Author: Matthew J. Neagley

About Matthew J. Neagley

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, Matt fights an ongoing battle with GMing ADD, leaving his to-do list littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily, his wife is also a GM, providing him with time on both sides of the screen.


I’ve recently been reading some books on how to improve my story writing, and one of the tips they invariably give is to not start your stories with a massive exposition dump. This is bad news for me because my writing is usually nothing but exposition dump, so I probably will never write the next bestseller to take the world by storm. That’s OK though, because it brought into focus one of the traditions of tabletop gaming that I’ve never really cared for. That is, […]


As I watched horror movies, getting up to hand out candy to munchkins on Halloween this year I was inspired to come up with some tricky treats to torment trick-or-treaters. Of course I had a ground rule for myself: they had to be fodder for a fun adventure. Super Sticky Bubble Gum: This colorful treat comes in the form of large bright spheres of gum wrapped up in crinkled cellophane. When used to blow bubbles, they are satisfyingly large and pop with a loud snap. […]


Recently I noticed a strange discrepancy in my behavior and after some thought, I have a possible explanation, but I’m sure it’s a fairly complex issue, so that said, feel free to jump into the comments section with your own take. The issue is this: I love construction based video games. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Minecraft, Ark, 7 Days to Die, Starbound and a handful of others. In addition, I love physical building toys like Lego construction sets, and had a large collection […]


City games often focus on the human element or the supernatural for antagonists. Animals are often overlooked, but can be exceptionally clever and can be foes, allies, or adventure hooks as well. Here are three animals for your city campaign. There are a few variants of each to make them easier to fit into your particular game. The Baboon: Animal: Depending on where your game is set, the baboon has either wandered in from the wild or escaped from captivity as a zoo attraction or […]


When we last left off, I had prepped for a fantasy horror campaign with the cypher system rules. This time around, I prepped a session, invited over a group of friends with a variety of levels of experience with RPGs, made characters and ran a game. Session prep took the form of loose half page descriptions of four locations that were likely to be important to the session as well as names and descriptions of characters likely found in those locations, a few miscellaneous notes, […]

Gaming Conventions

Here’s a quick Gnome Spotting update: September 4th-6th I’ll be in Harrisburg PA, at Save Against Fear 2015 running some games of 1000 Blank White Cards. I’ve never been before (I didn’t even know about it!) but luckily, one of their special guests is an old college friend of mine and he tipped me off about it. If you go, feel free to hunt me down and say Hello. I’ll even wear my official Gnome Stew t-shirt to make it easy to tell you’ve got […]


Since the last part of this series I’ve been doing prep work for running a game. On the one hand, the pitch for the Cypher System is that it’s easy for GMs with minimal work. On the other, the front end prep the book recommends for a game seems pretty heavy, so I was curious how things would shake out. Let’s start with the Campaign Design Worksheet. This sheet is included at the end of the rulebook and it has places for most of the […]