The DM’s Oath


You’d think that with a new year dawning and all it would be apropos to have the first post of 2017 be light and positive. Well, that was the plan until I saw this “DM’s Oath” floating around facebook.

I could ignore it. I could look away and pretend it doesn’t exist, but where’s the fun in that?

Let’s dissect this thing, shall we?

I will run the game, not the players or their characters.

On the surface, this isn’t too bad, but I suspect this entire list was written by someone with very little practical Dungeon Mastering Experience. The fact is, sometimes a DM has to prod his characters and keep them on point.

I will coordinate the game with my players in all ways.

No. Absolutely not. Never. I am more than willing to discuss your character with you, to adapt your ideas into character backstory and such. I will even listen to your aspirations for your character, but a Dungeon Master is the storyteller here. Yes, D&D is all about co-operative storytelling, but the DM is the author and the players are the characters. Your characters influence the story and the narrative, but never forget who the Shaper of Worlds is.

I will run the game fairly for all my players.

Nope. I won’t  take an oath to this either. Why? The story comes first. Sometimes rules must be fluid to accommodate the narrative. Sometimes the dice need fudged. Sometimes a monster needs nerfed or buffed. Fair is relative. The only rule I adhere to is make the game entertaining and keep everyone engaged.

I will reward role playing, not punish a lack of it.

Poppycock. If you sit down at my table, I expect you to be immersed in the world. Good role playing will most certainly be rewarded. But if you’re checking out, intent on your cell phone, television, or what have you, chances are your character is going to feel it.

I will take responsibility for the safety and comfort of all my players.

There’s no room for bullying or being disrespectful, but I can see how a rule like this could get out of hand. I consider the people who play at my table members of my family. We look out for each other. If we have a guest, they will be treated with the same courtesy all my players experience.

I will not play my own character.

Ridiculous. Non-Player Characters are a necessary part of the game. Every one of them is my character.

I will remember that this is just a game.

If you truly believe that then you’re playing it wrong   😉

Rock & Roll20


Exactly one year ago today, the 8th of November 2015, the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club played our first game via Roll20. Since then, I have logged about 500 hours on the site. There are lots of pros and cons, but it has grown on me.

Being able to get together from the comfort of our own home has been a godsend. Mike, who lives in Louisiana, can now play regularly, and Steve can pop in from Chicago far more easily than making a round trip eight-plus hour drive down twice a month.

Roll20 could never replace all of us getting together around a table, but it’s a terrific substitute. Yes, there are technical glitches and we stumble and fumble about generally for 30 minutes to an hour every session just getting the communication square, but once the audio gremlins are vanquished the world falls away and we’re in the game.

I really appreciate the Fog of War and Dynamic Lighting effects. The online record sheets are terrific from both a player and DM perspective. The built-in music and sound effects are transportive. And let’s face it, digital tokens and battlemaps really do elevate the game in an affordable fashion.

Would I prefer an unlimited budget and a weekly in-person game complete with painted miniatures and elaborate Dwarven Forge sets? Yes. Yes I would.

Roll20 is so much more than just the ‘next-best-thing’ though. It’s magic at your fingertips… and that’s enough for me.



An idea for a T-Shirt up top and an announcement below it.

I’ve been trying to run three blogs and various other social media accounts for a while now. It’s really not been working out as I’d hoped. I’ve been proud of some of the things posted here on Dice Upon a Time, but as more and more of my focus drifts toward the creation of OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game, it seems that those things would be better addressed at

I will still use this blog for #RPGaDay in August and other industry related events, like Tabletop Day and the like. I’ll also make periodic announcements here.

This is all to say that, yes, this site will be addressed less frequently and a lot of RPG content, especially as relates to OD:TRPG, will appear on the mothership from here on, but Dice Upon a Time is not being abandoned.

I’ll just be more scarce… which, I suppose, you’ve already noticed.

As we close out 2017, let’s see how the world turns and adjust accordingly.

Rough excerpts from the Occult Detective RPG Core Book

The small Midwestern city of Wabash lies north of the river that shares its name, nestled between two man-made reservoirs. Before the white man came, the land was sacred to the Potawatomi and Miami Indians and the area is still infused with the mystic energies that first drew native tribes to it.

With its rich history and diverse cultures, Wabash, on the surface, appears to be like any other small city one would find in middle America, but lurking beneath the surface lies something altogether different.

The city’s population is largely made up of ordinary folks who go about their daily lives oblivious to that which makes the world of OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game tick.


There are four types of characters one is apt to run into in an OCCULT DETECTIVE game.

The first, being those normal, every day folk, you don’t really need to concern yourself with… The other three types of characters? They might be of more import because they not only make up the occult detectives of the game, but often times the antagonists as well.

These are the player character types:

Naturals are those ordinary people who get caught up in extraordinary events…

Defined as ‘beyond what is normal or natural’, Preternaturals in the world of OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game are magicians, occultists, alchemists, shamans, and the like…

‘Attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature’, the third player character type is made up of supernatural beings. These Supernaturals have an entirely different range of abilities…but they also have their own set of unique weaknesses that set them apart.