It’s time for me to amble into my garage and offer up a handful of the cursed, dusty, and cursed dusty items that I find there. It’s a bit of a post-Christmas tradition here at the stew. I have to make room for all the coal Santa keeps bringing me for some reason… As is tradition, I’m offering up more than one version of each of these items: a mundane one, and additional details of a more fantastic nature—suitable for use in your supernatural horror, fantasy, or sci-fi campaigns. Vintage gaming set: A wooden box with several sets of...Read More
Author: Matthew J. Neagley
About The Author
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.
A few years back, we ran an article about evil Santas. Aside from landing all of us on the perpetual naughty list, it went over fairly well, so this year we’re happy to present a list of three of Santa’s dastardly elves. Enjoy your holiday but hope you don’t get a visit from one or more of these villains. Slapwhistle the baker: This corpulent elf has doughy features and a perpetual sunburn from the blazing heat of his oven. He wears a great stained apron of heavy white leather. Slapwhistle cooks treats for the naughty children of the world...Read More
Back when it was active, I was alerted to J. M. Ward’s Kickstarter for Dice Coins. They looked cool, but what piqued my interest was that on the site I saw them mentioned, their statistical fairness was being questioned, and Ward had essentially hand waved it away. In his defense, their fairness makes sense as long as the arc for each number is evenly spaced. I asked for a set of review prototypes to do an analysis, but none were available so I used some of my Patreon loot and backed it. Very quickly after the Kickstarter closed, product...Read More
I was recently tossing out notes for a game and I wrote the following: NPCs – get a list o’ NPC traits- NPCs should be larger than life, quirky, flawed Ex: the mage’s guild is just one guy in a town this size. It’s a mid-sized town but he considers it a hellish backwater. He has the finest silks and delicacies shipped in from the big city and is decadent and opulent to the core. Ex: the prince who runs the place is haughty and arrogant and expects everyone to suck up to him constantly. He’s not opposed to...Read More
As promised in our Patreon video, I’ve recently begun my studies into the unίcorn, a beast related to the mythical unicorn, but constructed of imaginary numbers. Not only have I been able to successfully confirm several of the commonly held beliefs about these fleeting creatures, but I have discovered two new subspecies of unίcorn, one a product of the common variety and a pathological beast, the other a transcendental product. The Common Unίcorn; the beast at right angles to reality The common unίcorn is a product of a more traditional unicorn and one of the outré creatures from outside...Read More
Halloween is around the corner. It’s time to put some creepy vampires into your game. Here are a handful of vampires I’ve made as characters or NPCs over the years. Hope they prove fun for you and your players… if not for their characters. If you’ve had a vampire you particularly liked in one of your games, tell us about them in the comments below. The Captain: An old fisherman, this vampire haunts a large body of water. By day he sleeps in the sunken wreck of his ship. By night he prowls the shores and nearby land searching...Read More
Conlang is an abbreviated term for Constructed Language, essentially a made up language. Constructed languages are used in a lot of media to give a certain feeling to a setting, race, etc. You can see examples in the names and place names of your favorite RPG fantasy race or alien. Done right they’re ridiculously complex, take many factors into consideration and require a large time investment. That’s why some Conlang professionals make the big bucks. This is not an article about doing conlang right. That’s well beyond my expertise. This is instead an article about making a quick and...Read More
Fringe conspiracy theories are often fertile ground for gaming ideas, but the recent “no forests on flat earth” is so amazingly bizarre that it towers above the competition for material to steal for your game. The original video is an hour and a half long and a bit of a mess, but I’ve embedded it below. Of better value is an article from The Atlantic that sums up the “theory” and gives some interesting context that I won’t get into here but is worth reading. The general gist of the theory is this: what we know as trees aren’t...Read More
I don’t think it’s an earth shattering innovation to say that if you’re designing an adventure, it’s a good idea to drop in a few encounters or situations that cater to the strengths of each of your players. An opportunity for the bard to parlay or the hacker to break a security system will give them some spotlight time and make them feel valued. Conversely we’ve probably all been in some games where the GM makes no concessions to a particular class/ skill set/ etc… and the player in question does nothing but say “I hit it with my...Read More
I love me a good Idle RPG. For those of you not in the know, Idle games are games that more or less play themselves with minimal intervention from the player. Progress Quest, pictured above, is a silly fantasy RPG that, once you have made your character, plays more like an operating system installation than a game. All you do is check in every so often and see all the progress your character has made without you. Another of my favorites, Logging Quest 2 allows you to form a party, equip them, tweak their battle strategies, and send them...Read More
Garbage. It’s ubiquitous. Some places are definitely cleaner than others, but there’s always a candy wrapper on the floor, coins under the couch, a discarded glove on the side of the road, and bulky items sitting next to instead of in the dumpster.** Except when there’s not. Here are three dark secrets where the first clue is remarkably clean surroundings. Who knew? Someone is picking up all that trash: Maybe it’s possessed dolls, maybe it’s sentient robots, maybe it’s a colony of eco-fanatics but someone is scouring the streets for trash at night and using it as raw materials...Read More
Knowledge can be a valuable commodity in RPGs. While sometimes PCs stumble on useful knowledge and want to unload what they know, more often the roles are reversed and they need to hunt down someone with specialized knowledge. While there are sages and experts aplenty in your average setting, here are three more unusual information brokers: The Loremaster Ravens A mortal cabal cursed with immortality and the form of ravens for trying to outwit a trickster god into revealing his secrets, they now gather secrets of their own. The Loremasters have been around for ages so they know a...Read More
When I was a youngster, one of my favorite books to borrow from my school library was “Monsters Giants and Little Men from Mars” by Daniel Cohen. It features an exposition of all sorts of cryptozoological topics such as the titular monsters (Loch Ness etc…) giants (the Cardiff giants**) and little men from mars (MIBs) plus many others. It’s written from a skeptical standpoint, but that fact went completely over my young monster-loving head (similarly it wasn’t until cartoon network reruns of Scooby-Doo that I would realize that the entire point of the show was that the monsters were never real***). When my daughter became a...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
A few weeks after Christmas this year, I received an unexpected envelope. Inside was another, much older envelope and in that was a letter imploring me to tell no one of my receipt of that missive and to not discuss it’s contents. I immediately started carefully asking around to see who had sent it but no one had a clue. After more of this odd correspondence, including news clippings, postcards, other oddities (and eventually a wooden crate!), I was given the identity of my strange pen pal: The Mysterious Package Company. Normally I would outline what I received including...Read More
What’s Gnome Stew
Written by a team of veteran Gamers and Gamemasters, Gnome Stew is a widely read gaming blog with multiple awards and close to 3,000 articles. We're dedicated to helping gamers have more fun at the gaming table. Over 2 million visitors can't be wrong!
"I check Gnome Stew every day."
— Monte Cook —
"fantastic blog for game masters, dungeon masters, and rpg fans"
— Wil Wheaton —
"If you aren’t reading Gnome Stew, you’re missing out."
— Wolfgang Baur —
Patronize Gnome Stew!
Gnome Stew do awesome things for everyone!
These Might Be The Pages You Are Looking For
Keep The Stew Fires Going
Eat The Stew
Our Books for GMs
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
Click To Find Out More Unframed
The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters
Click To Find Out More Odyssey
The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
Click To Find Out More Never Unprepared
The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Click To Find Out More Masks
1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
Click To Find Out More Eureka
501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Click To Find Out More
Through Encoded Designs
Through our partnership in the G.E.M. collective, many of the Gnomes are affiliated with creating products through Encoded Designs. Available in print and PDF.
Gnomes on Podcasts, even a Gnome Only Podcast!
Click To Find Out More Rockerboys and Vending Machines
Do you have what it takes to save Neon City in this 80s, neon, cyberpunk game?
Click To Find Out More Character Cache
Art by Matt Morrow, Characters By Encoded Gnomes
Click To Find Out More Hydro Hacker Operatives
Gnome Phil Vecchione's Dungeon World Hack About Water Rights
Click To Find Out More