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Showing posts from 2024


Last week , Andy dove into one of the most "D&D" of all topics, Alignment, to ponder (if you'll pardon the expression) the role it can  play in our modern tabletop experiences. As editor, of my (self-assigned) roles (I swear I'm not doing this on purpose) is to add links wherever possible to back background information, support claims, and, if it's a topic where I have interest, but little experience, act as bookmarks for further research on my own. The links in " Misalignment " largely fell into that last category. I am something of a Dungeons & Dragons outsider - ironic for a person who co-founded a gaming blog, as the game/system is largely synonymous with tabletop roleplaying as a whole. Aside from sitting in on a few games and haphazardly reading the handful of TSR books (spread across multiple editions, naturally), my D&D experience comes from media attached to the franchise: several generations of gamebooks, the original Dragonlance


Alignment, as a concept, has been in tabletop roleplaying games, original Dungeons & Dragons from 1974 . It was different back then, a choice between "honor," "chaos," and "neutrality." What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were they just born with a heart full of neutrality ? In the 1977 reorganization into " Advanced Dungeons & Dragons " and the " Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set " , a second axis of "good vs. evil" was added (allowing for the worst character, the neutral neutral , or "true neutral.") Of all versions, D&D’s third edition probably sees the most recognition today, with nine-box "alignment chart" memes made up for any number of media ventures. The oft-maligned fourth edition changed things yet again, reducing alignments to five options: "lawful good," "good," "evil," "chaotic evil" and "unaligned." Again, Wiz

GMing on the Cheap

Let’s say upfront one thing we lifers tend to take for granted: TTRPGs can be an expensive hobby, especially if you prefer (or need) printed editions of materials. To be fair, a well-made book can last for years or even decades, and the costs can be spread across numerous purchases. But, as is often described via boots and toasters [find appropriate link or alternate metaphor], it doesn’t matter how much one saves over the long term if you can’t afford the initial investment… not to mention that beginners are often only aware of the most prominent (and, thus, expensive) RPGs on the market. While old-timers like us know well how to navigate and/or mitigate costs when it comes to our TTRPG purchases, it can seem like a wild, pricey world out there for newbies. So this week, we thought we’d talk about the different ways to battle fiduciary gatekeeping, whether it be for yourself, or any newcomers you know looking to break into the hobby. - B B : If there's a standard baseline form for

Lego My Product Placement!

If you're a fan of Dungeons and Dragons , Lego, or (if you’re like me) both of them, then you’ve probably already heard about the latest cross-promotional Lego D&D set. Posts have already spawned on most of the nerd sites, and apparently this week Never Say Dice will be no different. Well, perhaps a bit different. While a review of the soon-to-be-released set will be featured, it seems important to spend a little time talking about cross-promotion in our games. While it may not hit our table-top roleplaying games often, you’ll see it throughout other sorts of tabletop and video games. Before we go into either, though, let's get the Lego and D&D adventure out of the way. Inn Plain Sight Putting Lego into your D&D is a pretty obviously choice, and we’ve been doing it for years. Those who already owned Lego before playing D&D, or, just had easy access to the plastic minifigures, have come upon this idea on their own, if they haven’t already heard about the con

Explosive Realism

Let's get this out there now: I love explosions. Like any 80s kid, it originated with cartoons - although I'm sure each of us has our own story, going back to a specific movie or show. For me, it was the original Danger Mouse , which premiered in the UK the year Andy and I were both born: 1981. By the mid-80s, it was on Nickelodeon here in the states, and required viewing for my father, my sister, and myself. The opening is a frenetic, yet oddly sparse, mess of energy, serving as a great lead-in to the show itself, with the titular Danger Mouse and his hamster assistant Penfold running from a number of old-fashioned  bombs, each punctuated with an onscreen "BANG" or "BOOM." With each of these "blow-ups," as I called them, my father would lift me and my sister into the air and we'd go into the episode energized and giggling. Blow-ups were not only moments of excitement, but familial joy. Before long, I'd be exposed to the ur-text of cinemat

Game-ComPIEtable Items

Though occasionally we may wish it was January’s National Pie Day , a Happy belated Pi Day to all! Also, a Happy Blogiversary to Never Say Dice. Baking up 4 years of posts has been a tall order, but we’ve risen to the challenge every week. It should be no surprise that we've baked up another post for our dear readers that's crusted over with sprinkling of delicious puns. In previous years we’ve provided adventure hooks , rolled out a number of character concepts, and even some proofs of pie-rates . One thing we haven’t yet filled the posts with  are Pi-tems. So this year, you’ll find a small collection of pi and pie themed items for your consumption. Enjoy! - A Pi-noculars - Sure, you have your regular noculars in games. You might even have some bi-noculars. But what about pi-noculars? They let you see just as far as the standard binoculars from your game, but you can see around the largest object in view. Bakery in the way? Crusty old tree blocking the path? Use the pi-noc

Time for Games!

How much time have you spent on a particular game? How much time have you spent in that game? While modern electronic games present your total playtime with a prominence making it almost impossible to avoid (especially if you're using a service like Steam), it hasn't been that long since the former question was entirely on the player to keep track of and the latter simply nonsensical. While some of this is a function of the way the Almighty Algorithm tracks us and our gaming habits, it's also a result of games having endings - something else that wasn't always present. Not that the ever-running clock exists solely to feed the gnawing hunger of a monstrous inhuman marketing machine, but it really is a useful factor in how we select games and try to fit them into our busy lives. Likewise, time passing within a game's setting is the result of the medium's development in general. The passage of time in Pac-Man 's nightmare world of flashing lights, powerful (i

100%: Completionism in TTRPGs

In the world of digital games, there's often a final goal of completing everything the game offers. On a modern gaming platforms, you'll probably even receive a “trophy” or “badge” for doing this, and we’ve previous discussed bringing these kinds of achievements into our tabletop worlds. Certainly, one might feel a sense of accomplishment from having reached platinum status in Spider-Man or a feeling of regret when you just can’t finish everything in a GTA game and need to move on. Personally, I’ve been in both these scenarios, and still may re-play San Andreas yet again and finally make it to 100%. Generally, though, this is a situation that can leave you with feeling either very satisfied or with a sense of longing and missed opportunity. Both ends of the spectrum, and all points in between, can be seen in tabletop gaming as well. How can we identify different forms of completionism at our tabletops and how can we tackle them as a team? Quarrelsome Questing Your tabletop

Look Before You Leap (Day)

While someone born on February 29th in the year 2000 would be 24 in regular calendar years (they'd use March 1st as a birthday) they’ve technically only had six birthdays. While "technically correct" is the best kind of correct , we still can’t stop the ravages of age. Leap days/years are of course necessary with how we’ve set up our calendar: due to some large egos (and poor math), we need an extra day every four years to keep things like the solar year, equinoxes, and solstices on track and synchronized. While keeping track of calendars is something many of us neglect in our games, and those that do are likely try to keep it simple, adding a special “leap day” to games can provide an opportunity to include new adventures, events, items, or quirks. So in honor of our real world’s Leap Day 2024 , take a few moments with Never Say Dice to ponder some of the possibilities of this rare inspirational event. Character Changes Plenty of people are born on leap days. As mention

Empires of Need: Negation as Characterization and Worldbuilding in Adventure Games

Going in and out of fashion, crowding store shelves one moment then nearly vanishing completely only to be rediscovered through the indie ecosystem, adventure games go all the way back to the start of electronic gaming. The genre's birth may be one of the medium's first Great Divides, where similar situations are approached through different mechanics, design elements, and tone. (Another would be the way space combat branched into both turn-based strategic simulation and real-time, reflex-based action early in the mainframe era.) Exploring dangerous labyrinths in search of treasure, the central activity in the newly-published "Dungeons & Dragons" tabletop game, manifested digitally in two distinct forms. Each drew from different aspects of the game: the CRPG , which focused on stat-based actions with randomized variables (primarily combat), and the adventure game , which tried to recreate the narrative component of a DM describing a game's scenario and event