Meet The Gnomes

Get to know our incredible creative team.

Gnome Stews is written by an incredible team of staff writers with varying and diverse perspectives on gaming.

John Arcadian

Head Gnome, Author (See John’s articles | Link to bio)


John got his start with gaming back in the heyday of 2nd Edition D&D. It didn’t take him long to branch out and discover the incredible in other games and settings. Soon after discovering the wider world of role-playing, he couldn’t wait to get into the GM’s seat. John’s gaming tastes have always been broad and varied, but he has a soft spot for gaming styles that give players more options in the narrative. As well as blogging and freelancing in the industry, John does freelance web design for a lot of people in the gaming industry and worked with Encoded Designs to create incredible gaming products.

Tracy Barnett

Author (See Tracy’s articles | Link to bio)


Tracy was introduced to Basic D&D back in 1988, but didn’t really play and RPGs until D&D 3rd Edition came out. Since then, he’s ventured far and wide across different types of game. He loves indie games and how they empower players, and will always have a soft spot for D&D. In addition to blogging here, Tracy co-owns Exploding Rogue Studios and has published three of his own games in addition to some freelance credits.

J.T. Evans

Author (See J.T.’s articles | Link to bio)


J.T. started role playing at the tender age of 10 years old one sweltering Texas afternoon. Like many people, he started with the classic D&D red box set with the awesome warrior facing down the terrifying red dragon. Since that fateful day he has eaten his way through dozens (maybe even hundreds!) of different systems in search of great and different tastes. Even though J.T. is beyond his 40th birthday, he’s still chewing through systems like Ronald Reagan went through jelly beans. When not sitting at the gaming table, he works at a Day Job keeping computers secure and writes fantasy stories in his spare time.

Robert M. Everson

Editor (Link to bio)

Robert M. Everson, aka “Spenser,” has been gaming for the better part of 30 years, and half of that in the same group as DNAphil. While he has GMed for the group many times, Spenser is still seeking that “signature campaign.” He has been a fan and supporter of Gnome Stews since its birth.

His months-long dream of being affiliated with the Gnomes became reality when he achieved Minion status by proofreading articles for the Stew, along with proofreading their Engine Publishing release Masks.

He is currently scratching several writing bugs, including a blog and a fiction project.

John Fredericks

Author (See John’s articles | Link to bio)

In the early 1980’s, John was given the Moldvay Red Box set as a birthday gift. The Blue Expert set soon followed and the mania has yet to subside. Over the years, he has played and GMed various flavors of D&D, Star Trek, Star Wars and the odd superhero game.

Most of his recent GMing has been online using virtual tabletops. He hopes to share some of his reflections from that venue of gaming in his columns. His holy grails of gaming include the perfect character sheet, and the perfect method for prepping for a game. The quest continues.

While not a current photo, John assures you that he has never looked better. Sad, but true.

Avery Liell-kok

Author (See Avery’s articles | Link to bio)

avery liell-kok

Avery Liell-Kok is an illustrator and workaholic living with her husband, three cats, and a room full of gaming books. She studied fine art at Indiana University; spent time studying in Florence, Italy; then returned home to put all that classical education to good use drawing the nerdiest stuff possible. She currently works full time as a children’s illustrator for self-publishing authors, with over 80 books under her belt, as well as a freelance gaming and fantasy artist. This writer thing is a long time passion that she has only recently started trying to take seriously, though the four unfinished novels sitting on her hard drive might object to that. She has too many projects going at any one time, all the time. You can find her work at

Angela Murray

Author (See Angela’s articles | Link to bio)
Angela has been playing roleplaying games for over twenty-five years, but it’s only been within the last decade that she got her feet wet as a game master. Despite years of playing games and loving them, it took an insistent friend regularly asking “So when are you going to run a game?” before she felt like it was something she could and should try out. That very first game was a Mutants & Masterminds super hero game that went sideways very quickly, but had the players insisting it didn’t suck and that she needed to keep running it. Since then, she’s continued to run games and experiment with different systems and techniques, trying to find just the right balance between system and story. She’s hopefully doing something right since her regular group keeps asking her to run.

In addition to running games, she’s a nerd to the core. She’s helped do the interior layout and design for a couple of independently published game supplements, and also helped found and contribute to the all-female gaming blog, Rogue Princess Squadron. When not running games, she’s out fighting crime (and paying the rent) by working for a geospatial imaging company that’s provided georeferenced images to 911 centers all over the country and helped in the wake of many natural disasters.

Matthew J. Neagley

Author (See Matthew’s articles | Link to bio)

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, geographic isolation and other issues kept him from finding a regular playing group until he entered college six years later. It did not, however, stop him from devouring every scrap of RPG, adventure, and wargaming material he could get his hands on. In college he recruited a group of friends that enjoyed an occasional game, improved his skills as a GM through the practice, but contacting a vicious case of GMing ADD. Still fighting this insidious foe today, his GMing to do list is littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily for him, one of his college players took over his GMing duty*, allowing him the luxury of GMing only when one of his projects finally comes to fruition.

*No fool, he married her.

Darcy Ross

Author (See Darcy’s articles | Link to bio)

darcy ross

Darcy Ross first threw an Iron Maiden at her younger sister in the early 2000s, having skimmed a D&D handbook and understood only “Make maps, play characters, roll dice, explore dungeons.” The Iron Maiden became a secret passage after some insistent sniffing around by said sister, and thus sealed Darcy’s penchant for bending the world to pique the players’ interests (see also: Rule of Cool).

Darcy’s been wizards, orcs, vampires, force-sensitives, scroll-seeking butt-kicking scholars, brutal fistfighting ballet dancers, doomed Delta Green agents, and bards, but it took the delightfully weird science-fantasy game Numenera to get her hooked on Game Mastering. She runs other games in the RPG-hungry Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, but can often be found porting in mechanics from the Cypher System and just you try to stop her.

Darcy loves getting new people into gaming through demonstrations and dinner parties, and also works to highlight and support women in gaming through ConTessa. The more people and stories we can tell the better!

By day, Darcy tends to her army of mutant snails (for SCIENCE) and gets bossed around by supermassive kittens Chewie and Kaatu.

Troy E. Taylor

Author (See Troy’s articles | Link to bio)

Troy keeps honing his GM skills by running games for friends and family. He’s happiest when creating dungeon terrain from plaster casts or detailing metal miniatures with craft paint.

Of late, Troy has dabbled in fiction. His Midgard short story, “Ice Maiden’s Heart” was selected as a finalist in the Ley Lines contest at Kobold Press. For his other submissions, he keeps the growing pile of rejection letters in his sock drawer.

Troy has written for Dragon magazine and edited other RPG products. He hangs out under a full moon in a garden patch with other leafy but lycanthropic freelancers at Selected as Xena Movie Campaign’s Xenite of the month for December 2013, Troy remains hopeful the warrior princess and her sidekick will reunite for future adventures on the big screen.

Troy is career journalist who lives in central Illinois with his wife, Paula, and their three children, who delight in devouring his grilled pizza, hanging out at the backyard fire pit and beating him at Sorry!, Sequence and Parcheesi.


Author (See Senda’s articles | Link to bio)


Senda is one half of the actual play podcast She’s a Super Geek , and cohost of Talking Games starring Senda and Phil (fondly known as PANDA). She read her first RPG in middle school and spent years fascinated by the concept, drawing maps and plotting adventures. In college she finally got to play for the first time and it was everything she’d dreamed and more. She was hooked for life. After a hiatus to handle welcoming a child to her family, Senda rediscovered her love of RPGs through edited actual play podcasts, which led to the eventual start of her own podcast with the indomitable Emily.
Senda tends to favor improv GMing and rules light systems. While she loves a good long form campaign, life has conspired to make her extremely well versed in running one shots of four hours or less. She’s a convention addict and a fan girl at heart. If she’s not at a convention, playing an RPG, breaking out the board games, or adulting, Senda can usually be found with her nose planted firmly in a book or obsessively following twitter.

Chris Sniezak

Author (See Chris’s articles | Link to bio)

darcy ross

Chris has been facilitating games since he was 12 and since he’s now in his late 30’s you can do some math to guestimate his age. In the past few years he’s gotten into podcasting with his podcast Network Misdirected Mark Productions. The network produces two to three podcasts a week on gaming. He’s also dabbled in convention running having helped run the Queen City Conquest, Western New Yorks premier gaming convention, several times with a focus on puttting together and running the Kickstarter for it. Most recently he’s gotten into game design and writing with Encoded Designs. Part-Time Gods of Fate and the Character Cache are among their works and Chris has freelanced on a number of other projects.

When he’s not doing any of the above you can find him in and around Buffalo NY with his soon to be wife Jen who tolerates his podcasting habit and also loves to play games.

Phil Vecchione

Author (See Phil’s articles | Link to bio)

I have been a game master for 30 years, ever since the kids in my neighborhood introduced me to the Moldvay edition of D&D. Shortly after making my first character, I was conscripted into being the GM for my group of friends — a trend that has continued to this day. I have never felt bound to any one system or genre, and I have played as many games as I could find. Some of my more memorable campaigns have been in: Amber Diceless, Vampire, D&D 3.0, TMNT, Conspiracy X, Iron Heroes, and Corporation.

As GM I have always been one who focuses the story and less on rules. I tend to favor games that have lighter rules or rules that are tied heavily to the setting. My favorite moments at the table are when a player gets that dramatic hit to finish off the bad guy or when my entire group gapes in shock in response to some reveal.

In addition to being a writer for Gnome Stews, I am one of the authors for Engine Publishing. In 2012, I released my first solo book, Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide To Session Prep.

When I am not gaming or writing, I am an IT Project Manager. I have a wife and two children. I spend more time reading game rules than literature. I love discussions on productivity and creativity, and I have an unhealthy love of all things Google.


Gnomes Emeritus

Gnomes who succumed to the stewpot (and were tasty).

Gnomes Emeritus are Gnome Stews writers who have stepped back from writing regularly. Gnomes Emeritus may post an occasional article, or enjoy their retirement, safe from the knives of the other Gnomes — at least until our scouts find them!

Patrick Benson

Author (See Patrick’s articles | Link to bio)

Patrick has been a GM since he was 15 years old. He enjoys rules light systems that focus on being cinematic and offer lots of opportunities for role playing. His GMing style is to design around what the players found interesting during the last session, and to rely upon improvisation in order to direct the players towards set plot points.

Patrick is currently working on his own RPG system based upon the Fudge system. He is a Systems Engineer for a software development firm in Chicago, and is married to his beautiful wife Karen who is his only ally in the epic struggle with their two children for control of their own home (the kids are winning).

Walt Ciechanowski

Author (See Walt’s articles | Link to bio)


Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He is currently the Line Developer for the Victoriana RPG for Cubicle 7. He is also a freelance writer and in addition to Cubicle 7 has worked for Adamant Entertainment, Engine Publishing (obviously!), Green Ronin, Paradigm Concepts, Inc., and Triple Ace Games. He’s published a short story in The Stories in Between and is currently working on a novel for Victoriana.

Still a Jersey boy at heart, Walt lives in Springfield, Pennsylvania with his wonderful (and thankfully gamer!) wife Helena and their beautiful children Leianna, Stephen, and Zoeanna. Amazingly, he still finds time to torture his players on a semi-regular basis.

Don Mappin

Author (See Don’s articles | Link to bio)

For nearly 30 years role-playing games have been a staple of Don’s life — so that means he’s pretty old. In that time he’s seen the rise and fall of many gaming systems, companies, and characters alike. An author of a dozen RPG books, Don has worked with companies such as Iron Crown Enterprises, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and Alderac Entertainment Group on properties including Rolemaster, Star Trek, and Stargate, to name a few. Retiring from the jet-setting, rock star-RPG-writer-lifestyle, he now spends his time working in IT management, enjoying his family and two children, or — you guessed it — gaming.

Given the option, Don loves to run or play Star Trek RPGs but tries to be as system agnostic as possible. (Hey, I said “tries.”) Overall, his general philosophy is one of that time spent gaming should be fun. A lifelong New Orleans Saints fan, he’s milking the 2009 Championship for all it’s worth.

Scott Martin

Author (See Scott’s articles | Link to bio)

Scott was first pushed to DM in fifth grade to allow the class to play in more manageable groups. Early on he enjoyed mastering complex mechanical systems (like Shadowrun, Champions, and BattleTech), found new styles in college (Spelljammer with rotating GMs, Amber, and Mage: The Ascension), and keeps returning to D&D.

Recently, Scott has run a number of different games with different groups. A few years ago the meandering group played Vampire and homebrew Wheel of Time and he ran My Life with Master and Dogs in the Vineyard for them. In a parallel group (the trads), he played D&D, WEG Star Wars, and Shadowrun and ran several Mage campaigns. He is currently running a D&D campaign for them. The Hanford group met over a pickup game of Spirit of the Century, and has since played Coyote Trail, Universalis, and SAGA Star Wars. Scott is currently producing a Primetime Adventure series with them.

Adam Nave

Author (See Adam’s articles | Link to bio)

Adam has been GMing off and on for 8 years, and gaming for only a bit longer. Back in 2003, Adam was one of the leads on the Fantasy Community Council’s Netbook of Traps and a reviewer and contributor to the Netbook of Classes (but good luck finding a copy of either). Adam plays a lot of D&D, but also enjoys the occasional game of Feng Shui, and is usually up for any system, if he can find the time. He is lucky enough to have a large group of friends who are gamers, a wife who is a gamer, and a little girl who likes to throw dice more than eat them. Adam also hates gnomes, and only agreed to this because he likes the idea of stewing them.

Martin Ralya

Previous Owner and Administrator, Author (See Martin’s articles | Link to bio)

Gnome-in-Chief here at Gnome Stews, and formerly the author of the GMing blog Treasure Tables, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. From 2004-2009, Martin was a freelance writer for the RPG industry, with work in Dragon Magazine and in products from Goodman Games, Necromancer Games, and Tabletop Adventures, among others. Now he runs Engine Publishing and has published several GMing books with the gnomes.

Over the years, Martin has GMed dozens of games and played more than a hundred RPGs. In slivers of free time only measurable with fancy science stuff, he also writes a personal blog, Yore. You can find out a bit more about Martin on his personal website.

Kurt ‘Telas’ Schneider

Author (See Kurt’s articles | Link to bio)

Kurt Schneider started role-playing gaming in 1979 at summer camp, and went on to run a number of campaigns and systems (including AD&D, Top Secret, Champions, RuneQuest, and James Bond 007) through high school. For a while, Kurt took a break from a regular gaming schedule to focus on other activities and interests, like working out, cars, climbing, skiing, martial arts, and scuba diving. (Says Kurt: “Gaming is fun, but there is definitely more to life.“)

Born in Texas, raised in Louisiana, and having lived in Mississippi and Colorado, Kurt now resides in Austin, TX, and attempts (poorly) to balance his gaming with other activities, such as taking care of a wonderful wife and daughter, fixing computers and networks for money, and staying getting fit. You might have seen his rantings and ravings on various forums and mailing lists under Telas or TelasTX. Favorite gaming quote: “A game is only as balanced – or as good – as the GM.