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Running a Big Table

Back when I was running D&D Encounters for 4th Edition (The Borderlands season), I ran a large table. We had anywhere between 7 and 10 players, many of them middle school boys. With 4e, it was difficult, but I was able to fit in a single combat encounter in an evening, with a large group. There was really no RP involved around that, just “everyone show up and start stabbing things”. It was okay, but [...]

Tractor Beams

Over in Australia (unless your reading this in Australia, then its under neath you) scientists have put together a tractor beam that can grab glass particles and pull them several inches. Essential the beam is a laser whose outer ring is hotter than the cooler inner ring...like a donut according to livescience. The beam was directed at small glass spheres, about .008 inches in diameter, those in the inner, cooler portion of the beam were pulled forward. Head over to Livescience for the full run down of how it works, its pretty cool.

Tractor beam, not too far away [...]


Armor Up (Don Justo)

Daniel Lopez

The Ever Expanding Dungeon XP Awards

Well I finally got around to calculating the XP for the last two sessions of my solo dungeon crawl, The Ever Expanding Dungeon.

Here are the XP totals and what 's needed for the next level (those who started at 2nd level, which is all but Ygg, started with enough XP to be at 2nd):

Friday Favourite: What Music Is Playing During Your Battle?

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From May 21, 2010, Dungeon's Master once again presents:What Music Is Playing During Your Battle?

In grade 5 my teacher asked the class if we could only have one song playing as our theme song, what would it be?

For the life of me I don't recall what song I selected. However, John Arcadian's post at Gnome Stew got me thinking about this again. John highlights the tool Pandora. Now, because I live in Canada I don't have access to this nice tool. [...]

In Defense of the Campaign:

Before I start to  wander here is my main point:Rpg's, to be at their best need the consistency and structure of a regular continuing game.Let the digressions begin.
I am not saying that one shot games can't create some very interesting and memorable experiences. I will however say, it's not the same. There are some excellent games out there designed to be one shot experiences, which are tightly designed, elegant and effective. They are also  much closer to party games in my  mind then they are to RPG's. If a person says to me, "We're going to play this one shot [...]

"100 Oddities for a Creepy Old House" Now Released!

Just in time for Halloween and your Cryptworld games, Skirmisher Publishing LLC has released the first of a new line of game-related mini-resources. The first, 100 Oddities for a Creepy Old House, is intended to aid GM creativity, turning possibly bland areas or gaming episodes into something more. From the press release:
Oddities are the little touches that fill up the corners of lives. In our own mundane world, they might be limited to old, chewed pencils, unused key-fobs, or a half-finished decorative spoon collection awaiting the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. In the worlds of our imagination, however, [...]

5e Monster Manual Review (Tome 243)

In this episode of The Tome, Jeff and Tracy are joined by James Introcaso (Team Flumph), Mike Shea (Team Demilich), and Sam Dillon (Team Beholder). They sit down and discuss the newly released 5th edition MONSTER MANUAL!!!!! How did WotC do on this important product? Listen and find out!

Links: worldbuilderblog.me slyflourish.com rpgmusings.com
Support the show, shop below...

Download Standard Podcasts

The Essence of the RPG

What makes a tabletop RPG?

People in hobbies sometimes try to define the boundaries of their hobby.  This is usually a conservative move, attempting to defend their hobby against change, evolution, or expansion to new demographics.  I started playing RPGs in 1991, so I became a gamer in the second major evolution of the hobby (the first being its initial expansion in the late 1970s and early 1980s).  My first games were D&D (of course) but also Shadowrun and the World of Darkness, which at the time were packed with innovative ideas and brought new types of play and [...]

The Friday Grab Bag - Happy B-Day to Me and You!

Today I turn another year older and I will be sure to roll some dice, and not just in a metaphoric way.  Some gaming is definitely in the offing!

Also, as I do every year, I am running a sale on all CMG offerings on my B-Day through Halloween to mark what I like to call "Marktoberfest!" which is an eight day celebration of gaming.

I will game and work on upcoming games as much as I can though this eight day festival.  I hope you can you can do likewise!

If you'd like to further help [...]

Middle Earth's Epic Safety Video

Recruiting for a Classic World of Darkness Play by Post Game

Using the "Call of the Wyld" here!

By the way, my readers: I am recruiting for a Classic World of Darkness game, to be played on the White Wolf Forums Play by Post subforum. It is "potentially" a Vampire the Masquerade and Werewolf the Apocolypse crossover, although if I get nothing but Werewolf character then it will just be a W:tA game with vampire NPCs (probably mostly antagonists) in it. Looking for 4 players max, and I already have one.

Vampires in Texas? Inconceivable!
Play is centered around a number of fictional towns a little south of San [...]

Edo's Game Reviews: Timeline -- Episode 4

Timeline by Frdric Henry is a simple trivia game with a twist! Players try to map out a series of cards in the order the occurred relative to each other. Maybe you don't know the exact year that an invention was made, but maybe you'll know whether it was before or after the invention of fireworks!

Timeline works well from 2-8 players and lasts around 15 minutes! It's a fun one to play while waiting for an order at a restaurant!

Thanks for watching and please subscribe and share!

[Friday Map] Cepheus' Gallery

Another one of the caves leading into the catacombs beneath Triumph Mesa, this one is named after it’s primary resident, the boneless lich known as Cepheus. Cepheus is an undead monstrosity of immense size, resembling a bloated and unearthly octopus more than anything else. It resides within the large cavern, immersed in the study of other realms that it accesses via a 4 foot diameter crystal ball that it caresses in its massive rotting tentacles. Most travellers have the good sense to bypass this cavern completely on their way down, but some have sought out and spoken with the foul beast and a rare few have left Cepheus’ gallery with knowledge and secrets previously unknown to man and elf alike.

Cepheus Gallery (Gridded)

Like someof my recent maps, this one is available both with and without grid. The “clean” scan is below:

Cepheus Gallery

Like last Tuesday’s Hesporus Cave (that also leads into the catacombs beneath Triumph Mesa), this map was drawn at least a year ago in my Moleskine gridded reporter’s notebook using a 0.7mm gel pen.It is posted here for your non-commercial use thanks to the awesome patronsof the blog who support it through my Patreon Campaign.

Word of the Day -- Druid

A druid was a member of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, Ireland, and possibly elsewhere during the Iron Age. The druid class included law-speakers, poets and doctors, among other learned professions. Although, the best known among the druids were the religious leaders.

Very little is known about the ancient druids. They left no written accounts of themselves, and the Now availableonly evidence is a few descriptions left by Greek, Roman, and various scattered authors and artists, as well as stories created by later medieval Irish writers. While archaeological evidence has been uncovered [...]

Email Seeking Support for an RPG Kickstarter

I just got an email, a follower on my Google+page, and a like on my FB page seeking a plug for a Kickstarter. It is one that has been mentioned over at the Tavern. NOTE: I am not mentioning which Kickstarter it is. I am sure Erik will have his own post about it. Little […]

Warhammer Setting Presentation

There was another question in the WFRP 2e G+ Community about getting players into the Warhammer setting when they haven't read the books. I agree with a few other comments stating it is rather a blessing to have players who haven't read the entire cannon of the world you're playing in. For him to give them the Warhammer atmosphere, I suggested this:

A short background [for] each character could set the mood. Then you can add more background information with each sitting: what's going on locally, provincially, Empire-wise that people would be talking about. Portray the setting with each [...]

[WFRP] Fate Points

In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, fate points separate your character from all the other people inhabiting the game world. When something tragic happens to the character, you can spend a point, indicating that your character had dodged fate and lived to face another day. With this in mind, I think fate points should be something special and epic that happens, not just a generic "the attack misses you; your turn."

In the past, we've had experiences where a character uses a fate point so that the blow that kills them never lands, just to have the GM kill them on [...]

[WFRP 2e] Morrslieb's Shadow 40

Maximillian Morningglory, Halfling Vampire Hunter
Magnus the Pony

My companions
Udrin Sor-Valdir - High Elf Wizard
Ludovic Hasselhoff - Human Entertainer (Absent)
Durak Braksson - Dwarf

Tegort - Ogre bodyguard
Abelhardt Mullberger - Journeyman Apprentice
Fickuld - Young Camp Follower

(Previous update)

We attacked the front gate.

True to Mullberger's vision, we had no problem navigating through the remainder of the barrows, and the necromantic dwarf wights did not bother us in the least. There were four evil elves and a twisted female daemon of some sort (I will have to look more into these things when the [...]

Not So Virgin Lands

The Wandering Gamist has a thoughtful post on Why It's Unexplored, looking at reasons why the PCs are the first (known) explorers in a hex crawl campaign.

I' have comments on a couple of the scenarios and one of my own that could be a playable campaign.
  • Cataclysm
    • A catastrophe has torn the land asunder.  It's scary out there, and all our maps are wrong.
    • Unfortunately, this sounds like something a competent army would put scouts on immediately.  Unless the army were busy suppressing riots in the capital, I suppose.  But in that case, there is an urban game to be [...]

New Covert Ops Release: Operation "Olympus Rising"

It took a while, but finally the second Short Assignment for Covert Ops with the title "Olympus Rising" has been released by DWD Studios. The 23 Page PDF has the familiar clear and good lookinglayout you are usedto for DwDStudio Titles. While the adventure does not contain any artwork it does have several detailed, full…

Friday in Freeport - Ghoulish Pirates

A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Monster Manual

My review of the Player’s Handbook, here, was fairly positive. Okay, perhaps overwhelmingly so. Beyond a few fairly glaring indexing issues in the magic section, I found the book to be delightful and highly useable. Having now received the second in the holy trinity of rulebooks, can the same be said for the Monster Manual? […]

Frugal GM Review: Village Maps from Paratime Design

Do you know what I pretty much suck at?

I'm specifically referencing making city/village maps, though I'm not vain enough to think the list stops there, not even when it comes to GMing.

Normally I use the Roleplaying City Map Generator, but frankly it isn't always an option and it still takes me a decent amount of finish work to get things where I want. If only there was a relatively inexpensive, yet good, collection of village maps that would work for tabletop and VTT.....

....but there is!

Tim Hartin, over at Paratime Design, has a [...]

Enjoy Halloween with these Tunnels & Trolls adventures

Halloween and Tunnels & Trolls are two of the best things, so here is a selection of spooky dooky scenarios for your game.

Death at Grimwood Hall by Scott Malthouse

Yeah, let's lead with one written by a handsome designer, shall we? If you're into Hammer horror, the macabre and social commentary, then you should get a kick out of Death at Grimwood Hall. Inspired by Frankenstein, this is a love story from beyond the grave. What starts as a murder mystery turns into a frantic race to save the kingdom.

Price: 1.40
Buy it here.

The Crowd

Evening rush hour is not fun on the subway. Hundreds of men and women, crowded like sardines in a can. Party goers mixed with tired office workers. Every station, some get out – and a genereal reshuffling follows. You sigh with relief, as for a moment you can breathe again. Human odors hang heavily in […]

Why is it unexplored?

One thing that bugged me a little about Western Marches as described was that there wasn't a really clear reason for the wilderness to be unexplored.  Sure, it was dangerous, but it didn't sound dangerous enough to stop a motivated army, or a mass migration.  So, some thoughts on reasons the land you want your PCs to explore hasn't already been settled.
  • Hostile natives
    • As mentioned above, I feel that if an area has sufficiently hostile natives to stop exploration and colonization, they're probably too hostile for small groups of low-level PCs.
  • Taboo
    • The land is off-limits by decree of religious authorities.  I [...]

Don't read this: tomes of doom in USR Mythos

I like the thought of a book so evil, so mind-shattering that it psychologically breaks the reader and sends them into a spiral of madness. What a great book. Of course, the daddy of them all is the Necronomicon. We all know it and its power to bring on the crazy wholesale. But what about other cult books? Let's run through some that could be making an appearance in USR Mythos:

Book of Ways

Thought to be written in the 13th century by an unnamed sorcerer, the Book of Ways would come to be known by Christians [...]

Zeitgeist, Part 01: Royal Homeland Constabulary At Sea!

Dramatis Personae:
  • Odeal Hinthunter: Human investigative bard and Docker with just a hint of elven blood
  •  Lilo: Deva and former gnome, recently reincarnated as a spirit medium and fey sorceress
  • Anna R. Chi: Human follower of the Vekeshi cult and witch with well-traveled parents
  • Tumbar the Rock: Dwarf monk of the Sacred Mountain school and follower of Heid Eschatol
  • Egon Krogher: Human barbarian, veteran of the Fourth Yerasol War

What Went On Before: Just getting started as newly-graduated members of the Royal Homeland Constabulary, defenders of the kingdom of Risur.
The group was told to ensure the official launch of the Coal-Tongue, the kingdom's new [...]

Special Mounts

Recently Benjamin Baugh wrote about special mounts and made a document available detailing some random tables for epic mounts.

I’ve also been using mounts in my campaign, but they’re not as epic as Benjamin’s mounts. One of the halflings runs a unicorn reserve and rides on one. There’s also a standing offer for a life-long supply of (stolen) pegasi.

Here’s how I run it:

  1. Mounts and animal companions act a lot like other non-player characters in that they can join you. This usually involves a minor favor such as feeding the griffons their favorite meat, taming the young weasels by petting them and feeding them, offering the unicorns a safe haven, rendering Freya a service such that she’ll turn your wolf companion into an ice wolf.
  2. Mounts and animal companions act a lot like henchmen in that they count against the limit imposed by your charisma, they’re loyal and courageous. They don’t require morale checks in combat.
  3. They don’t gain experience points and they don’t level up.

Reading Benjamin’s document has me rethinking this last point, however. Perhaps the mounts and animal companions having as many hit dice as their master would make for a better game?

Or perhaps, like non-player characters, they should be at roughly one level below their master? That would also solve the issue of people buying war dogs at first level (HD 2+2 as wolves). First level characters would get dogs that also have just 1d4 hit points. Second level characters would get dogs that have 1d8 hit points, and so on. But then war horses would be much less scary: first level veterans don’t get HD 3 war horses. They get 1d4 hp war horses. Perhaps it would be better for the hit dice in the monster stat block to be the starting point. When you buy them, war horses have [...]

SS Random List -- Mecha Team Name

From the generators of Seventh Sanctum, here’s a list of 20 randomly created names for your Mech Teams. What type of mech do they use, what weapons and defences do they have and what about the beings that pilot them?

D20 Team Name 1 Alien Robo Lightning Motor Warrior Army 2 Atom Dynamo Company I 3 Big Dynamo Army 4 Blazing Atomic Power Motor Fleet W 5 Celestial Techno Sentinels 6 City Artilery Guard Psi 7 Cog Blaster Corps Z 8 Deadly Cybernetic System Robot Guards 9 Electronic Squadron 10 Experimental Electronic Force Dynamo Army Theta 11 Fighting Cannon Tank Valkyrie Corps 12 Giga Cannon Devil Legion Beta 13 Hyper Artilery Sterling Piston Unit 14 Military Radiation Avatars 15 Motorized Alien Circuit Valkyries 16 Motorized Avatar Corps N 17 Radiation Cavalry Rho 18 Royal Atomic Demon Taskforce 19 Shining Enforcers 20 Strategic [...]

A Case for Multiple Game Masters

Today’s guest article was written by Gnome Stew reader Tony G., who has been GMing for 20 years. He’s got co-GMing on the brain, and we thought this was a great topic to revisit from a new perspective. Thanks, Tony! –Martin

I have asked many of my fellow GMs this question: Why do we run games by ourselves? Tradition? Why not share the responsibility and the work with a fellow GM? If you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Most entertainment is a group effort. Movies are a large collaboration. Television shows most certainly are. Even some books are [...]

Iron Crown Enterprises Newsletter -- October 2014

To receive this monthly newsletter direct to your inbox, sign up to our MAILING LIST now.
Apologies for the slight delay in releasing this month’s Iron Crown Enterprises Newsletter. I am currently in the throes of a terrible case of man flu and as such my reasoning is currently at -30 and everything is taking me a lot longer than normal. Despite that, there is plenty of news to be getting on with….
Catch up on what you’ve missed with this month’s Director’s Briefing.
This month has seen the official release of [...]

Wraith Compendium Class

The main inspiration for this was the protagonist from Shadows of Mordor. Any similarities to Talion were totally done on purpose and I’m not sorry.


If you roll a last breath due to an attack from a wraith, ghost, or specter, and you come back to the land of the living, you may take Terrifythe next time you level up.


You now have a bit of wraith bound to your mortal coil. When you let your wraith come to the surface and scare someone, roll +CHA. On a 10+ choose 2. On a 7-9 choose 1.

  • The targetbecomes confused and chaotic and will [...]

October Movie Challenge: Nosferatu (1979)

I am not sure how to classify this one really.  I thought I saw it years ago, but once I started watching it again I was less sure.  By the end I was really unsure.  Some scenes were familiar, others I remember really differently.

This movie of course is a remake of the classic 1922 Nosferatu.  Remake is somewhat of an inadequate word.  This is a re-visioning of Dracula from the 1922 source.

Klaus Kinski was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen. A strange man by all accounts, but also a brilliant actor [...]

Doctor Who: A Painted Backdrop No More

Spoilers exist in more (and less) than 3 dimensions..
     How do you explain "out" to a 2-dimensional person? Say a very talented painter, one so talented that he could quite literally breathe life into his paintings, one day painted a picture of a person. A painting so exquisitely detailed that the person on the canvas came to life. When that 2-dimensional person wondered who created them, how could the painter put into words an answer they would understand? How could they explain "out" to their creation? More importantly, what if their creation didn't care? What if [...]

d20 Rifts - Races, part 1

Humans: Humans are the most prevalent and wide-spread race, being native to Rifts Earth, and to most of the closest dimensions. As such, they are considered the baseline. Humans get no standard benefits (i.e., no bonus skill points or feat a la D&D). However, they are able to choose a department, which indicates their original training. Any of the Spycraft 1.0 departments are available (though, obviously, the names of many of them are meaningless in this setting). (Ed note: In re-posting, I think I'd drop this. Adding the departments does good things to encourage people [...]

GMprov -- Part 1

GMprov -- Spontaneous Dialogue -- Part 1: Eavesdropping

I only have a few years experience with GMing, so there's little I can offer in that field that others haven't said before. However, I do have experience as an Improvisational Performer, and I've found the two have a lot of overlap.

Today, I'm going to focus on dialogue, specifically on the noble art of eavesdropping.


Inevitably, in any given adventure, the players will need to find out information. They might get this from a written clue, or from going Jack-Bauer on some captive, but sometimes they'll just eavesdrop on a conversation already [...]

DC Heroes - The New Teen Titans: Rigged Results

From the Back Cover:


As if flooding streets, blackouts, and looting aren't dangers enough, the news comes from the Mayor's Office:


It's up to your team to destroy the wave-maker first: IF you can find it... IF you can get to it... and IF you can... DEFEAT THE MASTERS OF DISASTER!

Links to Canon. Links to the Past

When a game has run for a long time it develops its own sort of canon. By that I mean the "official timeline" that fans would use when debating points about what is going on. In the case of a long running game though, the Canon would be what actually happened in your game as opposed to the fanciful retelling that people use when telling stories. Not that players naturally want to lie or exaggerate when telling stories, but as human beings that tendency lives within us and so deeds tend to grow in scope and scale until, at some [...]

Delving Deeper Week, Day Seven: And In The End, We Look To The Future

Thanks for joining me for this, the last day of Delving Deeper Week. It's been a fun week(-ish), and it's been neat to see so many folks get fired up about DD and OD&D-style gaming itself. There's been a lot of work done so far, and today, we'll be looking at what comes next, because today's the day where I ask +Simon Bull:

What plans do you have for the future of Delving Deeper?
My most basic plan is to continue to enjoy it. Beyond that, I'd love to see some supporting materials for DD (and indirectly for 0e!) [...]

October Horror Movie Challenge: Riding the Bullet (2004)

Directed by Mick Garris, Riding the Bullet is yet another horror film based off a Stephen King short story. While hitchhiking back home to visit his sick mother, Alan Parker is picked up by a mysterious stranger. As the ride goes on, Alan uncovers a terrible secret about the driver, who then gives him a choice. A choice between life and death.

Riding the Bullet feels like a Twilight Zone episode stretched out to 98 minutes. If Rod Sterling had appeared at the beginning and end of the film to give his signature monologues, I wouldn't have been surprised. Well, [...]

I Looked at the 5th Edition D&D Books, and I Liked It

 So I was in Barnes & Noble today, and I picked up the 5E Player's Handbook. And as I flipped through it, I really liked what I saw. Really, the full-page illustrations took me back to the D&D 2nd Edition books, man. Seriously. And I liked the style of the [...]

Castle Greyhawk: Easy Decisions

Welcome back Greyhawk mavens! It's time to continue with the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page four and see lead in dialogue by fantasist Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: Ah it's a classic homage this installment. It's going to be interesting to see how a wizard-fighter heavy group navigates this chapter. This page is a prime example with poor Tenser being relegated to a task usually left to the more roguish types. Tenser does have climbing experience though, for those who remember chapter one's adventure [...]

New Character Colours

The scavenger's mostly done...time to start colouring the next character for the book.

Kickstarter - Infrared Tag RPG style - Go Ahead, Ask Why?

Alright, I feel a need to point this part out from the Infrared Tag RPG style opening video. If you are going to opt out on wearing shoes, wear clean socks. Better yet, wear shoes, as no one wants to see your socks. Oh, and nobody really wants to hear you ramble on during the video. When you say at 5 and a half minutes into the video that you were going to make the video longer (and it still clocks in over 9 minutes) it's probably already too long.

If the main video isn't enough for you, there are 11 more linked. Huzzah!

Maybe shoes should be part of the rewards offeredDid I mention:

This Kickstarter has failed once before [...]

Orcs in Space!

In a previous post I wrote up a crew of orc whale hunters. This post provides ideas for incorporating them in a space fantasy campaign.


Orc Whaling Ship

The Discovery(a.k.a. Orcs in Space!)
"Captain!" The voice carried down to the sterncastle of the ship Abattoir from the crow's nest on the foremast. "Two points to starboard!"
Pulling out his spyglass, Captain Cyrus scanned the surface of the water in the direction mentioned. For a moment he couldn't make out a telltale. "Is it a spume?"
"No, Captain---seabirds. It could still be lucrative, though."

Minis for Charity: Part 3 Special Characters

So we come to the end of the minis for the UK Children's. Here are the three "Special Characters". These minis are all special...

The first one is the priest. Every good western town has a priest or a preacher. Sometimes he is a good man, other times he is a scumbag with a pistol hidden in that bible... Which is it?

This mini has a unique interest to me because my first Deadlands character was a priest, Father JP who was not allowed, by the party, to carry a gun. I adventured across the West bringing the word of [...]

EN World Pre-Release Review -- The Rise of Tiamat by Kobold Press & Wizards of the Coast

Hail and Well Met Gentle Readers!

Another week has sped by, Fellow Gamers, and the weekend draws near – with hopefully many opportunities for you all to have some great gaming fun.

Personally, I’ve got plans to do some in-depth playtesting of the new 5E Dungeons & Dragons this coming weekend. In fact, just last Sunday, I had the opportunity to sit down and create a few characters from scratch and I have to say the process is very streamlined indeed. And I got to try out a 1st Level character for a few encounters, and the new D&D runs pretty well [...]

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