Having a Newsletter Really Does Help.

I would consider my players to be really casual gamers. They play because they have fun, and they enjoy the social interaction, but they aren’t die-hard. They have a basic grasp of the rules, can with some light to moderate help can make characters for themselves (Dungeons and Dragons 3.5), but each usually has some question about some rule, ability, modifier, item, etc for me. None of them own their own books, all use mine, nor do I expect them to own their own books since, as stated, they are really casual gamers.

That being said, and understood, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t running into trouble on some level. I’d have to say that my biggest area of trouble was information. My players, being casual, really do depend on me for quite a bit of information. I KNOW for a fact that many DM’s would not help or “help” the players as much as I do, but I do it because role-playing is all about fun, not being a hard tight ass.

I can’t deny though, that I wouldn’t get frustrated when I would ask the players to recap last session or if they remember X happening between them and certain NPC’s and they wouldn’t remember or only vaguely remember. I took it in stride, talked about it with them, and they made an effort. They took more notes, or attempted too, but that sometimes fell through the cracks as well.

I can across many suggestions by different authors and finally decided to try the newsletter approach. I have to say thus far, it really does work for my group! I mail it out the week before the game (we usually game once every 2 weeks), for the players to review and make notes/ideas about. I update it after every game, and put new info in red and the stuff from previous sessions is in black, so they can skim over that as a refresher, but they know that what is in red is the more pertinent info.

I’m posting one of my newsletters on this post as an example. Pardon the mess of it… I don’t know how well it will transfer in HTML. I know everyone has their own way of doing stuff, but really having a newsletter helped my group remember stuff, pass along information, and get pumped for the upcoming game!

******

The Balling Bard’s Gazette

vol 1. Issue 5.

 

Table of Contents

Recap [BBG01]

Next Session [BBG02]

Game Information [BBG03]

  • Game World
    Factoids [BBG03A]
  • NPC Profiles
    [BBG03B]
  • Legends and
    Lore [BBG03C]
  • Rumors and
    Hearsay [BBG03D]
  • Monster Lore
    [BBG03E]
  • Magic Item
    Lore [BBG03F]
  • Baking
    Committee [BBG03G]
  • Dinner Time
    [BBG03H]
  • House Rules
    [BBG03I]
  • Other Info
    [BBG03J]
  • Player
    Suggestions/Feedback [BBG03K]

 

 

 

Players (all level 12)-

·       
Omar- Drecks, Minotaur, M, Druid

·       
Liam- Albric, Half Dragon, M, Sorcerer/Wild Mage

·       
KinalAsha, Saytr,
F, Bard

·       
Drew- Mo’Lock, Ghoul, M, Rogue/Grey Guard

·       
Angie- Kiaus, Human- werewolf, F, Rogue/Shadow Warper

·       
John- Griffith, Human-
Vampire, M, Ranger/Initiate of the Bow

·       
Amanda- Anna, Human, F,
Warrior

 

Recap [BBG01]-

 

What can be said about the last
campaign I
know if you ask certain players, they’ll say that they fought a pain in the ass
worm that could melt weapons and burn flesh… and an illusionist that caused
hardship for them while they dealt with the worm and the few humanoids swarming
around them try to cut at them with obsidian bladed swords. They might also say they learned information
about the Five Blades and where they came from the creator of the Blight
himself. He also instructed them how to
weaken the Five Blades and get rid of them permanently before dying due to the
damage he received from the heroes curing the Blight, but not before making his
mark felt upon the group. The group also
talked to De Pan and figured that it would be prudent to go to Sharn to look up information on the Five Blades and gather
information. That’s what some would say
happened.

However.. If you were to ask
a certain half-dragon about what happened on Sunday, he would say first he had
his lips sealed shut by an illusionist so he couldn’t cast spells, to then
strike the Remorhaz with is Ice Axe to have it melt
due to it’s hot flesh, to then be swallowed whole by the Remorhaz
and be burnt by its scalding innards before teleporting out, covered in goo. Then he would
probably give you a dark look and so eloquently state that, as he did in a text
to me, “You made my fucking head explode…”
for smarting off to the creator of the Blight (who warned him not to
interrupt him again or he would kill him..
He did..
So he died.) But that’s if you ask
Liam what happened.;)

Fear
not, his character was resurrected, and he as ready as the rest to find
information on the five blades and how to stop them.

 

Next Session [BBG02]

 

The next
session will be on July 26th! The group will be packing up their bags and
heading out to Sharn.
What will await the group in the once great city of towers?…

 

*Game Information* [BBG03]

·       
Game
World Factoids [BBG03A]

o       Eberron is rebuilding, but nothing new has been learned in
this one session about the different nations and how they are recovering. For the year transition, you largely were
just in the Tantela Plains and on the edges of Karnnath, Thrane, and Valenar)
I
will give some info on these nations by next Newsletter- Though
mostly it will be hearsay and rumor;)

·       
NPC
Profiles
[BBG03B] (both player
created and DM created)-

o       Contacts
for All Characters:

§        
De Pan- (H, M, 35, Rogue 10, Sorcerer 4, Arcane
Trickster 6) *At the session I mentioned Aristocrat class, but I found my
original notes on him, and he was actually a sorcerer.*

§        
Moriam– (H, M, 40,
Artificer 12) He
is a tortured soul who was mutilated by agents of the Silver Flame for his
association with were-creatures. He
still wears the mask and has vowed revenge against the Silver Flame, at
whatever the cost.

§        
Thrawn– (Doppleganger, M, ?, Artificer 8) Thrawn loves to cause
trouble and uses his shape changing ability to do just that.

§        
Grank Facebitter– *During
session I made him a ranger/barbarian.
I’m changing the levels on this to make him a slightly more viable
NPC* (Half-Orc,
M, 30, Ranger 2/Barbarian 6) Grank was captured by
the heroes and tortured to find out information, terrified of what the Five
Blades would do to him he begged for death if he talked. Kiaus was able to
talk Grank out of accepting death while some in the
group were only too eager to do as he asked.
Grank was taken before De Pan and asked for
asylum. Grank
seems to have honor, but there also exists a defeated sad air about him.

o       Angie:

§        
Helen Braggy (Owner of
Hand Stitched)- (F, HE, Artisan 6/Wizard 4)- Helen is beautiful, clever, and kind.

o       Omar:

§        
Tank (Owner of Tank’s Emporium)-(M, H, Fighter
4, Artisan 6)- Looks
like stereo-typical Blacksmith. Blunt,
gruff, but fair.

§        
Personal NPC- Zane Dostra
( Elf, 16, Druid, LvL 2) –
Zane is a young apprentice druid who, since day 1 of meeting Drecks, has constantly emulated him, following him
everywhere. Since leaving his village, or rather, being exiled, unbeknownst to Drecks, Zane has been following him in hopes for being
accepted. He has much to learn.

o       Drew:

§        
Yamen– (F, Ghoul,
Rogue 3, Commoner 3) works at the Sultry Lady, though
doesn’t see much business due to being the living dead. Although she is visited by a regular who is
careful to keep their face obscured and wrapped in a cloak when they come to
call. Yamen is
quite, shy, and her eyes look as though she is haunted by her past.

o       Kinal:

§        
Allamayun Stargazer
(Owner of The Shooting Star)- (F, E, Artificer 10)- Loves to experiment with magic, has caused a
few accidents. Wild, spacey, fly away
look to her.

§        
Personal NPC- Nagfini Brawnger is a female serpent (race is Yuan-Ti
either Highborn or Tuan-tiKinal
will decide this) (35 years old, level 8, bard ) who
lives on the streets.  She lost her entire family in a fire. Nagfini rummages through garbage
cans looking for food. When doing so, she finds out about all
the dirty secrets of the local townsmen.  I met Nagfini
when she tried to con me into giving her 200 gold pieces outside
the Haven’s local market.

o       Liam:

§        
LIAM I NEED YOUR DAMNED
NPC’S BY 7/26!!

o       John:

§        
Ommea Yal (Proprietor of the Sultry Lady) (F, Doppleganger,
Bard lvl 10)- She is a smart
businesswoman and will not hesitate to use her abilities to get ahead of the
competition or gleam some information from a customer.

§        
Personal NPC- Giancarlo Farini
(Halfling/ lvl 5/ Rogue)- During the blight Giancarlo
was a member of a party looking for lost treasures every time they came across
something of value it was never enough for the blight made all their gold seem
worthless. During one quest the group bit off more than they could chew and
were wiped out. Giancarlo was the only survivor, but he lost his eyes in the
process. Shortly after the blight was vanquished and he moved to The Haven.
With all his wealth and guilt he spends most of his time parading the bars and
pubs telling tales of his adventures. Because of his ramblings most patrons pay
him no mind which gives him the opportunity to learn many things most others
don’t. He became my friend because I came in for a drink one night found him
there and decided neither of us should drink alone. We often hide our respect
for each other with insults such as he makes fun of me for being a vampire and
I make fun of him for being blind.

·       
Legends
and Lore
[BBG03C] (leads to
possible Adventures)-

o       The Five Blades- Who are they? Why are they after you?

·       
Rumors,
Gossip, and Things of Note [BBG03D]
(you can gain this stuff at taverns,
shops, etc)

o       The
Heroes have taken out one of the blossoming crime families leaders. What will be the reaction in The Haven? How will the other crime families
respond? What will the world think of
this type of vigilante behavior of Heroes who are supposed to represent life?

o       Dorrian Morrinbar has been turned
over to De Pan to be forcefully resurrected to stand trial for his crimes. What will be the public reaction for
this?

o       Life
Day was a success and going full blast till the celebration was ripped apart
when an explosion ripped through the city.
At the center of the explosion, is a mysterious man hailing himself as
one of the Five Blades.

o       De
Pan has offered a mutual information exchange between the characters and him
(this in itself could lead to adventures and jobs, etc)

·       
Monster
Lore
[BBG03E] (some basic info
on the monsters you’ve defeated)- This is assuming that
you guys have done research on monsters or dug up info on the NPC (combatant
ones) from the locals, etc.

o       Lich- A Lich is a spellcaster
who has used necromantic means to extend their lives unnaturally. Usually this process is extremely evil, but
the Elven kingdom off the coast of Khorvaire created a process over a thousand
years ago that enabled them to bring a person back to life without the taint of
evil. A lich bounds their soul into a
magically charged and heavily protected item, usually a vase or urn of some
kind, called Phylactery. This item keeps
a lich immortal, even if their physical body is
destroyed the lich will return to life after a short period of time until this
item is destroyed.

o       Remoraz This huge magical beast is vicious and loves to burrow and
attack its targets. It gives off immense
heat capable of melting even magic weapons.

·       
Magic
Item Lore [BBG03F] (Possible back story on certain Magic Items)

o       The
God’s Touch- A special Axe that Drecks
has acquired from Tank. Does it have a
special hidden power that hasn’t been tapped yet?;)

·       
Who’s
turn it is for making yummy baking stuff [BBG03G]

o       Kinal.. SHAKE AND BAKE!

·       
Am I making dinner? [BBG03H]

o       I’ll be making something.
Maybe chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy with corn on the cob and
bread..

·       
House
Rules [BBG03I]

o       Look
at the Dry Erase Board for your initiative and the enemies initiative, know
what you are doing before your turn comes up.
When combat starts, I will give 2 minute before it officially starts for
every player to assemble their strategy.
If you feel you are already set, just let me know. If you have a question when your turn arises,
ask, and we will move on.

o       When
your turn comes, and if you are unprepared, you will have 30 seconds to figure
out what you need/want to do, otherwise you turn will be skipped.

o       When
a question needs to be asked about a rule or regulation, ask it when no one
else is talking or doing something.
Doing this can cut down much of our confusion or stalling.

o       Be
quiet when it is not your turn in combat or when a player is talking. Keeps me from having to ask the person to
repeat themselves.

o       DO NOT argue with me, or yell at
me. If you feel that something is
unfair, or I’m doing it wrong, let me know calmly, asking why it is working
that way, and we’ll try to reach a compromise.
But if I don’t change it, just let it go. In all honest it’s not a big deal and it’s
not like I am going to screw you over. I
think I’m always more than fair.

o       If
you SAY it. You Do it. From now on, as by popular vote from everyone
last time, this rule is now in effect.
However, if you raise your hand while saying something, if you want to
be sarcastic, tell a joke, etc but don’t want it to be in game,
that
can symbolize that you are saying it out of character. If you forget to raise your hand, you say
it. You do it.

o       Using
index cards to track abilities, spells, defenses, etc

o       The
“What I Want to do” Rule- Before combat starts and at the beginning of the
session before we start playing we will hold this rule where you state what you
want your character to accomplish both battle wise (before combat) and
role-playing wise/battle wise (at beginning of session).

o       We
have added Fencing Points = to your character level. These refresh every level and can be used to
block, parry, or dodge an attack from an enemy.
After the attack has been declared a success, but before damage has been
dealt, you state whether it is a dodge or a block/parry. Dodge= Dex mod
check or Tumble DC their attack roll. Success means the attack misses and you shift
one square of your choice.
Block/Parry. You roll an attack
roll DC their attack roll. Success means
you block/parry the attack. If you are
successful you can spend 3 action points to get an extra move action on a dodge
choice, or an extra attack option in a block/parry choice.

o       Everyone
now has the Action Surge feat. Omar you
get to choose a different feat since this was one you had already taken.

o       Everyone
gets to choose 2 powers from 4e for their classes. These act as once per day powers.

o       Opportunity Attacks- Players choose a “lucky” number from
2-20 at the beginning of each session.
When this number is rolled, players get a 2nd attack or
effect other than main style attack. Be
creative!

·       
Any other
pertinent information [BBG03J]-
As I mentioned on
5/31/09. We will not be playing 4e. Angie and I didn’t like how the powers worked
and felt that it was too wooden of a structure.
So we will be incorporating things from that system and mixing it in
with 3.75. W00t to us!

o       As
stated in an earlier email, the game will be set in a colonial period style
game.

o       You
will be starting in a fishing town in the bog part of an island, called Saltmarsh.

o       One
of the things I’m having to consider is armor… And here I would LIKE player feedback from YOU guys!! Colonial
times didn’t use plate mail, or heavy armors any
longer. So with that, do we want to
actually move away from all plate mail and heavy and possibly even medium armor. What I would
do then, for the tank classes that would be taking a hit from this is giving
them a +2 to AC. This would be Cleric,
Fighter, and Paladin. And they could
wear a chain shirt.

§        
I would still have shields since they did still
use them and they use them today.

o       There
would be ball and powder muskets, swords, and for flavor there would still be
medieval weaponry like clubs, morning stars, etc, just to add that bit o’
fantasy in there.

o       Combat
will be more intense, fast paced, and harsh.

o       Everyone
will need to make a new character.

§        
Angie will still play a 3.75 Warlock

§        
Liam, I’m assuming will play a Monk as he
originally desired.

§        
Omar will most likely play a swashbuckler (Omar you won’t be able to be the Hexblade
in the new NJ game. You can be same
personality if you want, but not same class because John called Hex Blade
awhile back. Sorry. Forgot about that..)

§        
John will be playing a
Hex Blade.

§        
Kinal, Drew, and
Amanda we will work on what you want to play.

§        
4e races will still be allowed.

o       On
the 6/28 we will all have a character sit down and roll up our characters. Kinal I know you
will not be there unless something changes, so we will get together later, or
earlier, if you are free during the week and make something. Just contact me.

o       We
will also be having a discussion of the world that we will be in for the
upcoming campaign, since this will be built by all of us. I will have a map made for the initial area….

o       I
will give you the start of your char history.. but will not expect
you to create a full character history as of yet!

o       My Savage Worlds campaign book should arrive here by
Wednesday/Thursday I’m hoping, and at only 166 pages, I’m hoping to have it
thoroughly red by next week. Angie and
I, and anyone who is interested is more than welcome, will play test the system
over a week through combat, and maybe a single session with some RP to test the
mechanics. If we like the system I will
be purchasing the 50 Fathoms pirate setting book for us that has skills,
spells, weapons, and info on ships, etc.
And I will be purchasing Dead Lands “weird
west” campaign setting, because I think that would be fun to run some one shot
to two shot campaigns in. We’ll see.

·       
Suggestions
by you the
players [BBG03K]-
None as of yet.

 

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About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

5 responses to “Having a Newsletter Really Does Help.

  • Anarkeith

    Fascinating look behind the screen. Thanks for posting. I DM a very casual group of players using a simplified d20-based ruleset (8 pages total) and my group still have trouble keeping up with story details. I post a recap after each of our monthly sessions, and started a poll for the players to vote (from amongst 6 choices) where they’d like to go each month. Recently I’ve asked my group to volunteer to write the recap each month, to try to get them more actively involved.

    Almost everyone shows up regularly, so I suspect they’re having fun, but I wish they’d not have to ask me what their own magic items do (again) and how much treasure they picked up.

    Seems like I need to get a little more firm with them. (Some of your house rules, while totally appropriate, would have my group quaking in their boots.) “You mean I have to know when it is my turn?” Ironically, initiative is a static number in my game — based on Dexterity + Charisma (personal leadership/confidence). They always go in the same order, it’s just the monsters that fit in randomly in the order.

    Thanks again. I’m off to crack the whip a little with my lot.

    • wrathofzombie

      Thanks for the feedback Anarkeith, I really appreciate it! Good to hear I’m doing something partly right;)

      I don’t know if you do this, but something that I recommend for getting your players more interactive is creating NPC’s to be contacts for them. I let them do two things; 1) Go around the town that they are in and role-play out establishing a relationship with a shop owner, bar patron, politician, etc. This would become a contact etc, that they could glimmer info from, call in a favor, etc, but all at a price, not necessarily money though. 2) I let them create a NPC from the ground up, gave them a level cap (for my game the level was 8), and again that NPC would be a contact/source info/plot and adventure hooks, but the players felt a connection with this NPC becuase they helped create it.

      As for your magical weapons and player management, I have that trouble as well. My players got battered pretty badly by a baddie, and they had an item they could have sacraficed in their bags that would have made the fight SO much easier.. I told them at the beginning of the next session that from now on they needed to review their character sheets EACH time and relook at their magic and mundane items to refamiliarize themselves with them. For your game that sounds important since you only play once a month.. Even though I’m not a fan of 4e, I would recommend, for the magic items at least, something like power cards for your players then. This will allow them to itemize them and have them right there instead of lost on a piece of paper with tons of other scribbles.

      If having your players write the recap works, more power to you! And I salute you for getting your players to do something that I can’t. I’ve tried to get my players to respond to emails and comment and give feedback, and they don’t. I sit there staring at my inbox till my eyes bleed. That’s when I said hell with it and just did the newsletter, becuause I do the work for them, and they are happy to read it and absorb the info that way, but they don’t like taking the captains chair as it were.

      Have you tried Savage Worlds Anarkeith? That is a pretty rules light system that your players might enjoy a bit since there honestly isn’t a whole lot to remember. You can get the $9.99 on the Pinnacle website. I don’t know if that is for you though, but I enjoy it as well as 3.5, and it makes for a great lite system!

      Sorry for the long reply!

  • Anarkeith

    Thanks for your suggestions. If you’re interested, I’m in the process of moving our campaign data to Obsidian Portal. You can see there that I’ve got some of your suggestions at work now, but I hope to be able to work in several of your techniques for our August session. Thanks again!

    http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/dominium

  • Note Organization for Gaming « Wrathofzombie’s Blog

    […] update a newsletter for my group after every session with new information, ideas, house-rules, […]

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