Category: GMing Advice

Do something cool. Do a barrel roll!

Everyone wants to be awesome, to find that moment of perfect cool. Maybe the exact style of awesome varies from person to person but make no mistake about this, each player that comes to your table, from the min-maxers to the esoteric actors, wants their character to do or be something cool, or interesting, or powerful, or great, or… You get the idea. While most of the work for this lies in the players’ hands, don’t underestimate how important it is for the GM to […]

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It’s Tuesday, which means someone, somewhere, decided to just create their own holiday today! Because that’s like a thing now! But here at the Stew, we’re exceptionally excited by any gaming holidays, especially those that lend assistance and inspiration to prospective GMs. Enter National New Gamemaster Month or—wait for it—NaNewGaMo! The brainchild of the folks over at Monte Cook Games, NaNewGaMo—as the name strongly indicates—focuses on helping new gamemasters find their own voice. The name, while inspired by National Novel Writing Month, isn’t related to […]

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I just recently started a Night’s Black Agents campaign and while prepping for my first session, I found that what I prepped was far less than I normally would write out. When I looked at what I was leaving out, I saw that it was all the contingency material; all the “if they do this, then this happens”. It was then I realized that I did not need that anymore, because I would react to what the players came up with and roll with it. I […]

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Today I’d like to talk about adjectives. In case English class is an old forgotten or deeply repressed memory for you, a reminder: adjectives are those words that describe other words, specifically they describe things. In some cases they describe other adjectives but that doesn’t interest us here today. Words that describe actions are another beast entirely and we’re not interested in those today either. Examples: large, burning, squashed, futuristic, repulsive… You know the drill. O.K. we’re done with the recap. I doubt anyone reading […]

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In the spirit of “you can never have enough five-room dungeon posts,” here’s a 5-step mini-quest using the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. For reference, check out these past posts by myself and Matthew J. Neagley on the utility and craft behind the five-room dungeon. This one will use the Moose layout, though it can be adapted to the Evil Mule. Setup Family and friends of Dionysus worshipers approach the PCs, requesting they intercede in a planned bacchanal, orchestrated by wicked maenad Calepida. […]

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Designing exciting combat encounters is an important skill for most GM’s. We want to make sure we challenge the party without overwhelming them. In this article, we’ll look at three ways to choose the appropriate number and level of opponents for an encounter. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The Mathematical Method About the year 2000 (or so) games started incorporating mathematical systems to help with encounter design. Monsters and opponents each have a challenge rating. With a little math you can design an […]

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You’ve probably seen the recent Ant-Man teaser that released at a miniature size.     It was followed by a full sized trailer that showed off more of the overlooked superhero. Seeing the trailers recently reminded me of one experience on the micro-scale that was really fun and has always stuck with me – playing Unreal Tournament’s giant maps where your character was at an incredibly small size in a real world setting.   These maps were incredibly fun because they flipped the paradigm on […]