The intent of RPG Athenaeum is to provide information related to mastering tabletop fantasy role-playing games, which site visitors can use in their games and which visitors can improve upon by sharing their insights for the benefit of all.
After more than 25 years as a dungeon master, the most important fact I’ve learned about running a tabletop role-playing game is that there is always more to learn. The motivation behind this blog is to share elements of my gaming experience with those new to the hobby, and, through comments on blog posts, to obtain suggestions and advice from those wiser and more experienced than I.
The content of this site, then, is provided primarily as a baseline for discussion; while I hope most of the material will be of benefit to overworked, under-appreciated dungeon masters, the greater value of this site will emerge when the topics are discussed by visitors, producing a collective wisdom that benefits all readers.
Many of the forthcoming posts will be of general nature to the genre, being equally applicable to any game system or edition within such a system. In order to be of benefit to the most readers, though, this site will focus on the current edition of the most widely-played game in fantasy role-playing – Fourth Edition (4e) Dungeons & Dragons – in those places where specific mechanics must be mentioned.
Lastly, while it is a goal for me to be as objective as possible, I acknowledge that I , like every author, write through the filter of personal experiences and preferences. That said, it is my duty to you, gentle reader, to offer a loose set of personal dungeon mastering values that will impact my writing, by intention or not. They are:
- I view the Dungeons & Dragons game as one of heroic fantasy, where the players are clearly “the good guys” who confront and eliminate evil. Discussion about villainous activities will be provided for the dungeon master’s use in developing foes for the players’ heroes to overcome. I personally see no merit in players creating anti-heroes.
- The games that I personally run and, correspondingly, the posts made on this site, would be rated PG-13 if such content was to appear in an American film. My intention is to be useful, not controversial; there is plenty of gratuitous sexuality, violence and occult activity to be found on other sites, and I will ensure that it stays there.
- As a male dungeon master, I am often disappointed in the way male players perceive and treat females in general, and female players in particular. Since sexism cheapens people – both the speakers and subjects of sexist remarks – sexist comments have no place here.
- I have played every edition of Dungeons & Dragons, including the original Chainmail rules that started the entire hobby. It has been my experience that each edition has its own virtues and warts, and I find arguments about why Edition A is superior to Edition B to be largely fruitless. I’m not suggesting that citing a particularly useful aspect of a given edition is wrong; I am suggesting that edition-bashing is wrong.
Hopefully, objectivity will rule as I post in the coming weeks. But if it doesn’t, I am equally hopeful that the transparency shown in this first post will help you understand my standpoint if I demonstrate some form of bias.