Gnome Rodeos are the Stew’s periodic link roundups — articles packed with pointers to excellent GMing material we think you’ll enjoy.

We usually feature a few regulars plus our favorite discoveries from around the web, all with an eye to making your time behind the screen easier and more fun.

If you wrote or read something you’d like to see featured here, drop us a line. There’s some awesome stuff for GMs out there, and we love to share.

GMing Regulars

Roleplaying Tips: Issue 452 delves into instant reward cards. I love mechanics like this — where players get an on-the-spot reward for doing something cool — and connecting that reward to a tangible object is an excellent idea. It also appeals to my inner prop dork, who likes building infrastructure like this for games.

Dungeon Mastering: Pointers for challenging overpowered PCs — basic and sound — and non-combat encounters. The latter are suitable for D&D 4e skill challenges, but are also building blocks for all sorts of fun scenes for any game system.

Musings of the Chatty DM: Chatty’s free dungeon reality show PDF (based on Blood Bowl) and an interesting look at the storyteller player type. Chatty’s been firing on all GMing cylinders lately — if you’re not reading his blog, you should be.

Gnome Tested, Gnome Approved

Critical Hits: The 5×5 Method: This is one of the neatest GMing tools I’ve seen recently — it needs to be turned into a PDF and shared as widely as possible. As a GM, I need structure in my prep, or I lose focus, start meandering, and produce some pretty weird stuff. Dave Chalker’s 5×5 method is perfect for me: to plot out a campaign or major story arc, create five 5-part quests. Awesome.

The Core Mechanic: “I am a gamer…” Project: Jonathan Jacobs, the driving force behind Open Game Table (highly recommended, and featuring two articles from the Stew), is shuttering his blog on July 1. He’d like to send it out with a series of “This I Believe”-style audio files from gamers, RPG industry insiders, bloggers, and others. You can send or link him to audio, or email or tweet him text (which he’ll have read for you), so participation is easy. I sent in a quote, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Obsidian Portal and Pen & Paper Games: A twist on player matching: Obsidian Portal is now linked up with player-finding service Pen & Paper Games. A search on P&PG will turn up local Obsidian Portal-managed campaigns (privacy settings permitting, of course), which is nifty. I’ve never tried P&PG, but OP is a fantastic site.

Eclipse Phase: A sci-fi RPG in the vein of Transhuman Space (a GURPS product), Eclipse Phase is my geek crush of the moment. Via email, I confirmed with the publisher that they’re aiming to have at least a few copies available at GenCon, but you’re going to have to elbow me out of the way if you want one — this game gives me a jumbo nerd-chubby. From their site: “An “eclipse phase” is the period between when a cell is infected by a virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is.” It’s all about exploring transhumanity while protecting the species from major threats, and it sounds and looks totally badass.

…and if you like bite-sized GMing tips and ideas, don’t miss Gnome Stew’s Twitter feed (@gnomestew).