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Origins 2017: Social Choices

Origins was last week and I’m still walking around in a gamer high haze. There were games galore and many, many people to see and talk to—so many people! As I made my way through the convention center to a variety of games, both scheduled and off-book, I realized I know a crap-ton of people. […]

Gnomecast #17 – Gnomecast at Origins 2017

  Welcome to the Gnomecast, the Gnome Stew’s tabletop gaming advice podcast. Here we talk with the other gnomes about gaming things to avoid becoming part of the stew. So I guess we’d better be good. This episode we we’re at Origins and Ang is talking to as many Gnomes as she can find.

IT Wizardry

In fantasy settings with sufficient magic, there is likely to be a low level spell to send a simple message from person to person. Consider that a permanent magic item with this power is essentially a one way cell phone. This is such an indispensable item that no one who could afford it would be […]

Using Intellectual Property

  There are more pre-created settings in role playing supplements than you can shake a stick at. There are even more settings out there in other creations outside just the role playing industry. These include TV shows, movies, novels, graphic novels, comic books, and video games. Some of these have already been adapted to a […]

Notes on Stuff You Should Know: Camp X

Hi SYSK fans! Just a few quick notes on Josh and Chuck’s podcast about Camp X, the top secret World War 2 secret agent training camp in Ontario, Canada. I just wanted to mention the discrepancy the guys found between...

Gnome Spotlight: Big Bad Con & Gaming For All

Welcome to the second installment of Gnome Spotlight, where we highlight gamers doing good. Today I’m excited to share the really cool programs and practices of a convention that consistently gets rave reviews: Big Bad Con. It’s a tabletop and live action gaming convention, boasting a wide variety of RPGs, larps, and card/board games. It’s […]

The Backpocket Adventure

Sometimes players zag when you expected them to zig. It happens to all of us. Often it’s easy to just adapt your current adventure to the changing situation. However, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they go off into a totally different part of the world (or another plane or planet altogether). For those situations, you may […]

Making a Thing: Camp Adventure, Part 3

Two weeks ago, I teased you with how different the cabin areas of the Camp would be for the campers. Rather than try to spend wrds describing them here, I’m going to give you the description directly from the text. The Cabins The cabin at Camp Adventure are perhaps the most unique and adaptable part […]

Troy’s Crock Pot: Just Like 007

In level-based fantasy rpgs, trying to match the power level of the big bad adversary to where the player characters will be at that point in an adventure is like trying to thread a needle with your eyes closed. As the GM, you’re anticipating where the PCs are going to be in terms of hit […]

Gnomecast #16 – The Eight Types of Fun

  Welcome to the Gnomecast, the Gnome Stew’s tabletop gaming advice podcast. Here we talk with the other gnomes about gaming things to avoid becoming part of the stew. So I guess we’d better be good. Today we have Chris and myself, Ang, and we’re going to discuss one of Chris’ articles, The Eight Types of Fun. […]

Variant Fishfolk

Most fantasy RPGs have a type of fishfolk. Due to logistic concerns they don’t often see a lot of play time, so there are usually just a few varieties in any given system. While from a limited resources perspective, this is understandable, it does a great disservice to the diversity of marine life. Below are […]

From The Horse’s Mouth

Today’s guest article is from Jerry Weis and covers the topic of chewing on player feedback. – Something in my teeth John It’s no secret that one of the best ways to improve in any field is through regular feedback.  Game mastering is no exception; getting useful suggestions and recommendations from your players is a […]

Making a Thing: Camp Adventure, Part 2

When I wrote the first Camp Adventure article a couple of weeks ago, I ended things up knowing I needed to pick a part of the project to work on next. I outlined a few possibilities in the post, but when I went back to the document, one of them jumped out to me. Location, […]

Uh Oh! Monsters! More Fun For No Thank You, Evil!

You all remember that wonderful game for kids and families with various ages — No Thank You, Evil!? I am delighted to tell you know the newest set of accompanying resources is currently on preorder from Monte Cook Games. Full disclosure: they sent me a PDF to review for this article, which of course I […]

Review And Giveaway — Mortzengersturm,The Mad Manticore Of The Prismatic Peak

So you’ve read that title, you’ve seen the sixties-riffic art, and you’re curious about what exactly this thing is. That was how The Hydra Cooperative hooked me when they sent us a request to do a review of their 5e adventure Mortzengersturm,The Mad Manticore Of The Prismatic Peak. I’m going to pick apart this quirky […]

Gnomecast #15 – The Power of No

  Welcome to the Gnomecast, the Gnome Stew’s tabletop gaming advice podcast. Here we talk with the other gnomes about gaming things to avoid becoming part of the stew. So I guess we’d better be good. Today we have Phil, and myself, Ang, and we’re going to discuss Phil’s recent article, The Power of No. Links […]

Kickstarter Spotlight: Cortex Prime

I’ve been lucky enough to know Cam Banks for about six years, now. In fact, the first time I mat Cam, I interviewed him about the then-brand-new Leverage RPG. I had no idea what I was doing, but he was kind enough to talk to me. Fast-forward to now and Cam is Kickstarting a brand-new, […]

Setting that moral compass

In the early part of running a campaign, it can be a useful exercise to take the temperature, so to speak, of the player characters’ moral compass. I know a lot of games have that familiar spot on their character sheet for “alignment.” Players will often declare, as their character is introduced, where they land […]

The Power of No

One of the worst pieces of GMing advice I ever gave myself was to always make sure the players were happy, even over my own happiness; to avoid saying No. This ridiculous piece of advice has lead to more campaign deaths in my career as a GM than I should admit. The thing is that […]

Five Fantasy Forest Features

I was recently kicking around a game set in a deep forest. While it didn’t pan out, I did manage to salvage a few set pieces that can be dropped into your game as landmarks or adventure sites. The Spire: A massive petrified tree standing over the rest of the treetops. Hollow on the inside, […]

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