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 2,665 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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eraser

There are two ways to approach a campaign: open-ended or finite. Some groups go on for years and years with the same characters. Others end and reboot with new, lower level characters. This finite option can be traumatic for players. They’ve grown attached to their characters, and their characters have grown quite powerful. Leaving them for the unknown can be hard. Recently, as the GM, I decided our campaign needed a restart. In this article, I’ll share some of my reasons for it, and my […]








Do you let your villains make mistakes? Whenever I design an adventure I often create flawed villains with exploitable weaknesses. This way, I have something for an inquisitive player character to uncover and use against her, or I have a few flawed personality traits that I can work into her encounter with the PCs. What I do sometimes forget is that my villains, like the heroes opposing them, can often fall prey to bad dice rolls. I used to think that in order to challenge […]

GMingAdvice05

It’s rare that anyone plays a game exactly as written. In some cases, we don’t understand the rules, or misinterpret what the designer wrote. Sometimes, there are parts of the rules that don’t align with our tastes and so we change or omit them. Finally, there are some people who take the system of a game and bend it to be something altogether different from what the designer intended. In all these cases, we are not playing the game as the designer intended, we are […]

Gnome Rodeo

First, a bit of sad news. A great tool for visiting lots of RPG blogs has announced that the RPG Blog Alliance network is ending at the end of April. The RPGBA homepage is a great place to discover new blogs. If you’re looking to add more roleplaying blogs to your RSS feed, swing by while the great content is still easily available. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to game worlds (particularly D&D derived worlds) when you apply real world economic theories, you’ll love […]

Okay, maybe this one won't keep any enemies out anyway...

The player is absolutely certain he’s facing an insurmountable challenge. More enemies than he and his companions can handle are pounding down the gate, and there’s no way to attack them before they burst in and overwhelm his crew. He hesitates, torn and unsure what to do in this obvious no-win situation. On the other side of the table, the GM is confused. She knows his stats make him more than capable of climbing the wall so he can rain death down on the invaders […]

GMingAdvice012

Are your gaming sessions a little stale? Maybe what your table needs is a pie in the face. No, make that a mud pie. Fair warning: This advice may not work with your group. It may not even work with most groups. But maybe what you need is a bit of things you step in, go squish, and involve unwashed and unbraided hobbit feet. The appeal of gross-out humor might only be toward a slim segment of the gaming community. After all, things that make […]

GMingAdvice03

Have you ever found yourself standing at the crossroads? When the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons arrived I jumped right into gamemastering a new campaign. I decided that rather than play through published materials I’d design my own campaign that revolved around a world-shaking Event and the continuing world-reshaping fallout from that event. I put a lot of thought into it and hammered out a broad outline (I like to fill in details as I go to incorporate the reactions from my players) that would span […]