A recent meme I saw floating around Facebook contrasted the Avengers with the Mystery Men, suggesting that the Avengers are ‘what the GM hopes for’, while the Mystery Men are ‘what the GM actually gets’. Well, I’m going with an unpopular opinion on this: There’s no one to blame but yourself if your players don’t give you a group that lives up to your expectations. Sure, there’s the occasional player that likes making ridiculous characters for the hell of it, but most players actually want to play competent and effective characters. Unless the game is intended to be goofy and off the...Read More
Author: Angela Murray
About The Author
Angela has been playing roleplaying games for over twenty-five years, but it's only in the last decade that she's gotten into being a game master. Once she got into it, though, her interest in that aspect of gaming exploded. In addition to writing for Gnome Stews, she also writes for the all-female blog, 'Rogue Princess Squadron'.
Every year, I pour over the Origins event list to pick out the perfect combination of events to play. Well, at least that’s the goal. It’s actually a mix of equal parts careful choice and sheer luck, but it usually works out pretty okay. This year, I somehow signed up for back-to-back games that, based on the PCs and scenarios, were exactly alike. Both games involved joining up two tables of players; one was playing Marvel heroes while the other was playing DC heroes, with both groups trying to save their respective universes from the evil machinations of the...Read More
So that happened. Origins 2016 has come and gone and I’m still coming down off my gaming high. From Wednesday to Sunday, my life revolved around roleplaying games, general geekery, and the many, many friends I’ve made over the years through gaming.While Gen Con is the gorilla of gaming conventions, Origins is still a pretty big deal. Run by GAMA (Game Manufacturer’s Association) since 1975, it’s been in Columbus, Ohio since the mid 90’s. Attendance for the last couple of years has hit around 15,000 people, so the event finds a pleasant balance between big convention and friendly reunion...Read More
What do you do when a player at the table deliberately subverts the stated goals of the other players? Or when that player does things simply to mess with the GM? What do you do with a player that acts like they want to be there and play the game, but when they’re actually in the middle of the game, they just want to set it all on fire and watch the world burn? A small, sad little con I attended many years ago found me sitting in on a D&D game I wasn’t really interested in. Unfortunately, it...Read More
Adventure Scents provided us with samples of scent packets to review their Adventure Scents product. Angela Murray wrote up a review and took incredible images for those without video, while Matt Neagley, Darcy Ross, and John Arcadian took part in a reaction video. Angela’s Review I’m a firm believer in the power certain smells can have to evoke memories and certain feelings, so I was definitely intrigued by the ideas behind Adventure Scents. Heck, I catch a whiff of a particular artificial peach smell and I’m instantly transported back to the age of 13 and riding my bike...Read More
I have a confession. As much as I enjoy GMing, I actually prefer to be a player. If offered a choice, I’ll almost always choose to play. Believe me, I do like running games and I absolutely enjoy discussing and improving my craft, but I’ll always choose to jump into a good GM’s game over running one of my own. Luckily my regular group doesn’t depend on me as the only GM. Two other players regularly serve as GMs and other players are willing to run if needed. The only down side to rotating GMs is that we cycle...Read More
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’. So, what does this mean for us gamers? In general, it means getting into character and being caught up in the game so much that the actions you choose for your character are almost innate. This particular topic reared its head because I’ve recently heard and seen some debate on the...Read More
If you were within shouting distance of my social circle, you would probably be well aware of the fact that I recently finished the Mass Effect trilogy of video games and was quite blown away by them. Mass Effect 3 came out in 2012, so I’m a little late to the party, but I still fell head over heels in love with everything about them, including the setting. Since I am a roleplayer by love and a GM by stubbornness, one of the first thoughts that went through my head was, “How can I bring this to the table...Read More
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. Does this mean the players don’t care? Should you even bother crafting a cohesive game that avoids gaping plot holes? When you ask if anyone remembers what happened last time and you’re met with a table full of blank faces, do you ever think, “Why...Read More
When I talk about my inspirations to be a good Game Master, I’ll often reference the great GMs I’ve had the privilege of playing with over the years. If I’m really honest with myself, though, the bad GMs I’ve had the misfortune to play with are just as strong an influence in my desire to run good games. Have you been sitting at a table in the middle of a poorly run game and thought, “I could totally do this better.”? As awesome as our good game stories can be, it’s usually the bad game stories that can be...Read More
A couple weeks ago, I lost it. The final straw landed and broke this camel’s back. To be a bit clearer, I ended up throwing a bit of a temper tantrum at my gaming group. I hit a wall and promptly had a meltdown. What wall do I speak of? In my particular case, it was an issue of scheduling. My group has, for the most part, been gaming together for about twelve years. In the early days, we played every Friday evening. Eventually that shifted into every-other-Saturday due to the changes in family and work schedules life throws at...Read More
How many RPGs have you run without having played it first? It can feel like a chicken and an egg conversation, but obviously someone out there read the book and ran a game without ever having played it before. Sitting beside my bed are a pile of books that includes a couple of novels, a couple of essay collections, and at least two RPGs I want to run where I have no (or limited) experience playing. There’s a little voice inside me panicking at the thought of running them without prior exposure and is envious of the GMs that...Read More
Luck comes in many shades and flavors in roleplaying games. Some games actually build in a mechanic to emulate luck in varying ways. Others have an inherent kind of luck with a bennie, plot point, or some other token type of system. Even games that have no mechanical way to represent luck are still dependent on the fickle fate of the dice. Given today’s connotations as a day of bad luck, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the nature of luck in our games. Luck as a Mechanic Back a bit over twenty years ago,...Read More
When I was first introduced to roleplaying games, I was in high school and had all the time in the world. If we wanted to play all weekend, the only difficulty was in convincing my parents that it was okay for me to hang out with the guys for that long. Even in college, there was gaming every Wednesday night and usually on the weekend. It was glorious and it’s probably never going to happen like that again. Unless, of course, I end up in a retirement home full of fellow gamers. Suffice it to say, I don’t have...Read More
Finding inspiration each week for the games we put together for our players is part of the fun, but it can be a challenge on occasion. When the creative juices aren’t flowing, sometimes you have to dig into other areas of your life to find those nuggets of ideas that you can use to pull a game together. Two converging obsessions in my life bring this particular topic to the Stew. First, I brought the revised Monster of the Week book home from GenCon last month. Second, I’ve become obsessed with listening to podcasts at work instead of just...Read More
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Our Books For GMs
Our Books for GMs
We've published six system-neutral books for GMs, with over 28,000 copies sold. Available in print and PDF.
The Complete Game Masterâ€™s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions
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The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters
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The Complete Game Masterâ€™s Guide to Campaign Management
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The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
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1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
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501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
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