Category: GMing Advice

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Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick explores handling passing of secrets between players and the Game Master. It’s the most recent of  four he’s done for the Stew, with the others being Fear Itself, Freedom Through Restraint,  and What Makes a Good Monster? – John A. I don’t know about you, but the players in the games that I run like to have secrets. I first noticed this tendency when running Vampire: The Masquerade, which is understandable as that game is high on […]

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Today’s guest article is by Ross Watson of Evil Beagle Games, and it talks about a Game Mastering technique used in their new kickstarter for Aaron Allston’s Strike Force which has writing from Steve Kenson, Sean Patrick Fannon, and Michael Surbrook in it. — John A. There’s a gamemastering technique, known as “Blue-booking,” that has enriched many of my long-term RPG campaigns over the years. I learned this technique from reading Aaron Allston’s milestone RPG supplement, Strike Force, back in the early 90’s. As described […]

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Have you ever looked at the calendar and realized that you’re supposed to run a game in the near future and you just aren’t “feeling it?” Do you cancel the session or press on? I find this happening more and more as I get older and, conversely, I play less and less. Both are related phenomena; being a “mature gamer” with a family, work, and other activities filling my social schedule, not only do I have less time to set aside and game but I’m […]

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The roots of tabletop gaming in the early 70s were closely intertwined with community and a do it yourself effort. The first pioneers of the gaming industry created their works with very few of the modern tools that make the job of game developers easier today. These works spread through gaming club newsletters and Zines that included game rules right inside the xeroxed and mimeographed pages. In fact, for the old school set, Zines are still a very popular way of spreading games and sharing […]

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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 essential features of the system, while giving them a successful and enjoyable session. Much of these ideas are not original to me, but hopefully it will be helpful to have them here, all in one place. […]

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High drama. Suspense. Gritty Realism. All great tones to achieve when creating a campaign. Sometimes, though, the group needs a laugh. When delving a dungeon filled with the undead minions of the black-cloaked overlord has become a grind, or the horrors of the apocalyptic landscape hit too close to home — maybe a change of pace is called for. GMs should not be afraid to add some levity. Maybe it’s just a one-shot done with comedy in mind. Maybe it’s a short adventure arc featuring […]

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Need a monster to slay your party with in 2016? Try one of these five creatures, gleaned from sourcebooks in my gaming library.  These monsters are a whole different category of menace. They not only want to devour your crew of 10-foot pole-carrying adventurers, they have the means to be the predator in this ecology. Confronted with these terrors, PCs might think they are ready to fight, but they should always be prepared to flee. So, make sure your table’s PCs have their running shoes […]