Episodes


Episode 97 – Religious Villains


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We’re back to talk about religious villains in your game! First, Grant discusses a successful Pugmire one-shot and his upcoming InSpectres game. Then, Grant and Peter put out a call for your stories of ‘othering’ in the hobby (which you can submit by email or through our contact page.) We spend a fair bit of time answering a very interesting question from Patreon backer Jim about rewarding good player behavior. And finally, we get to our main topic: Religious villains. We discuss creating religious, and even specifically Christian villains, as well as what makes those villains powerful and effective in our stories.

Mentioned in this episode: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Ep. 48, “Prophets of Doom”; and—

Scripture: Isaiah 29:13-16, Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 23:13-15


Episode 96 – The First Commandment (The Ten Commandments, Part 1)


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Grant and Peter kick off a new, more theologically-oriented series this week! We’ll be looking at each of the Ten Commandments, and so of course we’re starting with the First Commandment. First, though, we answer a question from Patreon backer Richard Lorenz about other podcasts in the “geeky faith” genre (and specifically faith and roleplaying games—see the show notes for a full list of everything we mentioned!) We also spend a little time talking about Game to Grow. For our main topic, we talk about the importance and theological implications of the First Commandment, as well as some of its gaming implications.

Mentioned in this episode:

Scripture: Exodus 3:15, Exodus 20:1-3Matthew 22:37-38Matthew 6:24


Episode 95 – Hospitality 1


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It’s a relatively light episode for news, so Grant and Peter have more time for the Patreon question and the main topic. It turns out they need it. Hospitality is a big, old-school StG topic and the hosts look at it from a number of angles and discuss how it applies in games, in the world around us, and at our gaming tables.

Scripture: Leviticus 19:34, Luke 14:12-14, 1 Peter 4:8-10

Links:
Episode 5: Charity
Jean Veljean and the Bishop of Digne
Would You Hide a Jew From the Nazis?
Denver church planning to build tiny homes


Episode 94 – Epic Monsters 1


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Grant and Peter are back with a whole host of things to talk about! We start with a bit about the Pugmire campaign Grant just started playing in. Then we answer a surprisingly tricky question from Patreon backer Jim Nanban, who asks us for our “elevator pitch” for RPGs as a hobby. We remind everyone that Save Against Fear 2016 is coming up very quickly (and that you should go if at all possible!) And finally, we reach our main topic: Epic monsters. What do we mean by an “epic monster”? What role can and should they play in your campaign? Why do they sometimes fall flat? And what little tricks and additional details can you add in to really make them stand out to your players? And most importantly, what’s the best story about an epic monster from your own gaming career?

Mentioned in this episode:

Scripture: Job 3:8, Revelation 13:1


Unfinished Stories 2

Listeners to the podcast have probably sussed out that I enjoy digital RPGs about as much as tabletop ones, albeit in a different way.  Some of the first games I ever played on a computer were the old Sierra King’s Quest games, and in particular, the third entry in that series sticks with me. In King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human, you play an older teenage boy named Gwydion as he seeks to survive and ultimately escape from his captivity to the cruel and vastly more powerful wizard Manannan. I remember many evenings of wracking my brain as Gwydion, sneaking around, trying to amass the components necessary to turn my evil master into something less threatening, and once I finally managed that task, the story felt complete to me. And that wasn’t even a proper RPG, but a text-based adventure game.

From what I understand, there’s a fair bit of game left after you turn Manannan into a cat and escape, but I never really pushed myself to see it. That has happened many more times over the years, and the fragments of unfinished stories, both interactive and non-interactive, both digital and tabletop now form something of a metaphorical trail behind me. There’s my paladin/detective in service to a neutral good death god whose tale of investigating a mysteriously-immortal noble class (and the implied sinister forces behind it) in his world will never be told. There’s my Pillars of Eternity party, stuck on a late-game dragon fight I could never get past. My poor courier in Fallout: New Vegas was stranded in a deathclaw-infested part of the Lonesome Road DLC the last time I played it. There’s a party of GURPS 3e characters in a fantasy alternate history setting that I ran that never discovered that one of their number’s arranged fiance was an ocean-spanning crime boss. My playthrough of The Witcher 3 is stopped before either of the DLC packages start. I’ve got about a third of Hyperion and about a third of Night Watch to read, and haven’t been back. I still haven’t watched the final seasons of Flash Point or The Shield. And then there’s our Shadowrun party, who were just starting to make the shift from being entirely mission-focused to a proactive force in their neighborhood when the campaign ran out of gas due to PC paralysis, GM burnout, and The New Shiny.

This trail of unfinished stories is part of why I started my backlog project and yet even that hasn’t seen any progress since May (probably not so coincidentally right around the same time I started my new job). Still, it’s something that tends to gnaw at the back of my mind, and lately I’ve been trying to get to the end of some of those stories, to finish the ones I can so that I only have the ones I can’t left.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that at least one of the most famous and well-known of Jesus’s parables ends on an unresolved cliffhanger! In the parable of the prodigal son, we never do find out whether the old brother eventually relents and joins the party. That’s not the point of the parable, of course, but that doesn’t mean the story is neatly tied off, either. I think perhaps that may even be part of the usefulness story – its sudden ending leaves those who hear it with the lasting knowledge that there’s more to tell, and invites comparison to countless unfinished personal stories.

Which ultimately means even the unfinishable stories have some merit. Our Shadowrun campaign may rise again, the opening part of King’s Quest III remains one of my favorite digital memories, and the wall I hit in Pillars of Eternity has recently inspired me to restart the game from scratch and push through in a more slow and deliberate fashion, savoring the experience as I go rather than charging through to the end. And, in a more concrete sense, I still have time to do better, to tie up my own loose ends and seek or grant forgiveness, to reconnect with people I’ve lost connection with, to find new ways of living out the commandments Jesus left us with.

And when I do finish or even just continue one of these stranded stories, there’s a feeling of satisfaction that’s not always present for ones I punch through on the first go around. Sometimes putting things down for a while just makes them that more enjoyable to pick up. Sometimes the treasure that you lost feels more precious when you find it.

 

—-

Questions for the reader:

Since this is something I’m sure I’m not alone in, I’m going to conclude this with some direct questions to you.

1. What stories do you have still sitting around in an unfinished state?
2. What use, if any, do you still get out of them?
3. Are there any stories that you’ve decided to leave technically unfinished, but complete enough for you like I did with King’s Quest III?
4. How do you look at those unfinished stories? Do they hang over you, or do you put them aside and move on?


Episode 93: Anti-Heroes


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Grant and Peter handle the first of two topic voted on by Patreon backers: Anti-Heroes. After tackling another great Patreon backer question, the hosts dive in, and as it turns out, this is a more complicated and controversial topic than you might think. The episode covers everything from Biblical figures to Sherlock Holmes to Rincewind to The Punisher with some advice (and cautionary notes) for gaming along the way.

Scripture: Judges 3:15-21, Luke 22:55-61

Links:
Anti-Hero page on tvtropes.org
Save Against Fear 2016
Two Types of Paladin
Episode 25


Episode 92 – Generalists and Specialists


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Grant’s back from Electric City Comic-Con 2016, and it was fantastic! We recap the show, including some specific people and organizations Grant wanted to specifically call out (check the full notes below for links.) Then Grant and Peter answer a Patreon backer question from Jim, who asks about demonstrating the difficulty of doing the right thing in game without being obvious or annoying about it. Finally, we cover our main topic: A discussion of generalist and specialist characters, with a focus on an issue that came up in the pre-game prep for our current D&D campaign.

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-6, Colossians 3:23-24

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Episode 91 – Creating a Moral Universe, Part 2 (with Kris & Katrina Ehrnman-Newton) 2


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(Part Two.) Kris and Katrina Ehrnman-Newton, hosts of the inimitable Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (and its previous Gameable Pixar and Disney iterations), join us for an episode so monstrously huge we had to make it a two-parter! This time, we’re talking about design considerations for a “moral universe”—the assumptions built into a fictional setting about the consequences and decisions that affect characters’ moral efforts. We start with our Patreon backer question, this time about potential real dangers of gaming. Then across two episodes, we cover the design aspects of a moral universe in great detail, and wrap up talking about the challenges and opportunities these present at the gaming table. Thanks again, Kris and Katrina—we’re looking forward to joining you to talk about Saturday morning cartoons soon!

If you missed the first half of Episode 91, click here to listen to part one.

Katrina previously joined us for Episode 58, “Prophecy”, and Kris joined the three of us for Episode 67, “Breaking Canon”. Grant and Peter have also appeared on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast for a bonus episode on The Prince of Egypt.

We hit on a wide and strange variety of other things this episode, including but not limited to: Depression Quest; Genesis 18; Batman; Longmire; The Crow; Mouse Guard; Jessica Jones; fighting hummingbirds; The Care Bears Movie; Sailor Moon; L.A. Confidential; Dogs in the Vineyard; Pillar of Fire; and a May 2016 blog post from Peter, “You Must Be This Treacherous To Ride The Story“. Phew!

Scripture: Genesis 3:22-24, Amos 2:6-7, Matthew 5:44-45


Episode 91 – Creating a Moral Universe, Part 1 (with Kris & Katrina Ehrnman-Newton)


Download this episode (right click and save)

(Part One.) Kris and Katrina Ehrnman-Newton, hosts of the inimitable Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast (and its previous Gameable Pixar and Disney iterations), join us for an episode so monstrously huge we had to make it a two-parter! This time, we’re talking about design considerations for a “moral universe”—the assumptions built into a fictional setting about the consequences and decisions that affect characters’ moral efforts. We start with our Patreon backer question, this time about potential real dangers of gaming. Then across two episodes, we cover the design aspects of a moral universe in great detail, and wrap up talking about the challenges and opportunities these present at the gaming table. Thanks again, Kris and Katrina—we’re looking forward to joining you to talk about Saturday morning cartoons soon!

Once you’re done with this half of Episode 91, click here to listen to part two.

Katrina previously joined us for Episode 58, “Prophecy”, and Kris joined the three of us for Episode 67, “Breaking Canon”. Grant and Peter have also appeared on the Gameable Saturday Morning Podcast for a bonus episode on The Prince of Egypt.

We hit on a wide and strange variety of other things this episode, including but not limited to: Depression Quest; Genesis 18; Batman; Longmire; The Crow; Mouse Guard; Jessica Jones; fighting hummingbirds; The Care Bears Movie; Sailor Moon; L.A. Confidential; Dogs in the Vineyard; Pillar of Fire; and a May 2016 blog post from Peter, “You Must Be This Treacherous To Ride The Story“. Phew!

Scripture: Genesis 3:22-24, Amos 2:6-7, Matthew 5:44-45


Episode 90: The First Council of Nicaea (Historical Heresies 5)


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After answering a short, fun, and humorous Patreon backer question, Grant and Peter dig into one of the most fascinating, important, and gameable events in all of church history: the First Council of Nicaea. In addition to establishing a lot of church orthodoxy that has lasted to the present day, it also gave us the Nicene Creed, and it was a unique and fascinating event in the history of the world.

Note: Listeners wanting full context for this episode should listen to Episode 89, “Arianism” first, as it provides a lot of the background for the events we cover in this episode.

Links:
The Nicene Creed
The Elenium, by David Eddings
Our Patreon

Scripture: Isaiah 40:12, John 1:1-5