Episodes


Gaming Curriculum: Extra Credit, Part III: Miscellany 1

A lot of the time, these are generated by a lack of other ideas, and I find them a useful way to fill a creative gap while still handing out something useful. That’s not the case this time – I have a couple of things that I especially want to recommend this time. Quality over quantity for this one; I just have two things, but they’re both phenomenal.

The first one is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast. I just discovered this recently after having been kind of tangentially aware of it for a while, and it has pushed just about everything else out of my listening rotation. Even other podcasts that I absolutely love have been fighting for my listening time with this. Mr. Carlin has a way of presenting historical narratives that is absolutely riveting and if your brain works anything at all like mine does, you won’t be able to stop the gaming ideas from coming. In particular, he focuses a lot on the human side of things and first-hand accounts; there’s a strong emphasis toward “putting the listener there” as much as possible. He also shows a great deal of respect and charity toward a wide variety of different world views and cultures, which I really appreciate as a listener; he’s more one to ask you to think about why horrible things happened and how people got through them than one to rant about how awful things were or sneer from a modern moral pedestal at “backwards” people from ages past. He also references other, fictional works, which makes putting stuff in a gaming context easier. Lord of the Rings actually gets referenced a lot during the WWI series.

As I just hinted at, I particularly recommend the six-part series “A Blueprint for Armageddon” which focuses on the first world war, and currently has me ruminating on ideas for a low-fantasy setting that resembles pre-WWI Europe.  I haven’t listened to anywhere near everything he’s put out so far, but I only have one or two more pieces of audio before I have to start buying his older stuff, which I will be doing happily and without hesitation. His current series, King of Kings, is also excellent, and it deals with the events (going all the way back to the founding of the Persian empire) that eventually lead up to the Battle of Thermopylae (the infamous stand of the 300 Spartans).

A few words of caution, though: this series is not for the faint of heart. Carlin gets pretty graphic at times as he describes, for example, just how terrible a WWI battlefield was or just what they did to the leaders of the Anabaptists that took over the city of Muenster when they caught them. Hardcore history has helped me understand and appreciate the value of horror about as much as talking to Kenneth Hite and Greg Stolze did, and that is high praise indeed.

The second one is much lighter in tone, and is more specifically gaming-focused. I had to go back and check to make sure we hadn’t included it in one of the previous podcasts or blog posts in this series, and I’m still not 100% sure we haven’t even after checking just now. Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick webcomic (the link goes to the first strip) is wonderful gaming inspiration for anyone in the hobby, but especially those running D&D games. It starts out as just a silly webcomic about a D&D adventuring party (complete with breaks in the fourth wall) and succeeds fairly well as just a humorous thing to read, but as the story goes on, the story gets more serious, more complex, and more interesting, and while Burlew’s setting is kind of generic by necessity, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in it once the story starts scratching below the surface. Reading it will teach you interesting lessons about dealing with various problem characters (Elan, Belkar, and Vaarsuvius all represent different problematic PC archetypes, though that is far from all they are, and they have important roles to play in the story), developing a world as you go, heroism, villainy, storytelling, and so forth, but I think one of the more interesting and subtle lessons it teaches (perhaps without even meaning to) is how much you can get across with some fairly spare descriptions. The characters in Order of the stick aren’t quite traditional stick figures, but neither are they particularly detailed, yet the simple, clean art conveys a great deal.

Unlike Hardcore History, this one is probably fine for anyone over the age of 12 or so; while there’s some mild language, a fair bit of violence and the occasional sexual reference, nothing is particularly graphic, and the good guys are clearly marked and in most cases, pretty clearly heroic.

As usual, I’d love to hear if you get anything out of either of these, and I’d also love to hear any recommendations you might have.


Episode 83 – Personal Horror (with Greg Stolze) 1


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Author and game designer Greg Stolze joins Grant and Peter to talk about Unknown Armies 3rd Edition, its Kickstarter, some of his other work, and personal-scale horror stories! We spend a lot of time talking about Unknown Armies—practically the whole episode, really—and Greg had plenty to say about personal horror and how Unknown Armies reflects that. In particular, we talk about how this sort of horror differs from the “cosmic horror” currently in vogue; how relationships can matter more in personal horror; stress and horror; and more. Enjoy!

Mentioned in this episode:

Scripture: Job 38:4-7John 15:13Colossians 3:23-25Romans 3:10


Episode 82 – Diaspora 1


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Not much in the way of news this week, so Grant and Peter get almost straight into the topic: Diaspora, the scattering of a people from a common homeland and their desire to return. We discuss what, exactly makes a diaspora and how it can be used for world and character building.

Links:

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 36:20, Psalm 147:2-4, John 7:33-36, 1 Peter 1:1-2


Episode 81 – Fear 1


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Grant’s second child is here and everybody is doing well!

Grant and Peter discuss some recent news, including Gamerati’s taking over of RPGpodcasts.com (a very good thing) and the upcoming Tavern Con and Electric City Comic Con, then get down to discussing the main topic: fear in RPGs. A lot of gaming groups have trouble handling fear in-game. Grant and Peter discuss some common reasons for the trouble and offer a number of potential solutions.

Links:
Tavern Con (no official link yet)
Episode 45 – Unity vs. Uniformity (With Ed Healy)
Stardew Valley
Electric City Comic Con
Gameable Pixar Podcast, Bonus episode 33: The Corpse Bride
Games Store Prophets Bonus Content: Darkest Dungeon

Scripture: Proverbs 9:10, Matthew 10:26-31, John 16:33, Luke 2:10


Episode 80 – Mechanical Morality Systems


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Grant and Peter break down the various advantages and challenges of using mechanical morality systems in your game and also dig into the reasons why such systems exist in the first place. In addition, we plug Tavern Con, Innroads Ministries in general and The MacGuffin Factory in particular, and Electric City Comic Con.

Links:
Tavern Con (no official link yet)
The Macguffin Factory
Episode 25 with Jack Berkenstock
Electric City Comic Con
Episode 140 of KARTAS

Scripture: Proverbs 12:5, Job 28:20-28, Romans 12:21


Episode 79 – Character Advancement 2


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Grant and Peter get together to discuss a topic that we often take for granted in our gaming experience: how our characters advance in gaming and what that says about our games. There’s some comparison to XCOM 2 (which Peter has been playing quite a bit of lately) but the conversation branches out from there pretty rapidly. This episode is also Peter’s first crack at production, so be kind if the audio is a bit rough.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:26, Ephesians 4:11-14


Episode 78 – Listener Mailbag 1 1


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Grant and Peter read and respond to listener emails this week! We got some very interesting emails: One from Brady, asking about Habitica, a series on bible stories, and our unfulfilled promises; and one from Gameable Pixar Podcast’s Kris commenting on Manichaeism, alignments and dualism, and housework. Plus, Grant teases some upcoming site changes (forums!) and we remind everyone that Peter writes blog posts for weeks without new STG episodes.

Scripture: Proverbs 11:14, Mark 4:21-24, James 1:22


Episode 77 – Surrender


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Grant and Peter tackle a pervasive problem afflicting gamers everywhere: A collective inability to handle surrendering PCs and NPCs properly. It’s a topic we’ve had on our to-do list since we started the podcast back in 2012 (Grant credits Fear the Boot #268 for inspiration), and it turns out to have important ramifications for how we play our games. Plus, Grant and Peter briefly discuss the Microscope RPG and issue a call to action: Listeners, fill our mailbag!

Scripture: Jeremiah 38:17-18Philippians 2:5-8


Bonus Episode 8 – 2016 New Year’s Resolutions


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Grant and Peter are back with a STG New Year’s tradition: A review of their resolutions for the upcoming year, broken down into “personal”, “gaming”, and “faith”. Plus, Grant drops some information about a Patreon campaign we’re working on, and we discuss the most interesting (and STG-relevant) Christmas gifts we received this year.

Mentioned in this episode: The Blue Devils in Italy: A History of the 88th Infantry DivisionA Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels; Habitica; Electric City Comic Con; Clearing the Backlog

Scripture: James 2:14-17, Revelation 3:15-18


Episode 76 – Manichaeism (Historical Heresies, Part 3)


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Grant and Peter are back at it with part three of our Historical Heresies series. This time, we introduce a major competitor to Christianity in the Western Roman Empire, and a particularly interesting (read: complex and imaginative) Gnostic tradition: Manichaeism! We also provide one last plug for this year’s fundraiser for The Bodhana Group, and remind everyone to rate and review us on iTunes, Stitcher, and anywhere else you listen to our podcast on.

Scripture: Psalm 119:25-27Matthew 28:19-20