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Showing posts with the label RPG

The Mission Will Be Very Safe and Fun for Everyone: Some Thoughtcrimes on Running Paranoia

  I'm sorry citizen, but the question "why hasn't there been a Paranoia post in over fifteen months" cannot be processed. Records indicate that the previous post, " [Backstory Redacted] - Getting Ready to Run Paranoia " was activated in the Year 214 of the Computer, and, as this is currently Year 214 of the Computer, your internal chronometer must be malfunctioning. Rumors that is has always been Year 214 of the Computer are treason. Please report to Internal Security for cerebral re-adjustment. Have a nice daycycle. So, why hasn't there been a post about Paranoia in fifteen months, anyway? The previous two have been quite popular , and, as I'm fond of saying, I've put more thought into this game than nearly anything else in my life, formal education included. As time went on, I found myself procrastinating on the follow-up. I didn't have enough time to work out everything I'd want to cover, I'd tell myself, or that some other top

Home Media for the Holidays

Another holiday season is upon us, and hopefully you’re reading this on the cusp (or in the middle) of some well-deserved time off where you can enjoy some media and games. But the clock is always ticking, and if you take too long to decide what to go with, you might not get to enjoy anything! This week, we thought we’d talk a little about strategies to help work out just what it is you want to experience when your available time is concentrated, but limited, whether it be film, books, television, or games of both the electronic and tabletop varieties. B : For me, the most significant starting point is always going to be tone and feeling. Even if you’re focusing on things specifically relating to the current holiday, you’ll still have a lot to choose from. Sometimes I’ll want something breezy and uplifting to inspire holiday cheer, but sometimes (most times, if we’re being honest), I’ll go for something darker and bleaker that fits the colder weather and shorter days - the first Dishon

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

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

The Nostalgia Monocle

We often speak of “wearing nostalgia glasses” when we look at things from our pasts. I suppose the etymology comes from the phrase "wearing rose-colored glasses." Regular glasses should make your vision clearer, but nostalgia glasses, rose-colored or otherwise, tend to render things softer and easier to palate. This may mean we need some sort of revolutionary Nostalgia Monocle, allowing us to focus one eye on nostalgia while keeping the other out for... less than savory aspects. Earlier this year, Bugsy took a look at the subject of nostalgia in the context of his 40th birthday. As I turn 40 myself, I look to do the same, through the lens of fatherhood and with the help of my two young boys. Hopefully, I can build on Bugsy’s answer on What to do with Childish Things. If you haven't have a chance to read Bugsy’s nostalgia post, his conclusion was that it's okay to like the stuff that you like, even the things you liked at a young age. This is something I think we all

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

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

Star Trek v. Star Trek: The Starship Enterprise's Fifty-Year Confusion

The question "what was your first Star Trek" carries a very different weight today than it did thirty-five years ago. All the classic (i.e., pre- Discovery ) series are instantly available across multiple streaming services, and the films aren't much harder to find - they were some of the first shows to be made available via streaming, in fact. And even before then, there were both broadcast and cable reruns, along with physical copies for sale and rental. For today's viewers, the question usually means "which show or movie is the one that 'clicked' for you, that made you want more?" And, from there, we can deduce what they like about the franchise - stylistically, thematically, and tonally, since Star Trek can be a lot of things for a a lot of people. But it wasn't always this way. For a while, Star Trek was only available sporadically. Even while the movies were doing well at the box office, prospective viewers were at the mercy of whoever mad

There's Not Enough Time... One-Shots to the Rescue!

Over the last few years, the “story-driven” campaign has seen a rise in popularity. It would be difficult to deny the appeal of long character development arcs: comedy, romance, drama - it can be like an interactive version of your favorite movie, book, or TV series. It’s no wonder people enjoy this style of play, as long as they aren't looking for something purely strategic or simple hack-and-slash. But who always has the time for all that? Between scheduling issues, the pressures and responsibilities of day-to-day life, and the plain amount of planning and writing required, it can sometimes be amazing that anyone has the chance to run story-driven campaigns. A few hours spent every week around a ( virtual or physical) table with your friends playing a game can sometimes feel (dare I say it) inconceivable ! All of these issues might preclude many of us from even attempting a game, or only playing vicariously by jamming in live-play recording listening sessions . However, with a li