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 2,582 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!

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  So, last night I did a G+ interview with Brian F’N Patterson (d20 monkey) and Tracy Barnet (Iron Edda, School Daze) of Exploding Rogue Studios about their new Kickstarter called Karthun: Lands Of Conflict. I’m already a backer of this kickstarter because of the people involved, but also because I love the idea of a setting without a system in the way they are doing it. Tracy’s work on his other games always amazes me and Brian’s work on d20Monkey just captivates me every time […]








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  Much like a movie or a novel, a roleplaying adventure depends on the flow of information. A game can grind to a halt when players don’t know where to go or what to do next. If players are exploring or clearing out a dungeon, this may not be a big problem. However, most GM’s will want to run an adventure with more of a plot at some point. Even in a dungeon, you may want to lead up to a big fight at the […]

I’m running a table of D&D Encounters on Wednesday night. Encounters is the easy, or at least low commitment, fork of D&D’s Adventurer’s League. D&D Encounters is ideal for new players and runs great with even pre-generated characters. So far, it’s going well, though the experience can be a bit odd from a story point of view. Some players show up consistently, week after week. They’ve got an idea about the storyline and are tolerant about the recap and backfilling for new players when they […]

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Back in February, today’s guest author, Aaron Ryyle, shared Eight Tips for Using Travel as a Plot Device in Fantasy Games here on the Stew, and now Aaron’s back. This time he’s written an in-depth look at how to work backwards when doing game prep. Thanks, Aaron! –Martin In my other life I am a college professor. In education we spend a lot of time planning: planning courses, planning lectures, planning activities . . . The same is true of game mastering. Even if we […]

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One need not be an accomplished author to be a GM, but there is overlap, certainly. Both professions have stories to tell, an audience that awaits the description of the next scene. I recall running an adventure from The Wheel of Time campaign years ago. I needed a  description of a Borderlands fortress that the party was approaching.  The game was based on the fantasy novel series by Robert Jordan, so instead of writing something myself, I grabbed the first novel, The Eye of the World, and […]

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In ages past, when all-in-one boxed sets were common and character sheets were bought in packs, it was safe to assume that some flavor of Dungeons & Dragons was the gateway into an imaginary world of fantasy roleplaying adventure for most gamers. It’s where we learned that a character was more than a piece to be pushed around a board (although there was still plenty of that) and to think critically lest a random trap send us back to the books for a new character. […]

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One thing I hear frequently from my fellow GM’s is that they are always a game master and never a player. Allow me to drag out my soapbox and say that if all you ever do is GM then you are doing yourself a large disservice. You are, in many ways, limiting your ability to grow as a GM. If you want to run the best games possible, sometimes you have to get out from behind the screen and pick up a character sheet. GMing […]