All posts by Youseph

29-year-old working as a facility manager and living on the final frontier in Juneau, Alaska. Writing, reading, computers, drumming and playing some Dungeon & Dragons top my interest.

DMs Should Join Other Games

D20I think the best thing any Dungeon Master can to do improve his or her game is to join a game. You can learn a lot from other games and gamers. I find that I learn so much about how to improve my own DM’ing skills when I play or listen to other games. I can study other DMs. Learn what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong and use that to help me improve my own game.

If your not able to join a D&D game the next best thing you can do is listen to D&D podcasts of games. Wizards of the Coasts has several podcasts with Chris Perkins, Penny Arcade, PvP, and Wil Wheton all sitting around and playing D&D. I have learned a lot just from listening to these games in my spare time and as a result my own personal game has improved quite a bit. These podcasts have become an invaluable recourse for me.

Wizards of the Coast has also released a video of a game with Chris Perkins and the writers from robot chicken. This is great because you can actually watch the game and not just listen to it. These videos and podcasts are great tools for any one who DM’s.

What gaming podcasts do you listen to and how have they improve your game?

Castlemolds Review

Ever since I started playing Dungeons &  Dragons fourth edition early last year I have read all I can about the game to try and make the gaming experience as fun and enjoyable as possible for my players. There are countless websites, blog posts, and forum threads talking about all kinds of ideas for enhancing D&D. Everything from speeding up and simplifying initiative order, to how to track effects more effectively. The RPG community on the Internet has provided so much great information to improve my own game. You don’t have to look far to find a wealth of great ideas.

Today I want to talk about a product I found by Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture Inc. called Castlemolds. Castlemolds are silicone rubber molds used with Plaster of Paris to cast environmental pieces for your RPG. The molds they offer are by no means limited to just Dungeons & Dragons. Their flooring molds can be as small as ¾ of an inch to as large as 2 inches. They also offer molds for walls, doors, and many other environmental pieces that could be used in an RPG.

I have purchased several molds from Hirst Arts and have been very impressed with the results. The detail put into each casted mode really shines through to the finished product.

I found the Hirst Arts website was very helpful for someone like me who has never done any kind of mold casting or painting like this before. They offer step-by-step guides to help you though creating your mold casts, and painting them. They also have a forum where users talk about their own techniques and show off their latest creations.

There are aspects to using Castlemolds that might hinder some people. For one it takes time. Up to 30 minutes in some cases before you can pop out a block from your silicone mold. Then up to a day to let the blocks air dry before you can start painting them. You will need a place to store the finished blocks and molds in-between uses. With paints, brushes, Plaster of Paris, blocks, and molds these items can quickly take up a lot of space.

The plus side is that you get to present to your RPG players a rich and interesting environment to explore and unravel your adventure in.

Youseph Tanha

Youseph TanhaWell my name is Youseph Tanha. I am a 29-year-old working as a facility manager in Juneau, Alaska. In the past I have worked in the tech industry for web hosting and Internet providers, as well as in computer graphics. I also consider myself a very musical person. I play the drums and have been involved off and on throughout the years with several bands.

I have written on my personal website for several years now. Writing is something I have always enjoyed doing. Sharing my thoughts and ideas with others has always appealed to me. Writing has also been a struggle as I am Dyslexic. I have had to teach myself to just slow down and check everything twice when it comes to writing. I think that method has made me a better writer as a result.

My first experience with a roll playing game was Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 when I was 25 living in Oak Harbor, Washington. Everyone in our group of 5 had played D&D before except for myself. Our Dungeon master could not have been any nicer as he helped me create my first character and explained the rules as we went.

Having never played anything like D&D before, I was always asking if my character could do some crazy off the wall thing in trying to take out bad guys. I remember seeing the look of excitement on my Dungeon Master’s when I would ask him things like that.

Even though I only played half a dozen games of D&D 3.5, the memories of how much fun we all had always stuck with me. Last year I found myself in a local Juneau book store where I saw a copy of D&D Fourth Edition RPG Starter Set. For seventeen bucks I picked it up, if only for nostalgic reasons. Quickly I became captivated by it and before long I bought the three core rule books. Soon I had a group of friends coming together to play D&D once a week.

Juneau Alaska is a very beautiful place to live. But we do have six months out of the year where it is very dark most of the day. Starting up a D&D group is one of the best things I think anyone can do in Juneau. Once a week I have my friends over to play D&D and eat dinner. The best thing about D&D is the socializing. It gets everyone together, we all have a good time playing the game and visiting with each other. It makes the 6 dark (and what can be depressing) months tolerable.

I’m excited to be joining Stargazer’s World and looking forward to posting my thoughts, ideas, and reviews of this great game.