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True Detective — Night Finds You

It’s going to be hard to talk about anything else in this episode of True Detective other than that thing that happened. But let’s try. I had to watch this one twice to start to grasp things. My first mission...

Hot Button: The Moody Player

While proofreading the final draft of Focal Point I re-read a story I presented about a time when I was a less-than-stellar player. I’d allowed an encounter that went bad for me early on hang over the entire session and I’d resisted any attempt to get back on board no matter how hard the GM and other players tried. Show More Summary

Focal Point Preview: The Table of Contents

It’s time for our third preview of Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions (the third book in the trilogy that begin with Never Unprepared and Odyssey) — specifically, the table of contents. IShow More Summary

Getting Handy with GM Handouts

It is getting close to that time…Gen Con. A time when I need to run games for strangers. A time when I have four hours to introduce a setting, characters, and a problem; and then GM the players through a hopeful solution to the problem. Show More Summary

Focal Point Preview: Interior Artwork

Our sixth system-neutral book for GMs, Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions, will be available for preorder in early July — but in the meantime, how about another preview? If you missed theShow More Summary

Diversifying PreGens and NPCs

Sometime last week, I got a message from a friend who was starting the early stages of his prep for next year’s convention games and wanted some advice. His dilemma was that he wanted to run a Hollow Earth Expedition game that was faithful to the 1930’s setting, but still provide characters that are friendly for a table of diverse players. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Of Robin Hoods and Merry Men!

GMing for a party of first-level characters is fun. All the numbers and stats are manageable, the PCs themselves fit within snug parameters, and no matter how much hit points grace you allow, one of them is not likely to survive the session. Show More Summary

True Detective Season 2 — The Western Book of the Dead

True Detective: Season 2 is finally here, and it’s time to start unravelling the mysteries and unpacking the symbols. I love this sort of thing. To be sure, these aren’t going to be weekly recaps. I’m not going to rehash...

A Busy Time for GMing

Con season has begun; Walt’s already been to Origins, I enjoyed my first Kublacon over Memorial Day weekend, and the big summer shows, GenCon and DragonCon, are still to come. Summer can be a busy time for GMs, giving you even more sessions to prepare for than normal. Show More Summary

Decrypting the Cypher System

Recently we at Gnome Stew were approached by Monte Cook Games, asking if we’d like a pre-release review copy of their soon to be available Cypher System. I won the ensuing caged gnome knife-fight and have spent several long nights hunched over the eldritch tome. Show More Summary

Coming Soon from Gnome Stew – Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions!

I’m thrilled to announce that the sixth system-neutral GMing advice book from Gnome Stew and Engine Publishing will be available to preorder soon: Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions, by our...Show More Summary


In this article, we’ll look at the concepts of treasure and reward. My goal in our current campaign is to attempt to make most of those items “focused items”: items that have some root in the characters. Our last campaign ran about two years, so players acquired a bunch of stuff. Show More Summary

How Shark Attacks Work

The sudden violence of a shark attack is truly a terrifying experience for the victim — but are sharks really man-eating monsters with a taste for human flesh?

From Con to Con (Origins) 2015

Hey all! This year I actually attended the entirety of Origins, as opposed to my quick trip last year. In addition to working the booth for Cubicle 7 Entertainment, I attempted to run 5 events. Here are a few things I learned during Origins this year. Show More Summary

 Good Players = Good GMs

Last weekend I was at Origins, and now a week later, I’m finally starting to recover. While I’m old enough and wise enough to realize I can’t stay up all hours and do ALL the gaming, I still stay up too late, get up earlier than I should, and try and get in MOST of the gaming. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Why does the dog bark?

Monsters have personalities. Dragons are haughty. Goblins are sneaky. Hobbits are tricksy (or so the Stoors of the River-folk claim), and so on. I think in d20 fantasy games there is a tendency to view monsters only by their stats, by their combat capabilities. Show More Summary

How Rogue Waves Work

What was this colossal wave that appeared seemingly out of nowhere? It was a rogue wave. Rogue waves sound like something straight out of a sailor’s tall tale: ominous, mysterious, solitary waves of enormous height crashing down on ships at...

The City of Danger GMing Workshop

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about taking the first step to becoming a GM. It can be nerve wracking to cross the screen and run a game for the first time. Our organized play society, though, needs more GMs. I fear that if we ask...Show More Summary

ROM: Spaceknight Might Be The Best Science Fiction Comic Of All Time

ROM: Spaceknight was designed as a toy, and Marvel’s comic about it was supposed to be a throwaway marketing gimmick. But writer Bill Mantlo created a space opera about duty and sacrifice, made ROM fall in love with a human,...

Pacing, Ala Moebius

Recently, I’ve been reading through the collected works of french comic artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Moebius’s works are sci-fi/fantasy epics that are fast paced, with the story holding a consistent but somewhat disjointed thread throughout the piece. Show More Summary

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