Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2023

Fantasy Forward: Technology

It’s come up a few times, and may be considered ironic for someone who co-founded a gaming blog, but I have trouble getting into media that gets classified as “fantasy” - in as far as the term is generally used in gaming and publishing, and the preconceptions this usage brings. In other words, sword-and-sorcery stories and games set in some variant of medieval Europe, frequently featuring a stock set of species including elves, dwarves, orcs, and Hobbits halflings. It’s taken a while to put this hesitancy into words, especially since I eagerly devoured these kinds of works when I was younger - but I think this ultimately gets to the crux of the matter: something I’m calling the Been There, Done That (BTDT) Threshold. We all have them for everything we choose to engage with, and they’ll vary based on the things we’ve consumed and the amount of variety we’d like to see. In this instance, my exposure to this kind of fantasy had hit a critical mass, so the baseline where I’d go “been ther


There's a moment in the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit , oft-mentioned in this blog, when Bilbo Baggins is presented the map of Lonely Mountain and, incredibly, deduces the presence of a secret entrance to the Dwarves' catacombs. He passes this feat off by simply saying that he's "really quite good with maps." (The scene plays out quite differently in the original novel, where Bilbo is far more buffoonish and the secret entrance is identified by Gandalf. One advantage of the condensed adaption is that Bilbo gets to be more clever, hastening the story along at a much quicker pace.) I was quite young when I first saw The Hobbit , but I knew immediately that I, too, wanted to be "quite good with maps." There was in inherent mystique in these ancient documents, artifacts hiding away secret wisdom for those who knew where to look. Even the word sounded dusty and crinkly. (Not to mention the fantastic foley work in things like the 1977 The Hobbit . Ho

Gabbo Gabbo GABBO! Gazebo?!

Gabbo. Gabbo! GABBO! What is a "Gabbo?" I figure it's probably some guy’s name... a guy named Gabbo. Who is Gabbo? Probably someone who can do the Hully-Gully and imitate Vin Scully . But for ( relative) clarity, Gabbo was a mystery character in the Simpsons universe who turned out to be the star puppet of a new show aiming to take on Krusty's time slot. To the fictitious audience of Springfield, the ad campaign leading up to the character's first appearance was both exciting and mystifying. You might even try to add some hype to your own tabletop adventures or stories by adding a Gabbo-esque character. Before you do, though, please take a few moments with Never Say Dice this week  to discuss that form of hype, as well as the pros and cons of player confusion. (We will not, however, be handing out shiny dimes or traveling back in time…much.) Excitement, or hype, either in your game itself or just the circumstances surrounding your game can be a tricky thing. If

A Dash of Flavor (Text)

Downtime in our tabletop RPGs is where we tend to see the most leeway in terms of creativity. Unless you’re exclusively writing your own adventures and dungeons, you’re likely guiding players through a scripted book or story of some sort. They’re giving you the challenges and all the flavor text to boot. Where does that lead when you’re between plot points or adventures? We’ve previously touched on some day jobs your player characters might have to pursue during that "downtime," and may touch on other carousing activities in the future. Yet there are plenty of other ways to add a bit of spice and give your campaign some  personal flair. Even just a few small creations will embiggen the game for your players and possibly lead to traditions for years to come. But before you go off and create some of your own things, why not read over some advice from your dear friends at Never Say Dice? At some point in the characters' lives, they’re probably going to need to eat. (Unless

What Do We Do With A Murder Hobo (Early in the Session)

Have you noticed your players becoming a little more detached from your tabletop gaming world? Are they going from location to location, indiscriminately killing NPCs and looting whatever they can get their imaginary hands on? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a case of…MURDER HOBOS! Now you’re probably asking yourself…is there any cure for this condition? Can I stop my players from killing and stealing everyone and everything? Won’t somebody please help me stop this insanity!?! Calm down there good fellow, all the yelling and hair pulling is uncalled for. After all, it probably isn’t as big a deal as you might think. Before we get into some helpful tips from your fine friends at Never Say Dice, let's talk a bit about why you may have Murder Hobos, and then delve into what to do about it.  - A A : So you have Murder Hobos. Nothing to be ashamed of.'s all your fault! Okay, it probably isn’t all your fault, but if these players of yours