Gaming Curriculum

Episode 73 – Our Gaming Curriculum (Part 2)

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Grant and Peter reprise Episode 60’s “Gaming Curriculum” topic, with another set of suggested media! These are things we think you should read, watch, play, or experience away from the gaming table which will make you a better player and gamemaster. Check the full show notes below for links to everything we mentioned during the show! Plus, we spend a lot of time talking about Clockwork Empires—reflecting how much time Grant’s been putting into the game.

Don’t forget that we’re raising funds for The Bodhana Group, which uses tabletop RPGs in cognitive therapy applications for hurting children. For more details, visit our fundraiser page or listen to Episode 25, where we interviewed Bodhana’s Executive Director and learned all about the great work they do. If you want to help them, please consider giving to them this holiday season!

Scripture: Proverbs 22:6, Acts 8:26-31


Gaming Curriculum: Extra Credit, Part II: Useful Websites 2

I was out working at a craft show with my wife all weekend and was up early for a 7am meeting at work today, so I’m a little beat, which means that I don’t have a lot of gas in the tank for a more contemplative blog post. however, that doesn’t mean I have nothing for you this week. Rather, I figured this would be a good time to list off some reference websites I’ve used in the past that can help with gaming.

Wikipedia: This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t include it on the list, but it’s also so useful that I felt like leaving it off the list would leave the list incomplete. WIkipedia has at least a little bit of information on just about everything, and is a solid jumping-off point for any sort of research you feel like doing. While it’s not always the most accurate source for serious research, that’s less of a concern for gaming purposes. If the author(s) of a given article have, for example, decided to print the legend rather than the history, as it were, that may even be better for gaming purposes. The other thing that’s great about Wikipedia is that it’s cross-linked, which means that following up on specific aspects of whatever it is that you’re researching is really easy.

Tvtropes: When Branden was still on the podcast, he would reference this website a lot, and with good reason. It’s a collection of tropes (defined on the site as: “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations”) that is organized in a similar way to Wikipedia – cross-linked and separated by subject. Unlike Wikipedia, the tone of the writing is much less formal, but that doesn’t make the site any less wonderful as a resource. Simply looking up a favorite work (TV show, movie, or video game) from the front age will usually yield an entertaining firehose of content to drink from.

SCP Foundation: A site of fictional batches of weirdness, sort of similar to the old Warehouse 23 basement site that Steve Jackson Games used to have back in the day, but much, much larger. If you’re running any sort of campaign that needs weirdness of any sort and find yourself short on inspiration, it’s worth wandering over to SCP and browsing around for a bit. I have to give Grant credit for this one; he was the one who pointed me to the site in the first place.

Google Maps: If you’re running a game set in the modern world (+/- 50 years or so) Google Maps is your friend. The street view and satellite view options in particular are handy for finding interesting adventure locations and it’s useful to be able to find things like airports, natural wonders, major historical sites and so on when you’re running a modern game. Heck, it can even be handy to know where the railways are if you’ve got PCs who like to sneak onto trains in an urban fantasy game.

Online retailers: A lot of the time in modern or near-future games, I find that I want specific things that aren’t in the game books. Specialized tools, clothing, and electronics all have specs and costs associated with them, and place where you can buy those things will generally have that information in an easy-to reference format. Amazon is the big kahuna, but don’t overlook Galls (a company that supplies emergency services), American Science and Surplus (a company that sells little bits of everything and whose item descriptions are among the most delightfully-readable on the web) and Maker Shed (a site aimed at the Maker movement) for neat stuff PCs (particularly gadgetteers) will want.

System Resource Documents: The SRDs for Pathfinder, D&D 3.5, D20 Modern, and FATE are available online for your perusal. The Pathfinder and FATE ones in particular are really well-laid-out and easy to navigate.

And that’s it for this week’s reference library update. If you’ve got resources of your own that you use in your gaming, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Of Finals and Short Blog Posts

This is going to be a short one – this is finals week for me, and while I’ve knocked one down, I still have other on Thursday I’m preparing for. (Two finals for one class! That’s just mean!) In any case, I haven’t had a tremendous amount of time to think about blog topic recently, but I’ll leave you with a couple more pieces of gaming curriculum “Extra Credit” in honor of my finals.

Longmire: An interesting and very well-written cop drama set in modern Wyoming. Sherriff Walt Longmire deals with murders, corruption and limited resources. This show is worth watching for its treatment of small-town dynamics, its characters, and its interesting take on police work. You wouldn’t have to change much to make the setting a post-apocalyptic one instead, and it does a good job of portraying characters that have various levels of respect and affection for each other working together in spite of their differences or failing to work together despite their positive relationship. The books are also supposed to be excellent, but I haven’t tried them, at least not yet.

Anthologies: I’ve plugged the Sojourn series that I’ve been published in a number of times, but any anthology that interests you is going to have at least a few ideas that you can use. I’ve pulled monsters, NPCs, setting elements, and plots from examples I’ve seen in anthologies before, and because the works in an anthology are short, they tend to be dense. Furthermore, if one doesn’t work for you, there’s probably something else in the same book that does.

And that’s going to do it for this week. Next time I’ll be back with a more typical blog post. Good luck to any of you reading this that are also in finals season. May your studies go well and pay off handsomely.