As October continues, so does our "Spooky Fall" lineup of horror and horror-adjacent topics. This time, we're talking about "creepy crawlies" - the vermin and pests from snakes to spiders to locusts that can cause problems far bigger than their apparent size.
We start off as usual with a host check-in, but we really haven't had much going on lately. Well, except for Jenny, who had a very topic-appropriate nuisance to contend with. Our Patreon topic this week comes from Mike F who puts us on the horns (or perhaps in the fangs?) of a dilemma by asking "Would you rather spend two weeks in quarantine with a goblin raised by wolves, a wolf raised by goblins, or two children under three?"
Once we've sorted that out, it's time to talk about rodents, and bugs, and snakes, and arachnids, and all the other various and sundry small things that can cause big problems and be used to signify various spooky things in our games and story telling. But sometimes these things we think of as gross aren't quite so unequivocally bad. Rats can sniff out landmines, and peacock spiders can be straight-up adorable. There's also a lot of interesting science and culture around insects out there. Massive ant wars and the unnerving world of parasitic wasps, just to name two examples. And of course, there's plenty of potential story uses as well.
Scripture: Exodus 10:13-15, Psalm 78:45-46, Revelation 9:7-11
Other links: Animal trials, Japanese entomology culture
Spooky fall continues with creative collaboration episode!
We start with a check-in and some news - we can now be found on the Pray.com app and Faithcasts.com, should either of those strike your fancy. We all had fairly decent weeks leading up to recording, and kick off with a discussion that rapidly leads into "what have you been reading?"
Our Patreon Question this week comes from Aaron Arnold, who asks "What's your view on how today's culture affects the way you game with strangers? If at all." That question, as you might imagine, sparks a nice, meaty discussion.
From there, we read our scripture and launch into a rare creative collaboration with all three hosts - this time putting our heads together to build a haunted house. But not just any haunted house. A haunted mcmansion smart house. Yeah, we went for it. Buckle up folks, our imaginations were firing on all cylinders this time!
Scripture: Leviticus 26:27-35, Isaiah 13: 19-22, John 1:5, John 8:12
Mentioned in this episode: Fortnight Frights, McMansion Hell
We've decided that a fun way to carve some enjoyment out of this uncooperative year is to do a general spooky topics roundup and so we've got another one for you this week.
We start off with some exciting news: Jenny has done a fashion walk and Peter is on the general design team for En Publishing's Level Up project. We start off with our impressions of the idea of WotC's new D&D-themed Magic: the Gathering set (coming early next year) and then get into our individual news. We also basically decide on the mics to do a "spoopy fall," so look forward to more monster and horror themed episodes in the near-term.
From there we read our rather minimal scripture (werewolves are not at ALL Biblical) and then launch into our topic. Werewolves may not have any scriptural basis, but boy howdy is there a boatload of mythology, folklore, and popular fiction about them. This one ran almost as long as our alignment wrap-up and probably could have gone longer.
Scripture: Genesis 49:27, John 10:11-16
Supplemental media: While it wasn't mentioned in the episode, if you're looking for a good piece of werewolf media both Jenny and Peter can vouch for, take a look at Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves. It's currently free(!) on Steam, but wasn't always, and was worth paying for back when it was for sale for actual money. The game hits a lot of the same themes we talk about in this episode.
If you like our longer episodes, you're in for a treat with this one. We had a lot to say this time, and the fact that we recorded this one in two different sections due to some connection issues probably also contributed to the overall length.
We start off as we usually do, checking in and introducing our guest, who in this case is one of our earliest listeners, Douglas Underhill. We've answered a bunch of Doug's Patreo questions in the past and he's been a friend of the show for years, so it was great to finally get him on the mics.
Our Patreon question this week comes from David Pflug, who asks: "What's the most hopeful thing you've encountered this week?" From there as usual, read our scripture and launch into our topic which is a mix of final thoughts and stuff we can't believe we missed the first time around. Opinions about alignment vary pretty widely among the four of us, so that also makes a decent discussion, and we even got into a lengthy aside about how we'd fix D&D along the way.
Mentioned in this episode: Part 1 of System Mastery's Critique of D&D, How to be Anti-Racist, Peter's "Articulated Thoughts" blog post, Peter's Virtue/trait-based alignment system, Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Information about Save Against Fear
Some of Doug's Work: the Parsec RPG, Iron Pax, Charts of Darkness, Hoard of House Rules
Scripture: Daniel 3:14-18, Micah 6:8, Matthew 9:13, James 1:27
Though we've done an episode on undeath in general, we figured that ghosts deserved an episode of their own, since they occupy a somewhat unique role in fiction.
We start the episode off with a check-in as usual and... last Monday and the days leading up to it were rough, folks. The equipment issues have been dealt with, but yeah. Not great. Understandably not wanting to linger on that for too long, we launched into our Patreon topic from Douglas Underhill who asks "What is your favorite band/musician? Least favorite musical genre?"
From there, we read our scripture, including the story of Saul and the witch of En-Dor from 1 Samuel, one of the longer pieces of scripture we've had on the podcast. And then, as is our wont, we launched into our main topic. Ghosts, as it turns out, are really a poor monster, but that doesn't mean they can't do a lot for your games is used well! We dug into the tropes and powers around ghosts, their usefulness as puzzles and mystery elements, and even a bit of the theology of them.
Mentioned in this Episode: Shawn James: The Curse of the Fold, Fortune and Strife
Scripture: 1 Samuel 28: 1-21, Job 14:7-12, Isaiah 8:19, Mathew 14: 22-27, Matthew 27:51-54
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