opinion is to keep the music really in the background, never in the foreground! That usually means to keep the volume fairly low, and avoid any music draws too much attention. I've seen many times some gaming group put on some epic rock or heavy metal, thinking it's going to be cool, then after 15 minutes you just hate it and have to shut it off... the music should not distract you from the game. Save your favourite high-calories songs for the moments between the game, such as when you level up your PCs. Decor and Lighting I've never really done anything more than dimming the lights. Snacks I used to hate snacks at the gaming table long ago, then I realized that what I really hated is having snacks and books around at the same time. I am just too jealous of my...

Tuesday, 5th June, 2018

  • 08:21 AM - Li Shenron quoted Annie Bulloch in post Keep These Tools in Your Real-Life Bag of Holding
    Maps and Miniatures We use Lego minifigs, but no maps. We also use some Lego bricks for terrain elements. Initiative Indicators Never used. We just write down the initiative list on paper at each encounter. Spell Cards Not yet... Being a strong fan of DIY, I have created my own "action cards" that include more than just spells, but I am still prototyping different printing options, so the cards are not ready yet. Inspiration Tokens I very rarely use Inspiration, but I thought about tokens for conditions and buffs. I don't have a plan yet, however. Do you use any tools of a similar nature that arenít mentioned here? Because Iím always looking for ways to step up my game! Let me know in the comments. Well there's always the DM screen :) Actually I haven't used that in a while, but in the past I have used a DIY mock screen made by a simple folding cardboard with pinned tables and other printouts (the idea is that I can change each session what to pin on it, depending on...

Sunday, 3rd June, 2018

  • 08:49 PM - Ed Laprade quoted Annie Bulloch in post Keep These Tools in Your Real-Life Bag of Holding
    As a player, I love getting a physical card from my DM for a new item. I'll probably get into this more in-depth in a future column, talking about more ways to help set the tone and immerse players in the game. I've used (hand-made) magic item cards, but some players either forget them or hand them back for me to hold onto between sessions. So I don't do it any more. All that work, and they really don't care... except when they need to look up what they do, of course!

Wednesday, 30th May, 2018

  • 05:44 PM - Tony Vargas quoted Annie Bulloch in post We Were All New D&D Players Once
    I think it does new players a disservice to overemphasize the gameís simplicity because thereís really a lot to know. If you tell them itís so simple and they feel overwhelmed, thatís when they start feeling like maybe they just donít get it and this game isnít for them. I usually tell players that there are a lot of moving parts, but we will walk them through what they need to do and theyíll see how their part works with everything else. That takes some of the pressure off.Thank you so much for realizing this. I guess it's because you haven't been playing for 20 or 40 years, and the complexities and oddities of D&D haven't just vanished into the haze of long familiarity for you. OT1H, it's a boon that 5e is widely miss-represented as 'simple' in the on-line community, it makes it less intimidating for those thinking about trying it - the atmosphere of the fan community can really put people off, and 5e has a less turbulent atmosphere than other WotC eds. OTOH, its a problem in that, when they do...

Sunday, 27th May, 2018

  • 03:25 PM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Annie Bulloch in post We Were All New D&D Players Once
    So many people are coming into the game now with at least some knowledge of how things work from watching streaming games (myself included) that itís hard to have any absolute rule that works for every player. And different people learn differently, so some things come easier than others depending on the person. But having a bunch of spells bogs new players down every time. Even when they have a spell list already set, itís tough at first. Yes, that's one reason I would want a newbie to stay away from a caster at first. But a lot of this depends on level. If you're starting at level 1 with a pregen it's probably not so bad. Still, the fact that many casters have only a few fire-and-forget spells means that the player needs to choose their moment with a limited resources.
  • 07:57 AM - Staffan quoted Annie Bulloch in post We Were All New D&D Players Once
    If a new player has their heart set on playing a particular class, Iím not going to stop them, but I do strongly suggest they start with something fairly simple and spell-light. Fighters and rogues are pretty easy, and rangers are a good compromise if you want a few little spells but mostly need to get familiar with the game mechanics. But I also have a kid in my youth game whoís been playing a wizard since last year, when she was 7! It's been a long, long time since I was a newbie, but I'm thinking the ranger's delayed spell access might actually be particularly useful as a teaching tool, at least if starting from first level. The paladin is similar, but I'm not sure which is easiest for a newbie: the once-and-done choices when picking their spells known you do with a ranger, or daily choices of a paladin. Plus, the paladin can also exchange the spells for smites, which creates additional conflict.
  • 04:37 AM - Jay Verkuilen quoted Annie Bulloch in post We Were All New D&D Players Once
    I think it does new players a disservice to overemphasize the gameís simplicity because thereís really a lot to know. If you tell them itís so simple and they feel overwhelmed, thatís when they start feeling like maybe they just donít get it and this game isnít for them. I usually tell players that there are a lot of moving parts, but we will walk them through what they need to do and theyíll see how their part works with everything else. That takes some of the pressure off. Absolutely, this is effective communication and instruction. I teach statistics for a living, which is a notoriously fear-inducing subject. When introducing a topic I always say "it's going to be kind of overwhelming at the start, but we'll break things up as much as possible and build up." It's exactly the same. You don't want to start out by invalidating their experience, but instead validating them---"yes, it can be a bit overwhelming at first, many people feel that"---and then giving them the tools to develop competence...

Monday, 14th May, 2018

  • 06:48 AM - Harzel quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 012: How Caleb Spent His Summer Vacation
    There was SO MUCH happening in this episode. Sadly, it wasn't possible to cover everything and do it justice with my word limit. Deciding which details I have to leave out due to space restrictions is the hardest part of this gig. Yah, sorry, I didn't intend to imply that your summary was deficient. No reason to think they won't, though -- especially for a group who recently, repeatedly, and publicly proved to be very effective fighters. I think Molly's right to be cautious about it. I'd get out ASAP if I was in their shoes. Assuming the worst has both benefits and costs.
  • 06:41 AM - Harzel quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 012: How Caleb Spent His Summer Vacation
    Yeah, in the screencap I included above, he made A Face and held it. Yep, he just froze, which does seem to be what Caleb does when alarmed rather than being demonstratively frantic.
  • 03:07 AM - kenmarable quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 012: How Caleb Spent His Summer Vacation
    Once Trent's name was dropped, Liam started emphasizing that Caleb was keeping his face pointed toward the floor, trying to stay inconspicuous. He didn't know that character was at the party before that, so he worked that in as possible once he knew. To be fair, it's been maybe 15 years since Caleb has seen Trent, so he might not have recognized him right away. As for the lack of recognition, the two wizards did have their backs to the party while looking out the window until Beau and Yasha approached them. Also, I didn't notice at the time, but I saw it shared on Tumblr, but when Trent's name is dropped just watch Liam. He freezes in mid reach just staring for 20 seconds or more. So I think his seeming "unruffled" was actually some pretty severe dissociation. He was likely distancing himself emotionally from it, or at the very least trying to fade into the background and not be noticed. With the sort of character Caleb is, the majority of his most emotional moments are when he gets quiet. H...

Saturday, 31st March, 2018


Monday, 12th March, 2018

  • 07:20 AM - Scrivener of Doom quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 003: What's On The Job Board?
    I did! If you aren't really into streamed games, 500 hours of Critical Role might not be your thing. I really enjoyed all the world-building and character development in this one. I'm extremely intrigued by the Traveler, who just showed up when Jester called. Who is he? What is his deal, and when will it become a problem for the Mighty Nein? I'm particularly interested in seeing if I can use Matt's take on the Traveller as inspiration for the Eberron deity of the same name who is also - coincidentally? - surrounded by mystery. And thanks again, Annie, for taking the time to these summaries. They're great way to keep up-to-date without the time sink.

Saturday, 10th March, 2018

  • 01:41 AM - pogre quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 003: What's On The Job Board?
    I did! If you aren't really into streamed games, 500 hours of Critical Role might not be your thing. I really enjoyed all the world-building and character development in this one. I'm extremely intrigued by the Traveler, who just showed up when Jester called. Who is he? What is his deal, and when will it become a problem for the Mighty Nein? Fair enough. The pacing and delivery was not for me, but I readily concede others may enjoy it.

Thursday, 8th March, 2018

  • 12:34 PM - Darren Richardson quoted Annie Bulloch in post EN World's Critical Role Roundup 002: The Story So Far
    Glad youíre enjoying these recaps! I understand the spoiler quandary, but I assure you that thereís no way I can communicate the full entertainment value of the way things happen in a summary. For instance, thereís an NPC from last nightís episode who simply must be seen and heard. 😃 If that's who I think your talking about, I suspect we have just been introduced to this campaign's Glorious Gilmore :D


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