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...Read More
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'.
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
What do you do when a player at the table deliberately subverts the stated goals of the other players? Or when that player does things simply to mess with the GM? What do you do with a player that acts like they want to be there and play the game, but when they’re actually in the middle of the game, they just want to set it all on fire and watch the world burn? A small, sad little con I attended many years ago found me sitting in on a D&D game I wasn’t really interested in. Unfortunately, it...Read More
Adventure Scents provided us with samples of scent packets to review their Adventure Scents product. Angela Murray wrote up a review and took incredible images for those without video, while Matt Neagley, Darcy Ross, and John Arcadian took part in a reaction video. Angela’s Review I’m a firm believer in the power certain smells can have to evoke memories and certain feelings, so I was definitely intrigued by the ideas behind Adventure Scents. Heck, I catch a whiff of a particular artificial peach smell and I’m instantly transported back to the age of 13 and riding my bike...Read More
I have a confession. As much as I enjoy GMing, I actually prefer to be a player. If offered a choice, I’ll almost always choose to play. Believe me, I do like running games and I absolutely enjoy discussing and improving my craft, but I’ll always choose to jump into a good GM’s game over running one of my own. Luckily my regular group doesn’t depend on me as the only GM. Two other players regularly serve as GMs and other players are willing to run if needed. The only down side to rotating GMs is that we cycle...Read More
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