Tag Archives: player skill

Is it noticed? How to run alertness

Introducing the spot check In this post, I cite “spot checks” to refer to third edition’s Spot checks, Next’s Wisdom (Perception) checks, and tests of awareness made with 4E and Pathfinder’s Perception skill. The Spot skill and its descendents rate … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

When should a game master call for a check?

In the early years of Dungeons & Dragons, players searched by telling the dungeon master where they wanted to look, and then the dungeon master told them if something was there. The game resolved most actions using back and forth … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , | 4 Comments

5 reasons someone might build a dungeon filled with clues and tests

In “Puzzle traps,” I explained how the most fun traps come with clues that alert players to the danger. I listed a few reasons why clues might accompany traps even though their builders want them to be unnoticed. In addition … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puzzle traps

In my previous post, I introduced gotcha traps, the first of my two categories of traps. This post reveals my second category. puzzle traps While characters must search for gotcha traps, puzzle traps always come with clues that signal their … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fourth edition gives traps a new design

When the fourth edition designers rethought D&D, they saw traps as posing two core problems: Traps can frustrate players Traps can slow play to tedium Problem: Traps that challenge player ingenuity can lead to player frustration. This problem arises when … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A history of traps in Dungeons & Dragons

In original Dungeons & Dragons, the three brown books only include one rule for traps. “Traps are usually sprung by a roll of a 1 or a 2 when any character passes over or by them.” That’s it. The rules … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little-known D&D classics: Escape from Astigar’s Lair

In 1980, Judges Guild published Escape from Astigar’s Lair, a slim module that sold for just $2. The adventure so charmed me that after I ran it, I created a similar challenge of my own to unleash on players. Astigar’s … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning a narrative around a skill challenge

(Part 5 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The Dungeon Master’s Guide 2’s example skill challenge shows the Dungeon Master responding to each success or failure in the traditional DM role─by telling the players what happens in the … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, D&D fourth edition | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The skill challenge: good intentions, half baked

(Part 2 of a series, which begins with Evolution of the skill challenge.) The forth edition rules make the encounter the central activity of the Dungeons & Dragons game. The Dungeon Master’s Guide says, “Encounters are the exciting part of … Continue reading

Posted in D&D fourth edition, Role-playing game design | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Player skill without player frustration

The Zork II computer game from 1981 includes a locked door that you can open by solving a clever puzzle. The door has the old-fashioned sort of lock that lets you look through the keyhole and see the other side. … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, D&D fifth edition, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments