Author: Scott Martin

About Scott Martin

Scott is an engineer turned gnome and game store owner. He lies awake at night building intriguing worlds and plotting your character's demise.

Nutrition Label

Over the last few years, I’ve been a fan of creating worlds together or otherwise drawing players into world creation. Our big crusade against the Evil Dwarven Empire was based on a world that we created together, using Dawn of Worlds. When we tried out Diaspora, we only got as far as Cluster Creation, but that alone was fun. Our Primetime Adventures game, Time Preservers, was a show that we created at the table–nothing any of us could have come up with alone. Skills Not […]

Gaming Conventions

I got a chance to play a very different game recently at Bookwyrm, a cool local con. Several elements set Kingdom apart: you build a collaborative setting, featuring a high level of player input and control, with very influential characters, who navigate kingdom-wide crises. Many of those elements exist in specific games—but Kingdom puts them all together smoothly. Kingdoms can be traditional medieval nations, but the concept is very flexible. Running examples in the book include a fantasy city bordered by barbarians, an old west […]


It’s easy for undifferentiated life to blur together—even when it’s the hectic life of an adventurer. (Maybe even especially when it’s the busy life of an adventurer; the first orc is a terrifying foe, but after seven levels, how do you tell them apart?) Both players and GMs benefit from characters and campaigns with defined times and a grasp of events corresponding to their character’s development. Character Eras The story of your character’s life—especially as the character tells it—can be marked in many ways. Some […]


Even Good Stress is Stress A source of stress that’s common to every day life, but that rarely gets shown at the table in roleplaying, is eustress (good stress). Think about it: you’ve been studying for years, but only now you’ve gained the power to throw balls of force. Suddenly, all of your struggles to date have been mere preamble to the life that’s opened up before you. The quiet routine of study and the warmth of the master’s hall recedes, as destiny drives you […]


Preparing for the undefined is tough! If a GM plans on beginning a game in a few weeks, they’re normally rushing about to refresh themselves on the rules, work on the overall plot, build a great initial session, create a few recurring (hopefully) enemies, build a few stock NPCs, etc. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s similar to what you’ve done since time immemorial, so there’s guidance. So, how do you prepare for a game that’s built collaboratively at the table? I […]

Stack of presents

If you know a roleplayer, it can be hard to decide what to get them come gift giving time. Below is a relatively simple decision tree to help you figure out what to get them. (No, this article isn’t just veiled hinting, family and friends!) If you already game with the recipient: This article won’t do you much good– you know them in a way that an article never can. Go with your instinct and lean towards something they would enjoy but can’t justify. Alternately, […]


Family Backgrounds An odd thought struck a spark. As GMs we often complain about players’ tendencies to make characters without family. You’ve heard the joke about orphans and how often that’s only the first warning sign: “loner character here!” It’s amazing how exaggeratedly useful a warning sign this is… because, really, how often do Mom and Dad show in your games? Save Me Sam! It’s not that family and friends are never threatened in a game—but, in my gaming, it’s brothers and sisters who are […]