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Showing posts with the label Andy

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

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

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

Storylines of Succession

Even if you’ve been keeping your nose in dusty tomes of RPG lore, word has probably made its way to you that Queen Elizabeth II has died. As heathen Americans, we’re more used to the idea of Kings and Queens (and Czars and Emperors and Kaisers and…)  from history and works of fiction than in our day-to-day lives. But those works of fiction, even the ones we make ourselves, are inspired by history and the world around us, so this week we thought we’d talk about the way that shifts in leadership (monarchical or otherwise) can affect the worlds we create for stories and games. - B B : The more you think about it, the more you see things that are affected by these kinds of changes. Whose face is on the money? Who even declares the value of said money? Even if your setting is based around bartering systems (something of an inevitability when much of the wealth the Player Characters encounter is in the form of plundered discovered treasure and artifacts) the availability of goods and servic

Gadzooks, It's Gamification!

Gamification seems to be everywhere these days, with articles on how to incorporate it into the workspace, or boosting your fundraising process. It even invades our personal lives with games that cover everything from learning new languages, getting fit (do we really need a new gamification application for every single kind of fitness trend?) and getting your errands done. It seems you could potentially gamify just about anything. It shouldn’t be too surprising -  as a species we’ve been playing games for an exceedingly long time. As we’ve mentioned on the blog before , the trendy D20 has origins that date back to at least ancient Egypt . While gaming may be old, the term gamification didn’t come around until the early naughties when Nick Pelling came up with it. Even then, the word didn’t really become popular until... Foursquare?! (Hard to believe that was a thing. Gamifying visiting places in the real world? Was this really the precursor to things such as Pokemon Go! and Zombies, R

Formatted

In last week's post (" Retrogame Therapy ") Bugsy discussed some ways that  playing “retro” video games are beneficial to us. That got us both thinking about the technology and media formats of these games. Do you go with newer digital formats of your favorite games or strive to consume media through the technology it was originally released in? Certainly, there's an ease of use factor with purely digital consumption, but is there something to be said for taking a more involved approach and adopting Bugsy’s aforementioned hydra of gaming systems? The question doesn't only apply to electronic gaming, either, with digital tabletops continuing to increase. To boil it down to a single specific question: how much does the format matter when it comes to games? -A A : To me, the most obvious argument to me that specific format shouldn’t matter is ease of use. Do I need extra cables, to fiddle with settings, to clean any old components, to find the space and time to get