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How Do You Learn?

How many RPGs have you run without having played it first? It can feel like a chicken and an egg conversation, but obviously someone out there read the book and ran a game without ever having played it before. Sitting beside my bed are...Show More Summary

A Time of Family, Feasting, and Plague

Thanksgiving is tomorrow in the US, a time of plentiful food and good cheer for many. Unfortunately, fevers have broken out among my relatives, so we’re staying apart for at least a few days in hopes that we can prevent spreading disease to each other. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: When to Shaddup, Already!

The GM provides descriptions of every landscape and of every room. She gives voice to every monster and NPC. She adjudicates every turn in combat, and she lists every bit of loot and reveals every little clue along the way. It would seem, that from start to finish, the GM is doing a lot of talking. Show More Summary

Stat Yourself As A Character To Combat Anxiety

I get anxiety – often. I usually do a pretty good job of pushing those anxious voices out of my head and moving on with life, but November is especially rough because it is the anniversary of family deaths and some other well-rooted pieces of my past that ramp my anxious voices up to 11. Show More Summary

Asymmetrical Play Experiences

Recently, I was given a chance to run a game for a group that I previously GMed. This was back before my playing style changed over, from a more traditional prep-medium, linear story, to where I am now with a lite-prep, more improv/collaborative style. Show More Summary


Representational artists must consider the value scale when planning a drawing or painting. Without light, dark and mid-tones, a picture can look bland and flat. When actually executing the picture, the artist must decide whether to work light to dark, dark to light, or something in between. Show More Summary

Character Exposition Through Play

I’ve recently been reading some books on how to improve my story writing, and one of the tips they invariably give is to not start your stories with a massive exposition dump. This is bad news for me because my writing is usually nothing but exposition dump, so I probably will never write the next bestseller to take the world by storm. Show More Summary

How Lucky is Your Game?

Luck comes in many shades and flavors in roleplaying games. Some games actually build in a mechanic to emulate luck in varying ways. Others have an inherent kind of luck with a bennie, plot point, or some other token type of system. Even games that have no mechanical way to represent luck are still dependent on the fickle fate of the dice. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: A Taste of Improv at GenCon

Regular readers familiar with my GMing style are aware that session prep is a strength. Now, such an approach still requires thinking on my feet, such as when the players turn left (when I anticipated that they would turn right), then I would still have an appropriate encounter or response at hand. Show More Summary

Can a Sword Smile?

Today’s guest article is the second one we’ve featured by Robert A. Neri Jr. of Ranger Games Publishing. His first, Can an Onion Bleed?, looked at engaging NPCs. This one’s about items with backstories. Thanks, Robert! — Martin Items...Show More Summary

3 Sinister Treats in Your Halloween Haul

As I watched horror movies, getting up to hand out candy to munchkins on Halloween this year I was inspired to come up with some tricky treats to torment trick-or-treaters. Of course I had a ground rule for myself: they had to be fodder for a fun adventure. Show More Summary

How Many Shades of Gray?

Resolution mechanics are a lot like grading scales. Some are simply pass-fail, some have a few levels like letter grades, and some are even more granular like percentages. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the strengths and limitations of various levels of resolution. Show More Summary

The Embarrassment of Riches

Usually when I have issues or problems with a campaign, it’s because something is threatening to cut it short. Perhaps I’ve run short of material. Perhaps the players managed to leap ahead towards the end. Perhaps there was a TPK. Perhaps the players are losing interest. Show More Summary

Fear After Fear — An Anthology of Flash and Micro Horror Stories

I’ve collected the stories that I originally wrote for David Wellington’s Fear Project into a special, limited, Halloween-only anthology. The stories may be short, but they’re honed to a razor-sharp edge. I’ll only be offering this collection through the end...

Hip Pocket Games

Hip Pocket Games aren’t a real classification or genre of RPG. Instead, hip pocket games are scenarios that you’re always ready to run. They’re there in your hip pocket, ready to whip out and play on minimal notice. Sometimes, theseShow More Summary

31 Days of Nightmares — Goodnight Mommy & The Witches’ Mountain

So much hype and anticipation, so much disappointment. Goodnight Mommy I was really psyched to see Goodnight Mommy. The trailer was weird and creepy and hinted at dark secrets. The trailer was better than the actual movie. The silver lining...

Round Robin Sandbox GMing: Microscope Plus Dresden Files

Before I moved to Seattle, my group in Utah wrapped up a Dresden Files campaign that ranks as one of my all-time favorites — specifically, a round robin sandbox with our city’s history built collaboratively using Microscope. Round robin...Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Make the room fit the monster

This one is for gamemasters learning to stock their first dungeons, a bit of straight-forward advice to make your life easier as you create and / or adapt adventures for your group. Make the room fit the monster. Now, this is more than just making sure that the dimensions of the encounter space match your adversary’s size. Show More Summary

31 Days of Nightmares — Halloween: Resurrection, Young Frankenstein, Return to House on Haunted Hill, and The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia

I know I’ve slipped off schedule a little bit, but here’s a four-pack of horror movies to get us back on track. Young Frankenstein There’s not much I can say about this comedy classic — we were due to see...

Consistent, Sustainable Gaming

This guest article was written by Oliver J. Oviedo of OJO Games, and its topic — sustainability — is one that isn’t often addressed in advice for GMs. Thanks, Oliver! — Martin I have had the luxury of having consistent gaming sessions over the last 19 years. Show More Summary

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