Not feeling well and not being able to get to the internet robbed us of Jenny this week. However, despite that lack, this was a great episode because we had an awesome guest host! Paranoia writer WJ MacGuffin joined us to talk about incorporating real-world faiths into our gaming.
We started off the episode with a quick general check-in and let WJ introduce himself and his work, talking a bit about what we've been reading in the process. From there, we fielded out Patreon question, which came to us via John and Ginny Swann, who asked "Your recent series on D&D alignments got me to thinking. I know you aren't huge fans of the Palladium system but what are your thoughts on their alignment system?" Fortunately, while we did have a bit to say about Palladium's alignment system, the presence of a guest kept us from creating a new multi-part series. From there, we read our scripture and dove into our rather meaty main topic.
The main topic was just what it said on the tin - and there's a lot to think about with regards to incorporating a real-world faith into one's game - whether that's as a writer, a player, or a GM. Sensitivity, accuracy, and still keeping it gameable are all very real concerns.
Mentioned in this Episode: Project Infinite Hole on Kickstarter, the Paranoia RPG, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, Dennis E. Taylor's Bobiverse novels, Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Holey Moley, The Innocence Files, and Jelle's Marble Runs
Scripture: Exodus 20: 1-3, John 13: 34-35, James 1:26-27
A quick note: our two-week lead time can sometimes mean that a lot happens between when we record an episode and when we release it. On may 25th, four officers of the Minneapolis, MN police department killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man. On May 28th, we recorded this episode as Mr. Floyd's death was just entering the zeitgeist. Since then, the US, and to a lesser extent, the entire world, has erupted in protests over the outrage of that killing and countless others like it. We took advantage of the off-week schedule of the blog to put up a statement, but while there are some promising early signs of systemic change occurring, the struggle for equality and justice for POC in the United States is far from over.
In this episode, we're joined by Krissi Woodward - Grant's wife and a core member of our Saturday night gaming group. We start off with our usual banter and then move relatively quickly into our Patreon question from David Hastings who asks "What book on your shelf have you been telling yourself you'll get around to reading for *years* now?"
As you can imagine, that turns into a bit of a thing (see our list of shame below in the "mentioned in this episode" list) but we do eventually get around to our main topic: the Chaotic Neutral alignment. Krissi plays a fair number of CN characters and has a lot of solid advice about how to do so in an enjoyable and non-disruptive manner.
Mentioned in this episode: Peter's Multiclass Feats article for En5ider, Numberphile, The Cuckoo's Egg, Plagues and Peoples, Role-Playing Game Studies, Jonathan Strand & Mr. Norrell, Secret Agents Four
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:11, Zephaniah 1:8-12, Matthew 6:19-21
Grant, Peter and Jenny are joined by Jason Brick, veteran freelance writer in the TTRPG industry (and several others besides!). We kick off with a little chatter and swiftly move into our Patreon question from Joseph Linardon who asks " What would be your dream job?"
Answering that takes significantly less time than you'd expect, and after some quick scripture we're on to our main topic, which is basically taking advantage of Jason generous spirit and wide expertise about freelancing by getting him to do a brain dump. Among his many writing hats, Jason is one of the authors of Random Encounters, which is a resource that Peter has really enjoyed having on his shelf, as well as numerous other projects. Lots of good, practical advice in this one.
Mentioned in this episode: For Exposure on Twitter, Socks for Supper on Goodreads, Saving The Game's Page on Podchaser
Scripture: Proverbs 14:23, Matthew 5:9, Matthew 20:1-7, James 4:13-16
In this episode, we welcome back Kimi from Golden Lasso Games to talk about pre-game tools. We last spoke to Kimi in our mammoth two-parter on fitness back in episode 103 part 1 and part 2, and this time she's here alone rather than part of what was (at the time) the single largest number of people on one of our episodes.
We start off with the usual check-in and move from there to our Patreon question where David Hastings asks " What is your favorite thing to cook?" We narrowly escape a second trip down the rabbit hole that is talking about chili and move from there to our scripture and into our main discussion about pre-game tools. One of the first things that comes up is that such tools are rare, and are usually repurposed full games in their own right. The concept of using games such as Microscope to build a world collaboratively before playing in it has been out there for a while, but Kimi's new project Decuma is designed to be used in that role from the ground up.
Also Referenced in this episode: Decuma Actual Play Recording, A History of the Tarot Deck, and a really extensive use of pre-game tools.
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2, Proverbs 15:22, Philippians 2:1-4
Professor, researcher, leading thinker in the psychology of RPGS both tabletop and LARP, and contributor to the first college textbook on RPGs Dr. Sarah Lynne Bowman joins us for a second time (we first spoke to Sarah back in episode 111) to discuss more of the psychology around RPGs.
The episode starts with a quick discussion of the new game Peter is going to be starting up in October with some StG listeners, and an excellent and thoughtful question about playing characters of the opposite sex from John and Ginny Swann.
From there, we move into our scripture and a discussion of the player archetypes that Sarah codified in her book The Functions of Role-Playing Games. These are a useful tool descriptive tool to discuss who we are in games on a more psychological level and complement more traditional player types (like tactician and actor) nicely. With that groundwork laid, the conversation turns to a discussion of the phenomenon of bleed (psychological transference from player to character or vice versa) in gaming and how that's tied up with safety techniques. As you'd expect, we touched on the free (and excellent) Consent in Gaming document recently published by Monte Cook games, but also used an experience of Peter's from a few years back to illustrate why safety techniques are a good idea. We also spent a bit of time talking about how gaming can go past mere safety and into growth, another topic that Dr. Bowman is passionate about.
Scripture: Proverbs 4:5-6 , Galatians 6:2, Philippians 2:1-4, 3 John 1-6
Creative professional and storyteller Daniel Kwan joins us on this episode to talk about gaming in historical settings! Daniel is a former museum historian, a game designer at Dundas West Games, and co-host of the Asians Represent podcast. He works to support Level Up Gaming, a Toronto-based organization that "provides individuals on the autism spectrum and with other disabilities the opportunity to develop and explore their real-world social skills through goal-directed gaming experiences." And he's got a game Kickstarting on October 4th called Ross Rifles, about Canada's involvement in the First World War and the life of soldiers in the trenches! He's a fascinating person and an amazing guest, and the perfect person to talk to about setting your games in real historical situations, with systems appropriate to a focus on the historical experience. Follow Daniel Kwan and Asians Represent on Twitter, and keep an eye out for that Kickstarter announcement come October!
Our Patreon question this week comes to us from Aaron Arnold, who asks "To what extent does your backstory need to inform your build?"
After our Scripture reading, we dig deep into this topic with Daniel. How does one go about making a system that fits a real, historical moment and accurately represents it—while encouraging a desired experience at the table? How do you research a game like this? How do you handle the stereotypes of a particular era or moment that players (and gamemasters) may have in their heads? And what's the line between historical accuracy and paralysis through detail?
Scripture: Job 8:8-10, Psalm 78:1-4, Romans 15:4
Guest—and possible honorary host—Krissi Woodward joins us this episode to break down her first time running a tabletop roleplaying game! Krissi ran a very successful arc of World of Darkness: Innocents for our gaming group and was willing to discuss that experience with us. First, a little bit about shiny new library cards and dirty library patrons, as well as an interesting Patreon question from Douglas Underhill, who asks about under-served genres of tabletop roleplaying games.
After our Scripture reading, Krissi gives us a ton of excellent advice and analysis from her first GMing experience. She talks about the game she ran and why she chose this system and story; her pre-game concerns and prep (including overpreparing); how she tackled issues that arose during the game, especially issues with player triggers; and plenty of clever GMing decisions that made the game a smooth and exciting experience for players and GM alike. Enjoy!
Also mentioned in this episode: How We Came to Live Here.
Scripture: Proverbs 9:9, Matthew 23:11-12, Romans 12:3
Bryan and Mike from the Geek at Arms podcast join us this week to talk about the unwritten rules at our gaming tables (and elsewhere in our lives!) Geek at Arms is an excellent, thoughtful podcast in the geeky faith space and we're delighted to have two of its three hosts on this episode. Both shows' members have also been appearing on other podcasts as well: Peter was on a delightfully fun bonus episode of City on a Hill, featuring Feng Shui 2 and drink tables TO THE FACE. Meanwhile, Bryan was on an episode of the Retro Rewind Podcast talking about Cowboy Bebop! Make sure to subscribe to their show (and follow them on Twitter.) And if you're looking for a good cause to donate to, check out Hope Fostered as well, per their request!
Our Patreon question this week comes to us from Shawn Stauffer, who asks a simple question: "What did you have for lunch?" This turns out to be a more delicious answer than anticipated.
After our Scripture readings we break down the unwritten rules everyone has at the table—assumptions, inherited rules, group mores, and all the rest. If you've always assumed rules like "no PvP," "don't split the party," or "put your tax money on Free Parking," then this is the episode for you! Plus, we get a good rundown of Bryan's and Mike's GMing rules, and a quick aside from Grant about bad rules at the table.
Mentioned in this episode: Peter's "Going on Tilt" blog post; Mike's "The Rules" blog post.
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:33, Psalm 119:15-16, Matthew 23:1-12
Jenny and Peter welcome Kyle Rudge of Geekdom House and Mythos & Ink back onto the mics, this time to talk about publishing! We've a bit of news first—Grant's out for a bit due to some health issues, and that's also shaken up our gaming schedule, which means there might be an Innocents game in the works. Also, Feng Shui 2!
Our Patreon question comes from Kenning, who asks "If you got superpowers (say, basic superstrength and flight), what would you do with them?"
After our Scripture reading, we dive into the publishing business with Kyle. What's the writing process look like from the publisher's perspective? What do fair contracts look like, and what's predatory? What are some common pitfalls? What's self-publishing and crowd-funding done to the publishing industry? And what's it like trying to be a publisher appealing to geeky Christians?
For more information about Mythos & Ink, visit their website and follow them on Twitter!
Scripture: Genesis 1:1, Job 19:23-25, Proverbs 27:9, Nehemiah 8:1-3, James 3:17
Ryan Felton, GM and producer of City On A Hill Gaming, joins Grant, Jenny, and Peter to discuss creating actual play content! We've mentioned City On A Hill plenty lately, since Ryan was kind enough to invite the three of us on his show as players (and performers, as we'll discuss in this episode.) You can find Ryan and City on a Hill Gaming on Twitter at @CityOnAHillGame! Ryan also helps us answer a question from Patreon supporter John Swann, who asks about performance anxiety when sitting down to a convention game.
After our Scripture readings, we start to break down making actual play podcasts, and why Ryan decided to create City On A Hill Gaming in the first place. We also discuss why APs are important and interesting; the unique challenges of creating actual play content over analytical podcasts like Saving the Game; and the challenges of making family-friendly and near-Christian gaming content. We also go into some detail on things we as players, and Ryan as the GM, would like to do to improve City on a Hill specifically, as common traps that listeners should be aware of when creating actual play content!
Also mentioned in this episode: Hamlet's Hit Points and Beating the Story by Robin D. Laws; A Christian Gaming Podcast; Reunification by Press Pot Games; and City on a Hill "Side Quest #3" with Justin "Chivalrybean" Lowmaster (our editor!) and DMDad.
Scripture: 2 Samuel 2:6, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 5:14-16