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 2,696 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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GMingAdvice05

During my last session of D&D, metagaming reared its ugly head again. My players were attacked by a couple of black dragons, and one of my players briefed the others on what tactics to use and what kind of breath weapon this particular type of dragon had, in spite of this being a low fantasy setting and the character having no idea what a black dragon was. I think it’s fair to say that most GMs wouldn’t appreciate that, and I responded by yanking away the […]








A worn bandoleer

I’m currently the producer for a pair of Primetime Adventures shows. Each show has completed its pilot; now we’re on to the first season. To get there, though, requires very different preparation from my usual. Setting Scenes in Primetime Adventures While GM prep is required in Primetime Adventures, the producer isn’t in charge of the same elements as a traditional game’s GM. The producer sets the episode’s scenes in response to requests by players. To request a scene, the player specifies the characters involved, whether […]

Coordination at cons are why I got a cell phone in the first place.

Ask GMs about their pet peeves when it comes to player behavior and one of the first subjects to come up will be the dreaded smartphone. The modern cell phone, whether you’re an i-devotee or an android enthusiast, is a modern marvel of technology. In your hand you hold something that was science fiction just twenty years ago, but it’s also a tiny device full of huge, shiny distraction. It’s bad enough when you’re having a conversation with someone only to realize they’re paying more […]

GMingAdvice05

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Nick M. is his second. Last time around, he talked about getting back in the saddle; today, he’s here to share some tips for “preparing to improvise,” if you will. His advice is aimed at a play style that features pre-planned plots and stories. Thanks, Nick! –Martin Some GMs have the enviable ability to go with whatever the PCs throw at them, creating detailed locations and believable NPCs at the drop of hat. I’ve always struggled with that, […]

GMingAdvice05

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick might look D&D-specific at first, but Craig winds up asking some questions that are relevant to many RPGs — D&D is the lens here, not the real topic. Thanks, Craig! –Martin Dungeons & Dragons has always been my first love in gaming. My mother brought home a copy of Basic D&D when I was eight years old. I had no idea how to play, but it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It would […]

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In a recent session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the players jumped on skis and whisked their way down the mountainside, pursued by the cultists’ elite ski troopers — dwarves armed with crossbows. Cue the James Bond music, please. A little DIY It was a chance to put into play the chase rules as detailed in the fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. For the DIY crowd, the d20 chart in the DMG was easily adaptable to cards, which I always prefer for chases. I think […]

GMingAdvice05

One of the side-effects of playing a large number of games, and starting to design your own, is that you start to see what the mechanics of a specific game are doing or not doing. As my understanding of game mechanics has begun to grow, I came to a few realizations about games, especially d20 games, which made me realize that I have been too hard on my fellow gamers who have been min-maxing those games. I feel like an apology may be in order… […]