I was at Con On The Cob this weekend and I got the chance to play in a lot of adventures. I also got to hear friends tell stories, good and bad, about the games they played in. Those stories tended to focus on the extreme moments when they were good, and on how bad the entire game was when they were bad. One common thread I noticed about the bad games was that they weren’t structured to fit the convention format. In a home game, you can leave things hanging or stop at the good stopping point and...Read More
Author: John Arcadian
About The Author
John Arcadian is a freelance writer and art director, a website developer, a builder of sonic screwdrivers, and a purveyor of kilted mayhem. When he isn't out causing trouble in his kilt... Well, no, that is pretty much what he does when he isn't running RPGs or or trying to take over the world.
Ever since my long-ago teenage years, when I wasn’t allowed to play D&D – just look at the books, I’ve played a kind of mental game with the spell lists from the various editions of D&D – What spells would I want to be able to cast if I could do so in real life? As a mental exercise, it is a fun way to look at the fantastic and try to envision what the everyday lives of the characters we play would look like. Much like modern superhero movies envision more realistic implementations of superheroes and their powers,...Read More
At Gencon 2015, a serendipitous meeting led me to spending some time talking to Steven Torres-Roman and talking about a book he worked on called Dragons in the Stacks – A teen Librarian’s Guide to Tabletop Role-playing. Steven gave me a copy to look over and I decided to review it for the Stew. Having spent time in my past working at public libraries, it was interesting to talk to Steven about the impact of tabletop role-playing games and their use in libraries. I’ve always been a fan of libraries and using them in my gaming life. Whether it...Read More
While listening to Gencon Episode of The Misdirected Mark podcast last night with Christopher M. Sniezak and our own Phil Vecchione , Phil made mention of the You Pick It, We Review It posts that we’ve done from time to time here on the Stew. This year, filled with a hundred other projects, moves, and other big life events amongst the gnomish crew, we almost missed doing it. We’ll be at Gencon and you can find us there (More info below), but we still look out for those who can’t make it to the convention. So, we’re throwing out...Read More
The name of the dashing green fellow in the picture to the right is South. He and a bunch of his friends showed up at a game of The One Ring that I ran at Origins this year. South showed up just like this, in full Orc makeup from a larp he was involved with earlier. Joking around, he played up his Orcish character and joked around with the other players both known and unknown to him. As I went around the table and gauged my audience, I asked two questions. How familiar are you with...Read More
Quite some time back, I did an interview with some of the people behind Hero Forge, a very successful kickstarter that funded the creation of a website and printing solution for creating custom miniatures. Playing many games that have characters that don’t fit standard molds, the concept intrigued me greatly. I backed it the moment I heard about it and when it was ready I created some miniatures. This is a hands on review of 14 miniatures I created through Hero Forge. The Miniatures/Process I had a bunch of minis from backing, but what to create. Hero Forge uses...Read More
Recently, I came across an interesting program on Steam called Tabletop Simulator. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for really cool terrain and visual flair at the table. I’ve also moved around multiple times in the last few years, and online sessions have sometimes been the only way I’ve been able to get together with my gaming group. Doing that often sacrifices the gaming table. There are ways around that – online options like Fantasy Grounds or RP Tools Map Tools – but rarely do they have the same visceral impact of using awesome terrain at the table....Read More
Recently, I’ve been reading through the collected works of french comic artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Moebius’s works are sci-fi/fantasy epics that are fast paced, with the story holding a consistent but somewhat disjointed thread throughout the piece. I’m on page 127 of the 300 some page work L’Incal, and new things are constantly happening and resolving without much exposition or leadup. New characters are being introduced with little backstory or apology to the reader, but as the story continues along it all merges together to make a cohesive whole. Comics by Moebius are often action packed epics that range...Read More
We’re all probably familiar with the famous Empire Strikes Back line delivered with incredible gravitas from the wizened old green muppet Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try”. While the meaning is fairly clear – you have to tackle challenges with the attitude that you will succeed – I’ve been thinking about how often that idea can be misinterpreted and put a lot of pressure on people. I’ve been thinking about this in a gaming related way thanks to playing in a few… well, not quite stellar games. The GMs were trying their hardest, but elements of...Read More
One of the biggest problems I’ve ever seen plague any game is miscommunication between the Game Master and the players. The game master will say: “You throw the door open and see the footprints in the ever-deepening snow. The flakes continue to fall from the sky and begin to obscure the tracks that lead off to the west.” And what they are thinking is: That article on combats in snow was awesome. I’ve got a lot of interesting challenges set up, but this chase through the snow is going to be great. I may have to hint at how...Read More
The shopkeeper’s green tunic clashes oddly with his blue alien skin. The 6 strange nostrils on the top of his head are flaring wildly, a gesture of greeting for his people. As you eye over his wares, he moves his large bulky body over to you, causing some of the racks to slide out of the way. “Hello. My name is baaan paaar. I am double pleased to greet you. Welcome to my shop. I see you are looking at the vestrum power converters. Good choice! I too enjoy the stability of that model……………….” The impressively long and detailed...Read More
“ So, if you two can balance the ladders just right for about 45 seconds, I can get high enough to get a good angle from this garden beyond the castle walls. I can throw my dart the distance to the chandelier from there and with a good enough to hit roll, which I can totally make!, I can cause it to come crashing down on the table while the duke and his guests dine. They get paranoid and are alerted to the real assassination attempt going on, but we don’t have to come forward and risk being thrown...Read More
We here at Gnome Stew are excited to announce our newest Engine Publishing project, and a bit of a departure from our regular fare – Gamer Romance Novels! Realizing, at a recent strategy meeting held over G+ hangouts, the untapped crossover market between romance novels and gamer supplements, Engine Publishing set out to utilize our writing resources to fill the gaps and create our new line – Gnomance Novels! Our new line will be a semi-interactive reading experience of Gnome and Fantasy themed romance novels. Much like Choose Your Own Adventure books, Gnomance Novels will be interactive fiction pieces...Read More
A few weeks back, in my itinerant internet wanderings, I came across an interesting video where a steampunk tavern is attacked by some undead cowboys and then saved by a few of the customers and a native american warrior. The violent, cgi driven, epic, and gratuitous music video gave rise to an interesting twist on getting a party together. Instead of having the group meet in a tavern, or bringing them together in some forced way, why not have them be present at the site of an attack for a location that could become their homebase? If the attack...Read More
I was not around for the beginnings of the game industry. I can look at the Red Box D&D set on my gaming shelves and know that I only have it because I acquired it from a friend who acquired it from an ex-girlfriend’s father. It sits next to my D&D Rules Cyclopedia, which I picked up a few years after first publication from a used book store. I was at the tender age of 12 or so and got it because it looked cool and I loved the Hobbit. I know of much of the gaming industry’s early...Read More
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Written by a team of veteran Gamers and Gamemasters, Gnome Stew is a widely read gaming blog with multiple awards and close to 3,000 articles. We're dedicated to helping gamers have more fun at the gaming table. Over 2 million visitors can't be wrong!
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Our Books for GMs
Through our partner Engine Publishing, we've published six system-neutral books for GMs, with over 28,000 copies sold. Available in print and PDF.
The Complete Game Master's Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions
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The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters
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The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
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The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
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1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
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501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
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Through Encoded Designs
Through our partnership in the G.E.M. collective, many of the Gnomes are affiliated with creating products through Encoded Designs. Available in print and PDF.
Gnomes on Podcasts, even a Gnome Only Podcast!
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Do you have what it takes to save Neon City in this 80s, neon, cyberpunk game?
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Art by Matt Morrow, Characters By Encoded Gnomes
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Gnome Phil Vecchione's Dungeon World Hack About Water Rights
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