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.


One of the problems in an exploration game is content. We’d all like to put together a campaign world with content jam packed into every nook and cranny, but there are some problems with that. First and foremost is our time constraints. Not only would it take forever to create so much content, but a lot of that effort would be wasted as entire swaths of our setting never got explored closely enough to dig out most of the material. Here is one potential solution […]


It’s time for my yearly garage sale article. Once again, it contains a set of items that your characters might find at a garage sale (or as loot or that might be brought to them by someone else who finds it) each with an adventure hook inside. Presented below are three items each with a mundane, magic and high tech version. A vintage vacuum: This is a solid vintage vacuum in good condition. It’s a bargain and could be used or sold to a collector […]


A common behavior (at least at every table I’ve ever been part of) is the clean dungeon sweep: making sure that every nook and cranny of a dungeon has been explored, every enemy fought and every goblin slain. Players often do this because they don’t want to miss any treasure or experience. In an idealized world, this turns out to be an inefficient strategy that actually slows players down. In practice there are external considerations that the GM controls. To see this, we need to […]


As usual, rather than actually prep, I find it much more useful and productive to agonize and fret over how exactly I should go about prepping until the desire to prep fades away. But at least this time I think I’ve actually gotten somewhere with it: namely I’ve decided on an alternative to overland mapping with a hex map. There are three main advantages to overland mapping with a hex map, as I see it: Easy to judge distance due to the built in scale […]


I’m kicking around the concept of a little frontier town campaign in my head. In my mind one of the exciting parts of this style of game is exploration, and one of the fun old school exploration features is finding unexpected, and often uneasy allies in dangerous terrain. However, allies can be dangerous to a “taming the wilderness” style game because they provide pockets of safety and extra resources, and too much of either can derail the sense of unknown, danger, and isolation that are […]


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. […]