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Hireling to Hero

A few years ago, I was running a game in the midst of a deep dungeon delve. As things go with these delves, a character in the group died. The character had hired a faithful hireling and dutifully kept him alive. The hireling was more than just a backpack-carrying torch bearer. The PC treated the […]

The Eight Types of Fun

Gnome “emeritus” Walt Ciechanowski likes to say there’s no such thing as wrong bad fun. I love that statement. I also believe he’s right. Unfortunately, fun is often subjective and hard to describe something that’s fun to someone unless they know your tastes and preferences. It’s why we use games we enjoy playing to let […]

Using Archetypes as Narrative Devices

This guest article on archetypes is by Aaron Ryyle. I feel it fits a very nice, typical mould… – Punmaster John “One cannot afford to be naive in dealing with dreams. They originate in a spirit that is not quite human, but is rather a breath of nature—a spirit of the beautiful and generous as […]

Three Explanations for Gygaxian Unnaturalism

Once upon a time Gygaxian Unnaturalism was the default assumption for DnD. In it, the world essentially plays favorites between PCs and monsters (unfortunately, the favorites are not you) and logic is more or less thrown out the window as far as stocking dungeons. Monsters rarely fight among themselves and will instead team up in […]

Troy’s Crock Pot: Publishing to DM’s Guild

January turned into a whirlwind for me shortly after Wizards of the Coast announced its partnership with One Book Shelf to launch the Dungeon Master’s Guild. And as quickly as I could manage, I had uploaded the DM’s Kit: On the Trail of Tyranny to the site. One Book Shelf, which you probably recognize from […]


Online games rely heavily on their images. While you can certainly play in a “theater of the mind” style, good images will usually enhance the experience. A well chosen image can give life to an NPC, or provide a concrete way for players to attach to their characters. This article will discuss some of the […]

Throw A Bounty Board At Your Players (Not Literally)

  Life happenings caused two of my players to miss a session. We moved on with the rest of the group, but the main plot mission had them interacting with a big player in the world and being teleported to another location far far away. We ran a small session with just the two players […]

The New Gnome Stew Site

So, uh, hey, we’ve got a new site up. After the cowardly attack by Kobolds who hacked our site on the very first day of April this year (evidence archived here and the ensuing twitter war and retaliation hack here, here, and here), we went deep into figuring out how they hacked us and realized […]

To the (Gaming) Muses

I’m in fifth grade. It’s after school and I’m stuck waiting for my mom to pick me up. The middle school kids have their classrooms at the other end of the building, and I can hear shouting, so of course that’s where I go. They’re in our dingy little library gathered round a battered table. […]

The Crusty Old Gnome: A Taste of the Game

  Greetings from the rocking chair of the Gnome retirement home! I know that it’s been less than a month since I’ve officially retired, but I thought that my birthday (my 44th! Where does the time go?) would be a great time to make good on my promise to occasionally contribute. Last month I had […]

The Illusion of Immersion

Let’s talk immersion in RPGs. Most players and GMs would probably tell you that immersion is a good thing. When looking up the word in a dictionary, right after the definition of dumping ‘someone or something in liquid’, the meaning of immersion is described as ‘deep mental involvement’. Show More Summary

The Crusty Old Gnome: A Taste of the Game

Greetings from the rocking chair of the Gnome retirement home! I know that it’s been less than a month since I’ve officially retired, but I thought that my birthday (my 44th! Where does the time go?) would be a great time to make good on my promise to occasionally contribute. Show More Summary


Running an online game requires you to juggle a number of things at once. You have to run the game as usual AND you have to manage the technical side of things through your virtual tabletop (VTT). Anything you can prepare beforehand will help lighten that load during play. Show More Summary

Pop-up Roleplaying Games

As the weather promises to warm up here in Chicago, I dream of venturing forth – gaming with Northside friends, demoing at game stores, and playing in parks. I enjoy running roleplaying game sessions that bend the traditions of my usual 4-hour game nights. Show More Summary

You Got Technology In My Fantasy Setting

Technology and fantasy settings don’t often mix well. The highest level of technology in most fantasy settings is highly uncommon and unstable gunpowder weapons. High tech in a fantasy world would cause some very distinct world changes. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Four Ways to Keep the Mission in Mind

You had this adventure all figured out. Pacing was going to be important, you’ve got a cleverly crafted encounter area, and the players were even given a mission objective by their patron. Then one of the players decides their player character is going shopping. Show More Summary

Learning Through Games

Today’s guest article is by Jim Low, an educational therapist who works with special needs kids and uses gaming in the classroom. You can find more of his writing over at Swords and Stationary. Thanks Jim! Working with children with special needs has been an interesting experience. Show More Summary

Are you gaming, narrating, or simulating?

When it comes to role playing, there are many styles of players, game masters, and games out there. We’ve all got different labels for these different parts of the hobby. Generally speaking, these styles and stereotypes can be boiled down to three different categories: gaming, narrating, simulating. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Making Realms Accessible Again

Not so far back, I wrote a fairly scathing critique of the Neverwinter entry in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. I stand by that. But I also think it fair to note that on the whole, D&D’s creators have been engaged in long process...Show More Summary

Play Better Games, Damn It!!!

Hello Gnomes and gnome adjacent affiliates, and gnome fans, and gnome readers. And the person or group I missed–hello to you too. My name is Chris Sniezak and I say Play Better Games, Damn It!!! It is a philosophy I live by as I am always trying to improve the experience of play that I’m getting out all gaming activities. Show More Summary

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