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
With the holidays over, we're back to our normal episode format, and in this one we wrap up the first batch of 3 from our alignment series with Lawful Evil.
We start off with a brief holiday check-in and run down some interesting gifts we received and gave. (Guess which one of us unironically gave someone a rock for Christmas!)
The Patreon question this episode comes from Chris Bissel who asks a three-part food-related question: "What do you like to put on hot dogs? What is the weirdest thing you've had on a hot dog? Where is the best hot dog you've ever tasted?"
After answering that and also digressing mightily as is our custom, we settle into our main topic: lawful evil. Lawful Evil is one of the most useful and versatile alignments for villains, and we talk about a lot of them, including Deathsronke, Bane and Lex Luthor from DC, and Thanos, Dr. Doom, and Magneto from Marvel. We didn't have a lot of disagreement this time, but it's a veritable flood of information.
Scripture: Judges 6:1-6, Matthew 27:1-8, 1 John 4:13-18
This is the corrected version of 167. The first version ran the main episode audio into the outro due to an editing mistake on my part. My apologies. -Peter
We're back with episode 2 of our alignments series, this time talking about Lawful Neutral.
We start off with the story of some adorable kittens in Grant's home, check in about Thanksgiving, and then get into some gaming chat. Peter's game is going well and starting to get active on a big picture level, Grant's vampire game has made the move to Powered by the Dark, and the "hosts and friends" gaming group will be doing a published adventure for the first time ever! Grant has picked up Princes of the Apocalypse and will be running it for us.
Our Patreon question comes from Aaron Arnold (who is one of Peter's players, despite his uncertainty about last names in the episode!) who asks " Have you roleplayed in a game that wasn't D&D? I ask because I played a cyberpunk noir game and I enjoyed the RP I got to create in it." We had a lot to say by way of answering that question; all of us have been regular game convention attendees at various points in our lives and it prompted some reminiscence and few recommendations.
With that discussion concluded, we move into scripture and then onto our main topic: Lawful Neutral, or, as Grant so aptly put it: the obstacle alignment. We're a bit less ranty than last time, but it's still a productive discussion.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:5-8, Mark 2: 23-28, John 8: 1-11
We've been promising it for a while and here it is, the first episode in our series on alignment. We last talked about alignments as a topic waaaaaayyyy back in episode 2 of the podcast (if you listen, we're so sorry about the audio quality), and we figured it was high time we updated things and also let Jenny weigh in!
We start of with a shoutout to a couple of podcasts we've been enjoying; Grant has been listening to Pontifacts and Peter has been listening to Stats Will Roll. Our friends over at MegaDumbCast have also recently released an episode on autism representation in games (and how not to do it) that is worth a listen. In gaming news, Grant is porting his Vampire game over to a PbtA variant called Powered by Dark and his Sharn game has started up again. Peter's new D&D game continues to go strong, and he mentions a great thing one of his players is doing that he loves. We also briefly mention some behind-the-scenes change we're making. Our Patreon question this episode comes from Joseph Linardon who asks us " If you could make a 1 page RPG, what would it be? What would be the main dice you use (if not a D20)?"
From there, we get into our main topic and argue about alignment like proper nerds for the rest of the episode, complete with fictional examples (some of which may actually be Neutral Good) and a lengthy amount of discussions about what Lawful Good is not. It gets a little heated in points, but we had fun and it was a good (and somewhat cathartic) discussion.
Also mentioned in this episode: https://www.amykathleenryan.com/books.php
Scripture: Psalm 119:12-16, Proverbs 24:30-32, Matthew 22:34-40
Our Ten Commandments series finally wraps up this episode, and we end it on a high note! (Yes, even despite the episode going up a day late.) We've got a bit of a preview of an upcoming discussion to start with, as Grant's kicking off a game of Offworlders. Our Patreon question this week comes from David Hastings, who asks "What game do you love personally even though you know that objectively, it's not that great?"
Our topic this week is, of course, the Tenth Commandment—"Thou shalt not covet." Of course, "covetousness" is a word often conflated with "envy", "jealousy", and even "desire", so we take a moment to talk about the word itself. We also take care to differentiate it from a righteous anger at injustice and want—especially since many use that false distinction to their own advantage. We then talk about how the Tenth Commandment is somewhat unique in that it forbids a particular sort of thought rather than a particular sort of action, and the implications of that distinction.
Naturally, we have a lot to say about covetousness in a gaming context—rogues, corporate malfeasance, dragons, and more! But we have just as much to say when talking about real concerns of covetousness in the gaming hobby, whether it be a shelf of RPG books, that ridiculously-expensive custom gaming table, or even production values and knowledge.
Scripture: Exodus 20:7, 1 Kings 21:1-7, Luke 12:15, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6-10
We're nearing the end of our Ten Commandments series! This episode tackles lying—or as the Ten Commandments are commonly translated, "bearing false witness." First, though, Peter talks a bit about his entry in the World Anvil worldbuilding contest; we discuss Krissi's Innocents game and how it wrapped up, as well as Vampire and the various other games we have in the works; Grant's attempt to stream game design; and the extremely lovely GRIS.
Aaron Arnold asks an extremely difficult Patreon question this week: What was the hardest lesson to learn as a Christian? So you also get to hear us puzzle through that!
After our Scripture, we discuss the Ninth Commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Unlike many of these other commandments episodes, in this one we had a very easy time talking about the theology of speaking truths rather than lies, but a much harder time getting into the detailed uses of lies in roleplaying games—simply because it's such a big topic. We touch on the differences between lies and creativity; lies of malice and cowardice (and we get to use a different C. S. Lewis quote in this one!); several forms false witness takes that are harder to recognize than outright lies; prooftexting; logical fallacies; and much more. Enjoy!
Mentioned in this episode: J. Ellsworth Kalas's The Ten Commandments from the Back Side; Wondermark #1062, "The Terrible Sea Lion"; YourLogicalFallacyIs.com
Scripture: Exodus 20:16, Genesis 3:1-5, Matthew 7:1-5, Colossians 3:8-10
Oh, hey, guess who's back! That's right—Grant rejoins Peter and Jenny back on the mics. (And thank you, seriously, for everyone who reached out or who prayed for me. It's really appreciated. – G.) We pick up our Ten Commandments series with the Eight Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," and since our hobby kicked off with a thief class, you might guess we have a lot to talk about! First, though, we've got a bit of podcast business, and then a surprisingly in-depth conversation about hot dogs and hamburgers thanks to Patreon supporter Richard Lorenz. Oh, and also Peter got to try Minecraft for the first time on our stream, so look forward to more of that on Friday nights!
After our Scripture reading, we start in on the surprising complexity of what is in English a simple four-word commandment. We discuss theft as a sin of commission and as a sin on omission; theft as a primary component of the classic gaming experience going all the way back to its sword-and-sorcery roots; and the curious lack of stigma thieves sometimes carry in our tabletop games. Finally, we wrap up with the positive side of the Eighth Commandment: Chrestotes and "becoming a larger person."
Mentioned in this episode: Dusk City Outlaws, and the relevant XKCD, because there's always a relevant XKCD comic for any topic.
Scripture: Exodus 20:15, Malachi 3:8-10, Leviticus 6:1-7, Romans 2:4, Romans 13:7-10
Peter and Jenny have the mics to themselves this episode, and they're talking about one of the funniest and most imaginative books of the Bible: Jonah! First, though, we take a moment to mention the unfortunate and early passing of Rachel Held Evans, a Christian writer and thinker we're all quite fond of taken from us too soon. We also have to put a call out for more questions from our Patreon supporters! And speaking of Patreon, our Patreon question this week comes from Shawn Stauffer, who asks "If you had to spend a year as any one of the characters you've made for an RPG, in their world, which would you choose and why?"
That answered and our Scripture read (including the entirety of Jonah 4, which might be the first time we've ever read an entire chapter of Scripture on this podcast) we dive into Jonah—pun intended. It's a work unlike any other in the Bible: A parodic work featuring a prophet doing his best to disobey God and being frustrated when God succeeds! It's also a work enjoining mercy and compassion over reveling in the punishment of others. Plus it's got a prophet people actually listen to; and ... did you know there's a big fish in this one?
Scripture: Jonah 1:1-3; Jonah 4:1-11; Titus 3:3-8
Well, it was inevitable, folks: When we committed to doing a series on The Ten Commandments, we knew we'd eventually have to talk about adultery. Fair warning: This episode does talk about sex. We're not explicit or anything, but keep that in mind! First, though, we've got a few other things to talk about—specifically, Grant's D&D game in Sharn (or the lack of it) and a new Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition game he's running.
Our Patreon question this week comes from John & Ginny Swann, who ask about TORG, running a horror story within a larger campaign, and getting otherwise light-hearted players to switch emotional gears for a more serious arc.
After a lot of Scripture, we start talking about adultery and marriage. Why is "You shall not commit adultery" a commandment at all? What did adultery and marriage look like in Old Testament Israel? And how do we tell stories involving adultery without being crass (or worse?)
Also mentioned in this episode: Our Virtues & Vices series episodes on Lust and Chastity, respectively; Fear the Boot 178, "Running a horror game"; and Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters.
Scripture: Exodus 20:14, Leviticus 20:10, 2 Samuel 12:1-10, Matthew 5:27-30, Mark 2:23-27, John 8:3-11, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Jenny and Peter oversee the promotion of our ongoing series on gamifying Biblical figures with one of the most difficult yet: Samson! Though his story is found in the Book of Judges, Samson is a notorious and often actively awful outlier among Biblical figures. He's a drunken, womanizing barbarian who only occasionally interacts with God, and often seems more like Heracles or other mythic figures. What, then, can we learn from Samson and his story? And what can we take back to the gaming table?
Scripture: Judges 13:2-5, Judges 16:28-30