Hi, I’m Rick.

This is my blog. It’s mainly about gaming, though sometimes it wanders into other aspects of geeky fandom – books, TV shows, movies, comics, conventions, writing, that sort of thing.

The bulk of the posts these days are play reports from the games I’m running, usually laced with discussions of how I’m running them, what I’m learning from them, and why I made certain choices with them. I post these noodlings for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a good way to provide a recap for my players. And for me.
  2. I find it helpful to dissect a game session to see what I did that worked, and what I did that didn’t. It helps me become a better GM.
  3. Some people find either the actual play or my thoughts about the actual play amusing, and they encourage me to keep doing it.

I also sometimes review games. In fact, I’ve had enough requests of late to review games for people that I’m posting my review policy here.

Rick’s Game (or Book) Review Policy

I review games (and books) that I find interesting. I do not review games that I don’t find interesting. Most of the reviews I do are of games that I bought myself, with no recompense of any kind from the authors or publishers. Some reviews are of games that were provided free to me, and I always call those out in the text of the review.

If you wish to provide me with a free copy of your game for me to review, there are a few provisos you need to accept.

  1. I have a day job, a social life, and a pile of things to read. I cannot guarantee that I will get to your game quickly, or at all. If the concept of the game is really cool in my own estimation, of course, it moves closer to the top of the reading pile, but that’s the best I can offer.
  2. I don’t write negative reviews. This doesn’t guarantee you a positive review, though; if I don’t like your game, I just won’t write a review of it. I’d rather share and discuss the cool things about gaming than whine about the bad things. But just because I don’t write a review of your game, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it – see point 1, above.
  3. If I write a review, it will be honest. I will point out the things I think are cool about your game, and I will point out the things I thought were less cool. I strive to be fair and balanced. I will also inform readers that you provided your game free for review, so they can assess bias as they please.

If any of those points above sound unattractive to you, don’t send me a review copy. If you can live with these conditions and you want to take the chance, you can contact me via e-mail. The address is:

neal (dot) rick (at) gmail (dot) com




4 Responses to About…

  1. bill grundfest says:


    Just came across your blog and it’s very enjoyable reading. (okay, ya just know there’s a “but” coming…) but, I’d like to take respectful exception to your positive response to Robert McKee.

    Way back before I had a writing career, I, like every other aspiring writer in LA, was told “ya gotta take McKee.” So, not being one to start trouble I did. What I found was three days of lecture – and theoretical lecture at that. Nothing at all that would be of practical help in actually writing something. Only stuff that a writer would try to “remember” as he wrote, which is a recipe for (don’t say it) writer’s block or just bad, halting writing.

    And while it may not be necessary to be able to do something in order to teach it, it sure does help. A glance at Mckee’s IMDB page shows an impressive absence of produced credits – just a mini series from 15 years ago and “Mrs. Columbo.”

    The professional writing world he may have once known about is long gone, and if the only references he can make are 15, 25, 50 years old, (even his “recent” references are “The Sixth Sense” which is several years back), then he doesn’t even care enough about his customers to stop reciting from his book to stay current. ie he’s on auto-pilot, selling theories that didn’t help anyone in the first place.

    What about all the famous graduates of his course? Well since everybody takes his course as soon as they land in LA, sure he’ll have a ton of ’em. But it’s like the walls of the Carnegie Deli filled with photos of the celebs who ate there. eating there didn’t make them celebs – ie he had nothing to do with their success, in fact in my view, they succeeded in spite of, not because of.

    Where McKee IS a genius is in the marketing of his seminar.

    Your fellow writer,

    Bill Grundfest

  2. Rick Neal says:


    Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

    I’m not going to get into a defense of Robert McKee; even if I were inclined to do so, he’s a big boy, and he can take care of himself. What I will say is that different things work for different people.

    Why am I positive about the experience? Because it jarred me out of my writing rut. Yeah, it was three days of very theoretical lecture, but it gave me a perspective I didn’t have before, and some ideas about new ways of doing things in my writing. I don’t know if these new ways are going to necessarily make my writing better, but it’s always good to have more tools in the toolbox. Even the vocabulary and basic structural ideas were new to me – my study of writing has been in University English courses, where the prevailing idea is that story is the least important part of a written work.

    Beyond that, though, it was three days where all I had to think about was writing, but I had very little time to do any. It made me hungry to get back to work on my own stuff, practically frantic to start on a new novel. That sort of excitement about doing the work is something that I have missed, and I’m glad to have it back in my life.

    Your point about the Carnegie Deli is well-taken, though. I had no expectation that his course was going to be a panacea, and that I would now become a best-selling novelist just because I’ve taken the course. If I had, the fact that there were nearly 200 people there would have quickly killed that idea for me – just doing the math, that would mean that there were tens of thousands of graduates of his seminar, and not all of them are cranking out bestsellers or multi-million dollar movie scripts.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can understand your point of view, and your assessment of the seminar. I appreciate the fact that you have expressed your opinion in an open, respectful manner, and I hope that my response follows suit. However, I found some things of value in the seminar, or in the experience of attending the seminar (not exactly the same thing, you see); things that I didn’t have before, and may find useful now.

    To put things in some perspective, I worked many years in a bookstore, and got to meet a large number of writers as they came through on signings. I spoke to most of them about their methods for writing, and everyone had a different recipe for what they did. The only commonality was, “Find a way that works for you to get the work done, and then make sure it’s as good as you can make it.”

    I’m still working on that, and this is just one more step on that path.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and for voicing your opinion. I appreciate it.

    All the best,


  3. Kevin L. Nault says:

    For my own use I’ve collected your DFRPG “Magic Theory 101” posts into e-book format. If you’d like to have the files to post, share, or mock relentlessly in various public fora, send me an e-mail at the address I’ve submitted with this post.

  4. Neil,

    I would like to send you a complimentary review copy of our first Fate product The Demolished Ones by Brian Engard, as fred hicks recommended I contact you. You can reach me via worldsmith at gmail dot com

    Steve Russell
    Rite Publishing

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