With Grant out due to illness and a host of technical issues (that have thankfully since been mostly resolved) besetting us, we opted for a bonus episode this week. This episode is specifically focusing on adding some additional texture to the religious life of a Karkovian barony for a future game Peter would like to run.
As this was a bonus episode, there's no Patreon question, so we went straight from intro to scripture and then into brainstorming, where we discussed, among other things, a secret porpoise grave.
Scripture: Proverbs 27:17, 1 Peter 4:10
This week's episode is the second-quarter Patreon topic (a little late). We've referenced cosmic horror a number of times throughout our run, but never in this kind of depth.
As is usual, we spend a bit of time catching up and then move into our Patreon question, supplied this time by Paige Lowe who asks "If you had an unlimited budget to buy one thing for your game, what would it be?" Just wait until you hear what Grant offers as his answer for that one.
With that bit of shock and awe out of the way, we move into our main topic, and boy howdy, is this one ever a doozy. This turned out to be the longest episode we've recorded so far in 2020, and we needed every minute of it. If you like the episodes where we go deep, you'll find this one especially enjoyable. There was a lot to talk about, including subgenres of cosmic horror, using it as a main course vs. a seasoning, adding it to other genres, and of course, the intersection with faith.
Mentioned in this Episode: Harlem Unbound, Rapture: The End of Days, Jeff VanderMeer, Episode 145: Roleplaying Mental Illnesses, Get Out, GURPS Horror (4th ed), GURPS Alternate Earths 1 & 2, GURPS Monsters, Permanent Record
Scripture: Exodus 33:17-23, Job 40: 1-7, Ezekiel 1:4-14, Revelation 13:1-3
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
Well folks, this is it - the last of the 3x3 grid of alignments, and arguably the worst of the worst.
Note: Spoilers for the City on a Hill, Season 2 Finale from 9:12-11:35
We start off with an announcement that mirrors our recent blog post. TL;DR: we're going to be a little freer talking about politics. That does not mean partisanship or campaigning, but we're going to touch some issues from time to time.
The Patreon question this week comes from Douglas Underhill, who asks "What's your biggest pet peeve for players? GMs/DMs?" As you can imagine, we have a bit of fun with that, and then it's time to read our scripture and dig into the awful and talk about chaotic evil. As with the previous evil alignments, we break down what the alignment means in practical terms and also hit some specific villainous archetypes to help GMs get the most out of this particular villainous mindset.
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:25-29, Isaiah 13: 17-18, Hebrews 11: 36-38
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
In this episode we're joined by none other than Elizabeth Garn of Christ and Pop Culture. (Elizabeth has written some great articles about faith and gaming and she should be on your radar if she wasn't already!)
We start off the episode with the usual check-in, which includes this time that Grant is running his seven-year-old daughter through Lost Mines of Phandelver and she is apparently killing it. Our guest question this time comes from Douglas Underhill who asks "Who is your favorite post-biblical Christian figure and why? How about one ancient and one modern?"
Once we're done chewing on that, we wade into the topic of the day, Chaotic Good. Elizabeth provides an excellent conversational foil for the rest of us and a really fun, interesting, and productive discussion comes from it. Along the way, we talk about why Robin Hood might not be quite as textbook of an example of Chaotic Good as many might thing, referencing OSP's analysis of the legend along the way.
Scripture: Proverbs 14:31, Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 21:12-13, Luke 11: 46-53
This week we have more unstructured, conversational episode for you. Grant and Peter realized back in episode 173 that we'd like to talk about when players know what the GM is planning, but as we talked about the upcoming episode, we all realized that what we had was more of a discussion and a collection of observations than a collection of structured advice.
We start with the usual check-in, which has Peter and Grant both craving classic genre fiction and Jenny the Goblin Queen a bit under the weather. We then move into our Patreon question this week , which comes from Tom Stephens, who asks " (as someone who just got a MLS degree recently myself - finished in 2016, this one's for Jenny with a generalized version for the others): What was your most and least favorite class from your library degree program. For the others, what was the most and least favorite class from any training you've had recently or even going back to college? "
From there, we launch into a loose collection of advice and observations that comprise the central topic. More than usual, we can see multiple sides of this and talk about when it's useful for the players to know more, when it's not, why you might or might not want to hand out more information in your games, the considerations of various genres, and so on.
Mentioned in this episode: Star Power
Scripture: Psalm 33:10-11, Proverbs 16:3, Matthew 6:25-34
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
The hosts are all here for this one, and we kick off with a discussion of our games, which are generally going quite well, and a bit about the homeschooling of Grant's kids during the pandemic lockdown.
The Patreon question this episode comes from Paige Lowe, who asks " How have your games changed as you've matured as a DM/player?" That produces about the amount of introspection and analysis as you've come to expect from us. We've actually grown quite a a lot, as it turns out.
From there we move into scripture and our main topic: neutral evil, the alignment of undiluted, undistracted, pure, banal evil. It took six episodes to get here, but we've finally found an alignment description in the 2e rules we can mostly agree with! The alignment itself isn't all that interesting, but that doesn't mean you can't use it as an effective tool for making villains with interesting narrative roles and story effects, and much like we did with Lawful Evil, we break those down into archetypes.
Scripture: Leviticus 20: 1-5, Job 21: 17-21, Luke 8: 26-31
We're back to our usual release schedule and episode progression this week for True Neutral.
The discussion kicks off with the obligatory nod to COVID-19 (wash your hands!) and a nod back to our "emergency bonus" episode and blog post about remote gaming. There's a bit of discussion about how that's proceeding and then we get to our Patreon question where Brian Ray asks " What improvised weapon would you most likely use to thrash a slaver?"
That's a question with a story that goes with it, but once that's told, we move into our scripture and into our main topic: True Neutral. As it turns out, there not a ton to say about an alignment that's defined by what it is not, but we do get some good discussion in around balance keepers, film noir protagonists, and the problematic way that horseshoe theory sometimes gets applied to good and evil in fantasy.
Scripture: Proverbs 15:19, 1 John 3: 17-18, Revelation 3: 15-18