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.


This summer, I went to two high school reunions. My own, dinner and drinks at a local tavern, and my wife’s, a picnic held at an old country barn. (1) I was reminded that the occasion of a reunion can serve as solid backstory to explain how an adventuring party comes together. While in real life, I don’t think any of my classmates would have jumped at a suggestion to form up ranks, designate one of us a cleric, and go then plunder the nearby […]


I prefer to GM without a screen. Mostly, it’s because I like to roll in the open, as it builds trust and fosters intimacy. I like the feel of being “part of the game” — in the company of others at the table. The screen, being a barrier, works against that. And yet, of late, I’ve had need of a screen. Maybe need is too strong a word, but for the section of Rise of Tiamat I’ve been running, the screen has been handy. So what […]


Well, our initial look at flavor text for cues to roleplaying monsters differently generated a good response. So here are some more to utilize in your game. Good dragons gone bad Sometimes it is fun to pit the PCs against a metallic dragon. Not that they are really that much different than the chromatic ones, but the “good” dragons have noble motivations. Like overzealous paladins (except they have huge wings and devastating breath weapons), these guys aren’t so easily tricked into “looking the other way.” […]


Ahhh, summer. Time to sling the haversack over your shoulder and do some wilderness exploring. Some groups take to hex crawls with enthusiasm. Tromping across unknown territory, wind ruffling their hair, owlbears, werewolves and hill giants to slay as they cross the boundary of that little six-sided section of map. However, it’s not for everyone. Some groups find the blind meandering into another map section tedious. They don’t want to explore endless tracks of land. They want story. They want plot. They want to know […]


GMing for a party of first-level characters is fun. All the numbers and stats are manageable, the PCs themselves fit within snug parameters, and no matter how much hit points grace you allow, one of them is not likely to survive the session. But how do you frame an adventure that isn’t all vermin, goblins and kobolds? The players have been all through that. They probably want something different. I think taking a cue from the Robin Hood legend is a good way to go. […]


Monsters have personalities. Dragons are haughty. Goblins are sneaky. Hobbits are tricksy (or so the Stoors of the River-folk claim), and so on. I think in d20 fantasy games there is a tendency to view monsters only by their stats, by their combat capabilities. And by following those statistical qualities — playing to their strengths, as it were — the GM is defining them adequately for the task. Even so, I think there are cues to be found in the flavorful descriptions in the Monster […]

Reclining Pan, Frncesco de Sangallo, c. 1535

In school, I opted for music and film appreciation, leaving my studies of art when the crayons got put away after the third grade. My loss, because art appreciation is a wonderful spur for the imagination. Still, it’s never too late to learn. During a recent visit to the St. Louis Art Museum, I met the following characters set in canvas and carved from stone. Any NPCs for a future game? You decide. Bakkhos, the satyr, king of the feast Most satyrs establish their domain […]