Blog Archives

The Danger Room

Matt Colville is an old-school Dungeon Master from way back. Probably as way back as me (post-dawn of time), and maybe further! The man knows his stuff, is what I’m saying here.

One of the many things I like about Matt is how he draws from previous games to enhance his current campaign. His most recent video is a great tip for players and DM/GM’s alike who want to not just build chemistry between characters, but for players to test their new characters without getting them killed.

Welcome to The Danger Room.

I did something like this a few years back when my players started our Pathfinder campaign, Second Darkness. Everyone sat around the table, I let the players give a brief description of their characters, then I set out a map with some minis and said “Roll for initiative.”

Now they didn’t know that the characters were not in any real danger, so it wasn’t a true Danger Room kind of scenario. But they got to flex their muscles and see how those stats and abilities worked in “real-time”. Afterward, I told them that if they wanted to make any adjustments after what they had seen, now was the time to do it.

I really like the Danger Room concept, and think I’ll use it more often in the future.

Efficient DM Screen



The Dungeon Master screen is not just a shield to keep the DM from being showered by the tears and spittle of the players. It also has rules and charts to help run the game better. Many screens come with information, but not all of it is necessary. So what exactly should be on the screen? What should the DM have going on behind the wall of knowledge?

The Dungeon Coach has some tips on what you should add to your own screen. Those tips are here. And by here I mean in the video below. So check it out, why don’tcha?


Image by Caio Monteiro at

How to Improvise as a DM

Anyone who has ever run a tabletop RPG for a group of players knows that there always comes a time when one or more of those players will take your finely crafted encounter and flip the damn thing on its head by asking to do something you never thought of.


Of course. Let me just consult my notes.

When that situation arises, you have two options. Well, three if you go with the image listed above. Mostly you only have two options:

  1. Say No. Hey, you’re running the show. You’re totally within your purview as a Dungeon/Game Master to do so. Stomp out that player uprising!
  2. Say Yes. Sure you have nothing firmly planned, but with a little minor prep, you can be ready to tackle a situation that you weren’t completely ready for.

But how? How does one prepare for the unknown? Especially if one is terrible at improvising?

I could reinvent the wheel and tell you what others have told me. Or I can link a video from Icarus Gaming, discussing this very topic. Check out the video, and you too can be a bit more prepared for players who try to throw you a sucker punch – counter with a disaster that could kill millions.

Just… just watch the video.