System-Neutral GMing Advice
 

Winner of six ENnie Awards (Gold for Best Blog, 2012-2014; Gold for Best Website, 2013; Silver for Best Blog 2010, 2011), Gnome Stew is dedicated to helping GMs and their players have more fun at the gaming table. Since 2008, we've published 2,610 articles packed with GMing tips and advice, had over 2,000,000 visitors, and written five books for GMs. Thank you for your support, and happy gaming!

"I check Gnome Stew every day." -- Monte Cook
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"If you aren’t reading Gnome Stew, you’re missing out." -- Wolfgang Baur


Crock Pot

For Black Friday/Cyber Monday, we’ve knocked 25% off of all of our titles on DriveThruRPG. This discount applies to single products only, not bundles, but it’s essentially the best bundle discount we offer…except you can mix and match whichever products you’d like. This is also the first time we’ve offered a discount on our newest book, Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters. This sale will run from now through sometime on Tuesday, December 2. Happy Thanksgiving, and happy gaming from Engine Publishing!








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The folks at Hunters Books recently sent me a review copy of their newest RPG, Outbreak: Deep Space, a sci-fi survival horror game in the vein of movies like Event Horizon and Aliens and video games like Resident Evil. Like their first game, Outbreak: Undead, Outbreak: Deep Space tweaks what you might typically expect from a traditional RPG (insomuch as “traditional” is a useful descriptor, etc.), particularly from a GMing standpoint. Given that GMing is our focus on the Stew, that tends to be something […]

Crock Pot

Oh, those patron higher powers. So prickly. So judgmental. So demanding. And when a GM has to portray a boss, patron, king, devil or god, by what means does she use to evaluate a character’s devotion to a particular ideal — then act accordingly? Is the cleric’s faith strong enough? Is the paladin’s heart pure enough? Is the monk’s mind in tune? Are the druid and ranger at one with the environment? And what of other characters? Is the warlock abiding by the infernal contract? […]

maps

They say you shouldn’t focus on the destination as much as the journey, but sometimes you just really want to get where you’re going. I’ve been running a Pathfinder game off and on for the last three years. It’s been my first foray into a long-running campaign as well as an epic fantasy game, and it’s actually been going pretty well though it’s taking a bit longer than I’d really expected it to. We usually play a couple Saturdays a month for a few months […]

sunflower

I’m afraid of flowers. More specifically, while I’ve been drawing and painting for many years, I avoid painting flowers. Get nervous just thinking about them. Recently I decided to face that fear by attacking one on a brand new 16″ X 20′ canvas. And the world didn’t end. I finished the picture and learned a lot in the process. This got me thinking about what elements or genres I fear and avoid in my gaming life. In this article, I’ll discuss just three of them. […]

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A recent article about railroading by Will Hindmarch over on medium.com got me thinking about something I’ve had in my “to-write” file for a while. It is an idea that I constantly go back and forth on when I run games, the idea of saying no to a player to preserve some dynamic of the game that I’m running. Generally, I’m the sort of Game Master who runs into a game with very little planning and just grabs onto whatever the players seem to think […]

GMingAdvice04

I was reading Phil’s article when it occurred to me that there was one “leader” missing in his analysis: the Host. The Host wields a lot of power at the gaming table and she isn’t necessarily the Game Master; heck, she may not even be a player. The Host is simply the person providing the gaming space for the session. Game Masters often like to think that they’re the ones with the ultimate control, but the Host, if they aren’t one and the same, can […]