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Showing posts with the label DM

The Matt Mercer Effect

Roleplaying games have been around for quite a long time even before the first edition of  Dungeons & Dragons was published in 1974. You can go back into the history of Commedia dell’arte (improvisational theatre) in 16th century Europe and see this form of storytelling (and, if you want to read about similar, but more recent, traditions, take a look at our posts on the Maryland Renaissance Festival .) Even before that, there were ancient historical re-enactments and storytelling in many different cultures. Modern tabletop roleplaying games are quite different, even from their 1974 form, but commonality is shared across all these. After all, we’re still just playing playground games with the assistance of rules and dice. In recent years, there's been a boom in roleplaying games due to a number of factors: The internet making it easier to find new players and even run play sessions online. General dissatisfaction with our own realities, shared or personal. One force driving th

...Spins a Web? Any Size?

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does whatever a spider can Spins a web, any size, Catches thieves just like flies Look Out! Here comes the Spider-Man. Spider-Man has been a pop culture stalwart since the early 60s, with no signs of that slowing down. He's had numerous comic series, spin-offs, cartoons, blockbuster movies and, of course, video games. His appeal is unquestionable, as most people can relate to his dilemma of power and moral responsibility. The Atari 2600 Spider-Man from 1982 may not have been a masterpiece, but electronic gaming has come a long way over the years. After a break from video games since the PS2 generation, Marvel's Spider-man seemed a perfect fit for Captain Jumpy Andy's return to consoles. Little did he know when he picked up a PS4 and the game early in the 2020 pandemic just how appropriate the game's plotline would be... Prophetic or not, what does Never Say Dice have to say about this incarnation of the world’s favorite web-slinger, and how

They Cajole, You Roll... Blurp Balls!

Horror, in the 80s and early 90s, often worked its macabre influence on the era's more “family friendly” media.  During thus time period, we saw the likes of Goosebumps (er mer gerd!), The Dark Crystal , and blockbuster movies like Ghostbusters . There are cult classics like Goonies (which helped inspire the name of this very blog) and Little Monsters with Fred Savage. The line blurred further when some movies were adapted to cartoons specifically for kids, like Beetlejuice and The Real Ghostbusters for example. With movies like Child’s Play inverting the forumla, it should be no surprise that this mash-up of horror and "kid thing” bled offscreen into toys, as well - many of which were childhood favorites. There were the Garbage Pail Kids, My Pet Monster and Mad Balls, just to name a few. And any of these would make a fantastic conversion into...you guessed it, tabletop RPG monsters! One of these toy lines that really stuck with me were Blurp Balls. So, for this Halloween-ad

Restless Dreams: Horror, Fantasy, Gaming, and Emotional Logic

The calendar tells us that it's October, and while it may not feel like it outside, this is officially the season for spooks and scares. Given the time of year and the twenty-year anniversary of its release (and also of my owning it) the next game in my backlog playthrough was obvious: 2001's Silent Hill 2 . Much has already been written about this game (there's a reason it's on so many "Best Games of All Time" lists, after all), so this post will be neither explanation nor analysis, but rather a exploration of the way horror blurs the lines between the world that we know exists, and the way we feel it exists... and the way that games, both electronic and tabletop, are uniquely capable of embodying this dichotomy. Given my love of horror and all things surreal, it's kind of surprising that it's taken me this long to actually finish the game. At the outset, it was because I felt obligated to play the original Silent Hill first, even though I was va

Don't Watch the Monsters! (Don't Watch Them...)

It's no secret that we at Never Say Dice have been... strongly influenced by The Simpsons over the years, as we've mentioned before . The two of us can (and have) hold entire conversations with nothing but classic Simpsons quotes, something that's probably not too uncommon for our generation. (And portrayed in Rebecca Sugar's heartbreaking short comic Don't Cry for Me, I'm Already Dead .) And, while we both drifted away from the current run of the series, we still enjoy reminiscing about the older episodes we grew up with. This time of year in particular always turns our thoughts to the "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween specials and their numerous inspirations. In particular, one segment that often crops up in our conversations is "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores" from Treehouse of Horror VI. While it may not be our favorite "Treehouse" segments (that would be "Time and Punishment" for me and "Dial Z for Zombies" f

To the Pain

To the Pain! You may not be quite familiar with the phrase. Hopefully, you never mock anyone’s pain. In the TTRPG world, pain isn’t something that's touched on frequently. Certainly, in most fantasy tabletop games, healing a wound and removing pain is just a simple spell away. In real life, though, physical pain can be chronic, debilitating, and unavoidable. While many of us usually use these games as a form of escapism, sometimes a little realism is the spice that makes the games feel alive. That then leaves us with a few sticky questions: can you include realistic pain in your games? Should you even consider pain in your tabletop games? And, depending upon the answers to those questions, how would you go about including pain at the tabletop? So, this week’s post is dedicated to pain. After all, if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything . - A A : Over the course of the last week, I’ve been doing an acute study on pain. Personally. On Friday night, I was convinced

Batman's a Scientist!

Once again we find ourselves posting on a day that celebrates a beloved fictional character . And why not? After all, we’ve had days (and posts) celebrating these holidays before, even if our inner cynics know they're mostly marketing ploys to sell media and merchandise. We’ve talked about the nature of Superman and his stories in Strange, Familiar Visitor from Another Planet . We've taken tips for our tabletop games from Mario's adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom with Details: The Power-Up Mushroom for Your Narrative . And while he's arguably a vigilante, there's no argument against celebrating the enjoyment of our favorite caped crusader - Batman! In various forms, the character has always been a big part of our households, with many birthdays and Halloween party themes featuring hero (and villains) of Gotham City. There's plenty of inspiration to be found in the tales of the Dark Knight, so let's race to the Batcave and discuss them in today's Bat-Po

Greyhawk: Monsters & Treasure

A while back, I was on an expedition in my attic to find some Bill & Ted items in my collection, when I found a different treasure. It was an old roleplaying artifact : Dungeons and Dragons, Supplement 1: Greyhawk (9th printing). A 68-page pamphlet-like book filled with relics of a bygone age. The rules have changed over the years, but a dungeon delve into a piece of history can still inform us today. We’ve already looked at the “ Men & Magic ” section in a previous post and discussed percent chances, titles, and prismatic walls. Now it's time to take on a different section of the book, this one entitled “Monsters & Treasure,” to find more bits of bardic inspiration and explore the history of one of our favorite games. What will we uncover this time? An ancient magic item lost to history? Monsters better left to our nightmares? Time to turn to page 33 (including the cover, there are only 70 pages! It seems so short.) and find out. Druids and Giant Slugs The very first

Fun With Murder: The Narrative Ethics of Assassination Games

It's funny. As someone who views "detective" as an integral part of their personality , I sure have a lot of crime games. Well, crime media in general, especially movies, but games have certain... implications. You're the one committing the crimes , not watching other characters do them or following a protagonist as they piece together criminal events through evidence and investigation. You're right there, doing all the bad stuff yourself. Recently, in the ongoing quest to tackle my massive game backlog, I've been playing the first Tenchu game, released in 1998. I bought it because the creators would later go on to make my beloved Way of the Samurai series, but if one looked at my shelves, they could easily assume I chose it thematically, as Tenchu 's neighbors include numerous Hitman , Assassin's Creed , and Dishonored games - a subgenre we'll call "assassination games." I've seen it remarked that there's an irony that, while