How the Wonk GMs: Running a Session

You’ve prepped, plotted, and planned. You have character sheets from the players, printouts from the rulebook, and everyone found a spot on the calendar that works. Now, your players are sitting around the table, dice in hand, and are looking expectantly towards your end of the table. What do you do?

I wouldn’t go so far to say that running your game is easier than prepping for it, but it is a completely different set of skills. Many of those skills, like using the game’s rules and putting yourself in the headspace of a character, apply equally to all players, whether they’re the GM or not. Others, like taking notes and tracking what’s going on in the setting, look the same whether they’re happening during the session or in prep time before. There is one skill, though, that is both admired and dreaded in equal measure: improv.

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Basic Roleplaying Review

Back in the 1970s, a new role-playing game built a foundation that would stand for years to come, a foundation of accessibility, hackability, and ease of use. Am I talking about D&D? Absolutely not! I’m talking about RuneQuest, a game which, in 1978, not only became a quick second place finisher to D&D in the fantasy genre but also established many RPG conventions we still see today. In 1980, the RuneQuest second edition box included a little 16-page booklet titled Basic Role-Playing, and from there it was off to the races. Basic Role-Playing (later Basic Roleplaying, also called BRP) would form the basis of every game released by RuneQuest’s publisher, Chaosium. As that esteemed publication history includes none other than Call of Cthulhu, BRP is likely the bestselling house system in the history of role-playing games.

Thanks to RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu, BRP forms the cornerstone of how gamers expect d100 systems to work. In short, your attributes and skills give you percentile values which are equal to the probability of rolling under them on a d100 roll. Look at your sheet, you know how likely you are to succeed at a baseline roll. In addition to BRP itself, this mode of d100 mechanics saw widespread adoption in games as varied as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Eclipse Phase. Now, Chaosium is staking the future of BRP on its utility as a platform. The new edition of Basic Roleplaying is here, and it’s being marketed to game designers as much if not more than game masters.

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Crowdfunding Carnival: April, 2023

Welcome to the Crowdfunding Carnival! It’s April, which means two things. First, we’re done with ZineQuest for real; there are no more event stragglers (though an odd zine will pop up from time to time) and we’re back to “normal” campaigns. Second, April is my birthday month. Readers, I’m feeling old, I’m feeling it in my bones. Looking at campaigns this month has gotten me all crotchety. I will admit, I’m turning 36 and that’s not actually old; I’d still be ‘the kid’ in many gaming groups I’ve played with in the past. What has happened, though, is that in advance of my birthday a lot of the Kickstarter campaigns have got me complaining. Nothing makes you feel older than complaining about stuff you have no control over.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there aren’t that many interesting campaigns live right now in the wake of ZineQuest. There are plenty of 5e filler modules, which I don’t care about, and a lot of model files for semi-pornographic minis, which is weird and a bit disconcerting. In my usual market, though, new original RPGs, there are only a few of interest and weirdly a bumper crop of ones I can’t bring myself to be interested in or write about. It’s made me realize it may be another good time to go over the crowdfunding market, and ways that the crowdfunding market could be more useful for project backers.

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A Chat With Jerry Holkins At PAX East ’23

I sit down with Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade, aka CEO Omin Dran of Acquisitions Incorporated, to talk about the primordial actual play experience , its history and changes, its official D&D book, and the ongoing Kickstarter for its second video series!

Thanks to Jerry for taking the time to talk with me! Musical notes yoinked from Sneaky Adventure by Kevin MacLeod

System Split: Campaign Managers

Roleplaying games are an information-heavy endeavor. Before the game, you need to sketch out your setting and initial conceit. During the game you need to track what your characters do and who they encounter. Between sessions you need to prep and see what’s changed. How do you keep all that straight? For years, the standard answer was a spiral-bound notebook, maybe a binder if your notes got particularly voluminous. And while that answer still works, it’s 2023. We can use a little technology.

Somewhere between a completely analog down-in-the-basement experience and a session run entirely on a virtual tabletop is the use case of the campaign manager. Campaign managers don’t aim to run your game or change your environment, but instead serve to provide structure for both your game notes and the setting material you present to your players. What makes campaign managers different from simple note-taking software is that ability to share and collaborate with your players, which helps extend your table into the setting as you’re envisioning and creating it. If it sounds good, it’s because I think it is good; I’ve used the campaign manager Obsidian Portal in the past and it’s very likely that I will start using one of the sites reviewed in this article in the near future. That said, a campaign manager is another tool in the GM’s already bursting toolbox, and reviewing the campaign managers out there fairly starts with a question of need.

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Cannibal Halfling Radio Episode 21 – Now Playing: DIE Pt 2

Last time, we learned about the lives of Jay, Fitz, Evelyn, and Max – who they were in high school, the gaming group they formed together, how their lives didn’t exactly go according to plan since. As the gamemaster kicks things off the players find themselves wondering: what the hell is going on here? Find out as the Cannibal Halflings pick up their dice in Now Playing: DIE the RPG Part 2.


Editor Aaron as Jay/the GM

Aki as Fitz

Geni as Evelyn

Seamus as Max

Based on the comic DIE, the first issue of which can be read for free here, DIE: The Roleplaying Game can be purchased in PDF form on DriveThruRPG and from Rowan, Rook, and Decard. Physical copies can be pre-ordered through BackerKit.

You can follow us on Twitter  @HungryHalfling for article and show updates! You can also drop by the Tavern of our Discord to chat with us, or reach out to us via email at

If you like what we’re doing with CHR, give us a hand and leave us a rating and review on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify! You can also support us on Patreon.

You can follow us on Twitter  @HungryHalfling for article and show updates! You can also drop by the Tavern of our Discord to chat with us, or reach out to us via email at

If you like what we’re doing with CHR, give us a hand and leave us a rating and review on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify! You can also support us on Patreon.

Music is Feral Angel Waltz (feat. Alexander Nakarada) by Kevin MacLeod – License

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