View Profile: Annie Bulloch - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Today, 09:15 AM
    "When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check." "Your Intelligence (Nature) check measures your ability to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles." "The GM might ask you to make a Wisdom (Survival) check to follow tracks" As usual, the 5e skill system is far from being...
    20 replies | 419 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:48 PM
    What about characters who gain no extra attacks nor cantrips? Also, if all my cantrips don't scale, do I get my sidekick for free? The main problem here is that extra attacks and cantrips are not comparable with each other, and they are not comparable with sidekicks either. In 3e there was a core feat, although in the DMG, called "Leadership", which granted you a cohort (plus various...
    24 replies | 616 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:57 AM
    I really don't know if this is related to https, but in the last few days (not sure when it started since I'm no on ENW every week) whenever I open the forum I am apparently logged out of it... but I'm really not, because when I enter my usename without the password, it logs me in anyway. The same thing happens on my mobile phone, when I goto the main page it shows me logged out, if I e.g. click...
    88 replies | 7119 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:18 AM
    Maybe it's just me but my mind tend to "not see" those yellow thread at all, it just skips them... :erm:
    2 replies | 125 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd June, 2019, 08:39 PM
    Simplifying character creation and simplifying in-game rules are very different things. In 5e I have often simplified character creation because I have had beginners in every group, and didn't want to cause analysis-paralysis to delay the start of the game. I have used for example the following, tho not all in the same group: - pregenerated or partially pregen. PCs - ability scores...
    20 replies | 702 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Sunday, 23rd June, 2019, 08:18 PM
    Mmm... I have the feeling my answer won't easily suit you. The way I create campaigns nowadays is pretty random. I start from picking the first adventure, and build from there. I have long left behind the idea of top-down world building, although I have done it in 3e and I could just resume one of those few old fantasy worlds of mine if I want. But now my favourite way of doing is...
    39 replies | 1017 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 08:28 PM
    20 years of ENWorld and we still haven't learned to answer the darn question... The OP asked what are the rules and clearly referred to the books. I gave the answer to the question. I should have stopped there already, my mistake to add anything else.
    32 replies | 978 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 08:29 AM
    It's also an assumption, and just as flawed, that that there MUST be a penalty. And ruling NOT to add any house rule is perfectly legit. What I quoted is the RAW and that is the starting point for everyone. Just because you don't like it and don't want to play without a house rule on top of it, doesn't mean everyone should do the same.
    32 replies | 978 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th June, 2019, 10:07 AM
    Good OP, the restriction is simply a bad design job. A Druid could go to some sort of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks adventure, find an alien futuristic high-tech armor that's made of plastic-crystal-dark-anti-nuclear-blackhole-matter that is not metal, and wear it without problems.
    321 replies | 6812 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 11:38 AM
    I think you did the right thing. Min/maxers will just try to pick the best option mechanically. Non-variant humans are not good for min/maxers, although they are perfect for many other players. But I don't see the reason to change something in the game to do a favor for min/maxers, for the simple reason that a min/maxer's game is by definition about finding one of the best combos and pick that,...
    21 replies | 840 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 11:20 AM
    5E : the proficiency bonus ("one bonus to rule them all")
    51 replies | 1984 view(s)
    3 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th June, 2019, 07:51 AM
    Without specific rules in 5e, spellcasting works normally underwater. There are no penalties of any kind such as disadvantage on the spellcaster's possible attack roll or advantage to the target's saving throw, and there are no concentration checks necessary. You can normally cast a spell that has verbal, somatic or material components underwater. Yes, also verbal component, because you can...
    32 replies | 978 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 08:49 AM
    Just because violence is in the game, it doesn't mean that all possible violence has to be in the game. In all my D&D games, certain kinds of violence will never be featured (rape is one, anything specifically against children is another), and other kinds can be mentioned but are not narrated in detail (torture).
    350 replies | 10635 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Thursday, 13th June, 2019, 08:41 AM
    Good-only Paladins, and Nymphs that can kill you just by being looked at.
    77 replies | 2925 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 10:09 AM
    I can bring my experience of teaching D&D 5e to our own kids, and also both 3e and 5e to many adult beginners/casual gamers, but I'll focus on the purpose of teaching a 10yrs (my youngest were actually younger when we started playing). You are absolutely right to avoid excessive rules explanations at all costs. In fact, I suggest you teach nothing about the rules before starting. It's not...
    19 replies | 668 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 4th June, 2019, 09:22 AM
    If you liked Volo's for the monsters, I think you will also like Mordenkainen's, even tho it doesn't have the in-depth monsters ecology chapters as Volo's, it still has plenty of monsters to use (the demon princes of nearly-unusable CRs are just a few pages). I think you can easily look at book previews just googling for them, so that you get a better idea at the page counts of different...
    33 replies | 1291 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 4th June, 2019, 09:17 AM
    No, the world exists for ME, the DM!
    44 replies | 1460 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 07:47 AM
    I largely hate the Artificer class in all its incarnations. I would have liked it only if it was done to represent a non-magic character e.g. a MacGuyver-type, but the game already has too many casters. So I am very undecided whether I should express my deep dislike to it, or if I should encourage them to go through with it as-is (or even purposefully suggest changes against my taste) so that I...
    127 replies | 4886 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 07:43 AM
    As much as I liked 3.0 splatbooks back then, I do not want 5e to turn into 3ed, or any other edition for what matters. So the only supplements I would like to see in coming years are extra monsters books. Alternatively, I am fine with settings-specific books.
    71 replies | 3120 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 12:42 PM
    No. It's more complicated. But in general, I expect nothing, I just play and see the results. The DM even decides whether I have to roll at all, then she decides how much I have to roll, then narrates the results... I do not even really know that I succeeded if I see the guard appear persuaded, as it could be a trick. But maybe as a DM you roll in the open, and that is certainly going to...
    26 replies | 1126 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 09:42 AM
    I definitely think Disguise Self allows to try and look like a specific individual. What are the chances of success are another matter, and it's impossible to pin them down because of too many variables, so the DM has to make some judgement. You can use the spell for a variety of purposes, in vague order of difficulty: - you can look different enough from yourself (so that someone looking...
    23 replies | 809 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 09:30 AM
    One PC-classed person in 1000 sounds like a nice round number to me. I'd increase the rate to maybe 1% for smaller, demihuman communities, or for everyone in a more heroic-era setting.
    94 replies | 4729 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 09:10 AM
    Well yes, but then I have to ask: if a monster wins a persuasion/intimidation check against a PC, do you force the PC to behave in the way the monster wants? If it's a deception check, do you force the PC to believe? I don't. I just tell the player that the monster looks very convincing, but ultimately I let the player choose how to follow that. And so I would do the same on a PvP contest.
    26 replies | 1126 view(s)
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  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 09:01 AM
    Well for us it only happened with D&D 4e... we tried one short adventure, but the system didn't really work for us for multiple reasons: the combat phase of the game was the worst, with too much emphasis on the grid, too slow, too rigid, and with an overall wrong feeling. We forced ourselves into a second evening to see if maybe the first session was a false alarm, but at the end we just had to...
    61 replies | 4615 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Li Shenron's Avatar
    Sunday, 26th May, 2019, 07:48 PM
    We bought the OotS "board" game a many years ago and only ever played it a couple of times. Today we took it off the shelf and played it with the kids who absolutely loved it, and we'll surely play it again soon... The game itself is a good game that hasn't aged a bit, its main strengths being: - simple enough so that everyone can play, but with room for tactical depth if you want -...
    2 replies | 289 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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