Category: GMing Advice


This past week I was at Gen Con, and ran a few sessions of my fantasy world, Elhal. Convention games are always tricky, and something that we have talked about many times here on the Stew. This time around, I ran the same session of Elhal in both Fate and in Savage Worlds. In doing so, I realized all the physical implements that go into running these games, and how scarce space can be at a full table. In order to keep everyone’s focus and […]


What’s more realistic? A group of heroes waits in a tavern until adventure finds them … … or a rich, well-connected patron provides them with the means to set out on the next adventure? As cliched as both options can be, I’ve been rethinking my aversion to using the patron as a means of hooking into an adventure. What’s caused this change of heart? I’m reading David Grann’s story of Victorian-era British explorer Percy Fawcett and his lifelong quest for “The Lost City of Z.” […]


I love pregenerated characters. They’re great for con games, online games, pick-up games, or when you need replacement characters after a TPK.  They’re an easy way to get new people gaming quickly.  Obviously you won’t use pregens in every game (more later), but they are handy to have around.  This article will talk about some ways to get the most out of your pregens, perhaps even for years and years.  We’ll first look at some things to consider when creating your pregens, then how to use […]


A well-utilized signature monster can drive a campaign for a long time. The monster doesn’t necessarily need any exceptional abilities to be compelling. For example, savage orcs move the adventures along in Middle Earth and skulking goblins jump start things in Golarian. There is something very basic in this approach, as the enduring popularity of zombie movies shows. Many players find appealing the idea of brightly shining heroes beating back hordes of brutes that are parodies of true men. Not all monsters are outwardly monstrous. […]


If you find yourself ending an adventure with significant session time to spare, do you stop short or introduce the next adventure? For most of my GMing life I’ve been in the “if there’s enough game-time to set a scene or two then do it” camp. If everyone set aside four hours to game and the adventure ended with over an hour to spare, then why not launch into something new, especially if the PCs don’t have to do a lot of bookkeeping in between […]


Like quite a few other people this past week, I went to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. It has a 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and if you listen to the buzz, the movie is everything from the absolute best film this year to the second coming of ‘Star Wars’. While I won’t really go that far, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, I wanted to go see it again right away and it desperately made me want to play in or […]


So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge: you’re going to GM your first online session.  Maybe you’re a little nervous, concerned about getting all the details right.  This article will give you some guidelines to help you make that first session start smoothly. WHAT YOU’LL NEED A virtual tabletop – The virtual tabletop (VT) allows you and your players to interact.  You can load maps, background images, and tokens.  I use, but there are a number of other free (or free trial) ones […]