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Control and the Alternate Reality of the Workplace

This week, PlayStation Plus subscribers got access to one of my favorite recent games of recent years: Remedy Entertainment’s Control With its fusion of cosmic horror and comedic bureaucracy (not to mention "what if gunfight... but with Jedi powers?"gameplay) this is a game that might have been custom-made just for me. Control takes the tired “secret government organization overseeing the paranormal” trope and shifts the focus towards the first part, presenting the headquarters of the titular Federal Bureau of Control (known as the “Oldest House”) as a Brutalist maze of filing cabinets, typewriters, water coolers… and twisted hallways folding in on themselves, a Ritual Department, and a power system that may be running off an imprisoned elder god. It’s a setting defined by contrasts, blending the dull familiarity of the recent past with the nightmarish and otherworldly. But what’s really unique is the care the designers took to make the Oldest House feel like place people a

The GM Commandments

There’s an old article from Dragon magazine that’s been making the rounds in internet gaming circles lately: Rig Volný’s “GM's Ten Commandments:Ten Dos and Don'ts for Game Masters Everywhere,” first published in 1987. The Never Say Dice crew got to thinking about how we felt regarding this collection of advice from (relatively) early in RPG history, and what we might add based on our own experiences. We should note that, after we had this initial conversation, fellow RPG blogger DM David made his own posts about updating the GM Ten Commandments. We’re not saying that DM David can read our thoughts (we’re not saying he can’t , either), but since we took different approaches to the subject, we decided to keep it as this week’s topic - and encourage you to go check out his work, as well. After all, when has an overabundance of advice ever harmed the GMs of the world? (Barring the many lost in the bloody Edition Wars, of course.) - B For reference, these are Rig Volný’s original

Gaming in a Time of Chaos

  For the past few weeks, I’ve struggled with finding the right thing to post on the blog. Between the continuing pandemic looming over our lives, the atrocity of the Capitol Attack, the impeachment proceedings, and the inauguration, these past few weeks have been full of stress. (Okay, maybe you international folks don’t have as much anxiety about the Capitol Attack.) Not to mention all the ongoing systemic racism, voter suppression, and political identity issues in the U.S. If you want to read more about our views on these things, you might want to check out Bugsy’s post from last week -  Limited Imagination: Storytelling and the Politics of Assumed Perspective . I haven’t even touched on my own personal problems with the household plumbing yet. This goes to show one thing, though: our lives are full of drama. So, what's wrong with all this drama? Plenty, but there will always drama in our lives, from ongoing political issues to stressful home repairs. Tabletop games tend to thri

Limited Imagination: Storytelling and the Politics of Assumed Perspective

"The artist must take sides. He must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative. The history of the capitalist era is characterized by the degradation of my people." - Paul Robeson, Speech in Support of the Spanish Republic (1937) The fact that the modern reactionary surge initially coalesced around an angry reaction to video games (and, significantly, how those games are criticized) might be seen as a darkly comedic indictment of our society. "I can't believe that history books will have to start this chapter with something as stupid as 'Gamergate'," goes the refrain, both presuming electronic gaming to be of lesser cultural value and ignoring the history of reactionary elements targeting new media and the voices it elevates. Comparisons between angry internet rants and Nazi attacks on impressionism and Jazz feel much less hyperbolic following the events of January 6. I've even seen "degenerate," the

Roll Call: When Should the Dice Decide?

Almost everyone who takes part in tabletop gaming has at least some fondness for dice - they’re the universally recognized symbol of our hobby, after all! (Some weirdos are enamored enough to namecheck dice in the titles of their blogs!) But for their near-omnipresence, there’s no one rule for when dice (or cards, or tiles… insert the appropriate randomizer for your game here) should actually be used. Like so many things, it’s up to the people at the table and what they all want out of the game. We thought a topic as fundamentally important as this would be a good way to start off 2021. So…. when should things come down to a roll, and how much should the results of that roll matter? - B B : It probably says something about me that, when I think about the unspeakable eldritch blasphemy that is F.A.T.A.L. the thing that bothers me the most is the text in its logo: “where the dice never lie.” Aside from the sheer stupidity of the concept of having a whole phrase as part of your logo dec

NSDNYR (Never Say Dice New Year's Resolutions)

Happy New Year from both of us here at Never Say Dice. For many, this is the time of year for reflection and setting goals. It's time for New Year resolutions. A lot of people set themselves up to kick a bad habit. Some use it to start a new healthy habit. Others have lofty goals to reach, like being able to hug their families again or to geting a new job. Remember when setting your goals to make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). Whatever goals you are setting, smart or not, don’t beat yourself up if you aren't able to achieve them! Many start, many fail. As we often say here at Never Say Dice, trying is the first step to failure. For our part though, here are the Never Say Dice resolutions for 2021! - A A : My first goal for 2021 is to play in at least a one-shot TTRPG, if not a regular campaign, and I'd like this to happen by September. I'd prefer to do this with friends, but may have to settle for getting out of my comfort zone

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