System-Neutral GMing Advice
 

Winner of seven ENnie Awards from 2010-2015, Gnome Stew is dedicated to helping GMs and their players have more fun at the gaming table. Since 2008, we've published 2,770 articles packed with GMing tips and advice, had over 2,000,000 visitors, and written six books for GMs. Thank you for your support, and happy gaming!

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"If you aren’t reading Gnome Stew, you’re missing out." -- Wolfgang Baur


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When we last left off, I had prepped for a fantasy horror campaign with the cypher system rules. This time around, I prepped a session, invited over a group of friends with a variety of levels of experience with RPGs, made characters and ran a game. Session prep took the form of loose half page descriptions of four locations that were likely to be important to the session as well as names and descriptions of characters likely found in those locations, a few miscellaneous notes, […]








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Gamemastering is built on hope. We write our session notes, draw our maps, and paint our minis hoping for a great game. And sometimes things don’t work out. It’s happened to all of us. In this article, we’ll look at three tough situations, and how (maybe) to make something good out of them. It Doesn’t Run This happens to all of us. You’re all ready to run, and you don’t get enough players to have a session. Often it’s unavoidable, people are busy and sometimes […]

GMingAdvice012

This summer, I went to two high school reunions. My own, dinner and drinks at a local tavern, and my wife’s, a picnic held at an old country barn. (1) I was reminded that the occasion of a reunion can serve as solid backstory to explain how an adventuring party comes together. While in real life, I don’t think any of my classmates would have jumped at a suggestion to form up ranks, designate one of us a cleric, and go then plunder the nearby […]

Gaming Conventions

Here’s a quick Gnome Spotting update: September 4th-6th I’ll be in Harrisburg PA, at Save Against Fear 2015 running some games of 1000 Blank White Cards. I’ve never been before (I didn’t even know about it!) but luckily, one of their special guests is an old college friend of mine and he tipped me off about it. If you go, feel free to hunt me down and say Hello. I’ll even wear my official Gnome Stew t-shirt to make it easy to tell you’ve got […]

One of the mechanics built into Primetime Adventures is called Screen Presence. It’s a mechanic that goes on everyone’s character sheet, but has to be coordinated by everyone before anyone can set it. Screen Presence is awesome in Primetime Adventures… and might amp up your current game too. What is Screen Presence? In Primetime Adventures, Screen Presence measures how central your character is to the episode and how much the episode revolves around your character’s issues. Screen presence also affects your character’s competence. When your […]

Lemley and Dr. Lobotomy

Two years ago, I asked Wil Wheaton a question. Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana was the answer. Okay, that’s a little more dramatic sounding than it actually was. On the last day of GenCon in 2013, I attended a TableTop Q&A hosted by Wheaton, the show’s personality, and Boyan Radakovich, the show’s producer. Even though TableTop was a huge hit (it was even presented with the Diana Jones Award that year), because it was a Sunday, there was a small enough crowd that it felt […]

GMingAdvice03

Recently, I have become interested in the idea of artifacts of play, those things that are part of the game that persist after the game has been played. They act like souvenirs of the game played; touchstones of the game, linking memories of adventures taken, challenges faced, and treasures gained. While most RPG’s have some kind of artifacts of play, I found myself looking for something different, something both collaborative and informational. This article contains my current thoughts on this topic. I cannot promise a […]