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Showing posts from 2024

Them Bones

Undead are a common foe (and sometimes companion ) in many a game of Dungeons and Dragons . Sometimes the idiocy of memes make us wish we were dead. One Dungeons and Dragons -related meme floated through my  gaming group this week, and, as you might have guessed, it involved the undead. The meme goes a little something like this:  DM : You have been granted a wish. Cleric : I wish for the power to animate skeletons. DM : You know what? Okay.  [3 sessions later]  Cleric : I animate the bugbear’s skeleton. DM : They’re…they're not dead yet. Cleric : That wasn’t the wish.  [DM realizing what they’ve done, cue picture of shocked James Harden ] Of course, one could easily sub in S urprised Shaq , Shocked Pikachu , or one of a ny number of "surprised" memes . Or, maybe... you just... don’t ? Welcome to a little post series that I like to call "Never Say Dice Ruins Your TTRPG Memes." You may last recall this from our earlier post Divine Bovine . Could the situation pr

In Memory of the Manual

Electronic gaming has changed a lot over the years, and we at Never Say Dice have been lucky enough to experience these changes first-hand. As the scope and potential of games has grown, so too have distribution networks, allowing us to find and buy games that physical stores might not have thought worthy to stock. The shift to digital distribution has brought countless benefits (and, we must acknowledge, a fair number of drawbacks), but it’s completely removed one element that seemed an integral part of electronic gaming in our youths: the printed manual. This week, we thought we’d take a moment to appreciate this now-lost aspect of physical gaming media and how it helped define the gaming experience of its era. - B B : The shift away from manuals predates the rise of the digital storefront, of course. As storage media developed and games were able to integrate more and more of the material that had to be offloaded into a physical manual, packaging got smaller and smaller. In the cart


It can go by many names - the "Railroad DM," the "God GM", "DM Dictator," "GM Power Gaming…" The list goes on and on. It can also appear in many forms, some obvious by the above nicknames, such as railroading, metagaming, or dictatorship. You’ll recognize these traits in stories about TTRPG games time and again in various forums. We’re speaking of the issue of GM Overreach: the point at which the game's facilitator goes beyond their role as arbitrator and storyteller. Taking their powers beyond those the game had been designed with and beyond the assumed social contract with the players. How and why did this become an issue? Is there anything that can be done? Take a break from your tabletop and come explore the topic with Never Say Dice. Reaching There are a multitude of ways tabletop arbiters can overreach. Some of the worst, and unfortunately most common, are when the GM is "railroading" - forcing the story in the direction they

Beyond Bad Dads: Breaking Cycles of Toxic Fatherhood in Yakuza and Metal Gear

Like it or not, the electronic gaming landscape is dominated by long-running series, and has been since its early days . No matter when you read this, if you take a look at the current best–selling games, you’ll see a list that’s almost entirely sequels, off-shoots, reboots, or remakes of any of the above. This is something the medium inherited largely from the comic and cinematic industries it’s modeled after, but also reflects a certain risk-aversion as development costs skyrocket and mere success is insufficient to keep a studio afloat : name recognition is a safe bet. Publishers can assume some baseline of sales from dedicated fans who will always buy the latest installment of their favorite series. We at Never Say Dice can’t say that we’re totally immune to established gaming franchises , but for the most part we don’t stay on top of series with numerous installments like Assassin’s Creed , Final Fantasy , or Call of Duty . (Not that this will keep these games from filling out

Minigames... in My TTRPG?! (It's More Likely than You Think!)

You find them in all sorts of video games, even ones that aren’t RPGs. Some are special little Easter eggs, like including the original version of the game as an accessible dream sequenc e. Others are extra mechanics that get you through different sections or obstacles . A great many are in there just for fun , with a bonus if you’re going for 100% completionism . We’re talking about... the minigame! They break away from the regular monotony of gameplay and give you something fresh or reskinned, a new challenge to accomplish, or just a little bit of variety. Minigames bring all of that color to our video gaming worlds from the Wolfenstein nightmare sequence, to arcade machines and races in GTA, to everything else in between. The concept of a minigame can also bring those same kinds of advantages to our tabletop games. Current Content There are many different ways to incorporate a minigame into your tabletop sessions. One that you may already be incorporating are puzzle-style games. It

Pew-Pew Zoom: SHMUPdate

It's been just over two years since I first talked about SHUMPs as part of " Pew-Pew Zoom ," a series of posts on the history of narrative in video games set in space. (At some point I'll have enough experience to cover 4X and other strategic space game genres as well.) Since then, I've found myself bit by the SHMUP bug and put a lot more time not only into playing these games, but learning more about their history and the culture surrounding them. So this week, I thought we'd do a quick update on the fastest growing genre in my game collection and the discoveries I've made along the way. To start with, while my first SHMUP post was almost endearingly retro-brained (the most recent game I mentioned will turn 30 this year) and that, even though I've acquired many newer games, most of my actual play falls in the era I originally covered: the late 80s and early 90s. My genre associations were largely with the 16-bit era of consoles, so most of my foray

Towel Day 2(5th)

Towel Day?!? Hasn’t the blog covered that before ? Well, yes, and a few other Douglas Adams-related things . How could we not? This year, the day itself even falls on one of our (intended) blog posting days: May 25th. (It isn’t like we’d post on a Thursday... never could get the hang of Thursdays.) The writings of Douglas Adams seem to be one of those touchstones that most nerds of all ages and backgrounds can agree upon. You might prefer Star Wars to Star Trek, or Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, but all of those people seem to appreciate the absurd, yet dry humor of Douglas Adams. Though he may have left us almost a quarter century ago, his daft spirit lives on in all of his fans. So what better way to celebrate than to once again appreciate the legendary towel! As if you weren’t already familiar: “Just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar hitch hiker can carry. For one thing it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth on the cold moons of

Power of the Set Bonus

One popular thing in digital games, particularly in RPGs where items abound, are set bonuses. I have fond memories of playing Heroes of Might and Magic II as the undead, seeking out the Amulet of the Undertaker, Dead Man’s Boots, and Vampire’s Cowl to form them all together into the Cloak of the Undead King. My armies may fall, but now 30% would rise as skeletons to do my bidding! Who would rise to stop me?!?!? The power of the set bonuses isn’t strictly limited to fantasy games either. You’ll see set bonuses in games like Mega Man and Ratchet & Clank . As long as you’re including equipable items (or even just items) in your games, set bonuses can be included, no matter the genre. Why don’t we see that same thing in our tabletop games very often? This week, let's ponder that question and discuss the good, the bad, and the stupid of Set Bonuses. Strategy It's no secret that a lot of what has to do with tabletop games today is rooted in the history of strategy games. Incorp

Never Say Disc: Steve Albini

Many years ago, more than I care to count, my girlfriend at the time accused me of saying that "everything cool was invented by Pink Floyd, the Melvins, or Steve Albini." Up to that point, I was unaware of the degree to which I was singing his praises, but it's no surprise that I was doing so to the point of annoyance - at the time, I was listening to his catalogue with alarming regularly... much to the chagrin of anyone who happened to be riding in the car with me. And while that girlfriend did end up a Melvins fan before long, I don't think I converted many members of my captive audiences to Albini's music.. their loss. But then, this week was everyone's loss. I suppose I got to see the news of Steve Albini's death a little before it entered the general consciousness - I'm friends (in both the original and social media senses) with enough musicians and music fans, people who appreciated for him for himself and his work, rather than his adjacency to l

Star Wars Gaming in the Outer Rim

B : There’s a term Doctor Who fans use to describe the period from 1990 to 2003 when, with the exception of the US-made 1996 TV movie, there were no new “official” installments of the series: the Wilderness Years. The reason they have a specific name, as opposed to simply referring to this time as “when the show was off the air” or simply a lack of new episodes, is that the Wilderness Years were anything but devoid of new Who material. Entire series of novels, comics, audio plays, and even “ serial numbers filed off ” fan movies starring the original actors proliferated during this period - many of which were made by people who would be involved in resuscitating the “official” franchise in 2004. One thing that characterized  Wilderness Years years works was a willingness to expand far beyond what had been seen in the original series, both thematically and tonally, taking the franchise in wildly different directions. Without having to worry about tying things back to the status quo o