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What Does the GM Do?

Sounds like a pretty dumb question, right? Or at least a question with a very obvious answer: the GM creates scenarios, runs the game and plays the NPCs. That’s true, but those are pretty broad descriptions — particularly that middle one, “runs the game.” Let’s break those topics down...

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Vibrant NPCs

I ran the first session of my Airship Privateers campaign last night, and I tried a new approach with my NPCs. It’s an Eberron game, and one of the things I find appealing about pulp as a genre is that it’s full of vibrant, broadly-painted characters. So I went...

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GM by Default

Have you ever run a game because no one else will? I know I’ve done this in the past, and probably will again — and I’d be willing to bet you’ve done the same thing at least once. Why does this happen? You probably know the feeling: everyone wants...

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How Did You Learn to GM?

A simple question to which the answer will, I suspect, vary pretty widely: how did you learn to GM? For me, the short answer is, “From playing with Dave, David and Stephan.” The long answer follows — and the real answer comes at the end. I got my start...

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The Bones in the Soup

This post is a follow-up to my first post on TT, “Every Campaign is an Experiment.” By way of The 20′ by 20′ Room, I found out about an online gaming magazine I’d never heard of, Places to Go, People to Be, and read this nifty article: “Theory 101:...

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More Fun, Less Work

A little while back, Ryan Dancey made an interesting comment in Mike Mearls’ LiveJournal: Dave Wise, who was one of my Brand Managers at WotC, and was a talented writer and editor for TSR, is married to the person who first made the observation, after watching his gaming group,...

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Quirky is Good

Last month on Yudhishthira’s Dice, Brand Robins wrote a long post entitled “Why hearing about your game should suck.” Here’s a snippet: Honestly, I think there is a degree to which any good RPG story should suck, or seem odd, twisted, or wrong to those who were not there....

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Rules for Exerting Player Control?

This comment from Bankuei (author of the Deep in the Game blog) on Matt Wilson’s site (The Dog Blog) really got my wheels turning: Unfortunately, there is not a single mainstream game that solidly lays out the idea of framing conflict outside of physics (even cinematic, anime, cartoon physics)....

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Timelines in Published Settings

A couple of weeks ago, I read a comment about Columbia Games’ Hârn setting to the effect that every Hârn product is set in the same year. That leaves room for GMs to advance events as they see fit, rather than feeling like they’re going against canon (which also...

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Three Mapping Options

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different options for drawing maps — both tactical (for combat using minis, counters, etc.) and overview (world maps and the like). The three options below are the ones that have worked the best for me — and if they’re new to...

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Running a Campaign Website

I’ve been running a campaign website for a couple of years now, and I’ve learned quite a bit in the process. I thought it would be worth sharing some of the highlights — specifically, the 5 most important things I’ve learned during that time. (I’m not going to talk...

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Every Campaign is an Experiment

There’s a great issue of the Roleplaying Tips newsletter, “6 Tips for Starting and Planning a Campaign” (#97), that proposes making 20% of your new campaign different from your previous games. Let’s call this the “20% rule.” The 20% rule — apart from being a great concept in its...

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