Author: 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.


You don’t always have to raise the stakes. Recently, I got a call from an old gaming friend who was coming to town for a few days and wanted to game with “the old group” again. As it happens I am able to pull everyone together for a one-shot session and I dusted off the characters from a favorite campaign. I fired up the old computer and began musing about the epic adventure I was going to write. Unfortunately, the characters had been on so […]


Today is my birthday. I’m 42 years old and have been a gamer now for over 32 years. Birthdays are a good time for reflection, so this year I thought I’d reflect on my GMing experiences and see how my style has evolved along the way. My journey began with a happy accident. I picked up a copy of the Moldvay Basic edition of Dungeons & Dragons believing it to be this, as I’d seen it on a commercial. Imagine my surprise when I opened […]


Tired of evil lycanthropes having all the fun? What about a lycanthropic (or, in this case, alogothrope) force for good? Enter the Equestria Knights! The Equestria Knights are chosen by a Force for Good in your campaign and each is endowed with a supernatural power representing “harmony” in your campaign. The traditional elements are generosity, honesty, kindness, laughter, and loyalty, although a GM may substitute other more appropriate elements such as chivalry, honor, or respect. It is up to the GM and the needs of […]


When running adventures, especially in published/licensed universes, it can be tempting to add familiar adversaries as we often feel our players would appreciate it. After all, who wouldn’t want to face down Daleks or Sontarans in Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, engage in a firefight with stormtroopers while avoiding a Sith Lord in Star Wars: The Edge of the Empire, or face down a beholder in Dungeons & Dragons? While using familiar elements is a quick way to immerse your players in the […]


A recent thread over at RPGNet reminded me of something I’d heard long ago. I can’t remember the game designer that said it or the exact quote, but it went along the lines of “the problem with Western RPGs is that there are two types of characters; the good gunfighters and the dead ones.” Highlander, obviously, presents a similar problem. This “Cowboy Syndrome” is difficult to shake once you’ve introduced a campaign where it’s clearly beneficial to max out one or two skills, as the […]


I was reminiscing with a friend I’d gamed with for the better part of two decades and we recalled a time that he almost took the GM’s chair. As we spoke I realized that in spite of all his good ideas and interest in roleplaying, he’d never been a GM. He had his reasons, mostly relating to nervousness and fear of failure and it struck me that many would-be GMs likely have the same fears. In honor of GM’s Day I thought I’d offer a […]


I’m a big fan of the Arrow television series. That said, (and without major spoilers) it’s obviously shifted gears in tone. What started as a dramatic series about a former castaway completing his father’s mission in a realistic, Nolan-style universe has shifted into a more traditional superhero action series. While I still enjoy it, I do miss the original concept. There have been many times over my gaming career where I’ve run and played in campaigns that shifted in tone after an initial premise that […]