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A Home Base for the Ethereal Plane

I was doing some prep recently (gasp no!) so I figured I’d share. Here is a base located on the ethereal plane for your high magic adventures. Reasonably close to the center of the bizarre geometry of the planes, the city of Media is a large trading center and rest stop for dimensional travelers of all sorts. Show More Summary

THE ONLINE EDITION: GOING OFF THE VIRTUAL MAP

Players love to go off the map. That’s one thing that separates traditional roleplaying games from computer games, the ability to try anything. In a face to face setting, there are a number of ways to handle players going “off map.”Show More Summary

Taking the First Step

It can be difficult to switch over, to cross the table and GM for the first time. Long ago, I wrote Introductory Games for New Roleplayers for a young GM and a table of all new players. This time we’re looking at a different situation—training new GMs who may be nervous about running for tables of experienced players and strangers. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Distilling Published Adventures

Published adventures are more abundant and accessible than ever before. The depth, range and quality of the material is as strong as ever, too. That increases the likelihood of GMs incorporating published adventures into their games....Show More Summary

Johnny’s Five – Mixed Messages

One of the biggest problems I’ve ever seen plague any game is miscommunication between the Game Master and the players. The game master will say: “You throw the door open and see the footprints in the ever-deepening snow. The flakesShow More Summary

How Do You Stay Interested During a Long Break?

Here’s my dirty little GMing secret – I burn out quickly. I launch into a new campaign with great enthusiasm, boning up on the period and genre, purchasing all the supplementary material I can get my hands on, crafting a world, and putting an epic campaign into place. Show More Summary

What to do When Your Dice Often Misbehave

So you’ll often read online or hear during RPG discussions that someone’s dice were “misbehaving”, by which they usually mean they had a long string of low (usually, but sometimes high) numbers. It’s also regularly used as a reason why...Show More Summary

Hot Button – Brief or Eloquent

The shopkeeper’s green tunic clashes oddly with his blue alien skin. The 6 strange nostrils on the top of his head are flaring wildly, a gesture of greeting for his people. As you eye over his wares, he moves his large bulky body over to you, causing some of the racks to slide out of the way. Show More Summary

TRAVELING LIGHT TODAY: A MINIMALISTIC GM’s KIT

If you’re like me, you pack too much stuff for your face to face games. Oh, we all try to bring just the essentials, but then we still throw in extra stuff, “just in case.” I know a GM who uses a rolling luggage carrier for all their rulebooks. Show More Summary

A Lesson Relearned: Time Management

A good smack in the nose can teach a valuable lesson, but sometimes the lesson fades. Last weekend, I got another smack on the nose. I let time management get away from me. The result was an unproductively long session, even though there were good elements. Show More Summary

Another Take on GMing Types

We spend a lot of time talking about different types of players and the best way to GM for them. But what about GM’s? Do GM’s have types? Most certainly we do. In my years of doing panels and playing games at conventions, and hanging out with all sort of GMs, I have seen certain types. Show More Summary

Fair or Foul: Learning the Hard Way?

During my last session of D&D, metagaming reared its ugly head again. My players were attacked by a couple of black dragons, and one of my players briefed the others on what tactics to use and what kind of breath weapon this particular...Show More Summary

A Bandoleer of Bangs

I’m currently the producer for a pair of Primetime Adventures shows. Each show has completed its pilot; now we’re on to the first season. To get there, though, requires very different preparation from my usual. Setting Scenes in Primetime...Show More Summary

Regarding the Smartphone

Ask GMs about their pet peeves when it comes to player behavior and one of the first subjects to come up will be the dreaded smartphone. The modern cell phone, whether you’re an i-devotee or an android enthusiast, is a modern marvel of technology. Show More Summary

Preparing Your Ad Libs (or “Fake It Like You Mean It”)

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Nick M. is his second. Last time around, he talked about getting back in the saddle; today, he’s here to share some tips for “preparing to improvise,” if you will. His advice is aimed at a play style that features pre-planned plots and stories. Show More Summary

My Litmus Test For Crazy Player Ideas

“ So, if you two can balance the ladders just right for about 45 seconds, I can get high enough to get a good angle from this garden beyond the castle walls. I can throw my dart the distance to the chandelier from there and with a good...Show More Summary

Freedom Through Restraint: E6 and Using Similar Ideas in Other Games

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick might look D&D-specific at first, but Craig winds up asking some questions that are relevant to many RPGs — D&D is the lens here, not the real topic. Thanks, Craig! –Martin Dungeons & Dragons has always been my first love in gaming. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: The Elusive DC Chase

In a recent session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the players jumped on skis and whisked their way down the mountainside, pursued by the cultists’ elite ski troopers — dwarves armed with crossbows. Cue the James Bond music, please. A little DIY It was a chance to put into play the chase rules as detailed in the fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. Show More Summary

An Apology to Some Min-Maxers

One of the side-effects of playing a large number of games, and starting to design your own, is that you start to see what the mechanics of a specific game are doing or not doing. As my understanding of game mechanics has begun to grow,...Show More Summary

3 Zany Robots for Your Game

Here are some misfit robots for your game. They span several genres, but all are fun and colorful and a little silly. SP1kE (Sentient Prototype 1000 Experiment): Lacking hardware that could handle the complex processing required to run a robot, the designers of SP1kE used an organic stand in; a preserved brain. Show More Summary

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