Tabletop Review: How To Spice Up Your Game

How To Spice Up Your Game
Publisher: Avalon Games
Authors: Tim Horegott
Page Count: 23
Price: $5.99 (PDF)
Where to get it: DriveThruRPG

How To Spice Up Your Game is a short book about using techniques to better play tabletop role-playing games. If that sounds horribly dumb and dry to you, trust me it’s not, this is actually quite a good little book. I did not expect much from the title, to be honest. It’s not professionally produced or anything, but it is nicely laid out, has a nice background, and lots of illustrations of dice. This book is focused on material for game masters, and if you are looking for more material like that check out a few of the other books I’ve reviewed in this area:

The GM’s Field Guide To Players

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep

This book is very straightforward in its approach; there is no foreword or lengthy sections explaining things about game mastering, there is only a brief introduction and then six techniques of spiciness. Each technique is a different chapter and contains smaller sections explaining the concept, the effect on gameplay, ways to implement the concept, tips, and examples. Each chapter makes up about three pages.

The first chapter, for example, is about the concept of “restricted knowledge” which is a pretty common and well-known tool with GMs (if not always well-implemented). This really needs no explanation as it is exactly what you think it is: essentially keeping players from playing the game from the meta level instead of the character level by letting individual characters have knowledge instead of the entire table. Some other concepts need more explaining, like the next chapter which is entitled “Explore the World”. You really need to read this chapter through to figure out what the author means by this and how it affects play, as the title is too opaque and the implementation not obvious enough for someone to grasp it immediately.

Overall, I was really impressed with this book. Though small, there are a lot of really great ideas that are well explained and presented here. Each concept is presented in such a way that you can read it and find yourself nodding your head, instantly thinking about your gaming group or a game you have run and where you could have used these concepts. The chapter on “representation”, where you help your players visualize the game world by using real world analogs or other helpful correlations, happened to hit home for me regarding a game I am running right now, and how I could help the players visualize the place they are in right now and involve them more in the space. The author offers variants and shallower or deeper levels of all of the techniques, so that a GM can play around with using these ideas and see if they need to really focus on them or if they can keep them in the background. The cost does seem a bit prohibitive, but I have no qualms about saying this is worth the six bucks being asked. It’s a bit steep for a short, non-professional book on GMing, but this is really good stuff and I will be printing out a copy of this to keep on hand. Now that is saying something!



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