Author: Don Mappin


About Don Mappin

For nearly 30 years RPGs have been a staple of Don’s life — so that means he’s pretty old. Author of a dozen RPG books, Don has worked with companies such as ICE, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and AEG. He now spends his time working in IT management, enjoying his family and two children, or gaming.

Power Cards

Many years ago my wife and I invested in a nondescript color inkjet printer, one that did border-less photos and had a good feature set. The thinking was to print out photos and do a bit of scrap-booking. Well, time and a shift to a digital lifestyle mostly killed that dream, however the printer still gets a fair amount of use as my role-playing prop-maker! The 4×6 photo size—and 5×7 to a lesser extent—is nearly the perfect size for handouts. It’s roughly the size of […]

GMingAdvice04

Sometimes it’s a nice happenstance when several of the Gnome articles in a series match up and dovetail into one another easily. Both John and Phil have recently written about iterative steps in becoming better GMs and/or exercising best practices for continual service improvement. (As an ITIL follower myself, I heartily approve of the methodology!) My contribution is about that continual service improvement but doing so even when you’re not running a game; those downtimes that can last weeks, months, or even years between our […]

GMingAdvice05

They are a necessary part of most games, and as GM’s something that we frequently have to deal with, either to address a shortcoming, plug a hole, or meet an unforeseen need. While a great many GMs are skilled behind the screen, that does not necessarily translate to their being adept at system modifications. So consider these guidelines when adopting your own house rules. The Fiddly Bits I’ve met GMs in my time who—like myself—love to understand and debate the interoperability of game mechanics; dive […]

GMingAdvice012

Our group’s annual “pick the next game” exercise is in full swing. These tend to be a mixture of enjoyable, exhausting, and frustrating but, ultimately, lead to a good choice that satisfies everyone. It’s a process we’ve discussed at the Stew before and every group tends to have a variation that they favor. This time I took note that our decision-making process was driven primarily by two methodologies, each with their own pros and cons. System-Centric This one, admittedly, isn’t the one that I necessarily […]

GMingAdvice01

Your supermarket may still make the option available but for a few years now that oft-repeated question has no longer been uttered at my local market. Instead, the prevalent decision was made for us in that, unless you specifically wanted paper, you’re getting plastic. Move on with the times! (Besides, you should be bringing your own reusable canvas bags, just sayin’…) In our RPGs there are a few anachronistic trappings that have been left back in the annals of time—although a few make their occasional […]

It’s accepted convention that the loss of player agency is demotivating and to be avoided whenever possible. It’s just not fun, be it mind control, alien parasites, or plain GM fiat. But what can you do as a GM when the rules themselves deprive a player of agency? Hold Me Now I personally had the misfortune to find myself in this role quite recently as my character was grappled with no chance of escape. And when I say “no chance of escape” I’m being quite […]

Scrivener logo

It’s November, which means the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where people feverishly try to rush to completion a 50,000 word manuscript within 30 days. If you haven’t taken part in NaNoWriMo before, even though we’re a few days into November already, don’t be daunted as there’s still plenty of time! In a previous article I highlighted the usage of Scrivener — a content-generation tool and writing studio — for campaign and adventure management. As also mentioned in that article, the makers of […]