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Author: Walt Ciechanowski

About The Author

Walt Ciechanowski

Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He became a freelance RPG writer in 2005 and is currently the Victoriana Line Developer for Cubicle 7. Walt lives in Springfield, PA with his wife Helena and their three children, Leianna, Stephen, and Zoe.

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Hot Button: It’s Only a Game!

And the old Gnome Emeritus Walt Ciechanowski speaks from the comfort of his rocking chair on the porch of the Gnome Retirement Home… My D&D 5e group is a mix of 5 seasoned players (including myself) and 2 teenage newbies. Obviously, there’s a bit of hand-holding for the new...

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All Good Things…

And so it ends. If there is one thing in common with the endings of all of my campaigns, whether it was a Total Party Kill from an unexpectedly hard encounter or things went swimmingly to plan right up until the end, I always feel like there’s something I...

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Hot Button – Red Herrings

As a GM, one of the things I find most puzzling is the negativity some players have towards red herrings (a false clue or something else that distracts the party from the adventure). I find red herrings very useful and appropriate for the types of games I like to...

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When You Aren’t Feeling It

Have you ever looked at the calendar and realized that you’re supposed to run a game in the near future and you just aren’t “feeling it?” Do you cancel the session or press on? I find this happening more and more as I get older and, conversely, I play...

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Driftwood: Saving Games

For my first article of the new year I decided to resurrect one of my old recurring themes; “Driftwood” was about taking a rule from one RPG and applying it to others. This time, though, I’m taking a concept from video games and seeing if I can apply it...

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Campaign, Interrupted

It’s that time of year again. In these parts, whether or not you celebrate Christmas there is a definite chill in the air when it comes to gaming. As an adult married parent with a job and other responsibilities, I’ve already made adjustments to the gaming schedule (short answer:...

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The Force’s Pull

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this weekend. It is also very likely that many ongoing RPG campaigns will die this weekend. It’s a problem I know well. Reflecting on campaigns past, I recall a lot of them moving forward with all of the creative energy and emotional investment...

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The Embarrassment of Riches

Usually when I have issues or problems with a campaign, it’s because something is threatening to cut it short. Perhaps I’ve run short of material. Perhaps the players managed to leap ahead towards the end. Perhaps there was a TPK. Perhaps the players are losing interest. Perhaps the game...

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Do You Need a Plan?

Recently I watched the season opener of Arrow and while I found it enjoyable one of the things that bugged me was the final scene, which involved the foreshadowing of a future death. That in and of itself didn’t bother me (beyond the usual “great, which of my favorite...

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Another Glance: Material Components

From the time I entered my first dungeon decades ago, material components were treated the same as encumbrance and weapon modifiers against armor class – we discarded them. For those of you who might be scratching your heads, I’m talking about spellcasting in Dungeons & Dragons (along with its...

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Regenerating a Campaign

This past weekend was the first episode of the new series (or season, in the American vernacular) of Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a series that has reinvented itself numerous times, usually when the Doctor regenerates but sometimes even without a change in the lead actor, the series has tried to...

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Classical Wisdom: The Dreaming City

While reading “The Dreaming City” for this article, it struck me that over my many moons of gaming I’ve seen (and played!) many “Elrics” at the table. First published in 1961, “The Dreaming City” is Michael Moorcock’s first Elric story. Elric is quite different from typical fantasy heroes (in...

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Campaign Arcs: Less is More

Have you ever designed a long, intricate campaign only to have it fall apart before it ever came close to seeing fruition? I know, it’s a rhetorical question. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to end a campaign far short of where I’d planned to end...

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