There is no doubt the current version of Dungeons & Dragons is very popular at gaming tables. This also means that 4th Edition has a strong presence among roleplaying game blogs as well. I want to take the time to recognize a handful of blogs which I believe represents the best that the 4e D&D Blogosphere has to offer.
My criterion does not concern popularity even though these blogs are certainly well read. Nor do I make my choices based upon design and eye candy. I made my decision because the following blogs have actually written material that I have, or want to, use in my own games. I do not like to read content with empty calories, so these blogs deliver the goods.
I present the following five blogs in alphabetical order because I was spending too much time trying to pick which one was better, so readers can effectively consider them all tied for 1st place in my eyes. I also offer the blogs’ categories (where available) to give a quick idea of the types of content provided. If you think I missed someone that should be on this list, speak your mind in the comments.
I remember when this blog was just one guy and he made his mark by doing skill challenges. Quinn Murphy, At-Will’s owner, and I collaborated with The Core Mechanic’s Jonathan Jacobs on a series called The Skill Challenges of War. We had a pretty good time and the three of us eventually laid the foundation of what is now Nevermet Press.
Now At-Will has several contributors and has expanded their repertoire to include things beside skill challenges. Currently there is a strong interest in articles that talk about utilizing Google Wave as virtual table top. Off the Grid gives examples of how to play 4e without the need of the battlemap. I should also mention that the web design and layout is top notch.
- 4e and the Art of the Limit-Break
- How to Design a Skill Challenge
- How to Make a Skill Challenge Fun
- Off the Grid
- Path to Victory
- Skill Challenges
- The New Breed
- The Wave’s the Thing
- Time Stop
Dungeon’s Master is also a multi-author blog, but ran by Derek Myers (aka Ameron) and Neil Ellis (aka Wimwick). The Dungeon’s Master also has a significant presence when it comes to skills. While many new and interesting skill challenges can be found here, the site also has a skill focus series that provides new ways for players to use skills.
One of my favorite series at Dungeon’s Master is their recently revised original Necromancer class, complete with powers for heroic, paragon, and epic tiers. I love necromancers, but regardless of my bias, Dungeon’s Master deserves to be on your 4e reading list.
- Book Reviews
- Class Discussions
- DM Resources
- Month in Review
- Pearls of Wisdom
- Player Resources
- Skill Challenges
- Top 10
The Newbie DM blog is obviously focused on providing advice and support to new dungeon masters. Enrique, the Newbie DM, has had some classic posts of the DIY nature, including how to make your own gaming tokens and most recently a series on creating your own battlemaps by guest cartographer, Jonathan Roberts. One of Enrique’s articles was published in Obsidian Portal‘s Guest Blogger feature recently.
The Newbie DM also masterminded the RPGBN Setting, a site where members of the RPG Blogger’s network contribute to a shared campaign setting. I also like his 1d12 Series where he asks a random number of questions (as determined by a d12) of various industry professionals.
One of the problems I always hear 4e DMs complain about is their inability to instill the fear of death in their players. Frankly, I think it’s a lack of imagination or a fear of actually killing the players. I’m not burdened with either, but for those DMs looking to get the most out of their monsters, I point you to Mike Shea’s Sly Flourish.
I love his new Monster Optimization series of articles where he creates encounter groups that complement each other while still making sense. The Bodak and Wight optimization is bookmarked for future reference. Mike also does Twitter Tips, tweets of DM tips that might enhance your game. Did I mention Mike also utilizes the ever bad-ass Dwarven Forge terrain? He has pictures!
BAH! Sly Flourish must not have friendly categories turned on. Mike, if you read this, I highly recommend adding categories or tags.
Wyatt Salazar, err Dennis Santana, runs the Spirits of Eden, a blog that details his Spirits of Eden campaign setting. Spirits of Eden is basically a setting framework that gives DMs and players enough detail to get started but leaves enough mystery to allow groups to it their own without becoming tangled in a meta-plot or an overabundance of canon.
I should note that Dennis is also a contributor to Nevermet Press, but that had no bearing on my decision to include his site on this list. Dennis is a superior writer and Spirits of Eden is a fine vehicle to show off his design chops too (which makes me happy to have him on our NMP team). Did I mention he licenses Spirits of Eden under a Creative Commons license? That’s cool.