Game: Roleplaying Tips.com GM Encyclopedia
Review Dated: 15th, August 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
Roleplaying Tips (www.roleplayingtips.com) is one of the best sites on the Internet. It’s quick, it’s clean, it’s easy to navigate and it has first rate content. It’s free too.
The GM Encyclopedia isn’t free (but at < $10 it’s not expensive) but it has all Roleplaying Tips’ strong points going for it. Johnn Four presents the Encyclopaedia has a better alternative to a donation button and I agree. It’s a chance to give something back (and I’ll vouch its not easy or cheap keeping a site online (and GameWyrd‘s barely ankle high compared to the mighty Roleplaying Tips)) and get something in return too.
The GM Encyclopedia is an archive of every roleplaying tip to date.
Um. Ah. We do have an archive of roleplaying tips online already. That’s a purely a chronological list though and here in the Encyclopedia (or Encyclopaedia if you’ve not been corrupted by Webster) you’ve roleplaying tips sorted by category, roleplaying tips sorted by topic, by title and tips sorted by author.
Roleplaying tips covers everything you would want to talk about as a new or experienced gamesmaster, dungeon master or storyteller. Okay, the zine tends to have more of a fantasy focus but not aggressively so. (Tip #41: Law, Crime And Punishment In Fantasy Role Playing Games.) In fact, it’s the fantasy worlds which often need an extra bit of help as they’ve become familiar and yet remain alien. (How many people play in medieval worlds but have townhouses with glass windows?) Other genres are addressed head on too. (Tip #123: Law, Crime And Punishment In Fantasy Role Playing Games). The wide range of subject areas is due, in part, to Roleplaying Tips’ healthy use of submissions and suggestions. A glance at the credits turns up no less than 36 entries.
There’s a total of 200 entries in the archive. That’s 200 issues of Roleplaying Tips; the total number of tips is over 2,000. It’s hard to say “value for money” when you could get them free but it’s easy to say “worth paying for” and it’s very handy having a download of your own copy of the archive. I don’t know about you but I’ve at least one friend who turns off access to the Internet (wireless network) while we game. A local copy of Roleplaying Tips’s GM Encyclopedia is very handy in that sort of situation.
The GM Encyclopedia isn’t a PDF. It’s a collection of HTML and text files. The text files are there in case you fancy having straight text copies of the tips and that’s handy if you want to print them off.
There are 15 categories in the archives. There’s Campaign Development (such as Make Your Villain Unpredictable from issue #3), Character Development (such as Avoid the “NO” Choices from issue #126), Figs & Miniatures (such as Plexi-Glass Battle Maps from issue #190), GM Development (such as Generate Awesome Sounding Magic Weapon Names from issue #84), Maps (such as More Dungeon Design Tips: This Way To The Egress! from issue #162), New Players (such as Hook New Players Up With Veterans from issue #66), NPC Development (such as “So, You’re Offering Me A Bribe…” from issue #164), Organisation (such as Focus On Results from issue #13), Planning – Campaigns (such as Start Your Campaign With A Tournament from issue #141), Player Development (such as Put A Cliff Hanger At The End from issue #66), Rules Development (such as WOD Specific City Tips from issue #81), Session & Group Development (such as Provide Meaningful Consequences For Random Encounters from issue #193), Story Development (such as Don’t Make Opponents Suicidally Brave from issue #119), Villains (such as Grant Them A Highly Intelligent Leader from issue #18) and World Development (such as Avoid Pop-Up Monsters from issue #161).
It must have been quite a feat to index them all – that’s one of the reasons why the GM Encyclopedia is worth it. It certainly took a while to just give one example from each of the 15 categories. There are 15 categories and 107 topics! Ha! I won’t list all 107 topics here but I will say that the help on how to handle OOC issues (such as silly or trouble players) is extremely useful. On RPG blogging communities and forums I think the trickiest, most common, questions are about OOC issues and often people are reluctant to answer.
I really did like the Encyclopedia. I read Roleplaying Tips. I get the newsletter. I’ve read many of these tips thoroughly already – but I enjoyed reading them again. I always appreciate when an RPG supplement or sourcebook inspires me with a scene or scenario and I find that these meta-game observations are able to inspire me too. The GM Encyclopedia doesn’t quite have the spit’n’polish that an uber-commercial PDF might have but so much of the GM Encyclopedia’s charm and strength comes from the fact that is valuable GM to GM advise. This is grass roots level support. At the time of writing this review the GM Encyclopedia is a nominee for the 2004 Ennies (2 nominations actually) so whereas I normally take great pains to only talk about what I liked or dislike, I can safely point out that for this particular RPG product there is a great number of gamers who are giving it the thumbs up. On the other hand I suspect there will be many GMs who just won’t be willing to pay for this; many won’t even care to read tips and advice on how they should run their game. That’s a fair call. It’s a fair call but it doesn’t reduce how helpful the GM Encyclopedia is. If your immediate reaction is a “Nah, I don’t need to pay for this…” then you’ll probably feel as if you knew most of these tips and tricks already. If your immediate reaction to the GM Encyclopedia is an “Ooh, I wonder what’s being said…” then you’ll probably appreciate buying it.