Pack Tactics S4 Ep 21: R&D Railroad

Something between here and the research facility crushed a bunch of bots. Time to go hunting.
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Pack Tactics S4 Ep 20: Seeing Red

When a fire breathing dragon asks you if you’re a cleric, you say “yes.”


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Crash’s Course Ep 13: Youth Group

Hello and welcome to Crash’s Course, a short form podcast where I share my thoughts and advice on playing and running tabletop role playing games in roughly about 5 minutes.

A friend of a friend recently asked for advice on taking up the DM mantle for a bunch of elementary students. I gave my answer in a more direct fashion, but thought it would be worth sharing here as well.

To start, I do not suggest spending any money up front. (OK, maybe on dice, but who can resist shiny math rocks?) Instead, remember that the Basic Rules are free and now under a Creative Commons license. You can download the whole thing directly from the WotC website to save or print out, or, if you’re playing somewhere with an internet connection, has done a decent job organizing the free rules and adding in a significant amount of open content, including tons of stuff from Kobold Press.

You still might end up buying books afterwards (that’s what WotC hopes you’ll do) but even then there’s plenty of companies releasing 5e content so you might decide to go with one of those, or maybe just build on the free stuff like they did.

The person in question had played in college but apparently not recently. In a case like this, I’d recommend a starter adventure. Not only are they written for new players, they’re frequently written for new (or newly returned) DMs as well. Most pre-printed adventures will include all the stat blocks and additional information not found in the basic rules, and if they’re designed for new players they tend to gradually build up the difficulty with simple skill checks and moments for role playing before getting too crunchy with the numbers and abilities.

I still haven’t played it myself, but Lost Mine of Phandelver continues to be recommended by others as a great starting point. I think it’s out of print but I’ve found a few copies at thrift stores ( for the win…) and it looks like you can still claim a copy for free on DnD Beyond’s website if you make an account there.

(Yes, I know, DnD Beyond … but free is free.)

OK, so you’ve got the rules, you’ve got an adventure. Now what? Now you’re ready for baby steps. By that I mean, don’t have everyone create complete characters right away. If you have pre-made sheets, that’s nice, but I’ve found kids (and adults) get more immersed when they make their own from scratch.

To that end, start your first session with the players picking their races and rolling their stats. (I’m personally a fan of the standard array, but let my players decide between those two things.) Explaining races and stats to new players is a job in and of itself, but when that’s done you have a starting point. You can have the characters meet up somewhere and begin to interact. I suggest mandating that they all have something in common as a hook to get things started. When DMing for kids, telling them their characters all go to the same school works particularly well.

The next session, have them pick their classes and backgrounds. Even this might need to be split into two parts, but combined you still might have time in the session to continue the role-playing and continue or start the adventure.

By the third session, you can have them picking their equipment and, if applicable, their spells.

Finally, I would strongly suggest that the players make backstories for their characters. Not all of the kids in my after school club have wanted to do this, but the ones who did really got into it. Any chance you get, tie the plot in with one or more backstories. There is nothing like seeing a kid’s face light up because they RECOGNIZE the name of the big, bad, evil guy while everyone else is clueless.

That’s all for this episode, subscribe to just this podcast on Mastodon at or subscribe to all my TTRPG podcasts at

Music is Deadly Windmills by JAM from, used with permission, as it’s public domain.

This podcast is distributed under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.

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Cause & Effect Ep 26: KOSHA Compliant

Monty arrives to act in his capacity as KOSHA (Kobold OSHA) Probationary Inspector 3rd Class and get to the bottom of the sabotaging.

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Cause & Effect Ep 25: Pre-Approved Questing

The party goes off to the sheep races with a new mascot in tow.

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