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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Index Cards at the Table

This is part two of a two-part series on index cards. The first part dealt with using index cards during game prep, and included a brief overview of what kinds of cards are available, and how to store them. While no single approach is ideal for everyone, this article...

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Index Cards for Prep

This is part one of a two-part series on index cards. The second part will deal with using index cards at the gaming table. Unless you’re new to gaming, or live and die by the laptop, you’re probably familiar with index cards at the gaming table. A stack fits in your hand, and they can be used for any number of things, from notes to character sheets. Overview Before...

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Take a Break!

It’s not the most intuitive notion, but taking a break from gaming is a good way to improve your GMing. Don’t just take a break from GMing, take a break from gaming. (Some of you may know that my wife and I had our second daughter recently. No, this...

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The Persistence of Rewards

My object all sublime I shall achieve in time To let the punishment fit the crime – Gilbert & Sullivan, “The Mikado” Consider the following: A player has just conceived and executed a plan so audacious, clever, and funny that she gets a big fat XP bonus for it,...

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Front-load Your Encounters

Gripe all you want about 4E, but I’ve learned more than a few things from everyone’s favorite whipping-boy RPG. As a player, I spent more than a few tense moments at the beginning of many encounters, wondering how the party was going to survive this onslaught. Once I recognized...

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Rule #1: Relax

When I was younger, I thought I could stand on my own. It wasn’t easy; I stood like a man made of stone. “Something About You” by Boston We humans get tense under stress. Mentally and physically, we lock up in an attempt to control ourselves and our environment....

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Friends and Gamers

“Never game with someone you wouldn’t count as a friend.” We’ve all seen and heard variations of the above comment, but experience is starting to tell me that it’s just not true. I have good friends who are gamers, but I don’t enjoy gaming with them. On the other...

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Iconic Archetype or Hackneyed Stereotype?

Public Service Announcement: Today is St. Valentine’s Day. Please remember to give the loved ones in your life a symbol of your appreciation. A greeting card, a box of chocolates, and/or a floral arrangement are all traditional gifts. Flowers, chocolate, and the ubiquitous mass-produced gift card may seem dull...

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Paper, Silicon, or Cardstock?

Some GMs would never tolerate a computer at their game table; if a notepad worked for E. Gary, it’ll work for them. Some would be lost without a browser opened up to thirteen tabs, and multiple Excel sheets for calculating THAC0. And some, perhaps living out some brash fantasy...

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Black Friday, Part III

It’s Black Friday! No, not that kind of Friday. (But now I want to watch that movie again.) And not the kind where nerds stand outside electronic stores in the wee hours, waiting to buy something that will probably cost less in a couple months, either. And no, we’re...

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Mad Props II – AmmoCounters

“Life is like a box of ammo.” – Duke Nukem At Con on the Cob (about which much more later), I ran across one of the cooler props I’ve seen in the last year (including Gen Con).  These are the AmmoCounters from Das Spiel Unker (a German pun for...

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What Makes A Hero?

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. " – Joseph Campbell Today is Veterans Day in the United States. In many other countries, it is known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. In commemoration, there will be parades, ceremonies, and...

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Jumping to a Rules-Light System

Back in July, renner complimented us, rubbed the Gnome, and posted this on the Suggestion Pot. I’ve been playing/GMing a rules-heavy RPG system (Gurps), and now I’m moving towards FATE RPG, which is a very rules-light system. So, my suggestions for articles are: 1 – How can a rules-heavy...

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Standing Operating Procedure

A discussion on the GM Mastery mailing list (an adjunct to Johnn Four’s excellent Roleplaying Tips weekly e-zine) involved speeding up game play, and the concept of the Standing Operating Procedure was brought up. For routine and repetitive tasks (setting camp, visiting town, etc), SOPs are a handy technique...

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