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 2,625 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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"If you aren’t reading Gnome Stew, you’re missing out." -- Wolfgang Baur


miller-1

I recently picked up The Art of Ian Miller, a gorgeous book jam-packed with illustrations by one of my favorite fantasy artists. I picked it up not only because I love Ian’s artwork and I’ll enjoy having the book in my collection, but because it gave me an idea: The “art book campaign,” a campaign built inspired by the contents of one or more art books. Here’s how it works, broken down into steps with my own examples for each step. 1. Buy an art […]








GMingAdvice05

This past week, I was listening to the new and excellent podcast, Gaming & BS. The episode was about Game Balance, and the hosts, Sean and Brett, had an interesting discussion about Encounter Balance in RPGs. Their discussion was solid, but as they were talking I realized that Encounter Balance is not the root issue. There is more lurking beneath the idea of Encounter Balance, and if you want to solve the problem you have to find the root cause. So let’s go digging… Encounter […]

rj_dungeon

Dungeon crawls are a staple of roleplaying. For this article, let’s expand the definition of dungeon beyond traditional tombs and caves. Crashed spaceships, inner-city sewers, and post-apocalyptic abandoned malls are all really variations on the dungeon. In a way, any remote location where bad things live can be a kind of dungeon. If you GM, odds are your PC’s will end up in some stinkhole sooner or later. The drawback to dungeons (and remote wilderness areas) is that they may not provide sufficient roleplaying opportunities. […]

GMingAdvice012

Anyone who’s played any edition of Dungeons & Dragons or its derivatives are familiar with the concept of the side quest. Whether generated through a random encounter roll, the need for members of the group to kill some time because Regina and Claude couldn’t make the session, or the GM simply noting that the players are ill-equipped or lack enough experience to move forward, side quests provide a means for the player characters to gain a bit of experience and possibly a new item or […]

GMingAdvice04

Today’s guest article is by Patrick Regan, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, who learned how to write for TV by GMing after a college roommate made the mistake of showing him Dungeons and Dragons. He blogs at www.weareindependentfilm.com, podcasts at Cinema Excelsior, and can be generally found on Facebook and Twitter @underwoodfive. Thanks, Patrick! –Martin Who Needs Context? The Hook breathes heavily as he walks through the dark, although it sounds like it’s coming from all around you. Molly, you’re badly hurt, four lethal […]

Crock Pot

Today’s guest article is the second piece by reader Tony G., who previously contributed A Case for Multiple Game Masters to the Stew. Thanks, Tony! –Martin If you are like 99% of the comic and gamer world, You’ve seen the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron. After watching it 5 times myself, I thought about the different times artificial intelligence has showed up in movies, roleplaying games, comics, TV shows, etc. It seems that we are destined to create artificial intelligence and then be killed […]

RPGs aren't that different from playing pretend...

A couple weekends ago, I ran a game for my friends’ three daughters, ranging in age between 9 and 14. This was something I’d been meaning to do for a while, but with hectic schedules, it ended up taking longer to coordinate than I had hoped. All three kids are bonafide nerds in their own right, but they only know of pen and paper RPGs by reputation. R, the oldest at almost 14, is hugely into the webcomic Homestuck and starting to experiment with cosplay. […]