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Showing posts with the label Players

Fantasy Forward: Culture

This week in our ongoing “Fantasy Forward” series of posts, discussing ways to make sword-and-sorcery settings feel less pre-packaged is going to deal with something… squishy. Something touchy-feely. Something that, I feel, is rarely used to its potential in imagined settings: culture. We’re not expecting anyone to become trained sociologists or, heaven forbid, anthropologists in building out their fantasy settings (although I’m very curious if anybody with said training has incorporated that into games of their own), but there’s plenty of room to develop how people (regardless of species) live, learn, love, and do things. Real world cultures are the product of generations’ worth of history, experiences, stories, and beliefs, which can be a lot to live up to! How can we come up with original cultural elements in our fantasy settings, and how can we convey them to our players and audiences in ways that feel natural instead of forced? - B A : Music! Art! Literature! These are all amazin

Doubles & Dares

Game shows were a huge family favorite when I was a kid. I’m pretty  certain that my mom still watches them.  We used to watch everything that was available: Classic Concentration , Family Feud , Jeopardy , Let’s Make a Deal , The Price is Right , Wheel of Fortune , and all the rest. And then there were the game shows for younger audiences - it isn’t any wonder that kids, including myself, would gravitate towards this media when it was targeted directly at them. Shows like Video Power , Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (which, in its various incarnations, will probably get its own post on this blog at some point) and Finders Keepers found eager viewers in  homes everywhere they were available. Of that era, the most famous was probably a little show called Double Dare . Originally running from 1986 through 1993, with revivals in 2000 and 2019, Nickelodeon’s Double Dare grabbed the attention of kids from all over, a group that expanded even further when it entered broadcast syndi


At the tabletop, maintaining everyone’s attention and interest can be a difficult task. Both here at the blog, and among tabletop gamers in general, there tends to be a heavy focus on the “A plot.” The overarching quest in your game’s (or story’s) campaign or adventure. Going to Mordor, for instance, to destroy the One Ring in a volcano is a classic example of an A plot. We should take some time to talk about "B plots," though. These secondary moments might take the form of their own side-quest or just something a small taken on by fraction of the group or even a single character. The reforging of a broken sword or a side-trip to recruit an army of ghosts. What makes for a useful secondary plot point, though and how can we use them most effectively in our tabletop game sessions? Join Never Say Dice this week as we take on B plot of our own  to ponder these questions. This time it’s personal! The most common B plot in a tabletop campaign is likely one that involves the player

Fantasy Forward: Economics

Last week, we started a new series of posts on how one might go about changing the stagnant nature of many “default” sword-and-sorcery fantasy settings by exploring how various aspects of the setting might develop over time and how the protagonists (or players, if this is in a tabletop RPG) might have an effect on these changes. While we started with one of the most obvious factors (technology), this week we thought we might go with something a little less so: economics, including the effect dungeon crawling might have on a regional economy that finds itself inundated with recovered treasure and artifacts… not to mention the adventurers who show up looking to get in on the action.  - B A :  The economy might be one of the most difficult things to consider in a game world - it's dangerous to upset the balance of your tabletop games. Just as with our technology post, a small change in the economy can have huge ripple effects. This is something we were even touched on: the city with a

Fantasy Forward: Technology

It’s come up a few times, and may be considered ironic for someone who co-founded a gaming blog, but I have trouble getting into media that gets classified as “fantasy” - in as far as the term is generally used in gaming and publishing, and the preconceptions this usage brings. In other words, sword-and-sorcery stories and games set in some variant of medieval Europe, frequently featuring a stock set of species including elves, dwarves, orcs, and Hobbits halflings. It’s taken a while to put this hesitancy into words, especially since I eagerly devoured these kinds of works when I was younger - but I think this ultimately gets to the crux of the matter: something I’m calling the Been There, Done That (BTDT) Threshold. We all have them for everything we choose to engage with, and they’ll vary based on the things we’ve consumed and the amount of variety we’d like to see. In this instance, my exposure to this kind of fantasy had hit a critical mass, so the baseline where I’d go “been ther

Gabbo Gabbo GABBO! Gazebo?!

Gabbo. Gabbo! GABBO! What is a "Gabbo?" I figure it's probably some guy’s name... a guy named Gabbo. Who is Gabbo? Probably someone who can do the Hully-Gully and imitate Vin Scully . But for ( relative) clarity, Gabbo was a mystery character in the Simpsons universe who turned out to be the star puppet of a new show aiming to take on Krusty's time slot. To the fictitious audience of Springfield, the ad campaign leading up to the character's first appearance was both exciting and mystifying. You might even try to add some hype to your own tabletop adventures or stories by adding a Gabbo-esque character. Before you do, though, please take a few moments with Never Say Dice this week  to discuss that form of hype, as well as the pros and cons of player confusion. (We will not, however, be handing out shiny dimes or traveling back in time…much.) Excitement, or hype, either in your game itself or just the circumstances surrounding your game can be a tricky thing. If

What Do We Do With A Murder Hobo (Early in the Session)

Have you noticed your players becoming a little more detached from your tabletop gaming world? Are they going from location to location, indiscriminately killing NPCs and looting whatever they can get their imaginary hands on? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a case of…MURDER HOBOS! Now you’re probably asking yourself…is there any cure for this condition? Can I stop my players from killing and stealing everyone and everything? Won’t somebody please help me stop this insanity!?! Calm down there good fellow, all the yelling and hair pulling is uncalled for. After all, it probably isn’t as big a deal as you might think. Before we get into some helpful tips from your fine friends at Never Say Dice, let's talk a bit about why you may have Murder Hobos, and then delve into what to do about it.  - A A : So you have Murder Hobos. Nothing to be ashamed of.'s all your fault! Okay, it probably isn’t all your fault, but if these players of yours

Combating Player Indecisiveness

Take the corridor to the left or to the right? (Okay, it's probably the left. That's always where the treasure is, yeah?) Take a caravan north or rent your own horses and head west? Use the targeting computer or trust in the Force? Beam down or take a shuttle? What spell should I cast next round? While specific decisions may be unique to certain tabletop games, TTRPGs are, not unlike real life, a realm of (nearly) unlimited options. Or at least, options limited only by your own imagination. So it isn’t any surprise that a single problem often plagues players: indecisiveness. There are so many choices you’re able to make, it can become difficult or overwhelming to make even the simplest decisions. Often, it isn't a matter of basic "this vs. that" decisions, but situations with a myriad of available options. Couple this with occasionally having to decide things as a group, and it can easily become the kind of catastrophe that would gridlock just about any tabletop g

Special Guest Star: One Session Players

You’ve managed to coordinate all the schedules to get your players to the table (or most of them, at least). You’ve even put in some planning time on the campaign you’re running. Sounding familiar? Everyone who said they would actually show up…actually did! Only this time, one of them brought a friend. No need to fret! You can always incorporate a special guest star. While the preference is to try and have this planned out in advance, often short notice is the only time you’ll get (if any at all), to prepare for someone else at your table. Even with the surprise of a last moment guest addition, there are still different ways you can handle it. In case this happens to you, why not take a look at some of the advice below from your friends at Never Say Dice, so you’re at least a little prepared. (And maybe you’ll let us come guest star at your table sometime, too!) Assuming your guest is familiar with the game/campaign you’re planning to play that night, or at least with the system you’r

Backyard Bonanza

Grilled foods and cold brews are a staple of summer, and with Memorial Day marking the official start of the season in the US, it's no surprise we’ve covered taking tabletop inspiration from both of those subjects on previous holiday weekends. You can already fill some imaginary bellies with a few Risus Burgers and down a cold one from Tapper . It'd be hard to top either of the Risus builds those inspired, so this year we’ve gone with another backyard theme: backyard games! While we’ve talked about incorporating sports into games before, and people have been converting board games into something you can play outdoors for centuries, we’ve never gone into bringing less formal outdoor games brought back to the tabletop.  So let’s jump into our collective backyard to try and find some more tabletop inspirations. A great many backyard games seem to focus on one particular skillset, whether you're hitting a moving target, throwing, or catching, it all boils down to one classic