Blog Archives


Tuesdays with Nicole: PANORAMA-RAMA

I know I usually start these off with some extra fluff, but this week’s entry is so awesome, lets just get right to it.

See? What did I say? Awesome! Ok so two more things.

  1. Interested in having your content showcased by Nicole? Leave a comment here, or message calabacita with a link and a brief message on why you think she should sketch it!
  2. Nicole and her art are being featured at Gamma Ray Games in Seattle on July 8th from 6 pm to 10 pm. Dan will be there, and so will Nicole. Stop on by and say hello!

Tuesdays with Nicole: The Drubal Projective

Nicole’s back with an all new episode! Last week it was swords. This week  it’s a different kind of killing machine. Meet Hans Drubal:

Want Nicole to help bring your campaign to life? Leave a comment on the blog post, or message calabacita with a link and a brief message on why you think she should sketch it!


Tuesdays with Nicole in glorious TECHNICOLOR

Another two weeks have gone by and it’s time for Tuesdays with Nicole again! This week, Nicole goes into a bit about weapon design theory and dabbles with some color. Let’s watch, shall we?

Interested in having your content showcased by Nicole? Leave a comment here, or message calabacita with a link and a brief message on why you think she should sketch it!


Tuesdays with Nicole – Tabitha ‘TJ’ Jordan

Gather round the ol’ cold cathode children, it’s time for another Tuesday with Nicole. Your response to the last episode was overwhelmingly positive, and we thank you for that! This week, she dives head first into the realm of Scion. Let’s watch, shall we? 

Beautiful and deadly! Want to know more about the campaign TJ comes from? Check out the campaign. Want to know more about Nicole? Check out her blog! Do you have a Character, NPC, Monster, or Event that you’d like to see Nicole sketch? Leave her a note telling her all about it!


Introducing: Tuesdays with Nicole!

Nicole Jekich is an up-and-coming artist and blogger from Seattle, and she’s won in all of our Stat & Art contests. After weeks of begging and pleading she has graciously agreed to share her talent with us in a new biweekly segment called Tuesdays with Nicole. In this segment, she’ll take an item, character, NPC, monster, scene, or encounter and bring it to life with her art! How will she do this? See for yourself!

Interested in having your content showcased by Nicole? Leave a comment here, or message calabacita with a link and a brief message on why you think she should sketch it!


Matt James on Campaign Creation

 Creating a campaign can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding events an avid gamer and storyteller can experience. At its core, you are performing the art of creation- taking something from nothing and breathing life into its delicate core. What you create will be harvested and digested by the players and readers that comb through your hard work and spark the neuropathways of their brains. How freaking cool is that?! I’m not trying to be poetic, just provide some perspective so the next time you run your own home campaign, you can see how your creativity may be affecting others.

I am convinced that humans naturally crave inspiration in life. We are creatures that are motivated in ways that no other animal can claim. The mere sound of a song can spring us to action while the most endearing words can bring us to tears. It is for these reasons that I believe roleplaying (and roleplaying games) are vital to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sound a bit cheesy? Well, it is. But you would have stopped reading long ago if you could not relate in some small fashion. People love to be inspired and your players are no different.

When creating your campaign, you want to first lay the groundwork that will spring your story into vibrant life. Take into account the type of players you will have and adjust to their needs accordingly.  Robin Laws, one of the greatest game designers in this writer’s humble opinion, states in one of the gaming industries greatest books Robin’s laws of Good Game Mastering that “what really makes the difference in the success or failure of a roleplaying session is you.” The same applies to the entirety of a campaign. It is up to you to design and write an efficient and effective story that will compel them to stick around for more.

This takes time. Very few people are gifted enough to sit down with little to no experience and generate extremely compelling stories that will make others yearn for more. Even the greatest of them all claim that it is a skill gained, not gifted. So while it may appear an impossible task, if you are willing and able to put in the time and effort- you too can be a great storyteller and campaign engineer.

When I create custom storylines and campaigns, I try to keep a few simple and easy to remember tips in the back of my mind. They are by no means all-inclusive- but you may find them to be of use in your own designs.

1. Aim small, miss small: Don’t try to build too much too soon. Start small and build up each subset until you have enough to work with. In example, I would start by creating a small hamlet or village; perhaps a building or structure that houses a specific type of person such as a royal guard keep, or a healer’s temple. I would focus a good amount of resources in developing these areas before moving on to the next building (and so on and so forth). Before you know it, you’ll have a short story that details only this small village- one that will easily draw in your players.

2. Grey on the Horizon:  Every good story needs some form of conflict. It does not necessarily have to involve bloodshed or combat (though that is often the most fun), but it needs to provoke your players into action. Here is where you start to create the external areas of your small village. You can now, in example, start to add a creepy forest or even a troll-infested swamp. Whatever you choose, you start to slowly paint the canvas of your overall world and in turn your campaign.

3. Keep it simple: Writing a complex story arch is difficult. I still struggle with this and I like to think I am somewhat experienced in both writing and game design. If you keep it simple, your players will easily grasp the ideas you are trying to present and will find it more enjoyable.

4. Take the ‘simple’ and build upon it: Complexity will come in time and you will be able to integrate more and more as your players experience your world. One day you will look back and realize you have created a deep and immersive setting. In most cases your players will write the story themselves with their exploits in your game. Keep them apart of it and your campaign will grow.

Above all, remember to have fun. If you are having difficulty in creating the fluff of your campaign, take a small break. Remember the goal is not to become a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. You do it for enjoyment and you do it to feed that primal desire for inspiration. There is so much more I could write on this topic, but I hope you have found your own inspiration in here somewhere. I would love to hear about your experiences and welcome you to share them with me on I highly encourage you link your Obsidian Portal campaign so that I can take a look- I love seeing what people come up with.

-Matt James
Freelance Writer & Game Designer

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Obsidian Portal is the award winning Online Campaign Management System for tabletop role-playing games. It’s free to use, it can be accessed from any web browser and it's built from the ground up for gamers by gamers.

We host a huge community of tabletop RPG players who are all looking to get the most out of their tabletop gaming experience. You play your campaign and we help you manage it. It’s that simple.
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