Monday, October 28, 2019

109 Why Games Go Funny

Listen to episode 109 online.

The tendency for RPG sessions to "devolve" into humor and zaniness, even when a different tone is the goal.

  • Fun-time. It's a game you play for fun in your leisure time. Often you are tired and/or punchy. Guarding yourself is something you do all day and when you are among friends you may tend to "let down."
  • Nerves. Roleplaying is like skinny dipping; it's not a spectator sport. Role playing requires that you concentrate on playing "through" your imagination. This puts you in a liminal space that exposes you and means you may have less of a filter on what enters your mind and/or comes out in the moment. Nervousness about being thus exposed can cause people to distance themselves by joking or tittering out as a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Tropes. We often draw on images from literature, movies, videogames etc. These associations are powerful but can lead to further associations. A seriously toned "space knight" game can remind someone of Star Wars, and then Space Balls, and then "I see your schwartz is as big as mine!" comes out of their mouth.
Take-aways
  • Get people relaxed and comfortable with the tone, goals, session.
  • Foreground your source material.
  • Try to make the meta situation approximate the in-game fiction.
Mentions

Friday, October 25, 2019

108 Of Gods and Iron

Listen to episode 108 online. Also available in your favorite podcast apps and on Spotify!

I ramble on about my ideas for having gods walking the earth and what iron means in a setting where the technology is still new. Mostly this is tied to my Gygax 75 Challenge setting: Uzrak, Where the Gods Walk. You can read about it at the Viridian Scroll.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

107 Gygax 75 Challenge Week 2

Listen to episode 107

This is the blog where I discovered the challenge. I think I mistakenly called it Dragons are Real, which is the name of a cool podcast (link of the right).

Beyond the Gates of Cygnus (JJ's blog)

Viridian Scroll (Ray's blog)

Where you can pick up the Gygax 75 Challenge "workzine."

Plundergrounds theme by Logan Howard

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

105 The Play's the Thing

Week 3 of Arneson Appreciation Month, The Play's the Thing – in honor of Dave's clear joy in play at the table over publication and self-promotion.

  • In praise of players who like to build characters 
  • A description of Microscope by Ben Robbins
  • Thinking about playing Microscope solo.
  • The Gygax 75 Challenge
  • Bad Science!
Plundergrounds theme by Logan Howard
Arneson by TJ Drennon

Monday, October 14, 2019

104 The Gygax 75 Challenge Week 1

Listen to episode 104

This is the blog where I discovered the challenge. I think I mistakenly called it Dragons are Real, which is the name of a cool podcast (link of the right).

Beyond the Gates of Cygnus (JJ's blog)

Viridian Scroll (Ray's blog)

Where you can pick up the Gygax 75 Challenge "workzine."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

103 Rulings and Rules

Che Webster of the Roleplay Rescue podcast asks the question, what's the difference? If you make a consistent ruling, isn't it then a rule?


  • In my opinion, No. A ruling is a practice at the table. A rule is a prescribed process in the book.
  • Rules are made 'in a vacuum,' they are less flexible, and if there are too many of them, they are hard to remember. OTOH, rules are impartial and transparent. Rules should ideally (my opinion) address only the most common situations.
  • Rulings come from rules, but should never (or at least rarely) become rules. Rulings are made at the table, require buy-in from the group (and therefore generate investment), and are flexible. They can evolve over time like language. OTOH, rulings can flex so much that they feel inconsistent or even unfair. 

That's the basics of what I say in the cast. :) Now you don't really need to listen, though I try to illustrate with examples. 

102 Light Rules not Rules Light

Listen now: https://anchor.fm/plundergrounds/episodes/102-Light-Rules-not-Rules-Light-e634n8

In this one I try to explain what a light rules (some would say "rules lite") game is. And I talk about why labels can be harmful. I also talk about how Dave Arneson kept a lot of rules in his head.

101 Arneson, Instigator & Innovator

Listen now: https://anchor.fm/plundergrounds/episodes/101-Arneson--Instigator--Innovator-e5qb7r

I talk about how Dave Arneson worked as a disruptive player to be a catalyst in transforming wargames into role playing games. I also talk about challenging players and players who challenge us to change, including players that represent diverse opinions and experiences.