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.


The GM provides descriptions of every landscape and of every room. She gives voice to every monster and NPC. She adjudicates every turn in combat, and she lists every bit of loot and reveals every little clue along the way. It would seem, that from start to finish, the GM is doing a lot of talking. So, given the fact that, by definition, the GM is a conduit for a large amount of the game’s information, when is it important for the GM to just […]

Ryan Miller improv seminar

Regular readers familiar with my GMing style are aware that session prep is a strength. Now, such an approach still requires thinking on my feet, such as when the players turn left (when I anticipated that they would turn right), then I would still have an appropriate encounter or response at hand. Improvisation, however, is largely a foreign thing to me. The technique of GMing on the fly with little prep and a willingness to riff off the ideas of others at the table is as elusive as […]


This one is for gamemasters learning to stock their first dungeons, a bit of straight-forward advice to make your life easier as you create and / or adapt adventures for your group. Make the room fit the monster. Now, this is more than just making sure that the dimensions of the encounter space match your adversary’s size. That’s just common sense. Dragons need a BIG room. Sprites less so (but room to fly around in is always advantageous). And with the exception of magical enhancements, […]


There are lots of ways to organize your material for a mystery roleplaying adventure. Many GMs find a flowchart format useful. Turn left and follow the trail of clues that way, turn right and investigate another path. But I confess, I am much more of a straight-line breadcrumbs sort of GM. Which means, I suppose, that I dole out the clues in succession, nearly all of them leading in the same direction. There are still opportunities to go left or right. But it’s more of […]


  Question: As game master, do you ask your players to come over and play “Dungeons and Dragons,” or do you say, let’s play “Airship Defenders of the Forgotten Realms”? In other words, does presenting a specific campaign arc, with stated objectives for character types and a plan to emulate a certain genre of adventure serve everyone better than a generic, “Let’s play D&D”? While there are certainly times it is OK to say, “Let’s play D&D,” I thought it would be worth exploring how […]


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 […]