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.

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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. […]

GMingAdvice05

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 […]

Descriptive text from Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Wizards of the Coast, 2014

Published adventures are more abundant and accessible than ever before. The depth, range and quality of the material is as strong as ever, too. That increases the likelihood of GMs incorporating published adventures into their games. Of late, I’ve tried to streamline my process for preparing published material, whether I’m porting in an encounter from an outside source to use in the next session, or outlining several sessions from a campaign guide. These three things are what I consider my priorities when gleaning from published […]

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In a recent session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the players jumped on skis and whisked their way down the mountainside, pursued by the cultists’ elite ski troopers — dwarves armed with crossbows. Cue the James Bond music, please. A little DIY It was a chance to put into play the chase rules as detailed in the fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. For the DIY crowd, the d20 chart in the DMG was easily adaptable to cards, which I always prefer for chases. I think […]

GMingAdvice05

Sometimes listening to a podcast is a little like eavesdropping on a conversation. The topic is so interesting you want to jump in and contribute. So it was when I was listening to a recent installment of “In Our Time” hosted by Melvyn Bragg for BBC4. The show regularly invites a panel of experts to have a discussion on a given subject, usually history and the humanities, but occasionally science. The episode that had me on my seat was on Beowulf, the poem about the […]

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 […]