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Say My Name, Say My Name

Names are important and have more power than we generally give them credit for. Just ask any demon or member of a faerie court. Well, don’t actually ask them because they tend to get a little persnickety when people try and find out their true names. Show More Summary

Tick Tock – The Countdown Mechanic

Building actual tension at a table is not an easy task. GM’s often go to great lengths to create a dramatic tension through the use of lighting or music, only to have jokes about Monty Python undermined our well crafted narrative. Through my many years of gaming, one method I have found for successfully building tension is the countdown mechanic. Show More Summary

Organizations – Going Against The Grain

Whenever I read through a splatbook and read something like this: “The righteous order of the God of light is dedicated to eliminating evil throughout the land. The clerics and paladins of the order travel the roads and seek out the undead, the unrighteous, and those who work in the name of darkness. Show More Summary

Pick Your Jaws Up Off The Floor…You’ve Been Blindsided!

For the most part, we GM’s take a lot of abuse in our games. Our NPC’s get beaten and killed, our world-ending plans are thwarted, and our hidden treasures are plundered, all while we cheer on the Characters for their victories. Then, there are those times, when we get one over on the characters and players. Show More Summary

Unframed Preview Three: The Table of Contents

For this week’s preview of Engine Publishing‘s next book, Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters, I’m going to share the table of contents. It may not be as sexy as a full-page illustration, but I always check out the table of contents when I’m interested in a book — it’s a great way to get a feel for what’s inside. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Treasure first

When you write for a blog that emerged from the old Treasure Tables, you tend to be the sort that takes an old school approach to stocking dungeons.  Draw a map. Add monsters. Add dressing. Then last, add the treasure based on random results rolled from homemade d100 tables tucked away in a game master’s folder that you made for just that purpose. Show More Summary

The Event Planner

I’ve heard rumors of an elusive, mythical creature: gaming groups that actually meet on a consistent, reliable schedule over a period of years. The legend says that they always meet on the same day, at the same time, and usually at the same place. Show More Summary

Preview: The Author List and Full Cover for Unframed

In the first teaser for Engine Publishing‘s next system-neutral GMing book, Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters, I shared Unframed’s cover artwork. For this second teaser, I’d like to share the author list for the book. Show More Summary

Johnny’s Five – The Necessity Of The Healer

I’ve been on a bit of a realism kick lately. Not an “elves couldn’t exist” type of realism, but a realism based on the logic of the story that is being told. One thing my musings and discussions with other gaming friends has brought up is how essential the idea of healing is to a game. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Flying Unfriendly Skies

What’s the old phrase? On a wing and a prayer? Flying can be dangerous business, even in fantasy adventures. But adventures set in the skies can be rewarding. Soaring into cloud cities. Reaching the mountain roosts of the most ancient creatures. Show More Summary

Should Players be Forewarned of Endings?

Should you forewarn your players of campaign endings or should you keep them a surprise? It’s never occurred to me not to forewarn my players when the end of a campaign is imminent, even if it’s just a quick announcement at the beginning of the session. Show More Summary

Hidden Worlds: The truth is out there

The truth is out there… This world looks very much like the one we all experience; birthdays, taxes, and grinding jobs. In that world, however, there is a secret organization, dedicated to protecting everyone from… something. Depending on your game something can be a lot of somethings, or one subtle difference. Show More Summary

You Light Up My…Gaming Table?

Engaging all the senses is something easier said than done in the context of your typical gaming session. While we can plan specific NPC mannerisms, locales, or even subtle clues about the environment to make them even more engaging,...Show More Summary

Announcing Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters

I’m excited to announce Engine Publishing‘s next system-neutral book for GMs, Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters! Unframed is an anthology of essays on improvisation featuring the work of 23 game designers, authors, and experienced GMs — including seven of our own gnomes. Show More Summary

When No One Knows Anyone

This Saturday I will be GMing at a local gameday, and I’m going in blind.  I found out about it through the local meetup.com group and tossed my hat into the ring.  It’s mostly board games, but I sent an email asking if they’d like an RPG table. Show More Summary

Stepping Onto the Stage

First impressions count. Some research has shown that within milliseconds of observing something or someone, the subconscious has already formed an opinion on whether or not you like what you’re seeing. A bad first impression isn’t the...Show More Summary

Welcoming Two New Authors to the Stew: Angela Murray and John Fredericks

2013 saw the departure of two gnomes, Patrick Benson and Kurt “Telas” Schneider, and the stew pot’s been feeling too roomy without them. Earlier this year we started looking for a couple of new gnomes, and today I’m pleased to welcome Angela Murray and John Fredericks to the blog. Show More Summary

Keeping Interest During a Busy Spell

Lately I’ve been a little busy at work. You see, I don’t have full time employment. Instead I work a handful of part time jobs. A few weeks ago one of my coworkers had an emergency and I had to pick up as much extra work to cover their shifts as possible. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Plan then infiltrate

Looking for a change-of-pace scenario for a longstanding campaign? Consider an infiltration encounter that requires nonlethal solutions against against friendly, or at least, neutral opponents. It’s the sort of single-session event that can satisfy a group that needs a break from the traditional kill the monster loot the dungeon routine. Show More Summary

The Reunion without the Epic

You don’t always have to raise the stakes. Recently, I got a call from an old gaming friend who was coming to town for a few days and wanted to game with “the old group” again. As it happens I am able to pull everyone together for a one-shot session and I dusted off the characters from a favorite campaign. Show More Summary

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