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True Detective — Down Will Come

My grand theory about this season finally begins to take shape. I want to spend most of my time talking about the grand theory, but there are a few plot points and clues to cover first. Frank’s storyline about going...

Focal Point Preorder Updates: Proof in Hand, Ebook Version Now Ready

Preorders for our newest book, Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions, are chugging right along! We’ve taken 63 preorders so far — thank you to everyone who has preordered so far! Ebook versions...Show More Summary

The Trouble with Trolls

“Through the darkness lumbers a large humanoid creature with a rough, green hide. Its glaring face has a pointed chin and a crooked nose, while each finger ends in a claw.” “Oh, it’s a troll. Who’s got acid or fire magic?” “Your character wouldn’t know that!” More than a few players have stifled a sigh at that admonishment. Show More Summary

Tabletop Simulator Review

Recently, I came across an interesting program on Steam called Tabletop Simulator. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for really cool terrain and visual flair at the table. I’ve also moved around multiple times in the last few years, and online sessions have sometimes been the only way I’ve been able to get together with my gaming group. Show More Summary

Worldwide Preorders Now Open for Focal Point: The Complete GM’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions!

You can now preorder our latest system-neutral GMing advice book, Focal Point, from the Engine Publishing online store! When you preorder, you’ll get access to the full DRM-free, hyperlinked, bookmarked PDF within 24 hours, weeks before the book is available anywhere else and months before it’s in retail stores. Show More Summary

Preorders Open for Focal Point: The Complete GM’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions!

You can now preorder our latest system-neutral GMing advice book, Focal Point, from the Engine Publishing online store! Preorder Now! I’m running preorders slightly differently this year, so please read on for details. Preorder details When you preorder Focal Point, I’ll get an email. As soon as possible, I’ll send you either a download link

True Detective — Maybe Tomorrow

“I’m feeling a little apoplectic myself.” I had to watch this episode twice again to make better sense of it. I think it’s because on the surface it’s kind of a bland procedural. The cops are going around tracking down...

Please Vote for Gnome Stew in the 2015 ENnie Awards

Gnome Stew has been nominated for Best Blog in the 2015 ENnie Awards, and I’d like to ask you to vote for the Stew. The ENnies are judge-nominated, but fan-awarded — and are sometimes decided by veeeery slim margins. This is one of those...Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Make it a hex-crawl summer

Ahhh, summer. Time to sling the haversack over your shoulder and do some wilderness exploring. Some groups take to hex crawls with enthusiasm. Tromping across unknown territory, wind ruffling their hair, owlbears, werewolves and hill giants to slay as they cross the boundary of that little six-sided section of map. Show More Summary

Focal Point Preorders Open July 7 — Want a 19-Page Preview PDF?

Focal Point is at the printer! Which means... preorders will open July 7! And that means... it’s preview time! Specifically, time to share a free 19-page preview of Focal Point, including the front and back covers, table of contents, and a representative sample from each of the book’s three big sections. Show More Summary

A Tale of Two Games

I recently ran two games at our local gameday: fantasy in the first session, and Star Wars (using a VERY simple version of FUDGE) in the second. I wanted to sit down and evaluate what went well and what needed improvement in case I get to run those scenarios again. Show More Summary

Decrypting the Cypher System Part 2

I’m still reading the Cypher System rulebook, though I suspect many people would get through it faster than I have. So far I’ve finished the first 10 chapters (through page 234) covering character creation and the rules. Though the sections...Show More Summary

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

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...

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...

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