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!

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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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9

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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13

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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5

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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12

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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5

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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8

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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3

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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1

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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8

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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7

Tips for Game Masters Who Want to Welcome New Players

Today’s guest article is by Clave Jones. By day he manages the Innové Project, which launches social ventures for the betterment of our planet. By night he is the editor-in-chief of Nerds on Earth, a website that discusses nerdy topics such as Star Wars, The Walking Dead, comics, sci-fi, and of course, Dungeons and Dragons. Thanks, Clave! –Martin I attended my first Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League Organized Play event last year as a brand new D&D player. Technically, I wasn’t a brand new D&D player, but my last roll of the 20-sided die was over 20 years ago,...

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4

Can an Onion Bleed?

Today’s guest article is by Robert A. Neri Jr. of Ranger Games Publishing, and it’s not actually about bleeding onions — it’s about NPCs. Specifically, believable and engaging NPCs, a topic near and dear to every GM. Thanks, Robert! — Martin Non-player characters (NPCs) populate the game master’s fictional game worlds. NPCs provide a life source beside the vitality injected into the game by the player characters (PCs). Unlike PCs, however NPCs don’t need to be complete characters. Their level of completeness is directly related to their level of intended interaction with the players and to a lesser extent...

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4

The Waiting Game

Today’s guest article is by Patrick Regan, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, who learned how to write for TV by GMing after a college roommate made the mistake of showing him Dungeons and Dragons. He blogs at www.weareindependentfilm.com, podcasts at Cinema Excelsior, and can be generally found on Facebook and Twitter @underwoodfive. This is his second guest article; his first was In Media Res. Thanks, Patrick! — Martin “Heeeeeeey. I’m gonna be running a little late.” Show of hands, who’s gotten this text come game day? Put your hands up, liars. We all get that text. We all...

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7

Factions as Characters

Today’s guest article was written by Gnome Stew reader Mark Kernow, and it tackles a nifty topic: taking existing rules for characters and stretching them to encompass entire groups. He uses d20 System games as a reference point, but the concept is easily extended to other systems. Thanks, Mark! — Martin What if you treated factions like characters? You could easily introduce new factions into your campaign by giving them statistics and backgrounds similar to characters and monsters. You could build on existing rules and simplify bookkeeping. You could even give each faction ‘character’ an ‘activity’ as part of...

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10

Preparing Your Ad Libs (or “Fake It Like You Mean It”)

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Nick M. is his second. Last time around, he talked about getting back in the saddle; today, he’s here to share some tips for “preparing to improvise,” if you will. His advice is aimed at a play style that features pre-planned plots and stories. Thanks, Nick! –Martin Some GMs have the enviable ability to go with whatever the PCs throw at them, creating detailed locations and believable NPCs at the drop of hat. I’ve always struggled with that, but its okay, as I have prepared my ad libs in advance! And here...

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