Author: John Fredericks

About The Author

John Fredericks

In the early 1980's, John was given the Moldvay Red Box set as a birthday gift. The Blue Expert set soon followed and the mania has yet to subside. Over the years, he has played and GMed various flavors of D&D, Star Trek, Star Wars and the odd superhero game. Most of his recent GMing has been online using virtual tabletops. While not a current photo, John assures you that he has never looked better. Sad, but true. He is the sole proprieter of Sharp Mountain Games on



Ever felt a little empty the day after a game or convention? Perhaps it is to be expected. You’ve had an intense creative experience with people who love the hobby as much as you do. The next day, however, life goes on. This kind of let-down isn’t unique to...

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As a gamemaster, you have to be able to handle numerous tasks at once. You have to describe the scene, adjudicate the rules, portray the non-player characters (NPC’s), and try to keep everyone involved. That’s a lot, so you don’t need your session note format to get in the...

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Over the years I’ve had the privledge of running sessions where most of the players were new to the hobby. In this column, we’ll take a look at some strategies for planning out that first session. The goal in planning such a session is to showcase some of the...

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Online games are a lot like old-time radio shows. Clear audio is a must for telling stories. Nice maps and tokens are great, as are all the bells and whistles provided by virtual tabletops (VTT’s). But without clear audio, you can’t have a game. In this article, we’ll look...

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Sometimes you don’t get a quorum. It’s no one’s fault: people get sick or have other real-world obligations (sigh). Still, it’s tough for both players and game masters (GM’s) alike to show up and realize a session isn’t going to run. One way around this is to prepare a...

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Gamemasters don’t always get many opportunities to actually play. Recently, one of my players wanted to take a turn behind the screen and I jumped at the chance for a little break. Of course, the view of the game is different from over here. In this column, we’ll look...

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The day before our school opens, the buses do a dry run. That way they can iron out most of the bugs before the students ride. In the same way, a dry run of your rules or adventure can help you iron out some of the problems before you...

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How Many Shades of Gray?!!

Resolution mechanics are a lot like grading scales. Some are simply pass-fail, some have a few levels like letter grades, and some are even more granular like percentages. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the strengths and limitations of various levels of resolution. It won’t...

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IARR: One Format for Session Prep!!

Organization is one key trait for effective gamemastering. Every GM needs some kind of system to keep important information accessible during play. During session prep, a good format reminds us to vary our encounters. It may even help spark our creativity. In this article, we’ll look at the IARR...

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The Perks of Being a Luddite!!

Word processing and web technology is great. It allows ANYONE to produce produce professional looking manuscripts and pages. However, they may not be the best tools for the early stages of session preparation. Sometimes all the bells and whistles, not to mention the potential distraction of the internet, can...

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Three Tough Situations!!

Gamemastering is built on hope. We write our session notes, draw our maps, and paint our minis hoping for a great game. And sometimes things don’t work out. It’s happened to all of us. In this article, we’ll look at three tough situations, and how (maybe) to make something...

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Limited Prep Time!!

Can most of us run without prep time? Probably. Can we run well without prep time? Probably not. While prep time differs for different GM’s, we can’t eliminate it entirely. There are outlines to be prepared, maps to be drawn, statistics to be looked up, and so on. Sometimes...

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