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The Best of the Gnome Stew Archives, 2008: Part 1 of 5

Before we went on our Christmas break (12/24 through 1/4, returning to normal posting 1/5), I asked all of the gnomes to choose their favorite three articles they’d written since our launch in May 2008. These guys have written a massive amount of GMing material — 260+ articles! — in the past seven months, and I thought this would be a good way to highlight some of the best articles you might never have seen.

From now through the end of our break, we’ll be running five posts like this one, each featuring two gnomes’ favorites.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year from us gnomes!

Walt Ciechanowski

1. Short Sessions: How to cope [1]: “It was my first post and still holds up well for gamers like me that have to work sessions into a busy schedule.”

2. Hot Button: Whose character is it anyway? [2]: “I really enjoy the Hot Button posts. If I had to pick one, though, it would be this one. It was a question that haunted me for almost a decade and received a lot of good comments.”

3. The Re-Gathering of Heroes [3]: “This one came at an inspired moment when I challenged my assumptions about fantasy campaigns.”

Want to read all of Walt’s articles? Make with the clicky. [4]

Troy Taylor

1. D&D Burgoo: Magical Ethics [5]: “When Clem stirred the suggestion pot with a question about magical ethics, who knew it would elicit such strong feelings on the subject? The resulting discussion really came down to two distinct approaches: whether you ran an “in-depth” character-driven game opposed to those who prefer a more casual afternoon of RPG gaming. I think this one really deserves a second look because as Brent points out, it’s a chance for PCs to roleplay a morality that is forbidden in the world at large. Sometimes it’s good to explore our darker side — as long as we leave it at the table.”

2. Don’tcha got a job, or something? [6]: “I feel strongly about the players bringing well-developed characters to the table. I don’t care if you write out a 10-page backstory or build a hand-crafted prop like a spellbook — both of which are really cool, by the way — or if it it’s just character stats on a piece of scratch paper. But I think the player should “know” his or her character — their likes and dislikes, for instance, and key aspects of their personality. And I think skill points are a great way for players to shortcut this process — placing ranks in the professions and craft skills are great ways to “know” what’s important about their character. It was the opening to a lively discussion that branched out to the wider issue of how character development should influence the GM’s choices about adventure, flavor and setting.”

3. It’s time to panic. We don’t have a cleric. [7]: “Recently, my group was talking about our next campaign, and the subject invariably came up: Who’s gonna play the cleric? I shake my head. Do my players know me at all? I’ve already blogged about this! So I repeat: I don’t think a player should have to be be “forced” to play a cleric, if they don’t want to. Play whatever core class you want, I said. It’s interesting, because as a group of players, they know it’s important to have a cleric. It’s just that no one wants to be the cleric. “Hire one,” I suggest. They look at me as if I’ve just landed from the moon. Yes, I understand. They want “free” healing — the cheapskates! (But it warms my heart to know that my players are old-style D&D players at their core — they’re little dragons who loot dungeons for treasure and want to keep it all for themselves.)”

Want to read all of Troy’s articles? Make with the clicky. [8]