Author: Walt Ciechanowski

Walt Ciechanowski

About Walt Ciechanowski

Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He became a freelance RPG writer in 2005 and is currently the Victoriana Line Developer for Cubicle 7. Walt lives in Springfield, PA with his wife Helena and their three children, Leianna, Stephen, and Zoe.


Usually when I have issues or problems with a campaign, it’s because something is threatening to cut it short. Perhaps I’ve run short of material. Perhaps the players managed to leap ahead towards the end. Perhaps there was a TPK. Perhaps the players are losing interest. Perhaps the game sessions kept getting cancelled. Perhaps one or more players left the group. None of that is affecting my current D&D 5e campaign; it’s running great on all counts. My master plan is intact and the players are progressing […]


Recently I watched the season opener of Arrow and while I found it enjoyable one of the things that bugged me was the final scene, which involved the foreshadowing of a future death. That in and of itself didn’t bother me (beyond the usual “great, which of my favorite characters is going to die?”); what did bother me was the official commentary afterward that indicated that even the show writers don’t know who is going to die. Say what? I’ve had similar issues with other […]


From the time I entered my first dungeon decades ago, material components were treated the same as encumbrance and weapon modifiers against armor class – we discarded them. For those of you who might be scratching your heads, I’m talking about spellcasting in Dungeons & Dragons (along with its many derivatives), in which magic-wielding characters usually need verbal, somatic, and/or material components to cast their spells. Like encumbrance and equipment lists, material components were viewed in my circles as tedious and we ignored them, which incidentally […]


This past weekend was the first episode of the new series (or season, in the American vernacular) of Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a series that has reinvented itself numerous times, usually when the Doctor regenerates but sometimes even without a change in the lead actor, the series has tried to move in a different direction. Similarly, I recently read an article on Heroes that got me thinking about my own RPG campaigns. I’ve had a lot of campaigns over the years that, for whatever reason, either didn’t go […]


While reading “The Dreaming City” for this article, it struck me that over my many moons of gaming I’ve seen (and played!) many “Elrics” at the table. First published in 1961, “The Dreaming City” is Michael Moorcock’s first Elric story. Elric is quite different from typical fantasy heroes (in fact, I’d be hard-pressed to call him a “hero”). He’s a frail albino from a race (Melniboneans) that once conquered the world but are now reduced to a single island. He is a master of the […]


Have you ever designed a long, intricate campaign only to have it fall apart before it ever came close to seeing fruition? I know, it’s a rhetorical question. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to end a campaign far short of where I’d planned to end it. It can be frustrating to leave plot threads dangling, especially if you’d put a lot of work into it. I was reminded of this frustration with my current campaign, where I’ve specifically outlined my main […]


This is the first of what I hope to be a regular series of articles on the ‘classic’ stories that inspired early roleplaying games. More specifically, I intend to read these stories (many of which I haven’t read, or read so long ago as to have forgotten them) as a modern Game Master and see if there’s anything in them that still resonates today, 41 years after the first commercial roleplaying game hit the shelves. Today I’ve decided to start with the very first story […]