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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

A Terrible, Stupid Catastophe: Loss and Trauma in the the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams would have turned 70 this year, and, over two decades after his untimely death, the impact he made on all our lives and culture, particularly through The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, remains largely unknown… just the way he liked it. Adams loved to blend the precisely known with the manifestly unknowable by turning the very concepts on their heads, filling his stories with asides, detours, and commentaries, usually(but not always) for their own sake, even especially when there was no way the characters themselves could possibly be aware of it. He took a shortcut through the entirety of human philosophy and religion by giving us the answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything... but kept the question itself a mystery all the way up to the end of the series. He never shied away from the very real massiveness and incomprehensible scope of the universe, but addressed the problems of long-distance space travel in some of the silliest (and most imagi

Willy Wonka - Cartoonish Supervillian or Time Lord?

Every spring, in at least some of the religions practiced in the States, brings yet another holiday full of varied confections: Easter. For some reason, perhaps it’s the candy content or the garish colors associated with the holiday here, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory seems to be the movie that most often comes to my mind. While there are other pieces of media that are more “classically Easter” entries, Willy Wonka just seems to belong here. Perhaps there’s something to those giant eggs, as well. Whatever the reason, it’s in our common consciousness around this time of year, and that has had me thinking about a couple of common internet theories. One common thought is that the titular character Willy Wonka is an incarnation of Doctor Who ’s (only semi-titular) protagonist, the Doctor. The other would have you believe that Willy Wonka is a cartoonish supervillian originating in the DC universe, most likely one of Batman’s adversaries. For this post, let’s go over the arg

You Cannot Fast Travel When Plot is Nearby

You’ve probably been there. Trying to get from one part of the map to another. A sound effect cuts through the overworld music , an animation comes up, and the music switches to something a little more adrenaline-pumping. The first time it happens in a game, maybe the first few dozen times, you’re probably pretty excited. What monsters will you face? Will there be materials to upgrade your weapons? Just a little much-needed currency and experience? A surprise treasure box ? Then you get to that fourth dozen time…fifth…sixth? Somewhere in there it becomes a boring monotonous grind just to get anywhere, or maybe to find the last component you need to upgrade your ranged weapon. At best, the ritual becomes a minor annoyance while you pass through as quickly as possible. Would it be better if you could just fast travel ? Zipping between two points without subjecting your character(s) (and yourself) to yet another pointless battle? This can work well in video games, but do you use it at you

Twenty Years of Fellowship

"In the land of New Zealand, in the fires of an editing room, the Dark Lord Jackson forged in secret a master movie, to control all others...." Twenty years ago this weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring premiered in US cinemas, forever changing how the fantasy genre is seen in the public consciousness, the way movies are made and presented, and, yes, the games we play and the expectations of those who play them. As nerds who were reading, watching, and playing fantasy stories both before and after the momentous impact of Fellowship, we thought we’d take this opportunity to discuss the movie and the effects it’s had on the things we love. - B A: The release of Fellowship was quite the event. In a time when motion capture and the internet still seemed new, somehow everyone knew about and was excited for this movie. Fellowship , and to a certain extent the opening of the Harry Potter film series, marked the beginning of an era. Prior to the popularity of ep

You're Dead! What Do You Do Next?

The spiked mace crashes through the warrior’s helm, the fully charged energy rifle burns a hole right through the smuggler’s chest, the vampire detective lost in the desert, unable to escape the deadly sun, is consumed by flames… if there’s one thing tabletop roleplaying games are good at, it’s finding ways to kill characters. But how often should that actually happen? We’ve talked before about dealing with bad rolls and how you can use to them to advance the story , but sometimes killing a Player Character is the right thing to do. How do you know when that should happen, and what happens after that? In worlds where resurrection is just a roadside temple or replacement clone body away, what implications should character death have, and when should a character be killed off for good? - B   A: Death is a tricky enough subject to deal with in our regular lives, not to mention including it in what are supposed to be our games. If you’re playing a lot of roleplaying games though, characte

Generic Post

Over the years, I've heard many an author, agent, editor, and publisher claim (facetiously or otherwise) that the concept of “genre” exists solely to make it easier for bookstores to arrange their stock, that it’s ultimately a marketing invention to better move product. It’s funny, though, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this sentiment from the people who enjoy said product, jokingly or otherwise, whether they be readers, players, or audience members. A divide of this scale can’t help but lead to questions. Are both groups talking about the same thing? What exactly is a genre, anyway, and what role does it play in the telling and experiencing of stories? I first began to question "genre" in a college creative writing workshop. Until then, I had taken for granted that the categories of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and thriller had been structured and organized by nature like the Periodic Table. This certainty wasn’t broken by coursework or  some newfound clari

The Eternal Conundrum of Session Pacing

Somehow, the stars have aligned, the schedules enmeshed, and all (or enough) players are present.  Now, whether you’re thoroughly prepared or winging it (you will always be winging it), it’s time to get things going. But how do you roll it all out, making sure that everything happens in the best possible places, and for the most appropriate length of times? How do you know when to ramp up, slow down, turn the tables, or call the cops it a night? Let’s talk about pacing your gaming sessions. - B B : Working out how to pace a gaming session is something GMs have had to deal with since the very beginning, and even though there’s never been a one-size-fits all approach, it must have been particularly vexing in the early days, before there was any basis of comparison. Board games and wargames have rhythms entirely determined by their rulesets and the players’ actions, concluding only under specific circumstances: when someone wins, or everyone gets bored and stops playing. Besides trial-an

Be a Grinch! (in a Tabletop RPG)

The Holidays may be almost over (for a while), and we hope you’ve all enjoyed your seasonal music and movies/specials. We here at Never Say Dice have covered the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special and the new LEGO edition a few posts ago. A common thing many of us into tabletop RPGS like to do is incorporate media into our games. After all, many of us have grown up with the blending of media and the holidays as a given. It provides us a framework to build on and a common touchpoint to the people at our tables, virtual or otherwise. One classic character featured in holiday specials and commemorated in his own song is the Grinch, the avocado-green villain with strange cardiac growth problems apparently linked to his personality. The Grinch, villain though he may be, has a slew of characteristics that would make the character an excellent one at the gaming table. Those of you not familiar with Suess-lore may really only know the Grinch from the How the Grinch Stole Christmas animated

The Lion, The Witch, and the Adaptation - Part 2 (Animated + BBC)

If you've been following along, you'll know I've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia books with my son and watching all of the adaptations of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe . This week we’ll be reviewing both the animated and BBC adaptations. One reason I think this series of books has stuck with me is that they were some of the first things I read when making the switch between picture books and chapter books. You can find my review of the Disney film, as well as an introduction to this whole project, in a previous post . In my next Narnia post, we’ll go over what I’ve learned about the ITV version and wrap up the adventure in watching these adaptations with my family. Where will your fav orite adaptation land in my rankings? Let's first discuss the animated and BBC versions. Animated version As I mentioned in my first post, I was a bit stunned to find out that there was an animated version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe made in 1979. I’m sure it was