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Showing posts from 2022

Traditions at the Tabletop

The holiday season is trucking right along once again with stores starting to tout their Black Friday deals weeks in advance. After all, Black Friday is a tradition ( sort of) . Americans are busy celebrating their Feast of Maximum Occupancy Thanksgiving, Canada just celebrated theirs last week, and before you know it we’ll be looking at Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, etc. etc. A time of year thick with celebrations and chock full of traditions. Although for Never Say Dice, as we mentioned in Home Media for the Holidays , our traditions mostly consist of trying to take some much needed time off and spend it consuming some of our backlogged media - be it traditional films, books, TV, or games. This year though, I thought we might dig a little deeper into some of our own traditions.- specifically, those that involve tabletop gaming. So pull up a plate of leftovers, and let's all ponder while we gorge ourselves. - A B : One of the joys of gaming with other people i

Tabletop Replay

I've recently completed all the trophies in Marvel's Spider-Man That may sound like bragging, but that's not my intent. I already know that I’m a little late to the party . While I probably should have been spending time with other obligations or going through new games and storylines, I had an ulterior motive that had nothing to do with game accomplishments: I wanted to take my kids with me through the story this time. Perhaps I’ve robbed them of completing the story on their own at some point, or maybe it was a bonding experience they won’t forget. Only time will tell. Either way, it did get me thinking about the replayability of games, and specifically of tabletop roleplaying games. Dungeons and Dragons , to use the perennially popular system, is something that's revisited over and over. However, people are typically reusing it to have new and different adventures, rather than replaying the same adventure multiple times. We’ll often come back to the same books and m

Dice, Danger, Dopamine, and Delight: Balancing the d4 of Player Experience

The battle has nearly reached its climax, but the outlook is dire. The Healer just went down... along with the Tank. You’re down to a handful of cantrips, and you send out one last firebolt. Natural 20! The Big Bad Evil Guy goes down and you save the day! The chase through the asteroid field has been dangerous and the shields can’t take any more. There's one last stretch to get through before the ship can make the jump out and you need three successes on four dice. Time to roll! Your group has snuck into the base to steal valuable intelligence in the war effort, but an important general is mere feet away from you with his back turned. One shot could change the tide in this war, you pull your side arm and… hope you get that dopamine hit once again. Our tabletop games are often about risk (no we don’t mean the board game) and the rewards aren’t just in game victories. We feel the success just as much as our imaginary characters do. So how do we balance these player experiences? -A B

Style as Story in CounterSpy

It's time to come clean: most of my recent electronic gaming selections have been inspired by genre discussion threads on the Something Awful forum , particularly explorations into the "Shoot 'em Up"( SHMUP ) and JRPG genres. There are plenty of holes in my experiences with the medium, and I always love to hear people talk about why something does (or doesn't) work for them... especially when their suggestions are already part of my gargantuan game backlog . The most recent one, though, was for a genre I was more familiar with: "Stealth Games." Regular readers shouldn't be surprised here - given how often I bring it up, it should be obvious that my all-time favorite series is Metal Gear , which has defined much of the "stealth" genre. Not only those games, though, but also Tenchu, Hitman, Assassins Creed, and Dishonored , all of which I've discussed before as part of the "assassination game" sub-genre, and well as those tha

Putting the Howl in "Howl-loween Specials"

There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. But this is our blog, and that means we can discuss whatever we want. Being the spookity time of year, it's a good opportunity to do just that. While "horror" might be the word of the month for many, there's also something to be said for the more mundanely macabre - the things that, while not horrific, blend right into the spirit of the month. Here at Never Say Dice, one thing that brings us into that space are the old Halloween specials of our childhood. While some should probably  stay buried in the past, worms crawling in and out of their corpses, others seem to endure over the years. The favorites might vary from household to household, but shows like It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or Garfield’s Halloween Adventure are still commonly well-liked. That begs the question, though: what makes a good Halloween special work, and what can we take from t

Boggled by Boglins

Last Octoberween, we took a campy nostalgic stroll and created some creatures for 5e Dungeons and Dragons (and a hidden Risus one) out of Blurp Balls . There was a significant amount of “family friendly” macabre-influenced media in the '80s and early '90s, as we mentioned previously. I do tend to revisit some of that media around this time o'year, and that might be a discussion for a later post. Like last year, I want to focus again on the "gross" toys that came out in the time period . Other than the Blurp balls, there were a few other horror-lite themed toys in my collection as a kid. Most, if not all, have likely been donated and hopefully found their way into the hands of some lucky kid instead of a landfill. I don’t think I ever owned any Madballs , but another toy that's held out in my mind are Boglins. So let's work again to see how we might transform an '80s toy into some tabletop RPG inspiration! If you don’t remember them, Boglins were esse

Missed

Quite often, we get pretty goofy on this blog. That's no surprise, with our focus on games and the occasional dive into nerdly music , movies and other media storytelling pursuits . This week, though, and in particular on the day this will be posted, I’d like to talk about something a bit more serious. (Though I promise we will touch on gaming somewhere in here. I can’t seem to not do that.) Perhaps the topic has become more visible in recent years, or maybe I’m seeing that because I’ve grown closer to it, but I still don’t feel like it's talked about openly enough. Especially in today’s political climate with an openly biased Supreme court, and the push to take away the rights of women and other minorities, I think it's important to discuss. Unfortunately, even beating around the bush, this is still pretty vague as to what I’m talking about, and could be any number of important topics. To be clear, I’m writing about miscarriage. (If any of you wish to skip this one, or j

Creeping (Un)death!

We’ve once again entered that month full of spookiness. Witches, goblins, bats, and other creepy crawlies abound. One particular category of creature has been stuck in our skulls of late, and that's the undead. From skeletons to vampires and zombies, and a great number of spirit types in between, the undead are a large part of the creatures that populate the Halloween season. While scary ghost stories might appear at Christmas as well, this time of year sees a surge of interest in movies, books, and games featuring the undead. Though they appear in stories set year-round, this is when they get their chance to shine in the moonlight. Something's been troubling me though: while there are notable exceptions, the majority of the undead that appear in our stories are humanoid. Why is that and should we work to change it? -A A : The question of why our undead tend to be humanoid can be difficult to answer. It could simply be a matter of depiction - human/humanoid undead are just eas

Take Me Down to Parody City

The NSD Team are both 90s kids, and nerdy ones at that, so the recent passing of rapper Coolio hit us both because of his own work (near-inescapable for a period in our adolescence) and because of the odd relationship he had with "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of his biggest hit, " Gangsta's Paradise ," as " Amish Paradise ." Al had been given permission by Coolio's record label, but not Coolio himself, who had issues with his work being parodied. To my knowledge, this is the highest-profile of a parodee being upset about Al's version, and it's certainly the one time I was around to experience it. But what makes a parody stick with us just as long as the original, and, in some cases, even longer? What do we, as audiences, get from them and how should we approach them as creators, ourselves? "Weird Al" Yankovic,as I've written about before , played a vital role in my musical journey. He wasn't constrained by genre, so eac

Divine Bovine

  As gaming groups are wont to do, mine has recently gotten into the practice of sharing tabletop TikToks and memes. The habit, and shared a-moos-ment, are surely something that can only bring a group closer together. Occasionally though, a shared nugget of media posits a question that warrants a fair amount of discussion. While the latest one the group shared might be udderly ridiculous, I did cowtow to their request and answered their question. After all, everyone at your table wants to be seen and herd (unless they’re a rogue). If you’ve heard this before, I hope you won’t experience any déjà  moo: If a cleric uses "True Resurrection" on an enemy’s leather armor, will a cow form around it? The short answer to this, of course, is... no. This will not work. If you don’t care about the why, you’re welcome to jump to the end of the post. Why won’t this work as the original joke wants? There are several issues here. Just going through the spell description in order, the first p

Attitude Adjustment: Sonic, Poochy, and an X-treme Conundrum

I admit it: I'm not up to date on the Sonic Fandom . My familiarity with the character is limited to the original Genesis games, although I've certainly known people around my own age for whom the name "Sonic the Hedgehog" meant the animated series, comics, or (heaven help us).. newer video games. There have been the recent movies  keeping the character in the public eye, not to mention Sega embracing fan creations using the old 2D format though Sonic Mania alongside slicker, modern titles like Sonic Forces . Nonetheless, I've been spending a lot of time with the character lately - thanks to a couple of miraculous devices , I have the complete Sega Genesis library at my fingertips and I've been slowly working my way thorough the classics . Things are stressful for just about everyone these days, and being able to quickly pull up a something colorful and energetic for just a few minutes provides great comfort and relief. I beat the first Sonic the Hedgehog