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Rat Bastard DM reading list?


First Post
I'd really like to become a Rat Bastard DM. Can anyone recommend any rat bastardy threads, websites, story hours or forums to learn from? Any hot tips or good advice?

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First Post
Well my initiation in rat bastard DMing was The book of Challenges that book has some nasty situations for your players.
Grimtooths Traps is good too, but the best way to be a complete bastard is to take note as to what it is your players enjoy the most in theyr characters and attack that ruthlessly. Remember: There is a bit list of things mutch worse than death for DnD players.
-End Post

I've found the greatest aide that these boards can offer are the Story Hours. Go glancing and read, read, read. There are plenty of great stories there to enjoy and to learn some great RBing techniques from.


Liquid Awesome
I like to think I'm a bit rat-bastardy in some of my better moments. But I don't hold a candle to Old One. Check out his Story Hour.

And I've gamed with him and felt the pointed end of his rat bastard stick. It is sharp and forceful. But in a fun way ;).


First Post
Read a history book. Any history book... Ancient Roman and European Renaissance politics are especially helpful, and are fairly well documented.

Read Sun Tzu's Art of War and Macchiavelli's The Prince.


Read Gurps Middle Ages I. Pages 1-49 are mostly about British and French history during the middle ages and that is the stuff you want. You want to talk about rat bastardness. Those were some evil times and treachery, pain and death was everywhere.

Jürgen Hubert

First Post
Read Delta Green and Delta Green: Countdown. Then go and subscribe to the Delta Green Mailing List. Read the messages for a few months, and read as much of the archives as you dare (but don't violate posting etiquette, and if you do, don't complain that senior list members "are being mean to you", but apoligize and do better in the future. You reap what you sow, and if you don't understand that, you are better off not posting there.)

If this doesn't turn you into one of the meanest rat bastards of a GM to ever walk the Earth, I don't know what will. Just remember that this is not something for the faint-hearted...


Breaks Games
I agree - take a look at the story hours forums here - there's some great stuff. The rogues gallery has some interesting things: Blackdirges thread (and front page articles) are particularly interesting.

In the way of books, if you can find a copy I'd suggest The Munchkins Guide to Power Gaming by Steve Jackson... it's style is quite over the top, but has some sound advice hidden away in there. The focus is on curbing powergamers, but in doing so has some good ideas for challenging characters.
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First Post
Machavelli's The Prince ;) And more recently, I've got to give another vote for reading the story hours. Also, just read the DMing-related threads on the General RPG Discussion board, and you'll have more than enough material to learn from. Welcome to the dark side!


First Post
I second Grimtooth's Book of Traps for utter deviousness. On the subject of trap ideas try watching Cube. Nasty, nasty surprises ...

Of course, Rat-bastard DMing isn't all about deadfalls and exploding chamberpots. I'll join the bandwagon and proclaim that you get ye hence to your nearest Story Hour. Some of them are beautiful in their simple, sharp-pointy-ness.


Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
One of my favorite rat bastardy books is Flashman in the Great Game. These are books about a "hero" who flees and fornicates his way through most of the great historical events of the 19th century. "Great Game" (set in India during the Sepoy Mutiny) isn't the most accessible of them to a new reader - you should probably read another one first, like Flashman and the Dragon - but Great Game embodies the rat bastard premise of having choices dig you deeper and deeper into trouble, all as a consequence of things you've done in the past.


First Post
Pbartender said:
Read Sun Tzu's Art of War and Macchiavelli's The Prince.
Done and done. The trick seems to be applying that information.

Plane Sailing said:
I'd normally point you to the Rat Bastard DM's Club messageboard, but it's down at the moment :(
I found that site and was wondering about it. Any idea when it'll be back?

Does anyone else have any specific story hours? I heard Old One's. Any favorite threads? I'd prefer internet resources. Also, I'll compile a list later and post it.


Liquid Awesome
One more thought that came to mind as a general philosophy:

I think I got my reputation among my players as a RBDM partly because I've stolen some nasty ideas from Story Hours that I've read and so forth. But I also think that a major component is the way that I portray my bad guys. If I've got a Big Bad of any reasonable magnitude, he isn't just a pile of points there to be knocked down by the PC's and his stuff grabbed. He is a fully fleshed out NPC with detailed motivations, resources and capabilities.

If the villian is smart (and most of mine usually are) then I spend a good deal of time with his "character sheet" sitting in front of me. I look at his feats, skills, spells, wealth, magic items and so forth. Then I look at what he wants to accomplish. I think about his general attitude and personality and how he would use what he has to get what he wants. I make short range plans and long range plans for him and backup plans where a goal is really important to him. I think about what happens if the PC's thwart some of these plans and what happens if they don't.

The result of all this is that the major enemies that the PC's encounter don't just stand there swinging their swords or casting Magic Missile until they die and get cashed in for XP. They often take the PC's off guard with their tricks and traps. They might have hostages to bargain with or seek to find out about the PC's families and friends to apply pressure there. They will bribe people to make the PC's lives hard or hire assassins to go after them if they have risen to a high enough level of threat. They will seek out information about the PC's capabilities and try to find ways to counter them. They will find old adversaries of the PC's and try and recruit them the aid in the battle against the PC's. They will try to engineer situations where the PC's only get to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of a clear choice of what is good. That way, even if the PC's win, they lose something too.

Now all of that sounds like I'm trying to screw the PC's at every turn. But I'm not, the NPC is. The net result is that the PC's learn to fear and hate the NPC, but also respect him. And their satisfaction when they bring about his downfall is unparalleled because they know that I played the NPC to the best of his or her ability. They EARNED the victory against this villian.

I'll also note that because I tend to have my big bad villians willing to wage a sort of "total war" against the party and any others who would thwart their goals, I don't tend to make them super powerful. Because they are willing to use their resources and capabilities in efficient and creative ways, they can accomplish more with less. My big bad guys are very rarely more than one or two levels higher than the PC's. Sometimes they are individually very weak compared to the PC's and are simply well connected politically.

Just as a brief example, I had a situation where the PC's (6th level) were attempting to reclaim an old silver mine from a band of Kobolds. The Kobolds were led by a 7th level Sorceress and there were about half a dozen Rogue 3's plus another half dozen each of Rogue 1's and Sorcerer 1's. Mind you, the Kobolds almost never attacked with even half of this force in any single battle. But through use of clever tactics and making effective use of their small size and ability to see well in the dark, they fought the party to an absolute standstill. Eventually the PC's managed to strike a significant blow against them (after about three full sessions of non-stop fighting) and the Sorceress offered a bargain by which her people would go elsewhere in exchange for their lives. The PC's agreed with a huge sigh of relief.

And then called me a rat bastard.

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
XCorvis said:
Does anyone else have any specific story hours? I heard Old One's. Any favorite threads? I'd prefer internet resources. Also, I'll compile a list later and post it.

I'd have to say Sagiro's storyhour (read from the beginning) for some of the most bastard bastardly bastard tricks a DM has ever pulled on a party. I won't mention any here to spoil your enjoyment, but the fleeting victories the party manages make the resulting plot twists all the more bitter sweet (bitter to them, sweet to us).


Did I mention that he is an utter Rat-Bastard?

Piratecat's storyhour is great for tactical rat-bastardry, Sagiro's really strikes me as the leader in strategic rat-bastardry (of the storyhours I've read).

Of course you ought to read (contact)s stuff too. Any DM who can start a session with "your clones wake up, cold and naked" or words to that effect...

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