April 2014 Blog Carnival: The Game Master’s Binder

rpgblogcarnivallogoFor some, creating it was a rite of passage.

For others, it was a project that was never completed.

For all, it was something we poured our lifeblood into creating and held it as a prized possession.

The Game Master’s Binder

Many of us started our GM career simply using a few sheets of paper or index cards stuffed inside the front cover of our gaming book. The progression continued through paper clipped pages, note cards with binder clips, folders and then finally to a binder where pages were punched and inserted between dividers to keep it all nice and tidy.

Then, the computer age hit and it all changed.

For this month’s RPG’s Bloggers’ Carnival we’re taking a look at this prized possession and asking you to share what yours is. As usual to participate you simply need to write a post on your blog about your GM binder – it can be your current one, a past one you remember all to well, or what you’re planning to use in the future. Once you written it up be sure to link to this post and drop a note in the comments so I can be sure to collect them all up for a final roundup on the posts.

So the question I put to you now is what does does your GM Binder look like? Is it still a three-ring binder? Is it a tablet? A laptop? Your smartphone?

What does it look like on the inside? What do you keep in it? How do you organize it?

If you don’t have a blog feel free to share in the comments about your binder, or jump over to the of Dice and Dragons facebook or Google+ page and share your thoughts on the entry there.

Now, go on and post something, this isn’t an April Fool’s Joke (seriously, it isn’t).

May your dice roll well.

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Planned Server Maintenance

Server MaintenanceI’ve been notified by my hosting company that they are doing server maintenance tomorrow night, January 22, between the hours of 8-10 PM MST.

During that time period it is expected that this site will not be accessible for about 15-30 minutes along with my email.

Hopefully all goes well and the outage will be minimal. My apologies for any issues this may cause.


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Happy Birthday #8 – State of the Blog

8th-birthday-imageIt’s hard to believe that as I write this of Dice and Dragons is turning eight and as I have done the last few years (here’s a link to 2012 and 2011 for comparison if you’d like)  I’m marking the occasion, as I have in past years, with a look back at the last year.

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. I’ve have had, and continue to have, many challenges in the offline world that are impacting my ability to focus on the blog but through it all there are those of you continue to support the blog, occasionally promote it, and even give me the chance to take on new challenges. For all of that I thank you all.

So where did I end up against my goals for 2013?

  1. Post more frequently – As in past years I’ve missed the target I set of 52 or one a week but this year I did improve over last year. In 2012 I managed just seven posts while in 2013 I’m currently at 10 (counting this one) and I hope to publish at least one more before the end of the year. While I would have liked to hit the goal I’m improving my frequency year over year so I’ll take it as a win.
  2. Start a new campaign – A total miss here. I did take some time and toy with a few ideas, make a few notes, and come up with some possible story hooks but a campaign was not started.
  3. Increase blog traffic by 10% – A HUGE WIN. According to my Google Analytics account this blog saw an increase of 29% year over year. When I look at the chart it’s interesting that traffic started out lagging behind the previous year but then starting in March came on strong through the remainder of the year. I have to thank you, my readers, for even with a low post count you kept coming back.
  4. Participate in a blog carnival – Another win as I participated in not one but two carnivals in 2013 (I’m still thinking about one going on this month so this might bump to three). In addition I hosted my first carnival in October which I thought did well and I’m looking forward to hosting another in the future.

So, tallying things up, one total miss, two solids wins and an area that improved but still hasn’t hit the mark. It would appear that 2013 was a good year for the blog, thank you again loyal readers.

The statistics:

Yes, I’m still crazy enough to share the stats from behind the scenes, does this make sense? I have no clue but I’m hoping that by sharing these pieces of information it will help others to understand that writing a blog is in fact, real work. You’re not going to get rich over night with one and in fact many write a blog for the enjoyment of it or to just give back to the hobby or industry they love.

Total visits: 5,321

As I mentioned above, this represents a 29% increase from last year which is when I saw my single biggest drop in traffic, 44% from 2011 (the high water mark at 7,289). I like the direction things are going, as upwards is always good, but the question is, is the blog simply returning to its natural traffic level or is this an indicator of things to come? Only time will tell but I hope it’s the latter.

Pageviews: 9,703

It wasn’t surprising to see this number to up, after all if you have more visits you should have more pageviews. It was surprising to see that pageview per visit stayed almost the same which means that accessibility to related posts and other materials is still solid, but could use a bit of improvement.

I should also note that the average length of a site visit also did an uptick, by 23%. Some of this is due to some of the longer posts I did this year but also I’d like to think it’s because folks are reading more than a post or two.

Goals for 2014

As I look forward to 2014 I find myself again wanting to keep the list of goals small and continue to focus on improving the consistency I post at and the quality of the posts which should in turn increase the traffic to the blog. I also want to get my offline gaming back on track as it can only improve what I write here and hopefully the reverse will also be true.

  1. Post more frequently – I know, I know, I put this up every year but as I still haven’t hit the bar I’ve set, 52 posts or one a week I feel it still needs to be here.
  2. Increase blog traffic 10% – While this year saw some really strong gains in traffic I’d like to grow it a bit more. I know that the numbers have seen some big swings the last couple of years but I’m hoping things stabilize a be more going forward.
  3. Host a blog carnival – This year I jumped in to help out as a host was needed, something I was glad to do and was a good experience. In 2014 I’m looking to do it again but with a bit more planning and prep so it will hopefully be an even greater success.
  4. Start a new campaign – I had this on the goal list for 2013 and while I dabbled with some ideas and thoughts it never materialized. For 2014 I’m going to make a effort to get this off the ground and running. I’m going to define the “start” as the campaign is laid out and the members of my group are interested in playing in it and character discussion is underway. Do we actually need to have played a session? No, but it would be great if we do.

As in past years I’m keeping the list short as Murphy has had his hand in more than a little of my life of late and continues to create “challenges” for me. If things go well this list will be more about gaming than the blog starting next year as I hope to be able to focus more time on this area of my life as other responsibilities I have are winding down.

Do you have any RPG goals you’ve set for yourself? Care to share them in the comments?

May your dice roll well.

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October 2013 Blog Carnival: Spooky Spots! The Wrap-up

rpgblogcarnivallogoThe goblins and ghouls have retreated, the cleric has blessed the unholy ground and the realms sleep soundly thinking they’re safe . . . . .

I want to thank all that participated in the very first blog carnival hosted here at of Dice and Dragons. It was a fun experience for me and while the stumbled a bit getting out of the gate there were plenty of posts to go around.

There’s No Place Like Home was the opening submission from Elthos RPG and no, it wasn’t about a pair of ruby slippers or flying monkeys, but a rather spooky experience.

From there we traveled to Rose Corner submitted by Red Dice Diaries. In the post we learned about a certain street corner, a man rushing home, and the tragedy that befell him. A cautionary tale.

Krazy Ivan’s RPG Emporium then introduced us to The Hospital Room. Many stories are told of things that are not quite right with hospitals and this one is no exception. I would suggest asking for a room other than 447.

After visiting the hospital we took a quick trip down the street to the entry by Shades of the Game, The House of Coffee. The posting here gives the template for the spooky spot and some options for the GM on how to use it in their campaign.

Campaign Mastery then chimed in with, The Remembrance Of The Disquiet Dead: A Spooky Spot and Campaign Premise. This entry covers not only a spooky spot, but it also gives some great variations on why it is not only spooky but also ways you can use it in your campaign.

From three variations to three spooky spots, KORPG Games gave us a trio of spots. The Well, The Cellar, and finally The Attic Stairs, all give you a place you recognize and why it’s now spooky.

At this point things took a turn. and went not only skyward but to the future. RPG Prattle‘s entry is set in Star Wars:Edge of Empire where we discovered the Vector, an Imperial research ship. The setting is far removed from the previous spots, but there’s rumors of zombies, and remember, no one can hear you scream in space.

We came back to ground then and found the Pillbox at the Crossroads, the entry from Tales of a GM. This posting covers what a pillbox is, how it can be made scary and menacing and closes with some suggestions on how to use them in your campaign.

The final spooky spot was my own contribution, The Clearing in the Woods. The post gives you and overview of the clearing and then a couple of ideas you can use in your campaign.

As special thanks to Board Enterprises who contributed a pair of posts on Zombies tackling if they are tough and giving a campaign idea. While the posts didn’t fit the spooky spot theme they do cover zombies, and after all, they can be used in any spooky spot.

There you have it, 11 spooky spots and a pair of zombie articles, thanks again to all that participated and made the first carnival here enjoyable.

What? You need more carnival goodness? Check out the November Carnival, Gunpowder, Treason and Plots! being hosted by Nearly Enough Dice, there are sure to be more good reads there.

May your dice roll well.

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The Clearing in the Woods

Image courtesy Mark Hillary

(The following is my contribution to this month’s Blog Carnival, Spooky Spots!)

There’s a place few go. It’s avoided by even the most hardiest of individual. A place where dark things are welcome.

The clearing in the woods.

rpgblogcarnivallogoJust outside of town there’s a spot where the old game trail opens up and during the day the sun can be seen through the canopy of leaves but nothing seems to grow there. No underbrush, no moss, nothing. It’s as if Mother Nature herself has abandoned the area.

No one ventures there at night. Not since that group of teenagers came screaming into town, wide eyed and stammering about creatures, strange sounds, and smells. They claimed that they barely escaped with their lives. They claimed the mist reached out and touched them.

Many wrote it off as kids enjoy a bit too much from the miller’s still but others aren’t quite sure.

So what’s really going on here?

Idea #1: Old Graveyard

Many years ago the game trail was actually the route many took to get to and from town. When it became necessary to bury those passing the locals decided to do so along the trail as it had started to fall into disuse. It’s been at least two generations since that was done and no one remembers the fact that the graveyard is there.

That odd creepy feeling, it’s been passed on for years, everyone claims to feel it whether they do or not for fear that they’re different from everyone else.

The mist? That’s a natural occurrence. Just beyond the stand of trees is a low area that’s mostly marsh and when the weather and temperature is right a mist forms and flows over the whole area.

So yes, the kids either made it all up to try and spook their parents or they did dip into some lively drink.

The players could be brought in to survey the area and perform a “cleansing ritual,” of the area to set the townsfolk at ease.

(Be sure to check out Campaign Mastery’s post The Remembrance Of The Disquiet Dead: A Spooky Spot and Campaign Premise for a way to turn this into a lasting campaign element.)

Idea #2 Undead Inhabitant

The game trail runs right through the area where this particular inhabitant has set up shop. It could be the site of where they were killed, it could be the site of where they lost a loved one, or, it could be that they are tied to the area by some other magic.

The players are called upon to rid the area of the menace which could be as simple as wading into combat with it.

Of course it may not be that simple, twist it a bit and there’s a curse on the creature and they are being forced to haunt the area until a particular event occurs, or the return of their loved one (not easy if they’ve passed away as well).

Check out my posting Encounter Idea 13 – The Ghost for other ideas.

So, what is going on in that clearing by the pale moon light?

May your dice roll well.

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