Sep 18

A GM Reads: Seven Wonders


My revised reading challenge for 2017 is to focus on what a GM can take from the books I read. I lift out characters, events, creatures, plots or themes from each book. As a GM, you still need to read the book to gain the most benefit, but each review brings a few ideas for the GM.


Now I am freed from household chores by the arrival of the builders, I hope to clear my review backlog. The latest review is Seven Wonders, an anthology of story games, published by Pelgrane Press in 2016. It is described on the Pelgrane website as follows:


Seven Wonders is a collection of stand-alone story games from UK-based games designers, which focus on characterisation and inter-character drama, and use improvisational techniques to tell innovative, compelling tales.


Read more about Seven Wonders at the Pelgrane website


Checking the date in my copy, I believe I have a pre-release copy I bought at Dragonmeet 2015. I was also lucky enough to have my copy signed by a couple of the creators who were in attendance. As the name suggests, this collection contains seven story games within the 288 pages. Many of the games have extensive handouts and GM sheets included within the text.



For the GM

If you are a storytelling GM, then this is a great collection for you. Every game may not appeal, but the anthology covers a broad range of gaming options. Regular readers of Tales of a GM know I love to weave into my ongoing campaign a series of short interludes using different rules. As an example of the huge story potential of Seven Wonders, here are two such options I am considering.


“Heroes of the Hearth” by Stiainin Jackson explores the life of the Heroes’ close family who is left behind when the call to adventure comes. Using this game as an interlude allows me to build up the emotional life of the Heroes and show what is at stake should the Heroes fail. I would require each Player to take the role of the significant other to a different Player’s Hero. I am sure my Players would love complicating the emotional life of the Heroes in this way. I just need to run a conventional quest story arc, where the Heroes leave their family behind.


An alternative campaign structure is suggested by “Before the Storm” by Joanna Piancastelli. This game is the ultimate ambitious prologue interlude. The premise of “Before the Storm” is a band of Heroes about the face the climactic battle of the campaign. During their last night in the besieged castle, the Heroes improvise assorted flashbacks about the adventures which brought them to this climax. Thus, “Before the Storm” makes a powerful opening sequence to a campaign, which then flashes back to play out many of those earlier adventures. This would be a challenge to structure but could prove to be a rewarding campaign with a distinct story.



Happy Reading




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