You know how a bicycle that sits out in the rain can get all funky and red, maybe a little stiff to pedal, but it will still get you where you need to go? Some of these links have been sitting out in the rain for a while… but they still go great places. Hop on and let’s explore.

Holiday Gaming

Phil’s post on the Holiday Gaming Hiatus is great advice that struck both me (the DM for a D&D group) and my GM (running Star Wars SAGA for us) as important. It’s too late for each of us, but I’ll keep it in mind next year. Of course, if next year’s game coordination is like this year’s, I may have to make it an October-January hiatus!

If you’re looking for a very light but interesting resolution system, Vincent Baker’s Otherkind dice system is good at provoking difficult decisions from the PCs. The recent Salt River post has useful examples of the system in action.

If you’re playing with younger children (say, visiting nieces and nephews), look over Zak Arneston’s Shadows (only 4 pages). It begins with the children being awoken by a noise… and goes wherever they imagine. Random things happen– if you’re lucky, you get a magical adventure a lot like Narnia.

Greywulf is talking about the Marvel RPG this week. You can pick it up for free in PDF– just follow his links. I remember some crazy heroes we rolled up back in the day… perfect for a few quick sessions with any comic book lover.

Rob Donoghue shares NPC Building advice and why it’s important that you can’t choose your family.

Cool Tools

Over at Inkwell ideas, there’s a great looking tool for your fantasy (particualrly Pendragon) campaigns: Coat of Arms Design Software.

Living Dice created a custom search engine for RPG publisher sites, RPG Seek, announced here.

Making a Game Plan

Story by the Throat has a good post called paying your dues. It is a great meditation on the subject of intra-party violence: when it works and when it’s jarring.

There is someone essential to a good game session… and they don’t even sit at the table. Read Dice Monkey’s thoughts about the GM’s confidant.

If you want some solid advice for getting a game on track, look at Bryan’s response in this thread for ten helpful hints. I particularly like the advice to look at NPC motivations when you get stuck. It really helps make everyone seem more real and less like a prop for the PCs.

Are you trying to nurture a new campaign? See this guide to the Care and feeding of emergent campaigns. (About one shot and episodic games in a longer series.)

If you’re looking for an early cyberpunk dystopia, the Phillipine Gamer argues for setting your game in his country. Start today– get a 12 year head start on 2020!

Want to play Amber Diceless… but use a different diceless system? See Awesome Bunny’s Polaris/Amber Hack.

One game designer writes a series about his experiences with 4e gaming and how it overcame his preconceptions. (4 posts: One, Two, 3.1 and 3.2.)

4e Resources

Many of you are looking forward to playing D&D over the holidays. Rather than stabbing you in the foot out of jealousy (the first option that came to mind), I’ll share some links that will make your holiday gaming sparkle.

If you like 4e’s encounter groups, but want some more ways to mix up the bad guys? Use these new new encounters from Critical Hits to spice up the gingerbread.

Are you looking for more 4e critters? There are lots of good sources– this gleemax thread, Jonathon Drain’s creatures of gensokyo, and Asmor’s Fiends and Foes. Asmor’s critters include giant mutant farm animals, a warforged octopus, and even some Battle Medic NPCs. Not to mention the return of the Blackguard…

Instead of critters, how about Skill Challenges? At Will has worked out several for you to drop right in your game.

If you want a great dungeon layout, borrow it from these ants. I know I’m tempted to have the PCs wander through an abandoned giant ant lair (suitably repopulated) now.

Scott of A Butterfly Dreaming has an interesting Paragon path– the Hunter of the Dead. It has some great vampire and ghost hunting abilities, and some nice flavor to go with it.

If you’re looking to shoot things, Dice Monkey is playing around with some early playtest firearms rules for 4e.

At Will visits the RPGA. (No, stop making those hand gestures. Stop singing!)