Why the net neutrality banner? Gnome Stew is an entity which is nearly 100% reliant on the existence of a free and open internet. The impact of an interet where equal access is not guaranteed is vast. If having an internet with open access is important to you, go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/ and use the form to contact your representatives.

Author: John Fredericks

About The Author

John Fredericks

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.

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

He is the sole proprieter of Sharp Mountain Games on drivethrurpg.com.

30 26 Social and
4 Comments

IN THEORY: Approaches to Social Interactions

Social interactions are what separate roleplaying games (rpg’s) from most other types of games. For example, how often do you talk in character in Monopoly or checkers? However, social interactions often have more gray area than other skill tests. For example, it’s easy to determine the results of a...

Read More
21 18 Social and
3 Comments

IN THEORY: Gamemaster Rolls

Gamemasters (GM’s) occupy an unusual position. They have great power over the game, adjudicate the rules, and make major decisions. Sometimes they willingly give up that power, rolling dice and letting fortune decide the outcome. GM’s are not really players, but they’re not quite “not players” either. In this...

Read More
19 17 Social and
2 Comments

The Backpocket Adventure

Sometimes players zag when you expected them to zig. It happens to all of us. Often it’s easy to just adapt your current adventure to the changing situation. However, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they go off into a totally different part of the world (or another plane or planet...

Read More
25 24 Social and
1 Comments

IN THEORY: WHEN NOT TO RESTART

In a previous column, we looked at some reasons why you might want to restart with a new campaign. Maybe players have maxed out their characters, met all their goals, or maybe you just need a fresh start as a gamemaster (GM). However, there may be times when you...

Read More
28 28 Social and
0 Comments

IN THEORY: WHEN TO RESTART

Most campaigns have a finite lifespan. At some point you’ll either wrap it up with a finale, fade into something else, or real life factors will stop it. It’s a sad duty to end a campaign. However, it offers a chance to grow as you start your next one....

Read More
215 206 Social and
9 Comments

IN THEORY: The GM Levels Up

What player doesn’t like to “level up”? Their characters get improved abilities, and perhaps new ones as well. They can now face stronger adversaries and overcome greater challenges. It’s one of the true joys of the game. Gamemasters (GM’s) level up as well, though not in a formal fashion....

Read More
129 118 Social and
11 Comments

COSTS OF BEING THE GAMEMASTER

There are costs to improving in any endeavor. If you want to be a great writer, artist, or 70’s disco champion, you have to pay your dues. Folks may think that good gamemastering (GMing) is just a result of natural talent. In reality, we know that there are costs...

Read More
24 21 Social and
3 Comments

IN THEORY: SAVING THROWS

Saving Throws have been around since the beginning of the hobby. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re always easy to understand. Sometimes it can be difficult to know when to call for a particular Saving Throw, especially in some older systems. Does a “Save vs. Spells” work for every...

Read More
23 21 Social and
2 Comments

IN THEORY: CALCULATING DAMAGE

There are numerous ways to determine damage in a roleplaying game. It may depend on the weapon (or spell) used, the skill of the combatant, and/or the roll of the dice. In this article, we’ll look at four ways of calculating damage. It’s not meant to be a master’s...

Read More
18 17 Social and
1 Comments

FORGOT MY CHEAT SHEET

At a recent mini-convention, I was very excited to run Star Trek using my homebrew rules. I made sure I had my session notes, character sheets, dice, and a bunch of other things. Of course, what I forgot was the rules sheet. I had created a very nice table...

Read More
17 15 Social and
2 Comments

HOMEBREW: LINGERING QUESTIONS

It’s not as easy as it looks. If you’ve ever tried to homebrew a game system, you’ve probably come to this conclusion. Systems often have fiddly bits that interact in complicated ways. Often problems rear their ugly head only during play. Some issues can be easily fixed. Maybe two...

Read More
33 24 Social and
9 Comments

ANIMAL ADVENTURERS

We love our animal heroes. Mr. Toad, Redwall’s Matthias, and even Donald and his nephews populate our literary landscapes. The idea of playing animal characters has been around since the beginning of the hobby, and modern games continue this tradition. So what’s the attraction? Maybe playing animal characters lets...

Read More
18 18 Social and
0 Comments

THEY LOVE THEM

At the end of one session, I asked if next week was too soon to play again. “Are you kidding?” one player said. “I’d play every day if I could.” This made me realize how much players love both the game and their characters. That love of character is...

Read More
34 28 Social and
6 Comments

BOLDLY GO… OLD SCHOOL

Star Trek is tricky. You can’t just reskin any old science fiction scenario and expect it to feel like Star Trek. There are conventions unique to the Final Frontier. For our October gameday, I decided to run an Original Series era Trek adventure. To begin planning, I made a...

Read More
37 26 Social and
11 Comments

HOMEBREW, HACK, or TOOLKIT?

Gamemasters (GM’s) love to tinker. At some point, probably almost every GM has thought “I could do that better.” If you plan on venturing away from published systems, several choices present themselves. In this article, we’ll look at the options of homebrew, hacking, and using a toolkit. Let’s define...

Read More

What’s Gnome Stew

Written by a team of veteran Gamers and Gamemasters, Gnome Stew is a widely read gaming blog with multiple awards and close to 3,000 articles. We're dedicated to helping gamers have more fun at the gaming table. Over 2 million visitors can't be wrong!

"I check Gnome Stew every day."
— Monte Cook —

"fantastic blog for game masters, dungeon masters, and rpg fans"
— Wil Wheaton —

"If you aren’t reading Gnome Stew, you’re missing out."
— Wolfgang Baur —

Recent Gniblets

Patronize Gnome Stew!

Join our awesome patrons and help
Gnome Stew do awesome things for everyone!

Keep The Stew Fires Going


Eat The Stew

Get Gnome Stew articles delivered to you via email or RSS.

Click here to get our RSS feed Get Gnomes in your email with Feedburner!

Support The Stew

Click one of these links, shop normally, and we earn a small percentage (at no cost to you).

Font Resize
Contrast