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You're Dead! What Do You Do Next?

The spiked mace crashes through the warrior’s helm, the fully charged energy rifle burns a hole right through the smuggler’s chest, the vampire detective lost in the desert, unable to escape the deadly sun, is consumed by flames… if there’s one thing tabletop roleplaying games are good at, it’s finding ways to kill characters. But how often should that actually happen? We’ve talked before about dealing with bad rolls and how you can use to them to advance the story , but sometimes killing a Player Character is the right thing to do. How do you know when that should happen, and what happens after that? In worlds where resurrection is just a roadside temple or replacement clone body away, what implications should character death have, and when should a character be killed off for good? - B   A: Death is a tricky enough subject to deal with in our regular lives, not to mention including it in what are supposed to be our games. If you’re playing a lot of roleplaying games though, characte

Generic Post

Over the years, I've heard many an author, agent, editor, and publisher claim (facetiously or otherwise) that the concept of “genre” exists solely to make it easier for bookstores to arrange their stock, that it’s ultimately a marketing invention to better move product. It’s funny, though, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this sentiment from the people who enjoy said product, jokingly or otherwise, whether they be readers, players, or audience members. A divide of this scale can’t help but lead to questions. Are both groups talking about the same thing? What exactly is a genre, anyway, and what role does it play in the telling and experiencing of stories? I first began to question "genre" in a college creative writing workshop. Until then, I had taken for granted that the categories of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and thriller had been structured and organized by nature like the Periodic Table. This certainty wasn’t broken by coursework or  some newfound clari

The Eternal Conundrum of Session Pacing

Somehow, the stars have aligned, the schedules enmeshed, and all (or enough) players are present.  Now, whether you’re thoroughly prepared or winging it (you will always be winging it), it’s time to get things going. But how do you roll it all out, making sure that everything happens in the best possible places, and for the most appropriate length of times? How do you know when to ramp up, slow down, turn the tables, or call the cops it a night? Let’s talk about pacing your gaming sessions. - B B : Working out how to pace a gaming session is something GMs have had to deal with since the very beginning, and even though there’s never been a one-size-fits all approach, it must have been particularly vexing in the early days, before there was any basis of comparison. Board games and wargames have rhythms entirely determined by their rulesets and the players’ actions, concluding only under specific circumstances: when someone wins, or everyone gets bored and stops playing. Besides trial-an

Be a Grinch! (in a Tabletop RPG)

The Holidays may be almost over (for a while), and we hope you’ve all enjoyed your seasonal music and movies/specials. We here at Never Say Dice have covered the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special and the new LEGO edition a few posts ago. A common thing many of us into tabletop RPGS like to do is incorporate media into our games. After all, many of us have grown up with the blending of media and the holidays as a given. It provides us a framework to build on and a common touchpoint to the people at our tables, virtual or otherwise. One classic character featured in holiday specials and commemorated in his own song is the Grinch, the avocado-green villain with strange cardiac growth problems apparently linked to his personality. The Grinch, villain though he may be, has a slew of characteristics that would make the character an excellent one at the gaming table. Those of you not familiar with Suess-lore may really only know the Grinch from the How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated

The Lion, The Witch, and the Adaptation - Part 2 (Animated + BBC)

If you've been following along, you'll know I've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia books with my son and watching all of the adaptations of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe . This week we’ll be reviewing both the animated and BBC adaptations. One reason I think this series of books has stuck with me is that they were some of the first things I read when making the switch between picture books and chapter books. You can find my review of the Disney film, as well as an introduction to this whole project, in a previous post . In my next Narnia post, we’ll go over what I’ve learned about the ITV version and wrap up the adventure in watching these adaptations with my family. Where will your fav orite adaptation land in my rankings? Let's first discuss the animated and BBC versions. Animated version As I mentioned in my first post, I was a bit stunned to find out that there was an animated version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe made in 1979. I’m sure it was

The Lion, The Witch, and the Adaptation - Part 1 (Disney)

The Chronicles of Narnia have been on the list to read to my son for a long time. He's finally around the age I was when I began the seven-book saga, and we’ve now started read-alongs with the series. Last week, we finished The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe , which is the first book in the series (although not the first book chronologically.) Finishing it got the whole family excited to watch the adaptation. But which adaptation? There have been various audio versions as well as a number of theaterical productions. Let's focus on "family movie night" though. As a kid, I was a big fan of the 1988 BBC live action miniseries of the book, and the subsequent ones that they completed. I also remembered good things about the Disney version that came out in 2005. While looking up the best way to stream these two, I made a discovery. Somehow, I’d grown up unaware of both the 1967 ITV production and the 1979 animated TV movie. Would these be gems and new classics in my eyes

An Unexpected Ending: My Hobbit Adventure - The Last Stage

Good morning, if it is a good morning (to you) when you’re reading this. I certainly hope it’s a morning to be good on. Or at the very least, I wish you a good morning, whatever time you’ve decided to open this post. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that my son and I last left off our Hobbit adventures as Bilbo, Thorin and Company were escaping the Elf King’s Halls by hiding in some barrels. You can debate as to whether that was the best idea on my previous post. Now, we come to the end of our journey: Smaug. You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “Smaug isn’t the end! Are you crazy?” You’d be right, although I may, indeed, be crazy. The ending is the gathering of the five armies and what happens between Bilbo and the Dwarves. The final resolution in the story before our hero makes his journey home. Think back to your first reading of the book, or perhaps the first time you were with someone as they saw or listened to an adaptation, or maybe as someone listened in ex

Barrels Out of Bond?

Last week, we lost a man near and dear to a great many nerds. Sir Ian Holm passed away and left for the Undying Lands, and it shall be a sadder Hobbit Day this September. It is an utter shame and loss to us all that he couldn’t grow to Bilbo's ripe age of 131. Bilbo bookends the whole trilogy for us. Before we even start the epic journey through Middle Earth, we have Bilbo’s birthday, and we end (almost) with his trip to the Undying Lands. Bilbo is, in a way, our journey through Lord of the Rings. We’re borne into the series in fellowship with his birthday. We’re excited to see Frodo and his friends make it to the Last Homely House, and we’re jealous that Frodo has the Ring and not us. Finally, our journey ends with all of us on the ship to the Undying Lands with him. End of the story. How lucky we were to have such an excellent actor help us on this quest! This week we’re taking a look at one of the more dangerous events of Bilbo’s burglar career. If you’ve read the Hobbit or watc

Flies and Spiders

"I don't like the idea of giant spiders and flies," my 8 year old worried at me. My response,"who said anything about ‘giant’?," was of little comfort. He didn't believe me. I had just read him the title to the Eighth chapter of The Hobbit as a preview before ending our pre-bedtime reading session. Thorin and Company were about to enter the bleak forest of Mirkwood, and I knew giant spiders were on the way and somehow... so did my son. I don't know if he'd picked it up through pop culture, an educated guess, or if I'd mentioned it at some point and forgotten. The giant spiders were coming though, and I couldn't stop it. Or could I? I've already caused him some fitful sleep with the scenes between Gollum and Bilbo. Would the encounter with the spiders be the same? Would it start some deep-seated fear of spiders that might keep him up at night or harm him for years to come? As a kid around his age, I certainly had an irrational fear of sna

The Magician-Detective: Bugsy's Mission Statement

Hello, Dear Readers. I’m Bugsy, and I make up half of Never Say Dice. I am a writer, a gamemaster, a musician and songwriter, a scholar, and  most  best of all, a  fool . I’d like to talk about why I’m here, what I’d like to accomplish in this space, some things we might talk about, and we’ll start with the totally not made-up thing I wanted to be when I grew up: a Magician-Detective. Two of my absolute favorite, best-loved books as a kid were The Young Detective’s Handbook by William Vivian Butler and The Magic Handbook by Peter Eldin. Maybe I just liked handbooks, but these two made my most voracious obsessions both practical and real. I wanted to be the knower of secrets: to find them, to learn them, to keep them. The seeker of truth and the teller of lies. The Magician-Detective. Many years later, when faced with the obligatory “when did you first want to be a writer,” this imagined vocation immediately sprung to mind, and I realized that, without knowing, I had fu

Of Goblins

How do you describe a goblin to an 8 year old? Recently, I began reading The Hobbit at bedtime to my eldest kid. We're a few chapters in, not far past the section on the trolls. The topic of goblins has come up as the troop has just raided the trolls’ cave and found the goblin slaying sword Orchrist (note that orc bit later.) "What are goblins, dad?" We of course aren't quite to the point where a good description is given. We will get there at some point, likely just as we are meant to. His interest was piqued though, and so I had to give some sort of response. I could jump ahead in the book and find a Tolkienian description of them. I could go grab one of my many Monster Manuals and find a picture and a description. The latest D&D description is as follows: Goblins are small, black-hearted humanoids that lair in despoiled dungeons and other dismal settings. Individually weak, they gather in large numbers to torment other creatures. This description is what I wo