Monthly Archives: April 2015

Gaming Curriculum: Extra Credit

Just in case the lists we gave you in our last episode weren’t enough for you, here are a few other things I’ve found useful in my gaming:

Kingdom of Heaven – I like this movie for its treatment of religion and morality, specifically because it treats religious fervor and personal virtue as two entirely separate axes instead of ends of the same continuum. There are good people of various faiths, bad people of various faiths, and people who don’t have particularly strong faith at all of various moral colors. There are also some really good character archetypes to be explored in here.

Wanted – I’m referring specifically to the movie and not the graphic novel that inspired it. The film has a bunch of intriguing ideas about bullet-curving supernatural marksmen, Fate as an active entity in the world that communicates through a mystical fabric loom, and all kind of other juicy, gameable bits. The graphic novel turned my stomach in the initial set-up of the story and I never finished it.

Night Watch – Really interesting Urban Fantasy from Russia, in either film or book form. Light and Dark exist in an enforced stalemate with each keeping an eye on the other through its own police force, dark mages use video games as divination devices, characters step into a sub-layer of reality called The Gloom, and more. There are so many neat ideas in here, I’m genuinely disappointed that nobody ever made a licensed RPG from it. If you’re running a modern game with any fantastic elements at all, it’s very much worth a watch or read. I haven’t read all the way through the series, but what I have read of it has been good.

Brotherhood of the Wolf – An incredibly stylish movie about the hunt for the Beast of Gévaudan. Lots of juicy setting and character ideas, a really interesting monster, and one of the coolest weapons I’ve seen in a movie.

God’s DemonParadise Lost, but backwards. One of the princes of Hell decides that he’s done being on the side of evil and wants to go home, and resolves to take anyone who wants to come with him, demon or damned soul, in his quest for redemption. An interesting companion piece to In Nomine, Frank Peretti’s Darkness books, and The Great Divorce if you want to play with Judeo-Christian spiritual warfare tropes in your gaming.

Security Now – A surprisingly-entertaining podcast about computer security. Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte cover a lot of ground, and in the initial “banter” segment will talk about science fiction, coffee, nutrition and other various things. The various hacks, breaches, and exploits covered in the main part of the show are where a lot of the material germane to gaming comes in, and for something so firmly grounded in reality, it’s amazing how much there is that’s gameable.

Lost – While it does come off the rails at some point (what point that is is the subject of much debate) the show is a cornucopia of interesting characters, plot elements, and setting details. There’s also a fantastic redemption arc for one of the characters (Sawyer) that takes place over multiple seasons and really feels natural.

The Art of Intrusion – Kevin Mitnick’s collection of hacker tales is actually more accurately described as an oral history of several modern heists. Great inspiration for any campaign that includes covert action.

As with the episode, if you’ve got stuff to add, please leave it in the comments. This is a discussion Grant and I would both love to have with you folks.


Episode 60 – Our Gaming Curriculum 2

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Well, it’s official: We’re going to Fear the Con 8, and Fear the Con 8 is officially happening, so meet us there! That news aside, though, we’ve got a full episode for you: Grant and Peter reviewing their “gaming curriculum”. These are our suggestions for media of all sorts which you as a gamer should have for reference, read, play, or watch to be a better gamer (and especially a better gamemaster.) The full list of media (with links!) is below the fold for reference, so enjoy!

Scripture: Proverbs 18:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Why You Should Really go to Fear the Con 8

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:35


“[Dedicated to] the Booters, who laugh and cry with each other” -from the Dedication to Volume 1 of the Sojourn anthology

I first started listening to podcasts sometime back in 2008. I’d just started my current job, and music was starting to get repetitive. In an effort to bring a little extra mental stimulation to my days of processing freight, I gave podcasts a try.

The first one was the long-since podfaded Sons of Kryos podcast. If you can find the audio somewhere, it’s still very much worth listening to, but unfortunately, those episodes appear to be lost. The important thing for me now, though, is that once I finished with them, I started looking for other podcasts to listen to. That led me to Fear the Boot.

I’ve said, probably on air or in this blog, that one of the most defining decisions in my life was deciding to pick up an old, beat-up copy of the GURPS third edition basic set from a used bookstore back in my hometown. It was finals week for the semester, and the way my high school structured things, that meant extra-long periods and extra-long lunch hours. During one of these times, I found the book, purchased it, brought it home and started reading it. It led to a lifelong love of tabletop RPGs. Almost as defining, however, was my decision to sign up for the Fear the Boot message boards in April of 2009.

I’ve never been all that good at making friends or maintaining friendships. Some of it is the usual pressures of adult life – you make friends and then life starts pulling on everyone involved and before you know what’s happened, it has been a year since you talked to someone. Some of it is just personality – while I can be very chatty and goofy with folks I’m comfortable with (sometimes to their consternation), I don’t typically assume folks actually want to interact with me a lot of the time, which leads to a lot of letting other people reach out to me for contact. Couple this with general introversion and a mild case of impostor syndrome and you have a perfect recipe for social isolation.

None of that seemed to matter much when I joined the Fear the Boot community. I introduced myself and started contributing to threads on the forums. People were friendly and welcoming. I participated more and relationships started to form. When Fear the Con 3 rolled around, I lamented not being able to go for financial reasons on the forums and Dan gave me a nudge, saying that there were folks that still had room space they’d be willing to share. I decided to drive down to St. Louis on a Friday night, and when I got there, one of the other Booters put me up in his room – free of charge, even though I tried to give him a few bucks. I put faces with forum handles and even made it onto the live recording briefly. (My first, painfully awkward podcast appearance.) People knew who I was – cared who I was, and despite only knowing me as a forum handle, were genuinely glad to see me. It was several years until I made it back for Fear the Con 6, but I’d stayed active on the forums and Grant and I had started Saving the Game by then. That was the first time anyone called me “Timespike” (my forum handle) to my face. That experience was a little surreal. I made it back again last year, and this year will be my third year of attendance. Some of the folks I know through the forums have never made it to the con, or they were there different years than I was, and these days, social media (particularly Facebook) has largely supplanted my involvement on the forums, which is something I keep meaning to fix. The friendships, however, have persisted and grown like no others in my adult life have.

It would be easy to dismiss this phenomenon as my own luck, were it not for the fact that I know my experience is nowhere near unique. Last year one of the community’s more reclusive members ventured out to the con, and folks bent over backwards to make them feel welcomed and accepted, just like they did for me back at Fear the Con 3.

There is no “Booter template.” The folks I know through the community and consider friends have little to nothing in common when taken as a whole except for the enjoyment of tabletop gaming. There are people all over the political spectrum, of all sorts of religious beliefs (and plenty with none), men and women, and variety of races and nationalities. Some are charming and some are abrasive, awkward, or painfully shy. Some are working-class and some are quite wealthy. The age range spans from high school students up to folks on the verge of retirement. But at the Con, and on the forums, it doesn’t seem to matter. Community members give space for each others’ eccentricities, and as the dedication indicates, laugh and cry together. Or, to put it another way – they actually do all of the stuff the empty church-speak you hear so often points to. I “do life” with other Booters. If something is good or bad, I go tell them right after my own wife. There are several atheist Booters who became some of Saving the Game’s first listeners because they cared about Grant, Branden, and me. I think some of them still listen.

Some of this is because we’ve taken the time to humanize each other. Leonard Sweet is absolutely right when he talks about bringing back the table. At Fear the Con, you spend your life across tables from people. Sometimes they are covered in gaming supplies and sometimes it’s food. (And sometimes it’s both.)

The Booter community looks an awful lot like the Kingdom of God as it’s described by Jesus, and I do not say that lightly. You want to know what “radical acceptance” looks like? You want to experience it? Go to Fear the Con.

Episode 59 – Conspiracies

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Grant and Peter are back to talk about making interesting conspiracies for your players to expose—or participate in! First, we plug the ongoing Fear the Con 8 Kickstarter—if you want to see us there, the con needs to hit its Kickstarter goal, so consider backing it if you haven’t done so yet! Then we get down to business, talking about the elements of a good conspiracy as an entity in your game, and only briefly diverting to talk about conspiracy theories. Like these, which claim the moon isn’t real.

Scripture: Psalm 41:5-9, Matthew 26:1-5