The Architect DM: Call for Questions

For those of you that don’t know, there hasn’t been an Architect DM post in several weeks because my wife and I welcomed our first child into our lives in early March and she’s been running things ever since! What this means is that I have a lot of small periods of free time on the internet at random points throughout my day. These short periods of time have made it tough to sit down and write a full post, but I will definitely be back to writing these posts regularly very soon. What I’d like to do in the meantime is help you, yes YOU, with anything you might need help with in your roleplaying games.

Over the last year I’ve gotten some great e-mails from readers responding to my Architect DM posts either with questions or personal experiences. People have asked me for help with their campaigns, adventures, encounters, or just general world building advice. Simply put, I love helping people with their games in any way that I can, but an added benefit is that often these discussions will spark some random chord with me and end up inspiring one or more posts in this series. Basically, I’m begging you to tell me about your character/game/world!

A great example of this in effect is my post about applying the design charrette concept to planning your RPG sessions, which was inspired by comments and questions from previous posts. The post then inspired one of our readers that e-mailed me a story about how he started a whole new campaign with a sit down charrette with his players that led to greater player buy-in for the campaign right from the start. It’s cliche, but I have to say it’s situations like this that make me really happy that I started the Architect DM series.

Down to business, here’s how you can ask me questions! Comment on this post and I’ll respond as quickly as I can, E-mail me here – bartoneus at, or tag me with your questions on twitter @Bartoneus. While questions about location design and world building make the most sense, really anything relating to RPGs is fine and I’ll do my best to give good advice.

Click here for the rest of the Architect DM Series.


  1. Deepest congratulations on the newest Rupp on the block!

    I can speak from personal experience about how helpful your advice in this column has been. You were kind enough to previously answer some world-building questions I had here. Due to your generous availability, I’ve also had the pleasure of picking your brain via digital conversation. The suggestions you offered there got me through some serious writer’s block and for that I thank you.

    If you’re looking for more, I’m happy to keep you busy!

    The latest question I have for you is, how do you handle lackluster player responses to events affecting PC canon? To elaborate, prior to our last session, I emailed each PC a player “secret” to spice things up. The previous session was a bit slow-going and I wanted some character development in there. All the events were tied to their back stories in some way. The reviews were…mixed (to say the least). Some of them loved it, some of them were “meh” about it and some actually got upset. For those in the last two camps I now have to decide how to address these “revelations” going forward. Do I simply ignore the events as the players are want/apt to do? Do I try to retcon them (not a huge fan of this)? I’ve definitely gotten clear feedback from them as to their opinion. If it helps, I can forward you the emails and let you know what worked/what didn’t.

    Great to have you back!

  2. Johnny: Thanks for the kind words! I would say for varied player responses to between-game PC events it may just be a case of different types of players getting something from different parts of the game. For the players that loved them, don’t retcon or change them because it was something they enjoyed and it would be bad to take that away from them. For the other two groups of players, since you have feedback, either update or change things if that will fix it (don’t be afraid to retcon things to a small extent) or tell the upset players to ignore it and instead focus on doing things during the game that they enjoy.

    You can never control how your players will react to the game or things you do between games, but what you can do is solicit (or more likely nag, nag nag) them for feedback and find out what they really enjoy about the game and then do your best to make sure everyone in the game is having fun! I hope this helps, feel free to e-mail me with whatever you want to share if you want more feedback or more specific advice.

  3. EvilGardenGnome says:

    Congratulations! I hope you’re managing to get some sleep. Babysitting nieces and nephews has taught me to get what sleep you can, when you can. Hopefully this doesn’t detract from that.

    I’m building a campaign world where the dwarves make huge, Moria-esque holds. With trees being a limited resource in the mountains, I figured the best method was to carve these holds from the rock itself. For large halls, this means tunnelling to where the roof should be and slowly carving/digging out the room to where the floor should be. This avoids the need for scaffolding and ladders. So, this makes me think: What limitations would this present? Would columns need to have flex points cut in them? Could you actually do this with 40 foot (or more) ceilings without causing cave-ins? If your floor and ceilings (in homes/shops) are one piece, how many support columns are needed? Will stalactites form, and how quickly? In order to maintain the ceiling, I’m envisioning a web-work of chains held up by pitons in the ceiling. This allows brave dwarves to climb out and latch onto the chains to check ceiling cracks. Aside from the issue of them coming loose over time, should I be concerned with other issues?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  4. Congratulations!

    Good to see that you’re optimistic about getting back in the blogging saddle … I’m 18 months into parenthood, and have yet to get myself back to a full blogging schedule. Or a full gaming schedule, for that matter.

    Best of luck to you on it, though … I have been thoroughly enjoying the Architect DM.