Author: Angela Murray

About The Author

Angela has been playing roleplaying games for over twenty-five years, but it's only in the last decade that she's gotten into being a game master. Once she got into it, though, her interest in that aspect of gaming exploded. In addition to writing for Gnome Stew, she also writes for the all-female blog, 'Rogue Princess Squadron'.


Living Through the Satanic Panic

Over on Kickstarter, Third Act Publishing is running a campaign to fund the production of their new game, Satanic Panic. Put together by Jim McClure, Jim Merritt, and Emily Reinhart, the game gleefully asks, “What if the Satanic scare of the 80’s had been real and gamers actually were summoning demons?” Set in an alternate, but no less nostalgic, 1970s and 1980s, players take the role of secret government agents combating the evils of tabletop. It sounds hysterical and ridiculously fun, but especially amusing for those of us who were gaming back then. Mentioning the game on my Facebook page dredged...

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The Ties That Bind

There sure are a lot of orphans in roleplaying games. From the brooding warrior with no ties to hold her back to the super skilled agent with a family lost to tragedy, it’s very common to find a table full of characters that have no family ties. Sometimes you’re lucky if any of them have any connection at all to anyone outside of the scope of the game. It’s a trope that many players fall into and if you’re not careful, your game’s PCs could represent a vast wasteland of loneliness and isolation. When I started thinking about writing...

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The Teleporting Player

Problem players come in a variety of types, but it all boils down to a player that is somehow disrupting the game or hindering the enjoyment of others at the table. A while back, I wrote about players that deliberately go out of their way to mess with the game and other players, but this time I’m going to talk about a player that wants to be involved in the game perhaps a little too much. They probably don’t mean any harm, but their actions are still going to hamper the fun of everyone else at the table. Which...

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Creating Plot on the Fly

Players often go left when you expect them to go right. Every GM knows this, but most of us still come to the table with material prepared ahead of time. Experienced GMs know how to plan for adjustments when players eventually do the unexpected thing, however it’s still all built on the framework of their plan. But what do you do if you need to create an engaging, entertaining and coherent game out of thin air? Many of the games I have run in recent years call for this type of on-the-fly plot creation. Most of the PbtA (Powered...

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A Tableselfie Year In Review

The most common term I’ve heard to describe 2016 is ‘dumpster fire‘. When it comes to the fractious and alarming state of politics or the helpless sense of loss from losing so many childhood icons, I agree. There are other areas, though, where the year was pretty good to me. I realized a decades long dream to buy a house and celebrated a couple of major milestones at work. 2016 was also a really good to me on the gaming front. Thundercranes Victorious! Star Wars with the kids Savage Rifts! My regular group started off the year with a short...

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Know When to Fudge It, Know When to Let It Go

In last week’s GnomeCast, I talked a bit about reviving my Eberron campaign with Chris and John. At one point, it was referenced that the gunslinger character in the campaign has pretty much killed at least two big bads with a single shot. That got me thinking about one of those incidents and how crucial it is to know when to let players have it easy and when to tweak an encounter to stretch it out. Fudging rules and dice rolls gets a bad rap for a variety of reasons, some more legitimate than others. Back in the late...

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Gifts for Gamers

Happy Black Friday, everyone! For those of you in the United States, I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic and spent with people you love. For everyone else, I hope you had a lovely Thursday. Now that my guests have gone home and the kitchen is mostly clean (my brother made an amazing turkey dinner – his stuffing beats your stuffing), my thoughts turn to the upcoming season of gift giving. I celebrate Christmas, but I know plenty of people who celebrate other holidays this time of year. While I refuse to join the madding crowd out in the shopping...

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Commissioning Artwork of Your Character(s)

I’m a very visual person. When I dream, it’s like scenes from a movie, full of color and detail. Usually very weird details, but still details. When I read a book, I’m irritated if the cover art is completely off from what the author is describing. When I play a roleplaying game, I want to SEE the characters. Luckily, our hobby is home to a wide array of artistically talented people. Art is an intrinsic component to the success of pretty much all RPGs. They provide the shorthand for the experience the game is offering, from both the style and...

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Resurrecting a Campaign

By popular demand, my gaming group has requested we start playing my Eberron campaign again. A while back, I talked about how to suspend a campaign, but what do you do if you didn’t end at a nice, neat point? How do you resurrect a campaign your players love, but you aren’t sure you remember where you parked? I started our Eberron campaign way back in 2011 when I wanted to try my hand at a ‘traditional’ fantasy, fully prepped campaign. Since we were in between D&D editions (sorta) we decided to use Pathfinder. I think I successfully achieved...

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Reconsidering Rifts

A bit over ten years ago, my gaming group had a brief and painful foray into a Rifts campaign. We had been stuck in a loop of ‘What do you want to play?’ ‘I don’t know, what do you want to play?’ so one of the guys offered to run Rifts. He was the only one that had ever played it, but the world sounded cool (if over the top), so we said what the hell. The campaign, if you can call it that, lasted for all of two sessions before collapsing beneath our collective irritation with the game’s...

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One Shot Characters: Fully Detailed or Blank Slate?

One shots are not necessarily my preference for gaming experiences, but I go to so many conventions I end up playing a large number of one shot games. While I love and treasure a good campaign, I end up spending quite a bit of time thinking about what makes a good convention game. I suppose if you’ve read some of my articles here on the Stew, you might have noticed that particular obsession. After a very good time at Queen City Conquest this past weekend, I spent quite a bit of time mulling over whether it’s better to come...

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GenCon 2016: Help Me, I’m Melting

So, this post is a little later than I would like. Gen Con ended on August 7th, but in between then and now, I had to drive back from Indianapolis and then go through the circus of closing on a house and moving into said house. I still don’t have all my stuff in the new house, but close enough. It’s been a crazy two weeks. Anyway, Gen Con was awesome as always, but man was it hot. I’ve been attending Gen Con since 2006 and I think this year gave us the most consistently hot weather of all those...

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The Group You Want

A recent meme I saw floating around Facebook contrasted the Avengers with the Mystery Men, suggesting that the Avengers are ‘what the GM hopes for’, while the Mystery Men are ‘what the GM actually gets’. Well, I’m going with an unpopular opinion on this: There’s no one to blame but yourself if your players don’t give you a group that lives up to your expectations. Sure, there’s the occasional player that likes making ridiculous characters for the hell of it, but most players actually want to play competent and effective characters. Unless the game is intended to be goofy and off the...

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A Crossover Collision

Every year, I pour over the Origins event list to pick out the perfect combination of events to play. Well, at least that’s the goal. It’s actually a mix of equal parts careful choice and sheer luck, but it usually works out pretty okay. This year, I somehow signed up for back-to-back games that, based on the PCs and scenarios, were exactly alike. Both games involved joining up two tables of players; one was playing Marvel heroes while the other was playing DC heroes, with both groups trying to save their respective universes from the evil machinations of the...

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Origins 2016: Year of the #tableselfie

So that happened. Origins 2016 has come and gone and I’m still coming down off my gaming high. From Wednesday to Sunday, my life revolved around roleplaying games, general geekery, and the many, many friends I’ve made over the years through gaming.While Gen Con is the gorilla of gaming conventions, Origins is still a pretty big deal. Run by GAMA (Game Manufacturer’s Association) since 1975, it’s been in Columbus, Ohio since the mid 90’s. Attendance for the last couple of years has hit around 15,000 people, so the event finds a pleasant balance between big convention and friendly reunion...

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