This is the archived Suggestion Pot for Gnome Stew’s first year (May 12, 2008 to May 12, 2009).
Want to suggest and article? Visit the current Suggestion Pot.
Talk endlessly about Obsidian Portal and how awesome it is
No, seriously – here’s a real request: find all the tabletop RPG comics and compile a list. Chainmail Bikini, Order of the Stick, DM of the Rings, and all the rest. Surely someone has a comprehensive list out there, but I haven’t seen it.
Not gnomed — We’d like to see one, too, but it’s a bit outside our wheelhouse. If there’s a GMing connection, we’d be happy to come back to this suggestion.
This isn’t an idea for a post, but it’d be great to see a bit more formatting in the posts. Specifically, I’d like to see a low-level header just to break up the text a bit. In today’s post (5 Mistakes of the New GM), it would be much easier to read if the Mistake #8 lines had some bold to them.
Anyways, I’m so glad that the site is finally up! I’ve been looking forward to this ever since Martin posted to his RSS feed about it! Thanks guys, and keep it up!
Gnomed! — We’ve been using more formatting in our posts — thanks!
Hey Martin and gang, I’m giddy to see you getting this project up and going. I would love to see a good article on how to keep the players and GM both happy at the same time, when the players like to have a loose-form game, but the GM likes to have specific stories to tell. Does that make sense?
Gnomed! — Patrick’s article, Build a Multi-Lane Highway addresses this topic.
Another suggestion (if you don’t mind), would be an article on how awesome wikis are for putting campaign information online. At the CBG, people get some massive use out of the wiki we have set up, and with the kinds of extensions available, you can set it up almost like a content management system.
Gnomed! — DNAphil’s article, Group Lovin’ for Your Wiki, is all about wikis for GMs.
I buy and read a whole lot of RPG’s. But I really don’t get to play that often. Part of the reason I don’t is because I am not very good at reading a game, learning it, and then getting the rules across to prospective players. I would love to see some articles on how to prepare to run a new RPG. How do you read it through to get the most out of it? How do you take notes on the system so you can easily summarize for your players? What do you do to prepare to run a new game/system?
Gnomed! — Martin wrote about this topic in 17 Steps to GMing a New RPG for the First Time.
Perhaps a list of interesting combat tactics to use during an encounter? It could really beef up sessions, trying to get beyond the ‘You swing, you hit’ situations.
Gnomed! — Adam’s article, Spicing Up Combat, addresses this topic.
I’d like to see someone write a “How to run a group character creation session” post. Usually I give my players a short campaign speil, a list of allowed books, and tell them to have characters ready for the first session. How do you direct your players into a cohesive group during the group character creation? How do you manage questions from all the players while keeping everyone on the same page character-wise? I’ve got lots more questions but I’m hoping they’d be covered in the post.
Gnomed! — You might get some mileage out of my second roleplaying-intensive game article, which links to a free PDF I wrote a while back about group character creation: So You Want to GM a Roleplaying-Intensive Game, Part 2 (PDF: More is Better: Group Character Creation).
I like how each posts alternates backgrounds to give each comment a clear delineation, but I hate how the alternate background is diagonal lines which make the text incredibly hard to read for my old eyes. Could this be made a solid color?
Otherwise I love the site, and am glad to see it up and running.
Gnomed! — We took care of this.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far! I had a hunch a comments-driven suggestion page might be a good idea.
I’ll be compiling all post ideas into an email later today, so we can decide who wants to write what.
@Micah: I like your idea, but is there a GMing angle?
@Mike: I’m not sure how many of the other gnomes have seen these comments yet, but I’ll pass this on. I just drafted a post for tomorrow with your request in mind.
@Grieve: I was right on the edge about the lines myself — thanks for pushing me over! How’s this pale gray work for you?
I’d second the request for more examples on getting players to generate characters that are good together – in fact, some more advice on getting players to generate characters in advance AT ALL would be useful.
Techniques that DM’s use to help prepare pre-written adventures would also be handy, as I’m planning on running D&D 4e and using the published modules. Any advice on making them more interesting would be very welcome.
I am going to be a first-time DM in the fall (4E D&D), and in my players are a couple of guys who have both DMed for years. Since AD&D at the least. I also have another guy who is fairly new at D&D. So naturally, I am a little nervous. Do you have any tips on how I, as a new DM, can keep in mind to satisfy both groups?
Not gnomed – We put our heads together, but nothing jumped out at us about this topic. I (Martin) would say that for the most part, players like what they like, and while tastes change there’s not always a correlation between experience and tastes.
@Martin: Yes! That pale gray is so much easier on the eyes. Thank you for that.
In the subscription version of Gnome Stew, the articles do not tell who the authors are. I could pick out one that Martin wrote, but it would be very useful to have the authors’ names on their articles.
Not gnomed — I’ve checked both WP’s native feed options and FeedBurner’s settings, and neither presently offers a way to show the post author automatically. Unfortunately, I’m not enough of a coder to hack something like that together myself.
Another suggestion for a first-time DM. I am interested in creating my own world in which to tortu…ermmm…amuse my players. But the task is so overwhelming I am not sure where to start.
Gnomed! — Martin’s article Modular Campaign Settings: Creating a Versatile World might be right up your alley.
Into the hopper go your suggestions — thank you.
@Tallarn: You might get some mileage out of my second roleplaying-intensive game post, which links to a free PDF I wrote a while back about group character creation:
Post: So You Want to GM a Roleplaying-Intensive Game, Part 2
PDF: More is Better: Group Character Creation
Hope those help!
@Cassandra: I’ve checked both WP’s native feed options and FeedBurner’s settings, and neither presently offers a way to show the post author automatically. Unfortunately, I’m not enough of a coder to hack something like that together myself.
i suggest something more practical.
As maybe all of you know there are a lot of books which share tons and tons of tables in 30-40 pages of that book.. as a GM ,i’ve found difficult to implement them in the game because there were too many of them at the same time.. i would like to know if it’s ok for you to give sometimes a table with everything you like.. i don’t know.. a table of “names of books” or “subjects of books” or “middle-age jobs”.. one at a time.. so that a GM should take it.. look at it.. try it and decide it is ok.. too many of them at the same time, for me at least, means “Directly in the trash bin..”
Not gnomed — I don’t see how we could do any better than what’s already on Abulafia. It’s a wiki-driven site that serves up user generated tables for every RPG topic you can imagine, from the weird to the everyday.
I was wondering what alternatives exist for the battlemat, preferably without the miniatures and other small things that my players love to fiddle around with (all the while not paying attention to the game), but at the same time as clear and unambiguous during a complex combat situation.
Right now, I use the excellent MapTool from RPTools (rptools.net) in a server-client setting, but not everyone will want to whip up an intra-network while at the gaming table.
Are there any other possibilities?
Gnomed! — Scott wrote Battlemat Alternatives in response to your suggestion.
@Paperotto: I’m not entirely sure what you mean. There are books out there full of tables of random stuff along the lines that you mentioned — AEG did a massive one, and Gary Gygax’s World Builder was all tables. Can you clarify your request a bit?
@Sektor: The only one I can think of that you didn’t already mention is using a whiteboard and drawing/erasing the characters as needed. I’m not sure there’s a post in that, though — or is there?
@Martin: Well, off the top of my head, how about setting up all your players (physically) on a tiled floor, and have them each ‘act’ their movements? Something of a mixture between LARP and human chess, that is.
I don’t know, I was kind of aiming for some ‘think-outside-the-box’ approaches, although they probably would not really add so much to the game, as much as distract from it.
So I guess you’re right, there probably isn’t much material for a (constructive) post in this. May the gnome-cook disregard that last remark, then .
WoAdWriMo starts tomorrow! I’m so stoked! I’ll be roping my group into it without them knowing as I steal my own ideas. I certainly hope the Gnomes will be getting us involved!
Oh, wait. Just found this: http://jrients.blogspot.com/2008/05/july-is-worldwide-adventure-writing.html
I guess I have a head start!
@Sektor: Roger, Roger.
@MIke: Jeff actually moved WoAdWriMo to July this year. You had me worried there for a minute! (Edit: Had to rescue your comment from the spam queue, but I see you saw this already.)
Oh, also, Martin, bonus points for the formatting! It really makes the content scannable by the eye!
My suggestion: how to get to gamers. I love Harn for example. One of the reasons I love it is that there is a wealth of free downloads/info/community on the net for it, esp. at sites like http://www.lythia.com. The only ‘problem’ is that for the most part, (esp. in my gaming group) gamers do not mix their net use & their gaming interest (except for WoW and buying books off Amazon.) With the derth of good dead-tree gaming mags how can we as gamers unite all the non-net users or get them to use the net more?
Gnomed! — Lots of tips on this topic based on Scott’s experiences in Game Recruitment: Two Tales.
By my count, we’ve tackled about half of the post suggestions made so far (and most of the site-related ones). I know I’m the only gnome who has weighed in specifically in this thread, but we’ve all been discussing and picking suggestions to follow up on via email — so keep ‘em coming!
A couple of article suggestions:
1) How about an article devoted to the special requirements, advantages and drawbacks of a one on one (one pc, one dm) campaign? What story and character concepts work for a lone wolf and what really need a group? Should you tailor the adventures to the character’s particular abilities? Or have some outside that comfort zone? Or make the character a jack of all trades? Can a low level character do a one person dungeon delve with some chance of survival without watering down the dungeon until the flavor is gone or destroying suspension of disbelief?
2) Almost all settings and campaigns seem to assume that pcs are a breed apart. They may start weak but, if they survive, they can eventually become extremely powerful and/or capable. Ok, suppose there are such special people in the world and that they are born with something extra that gives them this superhuman potential. Now suppose that the pcs are not such people. How to make a game where they are, say, peasant conscripts in some noble’s war of revenge for some imagined slight or they are henchmen of an adventuring party with a disturbing habit of usung them as cannon fodder and trap springers, or perhaps low powered mages specialized in household spells exciting? And how do you run such a game where the characters are takers, not givers, of orders without turning it into a railroadfest? Finally, what sort of goals can the players have beyond day to day survival that will keep their interest in spite of their. knowledge of their limited potential?
Gnomed! — Scott wrote about your second suggestion in Not so special PCs.
I’d like a post on how to easily convert a small drawn map of the encounter to the actual battlegrid. Atm, we use pens to line out where the walls are. We’re using the basic battle grid that came with DnD 3.5 DM, so we can’t really draw on the grid…
Also some tips on how to draw maps in general. I suck at it. I need something better, something that I can show my players and they immediately know “oh, hey, so that’s how it looks”. If I just say “there’s a bed against the northern wall” they always think it’s in another square than the intended one. So a few pointers or a whole new tactic on drawing, overworld maps (without grid), aswell as encounter maps (with the battle grid) Now that would be awesome!
Gnomed! — Check out Troy’s Crock Pot: A map-making groove for tips based on your suggestion.
@Martin: Sorry for the late answer
you mean tables with strange things like: Book names, Book subjects, furniture in a room.. something like this.. and this is good.. the bad thing is that there are too many in too short period of time.. if we get something like.. “the week end table” with 50 examples of building subjects of books, that’s enough for a bit.. a GM will spend a bounch of time using and implementing this table.. then going to another table the next week
the point is not a Shower of tables but a dropper of tables
@Clem and Patrigan: Thanks for the suggestions!
@Paperotto: Gotcha. In that case, I don’t see how we could do any better than what’s already on Abulafia. It’s a wiki-driven site that serves up user generated tables for every RPG topic you can imagine, from the weird to the everyday.
Ehy, Ehy, Ehy.. didn’t know about it! Absolutely Fantastic
one other thing that i’ll appreciate to see is something about props, with examples and with something “downloadable”.. For example i’m a Sound Engineer and I help creating atmosphere with music and effects like footsteps, screams.. maybe I can help you write and give some examples about this idea.. but i’d like to read about a “cauldron of props, ideas and examples” like this suggestion pot but about props
the “suggestion props”
Last night I got thinking about “would it be possible to do DnD through simple forums?” What are the oppinions of the gnomes on this one?
@Patrigan: Yep, there’s no reason any edition of D&D (4e included) can’t be run over forums. For a tactical game like D&D, the main thing you need to address is mapping, which can be done turn by turn in a variety of programs. EN World has a whole forum dedicated to PbP (play-by-post) gaming — I’d link it, but they seem to be having site issues right now.
How about an article on ways to handle sense/detect type rolls? The spectrum goes from “player knows what attribute to roll against, what number is needed for success, and what is being checked for” to “player knows attribute only” to “just roll the dice” to “gm rolls openly” to “gm rolls secretly” to “gm rolls before the session and applies the result if/when needed”. Perhaps some discussion on which methods players are likely to accept and when to use them and whether it ever makes sense even with good roleplayers to say “you missed your Vision roll and you don’t see the python in the tree”.
Another suggestion: once in a while, you might clean the suggestion pot .
Removing (or archiving) suggestions that have been handled, as well as any confirmation posts, might make this list easier to scan. Being able to sort comments by thread might also help (though it’s a heck of a lot harder to do with this blog engine, I assume).
Gnomed! — We opted to edit in links/notes as we tackle your suggestions, like this.
@Sektor: That’s a good idea. One option might be to strikethrough completed suggestions, or edit comments for completed suggestions to include a big bold “Done” with a link to the post at the top.
Deleting completed suggestions outright doesn’t feel quite right to me — I want new visitors to be able to see that comments in the Suggestion Pot actually do get turned into posts.
Not sure if it has been mentioned before, or if I already commented, but.. the left margin when viewed in FF3— there is none really.
Makes it really hard to read.
Gnomed! — We added a gutter to both sides of the body.
@Rust: I’m not sure I know how to fix that problem, and I can’t seem to reproduce it myself. I pinged you via email for some more information.
Anyone else who is having a problem with the gutter (the white space to either side of the main column): Please email me with a) what browser and version you’re using and b) what screen resolution you’re viewing Gnome Stew at.
I can picture the problem in my mind, but until I can actually see it I won’t be able to solve it. Thanks!
Update: Aha! Rust has clarified: The problem happens when he shrinks his browser window, compressing the main column to the edge of the screen.
Gnome Stew’s theme isn’t really designed for less than Total Domination of Your Screen (TM), but now I understand the problem. I’ll see what I can do without breaking anything.
Update Again: Fixed! And I don’t think I broke anything.
Use a more t-shirt friendly logo.
Not gnomed — Dude, our logo is TOTALLY work-appropriate. Ahem.
Supers gaming: In a world with ubiquitous security cameras, DNA analysis that can identify someone from a skin cell scraped from their knuckle by an evildoer’s five o’clock shadow, image and profile matching software, huge fingerprint and medical ID databases, easy wiretapping and bugging etc.; how does an enterprising vigilante protect his/her/their/its secret identity?
Gnomed! — Scott tackled this topic in High Tech and Secret Identities.
The new editing thing doesn’t work for me. It’s very slow on my computer, and sometimes fails to work entirely. I don’t suppose you could implement an option to use the old version of editing instead? Part of the problem is probably that I haven’t upgraded my browser in a while, but also, I think the older way of editing was just plain more convenient anyway.
Not gnomed — OK, it’s definitely slower to load the little window than it was to edit it in the prior version. Sorry about that! It’s the only game in town, though, and I still think it does a good job overall.
@Swordgleam: Do you mean the plugin that allows you to edit your comments for a limited time, or something else entirely?
If so, unfortunately I upgraded it for compatibility with the latest version of WordPress (which we are using, of course). My understanding is that it’s always best to use the current version of plugins, which is our standard practice.
I actually like the fact that it doesn’t revolve around clicking the text of your whole comment, but that’s just me — I’m sorry it’s bugging you. I haven’t noticed any slowdown myself. Is this happening for anyone else?
Edit: OK, it’s definitely slower to load the little window than it was to edit it in the prior version. Sorry about that! It’s the only game in town, though, and I still think it does a good job overall.
One thing I sometimes struggle with is player failure, I’ve come up with a few simple failures, like taking more time, or breaking something, but wondered if there were others I might have missed out on.
I know of GUMSHOE, I believe a system that treats failure differently? But are there other systems out, or things that work in all games, especially for investigative adventures when failure isn’t really an option but you can’t just “give it away”?
I’d be more than happy to share my simple list if no-one else wants to take it up.
Gnomed! — Scott wrote Fail? Can the world survive failure? to answer this question.
It occurs to me that nobody has said much about the ethical screening and training of mages. Consider: if you are going to enable someone to throw fireballs and petrify people and screw around with the weather, wouldn’t you want to be pretty sure they won’t run amok with the ability? I envision some sort of long process of proving themselves, perhaps with a series of subtle tests, before would-be apprentices are taught anything and more testing and rigorous ethical indoctrination and strict discipline as they learn. Maybe a Mr. Miyagi crossed with the Shao-lin temple from Kung Fu perhaps? Even given something like that, there would be a few driven sociopaths who game the system long enough to gain power and others who are turned evil by some misadventure. That would supply the needed evil wizards. In such a world, wouldn’t there be people tasked to deal with apprentices who crack and start turning people into frogs? Or would their masters be expected to handle it? And what about the poor fools who apprentice themselves to an evil wizard? Such a master would try to be very careful to teach them only enough to be useful without letting them learn enough to be dangerous. How would an ambitious evil apprentice gain real power? and what sort of (un)ethical indoctrination would such a one receive? Finally, what would happen to the people with magical talent who didn’t pass ethical muster with legitimate teachers and couldn’t or wouldn’t apprentice themselves to an evil wizard? Many would probably turn away from magic but some would probably try to figure it out on their own or “acquire” random spells they lack the training to fully understand or use properly. What sort of strange spells and variants would they stumble upon? What kind of havoc would the wreak with them intentionally or otherwise? Who would be responsible for cleaning up such messes? Consider, for example, a rogue wannabe healing mage. Perhaps he can cure a disease, but will inadvertently turn the “cured” patient into a Typhoid Mary who will spread it everywhere unbeknownst to either of them. Perhaps the new plague, due to its magical origin, will be resistant to conventional healing magic. Tracking down and solving such problems could make an interesting campaign.
Gnomed! — Troy’s article, D&D Burgoo: Magical Ethics covers this topic. Thanks!
@Martin: I had a feeling it would be something like that. Ah, well. I’ll just have to upgrade my browser, live with the bugginess, or learn to be perfect.
Clem, what you’re saying reminds me of the Jedi Temple, and Feist’s Magician (if I remember correctly), but would make a good article or even setting.
How about an article about pacing “reveals”, and running games that involve twists, turns and “Aha!” moments (if that’s not most or all of them..). I’m a fairly inexperienced DM, and have played very little as well, and could use some help in that area.
I’d like an article discussing level drain: pros, cons, how to handle it so it’s effective (scary!) but not debilitating/frustrating, etc.
FYI, the DM in one of my 3.5e D&D tabletop games is running an on-going campaign where level-drain seems to always come up as the focal plot device, and it’s starting to tick off some of the players (me included). The reason is that we have no cleric in the party, and the game world (home-brew version of Ravenloft) doesn’t provide many sufficiently-powered clerics and/or magic items to help us rid ourselves of the accursed affliction. What’s a poor, repressed PC to do?
Gnomed! – Check out A Chilling Touch: Level Drain — and thanks!
Here’s something I’d like to see discussed: when is too early to tweak rules? If something in a core rulebook looks like it won’t work for your group, should you still give it a fair shot?
For example – action points in 4e look stupid. My group, in other games, already uses a version of action points that are a lot more powerful and allow for more cinematic action, and it would be silly to have two different kinds of action points.
But I only know that the 4e version of action points LOOK stupid. I haven’t tried them yet. So do I owe it to the game designers/my group/the universe to try a few sessions with the action points as written? Or is it totally fair to just say “we’re not doing that” and use the version of action points that my group has been having a ton of fun with?
I’d hate to miss out on what could be a good game mechanic. But I also don’t want to waste everyone’s time learning rules that we’ll never bother using, on top of all the other new rules to learn with this system.
Gnomed! — Troy wrote about this topic in D&D Burgoo (4.0): Action point, smaction point.
This article seems like a great starting point for incorporating a rich economic model into a world: http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_3_economics.html
I was wondering if there were ways to make investigation more engaging. There is something about investigation, I am having difficulty putting my finger on it, part of it is that investigation seems to break up the group, one person wants to run up pull the funny book off the shelf while another wants the rogue to take a look at it for traps. This ends up with the first person frustrated that they have to wait to do what they want (and that someone else does it) and the second one frustrated because they see a possible trap being sprung with nothing they can do about it. Also investigation has led to everyone talking at once (there are ways to solve this if you think about it ahead of time) and to some players disengaging. Typing this, I wonder if I ran an investigation like a D&D 4e skill challenge, with some creative uses for Acrobatics, Athletics, Dungeoneering, Endurance and Nature. Anyway, there is my idea you write the article.
Gnomed! — Tackled by Troy in D&D Burgoo (4.0): Room Search Free-for-all.
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