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.

GMingAdvice012

Next month I’ll be running several events at GenCon (primarily Victoriana, which is near and dear to my roleplaying heart!). Whenever I run events, I have several goals in mind, including 1) ensuring everyone that plays has a good time, 2) an adventure is completed, 3) the players get the ‘experience’ of playing the game, and 4) I never have to crack open a book at the table. This last point usually consumes a lot of my prep time. I try to make my character […]

Gaming Conventions

This year I decided to try the Origins Game Fair. For years I’d contemplated going, as it is actually a bit closer to me than Gen Con (almost negligible flight-wise) and I’ve heard great things about it. Conversely, I’d also heard it was in decline, so in any event I was eager to compare it to Gen Con. A few caveats up front: Origins runs from Wednesday through Sunday, and I was only there for two days. Also, I primarily played “booth dude” for Cubicle […]

GMingAdvice012

With her year-long Pathfinder campaign finally wrapping, Gemma couldn’t wait to get started on her next campaign. “What an awesome finale!” she said excitedly. “Starting next week we’re starting a new campaign. I’ve decided to run Shadows of Esteren, which is a gothic horror fantasy game with Celtic trappings.” “Excellent!” Adam grinned as he eyed the pile of Pathfinder books on the shelf behind her. “Time to roll up new characters! Are there any class or race restrictions?” “Actually, Shadows of Esteren has its own […]

GMingAdvice03

Whether the campaign starts at a higher level than usual, a new player joins midway through a campaign, or a PC meets an unfortunate end and needs another to take her place, one issue all Game Masters eventually face is the introduction of “experienced” player characters. A complicating factor is that players creating “experienced” characters have a window into their PCs’ careers and can make optimal choices that they may not have made if they had to live with each decision on a day-to-day basis. […]

GMingAdvice03

Should you forewarn your players of campaign endings or should you keep them a surprise? It’s never occurred to me not to forewarn my players when the end of a campaign is imminent, even if it’s just a quick announcement at the beginning of the session. I’d always felt that it gave the characters a chance to pull out all the stops for a glorious finale and give the players a chance to wrap up dangling threads or accomplish something they’d wanted to do before […]

GMingAdvice03

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 […]

GMingAdvice03

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 […]