Author: Guest Author

About The Author

The article you just read was written by a Gnome Stew reader. We can’t say which one in this bio, since the bio appears with all guest articles, but whoever they are we can all agree that they possess supernatural beauty and magical powers, and are generally awesome. Gnome Stew readers rock!


A Sampling of RPG Podcasts

Today’s guest article comes from Keith Garrett, an avid Gnome Stew reader, oft times guest article contributor, and he has now outed himself as a podcast listener. If you like podcasts, check out the Gnome Adjacent podcasts – Misdirected Mark (Chris, Phil, Bob) , She’s a Super Geek (Senda), and Talking Games (Send and Phil). And now, on with the show… review and descriptions by Keith. – John “I’ve got a voice for print” Arcadian There are many, many podcasts dedicated to roleplaying games (and other games, for that matter). There’s probably at least one for your favorite game....

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Twitch, Tabletop RPG’s, & Online Viewing – Winter’s Edge

Today’s guest article comes from Gnomish Spymaster Jonathan Sirico and covers technological gaming on youtube, twitch and other venues. – Quintuple Agent John In twenty five plus years I have been on both sides of the screen numerous times for various systems. Like many of you, I struggle with the life/work/gaming balance and recently had to leave my weekly game. Searching online, I found Twitch, Steam, YouTubers, play by post games, and roll20 games. Some of what I found was interesting, like wotc_dnd, but nothing was really a good fit for my time or interest level. Eventually, I stumbled...

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I Hate Making Maps!

Today’s guest article is by the awesome Craig Dedrick, who handed off the task of making maps to his players and wrote about the experience. Hum the Indiana Jones theme song in your head as you read. – Cartographer John   In general, one of the things that I take great delight in as a game master is the process of preparing for a game. Finding the monsters/antagonists, coming up with NPC’s, and figuring out encounters and plot points is great fun. However, like many pleasant jobs, there are some tasks that are less enjoyable. For me, the unpleasant...

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It’s Your World Too

Today’s guest article on worldbuilding is by Patrick Regan. Take a trip through the process of collaborative worldbuilding and check it out! – Journeyman John The image most people have of GM’s is of a man with a screen, a private set of dice, and a notebook or binder full of scribbled notes, maps, and monsters. This notebook is the world the players are going to romp through, it contains all the secret knowledge, the geography, and the history. It’s the GM’s property and responsibility. What if it didn’t have to be? Gnome Stew has spilled a lot of...

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How to Get YOUR Heroes Into a Civil War

  Keith A. Garrett, who writes over at, just popped in from an epic Gnome/Kobold airport battle to drop off this guest article about getting a civil war type scenario going at your table. – #teamblackpanther John Introduction (or Why a Civil War?) A civil war between superheroes. It’s been a comic book miniseries, and a book, and now a movie. Next stop: your gaming table! Regardless of what RPG system you’re using to play your superhero game, providing a reason for your hero PCs to beat each other up isn’t very hard. (I bet some of you...

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Using Archetypes as Narrative Devices

This guest article on archetypes is by Aaron Ryyle. I feel it fits a very nice, typical mould… – Punmaster John “One cannot afford to be naive in dealing with dreams. They originate in a spirit that is not quite human, but is rather a breath of nature—a spirit of the beautiful and generous as well as of the cruel goddess.” — Carl G. Jung, “The Importance of Dreams” In the psychological theory of Carl Jung, a psychological archetype is an inherited idea that is derived from the collective experience of the human race. Archetypal ideas and images arise...

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Learning Through Games

Today’s guest article is by Jim Low, an educational therapist who works with special needs kids and uses gaming in the classroom. You can find more of his writing over at Swords and Stationary. Thanks Jim! Working with children with special needs has been an interesting experience. Some have different co-morbidities, and it’s a bit hard to find a one-size-fits-all approach. However, one thing’s for certain: almost all of them enjoy gaming in some form, even if they’re not gamers to begin with – and this gives me the allowance to create innovative and interesting ways to teach them. The thing about...

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The Butterfly Effect

This guest article by Brian Holland talks about effects and consequences, and theme-wise it seemed perfect to follow up our time travel bender. What was that crunch under my gnome boot? – John When we hear “The Butterfly Effect” we conjure images of bad sci-fi time-travel movies, or maybe even recite the popular statement “A butterfly flapping its wings in Texas can start a tornado in Tennessee”. The effect is best summed up by the concept that small causes can have huge effects (you can read all about it here if you’re interested). However you choose think about it,...

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Swords with Attitude aka Can a Sword Pout?

Today’s excellent guest article by Gnome Stew reader Laurence Gillespie is a response to a previous guest article, Can a Sword Smile. Guest articles about Guest articles? Gnomeception! – John A. The following is a response to Robert Neri Jr’s article “Can a Sword Smile” which appeared on November 10, 2015. I have taken the liberty (hope that’s OK Robert!) of quoting him in a few places to show how my suggestions attempt to support the case he made there. “Can a Sword Smile” makes some good points about how magic swords can be customized and fleshed out to...

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Ignorance is Bliss?

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick explores handling passing of secrets between players and the Game Master. It’s the most recent of  four he’s done for the Stew, with the others being Fear Itself, Freedom Through Restraint,  and What Makes a Good Monster? – John A. I don’t know about you, but the players in the games that I run like to have secrets. I first noticed this tendency when running Vampire: The Masquerade, which is understandable as that game is high on intrigue and intra-party conflict. However, once players get a taste for it, the game...

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The Power of Blue-Booking

Today’s guest article is by Ross Watson of Evil Beagle Games, and it talks about a Game Mastering technique used in their new kickstarter for Aaron Allston’s Strike Force which has writing from Steve Kenson, Sean Patrick Fannon, and Michael Surbrook in it. — John A. There’s a gamemastering technique, known as “Blue-booking,” that has enriched many of my long-term RPG campaigns over the years. I learned this technique from reading Aaron Allston’s milestone RPG supplement, Strike Force, back in the early 90’s. As described in Strike Force, the technique’s name came from blue notebooks that each of Aaron’s...

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Fear Itself

Today’s guest article is by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick, and it’s his third. (See Freedom Through Restraint and What Makes a Good Monster? for his previous two pieces.) Thanks, Craig! — Martin Scare the S#!t out of your Players I am a big fan of horror games. When all is said and done, horror is probably my favourite RPG genre. I have had many conversations with other game masters about how to frighten players, and they often tell me that it is a trouble spot for them. When you look to create a horror scene, you need to...

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Holiday-Themed Games

Today’s guest article is the third by Gnome Stew reader Tony G., who has been GMing for 20 years. Today’s piece features a Christmas-obsessed vampire. Thanks, Tony! –-Martin With the holidays upon us, I was wondering how many of you have added a holiday theme to your games? Whether it’s a tenacious turkeysaurus or a rabid reindeer, I love to add a dash of this to my roleplaying games. For example: Christmas vampire One year, near Christmas, I had a vampire (Masquerade) that was adding small amounts of his blood to eggnog in attempts to take over a small...

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Can a Sword Smile?

Today’s guest article is the second one we’ve featured by Robert A. Neri Jr. of Ranger Games Publishing. His first, Can an Onion Bleed?, looked at engaging NPCs. This one’s about items with backstories. Thanks, Robert! — Martin Items can be given a backstory and a level of detail much like a non-player character (NPC), increasing their role within the gaming narrative (which is different from narratives in the traditional sense as the ‘beats’ of the story tend to follow a Sine-wave type pattern, high points of action/drama then dropping back to normalcy or sinking to a low point...

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Consistent, Sustainable Gaming

This guest article was written by Oliver J. Oviedo of OJO Games, and its topic — sustainability — is one that isn’t often addressed in advice for GMs. Thanks, Oliver! — Martin I have had the luxury of having consistent gaming sessions over the last 19 years. Through changes in jobs, schools, relationships and the arrival of kids, I have been able to keep up consistent gaming in my life. Granted, there have breaks here and there, but on average I have gamed 2-4 times per month during this time. I have learned that if you want a regular...

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