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 Prince of Redhand, one of the great social encounter scenarios. (Dungeon 131, February 2006.

As I run almost exclusively in the d20 fantasy sphere of games — Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, d20 Modern — one of the tools that gets used often is a combat grid, whether it is a published or dry-erase footmat, HirstArts tiles of my construction or printed cardstock tiles. But should you use the grid for social encounters? You might think the default decision for social encounters is to never use the grid, reasoning that if the players aren’t focused on the table, then they […]

Start of the character themes section from the Neverwinter Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast, 2011).

Depending on the experience level of the players gathered around your game table, one thing to keep in mind is that the array of class, race and faction choices available to them can be overwhelming — paralyzing, even.   Even in a standard fantasy game of elves, dwarves, humans and halflings playing wizards, fighters, clerics and thieves, new players will inevitably ask: “What’s the best choice?” It’s actually a hard question for GMs to answer. Mainly because the answer lies somewhere between the best choice […]

GMingAdvice012

Are your gaming sessions a little stale? Maybe what your table needs is a pie in the face. No, make that a mud pie. Fair warning: This advice may not work with your group. It may not even work with most groups. But maybe what you need is a bit of things you step in, go squish, and involve unwashed and unbraided hobbit feet. The appeal of gross-out humor might only be toward a slim segment of the gaming community. After all, things that make […]

GMingAdvice03

So I’m watching an episode of my new favorite TV show, “The Librarians,” which is about a D&D adventuring party …. (Oh, wait, I’m sorry — it’s really about these “librarians” — who fight bad magic on the side of good with John Laroquette offering sage advice from the sidelines.) And in this episode they need to make a pentagram to ward off the magic of that nameless sorceress from Arthurian Britain (hope that isn’t too spoilery). But hey, this is the modern world! How […]

GMingAdvice05

In the spirit of “you can never have enough five-room dungeon posts,” here’s a 5-step mini-quest using the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. For reference, check out these past posts by myself and Matthew J. Neagley on the utility and craft behind the five-room dungeon. This one will use the Moose layout, though it can be adapted to the Evil Mule. Setup Family and friends of Dionysus worshipers approach the PCs, requesting they intercede in a planned bacchanal, orchestrated by wicked maenad Calepida. […]

GMingAdvice012

Incorporating elements of the supernatural into my games has never been a strength of mine. I have to make a conscious effort to dip into that well. In most of the fantasy-style games I run, there are enough flesh and blood beasts, demons and devils to keep adventurers busy. But haunts and spirits are great for creating mood or for using as markers to point player characters in a certain direction. I need to utilize them more. To school myself in the gaming possibilities of […]

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Veteran game masters might fall into the trap of viewing every monster in terms of its hit dice and combat capabilities. It’s too easy to just plug in a monster that matches the requisite challenge rating, call for initiative, and play on. Resist that urge. Freshen up those monsters. Every time your group rolls up new player characters or you start a new campaign, you have a chance to make those familiar entries in the Monster Manual new again — legendary even. The key is […]