Archive for the ‘Tools & Techniques’ Category

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 […]

Leave a Comment

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 […]

Leave a Comment

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 […]

Comments (2)

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 […]

Leave a Comment

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, […]

Comments (3)

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 […]

Leave a Comment

Not Like My Tribe – Sophisticated Primitives, Part 1

A lot of people seem to have the opinion that Primitive is the same thing as Simple. While I would hope that most GMs are better educated than this, that knowledge doesn’t seem to translate into their depictions of primitive societies within their games. Most Orcs, for example, are treated as being cookie-cutter representatives of […]

Comments (2)

Review Roundup: Three products of interest

I get offered more product to review than I possibly have time to read, other than superficially. Sometimes that product is already commercially available, sometimes it’s the center of a fundraising campaign, sometimes it just comes out of the blue. While I would love to give every review it’s own post of prominence, reality dictates […]

Comments (1)

The Gilligan Tools for better characterization

I was reading an article the other week about a fan theory regarding Gilligan’s Island – well, actually, it’s more like two related theories, one of which is partially contingent on the other. As I was musing (and chuckling, I must admit), the thought occurred to me that with a little tweaking, one of those […]

Comments (3)

An Amazing Ancestry

I’m a regular viewer of the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?”. We in Australia are in the privileged position of seeing not only our own domestic series, but also the US and UK series of this show. For those who have never watched it, the show traces the ancestry of a celebrity […]

Leave a Comment

The Incremental Art Of Escalation

There are all sorts of situations in which the GM wants a situation to escalate by a measured, finite quantity. There will usually be several such escalations that he intends to occur before the situation reaches its climax and resolution. It can be quite difficult to actually plan these escalations as a smooth progression, especially […]

Comments (1)

Finding Your Way: Unlocking the secrets of Google Image Search

For those that don’t know, Google offers a wealth of tools for finding illustrations useful to your adventure just by clicking on the “Images” button on the search homepage to enter Google Images. And, at first glance, it can seem fairly intuitive to use. But there are traps to be aware of, and some tricks […]

Leave a Comment