Author: Troy E. Taylor

About Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.


Do you have a party of player characters that hit a dungeon like a well-trained SWAT unit? This is a party that moves through corridors and chambers like a well-oiled machine, muscling past lesser challenges and traps with speed and efficiency. These folk blow down doors and don’t stop to loot the place until the big bad is dispatched. While that level of competency is to be encouraged and applauded, a good GM should prepare a counter to this tactic if there is a story need […]


What’s more realistic? A group of heroes waits in a tavern until adventure finds them … … or a rich, well-connected patron provides them with the means to set out on the next adventure? As cliched as both options can be, I’ve been rethinking my aversion to using the patron as a means of hooking into an adventure. What’s caused this change of heart? I’m reading David Grann’s story of Victorian-era British explorer Percy Fawcett and his lifelong quest for “The Lost City of Z.” […]


A well-utilized signature monster can drive a campaign for a long time. The monster doesn’t necessarily need any exceptional abilities to be compelling. For example, savage orcs move the adventures along in Middle Earth and skulking goblins jump start things in Golarian. There is something very basic in this approach, as the enduring popularity of zombie movies shows. Many players find appealing the idea of brightly shining heroes beating back hordes of brutes that are parodies of true men. Not all monsters are outwardly monstrous. […]


In our GMing strangeness, we all have a pet monster. Some monster that appeals to us — and to be perfectly honest — to us alone. You bring out this monster and the players around the table may even roll their eyes, as if to say: “That thing, again.” It’s fair to say the flumph falls into this category. So do a lot of first edition Fiend Folio selections for the old guard players. The logic of the monster’s insertion into the story doesn’t even […]


As far as random generators go, here’s an oldie but a goody worth revisiting. GMs run the gamut when it comes to their appreciation for compiling random encounter charts. For some, it’s an hour well-spent, a selection of monsters and NPC’s that fits perfectly with the next adventure you plan on running. If the adventure is one you devised, then it further enforces your vision of the fantasy world you are presenting to the players. But even if it is a  published product, a custom […]


A tavern is more than a name or its bill of fare. It’s the folk inside. They’re the ones who belly up to the bar, order a round, risk all in a game of chance, grouse over a mug, join in a group song, do a little business, try to steal a kiss, concoct a scheme, agitate the rabble, debate politics, or seek refuge from the world’s troubles. And while the tavern’s name on the board outside or the general condition of the building might […]


If there’s one design element that’s in my wheelhouse as a game master, it’s designing NPCs of varied backgrounds and motivations. Being an avid reader of fiction and understanding the genre of a particular game help in crafting characters that the players at the table find engaging and memorable. So, yes. So long as I’m armed with a keyboard and my imagination, I’m usually in good shape. Besides, there’s that nifty little doorstop of a book, Masks: 1000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game, within […]