Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label Fantasy

That's Ammo-ray(gun)!

Being a fan of obscure holidays, they tend to serve as inspiration for my games from time to time. This time around, it's National Archery Day which has been celebrated on the second Saturday of May since 2015. I wouldn’t want to shaft this particular holiday, so in this post we'll take aim at an aspect of gaming that can sometimes get ignored: ammo. If you’re going to be playing a tabletop game involving combat, there's a good chance it will feature some sort of ranged weaponry. In a fantasy setting, this will likely take the form of longbows, crossbows, and slings (and perhaps even the occasional flintlock), along with their respective ammunitions: arrows, bolts, and bullets (or "ball" if you're a Flintlock Aficionado). Of course, you might have thrown weapons such as spears, axes, and knives, as well. A more modern setting might use grenades and any number of guns with a variety of projectile types. Something in a sci-fi or futuristic genre will probably

Whose Labyrinthine Maze is This, Anyway: Dungeon Design and Cultural History

Dungeon . The word with significant historical connotations and some modern ones we won’t get into here, but to enthusiasts of tabletop roleplaying, it means something very specific: it’s ⅓ of the name of the most successful and influential RPG of all time, after all. (We’ll discuss the significance of the “&” another time. (and maybe the other D too - A) ) Early D&D materials refer to “the underworld mazes” (note the preposition, dungeons are considered a default part of the setting), and offer some advice on making them (somewhat) plausible, but never directly consider the societies that built them. While many pre-published adventures do include some information describing long-gone inhabitants, incorporating this kind of detail into original worlds can help create a detailed, rich setting. This week, we thought we’d talk about how to make dungeons and other ruins feel like places that lost peoples made and lived in, and how to share these details in your play sessions. - B  

Super Cereal

Hey, It’s-a me Never Say Dice! We’ve gathered here once again to celebrate the flimsy excuse of a corporate holiday: March 10, otherwise known as Mar10 (or Mario) Day. Last year, after making a few suggestions on how you might celebrate the holiday, we discussed how details can serve as the Power-Up Mushroom for Your Narrative . We talked about what a person’s intro to Mario might have been, the story behind the "original" Super Mario Bros. on the NES, and what it could mean to us in our tabletop stories and elsewhere. Certainly, your first experience with Mario may have been a media cash grab like the one linked above. You could also have come to meet Mario later in life as part of an Olympic, Kart racing game, party game, or any number of other titles Nintendo inserted the character into. ( Mario Tennis in 3D on the Virtual Boy , maybe? Anyone? Hopefully the first time you met Mario it was at least less headache inducing.) Perhaps your first introduction to the plumber in

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

Workin' d8+1 to d4+1

“Get a job!” It's a refrain we're always hearing, as well as the title of a doo-wop classic , but, as that song and anyone who has tried to join the workforce can tell you it’s rarely that easy . Tabletop roleplaying games, on the other hand, offer the freedom to give your characters any employment history you can think of (within the bounds of the setting and their character build), whether it’s the thing they did before answering the call of adventure, or what they’re still doing between your game sessions. This week, we’re going to talk about the ways characters’ former (or current) jobs can flesh out their background and present new roleplaying opportunities, no matter which side of the GM screen they're on. - B B: Of course, I start with the disclaimer that, in the game I run most ( Paranoia XP/25th Anniversary ), job assignment is part of the character creation process. Being Paranoia , of course, the player gets no say in this - it’s purely according to random chanc

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

Restless Dreams: Horror, Fantasy, Gaming, and Emotional Logic

The calendar tells us that it's October, and while it may not feel like it outside, this is officially the season for spooks and scares. Given the time of year and the twenty-year anniversary of its release (and also of my owning it) the next game in my backlog playthrough was obvious: 2001's Silent Hill 2 . Much has already been written about this game (there's a reason it's on so many "Best Games of All Time" lists, after all), so this post will be neither explanation nor analysis, but rather a exploration of the way horror blurs the lines between the world that we know exists, and the way we feel it exists... and the way that games, both electronic and tabletop, are uniquely capable of embodying this dichotomy. Given my love of horror and all things surreal, it's kind of surprising that it's taken me this long to actually finish the game. At the outset, it was because I felt obligated to play the original Silent Hill first, even though I was va

Don't Watch the Monsters! (Don't Watch Them...)

It's no secret that we at Never Say Dice have been... strongly influenced by The Simpsons over the years, as we've mentioned before . The two of us can (and have) hold entire conversations with nothing but classic Simpsons quotes, something that's probably not too uncommon for our generation. (And portrayed in Rebecca Sugar's heartbreaking short comic Don't Cry for Me, I'm Already Dead .) And, while we both drifted away from the current run of the series, we still enjoy reminiscing about the older episodes we grew up with. This time of year in particular always turns our thoughts to the "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween specials and their numerous inspirations. In particular, one segment that often crops up in our conversations is "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores" from Treehouse of Horror VI. While it may not be our favorite "Treehouse" segments (that would be "Time and Punishment" for me and "Dial Z for Zombies" f

Star Trek v. Star Trek: The Starship Enterprise's Fifty-Year Confusion

The question "what was your first Star Trek" carries a very different weight today than it did thirty-five years ago. All the classic (i.e., pre- Discovery ) series are instantly available across multiple streaming services, and the films aren't much harder to find - they were some of the first shows to be made available via streaming, in fact. And even before then, there were both broadcast and cable reruns, along with physical copies for sale and rental. For today's viewers, the question usually means "which show or movie is the one that 'clicked' for you, that made you want more?" And, from there, we can deduce what they like about the franchise - stylistically, thematically, and tonally, since Star Trek can be a lot of things for a a lot of people. But it wasn't always this way. For a while, Star Trek was only available sporadically. Even while the movies were doing well at the box office, prospective viewers were at the mercy of whoever mad