Category: Tools for GMs

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Here are three themed NPCs for use in your game. Though they could be tweaked for any genre, they can be dropped directly into a supers or modern fantastic game. Their theme is flawed divine power. Often, divine heroes are portrayed as beautiful and righteous. Not so with these characters. Though still heroic, they are a motley and damaged group. Brother Job: When the nuns of St. Mary’s found an abandoned infant on their doorstep they took the poor thing in, intending to keep him […]

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You would have to ask an expert (which I am not) to get a better understanding, but to my knowledge there are two general classes of fractals.  The first (the type seen below) is a graph of a set of complex numbers. The most well known of these is the Mandelbrot set, whose mathematical equation is: zn+1 = zn2 + c where z is a complex number. There’s even a song about it:   The other type of fractal are the pathological monsters (so called […]

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Online, virtual tabletops (VTT’s) now allow more people to game than ever before.  Regardless of geography, or work and family commitments, it’s possible for almost everyone to find a game that fits their needs.  This article is the first in a series examining different aspects of being an online GM.  Even if you don’t play online, hopefully you can find some food for thought here. Let’s first look at traditional, top-down maps.  These are the gridded maps we’ve all loved for decades.  Online VTT’s allow […]

Free RPG Day is coming up later this month (on June 21st), and we’re having a mini-con to coincide. In the past, I’ve gone light on running games to be available for emergencies, but the store is well staffed this year… and I’m eager to GM. (I’ve been fortunate enough to play in a few games recently; my batteries are recharged. It’s time to reciprocate.) One of the games that I enjoyed running earlier this year was Kingdom. It was a very interesting game; though […]

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There is a class of creativity exercise called Random Stimulus. The basic gist of all of them is being presented with a new, random stimulus and then engaging in free association between the idea you are working on and this new stimulus. This takes a bit of practice, but it can be used to find new ideas or to enhance ideas already in use. A great source of random image stimulus is Marc Barcinsky and Adrien JeanJean’s Endless Interestingness. This web page is an endless […]

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The truth is out there… This world looks very much like the one we all experience; birthdays, taxes, and grinding jobs. In that world, however, there is a secret organization, dedicated to protecting everyone from… something. Depending on your game something can be a lot of somethings, or one subtle difference. I have always loved alternate histories—including the old TV show Voyagers. Sometimes the tiniest twist is all it takes to make a radically different reality… if you indulge in some enthusiastic fallout from the […]

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Engaging all the senses is something easier said than done in the context of your typical gaming session. While we can plan specific NPC mannerisms, locales, or even subtle clues about the environment to make them even more engaging, on more than one occasion I’ve been a victim of being caught up in the moment and leaving those languishing on the adventure table, unused. Plus, as I recently wrote in depth in Engine Publishing’s newly announced book, Unframed, different people absorb information in different ways. […]