Books for Game Masters In Your Toolbox

What system neutral GM aids you keep in your toolbox, to help you craft your games and worlds?  Do you have any that you find yourself coming back to time and again?


  • Avalon Adventures on DTRPG

Random Encounter

The metaphor I devised for this, though perhaps I’m talking about something different, was “looking into other people’s backyards.” What I mean is that I kept hearing about great games, and I kept hearing glowing testimonials from those who were playing them, that I kept wanting to DO THAT rather than focusing on—and remaining content with—the emerging narrative I already had on hand.


Regarding Consequences in RPGs, episode 273, both of your GM styles sound pretty adversarial. Which is fine, but there’s a whole other school of thought around how to play RPGs, taking into account “stance” (Actor, Author, Director) and more collaborative story telling techniques. Worth exploring in a future episode, perhaps, as it gets into separating player from character knowledge, sharing the fiction creation with the whole table, etc.

But without going down that bunny trail right now, how about this question: Do either of you change your GM style depending on the system and group of players you have? Some story game techniques have been creeping into “trad” games for a while now — wonder how you are both handling those. Bennies, for example, in the latest edition of Savage Worlds, can now be used to “Influence the Story.” A pretty significant change.

Do you stick to your instincts and tried and true GM guns no matter what, or can old dogs learn new tricks? What do you think of more modern systems that handcuff the GM, like Numenera, where “GM Interruptions” are a mechanic, instead of the GM just getting shouty and sulky when the players aren’t listening?

Anyway, keep on keeping on. Happy 2020 and good luck with Evercon, Brett.


Solo Player Games

I just wanted to put it out there on how much I appreciate DM’ing a game for one player. Solo games as they are known have an amazing ability to provide such a different format of story telling. It to me, feels way more detailed and cinematic by focusing on one individual character. Don’t get me wrong I love DM’ing games of any size. But the addition of more players usually means less detail in character…streamlining or merging elements of the story etc.

Let me know how many others out there in TTRPG land love Solo Games as much as I do!

I started running my kids in AD&D when they were 6 and 5. I gave them some parameters and explained the character sheet, and told them they could try anything and I’d adjudicate the results. They grasped it right away and have had some very imaginative uses of things, for example using the spell “Stone Shape” to capture carrion crawlers’ tentacles so they could trap them without fighting them and bypassing the trapped creatures. They looked up stuff in the PHB and came up with creative ways around things as well as possible creative interpretations of spells. I love it.

Listening to this podcast episode and quotes like “Try anything” without context to that statement and “I should be able to do what I want”, etc. led me to a question for you all.

At what point does it get away from being a game with parameters like AD&D, DCCRPG, Call of Cthulu etc. and turn into some kind of weird “Calvinball” where the DM/GM/Storyteller lets the player do whatever they want, and it the gameplay doesn’t even remotely resemble the game that the group is supposedly playing?

Curious to all your thoughts on that matter.

Die Roll

  • Fantasy Flight Interactive to close its doors.
  • What’s Brett’s prediction of March’s D&D book? 
  • Archeologist Spends Over 35 Years Building Massive Scale Model of Ancient Rome – article
  • Lou Zocchi, Colonel, Game Science, his garage? Had a fire. Gofundme

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About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.