Category: Game Mastering

The Crusty Old Gnome: Tips for New Game Masters

Face to face, out in the heat, hanging tough, staying hungry…                                                                                                                                              — Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger” In a proud GM Dad moment, my eldest daughter just ran her...

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Planning By Mad Libs

Planning in RPGs has always been a problem. On one hand, it’s often necessary for a group of players to plan out something their characters are trying to accomplish. On the other, most groups are not adept at planning, and even if they were, the activity is never that exciting at the table –...

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Focusing Player Attention with Description

As the GM, you are your players’ eyes, ears, and other senses. The choices you make when describing your game literally build the way they perceive their characters’ world, and their perceptions of the world will determine their actions. When they latch onto the wrong thing, be it the goblin barkeep instead of the mysterious figure in the corner or the stale corner of bread instead of the bloody murder weapon, nine times out of 10, it’s a failure of description.

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Managing Your Digital Library

An Infinite Digital Bookcase I can still remember the first roleplaying game that I got in the early 1990s, the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. The colorful cover with a roaring dragon and fiery wizard left an indelible mark in my memory. I have long since traded or donated...

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The Crusty Old Gnome: Midnight Refresh

In the shadow of night, I see the full moon rise, telling me what’s in store…                                                                                                 — Whitesnake, “Still of the Night” Being creatures of the modern world, it can be difficult to get into a medieval...

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Make It About Them (Without Making It About Them)

Do you want to center your player characters’ backstories without making it seem like the whole world revolves around them? Do you want to create emotional bonds as strong as adamantine between not just the PCs and the NPCs but the players, too? Do you want to pull off an enemies-to-allies (or lovers if that’s your story of the game) arc without ham-fisting the heel-face turn? Well then, my friend, allow me to introduce you to a little trick in my toolbox…

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Antagonist Goals

Last month, I talked about giving your character some goals and motivations to support those goals. During a social media conversation about that article, a friend of mine dropped the idea of writing up an article about villain or antagonist goals and their motivations. Matt Dukes (also a fellow...

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It Came From The Stew Pot

Calling all Writers! Come write for Gnome Stew!

We are always looking for new articles and gnomes to throw in the stew. Drop an article proposal over at

Guest authors get paid the same per article rate as full time staff gnomes.


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