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Episode 102 – Adapting to the Dice 3


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Happy New Year! Grant and Peter are back to talk about … dice?! After a couple of minor announcements and housekeeping notes, we list off some of the games we’d really like to try to play in 2017. We also tackle a Patreon question from Jim, who asks us about handling combat in theatre-of-the-mind games (or for visually-impaired gamers, like the Going In Blind podcast.) Our main topic isn’t so much about dice as reacting to the dice, and handling the unexpected results they can give us while keeping a consistent narration—even if it leads campaigns in strange and unexpected directions.

Games we mentioned wanting to play in 2017: Unknown Armies, 3rd Edition; Pillar of Fire; A Scoundrel in the Deep; Feng Shui, 2nd Edition; Dogs in the Vineyard; DramaSystem; GUMSHOE. Also mentioned: The One Shot Podcast and the Party of One Podcast.

Scripture: Proverbs 16:9, Leviticus 16:6-10, Romans 8:28


Episode 101 – Playing Supernatural Creatures


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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Grant and Peter sit down to tackle a topic selected by our voting Patreon supporters: Playing supernatural creatures! First, though, we spend quite a lot of time on a serious problem that cropped up in Grant’s Pugmire game—a case where a player had a very bad reaction to the previous session’s events. Then we tackle a question from Patreon supporter (and host of the Retro Rewind Podcast) Francisco Ruiz, who asks about games centered around specific holidays. Finally, it’s our main topic: How to play supernatural creatures, We talk briefly about whether Christians should do so at all; then we discuss ways to make that more interesting, especially regarding the traditional weaknesses such creatures typically have.

Mentioned in this episode: GullahPugmire.

Scripture: Isaiah 9:13, Romans 14:1-4


A Call to Greater Fellowship 1

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. – Acts 10:34-35

Gaming, as we have stated many times before, has the potential to be a powerful tool for good. You need look no further than our dear friends at The Bodhana Group to see that.

It also has a dark side.

If you’re unfamiliar with Saving the Game, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. My name is Peter, and along with my co-host Grant, I do a biweekly podcast about tabletop roleplaying games and collaborative storytelling from an explicitly Christian perspective. We agree that part of the responsibility of speaking about gaming from a Christian perspective is helping the gaming community be friendly, welcoming and most importantly safe for everyone, Christian or not.

Grant and I have been progressively more disturbed by a steady trickle of stories of people who aren’t like us (white, middle-class, middle-aged men) being given the cold shoulder, mocked, and even intimidated or abused by gamers, sometimes to the point where they leave the hobby or never even give it a chance. There was a time when I didn’t really know this problem was there – to the point where I got into at least one argument about the extent of the problem a few years back.

Sadly, I’ve been shown just how limited my perspective was, and what I saw during that process grieved me deeply and made me not a little angry.

We spoke about this with Mike Perna back in Episode 66 when we addressed the topic of gatekeeping, but unfortunately, in that episode, I think we wound up mostly preaching to the choir – our listeners, when we’ve met them in person and talked to them online, have been kind, gracious folks (actually, we’re kind of counting on that, but more about that later) and not predisposed to gatekeeping.

Which is why we want to listen to and share your stories.

If you have been treated badly by gamers, or someone else in the larger hobby, we want to hear what you have to say. In hearing your story, passing it on to our listeners, and talking about it, we hope to equip our listenership to notice the warning signs of gamer abuse and intimidation and stop it before it really gets started or just plain stop it if it’s started already. And frankly, the less you’re like Grant and me, the better. We want to hear from people of different ethnic backgrounds, women, people with non-traditional sexual orientations and identities, people with disabilities, people who aren’t neurotypical, people with differing worldviews, and anyone else who has a relevant story to tell. And, if you’ll let us, we’d like to share your experiences with our community in an episode (or maybe two) we’re chomping at the bit to record as soon as we’ve got some stories to share and your permission to do so.

We’re doing this because we sincerely believe that our listeners are a good place to start changing the community from the inside out. If you want us to keep your story anonymous when we record, but still share it stripped of names and locations, we will. If you want to come on the aforementioned episode and actually talk to us about your experiences, we’d be humbled and grateful. After all, God wants everyone brought into community, and that starts with love, acceptance, and a willingness to defend those who are being mistreated or oppressed.

To contact us, you can use any of the following options. Please let us know if you don’t want us to share your story on the podcast or on social media, or if you want to remain anonymous when we do so; and if either of those are true, please use one of our more private channels.

  • The comments section below
  • Our “Contact Us” page
  • Email us at hosts [at] stgcast [dot] org
  • Twitter
  • Facebook (either as a message or on our page directly)
  • Google+

If some other means or format is better for you, of course, let us know. We want your story, and we’ll happily work with you to help you get it to us.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. – Romans 12:9-13

If you are one of our many beloved gamer doppelgangers out there, we’d like some help from you too:

1. First and foremost: If you have a friend or family member who has been through this phenomenon we’re describing, please put them in touch with us.

2. Second and only slightly less important: Start doing some research of your own into this problem. If you’ve been blessed as I have been to game with a diverse group of people since day one and then your primary internet gaming “family” is the oasis of love and compassion that is the greater Fear the Boot community, you may find it hard to believe that the problem exists, so steel yourself and start looking.

Our goal in this project is to shine some light into the darker corners of our hobby until, well, frankly, the light is normal.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28


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 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


Playing as the Stranger

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18

I did something new for me this past weekend: I went to a prerelease event for the new Magic: The Gathering set. Because I’m an introvert and a bit of a homebody besides, I went in with a little trepidation and got there fairly early so I could check with the owner of the hosting store about any etiquette or procedures I needed to observe.  (In the event that you’re wondering, there’s not much – you need a DCI number, which is very easy to get signed up for at the store, and then you’ll play four best-of-three matches with a deck you make from six packs of the new set. Buy in was $20.) I went 2-2 overall, blowing out my first opponent, being blown out by my next two, and finally winning 2-1 against my final opponent. Folks were fairly nice, and I really enjoyed the experience, but I was nervous going in, and I’ve experienced a similar phenomenon at cons and when I’ve joined a new gaming group, so here’s what I’ve learned about making yourself a welcome presence in an unfamiliar gaming environment, whether it’s a CCG event, a con game, or the first few sessions with a new gaming group.

  • Be helpful: I carry a multitool and a couple of good-quality ballpoint pens with me, primarily out of habit (I use both at work on at least a semi-regular basis) so when we got the prerelease kits handed out and people were fighting with the shrinkwrap, I opened the knife in the multitool and passed it around to folks near me. I did similar things with the pens all day. Whenever somebody near me asked if somebody had one, I lent them one of mine. I brought a lot more dice than I needed for tokens and counters and cheerfully lent them to my opponents if they needed them.
  • Be prepared: It’s definitely easier to be helpful if you’ve got the tools to be. Bring writing utensils, dice, and scratch paper when you go to an unfamiliar gaming event and be ready to share them.
  • Ask questions: If you’re at an unfamiliar event, ask the other participants if they’re more familiar with the goings-on than you, and if the answer is “yes” and they don’t seem eager to break off the conversation, ask them for advice. Most people like to demonstrate and share their knowledge, and most folks will be happy to assist in matters of gaming you if you ask. I find it’s best to start this early on before things really get rolling, but it’s generally better to ask than guess and do something that can cause problems if you’re unsure.
  • Be humble: If you make a mistake, apologize and correct it, but also try to let it go as fast as possible. Getting gunshy after an accidental faux pas or play error is going to ruin the experience for you and will probably make others feel bad.
  • Be presentable: Show up clean and groomed in clothes that are clean and in good condition. (And if you’ve got a cool geeky t-shirt you want to show off, this is most definitely the time!)
  • Be a good sport: If what you’re playing is competitive, it is highly unlikely you’re going to win more than half the time. If it’s cooperative or collaborative like most RPGs, something will probably go wrong in the game. You’re going to blow an important die roll, miss a clue, etc. Taking setbacks graciously immediately makes you less threatening and more pleasant to game with. Likewise, if somebody else does something really good, acknowledge it and congratulate them! If you’re at a CCG event and somebody gets something really expensive or powerful in their pulls, suppress your envy and congratulate them, too. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to keep up a constant stream of conversation or be charming, but being gracious and polite goes a long way.
  • Remember who you’re representing: If you’re a Christian, this has obvious implications: you want to model love, grace, and charity in an appropriate way at the event, but even if you’re not a person of faith, it’s worth remembering that your behavior helps contribute to the overall perception of gamers inside the community itself and potentially outside it.
  • Have as much fun as you can wring out of the event without ruining anybody else’s: Regardless of the reason you’re there, whether you sought it out on your own or went with a friend, it’d be silly not to do all you can to enjoy yourself. If a hobby’s no fun, it’s not much of a hobby.
  • And finally: Don’t talk yourself out of something you’ll enjoy just because you’re nervous!

Good luck out there folks! As always, I’d be interested in additions to this list, supporting or conflicting anecdotes, etc. I love reading your comments, so please, don’t hesitate to post them!

 

-Peter


Blog: Pain

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:4

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” -Wesley, The Princess Bride

It’s often said that the two certainties in life are death and taxes, but I’d humbly suggest that we’ll all become acquainted with pain long before we’re aware of the tax man. Pain is varied, it is all too common, and it is all too often ignored in our gaming experiences.

So much of the pain that colors our lives is relatively undramatic. A stubbed toe, a small disappointment, even the crushing blow of the sudden loss of a loved one or the nagging ache as you realize that your life will never be quite what you’d hoped – very few of these moments turn up in heroic fiction, and when they do, they are often tangential to the plot. This is not, however, true in our lives. A staggering number of us come from broken families,we all have regrets, disappointments, and illnesses. It is a part of the human condition that we will suffer in a multitude of ways, great and small, between the time when we enter this world and the time when we leave it, and often that pain changes us and shapes us in a variety of ways, and as with so many things, what defines us (and our characters) is not so much that we have pain, but what we do with it.

Some folks are crushed by their pain, retreating into bitterness or madness to escape it – in fact, this is a semi-canonical explanation for where The Joker came from. Crushed beneath the weight of “one bad day” he becomes a sadistic, insane madman, anxious and eager to share his pain with others. Others retreat from the world entirely, becoming hermits or even catatonic.

Others deny it or brush it off with exaggerated indifference. “It’s nothing to me.” Oftentimes this is a trap the immature fall into – seeing the very experience of pain as a weakness to be excised, or if that is impossible, at least denied or ignored. The problem with this approach is that pain is very persistent. It will eventually make itself known, and will reach a point where it can no longer be ignored.

Still others wallow in their pain, allowing it to define their experience. A lot of really good art gets made this way (everything from paintings to poetry to music) but being defined by misery and suffering this way robs people of happiness they could otherwise experience and strains relationships.

Finally, there are some who acknowledge their pain, but push through it. This is one of the better responses, and covers everything from working out to the artist pushing through rejection, to forging new relationships after the loss of a loved one. People treating their pain this way will often seek help with it, which is also healthy and can lead to a lot of growth. (For an interesting treatment of this concept, check out this TED Talk by Jane Mcgonigal.) It should probably go without saying that this last approach (and helping others with their pain) is the way we’re ideally expected to behave as Christians. The Apostle Paul tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” in Romans (Romans 12:15) and scripture is thick with admonitions to help the poor, the sick, the needy, and those suffering (and there’s that word again: suffering) from all sorts of trouble.

Narratively, I think we leave a lot on the table when we boil our adventures down to a series of tactical puzzles (and this from somebody who would be unamimously voted “most tactically-minded” by at least his current gaming group and probably several previous ones). One of the things that made Grant’s successful Shadowrun game so great was that the PC group was very empathetic (at least by the standards of shadowrunners) – they were careful about the amount of pain they caused to innocent people, and seeing those same people in bad situations moved them to do something about it. Now in fairness – they also caused a fair amount of pain to those they felt deserved it, which was often the in-game manifestation of one of my real-world character flaws: a streak of viciousness that can pop out when I’ve conned myself into thinking it’s justified.

Pain, and our response to it, defines our character and our stories, and it should define our characters and their stories as well. The next time you sit down to make a character or play one, give some thought to how they respond to the hurt in their life and the lives around them, why they feel and act that way, and how that affects the story. And, if you’re anything like me, it may also be a good idea to repeat that exercise with yourself in the real world from time to time.


Episode 67 – Breaking Canon (with Kris Newton & Katrina Ehrnman-Newton)


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Kris and Katrina, hosts of the Gameable Pixar Podcast (formerly the Gameable Disney Podcast) join Grant and Peter in a special crossover episode on breaking established setting canon! Gameable Pixar just released a pair of episodes discussing The Prince of Egypt, and they invited Peter and Grant to join them in the second episode.  They return the favor in this episode, where we discuss how to break canon in settings with high player investment—from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth to Biblical Egypt, Israel and Caanan.

If you want to give the Gameable Podcast a try, we suggest picking your favorite Disney or Pixar film and listening to Kris and Katrina discuss it in the relevant episode! They also particularly recommend their episodes on The Black Cauldron and The Nightmare Before Christmas as introductory episodes for interested gamers. To pick up with The Prince of Egypt, start with GPP’s Bonus Episode 9: The Prince of Egypt and follow up with Bonus Episode 10: The Prince of Egypt Discussion. They’re also on Twitter and iTunes.

Also mentioned in this episode: Electric City ComiCon; StoryWonk’s Dusted podcast; and an awful lot of superheroes.

Scripture: Isaiah 55:8-11, Jeremiah 23:28-30, Matthew 23:13-15, Romans 15:4


Episode 63 – An Introduction to Roleplaying Games (with Rev. Jason D. Wood) 2


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Reverend Jason D. Wood, a full-time pastor and gamer, joins Grant and Peter to help introduce roleplaying games to the curious! Jason writes for The Mad Adventurers Society as The Mad Cleric, giving out gaming advice and life advice for gamers in equal measure, and contributes to the Mad Adventurers’ Potelbat and Potelbat Yalp podcasts. (He’s most accessible on Twitter as @Wood_JasonD.)

Jason joins us for a very special episode: An introduction to roleplaying games for the curious and the uninitiated. As a sort of companion piece to our very first episode (“Are RPGs Evil?“), this episode is designed to be a resource for those who’ve never played before, and want to (or feel the need to) know more about them. We outline the general conceits of RPGs, explain system and setting, discuss why they’re so much fun, and elaborate on some of the positive benefits of roleplaying games. (In particular, we spend some time talking about The Bodhana Group; new listeners should listen to Episode 25, “Therapeutic Roleplaying (with Jack Berkenstock Jr.)” for more on that. They’re awesome.) Finally, we wrap up with some advice on getting started in roleplaying games, whether individually, as a family, or as a church activity.

Scripture: Proverbs 27:17, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 5:27-32, Romans 14:16


Episode 55 – Groundwork for Character Development


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Grant and Peter return to talk about laying the groundwork for character development before the game starts! We lead off with a reminder about Sojourn 2 (and the forthcoming Sojourn 3), and a request for listener input on topics and for reviews on iTunes. Then we get into the topic at hand: Setting yourself up for successful character growth ahead of time. We go over some methods, benefits and ideas; and we wrap up with a STG first—Peter and Grant attempting to put their own advice to good use on-air. Enjoy!

Scripture: Ezekiel 36:25-26 and Romans 12:2