Some of your stories may involve a higher power scale than starting off at “level one” or the equivalent in your game system. Perhaps the tale you want to tell with your players is on a greater epic scale. Perhaps you tire of struggling to keep those lower-level characters alive. Perhaps it’s just time to tell a story involving higher powers, increased competence, and more daring dangers. Regardless of your reasons for wanting to start at a higher level, there are some considerations to take into account with firing up a campaign with higher level characters. Baked In Power...Read More
Author: J.T. Evans
About The Author
J.T. started role playing at the tender age of 10 years old one sweltering Texas afternoon. Since that fateful day he has eaten his way through dozens (maybe even hundreds!) of different systems in search of great and different tastes. When not sitting at the gaming table, he works at a Day Job keeping computers secure and writes fantasy stories in his spare time.
There are plenty of advice articles out there (much of it here on Gnome Stew) about how to learn a new system without having someone teach it to you. If you’re attempting a high level of system mastery from a book or box set, there are several things you can do. Skim the books, followed by a second pass of actually reading. Create some characters, preferably a variety of them to cover different rules and sub-systems. Have those characters fight each other. Roll all the dice yourself and push the rules. Get online and read forums and see what...Read More
There are more pre-created settings in role playing supplements than you can shake a stick at. There are even more settings out there in other creations outside just the role playing industry. These include TV shows, movies, novels, graphic novels, comic books, and video games. Some of these have already been adapted to a role playing system (Dresden Files, Mistborn, Robotech, and many more). What do you do if you want to represent an existing intellectual property into a game of your own? There are a few steps to it. Keep it Private or Get Permission You are...Read More
While at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference a few weekends ago, I took a half-day class on world building. The class was taught by Del Rey editor Mike Braff and fantasy novelist Kevin Hearne. I’ve taught my own world building classes in the past, but I wanted to see their take on things to see what nuggets of gold I could mine from their experiences. The class was highly interactive and resulted in as much of a “complete” world as a group could build in three hours. Here are the highlights of what was taught for you game masters...Read More
In a recent GnomeCast, Chris, Phil, and I got a little sidetracked from the idea of player intent and waxed poetic for a bit about “adversarial GMs.” We all agreed that a GM who considers himself or herself a direct opposing force to the players’ desires can be a detriment to having fun at the gaming table. Phil and I chatted about this a bit away from the mics, and I thought it would make a great article to dig a little deeper into. My Definition In my own words, I consider an “adversarial GM” to be the person...Read More
Back in 2015, we teased a project we had been considering for quite some time, a foray into writing Gamer Romance novels that focused on Gnome Centric erotica. Too long had Vampire erotica and Elven erotica taken the mainstage, it was time for the mighty gnomes to get some sexy times! It took us a while to get into production, but we proudly present our very first gnomrotica gamer romance novel – Twenty Six Point Five Shades of Scarlet! Lovingly written by Gnomes Troy E. Taylor, Senda Linaugh, Matthew Neagley, and J.T. Evans, our nearly 50 pages of hot...Read More
I’m going to run with the usual format I use on my other review site for this game review. It’s what I’m used to doing, and it seems to cover all the bases. For the record: Burning Games approached Gnome Stew with a request for this review to coincide with their Kickstarter campaign. (More info about the Kickstarter campaign at the bottom of the review.) They provided their “starter set” free of charge, but we’re not being sponsored or paid for this review. Just the Facts Title: FAITH: A Garden in Hell — Starter Set Publisher: Burning Games Description:...Read More
A famous quote from German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke is, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” The way of saying almost the same thing in role playing games is, “No game master plan survives contact with the players’ actions.” This means the players will be throwing curve balls to the GM with a fairly high level of consistency. They’ll go left when the GM planned a right-hand turn. They’ll head off to the orc mountains when the GM expected a trek to the goblin hills. At a smaller level, a player may pull a trick out...Read More
In fiction writing, there are three generally accepted character arcs: change, growth, and failure. Of course, in writing novels, the author can plan and plot this all out for maximum effect. In the collaborative storytelling nature of role playing games, this is much more difficult. The player may want a growth arc, but is continually given choices that lead to either change or failure. Before I dive into the nuances, let me explain the different types of arcs a character can experience. Change Arc The series of events in the story leads to a change within the core of how...Read More
Part of my life is dedicated to writing novels (first one out next year!), and in many of the classes I’ve attended and books I’ve read, there is mention of “character agency.” To expand on these two words, the concept basically means that the character’s actions should drive the story forward as opposed to having them react or respond to things happening to them. The character should happen to the world, not the other way around. Yes, there is a balance in there because sometimes a character needs an outside catalyst to force them to move in a certain...Read More
As a creative fiction writer, I’ve never had a problem coming up with unique and compelling backstories for my characters. I usually scribble down a page or three of backstory for each PC I create and for most of my major NPCs as well. When I get super invested in a character, the background can swell to many more pages than that. However, I’ve run into a quite a few players in the past that struggle with backgrounds. Conversations with them usually go something like this: Me: What is your character? Player: An elven ranger. Me: What did your...Read More
The last thing a game master wants is for parts of his or her carefully crafted world to be immediately forgotten or dismissed. This is especially true of NPCs, but sometimes it can’t be helped. If an NPC is only there to sell the party a new sword, a fresh horse, or a set of fancy clothes for the upcoming festival party, then chances are the players will simply dismiss the NPC. GMs can be guilty of this as well, and this is fine if the NPC’s sole purpose is to finish off a transaction with the PCs. However,...Read More
Diseases are universally feared by everyone. They affect the rich, poor, healthy, sickly, old, young, and everyone in between. In fantasy games, your holy avenger won’t protect you from contracting the black plague. In science fiction games, being the captain of a star cruiser doesn’t stop the evil nanobots afflicting the rest of your crew. It’s not an enemy that can be knocked out or have its throat slit in a dark alley. Even a good saving throw or resistance check doesn’t guarantee prevention of disease, and these illnesses can bring even the highest wizard or mightiest warrior to...Read More
I suffer from “ooh… shiny!” syndrome. I love finding new toys and playing with them for as long as I can until… the next shiny toy pops up on the horizon. This applies to my role playing life as well. Looking around my office right now, I have at least fifteen different systems I’ve never played or run on the shelves. There are at least another dozen that I haven’t touched in more than a decade. It’s not because they aren’t good systems. It’s because I only have so much time to game and a limited number of groups...Read More
Most groups getting around a table consist of 4-6 players (sometimes more!) and a game master. The players sometimes cycle in and out of the group, creating a strange dynamic for the game master. Then are times when groups atrophy because of people moving away, work schedules changing, or other commitments pulling them away from the table. In the past, I’ve had gaming groups drop to two people: one player and the game master. This is usually the final nail in the coffin for the gaming group, and most folks dissolve the group at this point. However, role playing...Read More
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Through our partner Engine Publishing, we've published six system-neutral books for GMs, with over 28,000 copies sold. Available in print and PDF.
The Complete Game Master's Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions
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The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters
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The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
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Do you have what it takes to save Neon City in this 80s, neon, cyberpunk game?
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Art by Matt Morrow, Characters By Encoded Gnomes
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Gnome Phil Vecchione's Dungeon World Hack About Water Rights
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