Category Archives: Podcasts

Dragonmeet 2015 seminar

What’s Hot in Indie RPGs and Story Games? – Dragonmeet 2015 seminar (48 mins) Download

“It takes a village to raise a Kickstarter”

Ric moderated this seminar at Dragonmeet on 5th December 2015:

(Read the hand-out, including popular con games and biggest kickstarters here)

00:07 Anita Murray on Blades in the Dark by John Harper
Lady Blackbird, The Mustang, Ghost/Echo

03:52 Becky Annison on Itras By by Ole Peder Giæver & Martin Bull Gudmunsen
Archipelago

08:30 Joanna Piancastelli on Heroes of the Hearth by Stiainin Jackson in the Seven Wonders anthology

11:44 Robert Carnel on Public Access and Transmission

16:10 Robert Carnel on design competitions
200 word rpg, David Schirduan on Tabletop Superhighway, Threeforged, Golden Cobra, Game Chef, 24 hour rpg, Dramasystem setting, Fiasco playset, Gumshoe setting, Warbirds Kickstarter, Langer Memorial Trauma Center, Carolina Death Crawl, Disco World

24:23 Anita Murray on collective game design and pulling together an artistic community
Magpie Games, Masks, Evil Hat, Monster of the Week, John Keyworth, James Mullen, Graham Walmsley, Gregor Hutton

30:14 Becky Annison on Kickstarting Lovecraftesque
Stealing Cthulhu, Nathan Paoletta, Jason Morningstar, Graham Walmsley, Anna Kreider

39:21 Joanna Piancastelli on the culture of playtesting
Night Witches, Masks, Headspace, Hannah Shaffer on Tabletop Superhighway

42:41 Questions – Indie rpgs in the rest of the world?
Fastaval, Playground magazine, Aquelarre

45:47 Questions – Are UK games not as widely played because of a lack of a seminal work?
Apocalypse World, James Mullen

Anita Murray is the Contribution to Irish Gaming winner 2013 and the Irish National Game Writer Award winner for 2012. As well as organising design Playstorms for London Indiemeet, she’s also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Gazebo (an Irish and UK-based online RPG ‘zine).

 

Becky Annison is the designer behind When the Dark is Gone, a game published in the Seven Wonders Anthology by Pelgrane Press. She has also recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for Lovecraftesque with her co-designer and partner Josh Fox. Becky is interested in how we can better understand and experience emotions in role-playing from the joyful to the cathartic and she is passionate about inclusivity and diversity in gaming.

 

Joanna Piancastelli is a London-based indie game designer. Her superhero freeform larp Unheroes won the 2014 Golden Cobra Challenge, and hew new tabletop game Before the Storm has just been published in the Seven Wonders anthology from Pelgrane Press. Her upcoming game Headcanon will feature in the London Indie RPG Meetup Group anthology next year.

 

Robert Carnel discovered roleplaying through the world of the Warlock of Firetop Mountain and has been going left at t-junctions ever since. He began reviewing rpgs in 1993 with the zine Carnel and he’s currently the editor of the webzine Thee Rapture in which he reviews many new, experimental games and writes about the techniques and theories of roleplaying. He’s also one of the most prolific GMs in the London indie scene.
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Episode Eight – Vast & Starlit

Episode Eight – Vast & Starlit (40 mins) Download
Vast & Starlit is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Epidiah Ravachol.

Ric & Rob talk about Vast & Starlit (2013), a game of interstellar renegades exploring the galaxy.

00:23 Why are we talking about this game?
00:51 An epic game on a business card
02:30 Who do you play?
02:56 Where did it come from?
04:30 What was the designer’s goal?
04:52 A weird inspiration
06:02 A crew without hierarchy
06:53 One-shot goals: designating a captain
07:19 Keeping the crew together
08:02 Mechanics – character creation
09:10 Playing low status characters
09:57 The significance of the ship as home
10:59 Scene-framing assumptions
12:46 Dangerous or difficult or both
13:41 Resolving by cutting away! Compression / Decompression
16:57 Integrating the resolution and skipping forwards
20:02 Creating alien cultures
23:05 Does it work?
24:37 The danger of disappearing into your backstory
26:29 Material for plot
27:04 The danger of creating through questions
28:43 The resolution mechanic
30:35 A lack of structure?
32:21 Why play this game?
32:57 A subversion of the classic RPG party
34:24 Is it part of our canon?
38:35 Another game to look at Swords Without Master (2014)

Games mentioned
A Penny for My Thoughts (2009)
Archipelago (2007)
Doll (2013)
Kingdom (2013)
Love in the Time of Seið (2010)
MonkeyDome (2009)
Monsterhearts (2012)
Nanoworld (2013)
Spione (2007)
Witch House (2013)

Media mentioned
Blake’s 7
Farscape
Firefly
Mad Max: Fury Road
Red Dwarf
The Lord of the Rings

Disclosures
Rob is a patron of the designer’s Patreon.

Episode Seven – Monsterhearts

Episode Seven – Monsterhearts (37 mins) Download
Monsterhearts is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Avery Mcdaldno.

Ric & Rob talk about Monsterhearts (2012), the game of the messy lives of teenage monsters.

00:19 Why are we talking about this game?
00:51 How does it reach out beyond the usual rpger crowd?
02:24 How the game started
02:41 Getting the teen experience from the Apocalypse
04:07 Playing with your character’s sexuality
06:10 Exploring an unpredictable situation
07:09 The monstrous analogy
08:35 Lots of monster… not much people
10:02 A kind of emotional roleplaying
11:28 Is the appeal entirely in the genre?
12:04 The liberty of playing as a teenager
13:32 Design differences from Apocalypse World
14:50 The innovation of Darkest Selves
17:44 Does it work?
19:10 Safer play
20:25 A lack of support for the genre to emerge?
20:45 Strings
22:49 Conditions
24:51 The Shut Down move
25:28 Using Volatile for Run Away
27:52 Backstories
29:55 Menaces and external threats
31:34 The cost of triggering the mechanics
32:56 Could it be improved in a revised edition?
34:47 What should designers take from this game?
36:11 Another game to look at Apocalypse World (2010)

Games mentioned
Apocalypse World (2010)
Fate (2003)
Microscope (2011)
Vampire the Masquerade (1991)

Other media mentioned
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Twilight

Disclosures
Ric is the current owner of the Monsterhearts Google+ community and Ric & Rob were crowdfunding backers of Even the Atlantic Can’t Keep Us Apart run by the same designer.

Episode Six – Kingdom

Episode Six – Kingdom (39 mins) Download
Kingdom is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Ben Robbins.

Ric & Rob talk about Kingdom (2013), a game of communities facing a crisis and a choice.

00:27 Why are we talking about this game?
01:25 A great gateway game for traditional roleplayers?
02:47 What’s the designer’s intent?
03:58 The concept of the crossroads
04:38 Playsets and threats
05:42 The roles: Power, Touchstone, Perspective
07:07 A model of how communities work?
08:41 The characters
10:00 Central vs marginal characters and changing character
11:33 Crossroads, Time Passes, Crises
11:55 Crisis
13:20 Switching roles and empty roles
15:57 Does it work?
17:13 A game about characters not community?
17:44 Why this is a great game about communities
19:37 A faceless community?
20:30 Exploring through experimenting on the community
22:54 A game that could be played for any community in any time
24:06 Does it hold together?
25:48 Overthrow duels and resistance to change
28:32 Disclaiming decision making
29:38 Why play this game?
30:20 A pick-up game at a traditional rpg con
30:41 Ending the game
32:23 What should designers take from this game?
36:32 Is it part of our canon?
37:51 Another game to look at Intrepid (2013)

Games mentioned
Dungeon World (2012)
Fiasco (2009)
Forsooth! (2012)
Microscope (2011)
Reign (2007)
Remember Tomorrow (2010)
The Quiet Year (2013)
Vast & Starlit (2013)

TV shows mentioned
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Game of Thrones

Disclosures
Ric & Rob are Kickstarter backers of Microscope Explorer by Ben Robbins and were part of the open beta playtest.

Episode Five – Durance

Episode Five – Durance (28 mins) Download
Durance is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Jason Morningstar.

Ric & Rob talk about Durance (2012), a game of authority, savagery and servility set in prison on an alien planet.

00:21 What is this game?
02:32 Historical background
02:58 Following the success of Fiasco
03:54 A powerful game with a dark sense of humour
04:45 A low chance of survival?
06:36 The character sheet
08:17 A symmetry of power
10:00 Rooting for the underdogs
10:42 The dice mechanic
12:07 Playing characters of different status
15:02 The purpose of the design?
17:13 Oaths and breaking them
21:29 Scene-framing and questions
24:48 Exploring different tones and stories
25:47 What happened to Durance?
27:20 Another game to look at Dog Eat Dog (2012)

Games mentioned
Carolina Death Crawl (2013)
Dog Eat Dog (2012)
Dungeon World (2012)
Fiasco (2009)
Forsooth! (2012)
Microscope (2011)
Night Witches (2014)

TV shows mentioned
Porridge

Disclosures
Ric and Rob were crowdfunding backers of Durance. The designer also won the Designer award in the London Indiemeet Darling awards in 2013 and 2014 which were organised by Ric. The designer also gave Ric permission to use another of his games as a basis for a game Ric helped to design.

Episode Four – A Taste for Murder

Episode Four – A Taste for Murder (38 mins) Download
A Taste for Murder is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Graham Walmsley.

Ric & Rob talk about A Taste for Murder (2010), an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery game set in the 1930s.

00:28 Why are we talking about this game?
02:32 A polite veneer
03:11 A GMless investigative game
03:33 What was the designer’s goal?
04:40 An exorcised investigator
05:42 Everyone has a secret
06:24 Mechanics and Structure
07:50 Influencing others
09:23 The murder
10:22 Moving into the second half
11:02 Revealing motives
15:52 Where did it come from?
16:48 The White Die/Black Die
18:10 Cthulhu thinking
19:24 Emulating the setting
21:36 Using a different setting?
23:04 Do the mechanics support the genre?
27:02 Relationship dice pools
27:56 Why play this game?
29:32 What should designers take from this game?
29:50 Hand signals
30:05 The switch to detective and flipping status
32:49 Is it part of our canon?
36:50 Another game to look at Witch: The Road to Lindisfarne (2012)

Games mentioned
Fiasco (2009)
Montsegur 1244 (2009)
Vast & Starlit (2013)

Disclosures
The designer is a long-time member of London Indiemeet and both Ric & Rob have met them on many occasions.

Episode Three – The Quiet Year

Episode Three – The Quiet Year (32 mins) Download
The Quiet Year is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Avery Mcdaldno.

Ric & Rob talk about The Quiet Year (2013), a community game charting a year of peace in a post-apocalyptic land.

00:25 Why are we talking about this game?
01:19 An unsuccessful game?
02:40 Exploration and colonial themes
03:40 What was the designer’s goal?
04:33 Exploring the idea of an inclusive community
06:10 Mechanics
06:27 A quiet game
08:15 Scarcity
09:46 A scientific experiment
10:44 Discover something new
13:08 Projects
13:42 Does it work?
16:34 A sense of community?
17:24 A comparison with Dog Eat Dog
18:33 Responding to community problems
20:05 Why play this game?
21:34 What should designers take from this game?
21:43 The card deck
23:18 Restricted communication
23:22 The map
23:29 Mechanics that don’t do anything
23:57 Conversations
26:27 Contempt
29:56 Is it part of our canon?
31:09 Another game to look at Ribbon Drive (2009)

Games mentioned
A Penny for My Thoughts (2009)
Dog Eat Dog (2012)
Carolina Death Crawl (2013)
Hell 4 Leather (2010)
Microscope (2011)
Protocol (2013)
The Deep Forest (2014)

Disclosures
Rob was a crowdfunding backer of The Quiet Year. Ric and Rob were crowdfunding backers of Even the Atlantic Can’t Keep Us Apart run by the same designer.

Episode Two – Microscope

Episode Two – Microscope (30 mins) Download
Microscope is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Ben Robbins.

Ric & Rob talk about Microscope (2011), a game of building a history in an afternoon.

00:29 Why are we talking about this game?
00:53 Unlike any game before it?
01:17 More than just a game?
03:11 Where did it come from?
03:56 Mechanics
04:25 The bookends
04:47 The lens and the focus
05:57 The legacies
06:57 Periods, events and scenes
08:24 Importance of the bookend limits
09:22 An elastic chronology
11:30 Does it work?
12:47 Push
14:33 A roleplaying game?
15:11 Scenes, scene framing and different play styles
18:22 Why play this game?
20:34 A self-recording game
21:30 The creative hot-seat
23:32 What should designers take from this game?
26:45 Is it part of our canon?
29:13 Another game to look at Fiasco (2009)

Disclosures
Ric & Rob are Kickstarter backers of Microscope Explorer (a series of expansions by Ben Robbins) and were part of the open beta playtest.

Episode One – A Penny for My Thoughts

Episode One – A Penny for My Thoughts (43 mins) Download
A Penny for My Thoughts is a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Paul Tevis.

Ric & Rob talk about A Penny for My Thoughts (2009), a game of amnesiacs undergoing an experimental procedure to recover their memories.

00:23 Why are we talking about this game?
00:56 A scary game?
02:08 Real stories from a ludicrous premise?
06:45 The designer’s intent
08:36 Powerful emotions and safety
09:56 How it brings players to play together
11:12 An extended form of character creation?
11:43 Mechanics
14:19 Player agency over the character
16:45 Better and safer play?
22:11 Where is the game coming from?
25:35 Does it work?
29:33 Does it hold together?
30:00 Dealing with gonzo
31:44 The pennies
32:30 Why play this game?
34:48 What should designers take from this game?
39:55 Is it part of our canon?
42:18 Another game to look at Psi*Run (2007)

Games mentioned
1001 Nights (2006)
A Taste for Murder (2010)
Don’t Rest Your Head (2006)
Durance (2012)
Intrepid (2013)
Lacuna (2006)
Microscope (2011)
Sorceror (2002) (& its supplement Sex & Sorcery)
Spark (2013)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998)
Time & Temp (2009)

Books mentioned
Impro (1979)

Disclosures
There are no disclosures for this episode.

Episode Zero

Episode Zero (17 mins) Download
Talking about how to talk about tabletop roleplaying games.

Ric & Rob talk about some particular aspects of reviewing rpgs.

00:15 The problem with reviewing an rpg
01:53 Who’s the audience for an rpg review?
03:17 Review scores
06:07 Games as objects
07:48 Value of different rpgs
09:33 Do you have to play an rpg to review it?
10:46 Do you have to have run an rpg to review it?
11:46 How can a reviewer add value?
13:26 Comparisons with other gaming disciplines
16:23 Design matters