Stocking Stuffers for GMs

I wrote an article this month for the Contessa Blog! Check it out– it’s Stocking Stuffers for Game Masters.

My criteria included that it had to be useful for GMs, be inexpensive, and fit in a Christmas stocking (a lot of stuff is useful, but doesn’t fit in a stocking). You won’t find $35 dry erase notebooks or Dwarf Forge terrain. Nope– these are for the GM who sits down every week to run a game and goes through 10 index cards a week, three dry erase pens a month, and loses monster miniatures so often, you might think she’s eating them.

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Games from the past 2 weeks

This is going to be more of a "gamer note infodump" than "story about our games" post because I’m really short on time, but I need to throw some notes down so I remember them later.


Played it 10 days ago and didn’t get a free minute to jot down my notes, but I was positively giddy with the results.

Samera had a vision (rolled high, so she got to describe it) of a snake-nosed/noseless dragon destroying most of Dragonia! He returns to a "house" filled with monsters and very evil.

  • What does the Guardian monster look like? Like a goblin with wings, wearing a black pearl necklace, which glows red.
  • Do the other monsters have black pearls? Yes– not the servant class, but the rest do. Including the snake-nosed dragon.
  • What immunity does the black pearl grant? It doesn’t, but it has offensive powers.

Mom facepalmed at the last one, since they could have used that knowledge to prepare and plan…

During the journey to the feral colony, they fought a swarm of pterodactyls and Lydia took a wound to the torso. Trogdor doesn’t think Samsmelt has made overtures of friendship, but he’s keeping a secret– that Samsmelt is smitten with Lydia. The "scratcher feral" has been named Scully, by Samera.

After much discussion and uncomfortable posturing among the ferals, Samera and Trogdor make a deal for Samsmelt to get the feral dragon’s suit armor in exchange for a dragon skeleton. Trogdor magics one up, out of his own bone, so that it looks just like his own skeleton. Lydia sees it and panics before realizing it’s his own making. During all this, the party is taking some shadow points as they roll 6-‘s and I decide that, among the ferals, the shadow magic is very strong.

Eventually, the party decides to head back, with Lydia making a quest to help the petrified dragon, taking the unerring sense of direction so they can find him. She has vowed to help him!

I am laughing my DMly ass off and tell them to read the spoilers when this campaign is done.

Moving Forward

Gwenn’s adventures have not gone very far in the past week. The party has mostly failed to plan during their journey back to Comarr. We’re basically stuck trying to decide what to do next. I want Steve to trigger the masquerade so we can get to it already.

D&D 5th Edition

I ran a couple of Defiance in Phlan missions last weekend, as we had 2 tables worth of players. They weren’t anything special– I avoided the 4th mission because it’s a bad adventure (it’s a mystery that requires you to know what the designer was thinking… and solving it doesn’t follow any logic.)

Dungeon World

We had the campaign and character creation night for my "let’s kill undead" Dungeon World adventure last night, and it was so cool. We have 7 players, half of them are "gear heads" of some kind, interested in the fallen technology of the now-gone Age of the Living (picture a steampunk world… now picture the world 200 years after that world has fallen into chaos). Now that the unliving rampage the world and have pushed the little kingdoms of the Living to the very edge of the world… well, some might be interested in those tools and perhaps weapons?

Our cast:

  • Marion-Rose: A female Gunslinger out to solve other people’s problems.
  • Destructor Model 4: A gender-less(ish) iron Golem (Inverse World) who seeks acceptance and recognition of his value.
  • Allanna: A 13 year old girl and prodigy about mechanical stuff, the Mechanic (Inverse World) who wants to save the day!
  • Cecil Hague: A male Collector (Inverse World) of archaic devices from the long-gone era who wants to keep dangers away.
  • Fernando: a male Fool who wishes to acquire wealth.
  • Eldith: A male Dashing Hero who is something of a hedonist.
  • Jennifer Grey: A female Princess who wants to right wrongs in the world and has a nemesis in the Witch Queen of Kellermann (also her possible future sister-in-law). She is played by the guy who plays Ordune in the Moving Forward campaign. I am amused.

We made some NPCs and sketched out some ideas. I’m thinking about starting next week with a short delve to get their feet wet and start them on an adventure. I want something that will have some resolution, but leave enough questions for them to come back in January. We have a 2-week break due to the holidays, and it’s easy to lose players in that time.

I still lack a good tag for this campaign, so for now you’ll find it tagged as "ghostbusters."

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Restless: A Holiday Palette

I played J. Walton‘s game Restless (PDF link) this week (see the video if you want to watch how it went). It’s a horror story game in which you play either a group of survivors or the non-surviving horde of something that is destroying the world. The Restless can be anything, and it can change over the course of the game. You can change characters and sides at each scene break in the game.

With the holidays coming, I was thought-noodling about what might make for an interesting creepy palette for the non-survivors. This would be the starting premise of the game. John Aegard called it a palette, so I’m using that term for this story-starter for:

Restless: A Very Special Holiday Horror.

3106128994_94dc2c576e_zNon-Survivors: The non-survivors are Santa’s Elves, driven mad with obsessive toy-making. They have broken free of the Workshop, overthrown their tyrannical master, and are now turning all the boys and girls of the world into toys. The  adults are gone– turned into Elves or just "disappeared." The Elves are sweeping the world to turn every child into a toy. Their legions of marching toy soldiers and dolls who wet themselves are growing.

Survivors: All survivors are children, lost in a world where the adults have disappeared or turned against them.

When starting a card, choose a thing you might carry:

  • A baseball and bat
  • A box of art supplies
  • Enough blankets to make a blanket fort
  • A Swiss army knife
  • A doll… who did it used to be?
  • A storybook
  • Three pieces of clothing, all hand-me-downs.
  • Play Restless as normal, with the survivors and non-survivors building a story along with each card drawn at random.
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Tell Me Another: Creepy Holiday Special

I was on A Very Special Tell Me Another, in which we played a creepy story game and had a few special guests drop by to tell us some stories! If you’re hoping for a more storytelling-oriented Tell Me Another, this is a great episode to watch or listen to!

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Tell Me Another, Episode 27

I co-hosted Tell Me Another again! This time our guest was host Josh Jordan, talking about his games and the Actual Play Festival, which is going on now.

Part 1audio file

Part 2audio file

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