Saving the Game A Christian podcast about tabletop roleplaying games, collaborative storytelling in RPGs, and other interesting topics

December 12, 2017  
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As promised in Episode 120, we’re tackling “battered group syndrome” in this episode and the next! Yes, it’s a two-parter, because we had so much to say on this topic we couldn’t keep the conversation short enough for a single episode. We lead off with two quick plugs: One for Grant’s appearance on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast to talk about Exo Squad (Part 1Part 2, and the horror of a Gameable AU involving Palladium’s Ninjas & Superspies); and one for Min/Max Podcast, another excellent show by Christians about gaming and theology. We then quickly answer a question from Patreon backer Kevin about our favorite polyhedral dice (results: 2d12+1d8, mean: 17.5.) After our Scripture readings, it’s time to tackle this topic head-on!

In this second half, we wrap up our discussion of how to handle damaged gaming groups, such as giving players agency over negative consequences to their characters or going to conventions (hereafter forever known as "gaming speed dating sessions") to learn from other GMs. We also have more Funcilitator jokes, so—enjoy!

Full credit to Fear the Boot for, we believe, coining the phrase “battered group syndrome” and discussing this themselves in FTB 440.

Scripture: Psalm 51:10-13Proverbs 25:18-20Romans 12:17-21

November 28, 2017  
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As promised in Episode 120, we're tackling "battered group syndrome" in this episode and the next! Yes, it's a two-parter, because we had so much to say on this topic we couldn't keep the conversation short enough for a single episode. We lead off with two quick plugs: One for Grant's appearance on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast to talk about Exo Squad (Part 1, Part 2, and the horror of a Gameable AU involving Palladium's Ninjas & Superspies); and one for Min/Max Podcast, another excellent show by Christians about gaming and theology. We then quickly answer a question from Patreon backer Kevin about our favorite polyhedral dice (results: 2d12+1d8, mean: 17.5.) After our Scripture readings, it's time to tackle this topic head-on!

In this first half, we cover the symptoms of "battered group syndrome" (especially avoidance behaviors) and a few suggestions to help treat it, such as changing GMs or systems for a bit, granting players as much narrative control as possible, take-backs, and failures. Jenny also introduces us to the Funcilitator, which sounds ... ominous. Enjoy!

Full credit to Fear the Boot for, we believe, coining the phrase "battered group syndrome" and discussing this themselves in FTB 440.>/p>

Scripture: Psalm 51:10-13Proverbs 25:18-20Romans 12:17-21

November 14, 2017  
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We're back with our angriest, most rant-filled episode yet! Well, not really—but there's a lot of passion in this episode, because we're talking about GMing traditions the gaming community still seems to support despite being destructive, uncomfortable, and simply wrong. First, though, we've got a question from Patreon backer Paige Lowe about how blatantly one should steal from other media when planning a game. After that, we tackle our Scripture as usual before diving into six common behaviors we still see: Adversarial GMing; monopolizing narrative control; turning exceptional successes into failures; misunderstanding metagaming; harming characters to punish players; and creating in-game penalties for missed gaming sessions.

Also: Grant was recently on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (who are of course long-time friends of ours) to analyze an amazing and difficult cartoon from his childhood—Exo Squad. It's very long, because that's what happens when our podcasts combine! Here's Part 1, an introduction to the show and a breakdown of episodes and characters; and here's Part 2, an analysis of thematic elements and considerations for gaming in this setting. Enjoy!

Scripture: Leviticus 19:14-15Ephesians 4:22-252 Timothy 2:22-26

October 31, 2017  
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Jenny and her mother Shannon (of STG 10 fame!) deliver an after-action report on Save Against Fear 2017, held Oct. 13-15 in Harrisburg, PA! Everyone had a great time, and the con was exceptionally well-run and definitely worth attending next year.

Some specific shoutouts: First, to our former co-host Branden, who was in attendance and ran a fantastic Mistborn game! Also to the Harrisburg Mall for providing an excellent con space; Harrisburg University's game design program; and of course to The Bodhana Group for putting on a great con and continuing to be wonderful people doing good for hurting people.

Games mentioned in this episode: Dreamchaser by Imagining Games; We Didn't Playtest This At All by Asmadi Games; Starfall by Pandasaurus Games; Spirit Island by Greater Than Games; Clank by Renegade Game Studios; Smallworld by Days of Wonder; Castle Dice and Epic PvP by Fun To 11; Cthulhu Invictus by Chaosium; Mistborn by Crafty Games; Kingmaker by Avalon Hill; Mysterium by Asmodee; and "Into the Dragon's Maw" by Dragonix.

October 17, 2017  
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Peter and Jenny have two special guests this week: Jacob Toman and Michael Mendis from Gospel & Gaming! Gospel & Gaming is, in their own words, "a ministry dedicated to sharing the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with gamers all over the world." Jacob and Michael did a great job representing them, explaining their mission in online gaming communities and tabletop gaming communities alike.

We also addressed a question from Patreon backer Jim Nanban, who asked us about the coolest piece of RPG paraphernalia we each own. (As promised, there's a picture of Peter's dice bag right here in the show notes.) We also briefly plug our Discord channel, which is continuing to grow as a community. Then everyone settles in to talk about evangelism and how Gospel & Gaming approaches it—even to the point where Michael and Jacob turn the interview around and start asking the hosts questions!

A couple of quick notes about this episode: First, Grant was very sick and missed out on a pair of awesome guests. (He's better now.) Second, Peter's audio sounds very bad this episode; there was a hardware problem writing his track to disk that wasn't apparent during the discussion. And third, as hard as Grant tried we simply could not edit Blarey the Podcast Train out of this episode. That means that this is Blarey's first official podcast appearance. Enjoy!

Also mentioned in this episode were three books Jacob highly recommended as primers for Gospel & Gaming's mission: Michael Green's Evangelism in the Early Church; Jerram Barr's The Heart of Evangelism; and Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

Scripture: Psalm 105:1-4Matthew 13:10-13Romans 10:11-15

October 3, 2017  
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We're back with an episode topic selected by our Patreon supporters: That old adage, "the ends justify the means"—in other words, consequentialism! First, a few announcements: Grant now regularly streams the editing process for these episodes over on Mixer, so come hang out if you want to chat with him while he does that. Also, to help wrap up our "summer of mental health" focus, Jenny and Grant have pulled together a few mental health resources; we've got those listed below.

Our Patreon backer question this week is from Doug Hagler, who asks us about using a board game to introduce or set the scene for a tabletop roleplaying game. We struggle a bit with this one, admittedly, but we do manage to come up with a couple of ideas!

Then we settle into the main topic: Consequentialism, a philosophy we all know from that "the ends justify the means" adage. We describe it and address its shortcomings, then move on to how to use this idea in our games without ending up with unbearable characters! We also plug The Sci-Fi Christian along the way, which you should definitely be listening to as well.

Mental health resources:

Scripture: Joshua 1:7-9, John 11:47-50, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

September 19, 2017  
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Booter, con organizer, and friend Adam Gottfried joins us to talk about planning Fear the Con and other conventions! First, Adam has an announcement (the first piece of news ever broken on Saving the Game!)—Fear the Con 11 will be June 22-23, 2018. Also, there will be a Kickstarter for the con at some point, although those dates aren't exactly set in stone yet. (For more Fear the Con, see Episode 61 with Derek Knutsen and a host of others.)

Having made that announcement, we tackle Patreon backer Jim's question about obscure media we'd want to turn into a RPG. We also discuss an impending visit from the Bishop of Jerusalem, which naturally leads into a discussion of Jerusalem Syndrome. Jenny also plugs Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" series, and especially its map.

All that done, we move on to our Scripture for the episode, and the episode's main topic: Planning and running a convention like Fear the Con. Most of this discussion is very much focused on Fear the Con, for obvious reasons; but we do manage to address the main things you need to think of when running a con, and how to handle problems as they arise!

Also:follow him on Mixer Grant's started to livestream the audio editing process! If you want to hear the raw episode, and chat with Grant while he edits, keep an eye on our social media feeds (especially Twitter) for announcements of streaming times. You can also and get notifications there!

Scripture: Proverbs 11:5-6, Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 12:10-16

September 5, 2017  
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We're delighted to welcome Jack Berkenstock Jr. of The Bodhana Group back onto the mics this week! Jack previously joined us on STG 25, when he introduced us to the idea of roleplaying games as an adjunct therapeutic tool for children who were victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, among others. This time, he's here to talk more about RPGs in treatment for social skills, grief, loss, and more. After catching up with our old friend a bit, we let him plug Save Against Fear 2017 (Oct. 13-15 in Harrisburg, PA)—which we can confirm Jenny will attend this year, so catch up with her there too if you see her! We also plug the /r/ChristianDnD subreddit, especially for anyone looking to find other folks to game online with.

That done, we chat briefly about the 2017 total solar eclipse and answer (another) question from Patreon backer Fernando about Saturday morning cartoons we'd want to turn into games. Naturally, this gave us a chance to plug our podcasting friends over at the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast, and Peter's episodes on Batman: The Animated Series there. Our other choices: E.X.O. Squad, Reboot, Star Blazers, and Toad Patrol! (And yes, please nominate your own cartoons to game in the comments.)

Finally, we settle in and let Jack talk about his introduction to gaming, how he found out he wanted to do therapy for kids who were hurting badly, and how he figured out that those two loves might work together. In particular, we discuss methodologies, what kind of metrics work and don't work in these sorts of situations, Olivia's House, and how the therapeutic sessions Bodhana runs differ from your average tabletop game.

Games mentioned this episode: Unknown Armies; Cartoon Action Hour; Blades in the Dark; No Thank You, Evil!; Pugmire; Retrostar. Also mentioned: Face Value Comics; The Anglican Church's "Prayer for Reconciliation".

Scripture: Psalm 16:7-10, Psalm 91:2-6, John 8:2-11, Galatians 6:1-2

August 22, 2017  
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Adam Davis and Adam Johns from Wheelhouse Workshop join us to discuss how and why they use Dungeons & Dragons in social skills therapy! Their Seattle-based organization has been doing this for a couple of years now, and they've got a lot to say. (We've also worked with Adam and Adam previously on some Game to Grow content.) We also tackle a question from Patreon supporter Francisco (of the Retro Rewind Podcast) about replacing our favorite RPGs with board games in a pinch, and Grant briefly describes his trip to Electric City Comic-Con 2017 and his terrible-but-awesome decision to help his daughter get into the Pokémon TCG.

Adam and Adam then discuss Wheelhouse Workshop's work: Why RPGs in general, and D&D in particular, are useful therapeutic tools; how a game session in their offices differs from your usual tabletop session; their house rules for their games; some success stories and interesting moments; and much more. Also, we mention in passing Monte Cook Games' The Strange and Microscope, both of which are excellent games.

For more information about Wheelhouse Workshop, visit their website or find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Scripture: Numbers 23:8, Mark 2:15-17, 1 Peter 5:6-10

August 8, 2017  
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We're joined this week by Matthew Surber, who's both the Program Director at the West River Center in Maryland and a game designer affiliated with Defy Danger Adventures. We actually found Matthew through the most unlikely of sources (Reddit comments, of all things) but he turned out to be a fantastic guest! After addressing Patreon backer Tom's question about broad and narrow skills in roleplaying games, and a quick diversion from Jenny about the dangers of Canada's nuclear wildlife, we buckled down with Matthew to discuss applying counseling principles to games. Matthew's got a Master's degree in counseling and a Dungeon World game he runs for his other camp counselors; naturally, he had a lot of excellent advice to give about trust, bonds, empathy, and saying 'yes' as a GM and player.

Games mentioned this episode: Dungeon World; Beyond The Wall; Pugmire; Honey Heist; The Skeletons; Ten Candles.

Other things mentioned this episode: MegaDumbCast (MDC); Defy Danger Adventures; STG 25 with Jack Berkenstock; The Bodhana Group; Wheelhouse Workshop; and that rad Honey Heist t-shirt.

Matthew can be found on Twitter at @TheRealSurberus.

Scripture: Jonah 2:2, Psalm 119:76, Mark 2:15-17

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