Well I managed to screw up several things when I was trying to transfer the website and I've decided to transfer to blogger as it has so much better potential compared to weebly. Here it is:

http://begindnd.blogspot.com

No more posts will be put on t

 
 
I've decided to take the plunge. I realised that I just want so much more from my website but I just can't give it! So I'm taking the plunge and transferring these webpages (hopefully!) to my own domain. I'm really excited but at the same time a tad nervous as I have no idea what I'm doing! But I'm going to take a risk and dive head first and see what happens! Thankfully I have a friend who knows alot of HTML.

This does mean the blog won't be updated for a few days whilst I try and figure out how to transfer it, but I'll obviously keep you updated and keep new articles drifting in!
 
 
Part two continuing from part one yesterday, the final five! Get ready...go!

Neutrality
This is another important aspect, the ability to be neutral. Yes, in life we have favourtism, we prefer our group of friends over people who are not in the group. This can even lead to the superficial level, we prefer to talk to good looking and well presented over ugly and badly dressed people. No point denying it!
Neutrality must be enforced in your sessions, having favouritism can cause other players (who do not feel favoured) to feel jealousy towards the favoured player. This saps the enjoyment out of games. For some people it can take a lot of mental effort to treat all the players fairly, but it can be done. Favouritism can also work the other way as well. We, as humans, like to treat those that we do not like negatively such as ignoring them or inflicting cruelty. As a DM, you have the power to manipulate characters by providing experience, gold, equipment and monsters. Don't be mean to a player you dislike by causing all the monsters to attack that character, or deducting gold or experience. The other players will probably loose trust in you as a judge of situations. Loosing trust in a DM is one of the worse things that can happen in any game. No trust, then the players will keep secrets, which will fuel the distrust even more. If a player is behaving badly then take the player aside and tell the individual their behaviour isn't appropriate. Try and find the source of their behaviour, are they bored? Frustrated? Under valued? It can be a difficult thing to value each player equally without your biases coming into play, but it can be done! However, at the same time you want each player to shine at a certain point in the session, at least once!

Flexibility
A good quality to have in everyday life is the ability to be flexible. Being able to adapt to the different players demands can also be a difficult, but do able thing. If the rogue wants to steal from a nearby house, then let the player do that, even if it's not part of the story you wrote! It requires thinking on your toes but also requires good knowledge about D&D. You need to the ability improvise to be able to be flexible. For example, I once had a group of players who attacked a guard and I had to improvise the party being chained up in jail with all their belongings with them. I had to quickly think how the characters would be able to get out of jail, how they would get their belongings and how they would get past the guards. It was no problem, the players felt creative tonight! The wizard cast ray of frost into he rogues face (to make him look blue), the rogue then got a blanket around him and managed to successfully scare the guards away by convincing the rogue was a ghost (a good roll on a bluff check haha!).

Expressive
Just how a bard can enchant everyone with his stories and how a joke can be seen as funny it's the way the stories and jokes are expressed to get this effect. Varying your tone, maybe throw in a few funny accents and gestures then you're on your way to being a good story teller! You ever listened to speeches and switched off? Bored? Most likely the speaker was very monotonic with his or her voice and had a lot to say. The evidence is clear when the person next to you has fallen asleep.

Clarity
I don't mean the spell clarity that makes you immune to all mind-affecting spells but how the DM presents information. It's important to have clarity, be clear about what you want the players to do, expectations. Be clear about describing the locations of places and about what is happening. It's important not to mumble, for key information you want to communicate will most likely be lost in a sea of grumbles. A clear DM is a happy DM...Kinda...

Positive
Think about happy things in happy places. Nah...this last point is about having an upbeat and positive DM. This emotion can be infectious and from personal experience, I sometimes feel like I have to be a cheerleader to urge my group to role play and play the game! Positivity can be displayed on a vocal level, using positive language, saying nice things and being helpful to players. There is also a body language level, use open palm gestures, smile and avoid frowning. This can be applied in real life and people will find you more approachable, including your players. Having a grumpy DM will make the players feel like they are a burden and feel uncomfortable playing the game with the DM. So, be happy, mon!

There it is, my top 5 tips. Hope you enjoyed it!
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Heyyy the release is nearly here for this next adventure. Pretty excited about this one. I've only read a little bit, apparently the players must retrieve a lost relic in an ancient ruined city. I, for one, love venturing through ancient city ruins because they are seeped in history and I like to imagine how the city was destroyed or what used to happen in certain areas of the city. It's not out yet but it's out on the 18th May, looking around at some sites it seems amazon has the best price, only £6.74 (checked today)! Bargain! It's my birthday coming up so I decided to get the 4th edition manuals. After I've got them and introduced it to my new group, I'm going to grab this story for hours of fun with my group!
 
 
Yeah it's true, it's official. I managed to lock myself out of my youtube account somehow. No idea how it happened, even after restarting my password it still didn't know me access. I found an annoying flaw in google's programming...and yet I didn't get any richer from it.

Oh well! I have to move on, I've created a new youtube account with alllll your old favourite videos (allll 2 of them). If you want me to explain an aspect of D&D that you think would be suited for a video; then drop me an e-mail at begindnd@hotmail.co.uk or leave a comment and I'll work on it like a car bonnet ASAP

Check out my new youtube account!

Any comments about the channel? Ideas?
 
 
My top ten tips to being a good DM! This is in a two part series and the second half will be posted sometime tomorrow. So come back to check it out! Anyway here it is, my top ten tips:

Organised
Being organised in general has it's many benefits. It enables preparation of events foreseen in the future. This is applied to D&D as well. Having simple stuff such as pens, pencils, papers, rubbers, figurines, boards, laptop/computer and the manuals at the session will speed things up a bit without having to fumble around for a pencil to write the new health points down. Also an organised DM will attempt to break the paradox of preparing for the unprepared. This means an organised DM will be able to adapt to a sudden change in the party's direction, such as wanted to explore a nearby cave instead of continuing on with the main quest. The organised DM would have a list of NPC (non-playing-characters) names, shop names, names of locations, maps and spare figurines at hand. This is so he can improvise with previously organised material without wasting time thinking of new names and stumbling over what words to say.

Knowledge
Knowledge, it is our human nature to seek out and learn new things about our hobbies and the world around us. A good DM would be one who has learnt a lot about their edition of D&D such as spells, feats, monsters and equipment. This is to save time instead of looking though the players or dungeon master's guide to see what ability a monster has and making the other players wait around. It also gives off an aura of competence and knowing about D&D and therefore your players will respect and trust you more.

Good Imagination
The ability to imagine other worlds, conjure up new cities, plots and legends. We all have imagination, this is what enabled us to be great scientists. We can all imagine strange beings and places by drawing and mixing our experiences together. A good DM would be able to have a good imagination to be able to create enchanting worlds that will draw the players in, or thinking up original quests that compels the player to keep going deeper into that dangerous cave.

Good writing ability
To be able to write up an adventure that anyone can follow. It get difficult when you make rough notes that misses out so many words you can't even remember what you were originally on about. This applies to describing an area the characters are in, there should be a good description of where the party is, what's it like and any key points in the area/room. This usually required a good writing ability.

Good verbal ability
A good crisp clear voice to communicate exactly, without ear straining, what the characters are doing and where they are. No one likes a mumbling DM with a monotonic voice. Change the tone of your voice every now and again to keep the players interested. If you can pull of accents, great, then go for it! It's more about not what you say but how you say it. That's why the same joke spoken by one person can be funnier compared to another person who explains the same joke but it doesn't seem as funny.

Any thoughts? Or comments? Any personal experience where you think you were a good DM?

Come back tomorrow for part two!

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This is something that happened to me quite recently. I'm designing adventures so that players each have a chance to get some gold and goodies and something special to hold on to. However, just recently I've had to change the way I distribute my treasure because of the behaviour of one player. I'm sure there are many other players out there like it.

The type I'm talking about are those players who grab all the treasure and gold they can. They are magnitised and their soul and body is drawn towards unopened treasure chests. They generally play the rogue so they are able to safely unlock and disarm traps. Room full of well armed goblins? Forget that, I'm going for the chest! It's even gone so far as the rogue finding something that another character would be able to use (such as a magial longsword) and selling it regardless of the players pleas and cries for the powerful weapon. It just got to stupid point and I needed to sort something out.

So I did something I never did before, incorporate the idea of a magic bad. This bag was unable to be tampered by the players and whenever a new piece of treasure was discovered, or gold, it would be magically transported to this bag at the end. The players were told what it was, then it was sent to the bag itself. At the end of the adventure or the session, I would then begin to distribute the contents of the bag evenly to all the players. Firstly, I would begin by declaring what were the useable contents of the bag (such as potions, weapons and scrolls). If a player argued over who should get it (aside from just wanting to sell it), they would have to roll for it. All the treasure that is left behind and unwanted is then sold. The gold is then distributed evenly to all players.

Yes it can abolish the idea of merit, about how players who do more should get rewarded more but I was desperate. The other 3 players were finding the game boring because they couldn't get their hands on anything. The rogue kicked up a fuss saying the lime light of the treasure finder was being taken away...however he was still finding the treasure but that treasure was being distributed evenly. He was still using his skills and abiities to find the treasure, I was just making sure they were working as a team.

Any DMs or players care to share their experiences? You think it was a good idea to introduce this magical treasure bag?
 
 
As I'm finally finishing my three year degree in psychology, I decided to write a blog that integrate my two passions: psychology and dungeons & dragons. It feels strange to suddenly stop learning about psychology by my lectures or essays, so I should keep my psychological knowledge fresh by interpreting why people play D&D.

Have you ever thought about this question? Why do you play D&D? The most common answer would be "because I enjoy it". But lets stop and think for a minute (as psychologists do!) and imagine what Freud could say. Using psychosexual analysis he could suggest that we displace our hidden desires and wishes onto our characters. This could especially be true if you play your character as trying to hit/sleep with someone, as this is your primative instinct to mate and reproduce. He could also suggest that it's some form of escape, to get away from reality and enter a fantasy world because the mind becomes damaged.

Another area of psychology...behaviourism. Behaviourism suggests we have no mind, but we learn associations by the use of classical and operant conditioning. To put it simply, if we do something and get rewarded for doing it, we are more likely to do it again. For example, if you paint a picture for fun, and then get paid for it, you're more likely to paint another picture again in anticipation of getting rewarded. Applying this to D&D, behaviourists could suggest we find it rewarding. Whenever we perform actions in the game such as killing a monster, performing a quest or helping someone out we get rewarded for it, usually by experience points or money. We can use experience and money to develop our character, which becomes more powerful. These two areas (gaining money & experience and developing your character) is rewarding, and therefore you are more likely to do it again a.k.a. play the game again.

Humanistic psychologists may say that we play D&D so we can develop who we are. As we play different characters we can explore the different personalities that different people have. If we like certain aspects of the characters, we will apply it to the self (because the personality characteristic is believed to be benificial e.g. to be able to lie or bluff convincingly). As we apply more personality characteristics to ourself, we become a better person.

As a critical thinker, I like to put my spin on things and come up with my own theories! I think that the sorts of people who play the game are "powerless" and/or "vulnerable" and don't have a strong stand in society i.e. teenagers and maybe the unemployed. People do not like this feeling of being powerless and vulnerable so they create a character that slowly becomes powerful over time. They gain a sense of power as their character in game overcome obstacles such as defeating monsters and completing quests. If the character doesn't feel very strong or powerful, the player is likely to change their characters to something that they believe is more powerful. As the player enjoys this sensation of power and strength, they continue playing so they can keep gaining that sense of strength. I for one like to develop a character from the beginning and look forwards to unlocking the stronger spells, feats and abilities. Yes...my theory is quite controversial and there isn't any evidence, but it's all for the fun of psychology!

What do you guys think? Any thoughts about why you or other people play dungeons and dragons?
 
 
You've just filled in your character sheet...and now possibly wandering how to make a good back ground for your character, never fear because I have 5 easy steps to make a great background for your character! So here it is:

Step one:
You may have already done this but you need to generate a name for your character. I can usually come up with fantasy names pretty quick however, if you lack a bit in the imagination department, try out Wizards of the Coast name generator, it provides a real name and some alternatives that your character could be known as by the commoners.

Step two:
You need to choose your alignment now. I would suggest being a similar alignment to your other characters in your parties so you can all get along. A chaotic good character would not get along with a lawful evil character in the same party! I wouldn't suggest choosing a random alignment either, as alignments influence how you role-play your character.

Step three:
Character physical traits. You need to think about how the character looks physically, firstly deal with height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, face shape, body shape (muscular/lean?) and then beards (if a male of course!). Now, add one or two physical attributes that will make your character even more unique, as a rule of thumb I have at least one unique trait on the face and maybe at least one unique body trait. Regards to the characters face, does he or she have a scar? A patch over one eye? Different coloured eyes? An ear missing? A tattoo on his face? A birth mark? Does he have a lisp when he talks? A high pitched voice? When thinking about the body, does the character have a missing limb? Does he walk in a funny way? Does he have a tattoo on his arm? A magical tattoo that glows? A missing finger? I'll let you decide that lot!
Step four:
Now you need to develop your character's personality. From your alignment that your character has, you can visit this page and choose traits that suit your character best. Once you've picked a few, if any at all, you need to think about other behavioural aspects of your character. Try to think about at least 2 to describe your character. For example, does your character have strange habits? Does he like/dislike particular creatures? Is he incredibly shy? Is he mute? Does he like to attempt to charm the ladies (halarious if you have low charisma!)? Is he fussy? Does he hate seeing blood? Is he focused on being clean all the time?

Step five:
The final step, and usually the biggest step. You need to write a background for your character. You can be as imaginative as possible but there are limits, such as it's not a good idea to say your human character was born on another planet...however you need to check with your DM to say if it's ok or not. The thing is, writing this part of your character won't be as bad as it seems, a good idea to start is to write a couple of sentences about how your character aquired their personal and physical attributes. Did you say your character was a ladies charmer? Maybe your father did it alot and you wanted to follow in his foot steps. Does your character have a fear of spiders? Maybe he had a giant spider try and attack him when he was younger.
You also need to think about your parents, they either are alive, or they died, or your character is unaware of their parents and were adopted. Regards to where your character grew up, the most popular choices would be either in a city or a country side, however you could have been brought up in a cave or in a tree.

I hope this helps to create some awesome characters out there! You think anything else needs to be added? Maybe you could add your own character stories here, or e-mail them to me and I'll choose the best one for next weeks blog!
begindnd@hotmail.co.uk
 
 
I am a nice person. Yes, it's true. I recently added a blog about Masterplan, a 4th edition DM planner. After reading some comments on reddit about the article, one reader, KramitTheFrog44, asked for some help. KramitTheFrog44 wanted to know if there was a 3.5 version out there of Masterplan. After some searching, I managed to find something. It may not be as good as Masterplan, but it's still a good quality for a free product. Below I'll break down the elements again so you can get a taste of what it does. However, I would like to point out I've only played around on it for about 20 minutes so it will be quite limited!

Writing the plot:
Of course this is a very important element. Whenever you create a new campaign you firstly create your world. You can select a pre-made D&D world from a list (such as Eberron), or you can create your own. Creating your own leads to interesting methods of customisation. You can of course name the world, set the time and day, name the days and prepare a calander of events (such as festivals or rituals) to name a few. The great addition I thought was the fact that it generates a weather programme for you, which tells you what the weather will be like on each day. It even shows how full the moons will be on certain nights. This adds depth to the adventure without any preparation, a massive bonus!
After you have created your world, you can further customise by selecting which materals (the D&D optional books) are included/excluded in the world.
However, when it came to actually writing the campaign itself, I couldn't find anywhere to actually write it! There was a "notes" link to click on, however nothing happened when I clicked on it. But, it's still in development so I'm confident that some sort of plot organiser will be in place pretty soon.

Maps:
I didn't find anywhere you could design your own map or dungeons. However, apparently according to the forums on the website something will be implemented at a later date. So keep your eyes peeled for further updates!

Encounters:
I couldn't find anywhere where you could make traps or hazards per encounter. However, there is a simple combat system. It has incorporated the monster manuals so you can easily add the monsters and players into combat. Initiatives are not rolled, however you can easily use the dice roller within the programme to work out everyone's initiative. You can let people take damage, heal themselves, look at detailed stats and apply images to each creature. All in all not bad regards to combat.
Player Client:
The player client is a seperate download on the website which enables another player, over the internet and in a different location, to join the DMs game with their own character. I couldn't explore this function because I needed a seperate computer. All I know (from reading a bit on the forums) is that other players can connect with the DM and play a session. Players and creatures can also be equipped with gear and they can also obtain gold.

Concluding thoughts:
It may not be the greatest programme in the world but still is a very good quality. You must take into account that it is still in development but I have high hopes for it. It's brilliant that other players can connect to the internet to the DMs computer and play together in different locations. I love the fact it has a large monster and item database for everyone to play around with. If it does incorporate a map system and/or a plot helper then I'll definately use this growing gem.

Best of all, it's free, so check it out here! You can even download test versions of it and provide feedback.

Anyone else used this before? What do you guys think of this software?