Game Design

Fat Dragon Games Releases World War Tesla Starter Set

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 January 2018 - 8:00am
Many feel that Nikola Tesla was ahead of his time, possibly even from the future. He certainly pushed the boundaries of science for the time. So it seems only fitting that a game bearing his name is doing the same. Fat Dragon Games has released World War Tesla, their new 15mm miniatures game. You can […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tiny Epic Zombies Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 January 2018 - 7:00am
Gamelyn Games is adding a new game to their Tiny Epic line. In this case, it’s the walking dead. Zombies are swarming through Echo Ridge Mall in Tiny Epic Zombies. You’re one of the last survivors, but will you continue to be a survivor, or will you simply be lunch? That’s up to you to […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Forge World Giving Away An Acastus Knight Porphyrion

Tabletop Gaming News - 19 January 2018 - 6:00am
Forge World is continuing their January of giveaways. This time around, it’s an Acastus Knight Porphyrion that you could win. Just head to their webshop, make a qualifying order, and you could be getting something huge in your shipment for nothing at all. From the website: This is your chance to win a colossal Acastus […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Blog: A data-driven look at the rising cost of game dev

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 January 2018 - 1:03am

"[Looking] at costs & costs per byte for the window of 1985 to 2005," writes Raph Koster. "Game size went up by 122 times, costs rose by 22x, & therefore we got 6x more efficient at creating content." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Cultivating New GMs

Gnome Stew - 19 January 2018 - 12:00am

 Sow your fields so that you too may one day play again…

When I started gaming back in the RPG bronze age of 1986, the role of Dungeon Master was a job cloaked in mystery and the polished veneer of extreme expertise. I was admonished, under no uncertain terms, to never ever look into the Dungeon Master’s Guide. EVER! The secrets of running a game were a precious knowledge that could only be shared with the truly worthy.

Now, admittedly, we were all teenagers at the time, so weakness of any kind was to be hidden away. Even if the DM had been uncertain on how to handle a rulling, he could have never shown that weakness to the players at the table. If he did, he would have instantly been consumed by wolves. Or, at least, that’s the way we acted. College wasn’t much better, as I switched to Champions and its math intensive rules. As much as we players loved the game, the game master was treated as if royalty because only he could possibly have the level of knowledge needed to properly run a game.

I was almost twenty years into the hobby before I met someone who didn’t treat GMing as a sacred mystery to be kept from the unwashed masses. He wanted to play and that meant finding GMs. Since he couldn’t find any, he started creating some. With his insistent prodding, I tried my hand at running a game and I found that I enjoyed it and it wasn’t as hard as I had been led to believe.

 Never underestimate the power of mentoring. Today, there are a ton of resources available for people who want to try their hand at GMing, but it can still take a personal nudge to get someone to actually take those baby steps and run their first game. Never underestimate the power of mentoring. Here are some of my thoughts on how to cultivate new GMs:

Don’t treat GMing as something only the talented few can do.

It is very easy to get caught up in the myth of awesome that can come to surround a good GM. We players really do like our skilled GMs and that is a huge boost to the ego. Between good GMs basking in the legend of their own greatness and the entertaining stories of horrible GMs, it is understandable that a non-GM will assume that it takes an accomplished skillset to even attempt to run a game. Even today with all the resources available at our fingertips on the internet, I still hear players say they couldn’t possibly run a game.

Don’t get complacent in just accepting the praise your players give you. Be honest about the areas you struggled with in a game. Have some transparency on what goes into running a game. Explain things you tried that didn’t work the way you wanted, or how you had to adjust on the fly to accommodate something unexpected. We all get hit by imposter syndrome on occasion and sharing that vulnerability with your players can let that potential GM understand that even experienced GMs occasionally have doubts.

Seek out the players you think might have the right skill set.

A good player won’t always translate into a good GM, but if you pay attention to which players add to the game in certain ways, you can tell who has a potential to enjoy being a game. Who are the rainmakers, the players that can make things happen for the betterment of the whole table? Do you have a player that seems to instinctively know what to add to a game to push things forward? How about someone who is good at drawing the quieter players into the action?

You can usually spot the difference between players who are really passionate about the game and those that enjoy it but don’t have quite the same level of investment. Start dropping suggestions that the passionate player should think about running their own game. Be honest about wanting a chance to play too. If you can see that a player inherently has an understanding of how to ‘yes, and’ in the game in such a way that it makes it fun for others at the table, they’re someone you should start attempting to mentor into running their own game.

Watch that new GM bloom…

Help them find a game that suits their interest and experience level.

If you ask a collection of gamers what’s a good first game for a GM, you’ll get dozens of responses all adamant that only the game they’re suggesting is the right choice for a new GM. The real answer is going to be far, far more complicated and should capture on what is going to capture the new GM’s imagination in a system that they’re going to be comfortable with.

Let’s say you’ve got a player who is highly experienced with Shadowrun, but they’ve never run a game. Shadowrun is far from the game I would suggest as a first game for a GM, but if that player is comfortable with the system and the genre, it just might be a good fit for them. I consider PbtA games to be easy, but that simplicity may not translate for someone who has limited experience with narrative games or the foundation of years of traditional games to build off of.

Help the GM you’re trying to create find the right balance between a genre they’re excited about and a system they think they’d be comfortable running. For me, my friend encouraged me to try my hand at running a supers game, which I did with Mutants & Masterminds. I had a passion for super hero RPGs and M&M was a game I had some experience with, so it was a relatively easy transition.

Offer honest, real constructive criticism on what went right, and what could have gone better.

Once they’ve dived into the deep end and run that first session, be sure to give them feedback on what worked and what didn’t. Be encouraging, but be honest. If their NPCs seemed a little lackluster, offer them suggestions on how to improve that. If the pacing of the encounters worked really well, reinforce that with praise. I recommend doing this privately and not turning it into a full ‘roses and thorns’ discussion with a full table, especially if the new GM is still feeling uncertain about their skills.

This isn’t just a one-off bit of feedback either. Each session is going to offer things that went well and things that didn’t. As long as the new GM appreciates the feedback, continue to offer guidance on running games.

I’m grateful that my friend was so determined to play instead of always run that he took the time to forcefully nudge me into running that first game. I might have fallen into doing it at some point in the future, but he guaranteed it happened and completely changed the course of my relationship to this hobby. If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be writing GMing advice articles here on the Stew.

Did someone nudge you into running your first game? Have you ever mentored someone into trying their hand at it? I’d love to hear your stories.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Warlord Games Is Hiring

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 3:00pm
I know many of you out there would love to break into the world of gaming. It’s not easy. There’s not a ton of jobs out there to be had, and when one shows up, a lot of people tend to apply. But you never know, you might be just the gamer that Warlord is […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

WrightCon Vendor Registration Open

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 2:00pm
Normally, these convention announcements are for regular badge registration. But the vendors need to have their time to sign up for shows, too. That’s what we’ve got here. In this case, it’s WrightCon. They’ve opened up registration for those that’d like to be a vendor at the show. From the announcement: The Wright Field Scale […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Underestimated Games Previews Refugees of Religion

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 1:00pm
A new faction will soon be making its way to the world of Purgatory. Underestimated Games has announced that at end of February, they will be launching a Kickstarter for the Refugees of Religion. The whole faction will hopefully be made available if the Kickstarter funds, with the hopes to start working on the one […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Lancelot Now Available from WizKids

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 12:00pm
The court at Camelot wasn’t all singing and dancing, there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes. Lancelot and Guinevere were having this sort of thing going on. All of the knights were looking to perform daring deeds to earn valor and honor. And that’s what you’ll be doing in Lancelot, now […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Thursday Terrain Corner

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 11:00am
The weekend’s almost here! As always, I really can’t wait. A friend’s coming in from out of town to hang out and play games for a week or so. It’s Game Day up at the Milton Library this Saturday (if you’re in the Atlanta area, be sure to stop by and say hi). Since we’ll […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GDC 2018 welcomes back the Shut Up & Sit Down board game lounge!

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 January 2018 - 10:23am

The exhibit, curated by the minds behind board game enthusiast hub Shut Up & Sit Down, will offer GDC 2018 attendees a space to relax and play some of the best card and board games in recent memory. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Awful Orphanage Coming to Kickstarter This March

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 10:00am
Becoming an orphan is already tragic enough. But then, to get put into Ms. Pendergast’s Home for Wayward Children, it’s just that much worse. You’ve gotta get out of there, any way you can. That’s just what you’ll be doing in Awful Orphanage, a new board game coming to Kickstarter this March. About the game: […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Z-Man Games Previews Tea & Trade Expansion For Fields of Arle

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 9:00am
There are areas of the world that, despite being part of a larger country, are sort of their own, little world. Cut-off from many other people, these regions create their own traditions and ways of life. Such is the case with East Frisia. Nestled along the coast of Germany, these flax farmers sort of just […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fantasy Flight Games Previews Admiral Raddus For Star Wars: Armada

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 8:00am
The Profundity expansion for Star Wars: Armada gives Rebel players access to Admiral Raddus, the Mon Calamarian in charge of the ships at the end of Rogue One. But how will he affect your fleets? In this preview, you get a look at what Raddus brings to the table, along with some of the other […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Steamforged Previews Ratcatcher’s Guild

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 7:30am
Minor Guilds are coming to Guild Ball. These guilds are offshoots of the main guilds already in the game. There’ll be some character sharing between the main guild and the minor guild associated with them. For the Morticians, their minor guild is the Ratcatcher’s Guild. They’ll be the first of these minor guilds to roll […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Dalek Set Announced From Warlord Games

Tabletop Gaming News - 18 January 2018 - 7:00am
The Daleks are arguably the most iconic villains from all of the Doctor Who series. And while most of us remember the standard gold Daleks with their laser and plunger, there were actually many different types that made appearances throughout the run of the show. In the Maximum Extermination set for Exterminate!, you get two […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Six Match, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Finish the Game - by Aaron Steed Blogs - 18 January 2018 - 6:04am
What goes into a match-3 game that takes 4 years to make? In this post I'll show you my methods and a host of games and creators that helped shape an original way to match-3.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developer Diary #3: The Alchemist Code x Brave Frontier Special Crossover Collaboration! - by gumi Team Blogs - 18 January 2018 - 6:03am
Ting Shang Jia and Jacky Yap, Lead Game Designers supporting the global development for The Alchemist Code and Brave Frontier, share insights on a major collaboration event.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Are probabilities ruining your RPG experience? - by Martin Kolesar Blogs - 18 January 2018 - 6:03am
Wouldn’t it be more fun if we hid the success probabilities of choices in an RPG? In real life, you mostly understand your chances without percentages popping up in front of your face. Here's how we think about the problem when designing Sacred Fire RPG.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What to do if your video game art is used in ads without your permission - by Brandon Huffman Blogs - 18 January 2018 - 6:01am
What do you do if your video game art is being used in advertisements without your permission? You've got a few options, but they depend on how it's being used and what your goal is.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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