An archive of all of the articles I’ve written for Gnome Stew.

Johnny's Five - Five Awesome Pieces Of Terrain

Well good old Johnny has decided to take a step away from his usual deep (and mostly bullshitted) posts about meta-gaming to try something different. I'm going to start a series of posts called Johnny's Five, wherein I detail 5 nifty things…

Re-molding an Adventure

I once ran an adventure that resulted in a TPK. Darn Hodags. Everyone rolled up new characters and wanted to take it on again. It was a playtest, so that wasn't a big issue. However, I wasn't quite happy doing an exact reset and sending the…

Game Without The Table

This article is part of a three part series on gaming spaces by 3 different gnome authors. You can read the second part here, and the last part here. It all started with a giant game of chess . . . In one fantasy themed game that I ran the…

Narrative Phrases

Every person has a particular style of speaking. Different phrases and sayings commonly creep into our personal lexicons and come out as the commas and semicolons of our speaking. Since being a Game Master is a form of public speaking, certain…

Traps As More Than Something To Disable

In many of my experiences with old school gaming, traps have generally been seen as things to disable and get past, or as things that are meant to do damage to the party if they aren’t careful. This definition blurs a little as the genre…
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Redirect The Critical Fail

I was watching the remake of the Italian Job the other night. Aside from being a pretty decent "Super-Thief" movie, it also feels a lot like a spy based role-playing game. The exposition, the introduction and quirks of the characters, the movement…
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What GMs Can Learn From Gaming Comics

Aside from Role Playing Games, one of my favorite pastimes is reading comics. Specifically, webcomics. More specifically, Role Playing Game related web comics. There are a slew of gaming webcomics out on the world wide inter-tubes and they have…

So you want to game with Keith baker, huh?

This is a heads up to anyone who has ever wanted to game with a game designer, or who has ever looked at Eberron and wished they could query the mind that came up with it. Keith Baker, the creator of the Eberron setting, is taking 2009 to…
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Island Design Theory

I can’t remember the last adventure I ran that actually moved in a linear fashion. Often, I find that if I am running a pre-gen, or have built an adventure with a definite plan of execution, it ends up one of two ways. The players swing the story around like a rat flail, mangling the world until the story fits their play style (while I weep in despair over my beautiful creation), or I reign them in and keep them straight on the planned course only to find them not enjoying the game as much.
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Sharing Your Notes

A common practice in teaching today is for the teacher of a class to make notes on important things and then provide them to the students. Studies show that this helps students retain information that they would normally gloss over in lectures.…
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A Reminder About Social Contracts

Social contracts. The concept isn't new to gaming, nor is it a foreign entity to the great gnome stew readers. While most of us are familiar with the concept, it is one that benefits from being brought up and discussed regularly. I'm hoping…

Winter Holiday Plot Hooks

Well its that time of year. If you are a Christian you can celebrate the Christmas holiday on December 25th. If you are Jewish you can celebrate Hanukkah from sundown on December 21st to December 29th. If you are of the new school pagan variety…