Archive for the ‘Tools & Techniques’ Category

The Bigger They Are, The Bigger The Headache: The Proxemics Of Scale

I’ve been thinking a lot about the size of creatures lately, because it seems to me that size poses unexpected problems for the GM. This is a subject that’s been at the back of my mind for years, ever since it was pointed out to me that Dragons are never as tough as they are […]

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ATGMs42: The Hollow Echo Part 2 – Musical Traps

This is (still) the fifth of these Ask-The-GMs that I’m tackling without recourse to my usual allies and fellow-GMs. Traps and puzzles are always a tricky problem for the GM. All too often they focus attention on one particular character and leave the rest sitting around doing nothing, possibly for what feels like an extraordinary […]

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The Ultimate Weapon: Spell Storage Solutions Pt 5

This entry is part 6 in the series Spell Storage Solutions

This entry is part 6 in the series Spell Storage Solutions This is the (almost-) final part of a very intermittent series that examines alternatives and possible implications to the standard spell storage solutions built into D&D, Pathfinder, and, in fact, most fantasy games. Today, We look at Relics and Artifacts. Artifacts are some of […]

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The Hollow Echo Part 1 – Adding Music To Your Game

Music can provide an iconic trigger that instantly transports the listener into an associated memory. Soundtracks and scores for Film and TV have long recognized this effect and played on it. You might not know it, but every major character in a movie or TV show has their own “theme”, a handful of notes, usually […]

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Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced) Part 9: Rewards With Intent

This 15-part series is an attempt to answer the question, “what advice do you have for a beginning GM?”, three articles at a time – while throwing in tips and reminders of the basics for more experienced GMs. This is the last article of the current trilogy. Rewards: Tabula Rasa To most beginning GMs, and […]

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Lightning Research: Maximum Answers in Minimum Time

One art that every GM should master is the knack of researching just enough information just as quickly as you can digest it. I sometimes call it the art of Lightning Research, and today I’m going to share a couple of tips for doing it successfully. These tips come in two parts – one for […]

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Cities Of Legend: Blueprints For Adventure

The Backstory: When my pulp co-GM and I started talking about this article, it had a very different shape. The original intention was to list the cities that we considered iconic settings for pulp adventure, and explain in each case why it had been selected to receive that accolade. As the article progressed, however, it […]

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Working The Other Side Of The Screen

Not too long back, an exchange on Twitter led me to the question – does continuing to play RPGs on a regular basis make you a better GM? I’m certainly in a position to judge, since I continue to run multiple campaigns and have, for most of the last year, been a player in a […]

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Throw Me A Life-line: A Character Background Planning Tool

When I was a child, I knew three of my grandparents well. My paternal grandfather and namesake, however, I have no memory of ever meeting; he died before I was born, he was only ever a photograph on the wall. I was thinking about that, and about how my experience of family was not adequately […]

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Ask The GMs: A Target With Warp Drive: Maps and Minis for Sci-Fi

This is the third of these Ask-The-GMs that I’m tackling without recourse to my usual allies and fellow-GMs. Battlemats, maps, and tiles all have a valuable role to play in creating game atmosphere and letting people get on with play. The old adage states that a picture is worth a thousand words; an appropriate terrain […]

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When Genres Collide: Using Non-Genre Sources

Some of the most fun that I’ve ever had as a GM was creating that down-elevator sensation in the stomach-pits of my players by taking an idea derived from one genre and importing it into another. It’s not easy to do well, but I’ve figured out at least some of the ground rules to success, […]

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Not Like My Tribe – Sophisticated Primitives, Part 2

In Part 1 (make sure you have read it before continuing) I made reference to a map of Australian Aboriginal Languages which contrasted so strongly with the media stereotyping of these peoples as a single collective population that it was revelatory and inspirational. I meant to provide a link to that map, but ran out […]

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