Author: Kurt "Telas" Schneider

About The Author

Kurt Schneider played D&D in 1979 at summer camp, and was hooked. He lives with his wife, daughters, and dog in Austin TX, where he writes stuff, and tries to stay get fit. Look for his rants under the nom de web Telas or TelasTX. Quote: “A game is only as balanced – or as good – as the GM.”

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Monstrous Character Flaws

Some time ago, I was playing in a Savage Worlds convention game, and our party hit a major decision point in the scenario. Before the discussion/argument over what to do could really get rolling, the GM (whose name I have sadly forgotten) made a very important point. Instead of...

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The Juror NPC

In many legal systems (particularly Anglo-American ones), a jury’s job is to answer questions of fact, while a judge’s job is to answer questions of law. This distinction is important, especially when a case is vague, convoluted, or has conflicting testimony and evidence. The lawyers build their cases (and...

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XP and the FNG

So, you’ve got a new character in the group. Whether it’s the result of irreversible character death, a new player, or just a character who didn’t live up to expectations, you as the GM need to decide how much experience to give the FNG (‘Frakking New Guy/Girl). This decision...

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Real Life Comes First

As I write this, my youngest daughter is home from day care with a head cold. She’s in the other room, engaged in a pitched, no-holds-barred fight with the Sleep Monster, but will eventually succumb. In addition to the virus that’s been working its way through the family for...

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A New Broom Sweeps Clean

It’s official, the next edition of D&D is in the works, and those Coastal Wizards are asking for help in crafting the rules. But you probably knew this; heck, it was in the New York Times. Perhaps you’ve volunteered to help out and put your stamp on the next...

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Humor Makes Us Human

If you want an NPC to be likable or to have some humanity, give him or her a sense of humor. Obviously, this will work with run-of-the-mill NPCs: badass mercenaries, otherwise boring experts, or just portable boxes of healing. But where this idea really works is when you want...

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Black Friday, Part IV

Thanksgiving day is over. The fried turkey didn’t burn my house down or even singe me (actually, it was pretty danged tasty), so instead of some amateurish video of me running around, panicking like a sorority girl in a horror movie, you get this very-incomplete list of RPG-related sales....

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Your Players Are a Bunch of Tools

Of course, you already knew that, didn’t you? GMs have a number of jobs to do: think about the next session(s), prepare material, engage the players, drop hints and clues, introduce conflict, convey information to the group, manage the table, answer rules and setting questions, run the game (including...

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The Adventurer’s Charter

No, it’s not another article on the game charter (a/k/a the social contract). This is about an organizational charter or license for a group of adventurers. While I originally used this in a traditional fantasy game (it doesn’t get more trad than Greyhawk), it can be adapted to nearly...

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Getting Feedback From Your Players

Over at the Suggestion Pot, Gnome Stew reader and high-level Cleric BishopOfBattle cast Divination (or maybe it was Find the Path; I’ve taken too many negative levels in d20 to be an expert). Anyway, he asked: How do the Gnomes go about getting better player feedback? Often articles mention...

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The Importance of Failure

Two students train at a martial arts school. One fights only students at or below his level, and has an excellent win-loss record. The other fights only students above his level, and has a terrible win-loss record. Which one is learning faster? – Overheard at a martial arts seminar...

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Immersion or Familiarity?

The Forgotten Realms is a very complete and immersive setting, and I played in a great FR campaign under a most excellent GM. But the Forgotten Realms calendar has always frustrated me. If you’re not familiar with it, a week is ten days, the names of the months make...

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Tax-Free Gaming

It’s that time of year again. When the temperatures hit the triple digits, when downtown Indianapolis gets funky, and when kids are squeezing as much fun out of the last little bits of summer before school starts. That’s right, it’s time for tax-free weekends and back to school sales....

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Know Your Enemy

It’s easy to see a role-playing game as a one-way street; the flow of information is generally from GM to players. But the GM should also be collecting information on his players and their characters. If you’re paying attention to your players, you can really make the game fun...

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