Author: Don Mappin

About The Author

For nearly 30 years RPGs have been a staple of Don’s life — so that means he’s pretty old. Author of a dozen RPG books, Don has worked with companies such as ICE, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and AEG. He now spends his time working in IT management, enjoying his family and two children, or gaming.

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A Moment of Silence

This afternoon, after several weeks of waiting, my final order of Marvel Heroic books arrived. I was pretty excited (“yea, new books!”) and then fairly despondent, remembering that the game was dead. As in, no more. Finished. Kaput. And while we only played a brief Marvel Heroic campaign, it...

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Learning From… The Americans

Having just wrapped up its first season, the FX Cold War spy show seems a natural selection to spend some time dissecting, looking for elements to use (or avoid!) in your games. Suffice it to say that there will likely be some spoilers involved, so if you haven’t seen...

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The Perfect Plan

You’ve no doubt heard — or uttered — the phrase that “no adventure survives contact with the players.” The argument being that even the best GM cannot possibly account for all the permutations that players come up with. Typically the bonzo, crazy ideas that come from out of nowhere...

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Wait? I’m a Stuttering, One-Legged Cheetah?

It recently occurred to me during the course of play in our current Hunter game that one of my Disadvantages–much to my horror–had not been used after roughly 8 sessions. My character is “Unlucky,” which is to say that once per session a roll–at the Storyteller’s discretion–should have its...

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The Constant GM?

I’ve a fondness of a quote by Carlos Fuentes, “Writing is a struggle against silence.” There is always a story to be told and as an author it is difficult to not be thinking about that next tale that is struggling to escape. Writers are always writing, if not literally then conceptually, fighting against that silence. As a GM I wonder if some of those same concepts apply to...

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When the Darkness Comes

There will come a time, through no fault of your own, when you will be expected to run a game or exercise your GMing prowess and you will feel…lacking. We speak often of player and NPC motivation within the context of constructing a game or campaign, but very little...

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The Sharing of Dice

In a nice bit of synergy, I composed this piece before Matt’s excellent article on Alan DeSmet’s GameScience Dice Analysis, so it continues the die theme nicely. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t have nearly the comprehensive analysis (or fancy charts) that Matt’s did. Soldier on, I say! The question —...

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Are Children PCs Okay?

It’s a rare situation, but what if one of your players comes to your table with the idea to play a child as their character? What would be your initial reaction? Now, I’m not talking about childlike as in, say, a kender, but an actual child. Furthermore, can we...

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Sharing the Playground

Have you run, or plan to run, an RPG in an established property? Chances are pretty good that if you have you’re more than familiar with the pitfalls of working within someone else’s playground. Beyond just genre emulation your players also have expectations in what such a game will...

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How I Made a Player Cry

Happily, I recently finished my much–maligned Song of Ice and Fire campaign. For all its faults, the game did end in an appropriate fashion and was notable for being the first time I made a player cry (in a good way). It was a manly weeping — in the...

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“Danger: Early Campaign Termination Ahead”

If only during the course of planning and play our games came with convenient warning signs like this. Sadly, since they don’t, you’ll just have to live vicariously through my own experience that, recently, included experiencing the feeling of impending termination from both sides of the screen. In reality...

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I Want to Have Marvel Heroic’s Man Babies

There’s a new game in town that you may or may not be familiar with, Margaret Weis Productions’ iteration of the latest Marvel superheroes RPG, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Having run every iteration of every Marvel RPG to date, I must say that the Marvel Heroic version may not only be the best...

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Errata This!

Mistakes are an inevitability of life and those with a passing familiarity of RPGs are more than accustomed to their fair share of errata. But when is too much…too much? If running a game and challenges involved in keeping everyone engaged isn’t enough, GMs must also contend with the...

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How Your MBA Can Make You A Better GM

Admittedly I didn’t pay much attention in college during my undergraduate studies but during my graduate degree it was a different story entirely. In particular, my classes on organizational communication lined up shockingly well with some GM and gaming theory. In particular, discussions on the five bases of power....

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