Episode Two: Metagaming and Immersion

In this episode, Nicky and Joe talk about the difference between metagaming and immersion. We tend to focus on the mechanical side of the phenomena, but we give examples of games that facilitate either. Mostly, we’re giving you our perspective of the perennial debate!

We can be reached via email, at our Forums, on Facebook, or you can follow us on Twitter.

Episode Two: Metagaming and Immersion

Favorite Games of the Week

Promethean: The Created
The Shab-al-Hiri Roach
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition

Currently Playing

Nothing. We haven’t had a roleplaying session of Dresden and we hadn’t selected a new game by the time we recorded.

Announcements

Deadlands Classic was released at Origins 1996.

Everyone is welcome to join our bowling team.

Shoutouts!

Ali! You should totally listen to the show!

AL Bruno III! Your old RPG.net threads are fantastic. For our listeners the relevent threads are collected here. Enjoy the insanity.

The Forge can be found here. It’s a really neato community that has a ton of archived stuff on roleplaying theory.

Music Section

“Roll the Dice, Make my Day [Stick Jones Remix]” (Stick Jones)
“U Spin me Round [Remix]” (DJ Markski)
“Think About The Two Of Us” (Tim and Nicki Bluhm)
“Piano & String Epic Beat” (foxik0169)

Games Mentioned

Fate
GURPS 4th Edition
Dungeons & Dragons
Ravenloft
Shard
Scion
Savage Worlds
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
Castles & Crusades
Deadlands Classic
Deadlands: Reloaded
Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering
Dogs in the Vineyard
World of Darkness
Wraith: The Oblivion
GURPS IOU
Gehenna
D&D Rules Cyclopedia
Demon: The Fallen
Laws of the Night
Dresden Files RPG
GURPS Black Ops
Strands of Fate
In Nomine
Sorcery & Super Science!
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Terra Primate
Cthulhutech

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Joe Reviews “Children of Pain”

Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain, By John Wick

I have always been fascinated with taking “evil” creatures and making them more sympathetic. I think orks (to use the nomenclature of this book) should be more than faceless minions of evil sorcerers. They should have their own motivations for what they do. In many ways, I always thought of orks most like the Mongols of Genghis Khan: expansionist and obsessed with taking tribute. However, John Wick’s new book Children of Pain is a really cool take on orks and what role they can play in a Pathfinder (or retro-clone) campaign.

According to the prelude, this book comes out of a series of “Ecology of…” type columns from Kobold Quarterly. Mr. Wick wished to glimpse each major race through a mirror darkly, to change the basic assumptions of a race, to “give them a different feel. A different taste. A different style.” Children of Pain does a good job of that.

Fluff-wise, Children of Pain discusses how the orks rose up and slew their gods, eating them in the process and forming clans based on the powers gained by the deophages. From the book, it appears this happened in recent memory, which makes the world much more magical than I am used to running. I would ignore that part, and make the slaying of the gods as a kind of origin story.

Children of Pain devotes a lot of time to describing the tribal society of the orks. They are nomadic hunter gatherers who cross a tundra-like landscape. Their society is fairly well detailed, with sages, warlords and tribes. I think the concept of their religion is really cool. The orks believe pain is a sentient being that links them all together. They also have a system of storytelling tied to the scars on their bodies. Some scars are self-inflicted, but that only occurs for something significant that doesn’t necessarily cause physical pain. Mr. Wick certainly creates an evocative world, including some linguistic snippets to give the reader an idea of how the ork language works.

I am not the person to speak to mechanics, normally, especially as someone who doesn’t own Pathfinder. However, I will attempt that here, to give you an idea of what’s included. The first half of the book is all fluff, no mechanics are included. The end is almost all mechanics, and very little fluff hidden amongst it. However, there are some things revealed about ork culture in the powers, so they remain evocative without dominating the text.

First we have a list of ork racial traits. There are several things added to this list that bring standard orks in line with the fluff. First, they have the ability to feed animals their own blood to create hunting or riding companions. They also gain bonuses to attacks rolls when they are hurt (to represent their masochism), bonuses from their tribe (gods’ powers from their slaying), and psychological bonuses based on their own view of their reputation.

Class wise, there are three: a Blood Cleric, a Barbarian Archetype and a Bard Archetype. The Oracle of Blood is mentioned as a “new Oracle Mystery,” which I presume is a Pathfinder thing. There are all sorts of powers linked to using blood in lieu of other material components. From what I gather, the ork cuts him or herself and uses pints of blood to cast spells. They also have a series of other powers tied to level. The Barbarian Archetype (Gahthrak) replaces some of the Barbarian class features, as does the Bard Archetype (Fala).

Mr. Wick has been doing this for a while, and of course he produces top-notch work. The implied setting for the orks is evocative and interesting. Orks from this culture of pain are a really cool enemy in a misunderstood, “noble savage” kind of way. They can also be bloodthirsty monsters. What I really like about this treatment of orks is that they can still be frightening enemies while being a real culture with real motivations for their bloodthirsty ways. This book is sympathetic to the orks, but doesn’t hinder the GM from making them villains. I highly recommend Children of Pain!

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Episode One: Very Villanous

Welcome back fans and hello to new listeners! This is the first episode of our second season, and like all good villains, we’re back! Villains are central to all games, since they are the source of most conflict. Not only do we cover Villains-as-NPCs, but also environment-as-villain. Mostly we discuss how to create villains as story elements, but we also give ample examples of how we have used villains in our past games.

We are always active within our little community of gamerdom, and we can be easily reached at 2gms1mic@gmail.com. We also really enjoy hanging out in our Forums, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We always respond to comments right here, too.

So, here’s episode 2-1: Villains!

Favorite Games of the Week

7th Sea Villains Kit
World of Darkness: Antagonists
Weird Adventures

Currently Playing

Nicky and I have been playing the Dresden Files RPG once a month, so be ready for a lot of stuff about Fate! Our regular gaming group has been playing Song of Blades and Heroes, an excellent miniatures game.

Announcements

Season Two! Whoo!

Make sure you check out Rob Lundy’s Console Hopping

Shoutouts

What’s up Aneta!?

Great Job Rob!

Music Section

“Roll the Dice, Make my Day [Stick Jones Remix]” (Stick Jones)
“March” (Dirt Monkey)
“Hide The Cracks [Strangers Remix]” (Sarah Williams White)
“You Can’t Keep Me” (Amy LaVere)

Games Mentioned

Dresden Files RPG
Shard
Savage Worlds
Star Wars
In Nomine
Vampire: the Requiem
Hunter: The Vigil
Castles & Crusades
Ravenloft
World of Darkness
Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain
Scion
Dungeons & Dragons
GURPS IOU
Mutant City Blues
GURPS Banestorm
7th Sea
Unisystem is the core mechanic in All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Sorcery & Super Science!
Children of the Sun
Song of Blades and Heroes

Posted in Episodes | Tagged | 7 Comments

Save the Date!

Watch this space for the newest episode! We will be releasing Season Two: Episode One on the 21st of February.

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A gamble bigger than the last… Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Hi everyone!

In light of the recent announcement from Wizards and the fact that we aren’t releasing a show this week so you can hear our thoughts, I thought I’d just get a case of verbal diarrhea and give my impressions.

First let me say that when news broke about 5e, I was far from shocked. Joe had been explaining to me literally 2 days previous about the Hasbro business model. To sum it up for those who aren’t as familiar, all Hasbro brand names have to make a minimum baseline every year or the upper management just kills it. I think it’s something like 50 million, but don’t quote me, I don’t have a source on that. So having that in mind you look at how poorly 4e did, and the recently influx of WotC board games, books, and miniatures to hit our local game stores and boom there it is… the desperate attempt to make their bottom line before D&D goes the way of Pokemon. And as much as some of us would like to see 4th Ed do a swan dive off of something high on to something sharp, I think it’s safe to say it would be a sad day indeed if D&D was no longer produced. (At least by Wizards, who knows maybe somebody like Paizo could buy the license? /wink wink )

So there you have it, a classic “Oh Shit!” Moment artfully disguised in a press release about making it something the fans want and can build together with the industry leaders.

Now… that being said, here’s what I think. WotC is betting on the house again, and it’s probably the third morgage, not the first. WotC has to “Out-Pathfinder” Pathfinder. I’m certainly not the one to tell you what rules to change or mechanics to tweak though, seeing as how I have a mental block when it comes to successfully engrossing myself in a d20 game. But you know who does know how to out do Paizo? The millions of gamers out there who have put millions of dollars into 3.5, Pathfinder, and the occational fan of 4th Ed. They have house rules, and sections of the books they throw out because mechanics are ‘broken’ or not fun. So WotC did the most logical thing it could have after the gamer community tried to tar and feather them, they asked for help. And if gamers raise to the cause, they just might pull this off.

Will it be a revolution in gaming, one that turns the industry on it’s head and alters gaming as we know it?!

I highly doubt it.

It will be exactly what it needs to be in order to keep books from getting dusty on the shelf. Something I’ve noticed about gamers is that they tend to hang on to their favorite game and system and scream to the world to pry it from their cold dead hands. How many people still play Vampire Masquerade? (Not that there is anything wrong with that, the 20th anniversary book is gorgeous.) How about AD&D? I know a few die-hards out there who still roll their eyes when I ask how THAC0 works again.  So yeah, people will buy it and play it. I do not think it will be the legions who showed up for Pathfinder, because Pathfinder didn’t have the army that 3.5 had. But it’ll be enough to keep Dungeons & Dragons in WotC’s iron grip.

And you just watch… in 2016, we’ll all be sharing our opinions on 6th Ed.

Posted in Podcast News, Reviews | 3 Comments

Congratulations Brent Not Broken!

Our congratulations go to Brent Not Broken, the fan who correctly answered our contest question from episode 20! The question was “Which Scion power (from the Companion) did Joe not remember the name of? It allowed the PC to spend Willpower and Legend to ask the GM questions and receive straight answers. The answer of course is Axiom. Nice catch Brent! I hope you enjoyed your $10 for DrivethruRPG!

Posted in Podcast News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Book Review: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons

The masters have said I need to contribute more to the Podcast if I ever truly want to have fans like they do. Also they said I should learn how to be a better person, and Joe thinking he is so clever gave me Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons: One Woman’s Quest to Trade Self-Help for Elf-Help by Shelly Mazzanoble.

As the title would suggest it is a self help book written as a reflection on Shelly’s life experience living, breathing and working D&D. She started working for Wizards of the Coast, the owners of D&D, and then found not only that she likes to play D&D but that it can shape her life for the better, chronicled in her first book Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the D&D Game). After this discovery it did not take long for her to realize that many other people might also benefit from a little D&D in their lives.

Broadly speaking the book is a self help book, but it is told in a very autobiographical form as the author proceeds to tell you of a life challenge that she faced and then how she solved it using D&D or from lessons learned from D&D. I would estimate the book would relate best to women age 20+ but personally I would recommend the book to anyone interested in D&D, role-playing, or how to have fun and make your life better for it. She is very informal in her personal stories and consistently breaks the 4th wall, as in talking directly to the reader of the book. Sometimes it does seem that her writing rambles along or goes too long to make a point. I did find myself lost a couple of times in the middle of a three sentence paragraph because the topic had shifted drastically and I was lost. However, it does add to the charm of the book and makes it seem that you are drinking with a friend and they are telling you some very choice life stories. True to all things role playing there is no table of contents, bibliography, or index and at least a bibliography or a book/persons of interest section would have been really appreciated.

The book is interesting to me because I have met very few other couples who game together, or at all. I would also say this is the first time I heard a story of people in the same game later dating and not ruining the game, group, or their friendship.  Part of that makes me realize how unique my own life situation is at times being married to a woman I game with every week. Shelly also really reinforced the idea that having a good time playing a game, any game, can really bridge any gap between people and that it can be a great way to pass the time in any situation. I found the last two chapters of this book very poignant because it deals with her experience of living with a significant other for the first time and their discussions on children, and both have also been recent experiences in my own life.

Shelly created a self help book providing example of her own life and how D&D helped her either solve problems or enrich her experience. I would recommend this book to anyone who has heard of or played D&D (Role playing games) or who has never heard of it and would like know more about it and the people who play.

So now I shall sit back and wait for you, all of my adoring fans, to leave me comments on how brilliant of a writer I am and shower me with gifts!

R.Dragon

PS. The great benevolent masters Wizard of the Cost said I should link them and not Amazon… so you can find Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons and Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress on their most magnificent website.

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