Review: So you want to be a Game Master by Justin Alexander

The Alexandrian’s blog is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to run a game regardless of genre or system. The sections on Gamemastery 101, RPG Scenarios, or RPG Cheat Sheets are worth the deep dive. And Justin Alexander has collected this wisdom into a single tome, So you want to be a Game Master.

Chapter Summary

The first chapter on Dungeons covers the core concepts of running any game. Building from the smallest encounter in running a room to a full dungeon with a sample adventure. All the while supporting this with underlying philosophical ideas. Along with concrete tools and procedures for creating random encounters, running traps, or the like.

Exploring scenario design with an adaptable recipe of the 5+5 dungeon, which provides various room types to create interesting dungeons and combat encounters. Expanding on these ideas into large dungeons with simple yet interesting complications of loops, layers, and labyrinths to deliver a dynamic dungeon full of life.

The first chapter ends with multiple paths to explore in terms of well-organised chapters that will cater to many styles of play regardless of genre or game system.

Peppered through the Mysteries chapter are actionable insights, like removing empty time (or as Prof DM says the Shoe Leather), and observations for creating a mystery with his 3 clue rule and the node-based structure to support non-linear adventure design.

This chapter approaches location-based adventures for more proactive players, where the PCs will want to conduct a raid, where they will want to stack the odds in their favour. So, it covers the GM prep needed in terms of floorplans, defences, and running the raid. Heists are a more complex raid, with more steps the players will want to move through, and as a GM, you can focus your prep on the important parts. And finally, it covers which is better to run, based on your group.

The Urban Adventures chapter discusses when you should use a city. Providing tools to create, populate, and run it without overloading you as a GM. It also explores different ways of looking at dealing with downtime for individuals & factions, running urban crawls, and structuring social events. It also explores downtime, ubrancrawls (aka urban adventures), and structuring social events.

The penultimate chapter, Into the Wild, gives a counterpoint to the urban world with the wild unknown. Organising the PCs around watches and the routes they travel. This gets expanded into Hex crawls and Point crawls.

The final chapter is all the other stuff to support your games from campaigns, introducing new RPGs, running open tables, and quick worldbuilding.


Suitable for beginner Game Masters, by showing them the simplicity of running a game. Supporting the Novice GMs by expanding their repertoire of techniques with a raft of new ideas to progress towards mastery. And for the Gaming Grand Master who knows it all. It’s a handy reminder of forgotten things, a refresher to classic ideas and a reference for a fuller game. Wholeheartedly recommended for any game master’s bookshelf.

House Framing (Geo-Nodes)

Working on a House Framer using Blender’s Geometry Nodes. The goal is to have a node group that will generate all the needed geometry for the destruction of a house.

The basic frame is complete, but I’ve been staring at these nodes for too long. I’m going to step back for a bit, to research trussed roof construction and eternal cladding. Then circle back once I can get the new details working.

Geometry Node Group for a Basic House Frame

Gumroad to House Frames (Geo-Nodes)

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Blender

I am looking at the different options for getting GIS data into Blender and my perceived Pros and Cons of each.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Links to different Blender Add-Ons involving the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Data.

Overall, my preference is for BlenderGIS as it gives me the terrain with satellite imagery, and markers (ie cubes) for each of the buildings.

Roof Tiles in Blender

I’ve been playing with Blender’s Geometry Nodes for the last month to develop node sets for creating 3D prints and animations. Artisans of Vaul has an excellent tutorial on using geometry nodes to create Roof Tiles (See below).

Roof Tiles Using Instancing and Geometry Nodes – Designing a Fantasy Building for 3D Printing (by Artisans of Vaul)
My Adjustment to the Node Tree

The Breakdown

The only annoyance I have with the setup is the tiles sticking out over the edge. So I’ve adjusted the node tree to have a way to resize the end tiles.

In the image below, I grab the node that is the (X Tile Size + Tile Gap), then divide it by two. This gives me a half-tile size.

In the image below is the node cluster that selects the first tile of row 1, and the last tile of row 2, then repeated for each row.

In the image below the ‘Or’ (from above) to select the end tiles and scale them to 0.5 in the X direction.

Then the first tile of row 1 is moved over half a tile towards the centre, and the last tile of row 2 is moved over half a tile in the other direction.

The Blend File

Anti-Surveillance: Facial Recognition

In the dark future, how do you avoid being observed? When there is so much technology designed to track you and pass your movements onto the corporate overlords and onto their government masters.

Most facial recognition relies on video cameras to record the face, and a computer system to identify a person from the background noise or environment. This usually relies on Machine Learning to extract the face from the environment and then a library of faces to compare with. This provides 2 points of disruption or attack to disrupt the system.

1. Countermeasures

Facial recognition is one thing that many Player Characters, will have to dodge to avoid arrest. They will be detected, but what can they do to avoid recognition?

This is the most obvious solution, and the one many players tend to fall back on. There is always low-tech, the shelf standards like motorbike helmet, ski-mask, or face mask. However, even the basic mask can cause some problems with some dark materials appearing transparent under Infrared light, or white materials glowing when a UV light is shone on them.

Some interesting additions include Video Masks, Exotic Makeup, or Bizarre Clothing.

Video Masks

Building on the basic mask idea is the video mask, which combines a solid mask with a form of video projection or screen.

A near-future version would be a more self-contained device than the projection mask, described here. The Scifi series, TekWar provides an example, where a hi-tech hooded displays another face on yours. It’s used as a plot device to allow people to sneak in. Or even an adaption of Ghost in the Shell’s Therm-Optical Camoflague. Regardless of the source, there are countless ways this can be used and abused.

From a distance, a character could look like someone else, which provides interesting options for players messing with NPCs and NPCs doing the same. Frame someone for murder with video evidence.

However, the risks of using the technology can provide tension for the game. The PCs can be challenged with a Scooby-Doo-style mystery of who’s behind the mask. Or on a covert operation where you can keep them guessing how long will this keep working? Is there some exotic technology that will see through the illusion?

Exotic Makeup & Bizarre Clothing

Dazzle was a kind of camouflage used during World War 1, where it was designed to throw off the range-finding visual observation of ships by submarines.

SS West Mahomet in dazzle camouflage, 1918

Computer Vision Dazzle Camouflage points the way towards exotic fashion & makeup for the near future with Dazzle-style, 8-bit low-res pixel style, or AI-generated patterns sprayed onto your face.

Weird patterns or distorted geometry on clothing confuse the sensors. See These clothes use outlandish designs to trick facial recognition software into thinking you’re not human.

The will category of anti-Surveillance technology will see a lot of change as the Algorithms improve to detect people, while the counter algorithms create better counters.

2. Attack the system

This second stage is really looking at corrupting the algorithm, with a cyber attack, or flooding them with useless data. Either way, this becomes a game scenario in its own right.

Ubiquitous micro-computers

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized computer with the same capacities as a laptop or desktop, but with less power. These microsystems are used to embed web technology and help create the Internet of Things (IoT). I have used them to create a micro-webserver and a cloud-based file sharing. So let’s have a look at how these cheap little bad boys can be used in a cyberpunk setting.

Updating the tech to Red, we have an object the size of a credit card that can connect to a local Net or any store you walk into. They’d be dirt cheap and embedded into every credit stick, electronic device, urban flash clothing, or just a common piece of junk.

Ubiquitous micro-computers provide a way to control a piece of technology (For example; Clothing with built-in LEDs, a radio scanner, or a wifi detector). The places they get embedded does make sense most of the time. Wifi-enabled toaster, anyone? That is until, you realize that a single mass-produced chip can be run out in the millions for pennies and have a simple program installed  They usually have no security, because that would cost extra and who’d want to hack your car headlight anyway?

But just think of the fun you could have, with net-kids sending abuse at each other, or a Corporate assassin using the headlights to trigger another device or programming the vehicle to shut down when it passes a certain street.

All mobile phones have GPS tracking, but what if your CredChip passes on your movements every time you enter a store affiliated with Chipmakers? Or any piece of electronics a PC is carrying. For some examples look at these GPS Trackers from the Spy Store. Cyberpunk2020 has the equivalent device with the Tracer Button and Tracking Device.

Want to know your enemy’s movements, hack their phone, or their sneakers?

So, these systems are small without the ability to run most programs, but you can be certain that some enterprising young hacker has rewritten a program to work on a particular device. And maybe the team needs to collect the software so they can then trigger the vid jacket to hack the garage automatic door opener to provide access to Solo’s favourite ride.

Just remember, In a world where everything is connected nothing is safe

Simple DIY Wet Palette

I’m refurbishing my DIY wet palette to some more miniature painting. It is so simple to create that I’m surprised no one’s done a full breakdown on this. So, one short video later…

What do you need to make your own?

  1. A plastic container with a lid to stop the water from evaporating quickly.
  2. A piece of paper towel folded to fit in the container.
  3. A piece of baking paper to fit on top of the paper towel.
  4. And enough water to soak the paper towel. Just make sure you drain off any excess.