Author: Martin Ralya

About Martin Ralya

A father, husband, writer, small-press publisher, former RPG industry freelancer, and lifelong geek, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. He lives in Utah with his amazing wife Alysia and their awesome daughter Lark in a house full of books and games.


2013 saw the departure of two gnomes, Patrick Benson and Kurt “Telas” Schneider, and the stew pot’s been feeling too roomy without them. Earlier this year we started looking for a couple of new gnomes, and today I’m pleased to welcome Angela Murray and John Fredericks to the blog. Angela posts here as Orikes, and wrote a guest article in 2013, The Art of the One-Shot Character. Here’s her bio: Angela has been playing roleplaying games for over twenty-five years, but it’s only been within […]

Hard on the heels of my review of Jason Sholtis’ The Dungeon Dozen, one of the best books of random fantasy tables I own, I decided to do a rundown of some of the other good ones on my shelves. I’m a big fan of this type of book — books you can flip through, and/or roll on tables in, to get random inspiration, serendipitous bolts from the blue, and idea-jolts from unexpected quarters. I’m sure I missed some of the ones I own (because […]


Holy shit, this book! If you like random fantasy tables, fantastic old-school fantasy artwork, or Jason Sholtis, that may be all the review you need. I’ll add a sentence for good measure: The Dungeon Dozen is one of the best gaming books I’ve bought in recent memory, and a fantastic value. Need a sample? Here’s the blog it’s based on, which is chock full of goodness: The Dungeon Dozen. It’s available on Lulu in softcover and hardcover, and you should absolutely buy a copy. (I […]


Well, it’s time to announce the new change to Gnome Stew. As we push forward into the year, eagerly awaiting the release of D&D Next, we have embraced the latest changes to the D&D next playtest, previously announced in this press release for a version which never went forward. Our gnomes involved in the D&D Next playtest revealed the fact that the trend of Bronydom has been an enticing market segment for Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast to pursue. The reawakened desire for pony […]


I have a five-year old daughter, so I’ve watched far more My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in the past two years or so than I would have thought possible. (Go ahead, ask me anything. I’m a font of pony trivia!) Unlike some of the other shows she enjoys — Bratz, for example, sends me running from the room faster than Real Housewives of Fuck You Die in a Fire — this is one I enjoy watching with her. The characters are fun, the animation […]

Gnome Gnews

Just a couple months shy of our sixth birthday, Gnome Stew has crossed the 2,000,000 visitor mark. Two million. Twooooooo meeeeeelyuuuuuun. Million! Pardon me while my mind boggles for a moment here. “Two million” isn’t a number I ever expected I’d be saying back in 2008. On the one hand 2008 seems like a long time ago, but on the other hand it decidedly does not. It’s weird! Many, many thanks to our loyal readers, commenters, and fans for checking out the Stew, sticking around, […]


I’m not sure who started it (though my guess is the Stew’s own Don Mappin), but my group has a longstanding rule that has served us well for years: For the first adventure or two, or the first couple sessions (whatever’s appropriate to the current game), PCs can be reworked freely between sessions — you can change pretty much anything you like about your character. After that, they change and progress normally. This has become part of our social contract (or a cross-system universal house […]