The Unexamined Life

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David

Brand new year, brand new, well, not much. We’re puttering with things but it’s too early to say. At the very least, more videogames and more Youtube things. Also less posts from Ryan, on account of him being eaten by his phd and his fiancee, but I’ve got a few ideas around that too, mostly involving kidnapping and daring rescues. This isn’t a post about the new year though, not directly. It’s a time to reflect on what’s important, and what matters to me and to others in gaming. For me, it’s the unexamined life.

Read more

3 Ways to Use Religion in Your Game

Peeling sticker

Getting back in the habit with a post I’ve wanted to write for a while. Religion at the gaming table can be an interesting and sticky subject. There are a lot of ways to treat it, and I could write for months about it. I’ve played with people of a few religious stripes, from those with none at all to pagans and various flavours of Christian, and they’ve really helped me define my idea of what belonging to a religion means, and how it can matter narratively. I’m an apatheist myself, but I understand the power of religion as a cultural force in the lives of millions of people, so I’ve always wanted to give it a treatment that resonates with faithful people without disincentivizing secular players. There’s a wide gulf between representing real-world religion vs. fantasy religion, but today I want to pay attention to fantasy religion. We’ll talk about the way I do it next week, but here’s three other ways you could treat religion.

Read more

The Campus as Dungeon

University of Waterloo Math Building

Games can be influenced by the principles of higher education, but also by its spaces. Every campus doubles as a dungeon. After all, what’s in a dungeon? A good dungeon imparts a feeling of mystery and apprehension. It presents an opportunity for exploration and has an ecology all its own. Treasure, traps, and monsters are almost incidental to the feeling that the space gives. They’ve got all of that and more.

Read more

Setting Graffiti

Ancient Coin from Gamla archaeology site

Wiki Update

One of the things I love about settings is the little things. The facets of everyday life that often go ignored in the quest to have grand adventure and world-spanning stories. Fact is, you can have just as much of an adventure around a board game as you can with a plague of undead. There’s as much to learn from graffiti as ancient tomes. It’s all about how it plays on your values. Since I’m updating the Vale Tales wiki, I thought I’d add a bit of colour to the Nentir Vale.

Read more

Pulp Magic Habit


TPK Roundup

I’m pulling myself from the throes of my Feed the Beast addiction to write this week’s roundup, in part because I found some totally awesome things this week. If you’ve got some cool gaming news, an interesting blog post, Kickstarter, or game release, tweet it to us at #TPKtalk. Send us all your awesome things! Anyway, this week we’ve got do it yourself pulp covers, using RPG mechanics in your real life, and thinking about politics and magic in games. Read more

Building a Setting

Dragon Age map

Setting Specifics

Last week Ryan wrote about using a published setting which, I’ll be honest, is something I haven’t really done. World-building and myth-making is one of my favourite parts of roleplaying games, so even when I GMed World of Darkness, I made a bunch of changes to the setting. There’s a lot of work involved in it, and my D&D world has changed a lot over the years, usually from me inventing things from whole cloth and then making them fit after the fact. I’m not going to say that’s a best practice, but it’s also not necessary to invent all of the nitty-gritty of everywhere in a setting for one campaign. If the players aren’t going to go there, it’s a place of rumour and wonder, and doesn’t really need to be filled in. All that said, these are the three things I do when I’m sitting down to create a setting, even for a pickup game.
Read more