There are a number of RPG-related podcasts, everything from RPG news and GM tips to recorded play sessions. But there five non-gaming podcasts that regularly give me game ideas and I thought I’d list them here:
How about you? What non-gaming podcasts give you idea? Let us know in the comments!
[Graphic courtesy of derrickkwa via Flickr Creative Commons]
Or you can purchase both in a single file with all of their freebies for $10.
These prices and the bundle will only be available until January 2, 2013:
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep by Phil Vecchione is that good. I spend a lot of time writing about things that most GMs don’t think about writing — like a book on how to write adventures– but I never even thought about writing a book about preparing for game sessions.
I’ve been a GM for a long time (30+ years) but I’ve never really thought much about session prep. Since I have a very improvisational GMing style, my game prep has consisted largely of daydreaming about what the important NPCs have been up to and jotting down a couple of quick notes about what the PCs need to find that session to advance the plot. My game notes usually take up about half a page.
Never Unprepared showed me what I’m missing. Whether you’ve been GMing thirty years or thirty days, you’ll find something helpful in this book. There’s really new information in the book. I often found myself thinking “Yeah, I knew that.” But I’d never thought about it in such a cohesive way.
And that’s this book’s strength. It takes what you already know, codifies it into a set of steps that you can follow each and every time you sit down to plan your game. And these steps cover everything from figuring out your strengths and weaknesses as a GM to how to prepare a session at the last minute.
The chapter and section titles give you a good sense for what each section is about. The 132 page book is broken into three main sections:
The book is written in a conversational style that’s enjoyable as well as informative. This is a “from the trenches” book: the author has been GMing almost as long as I have and has to fit his game prep in around a full time job and family priorities. So the book is written with the needs of busy people in mind.
If there’s one quibble I have, it’s with the layout of the print book. I like the 5×8 size–it’s easy to fit into a game bag and I’m guessing the publisher, Engine Publishing (who also brought us Masks and Eureka) wanted to keep the page count down to help keep the book affordable. But I would really have loved wider margins, so I could take notes in the book itself. The 5/16″ side margins make the book feel very cramped and detract from the otherwise professional look of the book.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you’re having trouble preparing for game sessions (or even if you’re not) this book will help you find the problem and fix it. After reading it, I’m excited and eager to dig into preparing for my next game session, something I’d previously considered a chore. And that alone makes it worth the cover price.
Every RPG game needs at least one city, whether it’s a futuristic, modern, or fantasy city. It’s hard to imaging running a game without cities for the PCs to explore, recruit hired help, rest from their latest exploits, buy supplies, or get into trouble in. While modern (and even some futuristic settings) and get maps and information about real-world cities, most fantasy games need something more unusual. Below are some links to help you build your own fantasy city.
If there’s one thing you’ll do over and over in your life as GM, it’s add new players to your game. And when you add a new player, you always add a new character.
Old players move away or get married or find jobs that keep them from gaming as they did before. By the same token, new players move into an area looking for a game, players get new boyfriends and girlfriends to introduce to the game, or the new guy at work turns out to have been playing your group’s system for more than twenty years.
What it boils down to is this: every GM should know how to introduce a new player to their existing game. In this last post on my series of introducing new players to your game, I’m going to discuss ways of introducing that new player’s character to your game.
There are two main types issues to deal with when adding a new PC to your currently running game:
Out-of-character issues deal primarily with bringing the new player up to speed with your campaign and making sure she has the information she needs to play. If your game has a website or wiki, that’s a big help to a new player, who can then go and familiarize herself with crucial campaign information.
If you don’t have an on-line campaign presence, this would be a good time to consider creating one. Probably the best known wiki space for RPGs is Obsidian Portal, for good reason. This site allows you to set up a one-stop campaign information site for your game, including PC and NPC lists, items, and other information you players should know.
Make sure your new player has information about any house rules or table rules you use. Also include any social contracts, group charters, or game traditions your group has. If the group has a social charter or contract, get your new player a copy of it in writing and have her sign it to show her agreement to abide by it. This may seem unnecessary, but it could help avoid conflicts later down the road.
Finally, make sure you have your new player’s name and contact information. It seems obvious, but it’s very easy to overlook this step in the bustle of getting her settled into your game. At a minimum, get her full name and favorite way to be contacted, whether by phone or email, as well as a way to reach her for last-minute schedule changes.
Before the new player can join your game, he has to have a character. Ask him about his character idea before he sits down to actually create it. That way you can head off an idea that just won’t fit your game from the very beginning. Make sure his idea will work with your existing PCs and will be a good addition to the campaign as a whole. Don’t be afraid to tweak a player’s idea to make it fit better, or even to say “no” outright to an idea that simply won’t work. Resist the temptation to tweak your game to fit the new player.
Don’t penalize your new PC. Let him start at a similar power level to the rest of the group. Many GMs like to start a new PC one level below the current PCs and this can work very well. Consider letting your current players to tweak their characters to better include the new PC. For example, if the new character is a rogue, consider allowing the group’s bard to shift some of his lock-picking skill points to a performance or social skill. That way, each character can shine in his own area and the two of them won’t be stepping on each others’ toes so much.
Get your group’s input on how to work the new character into the game. There are as many ways as there are players and games in the world. You might make the new character a relative of one of the existing PCs, for example. Or you might have the party rescue him from jail. However you decide to do it, ask your players for suggestions. Making this a group effort gives the current players a stake in welcoming the “new guy”.
What can I say? I’ve loved this site for years–it’s been one of my favorites since I started reading RPG blogs and one of the ones I still check regularly, even with my limited computer time. Their mix of articles is wonderful, the writing is always top-notch and I always come away from it with ideas I want to apply to my game immediately. They’ve received ENnie awards in 2010 & 2011 and there’s a damn good reason why.
Whatever gaming topic you’re interested in, they’ve probably got a post dealing with it. Their archives are extensive — 1,193 articles last count. If you’re overwhelmed by the available information, start with their Top 30 Game Mastering Articles. I get their posts sent directly to my email and, inevitably will end up printing out several articles a week to stuff into my game bag.
Most of their articles are system generic and the ones aren’t cover a wide range of game systems. And not just the big names either. They run the gamut from D&D to Dresden Files to Fudge to Alpha Omega and just about everything else in-between, on the side, over the top and upside down. To find a listing of all their system-specific posts, check out their Specific RPGs page.
The site’s design is clean, professional and easy to navigate. I’ve never had a problem with the site and they use Google Custom Search, meaning it’s easy to find articles on specific topics. They have over ten writers (not counting authors of guest posts).
Here’s some posts I’ve found particularly useful
The Gnome Stew crowd have also published two books:
Both are available in PDF and actual physical book format. I have PDF versions of both and they’re quality works with tons of useful ideas. They also have a new book coming out this summer
You can bet I’ll be adding it to my bookshelves.
Now if they would just offer the blog on Kindle
Check out my other favorite gaming blogs: