Author: John Fredericks

About The Author

John Fredericks

In the early 1980’s, John was given the Moldvay Red Box set as a birthday gift. The Blue Expert set soon followed and the mania has yet to subside. Over the years, he has played and GMed various flavors of D&D, Star Trek, Star Wars and the odd superhero game. Most of his recent GMing has been online using virtual tabletops.

While not a current photo, John assures you that he has never looked better. Sad, but true.

He is the sole proprieter of Sharp Mountain Games on drivethrurpg.com.

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SESSION PLANNING: THREE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES

“Spend more time on your drawing.” This is the absolute best advice I’ve ever gotten as an artist. Without a solid drawing, it doesn’t matter how polished your painting technique is. The final work will still end up looking “off.” Session planning is like that too. If one doesn’t...

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HOW FAR AHEAD?

I’m a planner. It drives me crazy when I don’t know what is happening next (or for the next few months, for that matter). As a gamemaster (GM), you’ll have to decide how far ahead to plan your sessions. Roleplaying games (RPG’s) present a special challenge to your planning:...

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CAMPAIGN FINALES

“How does it end?” is an eternal, human question. We crave resolution in our fiction and in our games. The ultimate resolution (well, besides character death) is a campaign finale. This is the final mission that concludes PC’s adventuring careers. In this article, we’ll look at the positive and...

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APPROACHES TO CONTINUITY

Marvel comics didn’t invent continuity, but they certainly perfected it. From the early 1960’s through the 1990’s, every Marvel story built on every previous one in Byzantine complexity. Many of us long to craft those kinds of campaigns. However, reality often encroaches on our world-building plans. People get busy,...

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THE ONLINE EDITION: OLD-SCHOOL PARADISE?

The advent of the internet was a lifeline for old school gamers. All of a sudden it was easy to find fellow enthusiasts. It could be 1983 forever. Online gaming was a major force in fostering the old school movement. However, just like anything, online gaming has its challenges...

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CREATURE ROULETTE: A CASE STUDY

  Ever just flip open your monster book at random? I call it “Creature Roulette”, and it’s just one of many strategies for getting out of writers’ block. In this article, we’ll talk through one method for using creature roulette to plan an adventure. We’ll start with a fantasy...

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ESTABLISHED MEDIA CHARACTERS: PROS AND CONS

When playing pretend as a kid, we always played established media characters. We were Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, Batman and Robin. We were never “generic Rebel soldier” or “Superhero who’s kinda like Superman.” However, in my experience, playing established characters is much rarer in roleplaying games. Perhaps people...

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Ways Out Of Prep Slump

  If you’re like me, you have times where you don’t want to prepare for your next session. Real life may be wearing us down, we may get sick, or we may just have the old “fear of a blank page.” (I’m also a water-colorist, trust me, I know...

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Permission To Fail

I know a local artist who says “I thrive on failure.” He’s accepted the fact that every drawing and painting won’t work out as expected, that failed attempts are just part of the process. Similarly to grow as gamemasters (GM’s), we need to give ourselves permission to fail from...

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Boardwalk

“There’s no board” is a common concern raised by those who’ve never played roleplaying games (RPG). While many gamemasters (GM’s) use terrain, maps, and tiles, there generally isn’t one board like in traditional games. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be: many “Almost RPG’s” like Dungeon and Heroquest use...

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The Online Edition: Ensemble Play

Online gaming makes it easier than ever to join a game. However, real life still gets in the way. Overtime, school assignments, sickness, and family responsibilities all conspire against us sometimes. Maintaining an ongoing, epic campaign can be quite a challenge. Now, it is a rewarding challenge, and one...

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The Online Edition: Group Size

Forging an online group can be a tricky task. You may have never met the players face to face to know how they will fit in with the group. Also, adult schedules make it difficult for folks to attend every session. As an online gamemaster (GM), you’ll have to...

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THE ONLINE EDITION: TOKEN TALK

Online games rely heavily on their images. While you can certainly play in a “theater of the mind” style, good images will usually enhance the experience. A well chosen image can give life to an NPC, or provide a concrete way for players to attach to their characters. This...

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THE ONLINE EDITION: COMIC STRIP MAPS

Running an online game requires you to juggle a number of things at once. You have to run the game as usual AND you have to manage the technical side of things through your virtual tabletop (VTT). Anything you can prepare beforehand will help lighten that load during play....

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