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Author: Don Mappin

About The Author

For nearly 30 years RPGs have been a staple of Don’s life — so that means he’s pretty old. Author of a dozen RPG books, Don has worked with companies such as ICE, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and AEG. He now spends his time working in IT management, enjoying his family and two children, or gaming.

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NaNewGaMo?

It’s Tuesday, which means someone, somewhere, decided to just create their own holiday today! Because that’s like a thing now! But here at the Stew, we’re exceptionally excited by any gaming holidays, especially those that lend assistance and inspiration to prospective GMs. Enter National New Gamemaster Month or—wait for...

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Calling Out: A Review of Syrinscape

Admittedly I’m a bit of an easy sell when it comes to inserting technology into my tabletop games. My viewpoint tends to be one of “take any tool given” and try to find a way to make my games better. So when I heard about Syrinscape my interest was...

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PSA: Scrivener Sale

Here at the stew more than a few of us are fans of Scrivener, not just as a writing tool but also as a gaming prep tool. In particular, I’m a big fan of its innovative corkboard and ability to free form ideas–“Scrivenings”–into any order you’d like on the...

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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, on more than one occasion I’ve been a victim of...

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I Love 4×6 Photo Cards & You Should Too!

Many years ago my wife and I invested in a nondescript color inkjet printer, one that did border-less photos and had a good feature set. The thinking was to print out photos and do a bit of scrap-booking. Well, time and a shift to a digital lifestyle mostly killed...

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Sharpening The Saw

Sometimes it’s a nice happenstance when several of the Gnome articles in a series match up and dovetail into one another easily. Both John and Phil have recently written about iterative steps in becoming better GMs and/or exercising best practices for continual service improvement. (As an ITIL follower myself,...

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House Rules

They are a necessary part of most games, and as GM’s something that we frequently have to deal with, either to address a shortcoming, plug a hole, or meet an unforeseen need. While a great many GMs are skilled behind the screen, that does not necessarily translate to their...

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System Or Setting?

Our group’s annual “pick the next game” exercise is in full swing. These tend to be a mixture of enjoyable, exhausting, and frustrating but, ultimately, lead to a good choice that satisfies everyone. It’s a process we’ve discussed at the Stew before and every group tends to have a...

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Paper or Plastic?

Your supermarket may still make the option available but for a few years now that oft-repeated question has no longer been uttered at my local market. Instead, the prevalent decision was made for us in that, unless you specifically wanted paper, you’re getting plastic. Move on with the times! (Besides, you should be bringing your own reusable canvas bags, just sayin’…) In our RPGs there are a few anachronistic...

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I Want A New Agent

It’s accepted convention that the loss of player agency is demotivating and to be avoided whenever possible. It’s just not fun, be it mind control, alien parasites, or plain GM fiat. But what can you do as a GM when the rules themselves deprive a player of agency? Hold...

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PSA: Scrivener Update

It’s November, which means the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where people feverishly try to rush to completion a 50,000 word manuscript within 30 days. If you haven’t taken part in NaNoWriMo before, even though we’re a few days into November already, don’t be daunted as there’s...

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Scrivener For Adventure Management

For many years I’ve been a happy owner of Scrivener — originally an OS X-only product but now available for Windows — and have adapted it for use in adventure design. Why? Because the nature in which Scrivener operates — treating your bits of writing as objects you can move...

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The Generational Campaign

It’s unlikely when starting a new campaign that you begin with the end in mind. If you do, great, but for the majority of us we start at the beginning and let the end define itself over the lifespan of the campaign. Now, not all campaigns have an ending–I...

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Gaming With Emotion

I’ve always found it humorous when GMing has been described as playing “a thousand faces.” What we tend to ignore is that all those faces—ideally—have an emotion behind them. It’s one thing to verbally state the emotional state of an NPC but quite another to express that emotion directly....

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Using “And” Versus “But”

In our roles as GM’s we frequently are placed in positions—either by virtue of the die or system mechanics—or through our own doing, where something happens in a game and we qualify that statement with an “and” or a “but.” But have you put much thought into which fosters...

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