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One Page Dungeons – Kickstarter Printing

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They’re here! The culmination of our first Kickstarter campaign, 1200 physical copies of the One Page Dungeon collection, arrived packed tightly together in seven heavy boxes.

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Thanks to all of our Kickstarter backers we were able to take these goofy doodles of mine and put them in a proper collection (with an ISBN and everything), and we are right on time to get this product to your door in February 2020!

 

The ink looks great on the thick pages. The zine lays flat with little issue and seems to hold its place while holding your eye. It fits perfectly in a 6×9 envelope making it deliverable via USPS First Class Letter. The cover is nice and thick and the matte coating feels soft on your finger tips.

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How could I be anything but over the moon with the arrival of our first zine?

It’s not perfect.

There is an imperfection.  It is small and it was missed in the proof review and it is on the first 1200 copies of the Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon Collection.

It is a pencil smudge smaller than the tip of your pinky that is hanging out in the original cover art work right around the very bottom of the “g” in “Dungeons.”

You really can’t spot it in the digital version, but apparently a high grade color printer at 300 dpi reveals a smudge in a way which your computer screen is incapable.IMG_20200119_082645

It’s not really that big of a deal.  It’s a smudge on the original that was picked up in the scan. You can’t really see it from a distance. From different angles it seems to disappear completely. I mean, the smudge even kind of fits in aesthetically, loaning a rippling shadow to the hypnotic loops cascading out from beyond the ravine.

Still, it’s not perfect.

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Embrace the Smudge

This zine started out as a collection of scratchy-print-surrounded hand-drawn dungeon maps in a composition book. It is fitting that it’s initial print run holds onto the essence of its imperfect beginnings.

So, I’m going to embrace the smudge, embrace the surprises of the process, embrace the imperfection of art, the imperfection of expression, and the imperfection of life. I will embrace the imperfect feelings of being okay to be finished with a project like this, and I will embrace the fear of the next project, the fear of new possibilities for unseen smudges. I will embrace the lessons learned here and apply those lessons to fight against the new fear and to improve the fit and finish of all future Fish in the Pot offerings.

I will embrace the challenge of getting these zines where they are going, all across the globe, and I will embrace the joy of working with you to be sure that any issues you experience with the process are handled with kindness and empathy.

I hope that you also will embrace the imperfection of the craft.  I hope that you will embrace the queasy feelings of creating a mess with your imagination and the jittery excitement of calling your mess finished and showing that mess to others.

Embrace the smudge with us.

Write in your copy of the book.  Change things in it. Rip it apart. Fill it with stickers and drawings and paint and stamps and spills and stories and memories.

Thank you!

Thank you for your support on this project.  I really did not know what to expect when I set up the Kickstarter.  Your response has been absolutely amazing. So, thank you for your trust and thank you for believing in what we are creating at Fish in the Pot.

I have an abnormally busy period coming up in the next couple of weeks. In my down time I will be making all of the appropriate arrangements to get zines to backers. Barring any unforeseen issues, we are still on track to deliver zines across the globe by late February 2020!

 

 

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One Page Dungeons

The Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon Collection is off to the printer and will be made available to the dice-rolling public in mere weeks. Given the impending arrival of our treasure trove of simple TTRPG oddities, it seemed a good time to reflect on the One-Page Dungeon as a tool for the table, and to perhaps offer a bit of advice on how to wring every last drop of fun out of these shortest of adventure templates. 

Five Rooms and a Purpose

Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeons are a take on the popular 5-Room Dungeon design theory.  The idea is that a gaming table typically only needs about five rooms in a dungeon to tell a fun and satisfying story. Five Room Dungeon design has been explored in depth in other forums (such as here and here), so this post will provide only the highlights before moving on to explore what makes the Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon design philosophy distinct from a typical Five Room Dungeon. 

Designing a Five Room Dungeon begins with understanding the function of each of the five rooms. The rooms are:

  1. The Entrance
  2. The Puzzle
  3. The Trick
  4. The Battle
  5. The Reward

The Entrance is the first room of the dungeon explored by the Player Characters.  It is often guarded or trapped. It will give clues as to themes and motifs that are likely to be experienced throughout the dungeon.

The Puzzle is either an actual puzzle to solve or a roleplaying exercise for the players (Fish in the Pot tends to avoid the former in favor of the latter). This room provides further details about the ecology, history, and philosophy of the dungeon while giving your players an opportunity to have their characters chew on some of the scenery.

The Trick is also sometimes referred to as the Setback. This room is an opportunity to spring a trap or pull “the ol’ switcharoo” on the players. This is the room with the mimic, the cursed gemstones, or the poisoned ale. Often the Trick will result in either an additional roleplaying exercise or additional combat.

The Battle is also sometimes referred to as the Climax. This room is where the protagonist meets the antagonist and initiative is rolled. It is important to remember to keep the narrative alive in this room, as there is a natural tendency for big battles to  devolve into simple acts of dice rolling and task completion. Have the villain monologue about their grand plans, or describe the sights and smells of the strange gibbering beast set to devour the heroes.

The Reward is the room with the treasure chest, the magic item, or the troll hoard. Your players worked hard to maneuver through the Entrance, the Puzzle, the Trick, and the Battle and ought to be rewarded. There is also an opportunity in this room to have another Trick. A classic “the princess is in another castle” or “you haven’t even seen my final form” scenario will often work in the Reward room. That said, some caution is in order here, as too many false finishes may win you some serious side-eye from players growing weary of your increasingly stale antics.

These rooms can technically appear in any order, though it is often wise to begin with the Entrance and end with the Reward. These room styles appear throughout many of the Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeons, but often with several variations.

The Character of the Thing

The dungeon is a character you introduce to your players one room at a time. Your players will slowly get to know your dungeon as they discover its secrets and uncover its traps. Every time you present a challenge to your players you have an opportunity to make exciting memories with them. The character of your dungeon is often the difference between a fun but forgettable afternoon diversion and an epic evening of adventure long remembered.

Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeons tend to focus in on a theme or an idea and then explore that theme or idea over the course of a five (or four or six) room dungeon. The dungeons are not fashioned via a Five Room template, but nearly all of the rooms in all of the dungeons can be defined as either an Entrance, a Puzzle, a Trick, a Battle, or a Reward. What is important is that the initial theme or idea is the focus and that all of the various rooms work together to support the theme. What emerges from this exploration is a small dungeon with big character.

In exploring the central idea, the Fish in the Pot dungeons leave a lot off of the page. Let’s face it, there isn’t much room on the page anyway so we need to make the most of it. A Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon will often not present read-aloud text, detailed room descriptions, intricate back stories, reasons for the PCs to be there, or other trappings and details external to the central idea or theme of the dungeon. This means a couple of things.

First, the Gamemaster running a Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon will have a bit of work to do. The GM will need to do a bit of dungeon-dressing, filling in details about some of the sights and sounds in the various rooms, describing the floors, lighting, walls, and ceiling, and generally filling the dungeon up with stuff to make it feel like a “real” place in a shared fantasy experience.  Also, the GM will need to be prepared to think on their feet to respond to questions the players will inevitably ask that are not covered by the written materials. The GM is encouraged to improvise as much detail as they feel comfortable with in responding to such questions. Having fun and letting your imagination run wild will never break a Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon, and even if you think it will, then just remember that the only canon that really matters is the Table Canon and lean right into whatever gonzo thing that is transpiring.

Second, the Gamemaster running a Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon is free to surround the dungeon with whatever trappings are going on in their already established campaign. There are few details to change in any One Page Dungeon in order to make it fit into your fantasy world. The Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeons work from Faerun to Khorvaire and from Greyhawk to Sigil. The Gamemaster has an opportunity to dress the various dungeons in ways evocative of the factions already at play in the group’s Table Canon. By ditching the details, the One Page Dungeon grants freedom.

Fuel your imagination

Ultimately the goal of these One Page Dungeons is to fuel your imagination as a creator. Take the ideas in these small, quirky dungeons and make them your own. Fit them into your existing worlds. Make the rewards personal to your players’ characters. Rip the guts out of the entire collection and make something completely new and different. In confining ideas into five rooms on a single page, a lot of the detail present in many other types of table top adventure books is just not available in a Fish in the Pot One Page Dungeon. This is not a flaw in the design. It is a feature. Take the reigns and fill in the details. Build upon the quirky character of the dungeon and explore the idea presented. Use the encounters along with your players’ ideas to make truly memorable experiences.

 

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Warriors of Eternity QST 1.2 is LIVE!

The new and refreshed version of Warriors of Eternity is now LIVE over on the Fish in the Pot itch page.

New art, new GM-facing materials, a page full of tables, revisions, errata, there are so many reasons to download Warriors of Eternity QST 1.2 today!

Check it out here: QST 1.2 DevLog on itch.

 

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Art of Eternity 4 – MelonBerri

MelonBerri designs fully formed characters.  Each illustration evokes backstories and quest hooks without a word.  The image is the mystery.

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MelonBerri is a fantastic artist and a delight to work with.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Find MelonBerri on twitter  tumblr.

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Art of Eternity 3 – @Robots_and_Such

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Robots_and_Such has an eye for greebles.  The detail to the machine, whether tank, plane, or mechanical pocket monster, is second to none.  Robots_and_Such has supplied Eternity with the grav-tank, the hover-sled, the personal plane, and the mecha-lion and we’re just getting started!

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Check out @Robots_and_Such on twitter and Patreon!

In its final form, Warriors of Eternity will feature illustrations from a number of different artists with diverse backgrounds & styles.  I will feature those artists here on the blog in forthcoming Art of Eternity posts.

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Do you know this gnome?

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Kickstarter Update

The One-Page Dungeon kickstarter is rolling along.  Thank you to everyone for your support!  I am very grateful for your interest in my project!

I want to take a minute to write about the process of converting these dungeons from ink in a cheap journal to digital pages fit to print.  Specifically, I want to highlight how the process of utilizing digital layout is expanding the content on offer from the dungeons.

If you’ve been following the kickstarter, then you may be aware that I’ve sworn off stretch goals for this campaign. Because I am not creating more work for myself, I have the luxury of being able to invest more creative time into the product that you’ve backed.

I’ve shown two digital layout preview dungeons on the kickstarter. (Check it out here!)

In this blog post, we will take a look at the material as original scanned and the way the new digital layout dungeons differ from their original source.

First, here is “Current Events” as it appears on the original page:

river-1And here is “Current Events” in its digital layout (excuse the typos they will be corrected).

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Now, here is the original “Tunnel Out of Time.”

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And here is the updated version. (Again, typos…)

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I won’t promise that every single dungeon will be expanded with tables, options, details, and items, but I will say that as I continue to edit and refine the dungeon layout, I am finding more and more ways to expand upon the original ideas.

So, in short, the booklet that will be published will feature dungeons with more robust options and detail than their original iterations.  I am excited to improve upon the ideas in a way that expands the dungeons’ playability, narrative, and potential for fun.

I believe that over-defining or over-explaining almost any setting or prompt in a Table Top RPG effectively limits the way folks can engage with that setting or prompt.  I am guarding myself from adding too much specificity and instead am focusing on offering tools that aid the imagination.

Thanks again for your interest in my collection of small dungeons!  I can’t wait to get this thing into your hands and onto your table!

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One-Page Dungeon Kickstarter

Fish in the Pot Kickstarter is LIVE and FUNDED!!

On October 30, 2019, Fish in the Pot launched its first ever Kickstarter Campaign.  The campaign’s goal was to raise $500 so that we can print and deliver a collection of one-page dungeons in a high quality zine format.  The dungeon zine features 15 different small dungeons for use with the World’s Best Selling Table Top Role Playing Game.

The $500 goal was met in less than 6 hours and by day two the campaign doubled its funding goal.

Fish in the Pot is so very, very grateful for all of the support! If you would like to pledge to the Fish in the Pot 1-Page Dungeon Kickstarter, you have until November 29th to do so.  Five dollars will get you the zine in pdf and ten dollars will get you the zine in pdf and in print.  Click here to check out our campaign page!

Thanks again!

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Essays Warriors of Eternity

Episodic Play

WoE is a game made up of scenes.  This essay proposes that those scenes can be arranged in a manner that leads to the creation of different “episodes” of your game.

Embrace the Cartoon

The biggest inspiration for WoE is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a toy-line and cartoon from the early 1980s.  Episodic play, as contemplated herein, embraces this inspiration and asks the Players to view their play sessions in the form of episodes of an ongoing television show.  By embracing the cartoon foundations of the game, we are able to provide structure to a free-form game of world-building and adventure.

This does not mean that each session of play should be one episode of your “show.”  Instead, episodes should be dictated by the plot points introduced and resolved by your players at the table.  Some groups may finish two or more episodes during a session, while others will complete only one episode at a session.

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The Four-Scene Episode

An episode of play will typically consist of four scenes: 1. The Opening Scene, 2. The Exploration Scene, 3. The Reveal, and 4. The Conclusion.  Each of the four scenes is discussed below. Additionally, each episode should have an Epilogue wherein the episode is recapped, the next thing is teased, and each of the PCs receives a Bond Point for starring in the episode.

The Opening Scene

The opening scene sets the Players up for adventure.  Often it will recap what has occurred in prior episodes, but it does not have to.  What is important in an opening scene is that time, place, and characters are established for the episode and that there is some call-to-action that gets the characters moving away from comfort zones and toward trouble and adventure.

A good opening scene gives the Players room to give their characters some personality, or to explore some of the downtime activities in which the characters invest their time when they are not adventuring.  Once this is established and all of the Players have had their fill chewing on the scenery, a good opening scene will present a strong call-to-action.  Some disaster should befall an ally or some mystery should present itself.  A villain can make themself known to the Characters or a Maguffin could be requested by a quest giver.

In any event, it is important that the conclusion of the opening scene sees our characters leaving their present space in order to go accomplish something in the greater world.

The Exploration Scene

The exploration scene grants the Players the power to establish working theories about the causes and ramifications of the call-to-action. Some exploration scenes will involve investigation.  Some exploration scenes will have the characters traveling great distances to confront the causes of the call-to-action.

A good exploration scene will provide the Players ample opportunity to describe the world and its inhabitants.  A ton of world-building can be accomplished during the exploration scene.  As a GM, don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the other Players’ thoughts and ideas as they try to make sense of the mysteries they encounter.  More specifically, don’t be afraid to say yes to ideas that seem to contradict with one another.  The truth is not meant to be revealed in the exploration scene.  Instead, the exploration scene provides the Players with the information necessary to act in the forthcoming scenes.

Sometimes combat occurs in an exploration scene.  This combat often takes the form of random travel encounters or clashes with a villain’s scouts or goons on patrol.  Combat should not be the focus of the exploration scene, but can be a method through which the characters are clued in on what is really happening in the world around them.

The Reveal

The reveal is a pay-off to the exploration scene.  In the reveal, the Players and their characters learn something new that progresses the story forward in a major way.  Sometimes the reveal can actually be a red-herring, although GMs are cautioned not to rely on this old trick too often.  The reveal will show the Players which theories are correct and what information can be trusted.  Often, the reveal includes a maniacal monologue from whatever villainous personality was behind the original call-to-action.

The reveal will often involve combat. The characters are powerful heroes with fantastic resources at their disposal.  Putting their powers to work to stop the villain’s plan should be a focus of the reveal. Of course, if the characters can find non-violent solutions to the issues presented, then all the better.

The goal is to work toward the reveal in both the opening scene and the exploration scene.  The reveal should make sense to all of the Players who have paid attention to what happened previously in the narrative. There are many different ways to achieve an internal consistency between scenes, but the main thing to remember is to listen to the Players and then cater the reveal to the fiction that has been established at the table.

The Conclusion

The final scene is the conclusion.  The conclusion resolves the actions of the reveal and leads our characters to learn something new about ongoing plots, characters, locations, technologies, magics, items, or anything else that makes its way into this fantasy world.

The conclusion is a great opportunity for the Players to do some character development.  They can discuss the strategies employed, what worked and what didn’t work, or how their teamwork saved the day.  Be on the look out for class prompts and other less-utilized prompts during the conclusion.

The conclusion doesn’t necessarily wrap everything up.  In fact, it probably shouldn’t. A good conclusion resolves the pending concerns and issues that were made manifest in the previous scenes while preserving some new or greater mystery for the next episode.  Sometimes a conclusion can be a cliff-hanger, though you’ll want to save your cliff-hangers for big events and season finales.

The Epilogue

At the conclusion of a He-Man cartoon, the audience would be treated to a brief lesson to be learned from the episode. Similarly, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the audience is treated to a quick scene after all of the credits have rolled.  These epilogues should be used as inspiration for your gaming table.

Include an epilogue at the conclusion of your episode.  Highlight the play of your Players and recap what they learned.  Alternatively, tease the next big thing in the campaign.  The epilogue should be almost entirely controlled by the GM.  Keep it short and make it snappy.

Importantly, award the entire table of PCs a Bond point for starring in the episode.  The epilogue is a fun way to keep some of you administrative tasks in-world and on-brand.

 

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Essays Warriors of Eternity

The WoE GM

So you’ve read Warriors of Eternity and you are ready to gather some friends and have a go at playing.  Awesome! Here are five ways that you can prepare to have fun as a WoE Game Master.

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1. Be prepared to move the other Players forward.

Warriors of Eternity presumes that all of the Players will work together to craft a story.  This is a baseline assumption of many different RPGs, but the process is unique and essential to WoE. Players may need direction and assistance in acquiring Prompts.  Be prepared to provide that direction and assistance.

This role of a WoE GM is very similar to the role and expectations of a GM in many other systems. The GM sets up scenes and plans for conflicts and mysteries, setting the pieces on the board for play.

Players may be attracted to the idea of pursuing some of the mysteries or resolving some of the conflicts set up by the GM. If so, the GM should guide and direct the other Players in a way that allows them to discover truths about how the world works. Whenever the Players make a discovery, the GM should point it out and suggest a General Prompt that may be applicable. The GM should have the Player record the General Prompt in their Prompt Journal and add a Bond Point to their Character Sheet.

Anytime the story stalls, the GM should be prepared to offer a new clue or lead or hook for the other Players to interact with. Think of it like a kick-start. The other Players are sitting and waiting for something to do. They want to dig into the next thing with their Powers or their personality. The GM should use this opportunity to introduce something new, bring back something overlooked, or provide a new light on something taken for granted.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Prompt charts and point out when the Players have opened a Prompt naturally through the narrative.

2. Be prepared to listen to the other Players.

The GM should always be listening to the other Players. The things the Players say at the table are often the things the Players want to do at the table. The GM should not interrupt the Players when they are speaking.  It is rude and the next thing they say could change the campaign forever.

If none of the Players were very interested in the hooks and pieces the GM set up at the outset of play, then the GM should be extra careful to listen to what the other Players are discussing at the table. The GM should be prepared to move the other Players forward in the direction that the Players wish to travel based upon the story that is starting to emerge from the interactions at the table.

Listening to the other Players, the GM should keep an eye on the Prompt charts and point out when the Players have opened a Prompt.

3. Be prepared to make decisions.

Warriors of Eternity is written in a manner that presumes good faith rules interpretation, as well as equity and fair play. This means that all of the Players are expected to work together to decide how the rules of the game interact with the rules of the story. Notwithstanding such expectations, the GM should be prepared to make rulings and decisions based upon their interpretation of the rules.

Often, the GM will be asked questions by the other Players that focus on clarification of rules and what is or is not acceptable for their PC to be able to do within the boundaries of the rules or the story being told. It is helpful to discuss the ramifications of decisions with the other Players, but really more fun can be had if a decision is made so that play can continue.

The GM should be prepared to respond quickly and decisively to questions that come up in order to facilitate more story-telling and less rules discussion. A good rule of thumb for a GM making decisions is: “Do the thing that makes the PC more awesome.”

The GM should reflect upon these decisions after the game and feel free to revisit or revise any rulings made.  The GM should remember to listen to the other Players and take into account their desires and the potential effect on the culture of the table when reflecting upon their rulings and decisions.

It is nice when the whole table agrees on a thing, but this does not always happen.  The GM should be prepared to keep the Players moving forward in the story by making rulings and decisions in a timely manner when appropriate.

4. Be prepared for Powerful PCs.

Warriors of Eternity is a game of Power, Magic, and Technology.

The “Power” is emphasized in many different ways in the game, from Power Points to Power Swords, but the most pervasive emphasis is in the expectation that PCs will be Powerful heroes.

Level 1 PCs in WoE are quite capable and should feel like they are a cartoon hero showing off their abilities on a Saturday morning. By the time the PCs gain a few levels, or spend some Bond Points to acquire new companions and equipment, they will be able to stand up to even the scariest threats.

More than this, a WoE GM should endeavor to make rulings and decisions that make their Players’ PCs feel more powerful. A good rule of thumb for a GM making decisions is: “Do the thing that makes the PC more awesome.”

The GM should be prepared for strange and Powerful shenanigans from the PCs. Listening to the Players, the GM should allow for creative solutions to even the most intricate of their plans.

Do not misinterpret this rule to mean that the GM should make things easy for the Players. The PCs will be able to perform powerful feats. They will pull off the unexpected. The GM should be prepared to offer fun and challenging obstacles that enhance the story being told and allow the PCs to grow as characters.

5. Be prepared to be the table’s historian.

WoE is a game that emphasizes Table Canon. (Read a bit about Table Canon here).

This means that the truth of the world in which you play lives in the moment it is created. The characters, plots, and locations that make up the story’s world exist only as expectations prior to play. These ideas are “born” when they are made a part of the story through play at the table. Thereafter, the ideas exist only as memories shared by the Players at the table.

Players will be recording Prompts in their Prompt Journals as the story progresses. This will help everyone remember the history of the shared world as established by the Players through Play. The GM should be prepared to begin each session with a discussion about the Prompts that were acquired in the previous session. This brief discussion about the truths recorded in the last session will refresh the collective recollection of the table and provide a solid foundation for the new session of play.

Despite the recording of Prompts and the pre-game discussion of last session, many details will be lost. The human mind is a wondrous apparatus that has a penchant for meandering in a manner that leaves its host guessing as to what exactly it was on about in the first place. The memory of the in-story events will become vapor in the minds of the Players.

The GM should be prepared to act as the table’s historian in moments of missing memories. This does not mean that the GM is expected to never forget anything that happens. It means that the GM should be prepared to answer a question no one can remember the answer to whether that answer is correct or not.

In Conclusion…

You may notice that all of the above advice for the WoE GM is advice to be prepared. However, it is not advice that the GM must prepare. In fact, too much preparation can leave the WoE GM unprepared to do the things highlighted above.

Being a good GM is not about memorizing names, numbers, or places. Being a good GM is about listening to the Players and making decisions that lead the Players into fun.

Build trust. Be kind. Listen to the Players.

You’re gonna do awesome.