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Showing posts with the label Andy

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

Over/Reach

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

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

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

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

Time for Practice

If you want to become proficient, or even competitive, at games it is likely going to  take a lot of practice. You aren’t likely to win the first game of chess you play (unless someone is letting you), and of course there is strategy to learn after you get the basics down. The same can be said for many kinds of games. Certainly the skills required in sports need practice to become good at them. Dribbling, passing, catching, scoring. You might have some innate abilities, but there is always something to improve. If you don’t, you might embarrass yourself when you get out there on the courtfieldpitchrink. Sometimes even seemingly simple games like Go become deceptively complicated when you start digging in. Can the same be said of tabletop roleplaying games? Do we need to practice them, and if so what do we practice? Ponder the answers as Never Say Dice discusses practicing TTRPGs. Isn’t it just "pretend with rules?" What is there to practice? One simple description of tabletop

Misalignment

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