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Freedom's Just Another Word for Much Too Much to Choose: Option Paralysis and RPGs

They’ve finally done it, the players have made it to your big set piece. It wasn’t quite how you planned (not that ever is), but you’ve left yourself plenty of room to improvise. So much that… you have no idea which one to go with! Or maybe you’ve got a player who feels utterly incapable of coming to a decision if there isn’t an obvious course of action. Per the Oxford English Dictionary , “Option paralysis” (also known as “choice” or “decision” paralysis) is the inability to make a decision when presented with a wide range of choices, and it can take many forms at the gaming table… and even before you sit down! In an activity where our imaginations are frequently the only limiting factors, option paralysis is a near-universal problem. Let’s talk about the ways it can come up, and how we can cope with it. - B B : I find this often hits at the very first stages of coming up with scenarios, especially if you feel like you don’t have a good starting point, but also when you need to start

Start Your Risus Engines!

Planning on a Sunday drive this weekend? Oh no you ain’t, you’re going to play Pole Position! You may not have your Atari 2600 or 800 set up and ready to go (mine are safely packed in their dust covers). You may not have access to a sit-down arcade cabinet with wheel, stick shift and pedals. What you do have that's ready and easy to access is Risus: The Anything RPG . What is that? You can read about it in various places, including my Introduction to Risus on this blog. In a sentence: Risus is a rules-lite, versatile, and downright fun “anything” TTRPG. In my last Risus post , we looked at builds of the characters from Gauntlet for an arcade-themed setting I’ve been working on for far too many years, reminiscent of media like ReBoot , Tron , and Wreck-It-Ralph . This week, we’ll add Pole Position to the ranks of games included in this procrastinated sourcebook. If you’re somehow not familiar with Pole Position , you may want to go check out this historic arcade racing game. It

Pi Day^2

Once again, a Happy Pi Day to everyone and a Happy Blog Anniversary to Never Say Dice! We sure are glad that we've been able to put out some great posts every Saturday over the past year, and we’re especially that you've joined us. Special thanks to everyone following @neversaydice2 on Twitter who's helped us get to (and beyond!) 314 followers for this special occasion. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you. Last year, you may remember us baking up a few pie-pun filled adventure hook treats for you. This time around, we’ve decided to do a brand new set that will be radian minute for you. First, though, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite posts from the past year, and a few thoughts on where the blog will go from here. - A Andy : One of my favorite co-posts of the year would be the one we wrote about The Twilight Zone . We covered a lot of ground in that post, and it was one of our first to get over 100 reads in its first week. We posted it right before we got

Details: The Power-Up Mushroom for Your Narrative

Many of you may be aware already, but March 10 is Mario Day! Maybe you’ll break out one of the 200+ games featuring Mario (no doubt Nintendo will have deals on a few), watch the Super Mario Bros. Super Show or read some Super Mario Bros. comics . No matter how you celebrate the day, you’ll be spending time with a character who has a long history and background. Your first experience with our favorite plumber may have been in Donkey Kong , Donkey Kong Jr. (the only game where Mario plays the villain) or the original Mario Bros . My first Mario experience, as is probably the case with many of you, was with Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Mario had already appeared in 21 games by this point, but it wasn’t really until Super Mario Bros. that audiences saw the character we recognize today. To celebrate the character of Mario, in true Never Say Dice fashion, let's talk about the story within that game. Think about the first time you sat down with that legendary game: Super Mario Bros.

What to Do with "Childish Things"

This Tuesday, I turn 40. I share a birthday with both Lou Reed and Dr. Seuss, a legacy I’m doing my best to look up to. Needless to say, there will be no big birthday bash, no retrogames with friends, no late-night Dio singalongs. It hasn’t exactly been the way I pictured exiting my thirties. But, as I’ve said before, the best thing to come out of the past year is this very blog and the opportunities it gives me to both explore the media I enjoy and to share my discoveries with an audience. For the past few years, it’s been my goal to have something published by the time I hit 40 (curse you, 20 Under 40 story collection!), and, even though it’s in a way I never anticipated, my dream has come true. Never Say Dice has had more readers than I ever could have imagined when Andy and I started this endeavor a year ago, and it’s helped me regain a confidence in my writing that I haven’t felt since college - even if that still seems like it was just yesterday! Nonetheless, the event looming b

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

Choo Choo Choo-sing to include Romance in your RPG

Is romance in the air where you are? It's certainly brewing at Never Say Dice. No, not between Bugsy and Andy*, but as another tool to use in storytelling. Perhaps it's just an invention of the greeting card companies. Maybe it's the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the Saucer People, under the supervision of the Reverse Vampires, that's forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner! Like it or not, the Valentine’s Day holiday happens every year. When it comes around, nearly everyone (including us apparently) trots out their romance related stories. Should this only be a yearly thing? For most, romance and sexuality are a large part of the human experience, so why shouldn’t they feature in our stories and games? So, this week, lets discuss how you can incorporate this aspect of life into your tabletop time. Romance at the Table It isn’t difficult at all to find examples of romantic storytelling elements in literature and