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You know the old saying: “Villains, we love to hate them.” I don’t buy it, not for a minute. We love our villains. When Darth Vader, Loki, or even Plankton are on the screen, we can’t take our eyes off them. It’s not that we admire their evil deeds, but there’s something magnetic about their confidence and scheming. Show More Summary

Swords with Attitude aka Can a Sword Pout?

Today’s excellent guest article by Gnome Stew reader Laurence Gillespie is a response to a previous guest article, Can a Sword Smile. Guest articles about Guest articles? Gnomeception! – John A. The following is a response to Robert Neri Jr’s article “Can a Sword Smile” which appeared on November 10, 2015. Show More Summary

TinyPlots – A Way to Manage the Many Plot Threads in an RPG Campaign

There’s an archnemesis whose evil conspiracy has been hinted at since the PCs were second level. There’s the current adventure’s story, the seeds of which were sown in the last adventure. There’s the bard, who’s been searching for a family...

A Teen Library Gaming Program In Action

A few months back I wrote a review of Dragons in the Stacks, a book by Steven Torres-Roman and Cason E. Snow about running teen gaming programs in libraries. I’ve long been a fan of libraries as spaces for the community, and having worked in libraries I set about searching for a teen gaming program at my local library or starting one. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: It’s all about that base

New GM. New players. First adventure exploring a dungeon is a success. But now the players are going to ask things like: Where’s the nearest town so my PC can cash in this loot? Where does my character come from? Where’s she live? Where...Show More Summary

Hot Button – Red Herrings

As a GM, one of the things I find most puzzling is the negativity some players have towards red herrings (a false clue or something else that distracts the party from the adventure). I find red herrings very useful and appropriate for...Show More Summary

Where Did We Park?

As the GM, it’s can sometimes feel like you’re the only one paying attention to what’s actually happening in the game. You show up to start the next session and no one seems to remember what happened the last time you played, even when you left them hanging on the edge in a cliffhanger. Show More Summary

Gming Easy Mode: Ocean Explorers!

My GMing roots lie in the big exploration campaigns of earlier editions, as opposed to the modern dungeon of the week with level appropriate crafted adventures. But these campaigns require a lot of front loaded prep and I’m simply bad at it. Show More Summary

Instrumental Music for Writers

If you’re a writer, you probably like to have some background music on while you work, maybe to set the mood, maybe to drown out the other yobs in the coffee shop. Music with lyrics is too distracting, so everyone...

Something’s Bugging Me About Tolkien

I’m working on my roughly biennial rereading of the Lord of the Rings — this is my fourth or fifth time through them, but having just finished Fellowship, something’s started to bother me that I hadn’t noticed before. It isn’t...


As a gamemaster, you have to be able to handle numerous tasks at once. You have to describe the scene, adjudicate the rules, portray the non-player characters (NPC’s), and try to keep everyone involved. That’s a lot, so you don’t need your session note format to get in the way. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Neverwinter’s Urban Renewal Project

One of the brilliant things the D&D creative team did in Fourth Edition was wreck the city of Neverwinter and turn it into an adventurer’s playground. Yep, they hit Neverwinter with an eruption of Mount Hotenow, slammed it with quakes...Show More Summary

Ignorance is Bliss?

Today’s guest article by Gnome Stew reader Craig Dedrick explores handling passing of secrets between players and the Game Master. It’s the most recent of  four he’s done for the Stew, with the others being Fear Itself, Freedom Through Restraint,  and What Makes a Good Monster? – John A. Show More Summary

The Power of Blue-Booking

Today’s guest article is by Ross Watson of Evil Beagle Games, and it talks about a Game Mastering technique used in their new kickstarter for Aaron Allston’s Strike Force which has writing from Steve Kenson, Sean Patrick Fannon, and Michael Surbrook in it. Show More Summary

Movie Review — Jack Palance in Attack! (1956)

It’s easy to think all 50s movies are bland, conformist, patriotic pap, but this intense World War II drama has a surprising amount of bite, and it stars a young Jack Palance at his seething best. It’s also got one...

When You Aren’t Feeling It

Have you ever looked at the calendar and realized that you’re supposed to run a game in the near future and you just aren’t “feeling it?” Do you cancel the session or press on? I find this happening more and more as I get older and, conversely, I play less and less. Show More Summary

RESISTOR – A Zine Full of Games

The roots of tabletop gaming in the early 70s were closely intertwined with community and a do it yourself effort. The first pioneers of the gaming industry created their works with very few of the modern tools that make the job of game developers easier today. Show More Summary

The Mini Dungeon as a Random Encounter

One of the problems in an exploration game is content. We’d all like to put together a campaign world with content jam packed into every nook and cranny, but there are some problems with that. First and foremost is our time constraints. Show More Summary


Over the years I’ve had the privledge of running sessions where most of the players were new to the hobby. In this column, we’ll take a look at some strategies for planning out that first session. The goal in planning such a session is to showcase some of the essential features of the system, while giving them a successful and enjoyable session. Show More Summary

Dungeon Masters Guild and Adventurer’s League changes

5e Public Play: It’s all Adventurer’s League now A couple of weeks ago, Wizards of the Coast announced big changes to its organized play program. All of the adventures are now just Adventurer’s League; before, they’d been split between the new player geared Encounters and the continuing play Expeditions. Show More Summary

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