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Focal Point is now available in print and digital editions

Focal Point is now in our online store in print+digital and standalone digital editions, and on DriveThruRPG in digital format. Books are in stock and ready to ship, and if you pick up Focal Point in one of our two bundles — either the complete trilogy (with Never Unprepared and Odyssey) or the “all our titles” option — you’ll save 20% or more on your order.

Troy’s Crock Pot: Making the screen work

I prefer to GM without a screen. Mostly, it’s because I like to roll in the open, as it builds trust and fosters intimacy. I like the feel of being “part of the game” — in the company of others at the table. The screen, being a barrier, works against that. Show More Summary

Fate: Character Blocks for Conventions

I love Fate Core, and I enjoy running it at cons. For a long time I spent my efforts making pregenerated characters (for example: Dash-Dot-Dot-Dash), but many players don’t deeply identify with pregens. I wanted a system that led toShow More Summary

Limited Prep Time

Can most of us run without prep time? Probably. Can we run well without prep time? Probably not. While prep time differs for different GM’s, we can’t eliminate it entirely. There are outlines to be prepared, maps to be drawn, statistics to be looked up, and so on. Show More Summary

100% of Focal Point Preorders Have Shipped

As of this evening, all Focal Point preorders and contributor copies have been shipped out. We sold 114 preorder copies, plus a fair number of back catalog titles, in all. Thank you to everyone who preordered! Time to pack and labelShow More Summary

Classical Wisdom: The Phoenix in the Sword

This is the first of what I hope to be a regular series of articles on the ‘classic’ stories that inspired early roleplaying games. More specifically, I intend to read these stories (many of which I haven’t read, or read so long agoShow More Summary

Decrypting the Cypher System Part 4 (Setup)

Since the last part of this series I’ve been doing prep work for running a game. On the one hand, the pitch for the Cypher System is that it’s easy for GMs with minimal work. On the other, the front end prep the book recommends for a game seems pretty heavy, so I was curious how things would shake out. Show More Summary

True Detective — Black Maps and Motel Rooms

That True Detective episode gave us a lot to digest, but strangely, not a lot to talk about. Before we get to the calamitous events at the end, let’s get the bullshit out of the way. Because last week I...

From Con to Con: 2015 Edition

Hey all! 2015 was another fun year for me; in addition to my usual hanging with Gnomes and working for Cubicle 7 I got to meet a lot of new gamers and a couple of celebrities. I even got to do a little unintentional situational cosplay...Show More Summary

THE ONLINE EDITION: Lessons Learned the Hard Way

If you’ve been running online games for any length of time, well, you may have made a few missteps along the way. At least I have. Some were the kind of mistakes that any GM could make, and some were more particular to online games. So this column will be kind of a GM’s examination of conscience. Show More Summary

How Samurai Work

The samurai are the legendary armored swordsmen of Japan, known to many westerners only as a warri­or class, as depicted in countless martial arts movies. While being a warrior was central to a samurai’s life, they were also poets, politicians,...

Gnomes At Gencon and You Pick It, We Review It 2015

While listening to Gencon Episode of The Misdirected Mark podcast last night with Christopher M. Sniezak and our own Phil Vecchione, Phil made mention of the You Pick It, We Review It posts that we’ve done from time to time here on the Stew. Show More Summary

Focal Point Preorders End July 30

If you’d like to preorder our latest book, Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions, time is running out: Preorders end July 30! When you preorder, I’ll send you the digital edition within 24 hours. Show More Summary

How To Win On Cutthroat Kitchen

Watching Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen can be frustrating for gamers — the contestants may be great chefs, but they don’t know crap about using the rules of a game to maximize their chances of victory. If you’re appearing on the....

True Detective — Church in Ruins

“Cross that one off the bucket list — a Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” Frank’s sardonic sense of humor not withstanding, I don’t have a lot to say about this week’s True Detective. It was pretty disappointing, poorly written, badly...

Colonial Inspiration

Given that this was my last weekend before leaving for Gen Con I was looking for something fun to do with my kids on Saturday. My wife suggested the Colonial Plantation, which I’d never been to in spite of it being only about 15-20 minutes away from our house. Show More Summary

The Best Motor Oil for the Average Car

Motor oil is a tough subject because of the complex chemistry involved and the difficulty seeing the actual effects of different formulations or brands. To solve this puzzle, I threw out everything I thought I knew about oil and spent...

Never Look A Gift Orc In The Mouth

The name of the dashing green fellow in the picture to the right is South. He and a bunch of his friends showed up at a game of The One Ring that I ran at Origins this year. South showed up just like this, in full Orc makeup from a larp he was involved with earlier. Show More Summary

Convention Survival Tips – GM Edition

GenCon officially starts in under a week and I’m freaking out. It’s a good kind of freaking out. The kind where I look at a random nerdy friend and grin like a maniac and yell, “CONNNNNNN!!!” at a loud volume. Luckily the non-nerdy people around me are mostly used to my eccentricities by now. Show More Summary

Film Review — The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

I was expecting the usual remake, something with more realistic gore effects and blandly pretty actors than the original, but not as much grit or soul. But this odd meta-sequel surprised me. To begin, this isn’t a remake at all,...

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