RPG publisher

Founded in 2009

Engine Publishing is dedicated to creating insanely good gaming products. We're part of Bits & Mortar, so all print books include a DRM-free digital copy.

Our products

Over 23,000 copies sold

We've sold over 3,000 books through our online store, and over 20,000 more online and at retail stores worldwide. Happy gaming!

Connect with us

Email, Google+, Twitter

You can reach Engine Publishing via email at martin (at) enginepublishing (dot) com. We're also on Google+ and Twitter (@enginepub).


Print sales on hold during move

I’m moving to Seattle, so I’ve temporarily turned off print sales in our online store. All of my stock will be in boxes until I get settled.

You can still buy digital copies of our books, and fulfillment is automatic as always. See you soon!


Engine Publishing proudly supports and fosters diversity and inclusiveness in our books

When I started Engine Publishing in 2009, I committed privately to supporting and fostering diversity and inclusiveness in the books we publish. It’s a topic that has come up during the production of all six of our books, and over time my view of what that commitment means has expanded. What hasn’t changed is the “privately” part: I’ve always done it quietly.

My thinking was that doing the right thing trumped talking about it. What I missed was a third option, one I hadn’t considered until a few days ago: Doing what I think is right and talking about it trumps only trying to do the right thing.

The main reason I haven’t written a post like this before is because I’m not generally a toot-my-own-horn kind of guy. I don’t like doing it, and I thought talking about Engine Publishing’s approach to supporting and fostering diversity would come off as smug, self-aggrandizing, and crass. Two things changed my perspective on that.

The first was Bill Cavalier‘s series of tweets about opening up the clubhouse, which addresses the historically male-dominated boy’s club that was — and in a lot of ways still is — the RPG industry. He has strong words to say about speaking out, and that resonated with me.

The second was an email from onehundred-percent-done about the recent issue of a product called “Tournament of Rapists” appearing on DriveThruRPG, which sparked a conversation that led to me asking the question, “Is doing it and talking about it more powerful?” The response was “Yes,” which led to me writing this post.

My commitment

Engine Publishing is committed to fostering and supporting diversity and inclusiveness in the books that we publish. This matters because gaming, as a hobby, is enriched when it honors and welcomes diverse perspectives, and all people, without discrimination, shaming, rancor, exclusion, or other negative behavior. Gaming is awesome, and everyone should be able to participate without exception.

I’m as mad about sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted bullshit in the RPG industry as I am about it in real life. My wife and I are raising our daughter to understand that people are people, everyone is different, and it’s okay to be different. We want her to know that it’s not just okay to be whoever she turns out to be — gay, trans, whatever the case — it’s fantastic.

As a publisher, I approach inclusiveness, diversity, and acceptance with the same passion. It matters. What’s out there, in the marketplace, matters. Starting from the front cover, I want folks who see or read our books to see strong, empowered women, awesome folks with disabilities doing awesome things, people of all skin colors and ethnic backgrounds being kick-ass adventurers, and on and on.

I’m not perfect, and I will get things wrong. Starting with this very post, which I’m reasonably confident will mess things up right and left. Part of my commitment includes shutting my mouth and genuinely trying to see others’ perspective before opening my mouth again, learning from my mistakes, and wiping away my blind spots.

A word about responsibility

Lots of folks work on our books, but Engine Publishing is a one-person company, and that person is me. If we publish something, it’s my responsibility.

Full credit for embracing diversity and inclusiveness, however, does not reside solely with me. From art direction to artists to designers to authors, lots of people deserve credit for their excellent work in this area. I’m speaking about me and my take on things in this post because I don’t presume to speak for them, or for anyone else.

Pronouns in Engine Publishing books

All of our books alternate she/he and her/his throughout. The house style is to alternate by discrete “chunk,” usually a paragraph, provided no loss of clarity is involved (no switching genders mid-sentence, or the like). For example, if one sample NPC is male, the next sample NPC will be female.

I’m confident we haven’t gotten this 100% right, but that’s due to the number of authors involved and my failings as an editor, not to lack of trying.

What you’ll never see in our books is 100% he/his, an approach that I’ve always found particularly galling as a reader. “He” and “his” aren’t genderless terms. Using male pronouns to refer to everyone is an antiquated practice that needs to stop. (Singular “they,” although it makes me wince as an editor, is so much better than universal male pronouns.)

I’m not perfect about this, either: I’m still working to excise “guys” from my vocabulary as my default collective noun in casual conversation.

Engine Publishing covers

When designing a cover, we consider diversity, including but not limited to gender, ethnicity, skin color, and body type. We also don’t objectify our subjects. Ensemble covers feature a diverse mix of people. Solo covers thus far have featured women, because I think there’s a dearth of non-objectified, one-woman covers in the industry, and I want to help rectify that.

In my view, I got some of this wrong on Eureka’s cover, and I’ve worked to correct that in the five covers that followed our first book. Gemma, the African-American woman at the center of Odyssey’s cover, is paraplegic; in hindsight, I wish that her wheelchair was on that cover. For Focal Point, we featured both a trans woman (center left) and a woman with a physical disability (bottom right), and I hope we did so in a respectful manner.

Engine Publishing art orders

Our art orders for interior artwork require diversity. Like our covers, we shoot for a diverse group of people in our examples, and try to avoid objectification. The most common request I’ve made of artists when asking for revisions is “More diversity, please.”

I generally assess our artwork by gut feeling, which means I probably don’t work as hard to ensure diversity as I should. I’ve become more aware of this over the past six years, and am working on it.


I haven’t done as good a job as I should have on featuring LGBT characters in our books. Non-straight folks are present in examples, and among the cast of NPCs in Masks, but not as prominently as they should be.

Sexuality and sexual preferences don’t generally play a big role in the types of books we’ve published to date, but I see opportunities to highlight LBGT people in our artwork (for example) no matter what the topic, and this is something I will be doing in future books.

Room for improvement

Throughout this post I’ve tried to note where I see places Engine Publishing can approve. I’m a white dude who hasn’t struggled with poverty, so I have lots of blind spots — collectively, my privilege — to get past.

I’m committed to continued improvement in fostering and supporting diversity and inclusiveness, and I welcome your perspective on this issue.

Thanks for reading.


Focal Point is #1 in DriveThruRPG’s Hottest Titles!

Focal Point is currently #1 on DriveThruRPG’s Hottest Titles list:

It also became a Copper bestseller on its second day and a Silver bestseller on its fourth day. Both of our previous two books reached #3, so #1 came as a real surprise. If memory serves, only Never Unprepared hit Silver faster (two days).

Thank you to everyone who has purchased, spread the word about, or otherwise supported Focal Point and Engine Publishing!


Focal Point hits #2 on the DriveThruRPG Hottest Titles list

As of this writing, Focal Point is at #2 on DriveThruRPG‘s Hottest Titles list:

The top 100 has gotten harder and harder to crack over the past few years, and when I went to bed last night I wasn’t sure it would make it in. At present, 18 of the other 19 titles in the top 20 are from much larger publishers than Engine Publishing. We’re small, but plucky!

I love that the price is cut off by the title below it in this view because of the length of Focal Point’s full title (I cropped the screenshot right at the point where it’s cut off). All of our books have long taglines, but Focal Point’s is our longest. I joke about our long titles…but I can’t stop making them long!

One of these days, I’ll put out a book with a ridiculously short title, just to see what happens.


Focal Point is now available in print and standalone 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.


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 label books: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Time at post office: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Total shipping cost: $729.33
Length of USPS receipt: See below

What happens next?

First, a bit of context. Over the past few weeks I’ve worked full time, put in an additional 100-125 hours of packing and cleaning to prep for a move to Seattle, started a new job, and run this preorder. Consequently, I’m woefully behind on things like updating the Engine Publishing website, reopening the online store, and the like. Woefully, woefully behind.

What next, you ask?

  • I’ll be setting the Engine Publishing store up again, with automatic download fulfillment and without shipping to the EU
  • That will include making Focal Point generally available, both in print and digital (and in at least one discounted bundle)
  • I’ll also upload Focal Point to DriveThruRPG and elsewhere

My book asploded!

If I messed something up with your preorder, please let me know: martin enginepublishing com. I apologize, and I’ll make it right.

I triple-check everything as I assemble packages, but mistakes still sneak through occasionally.

Thank you!

Thanks again to everyone who preordered Focal Point!


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. Physical books should ship within the next two weeks.

Want to try before you buy? Check out the free 19-page sample PDF, which should give you a good idea of what the book is like.

Many thanks to everyone who has already preordered!


Focal Point preorder update: The ebook versions are ready, and the proof is in hand

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

Our graphic designer and tech guru, Darren Hardy, has finished the ebook and plain text versions of Focal Point! The delay was my fault, not his; this has been a rough, busy year.

When you preorder, the digital edition you’ll receive within 24 hours now includes:

  • DRM-free, bookmarked, hyperlinked PDF
  • .epub
  • .mobi
  • .azw3 (Kindle native)
  • Plain text (great for text-to-speech readers and cut/paste into your GMing notes!)

As promised, I’ve also circled back and sent all preorder customers and updated zip file/download link that includes the full package. Thanks for your patience!

If you didn’t receive your file/link, please check your spam folder/filter and drop me a line if it’s not in there (martin enginepublishing com).

The proof is in!

I’ve gotten the Focal Point proof back from the printer, and it looks great!

Note: No hairy arms are included with preorder copies.

If you haven’t preordered yet, drop by the Engine Publishing store to check out the options, or download the PDF preview to see if Focal Point sounds like a good addition to your GMing library.

And as always, if you have any questions about the book or the preorder, ask away! I’ll be happy to help.


Worldwide preorders now open for Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’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.

Preorders will run through July 31, 2015. I’m running preorders slightly differently this year, and a bit later in the summer than usual, so please read on for details.

What’s Focal Point about?

Written by award-winning authors Phil Vecchione, Walt Ciechanowski, and John Arcadian, Focal Point is the third volume in Engine Publishing’s “accidental trilogy” of GMing advice books, which began with Never Unprepared and continued in Odyssey. You don’t need those books to enjoy and make use of this one, although they do complement each other well (and we offer a special bundle price for the trilogy).

Each of Focal Point’s authors is a veteran GM with years of experience, and each of them excels at a particular aspect of GMing. John is an entertainer, a GM who loves props and drawing his players into the game world. Walt is a storyteller, an adventure-writer who makes his living in the RPG industry. Phil is a facilitator, an organized GM who specializes in helping his players work well together.

These three roles — entertainer, storyteller, and facilitator — are at the core of Focal Point. From building “sets” for your gaming table, to using flowcharts to structure your adventures, to making sure everyone in your group feels comfortable during play, this guidebook addresses everything that goes into running an extraordinary gaming session.

Try before you buy

We’ve put together a free 19-page PDF preview of Focal Point so that you can check it out before you preorder.

Reviews and previews of Focal Point

We sent prerelease copies of Focal Point to reviewers in June so that you’d have even more info about the book, and here’s what they said about it:

  • Hamishakia review (in Hebrew) (auto-translated English version) — “Focal Point is particularly useful to GMs who need to diagnose what they’re having trouble with. If I know I have a problem with my GMing, but am not sure what it is, the book will be of great help in finding that out. Most chances are that it will also point me in the right direction to solve the issue. Reading alone will probably help a lot, but doing the challenges will increase the benefit several times over.
  • Misdirected Mark podcast preview

Preorder details

This is our sixth preorder, and I’ve shipped out over 1,300 direct orders through our online store. I pack books securely in sturdy boxes with bubble wrap, and I don’t charge you anything extra for shipping or handling — just the listed USPS rate for shipping.

Please note our shipping and store policies, and be aware that if you order Focal Point with other books, your whole order will ship once Focal Point is ready.

Preorder timing

Preorders will run through July 31, 2015. Focal Point is already at the printer. I expect to have books in hand in August, and will ship out all preorders as soon as I have books in hand.

When you receive your book will depend on where you live and what shipping method you choose. Here are the USPS shipping estimates for U.S. customers and customers outside the U.S..

Manual PDF fulfillment

Unlike past preorders, this time around I will be fulfilling PDFs manually. That means that when you place your preorder, you’ll have to wait for me to send out your PDF by hand. I’ll send it as soon as possible, but please allow 24 hours just to be safe.

This technological step backwards enables me to open preorders (and regular orders) up to customers in the EU. I haven’t been able to sell books directly to EU customers since January 1st of this year (here’s way more than you probably want to know about why), and that sucks. I’m trying this system as a possible alternative.

Other digital versions

I got behind this year for a variety of personal reasons, and unfortunately that means that the bonus digital versions of the book — epub, mobi, and plain text — aren’t quite ready yet. They should be ready by early August, and as soon as they’re available I will send fresh download links to all preorder customers which include those files.

There’s nothing you have to do to receive these files — once I have your preorder, I’ll take care of the follow-up.

Gen Con

Our retail fulfillment partner, Studio 2 Publishing, will have copies of Focal Point (and all of our other books) available for sale at booth 2016/17 in the exhibit hall. These are not preorder copies, and unfortunately we’re not set up to have preorders fulfilled at Gen Con. Due to the timing of this preorder, folks who pick up Focal Point at Gen Con will be the first to have print copies.

Questions or concerns?

Ask away in the comments below, or drop me a line at martin (at) enginepublishing (dot) com. I’ll get back to you right away.

Thank you for preordering!

This has been a pretty crappy year for me, and that’s delayed the launch of Focal Point and prompted the changes to this preorder. Thanks for bearing with me — the continued support of Engine Publishing’s fans means a lot to me.

Here’s the Focal Point preorder link again, and thank you for your support!


Focal Point preorders open July 7! Here’s a free 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.

Preorder details will be in the launch announcement on the 7th. I can’t wait to share this book with you!