Monthly Archive: August 2012

Aug 30 2012

Episode #25 – Adventure Design with Shawn and Phil

025 – Adventure design with Shawn and Phil

Hi folks. This week we have friends of the show Shawn Merwin and Phil Vecchione to have a chat about adventure design; the state of it today, what it means for GM’s and writers, and how we can slot adventures into our existing campaigns or crib from them. Just wanted to say thanks to Phil and Shawn for coming out and having this discussion with us.

This episode also brings forth our first contest at Misdirected Mark. My phone goes off in about every show so Shawn felt it was a good idea to make a game out of it. For the next show, which will drop on September 6th, whoever drops a comment either here or on the facebook group page with a time signature, (ex: 59:03 for fifty-nine minutes and three seconds) and is closest to the first time my phone goes off during the September 6th episode will win PDF copies of all three of engine publishing’s books. Those are Masks, Eureka, and Never Unprepared. It’s a value of $39.95. As a bonus if we get 100 likes on the Misdirected Mark Page or a 100 members in the group then I’ll throw out my phone number to the group so they can bombard me with text messages trying to influence the contest, not that anyone knows when we record.

Show Notes

0:38 – The Watercooler

4:55 – The Gameroom (We played lots of games post GenCon. Chris loves Lords of Waterdeep.)

15:56 – The Workshop (Mark Sings and Adventure Design)

59:10 – The Geekery


Reaper Miniatures Bones, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, D&D Encounters,

Gnome Stew, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Tsuro, Dungeon Command

Engine Publishing, Nile DeLuxor, Lords of Waterdeep, Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

Star Wars RPG, Paizo Adventure Paths, Living Forgotten Realms, Temple of Elemental Evil

The Haunting of Harrowstone, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Kingmaker Adventure Path

Eureka, Masks, Moonshae Isles, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Savage Worlds,

Savage Worlds One Sheets, Dresden Files RPG, Fiasco, John Wick, Dread, Durance, The Spark

Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering, D&D Next, Jared Sorensen, The Forge, All for One

Wireframes and Skins article, Never Unprepared, Studio 2, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Ennies,

Shadows of Esteren, Iron GM, Tiffany Aching series

Aug 29 2012

Special Episode – Never Unprepared from GenCon 2012

Never Unprepared Seminar at GenCon

Here’s some bonus content for you fan’s out there. I sat in and recorded friend of the show Phil Vecchione’s panel at GenCon on Never Unprepared. There were some excellent questions posed and answered. I do apologize for the audio quality. I tried to fix it up as well as I could.

Aug 23 2012

Episode #24 – Ge ge ge GenCon

024 – Ge ge ge GenCon

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It’s GenCon recap time. We tell everything we did and saw at the show this year. Hope you enjoy..

Timer Notes

Green Shirt Intro 00:00:00
The Watercooler 00:00:45
– Mark’s Weary Wednesday
– Mark’s Canadian Friend
– Curt’s SUV kills my throat
– Trade Day and Reclaiming Blingdenstone
– Underdark creatures speak Australian
– Chris’ Wicked Wednesday
– Dinner with Phil Veccione and the Green Shirts
– Rob Justice(Bear Swarm) and Podcasters Party
– Mark’s Thundering Thursday
– Sorcere and Clawrift (D&D eXPerience)
– Special Drow Dice Set
– Lunch with Jamie at Steak and Shake
– Nicky Blaine’s
– Chris’ Thrilling Thursday
– Steve Helt, Iron GM Ancient Sensei (WITH INTERVIEW CLIP)
– Dr. Nick Palmer, Iron GM Contestant (WITH INTERVIEW CLIP)
– The Vendor Hall
– Food Vendors
– Who’s Monte Cook (Clip Available Later)
– Giant Settlers of America
– Gen Con Social (Rob Justice Clip Available at the end of the show)
The Gameroom 00:28:37
– Mark’s Frantic Friday
– Bad Breakfast Blues
– Mark tells James Wyatt he’s “Awesome”
– The Warlock and Sorcerer Classes
– Artemis is Awesome
– Chris’s Feel-good Friday
– Iron Heroes
– Phil Veccione (Brief Clip, w/ longer clip available later)
– Chris’ Cell Phone Goes off at 44:50 (That’s for you Phil)
– Mayfair Games and Drew Smith (With Interview Clip)
– Fiasco
The Workshop 00:49:23
– Mark’s Super Saturday
– Mark Runs More D&D Games
– Drew Makes Rocks Fun
– Draconic Heritage Sorcerer becomes Kobold Leader
– Meeting Robert Schwalb
– Artemis is coming to Queen City Conquest
– Chris’ Saucy Saturday
– Wild Wacky West (Map Achievement Unlocked)
– Star Wars RPG Beta
– Iron DM
– Mark rants about true Iron DMs
– Savage Saturday Night
– Will’s Savage Worlds Character Creator Kickstarter (With Interview Clip)
The Geekery 01:15:36
– Mark’s Slow Sunday
– Powering through the last day
– Cards Against Humanity makes waiting in line fun
– A Miserable Ride Home
– Chris’ Sanguine Sunday
– Buying Stuff
– Jason Morningstar runs Dungeon World
– Mark talks about his swag
– Chris’ awesome drive home
– Sohmer Quits Redbull 🙁
– Queen City Conquest Is Coming Soon!!!!
Mic Drop! 01:29:54
– Bonus Material! Chris revisits how much fun Drunken Podcasting is, with Rob Justice


Baldman Games
Nicky Blaine’s
Iron GM

Panik Productions
Bear Swarm
Law of the Geek
The Walking Eye
Jank Cast
Monte Cook
Settlers of America
Iron Heroes
Wild Wacky West
Star Wars RPG
Wild Card Creator
Cards Against Humanity
Dungeon World
Queen City Conquest

Aug 14 2012

Episode #23 – Entitlement and Plot


023 – Entitlement and Plot

Hey folks. Me and Mark talk about Nile DeLuxor, a card game from Minion Games, discuss the idea of entitlement and plot in RPG’s, and finish up by tell you the three things we’re looking forward to the most at GenCon. At GenCon find Mark running D&D next or myself at Indy Games Explosion (Rm 238 in the convention center) or at Iron GM on Saturday.

Timer Notes

The Watercooler :39
The Gameroom 10:02
The Workshop (Entitlement and Plot) 30:57
The Geekery 1:06:19


Nile DeLuxor
Lords of Waterdeep
Dungeon Command
John Wick
Indy Games Explosion (Rm 238 in the convention center at GenCon)

Iron GM

Aug 10 2012


The Question: Are players entitled to the stories they want to tell in the games we play? Are GM’s entitled to the stories they want to tell?

My Answer: I don’t think players or GM’s are entitled to their stories, especially if they’re preconceived because I don’t think the game should have a preconceived plot, plot being defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern. People call it emergent gaming where the story or plot emerges from play. I think all gaming should be like that and we should just build frameworks to assist us in creating these stories. I’m pretty sure this idea is the point of rule books and modules, to help us create the frameworks to tell stories. I think it’s my biggest problem with most people who play living campaigns. They don’t understand that modules are frameworks for storytelling. Once you change your perception of them from being a plot to a framework to create a self-contained story you can manipulate them any way you would like. I suppose this needs an example.

Let’s say you have a city adventure and the first beat of the module has you learning of a thieves’ guild who’s taken a golden fist and the owner has hired you to get it back. The second beat involves a little street work and information gathering. This beat has a couple of divergent points which lead to encounters with the thieves’ guild and battling through the guild to a final confrontation with the guild leader who is defeated and the golden hand is retrieved.

If we want to have emergent storytelling in a module, be it a living campaign of some sort, a Paizo Adventure Path, or a mega campaign we need to know a few things:

  • The beginning and ending points.
  • The important NPC’s and why they’re important.
  • Any locations the scenario can’t do without which I don’t think would be any since you can always change a location to fit the situation the story calls for.

In this module we have a beginning and an ending which is get the job and the golden hand is retrieved. The important NPC’s are the leader of the thieves’ guild since they have the golden hand and the man who hires you since he starts everything off. Everything else is up for grabs meaning it can be changed if you so desire. The thieves’ guild hall might be an important location but may not be dependent on the actions of the PC’s. Actually, as I think about it, if you’re comfortable winging it all then you only need the starting scene which introduces the scenario and the end goal, in this case, gaining the golden hand. If you’re not comfortable just winging everything then having some of these locations lying around to use and extra NPC’s to pull on to help guide the players in the right direction can be very useful. One tip, games often have that emergent play feel when the players are given the free rein to create instead of being forced to follow a module from beat to beat. Let’s take a look back at our example.

Just after the introduction one of the players gets the idea to talk to a guy he knows in the city named Rommy Ten Rings. Rommy a friend of one of the players and knows the guild they’re looking for. They next ask Rommy if he can get them into the guild, their plan being to become members of the guild to steal the golden fist from inside the operation. Rommy agrees if they cut him in on the reward they get from retrieving the golden fist. Next Rommy introduces the players to a lieutenant of the guild as an illegitimate crew who’s trying to get a start in town. The lieutenant gives them a test job. Finish it and get a meeting with the big guy. Now the PC’s need to do this job to get what they want. Instead of theft they go to the person they’re supposed to rob and ask be loaned the object for a period of time. The players also give the person the cost of the item as collateral. With item in hand they return to the lieutenant who brings them to the big boss and are initiated into the guild. Being initiated gives them the chance to scope out the guild hall, its defenses, and learn the location of the golden fist. Now the PC’s can prepare to steal the hand and the item they rented. How they do it is up to them and the rest of the complications that occur during the attempt are up to the GM but in the end the players got, or didn’t get, the golden fist.

If we look at what was described here the players created a situation the GM responded to while always keeping the goal of the scenario in mind to their decisions. The GM complicated situations. The players responded with choice and creativity. This back and forth, while always leading to the goal, created an experience within the premise of the scenario but very different from what was originally given. These are the things we can do to create a sense of emergent story. So no. I don’t think players are entitled to their stories nor is the GM entitled because story and plot needs to happen at the table, not before. After all, we play the game to see what happens. Don’t we?

I’d love to hear what anyone else has to say about these ideas so please drop a comment here or on the Facebook page.

Chris “The Light” Sniezak

Aug 09 2012

Episode #22 – D&D Hybrid or Pure RPG

022 – D&D Hybrid or pure RPG

This week at The Mark we chat about GenCon, Minion Games, if D&D a pure RPG these days or is it a Hybrid Board Game RPG, and the Dark Knight Rises.

Show Notes

0:42 – The Watercooler
15:38 – The Gameroom and a short minatures discussion.
24:18 – The WorkShop: D&D Hybrid or Pure RPG
54:50 – The Geekery



Minion Games
The Jennisodes
The Podgecast
GenCon Social
Iron GM
Houses of the Blooded
The Bearswarm Podcast
Never Unprepared
The Gnome Stew
Dark Forest Games
Dragon Snack Games
Dungeon Command
Savage Worlds
D&D Encounters
Sedition Wars
Legend of Drizzt
Cool Mini or Not
Warhammer 40k

Aug 02 2012

Puzzle Piece Mysteries

I’m currently playing in a Dresden Files game. It’s a lot of fun and has a very Dresden feel to it but has had a few snafus, mostly with the mystery surrounding the emerging story. The biggest problem is our group has been presented with a bunch of leads, or puzzle pieces. I believe some of the leads were planned and some of them weren’t due to unexpected player actions. She’s improvised and done a decent job of it too. We ran down a bunch of these leads while trying to prepare for this spirit who was killing kids by the dozens. I think it was sucking the life out of their bodies but I didn’t get to ask it as we blasted it out of existence. At least I think we blasted it out of existence. I’m sure I’ll find out if that’s true or not at a future inopportune moment. Sorry. I tangented. Where was I? Oh yeah. Mysteries and the leads. Each of these leads led to some interesting scenes and clues but very little in the way of action. It was more of a gathering of puzzle pieces and then trying to sift through them to figure out what the connections were. As I write this I find myself thinking this seems like a perfectly valid way to run a mystery. I think the problem was creating situations for passive protagonists and repetitive situations. Whenever we went to investigate something we encountered a person, persons, or a situation but the only conflict was gathering information. We talked to people who gave us information or we found locations which did the same. That was it. There was no way to act on the information we were given. It just went into the case file and we moved on to the next thing. Not the most fun thing in gaming.

I think successful mysteries can have these puzzle piece mysteries but they need to be linked into other scenes where there’s a way to act on the information found, like a trail of clues to be followed. You can also spice up the framework of this style of game by interspersing scenes of action into the middle of these information gathering scenes to keep the players active in the game. If you’ve ever read a Dresden Files book Jim Butcher does this pretty well. Whenever Harry gets a clue that doesn’t quite fit with everything else something tends to happen. He gets into a fight, a complication he needs to act on occurs, or some kind of conflict he needs to deal with right then and there happens. It keeps the pace up. I think this concept can easily be used in RPG investigations. It also makes me think I need to buy and read Hamlets Hit Points by Robin Laws which talks about how to figure out the pacing of your game with up beats, down beats, and a few other types. The general rule is if you have three of the same type of beat in a row then next beat better be different or you suffer from boredom in repetition. In a mystery you can have an information gathering scene but think of that as a beat. If you have three information gathering scenes in a row you’re probably already boring your players. Think about it. They’re players, they have A.D.D as it is and you’re just dropping information on them like puzzle pieces to a puzzle. Throw one more info gathering scene and they’re probably gonna start throwing poo like a mischievous monkey. So what’s the solution? Vary your scenes. Utilize chases, fights, social conflicts where there are some stakes, and clues your investigating players can act on right away. This allows you to have your puzzle piece mystery as the players collect the pieces while keeping them engaged and entertained during it until they get to the ah ha moment.

Game On,

Chris “The Light” Sniezak