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Santa's Gifts of Love and Forgveness

The methods of Claus, the Great and Powerful are universally known, told, quite literally, in song and story. (Much of the established canon comes from one particular poem , in fact, making it both a song and a story.) Long before the Elf/Shelf Surveillance Network was set up, we were assured that Santa simply knew if we were "bad" or "good," and admonished to be the latter if we had any hope of receiving the presents we were expecting. The punitive lump of coal is an interesting holdover from an era when the stuff was commonplace - but it persisted long after most children had ever seen a lump of coal, let alone had to help carry it or feed it into home furnace (there also being an implication of punishment and drudgery for those benighted children unfortunate enough to find themselves part of an anthracite yuletide). But... you never actually hear about those, do you? That's a side of St. Nicholas rarely seen. Some regional traditions pass these duties off t

...And Services

Twenty dollars?! I wanted a peanut! Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts. Explain how. Money can be exchanged for goods and services.   When we talk about tabletop roleplaying games, one thing often featured prominently (usually via tables) is all the things you can buy in-game. You’ve got standard adventuring gear such as rope, backpacks, and bedrooms. You have arms and armor from rapiers and plate mail to blasters and jumpsuits. You can find specialty consumables such as scrolls, potions, ammo and energy packs. You might even have magical, or mystical, items such as bags of holding or kyber crystals. There are also the purchases that almost split the difference between "good" and "service" - for example, the meal you might eat at an inn includes the not only the food itself, but also its preparation, having it served to you, and the clean up. So for all the talk about purchasing goods, you ever hear about other services far less often. (And no, we’re not talking a

Raiding Winter

We’ve talked previously about the various holiday specials that may make their rounds at the Never Say Dice households on a yearly basis. We’ve even looked at gathering inspiration from a few of those specials with dives into How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer . Lately at the blog, perhaps due to the passing of Jules Bass last year, our collective minds seem to be gravitating toward Rankin-Bass 's holiday productions. Fortunately, there are a number of these holiday stories to choose from. As a child, one of my favorites was Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town . Maybe it had to do with being exposed to Fred Astaire movies at an impressionable age, as he serves as narrator here. It could just be that it's another Rakin-Bass classic. Perhaps, though, it's more about the magic they included in the story. (No Bugsy, I'm not talking about the yo-yos.) While you can take "magic" in a more generic literary sense to describe the supernatur


There are many ways to play a TTRPG solo. There are many ways people solve this , and you can see some of these ways in previous posts - all with their own pros and cons. What we’re doing in this series, though, is use AI to create a solo RPG experience that's less bound by the limitations of pre-scripted offerings. While AI has been around for awhile, we’ve really only recently started to see big advancements become available to the general public. In our last discussion, we decided that we’d begin our experimentation using Google's AI Bard . It even gave us suggestions on the ways it might help us: setting the scene and describing the environment, creating NPCs and their interactions with the player character, narrating the story and providing feedback on your actions, generating random events and encounters, and giving you prompts and questions to help you brainstorm ideas and develop your character. Though this wasn't one Bard's suggestions, in this post we’re goin

The "Thanksgiving Story" Story

Thanksgiving really is one of the most American of holidays (if you ignore that weird Canadian version , anyway). Even more than, say, Independence Day, there's a clear disconnect between the celebration itself, the story it's commemorating, and the actual messy history. It is, in its own way, an origin myth of (white) American identity - of Europeans fleeing persecution to a new land, which welcomes them through both a bountiful harvest and the kindness of a native population willing to share it with them. It's the pilot episode for Manifest Destiny , blatantly ahistorical to even most elementary school students, and, weirdly enough, genuinely accepted as such. Most depictions of the holiday, at least prior to the rush of Cold War hagiography that presented American history as a theatrical attraction with a "NO COMMIES" sign at the entrance, was focused on the imagery of food and family. Specific foods at that, making this one of the few ritualistic meals to surv

DMs, GMs, and AIs (Oh, My!)

Playing TTRPGs solo has been around almost as long as TTRPGs have been a concept. While a traditional TTRPG is a social group activity, solo roleplaying games can be more like a journaling experience or guided storytelling through a gamebook (some of which involve dice and stat-tracking, and even modified versions of rules from group-centered games). We’ve talked a bit about solo-tabletop RPGs before - the trouble with solo gaming when want to go beyond the limits of what's been written into a gamebook or published electronic RPG is the GM/DM. There are, of course, many ways people have attempted to solve this . There are the Mythic Game Master Emulator books . There are storytelling dice if all you need is a nudge in a direction. There are even systems that attempt bring in a few different approaches into a single package like RPG Solo . While these are all fine solutions, they all came out before we had AI, or at least before we had what we currently refer to as "AI"

Dual-ing Personalities

Playing in a tabletop game can be challenging, even when you have just one character to control. Your options tend to open up much further when you can add even just one more to the mix, a nearly overwhelming feeling most GMs know all too well. Almost all of us have run into the situation where we have a friend who can’t make it to your gaming table that week, and we've all had to come up with ways to mitigate that absence. You might cancel the session, have the missing character off on another mission, etc. We’ve even mentioned those options in previous posts . We could even duel over which solution is the best - the answer will change from person to person and table to table. This week, we'd like to talk about one solution: dual character playing. As we said above, one character is challenging enough, so what issues can a “second personality” cause, and what are some tips to make things run a bit smoother? Buddy up with Never Say Dice as we discuss just that. There are a lot