Our annual Christmas break (12/24 to 1/3, back to normal posting on 1/4) is in full swing, so while we’re off shagging dwarves spending quality time with our favorite liquors families, we’re serving up the best of the nearly 300 articles we wrote in 2009.

Whether you’ve been reading the Stew since we launched in May 2008 or just discovered us yesterday, there is a LOT of GMing material here (I believe the correct term is “a metric shit-ton”). Eighteen months in, I’m still floored by how much the gang has written.

Like last year, we wanted to take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite articles — specifically, three from each gnome, for a total of 27. From today through the end of the year, you can look forward to five articles like this one, two articles from Patrick, and my usual State of the Stew summary.

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and a very happy New Year from us gnomes!

Martin Ralya

1. 10 Reasons Why Roleplaying Games are a Positive Force for Kids and Adults Alike: In 18+ writing articles on the Stew, this is one of my all-time favorites — it’s personally meaningful, it struck a chord with a lot of readers, and I just feel bad for the reader whose email about his own situation inspired it. It was also turned into a pamphlet by our own Kurt “Telas” Schneider, and he gave out several hundred of them at GenCon 2009. (We’re planning to tidy it up a bit and make it available as a free download in PDF form, but real life has gotten in the way.) The last year — in which I started a job that gaming helped me get, and which I still love — has made me think back on this article several times, and it still rings true for me.

2. Mouse Guard RPG Review: Want to Play a Mouse with a Sword?: I love doing reviews, but they take me a long time (which is why I don’t do them more often). In a year where I got to write previews of the PHB 2 and Geist: The Sin-Eaters, it says a lot that Mouse Guard — an indie RPG from one of the best game designers around, Luke Crane — is the one I picked for this year-end round-up. It’s a fantastic game that I hope to be able to play sometime.

3. Introduction to Game Mastering, Part 1: The Most Important Rule: This is the first of three installments in this sporadic ongoing series (number four is in draft form at the moment), and it’s been one of the most fun sets of articles I’ve ever written — here or on Treasure Tables, making it a favorite out of close to a thousand articles over about four years of blogging. Even if you’re not at all new to GMing, you might enjoy the strange feeling of thinking back to your own start in the craft — it’s a cool shift in perspective.

Since there isn’t a tenth gnome to round out our fifth day of best-of articles, I figured I’d point you to three other Stewlicious things to read, as well:

Welcome to 2010! We can’t wait to share hundreds more GMing articles with you this year, and we’ll be back to normal posting this coming Monday.