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On the Shoulders of Dwarves

On the Shoulders of Dwarves

By The Dwarves

Dwarves! The podcast now continues in Hebrew, and with a new structure, focusing on creating professional content.
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Rewards Beyond Loot (Episode 105)

On the Shoulders of DwarvesAug 02, 2020

Rewards Beyond Loot (Episode 105)

Rewards Beyond Loot (Episode 105)

What do we mean when we say rewards beyond loot? Not just money, treasure or magic items. Let’s give a few examples and it’ll be clear.

## Non loot rewards (01:24)

Some examples:

- Land

- Titles

- Association (part of a guild/group/etc)

- House / Place to live

- Renown

- Something personal

- Narrative power

## GMs - What can we do with non treasure rewards (09:33)

Why should we use Rewards in our game?

- Used for character development

- Flash out the setting

- Connect the characters to the setting

- Give players a chance to expand on what interest them in the setting

- Allow a sense of accomplishment without shifting game balance

## For players (13:04)

Important tips:

- **Use the reward**: Otherwise it is meaningless - you have a title? Use it. You have land, define it and do something with it. You are part of the stonecutters guild? Send them rock samples, keep a journal of interesting rocks you encounter, read on wikipedia about different rocks

- **Signal what interest you**: signal the GM what is the reward you might enjoy getting. How? Establish it as one of your character’s goals.

- **Leveraging personal items**

- **Using story items:** e.g. taking a defeated enemy’s weapon

## Summary (20:12)

Non loot rewards are a great way to create engagement, character development, enhance the setting and discover what is interesting for the GM and players.

Consider listening to [episode 27]( and [episode 19]( to rethink some ideas.

* * *

## Taking the load off (22:51)

**Uri**: New 5th edition game, Playtesting for “The Makabim game”

**Eran**: Sentinel Comics RPG Starter Kit

* * *

Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](

* * *
Aug 02, 202028:46
Information Dumps (Episode 104)

Information Dumps (Episode 104)

What is an information dump? When a large amount of information is dumped upon the players. Mostly tedious information. Here are some ways to make dumping information more interesting. Show, don’t tell (00:26) This is the most basic and fundamental principal. Don’t just tell things.  - Effects: Think what will be the result of the information you want to say and present the results. Don’t say “there is a dragon up north”. Let the party discover burned bodies and abandoned villages”. Information as entertainment (07:40) Sometimes the delivery of the information can be entertaining by itself. Jokes, common phrases, old motivational posters, newspapers headlines, bards tales - all over the top about something. Information as background details (09:28) Deliver the important information as minor details of something more important. As background details: If we want to talk about the ruling system of the kingdom, we could provide that as minor details of our heist plot. “So, the best time to break into the vault would be during the queen's birthday celebrations”.  Pick the top 3 things you *need* your players to know, and put them into the first few scenes. Information as reward (12:22)  Asking for a roll - Deciphering puzzles & riddles - Don’t hoard information, share it. (remember our Mystery Plots episode) Real world comparisons and agreed upon markers (15:38) Providing a real world comparison: “This town is ruled much like ancient rome” . TIAPP-FAA: ”This Is A Perfect Place For An Ambush” Connect information dumps to the characters themselves (18:40) One of the characters know something because they are special or different.  In summary - What’s important? (25:04) Email from an anonymous bee: I have a big problem with the delivery of information. I'm great with giving the details of the city, the sights and smells and NPCs, but I just don't know how to explain how the government works, and why it works like this. When I do this as a conversation with NPCs, the players are bored. Are the players expected to interact with this bit of the world? Either the government matters in the game, or it doesn't.  If it doesn't, no need to expand more than the players are interested in hearing. Confront them with the governance in action, and give them an opportunity to ask.  In front of the inn there's an auction of items "confiscated according to the Law of Foreigners", with people shouting numbers. The party can ask about it or participate. When they buy equipment, the seller hands them a piece of paper with an official prayer, or says "not including hog tax, of course". the players can then ask about it. This might make the government interesting to the players, and therefore, it might start to matter. If it already mattered to the game, then do the same, but as part of the narrative - the characters get into a situation created as a direct result of the way things are handled in town. Taking the load off (25:36) Uri: Even more playtesting. Star Crossed Curses, the one night stand RPG. Eran: Starting Adventures in Middle Earth  Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode. We have a Patreon page, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Our Facebook group. Most links to DriveThruRPG are affiliate, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no
Jul 04, 202028:14
Obfuscating Game Mechanics (Episode 103)

Obfuscating Game Mechanics (Episode 103)

In today's episode we talk about two very different aspects of information management. I have good news and bad news: the bad news is that most game systems have some really iffy bits that somehow managed to get past the playtest phase or just not suited to your game and that sucks, the good news is that you don’t have to use them. Sometimes a part of the game mechanics does not suit your game. **There are several ways to deal with this issue, you can:** - Remove a mechanic from the system - The GM can obfuscate mechanic from the players - e.g. do all the calculations on their own, like grapple - Saves, to avoid a break in the pacing - Use a simplified version of the rules - Passive perception in D&D - A set amount of damage. - Homebrew your own mechanic for this issue Convention games: intro to system vs running a story-oriented. # Eran’s take (10:45) **Obscuring for clarity** - For reducing cognitive overload - Rules for sailing in 50 Fathoms **Obscuring for tension** - Hit points and other indicators of status - AC, DC of traps City of Mist - statuses are open, custom moves and spectrums are to be revealed What a lovely afternoon # Summary (28:33) One of the best parenting advice I got was to listen to everyone's advice about parenting but remember that 24 hours after your kids have been born you know them better than anyone. I mean that you know your gaming group better them the people that wrote the system or module and if one thing is really problematic - adjust accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you should alter game systems lightly. Game designers work hard on these. * * * # Taking the load off (30:07) **Uri**: My Warpriest is now a cleric, playtesting a new adventure. Getting ready for a new D&D 5e campaign. **Eran**: working on a new version of Menagerie of the Void * * * Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group]( We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Jun 08, 202035:15
Compelling Characters (Episode 102)

Compelling Characters (Episode 102)

What makes a player character compelling? # Uri’s take (01:04) What makes a player character compelling? - They don’t snugly fit into a stereotype. We’ve talked about avoiding stereotypes and cliches in the past ([Episode 2 - avoid character cliche]( And it’s fine to build on a stereotype, actually many RPGs railroad us to fit into some stereotype in order to conform with the trope of the genres that they are aiming at. In D&D it’s difficult to create a smart fighter because your class often pigeonholes you to a role. But i’m talking about more than that. If you find that one trope can mostly define your character (“the strong silent type”,”the dumb fighter”), add more. - They have evolved and they will evolve. They have a history behind them and a future in front of them. A character that doesn't have a development is the child-turning into a hero story but they are usually not very interesting. They focus on the second part. Of the current development. - They want something Goals. Goals let us understand what the characters want, so we can estimate how well they do and where they compromise. Some great ways to create goals for your character is having short term goals and long term goals. Another approach is having something that you run toward and something that you run from.  - Values and morality. Internal struggles are what truly reveal a character's character. And these are always the results of values and morality. Choosing between finishing off the goblin king or healing your wounded friend is a question of morals. - They win some and they lose some. Heroes that never lose are not interesting. They may not lose in the quest or combat but they do lose something, their innocence, their goals, their friends. There must be sacrifice.  # Eran’s take (10:38) - I’m interested in their upcoming journey. Where will this lead them? What decisions are waiting for them, and how will they make their choices?  - Their colorful past makes them mostly predictable. I can imagine X interacting with Y, because I know them well thanks to their well-defined mannerisms and preferences.  (Uri: the [*La Ronde*](, play style is an exercise in creating well defined characters) - You might also like to read Uri’s article: [How Uri Plays Consistent Characters]( - They stand for themselves. They’re kinda badass, in whatever field they specialise in. Even the small, sickly boy is not a caricature of mumbling, he’s *conquering* his situation, or at least shows signs he’s capable of it. # Summary (21:26) Make your characters compelling  * * * # Taking the load off (22:50) **Uri**: Have been playing an actual tabletop session on top of an actual table. An also talked with his GM about his character romantic interests.  **Eran**: Check out my bundle!  [\_id=29668]( * * * Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group]( We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [C
May 18, 202027:38
Lessons from XCOM (Episode 101)

Lessons from XCOM (Episode 101)

Both Eran and I have been playing a lot of the video game XCOM lately. Even though it is NOT a roleplaying game. Still, even though it is not a roleplaying game - there is a lot we can learn from it.

What is XCOM?

A series of computer games. Started in 1994 with X-COM enemy unknown and many sequels. Rebooted in 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Would you like to know more?

What's interesting about XCOM?

- XCOM knows what it is and what it's trying to do, and goes about it in a direct mannar.

- It has a strategic layer and a tactical layer

- You always know the odds but need to make hard choices.

- Your actions and decisions have harsh repercussions ("[That's XCOM baby](")

Why does XCOM matter to us roleplayers?

- In XCOM 2 The game continued to surprise you: new enemies, new abilities, new things to worry about. Creating a mounting tension.

- Decisions in the strategic layer affect missions in the tactical layer (which I always found lacking in roleplaying mechanisms. It is always "now I manage an empire" and "now I'm delving in a dungeon".

- You care about your characters beyond their tactical value. How? Customization, names, details, variety of abilities. Downtime due to injury.

- Common objective for all your missions.

- The new XCOM does something very interesting with initiative that changes the genre of the game. The old init system vs the new (we've mentioned the effects of init in [episode 81 - initiative mechanics](

Adding a strategic layer to an RPG (21:20)

Most games don't have it, some games must have it.

Blades in the Dark

Pathfinder Adventure paths - running a kingdom, a rebellion, an army, a circus. Ultimate Campaign


Exalted 2nd ed, Mandate of Heaven

Ars Magica, Adventurer Conqueror King

One Ring, Adventures in Middle Earth

Clear roles, clear actions

Add randomised events/resolutions - for everyone, for every role/action

Maintenance - paying just to keep afloat

Have clear effects on the tactical level

Summary (33:07)

Don't be afraid to fish ideas from games. Both in terms of crunch and fluff.

* * * * *

Taking the load off (33:46)

Our published adventures:

Eran: All three adventures now available


Uri: Want more review for [Rolling with Laughter](, currently working on a Romeo and Juliet version for 5e.

* * * * *

Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](

* * * * *
May 04, 202037:46
The 100th Episode (Episode 100)

The 100th Episode (Episode 100)

Disclaimer: this is a comedy episode, any and all advice must be treated as such We are joined with our technical dwarf Aviv Icel Manoch! ## Aviv Or - How do you handle a monster strike? I had a session once where a young black dragon simply refused to fight, just handed us a leaflet about the challenge rating struggle and encouraged us to support some new Random Encounter Union. ## Di - How many kobolds do you think a single adult red dragon could eat in one sitting before it gets indigestion? ## Aviad Tal - What genre we don't see enough of in TTRPGs? - What is the best way to get rid of a mind flayer infestation? - What do you call a really tall dwarf? - Describe the hobby in the worst possible way. ## Paul Hawkins  - What would be the worst lineup for an adventuring party in a campaign in D&D? - Follow-up question: What do you think is the worst race you could pick for each of the core classes? ## Avshalom Guissin  - Tide Brillrock, surfer, sometimes nature cleric and fellow dwarf wants to know what's the best place to catch some waves in Avernus. Also has anyone seen a wise crab recently? He's been missing sometime we're a bit concerned. Many thanks. ## Roee AinHorn - Hello dwarves! At these difficult times I confront a very complicated problem: how can I throw things on my players when they're miles away? - I already broke my computer trying to throw my metal die on them through zoom, so what are your recommendations for buying a new one? []( ## Roy Kahet - How can an elf become an honorary dwarf? # Summary You, fellow dwarves, are awesome. * * * Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group]( We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International]( Frogs Legs Rag by Kevin MacLeod Link: []( License: []( * * *
Apr 22, 202034:00
Running Published Adventures (Episode 99)

Running Published Adventures (Episode 99)

A quick disclaimer: Eran LOVES running published modules, Uri… no so much. Also, we are talking about published adventures, not published campaigns. There are some differences that we won’t get into. ## Picking an adventure (03:57) Use the fact that other people read it: - You can read ratings, reviews and comments. This will help you pick a good adventure. - Some excellent sources might be: [](, []( or [EN World]( ## Getting to know the adventure (09:27) - Read the whole thing. Most adventures have a plot summary at the beginning. - Imaging yourself inside the adventure, try to understand the impression it should have on the characters. Uri suggests doing a “[table read](”.  - Before every session read the parts you are expecting to run. Estimate the time it might take to run the adventure, divide it into segments based on your expected duration. A lot of adventures might already be segmented. ## Connect the adventure with your party and campaign (16:17) - Connect the adventure to your campaign (if applicable). Consider both the lead-in and the lead-out. Many adventures have “adventure hooks” set up in order to help the GM to incorporate the adventures into their own campaign. - Connect to your campaign by changing and adding components based on your campaign.e.g. Switch some NPCs with known NPCs from your setting. Use R&R rename and reskin to save time and effort. - Connect the plot to the PCs, modify NPCs and situations to give the players and characters what they’re looking for.  ## Accessibility of information (24:24) - Work beforehand, to have everything as you’re used to - Post-it notes and bookmarks - Two places: two screens, a screen and a tablet, a screen and a book. - Find a method that works for you. I use a single spreadsheet for everything, with tabs, and a single Keep note, with lines.  - Delegate rules to players Important note: Use what works for you. ## Recommendations (29:19) - Into the Wilds - [Forge of Fury]( - Lost Mine of Phandelver - The Portal Under the Stars  - [Parnast series, Storm King’s Thunder]( - Palace in the wastes - [City of the Spider Queen]( - [Crystal Heart: Exotic ingredients]( # Summary (37:22)[Parnast series, Storm King’s Thunder]( Reading published adventures is useful even if you're not planning to run it. * * * # Taking the load off (08:59) Our published adventures: - [Eran]( - - [One Last Tribute]( - [Shed Not a Tear, oh Princess]( - [Uri](  -  - [Escaping Thalamus Lab]( - [Rolling with Laughter](
Apr 15, 202045:26
Games Without Masters (Episode 98)

Games Without Masters (Episode 98)

In this episode we will recommend some GM-less games that are fun to play and easy to play around the table as well as online.

## Microscope (02:29)

A world building game by Ben Robbins

Easy and fun to play even with just two people.



You might also like to check out:

Kingdom: [](

Follow: [](

## For the Queen (07:30)

A card-based story-building game By Alex Roberts.


## The Quiet Year (09:30)

A community development game by Avery Alder


## Venture Forth (12:42)

A fantasy hack of “The Quiet Year” by Eran Aviram (that’s our Eran!)



## Swords Without Master (15:37)

The “Father” of GM-less games, by Epidiah Ravachol


# Summary (17:24)

- Our friend Richard Williams ([](

- These are hard times, you can help publishers and content creator by purchasing their PDFs, If you are financially able.

* * *

# Taking the load off (20:28)

- Eran - Running Forge of Fury, switched my Hell’s Rebels game to Roll20

- Uri - it’s hard playing online for me. But I did manage some playtest for a space combat adventure and play my pathfinder game, but did not manage to get my masks game coordinated.

* * *

Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](

* * *
Apr 06, 202026:55
Uplifting (Episode 97)

Uplifting (Episode 97)

Today's episode we will be talking about ways that the GM can make their players feel uplifted.

## How Uri uplift his players spirit (01:05):

Every once in a while I do an “uplifting session”. That is a session whose entire purpose is to make the players feel uplifted. When? After the end of an adventure for example, to let the players experience the results of their actions.

Another great time for an uplifting session is after gaining new levels, abilities or status, as a way to let the players test out their new powers and abilities.

How to create the sense of an uplifting moment?

- Lower the difficulties

- Enhance NPCs reactions to the positive

- Failure forward: still rewards the characters with progress of some sort

- Continus sense of momentum toward their goals

## What Eran think of uplifting (08:01):

- During an epilogue

- Throw an obstacle; how did you overcome it?

- Using the “How do you want to do this” catchphrase

- The Interlude mechanic

- Using the Savage Worlds adventure cards mechanic

# Summary (21:12)

This is also a great tool for these hard days, when you want your players to leave a gaming session with something hopeful and uplifting.

* * *

# Taking the load off (22:23)

- Erans new adventure: [Shed Not a Tear, Oh Princess](

- Uri new adventure [Rolling with Laughter]( and new gaming system [Dozens]( .

* * *

Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Mar 30, 202029:13
Making the Players Feel Smart (Episode 96)

Making the Players Feel Smart (Episode 96)

We got this short and to the point email from Peter:
Hello, I'm not saying that my players are not smart, but... How do you make your players feel smart when you're running a game?
Good question!
Uri’s suggestions (02:46)
There is a difference between making players feel smart and making players actually act smarter. This of course is also true for any other emotion that you want your players to experience.
Target characters, not players: Use the mechanics. Players don’t need to be smart. The characters may be smart. “Smart” usually have mechanical definitions - use them.
NPCs reactions: making the player character looks good by the reactions of NPCs (“15 minutes of glory”).
GM praise: some simple guiding actions like saying “oh, that was a good plan”, or “nice one”
Describe the results of intelligent actions favorably “thanks to your clever distraction, only four guards stand next to the treasure chest and not the full battle squad that is usually stationed there”
Reward intelligent actions: humans react to what works. Make sure to reward being smart. In my previous campaign I’d say things like “OK, tell me your battle plan” and if they actually had a plan I’d give them all a +1 for the battle or for the first round
Eran’s ideas (08:26)
Lower the base assumption: it makes PCs’ abilities seem more powerful. Roll Insight to simply understand through tone and body language (exactly the same as if they did it through talk)
No rollingInstead of rolling, simply provide information. Add details
Provide options: Give many options to roll for “advantage”. Roll Battle to understand where the exits can be (instead of just giving them the locations after some scouting).
Bennies!: used to create new details, or notice details
Gambit powers: from Fourthcore. Intelligent NPCs - “know” what was going on, what the players planned, what they can do. They “planned” the current situation, can call for ad-hoc reinforcements/traps
The Scholar Mechanic: from Adventures in Middle Earth, “News from Afar”, “Hope Unlooked-for”
Summary (25:55)
This can be done and you, dear GM, can do it.
Taking the load off (28:33)
Uri - alternative for end of combat follow ups.
Eran - Getting ready for the final fight against the three hags. Going to tie up all loose ends with an Interlude-style mechanic.
Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode. We have a Patreon page, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Our Facebook group. Most links to DriveThruRPG are affiliate, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.
Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.
Mar 23, 202033:46
GMing Anxiety (Episode 95)

GMing Anxiety (Episode 95)

In this episode we will speak of the phenomenon of “GMing Anxiety”. DIsclaimer: We are not therapists or psychologists. So, what we will do in this episode is present some issues that we encountered and how we dealt with it. Remember: Anxiety is what we feel, not what is actually happening. It’s an emotional reaction to outside stimuli, but it does not mean it’s a *good reflection* of what’s actually going on. # Uri’s take (01:00) I think that GMing anxiety is a mixture of two dominant issues: **What is Imposter Syndrome? (03:55)** “the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills”. There isn’t a bachelor degree in GMing. We don’t have an external reaffirmation for being a good GM. and even if we did it wouldn’t matter.  **How Uri deals with imposter syndrome:** Keep a list of success and failures - At any work I had, I created two folders. One is called Ego and the other is called Hubris. Whenever I mess up I put something into the hubris folder. It might be a screenshot of an error, a copy of an apology I sent.  **What is Performance Anxiety? (08:09)** The fear that you will not be able to perform well in a specific task. Stage fright falls under this category and I had to deal with that very strongly as an Improv artist.  **How Uri Deals with Performance Anxiety** - Failure and success as a spectrum: A sentence that a friend once told me about an improv show “relax, You haven’t done you worst or best show yet”. I find that strangely comforting. It reminds me that yea, everything can go up in smoke but there is also a chance that everything will be amazing. - Accept that there are external forces: when I fail at something I literally say “well, that a natural one, shit”. It reminds me that there are a 1000 things not in my control as a GM. and they all affect the game. One player having a bad day could ruin the session for everyone. But we, the GMs, will still blame ourselves for it.  - Level: if you’re thirty, you are a level 30 human. I bet that you’re really good at being a human. Using all your muscles and breathing and such. If you’re GMing for 4 years you’re a level 4 GM. and trust me, you weren’t such a great example of a human when you were 4. Give yourself some room to improve. - Share & vent: find some sort of support group to share with. Some people do it to get some positivity, I usually do it for the other viewpoints. You could be angry at yourself for something that 10 other people might notice immediately that is not your fault. I recommend with someone that isn’t your players since you might need to vent or simply need the objectivity of others to accept their points. - Saya No Uchi no Katsu: prepare in advance. All undead are less scary when you have holy water, all trolls less scary when you have a flaming torch handy. # Eran’s point of view: (13:55) Before a game with people I don’t know, or don’t know well. So mostly one-shots. Especially when I’m in a teaching position, running a demo or introducing someone to RPGs.  I feel very responsible for everyone's enjoyment, the burden of being the main attraction and entertainer. This is not actually the case, and more importantly, it’s usually not the players’ expectations.  How to handle my insecurities:  - Know the rules well enough so you feel comfortable to pull a quick ruling. That’s why I love Genesys dice. - Have solid character sheets. It’s the most basic thing a player needs in order to interact with the game. Put the basis for some conflict on it, to help yourself pull at something during the game. - Know the beginning, the middle and the end. Even if in only general terms, like “a big fight in a cathedral”. It’s a compass that guides your decisions. - If I run a demo/introducion,
Mar 09, 202034:08
Fishing From the Classics (Episode 94)

Fishing From the Classics (Episode 94)

# What is Fishing? (in the context of RPGs and this episode) Taking the good stuff, form or content, and remixing/remodelling or re-whatever to use in your game. # Why fishing from the classics? They’re the classics for a reason. Now we will go over some of the elements you can fish from a classic and show how it can be done. Uri will use [Shakespeare](’s [Romeo and Juliet]( as an example because he’s such a sucker for Shakespeare and Eran will use [Treasure Island]( because he’s such a sucker for pirates. # Plots & Plot Elements (03:03) Romeo and Juliet : two rival houses, with forbidden love - Doesn’t have to be your main plotline - I did it with a dragon rider and a vampire. Who were the side characters. (there was a bounty on their heads. Treasure Island : Mutiny, back-stabbing. It’s not about finding the treasure, it’s about the competition. # Locations (08:49) R&J : In Romeo and Juliet there is a city with a simple structure: we have one prince that rules the city and everyone must listen to him, we have 2 main patriarchal families that control most of the city, complete with guards and minions. We have the church that tries to stay out of trouble and please everyone. Just taking all these elements and the power relations between as a template and changing some of the names gives you an instant setting. Sometimes it is easier to fish from people who already did the fishing for you. When I wanted to have a Verona in a futuristic setting I simply fished elements from the anime “[Romeo X Juliet](” that is a retelling of romeo and juliet in Neo-Verone located on an asteroid and involve flying dragon horses and magical trees and what not. TI : The ship - small, isolated. A world unto itself. # Organizations (15:05) R&J : Our list of assets: we have a ruling prince, 2 families, 1 church and a guild. These can be easily converted to organizations with tangible limits, power structure and specific organizational goals. TI : Black Sails - Pirates: votes, shares and power struggles. # Characters (20:05) R&J : Let's just name a few as archetypes: **Lord Capulet** \- the powerful patriarch of the family, **Mercutio** \- the crazy and loyal friend with the sarcastic tongue, **Romeo** \- the naive child lost in adolescent love, **The Maid** \- who is that comic relief NPC that is really loveable and wants to help but speak in the most TMI way possible. **Tybalt** \- the antagonistic overly zealous asshole. I often fish one of these when I need it. I usually fish a character from [a movie version]( so I will have a visual image or an accent in my mind when I play the character. TI : **Long John Silver** - obviously dangerous, but also super-likeable, and no reason to confront him. **Ben Gunn** - comes in mid-story, comedic and tragic at the same time # Relationships (28:07) R&J : Forbidden love between rivals, rivalry between wealthy families, abusive father and his daughter, a maid and her young protege. Fishing a few elements allows us to fish the relationship between them as well and that creates a much more believable scenario for our game as well as make it easier for us the GMs to remember the dynamic between the elements in our game. TI : Eran don’t believe in relationships. Only Allegiances. # Summary (31:11) Fishing is an excellent practice. It lets you create complicated scenarios for your campaign. Makes it easier to remember and manage. --- # Taking the load off (31:33) - Uri - Just finished a Campaign! The “[Curse of the Crimson Throne](” adventure path.[Summarised in a GI
Mar 02, 202036:51
Interesting Indies (Episode 93)

Interesting Indies (Episode 93)

A while back we asked our listeners what topics you want us to talk about and **Sivan Kotek** said “can you talk about new non OSR indie games”? Well, Sivan, yes, yes we can.

# Kiss Her Before the World Ends (03:23)

by **Alice Grizzle**

Alice on [](

On the cover: *Your world is ending. There's no hope of saving it, and you know that. The others do too. They might pretend otherwise, but they know.*

*None of that matters though. What matters is that you can hear her through the wall: crying. All you want to do is hold her in your arms and tell her that she's not alone.*

*So do it.*

Kiss Her Before the World Ends is a GMless, diceless, single session RPG for 2 to 4 players about the things we desire from relationships, how we negotiate getting those things, and making the most of every second life gives us.

What I liked: the game is set up for a quick run, with time estimation for each phase. It’s a GM less game

# Michtim (07:40)

By **Georg Mir**

A Fluffy adventure!

The game: [](

# Spring on me (14:30)

by **Ben Chong** (also known as Flowers)

Ben on [](

Spring on me: [](

On the cover: *Spring On Me is a prompt-based rpg about messy dates, funny surprises, and being together. In it, you will play characters who are intertwined, awkward and connected as they meet and date in Spring. But time is short, so what will you say to each other before the season's gone?*

This is a tiny 6 pages game (2 of which are the covers) that packs a real punch.

It’s a prompt based game, so it’s a lot easier for new players. You just need to answer questions and not think about all the possibilities.

I’m in love with the coin toss mechanic.

You should know that [Epistolary Richard]( have a roundup of GM less games, just look up [#GamesWithoutMaster]( on twitter.

# DeScriptors (18:30)

By **Matthew Bannock**

On dtRPG: [](

Your character is a descriptor and a number of adjectives. A big part of the game is succeeding thanks to having an adjective, or choosing to fail in order to gain a new one, with a negative connotation. The story continues to the next location after the current's location Refresh number - how many adjectives can be picked up in it - is spent. Puns and synonyms are encouraged, and the book provides five suggestions for settings (the rules are just a single page), with tips on how to use the system to create their specific genres. Not sure I'll ever play this, but it's worth a read, despite the awkward layout.

# Summary (23:10)

Indie games are amazing. Trying out a few may very well expand your mind regarding what games can do and what subject matter they can tackle.


# Taking the load off (27:45)

- Uri - In my regular “masks a new generation” game I used the prompt, “what is your character anxious about?” and it changed everything.

- Eran - play test: “Shed Not a Tear, Oh Princess”


Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [Drive
Feb 24, 202032:04
Defining an RPG Hero (Episode 92)

Defining an RPG Hero (Episode 92)

How do you define a “hero” in your game? In [episode 50 - Who is an adventurer]( we discussed Who is an adventurer, but we didn’t talk about what is a hero. ## The word “hero” have several different definitions * Heroes \- famous individuals * Heroes \- individuals doing the right thing * Heroes \- the individuals winning the conflict * Heroes \- the individuals that are doing cool awesome stuff, “an X-movie hero” * Heroes \- the individuals who are the Protagonists of the narrative ## Why does the definition of a hero matter? Like any definition, it matters if it allows us to see our game in a new way that is beneficial in some way. For a GM - this definition helps us to shape the call to action that will have the best effect on the characters. For the players - it helps us as players to decide what it is that our characters are doing. And what sort of arc to expect for them, going forward Are our characters on the path for glory? If so they will favor actions that promote fame and high profile. If they are about doing the right thing - they will prefer to go against the biggest injustice. ## Does this link to player motivation? Yes, consider “Why we play”. ## A party is usually a mixed bag There is nothing saying that a game can’t be comprised of different “hero” type characters, Let us consider “The Witcher” for a moment, Gerald is a hero in the sense that he does what he believes to be right. Yennefer is a hero in the sense of being a protagonist. This is not a problem by itself, different characters have different aspirations and therefore will undergo different story arcs. ## Campaign types Different hero definitions affect the type of campaign you are playing. ## Being a hero (intrinsically) vs. becoming a hero Starting out as destined for greatness (wild die, fate points). Becoming a hero through play. ## Where does it end? For people whose definition of a hero is doing the right thing or fighting injustice, the quest never ends, it is a lifelong struggle. But for people whose definition of being a hero is fame and fortune - there can be a very satisfying ending to the story: conquering the kingdom, defeating the dragon, ascending into godhood, you know, the usuals. Uri believes this is a profound statement on the quintessential nature of your character. Will I, as a player, let my character have the possibility of a happy ever after? Or just the option of a good night rest know they did the right before the next struggle? # Summary (14:08) The definition of “a hero” is a fluid one. But it can have long-standing consequences on your campaign as a GM or on your character as a player. And while there is no doubt that you can ignore this episode and continue playing and nothing will change. Your game will still be awesome. But we believe that by making a conscious decision in defining what is a hero you can create the experience you want to have in your game in a better way. --- # Taking the load off (15:00) - Uri - D&D 5E, betray scene, transforming your character. - Eran - The adventure [One Last Tribute]( is now available on the [DMs Guild]( (if you want to see it [in Hebrew for D&D 4E (PDF)]( (the one-page version [can be found here]( ---- Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.
Feb 17, 202023:15
Guiding Actions (episode 91)

Guiding Actions (episode 91)

We have a guest: Di, author of “[The Anatomy of the GM curse](” on the Gnome Stew gaming blog. ## What is a guiding action An action that powerfully affects the game's experience for some or all players. ## What isn’t a guiding action It can be done consciously or reflexively, mostly by a GM, because the other players give the GM authority. ## Examples of guiding actions - Putting on specific music to engage specific emotions (consider Di’s recent article [Moodlists]( or T[abletop Audio]( - Ignore a player, or reduce attention. blocking them. Address the least active player and ask "what do you do?" - Have your character address another player's character, if you want to give them some spotlight (you might want to listen to The Spotlight Episode) - Giving details, obscuring by speaking quickly - Includes social cues - And many more ## Guiding actions by players Players can perform guiding actions as well. ## Roleplaying games are weird Some people react to the mentioning of guiding actions by "That's manipulation!" Yes, you've just described drama. Fictionalized storytelling is our attempt to evoke emotions, whatever the medium. In writing, the writer writes the text to manipulate the audience. In RPGs, in which participants are both the creators and the audience, it's obviously clearer to us. Yoko Tarou - Nier Automata ([Wikipedia link]( Some of the confusion is due to the fact that some people treat RPGs only as games while others treat them as art. # Uri recognizes two kinds of guiding actions: ## Using the game elements to shape the experience - As part of the game mechanics, these actions are expected but their timing or use is not for the explicit actions of the gameplay - rolling dice to create suspense and not due to rules, asking for clarifications. ## Using the elements external to the game to shape the experience - These actions are completely external to the actions and mechanics of the game. May include: lighting, non-gaming paraphernalia props, music, scent, sitting order, specific drinks, external activities (LARPing), staring disapprovingly. # Di elaborates: ## Guiding Actions & Subtlety “You should search again” vs “You have a sense of unease as you leave the room” - notice the diffrence? One is making the narrative an obstacle? Saying you need to do this to progress, also easily identified as railroading. Can lock players into checking what you want/need them to check. ‘Ohohohoh you shouldn’t leave until you find the bait I put out for you because I’m so clever.’ The latter, if unheeded, becomes foreshadowing that later bites players on the butt, but feels more deserved. It gave them the OPTION to fumble. ## Giving Definitions to Guiding Actions/GM Curses Being a GM, guide, or storyteller and learning the trade behind it is primarily a bardic style of learning: it's passed from word of mouth or keyboard and you learn a general idea of what things produce what results. Giving titular definitions to such topics gives us the ability to talk about and discuss it. It pushes it into something scholarly and long-lasting. # Summary (35:55) We will summarise with some links and shouts out The original post in the Israeli roleplayers groups (Hebrew): []( Di’s article on GnomeStew: [The anatomy of the GM curse]( Read [Israeli tabletop three flavors of delta green](
Feb 10, 202049:14
Monsters Bracket Night (Episode 90)

Monsters Bracket Night (Episode 90)

A while back Uri came across a twitter post about “Bracket Night”. The idea of a bracket night is that you select 16 items of a specific topic and divide them into brackets, pitting one against the other and have a discussion about “which is the best”. This is determined by a discussion followed by a vote.

So Uri immediately gathered 10 veteran GMs and had a bracket night to find the best monster.

You can read a [play by play description]( but that's not what we wanted to talk about. I want to talk about the reason behind having such a night. Unlike a debate club - the reason is not to win the debate. No, the idea is to open a discussion, to hear new and hopefully surprising points of views.

Of course, There is no such thing as “The Best Monster”. The whole point of a bracket night, like most thought processes, is not the outcome but the road leading to it. Some of the concepts that emerged during ourthe discussions were interesting and new to some of the participants.

That evening got people thinking in new ways about monsters, for example:

- Relatability - To what monsters can we, as humans, relate? A swarm of rats is something that we can more easily relate to.

- Alienation - And by contrast, the alien nature of some creatures. We can’t imagine what a beholder is thinking or what are the values a mind flayer holds dear.

- Effects outside the imaginary space/expected results - The effect that a monster has on physical items outside the imaginary space (erasing items of the character sheet, forcefully moving PCs miniatures on the board etc). Draining levels.

- Historical context - The historical contexts that come with a creature. And I use plural because I distinguish between at least 3: the real world history, the game history and the party collective history. Take for example a gorgon.

- Intelligence - The level of intelligence of a creature.

- Versatility - a bulette can only do so much.

- Prep time / hype required - How much of prep time a monster may require in order to place it in your game

- Difficulty level - The difficulty of facing a creature, like a dragon for low level characters or a tarrasque. When can you best utilise an unbeatable monster in your campaign?

# Summary (19:05)

I highly recommend that you have a bracket night. It a fun social experience, that may open your eyes to new possibilities as long as you remember that there is no “winning condition”


# Taking the load off (19:47)

- Uri - Bracket Night, Escape Room.

- Eran - Menagerie of the Void, looking for playtesters.


Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Feb 04, 202025:17
Playing Politics (episode 89)

Playing Politics (episode 89)

Since Uri had several GMs ask him how to create a realistic political landscape in a fantasy setting. However, we are not experts in political relations. So we brought in a professional! Haggai Elkayam Shalem - a political psychologist. ## Intro to Politics (02:20) What is politics? ## How to build a realistic political landscape (04:25) Start with conflicting desires and then move to these basics: - Avoid clear “Good” and “Bad” - Refrain from monoliths and break them into sub-sections (what are monoliths? Good question!) - The internal conflict of politics: ideology vs. self-interest - Grant clear psychological aspect to the political players A good mechanic to represent political issues: Fronts (19:00) ## The main themes for a political game (21:30) - Paranoia (not the game!) - The constant tension between ideology and pragmatism. ## What can players do to support this playstyle? (27:05) Players can help by selecting ideologies for their characters. Ideally, ones that already have the backing of organizations in the game world. # Summary (29:40) Sources of inspirations: - TV shows: [House of Cards](, [The West Wing]( - Audiobooks/reading: [The Powerbroker]( - Books: [The Dictator’s Handbook]( Also, watch [Rules for Rulers]( (CGP Gray). --- # Taking the load off (34:20) - Haggai - playing a cult! [Invisible sun]( - Eran - [Australian bushfire relief bundles]( Bought $80 with Up to Four Players money. And wrote [a bunch of short reviews]([0]=68.ARCTdR5I1h-pmtGHb3Iyw0KG_s6_m95-dIG4JebB3O5PWtb6PJJwvvgfPc3BMSRsDeguZ534-ZzJUJKF35h4p4_6IUTBMKhUOWluiJcBlXuHp3tTNoVH8jIDbyJfXx7zQZEBR-uAQCLRAjwAF2Sejkk3Vqgp-Is_XaCITNFMVifN8TZ-Nuggd7zv2dJsSVeQsRL8S3Jj7iq__35Ye5jzKK8J9WHOgE6leOTi8IHkCLEyLyyI3RUVUWeQHGwSdNmwBygHblekPdW0snKqre5Tgn-O8zEpVyrp8hvpriEIbVWfxcfBKARYUoK1cqvNsVRo12zbEm25UE9Yr98cT74&__tn__=-R). - Uri - We have a new [Patreon page]( with some new ideas. If you enjoy this podcast please support us. ---- Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group]( We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Jan 27, 202043:56
Solidifying Your Campaign (episode 88)

Solidifying Your Campaign (episode 88)

Each game involved some basic elements such as:

- System (the game mechanics)

- Setting (the world, the location, the metaphysics etc)

- Themes (the subject matter)

- Plot structure (episodial, dungeon crawling, overarching plot, sandbox)

- Nature of the characters (young, inexperienced, hardened veteren, fish out of water, professionals etc.)

Each of these elements can usually be solidified during one of three phases: before the first session, in your session 0, or during the game play.

Determining each of these elements during these different phases have it’s advantages and disadvantages.

## Before the Game (04:42)

Setting all or most of these elements before the first session, usually in the invite to the game.


- Full compatibility - You as a GM only get players interested in the game you want to run and the players can opt into a game they wish


- No brainstorming - there isn’t any point where the party can suggest improvements or new directions.

We talked about some suggestions to handle this phase in [episode 29 - Matching the players to the game](

Eran usually “pitch” a few fully formed campaign ideas and let his players decide among those.

## During Session 0 (07:45)

Session 0, if you are unfamiliar with the term is a meetup of the gaming group to set expectations regarding upcoming game. It is the purpose of this meetup to set most of the elements we’re discussing here.


- Inspiration \- depending on how much of the elements are decided beforehand this can lead up to new ideas. Themes and characters that the GM or each players wouldn’t have thought of by themselves.


- Compromises \- sometimes during these discussions the end result may require some members to compromise. This isn’t a full disadvantage since it’s better to learn of these problems before investing more time and effort.

## During Game Play (10:32)

Sometimes we leave elements undiscussed and that is fine. Especially if the GM wants to keep some aspects secretive (how the PCs react to betrayal for instance). This is a tool that has its own advantages and disadvantages. And has some ramifications regarding the nature of the game, for examples sandbox games give the players more control over the subjects matter their characters will interact with.


- Organic development \- The players get to explore the world around them and decide on what topics to focus on when they choose.

- Surprise \- the players do not know what to expect.


- Possible disappointment \- the players may discover that they don't enjoy the game or dislike the themes in it.

We mentioned some aspects of this in [episode 19 - customising the campaign to the players](

## Further Considerations (15:15)

- Tasting Menu - trying many things, different GMs

- Framing \- Switching GMs? Switching characters?

- Fronts \- as we’ve discussed at [episode 86 - derailing the campaign](

- Closed-ended vs open ending - heading toward an ending (all campaigns have a final session, not all have an ending) (check out [episode 69 - ending the campaign](

- Switching characters

- What keeps the PCs together

- Handling character death

# Summary (25:05)

[Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management](
Jan 20, 202029:49
The Spotlight (episode 87)

The Spotlight (episode 87)

The other day Uri started a discussion in our [Facebook group]( about suggestions for future episodes. A lot of great ideas came up, and today we’re focusing on a topic suggested by a listener named Tal Shiboli’s: The Spotlight.

Defining the Spotlight (01:22) \- When we say The Spotlight in this episode we mean that person around the table who is currently describing what is happening in the game. It’s easy to confuse the spotlight with the GM’s attention or acknowledgment, but they are not the same thing.

Everyone loves the spotlight! (well, not everyone, we discussed [passive players]( in [episode 22]( Also, note that sharing the spotlight is not the same as “e[mpowering fellow players](” (as we’ve discussed on [episode 83]( Sometimes sharing the spotlight can be an issue. The issue arises when someone hogs the spotlight or when some players don’t get their fair share of the spotlight.

In this episode, we want to talk about the spotlight and show several ways to control it both from the GM’s side and the player’s side.

# Player control (03:55)
**Equality** \- Distribute the “spotlight” equally. Be aware of some potential problems, such as that men tend to take the spotlight, marginalized groups tend to allow it, not wanting to “stir the pot”. As a GM or as a player you can help less dominant players get their spotlight.


**Flavor Interjection** \- When the spotlight is elsewhere and you want to express yourself and be a part of the scene, interject with some flavor, instead of pulling it toward you (Some suggestions on interjecting your character can be found in [episode 23 - making your character come alive]( For example describe how your character reacts, something that others can choose to advance on or ignore. Saying “you see a look of disgust spread over Besters face as you continue to move through the king”

**Invite Others** \- Create an opportunity for other characters to join in on the scene, in my eyes that is one of the best ways to share the spotlight. “Listen poor NPC, you don’t want to marry her. Do you know who’s married? Haskar, our dwarf, for years, and he’s miserable, aren’t you Haskar? Here why don’t you tell this NPC here how miserable you are”.

# GM control (08:00)

As a general rule, the GM usually has a lot of influence on the spotlight. cutting some players turn and referring specifically to others.

**Push and Pull** \- The GM’s ability to direct the spotlight can be used to help push and pull (if you wonder how, try listening to [episode 27 - slaps and bennies](

**City of Mist Example** \- In City of Mist, the spotlight is an element of the system. But the system only defines it, and it wants the MC to control where it’s pointed and when it’s moved. “Managing the spotlight is comparable to a director switching between cameras to ensure all the lead characters receive enough airtime in the story”. The MC have a tool called Intrusions - allow the MC to intrude on the player’s spotlight.

**Using the Spotlight as a Pace Setter** \- Spotlight is also closely linked with pacing and atmosphere, much like editing in a movie can set the tones or affect the viewer. Quick jump cuts of the spotlight between players lead to one effect (usually
Jan 13, 202026:08
Derailing the Campaign Back on Track (episode 86)

Derailing the Campaign Back on Track (episode 86)

# What is derailing (01:45)

Derailing is the act of going off planned session, basically when the campaign is going off tracks.

# Uri’s suggestions:

## Some examples that cause derailing (04:15)

- **The Squeaky Goblin** - The NPC that becomes the focus of everyone’s attention - usually a goblin with a squeaky voice that take the focus of the whole session.* “Sure, let's talk with Bananagar about him being a simple uninteresting goblin farmer that came to trade furs and grains because of the harsh winter in the mountains. Yea, Sure, he has a family, his wife Peachgar and kids Berrygar and Applegar”.*

- **The “Not MacGuffin”** \- an item or clues that the party is sure is very important even though it isn’t.

- **The Misconception** \- the players got it all wrong

- **The Paranoid Character** \- the party will not trust nor listen to any source of information.

## Ways of coping (08:22)

- ** “Yes and...”** \- My favorite approach, incorporate the derailment into your campaign (AKA: “Roll with it” or “Make it true”).

- **Side-quest subversion** - why not? Just because it’s not important in this plot, doesn’t mean that it’s not important for some other plot. This could be a great sub plot or a lead for a future plot.

- **Give up** \- The old plot is dead, long live the new plot. This is now the new plot! *We will help Bananagar help his village!*

# Eran’s point of view:

## Trust and conceit (11:47)

We gathered here to play a specific game, about a specific narrative; let’s stick to it. And GM, earn some trust.


## Work with fronts (16:10)

Fundamentals (capabilities, motivation) and vectors (plans)

Also consider listen to episode 46 “[How we prepare for games](” as well episode episode 38 “[Dis-organisations](”.

## Add a scene, remove a scene (21:15)

Think in terms of fundamental scenes, what not essential in them, transition scenes

Think of the dramatic trends of the current session, and readjust. We discussed this is the [Pacing episode](

# Summary (26:40)

What can you do as a player? A lot.

Consider follow up listening to “[How to communicate openly](” and “[Adjusting difficulty levels](”.


# Taking the load off (30:38)

**Uri** - played in a playtest for his own adventures “A short classical adventure”

**Eran** - was sick, didn’t play anything but want to do a video game episode?!


Email us at []( with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](

We have a [Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Jan 06, 202036:18
Food On the Table (episode 85)

Food On the Table (episode 85)

This will be the last episode of the year 2019 as well as the last episode of the decade so it is only fitting that we will use it to talk about the most important issue of the roleplaying game: Snacks! We will be discussing off play food - meaning actual food eaten by actual players. Uri’s session usually includes full meals before the sessions, in Eran’s sessions usually have light snacks. ### What to eat? (between snacks and a meal) (01:30) You might want to decide on this ahead of time. Will you be eating a whole meal during the session or just munch on snacks? Remember: a hungry GM is a vengeful GM, so make sure that everyone knows if they should eat before the session or not. ### Messiness (02:05) Eating is often a messy affair. Adopt some basic habits that may save a lot of time: don’t deploy all the game accessories until after you eat, have paper towels handy, don’t eat greasy food while handling game accessories or character sheets. ### Plan ahead to save time (04:05) Plan ahead if you want food or not, if you want serious food or not, and when will you eat. It’s a bummer to meet up hungry and then play hungry until the food arrived. How can you plan ahead? By having someone in charge! ### Food roles! (04:30) It might be a good idea to invest some time in the beginning and talk about food (don’t show up hungry, to be ready for a meal, that food will be ordered, etc). You might want to check out our episode on [Pacing]( ### Who is paying? (07:45) Starting to deal with who pays for what is another something that takes away gaming time. ### Timing (09:28) It’s very annoying to stop a session mid-way especially at an important moment for eating. So we try to eat before the session starts. Some traditions: - “First blood” - we don’t have any sweets before the first blood of the session. - Coffee break - a break around mid-session. ### Be prepared for the aftermath (12:20) The aftermath of eating can be an easy task, simply throw the pizza box into the bin or a more complicated one of clearing dishes, placing leftovers into boxes and the fridge. If its time consuming - Try to make this a group effort to save time. ### Preparing food (12:55) It’s not uncommon for someone to want to play chef and prepare food. In my party we have a very talented cook and an amateur baker, so we occasionally have very elaborated dishes or desserts (pictures can be seen in [this facebook album]( ### Reminiscing: The feast (14:00) A special event, in the theme of the game but not part of the game, a good way to show the cultures of the world. It can be a one-person job, or everyone bringing a dish. ### Food as a mechanic (16:40) Using the consumption of food as part of mechanics. - Uri’s water glass system. - Extreme eating - using food as reward/punishment, have a cookie with spinach - M&Ms as mana points to encourage casting/visual representation of the character status. ### Summary (21:05) We hope that you’ll have an amazing 2020 with plenty of 20/20 rolls ### Taking the load off (22:40) Eran - starter set of war hammer RPG, and a playtest of his own system. Uri - Curse of the Crimson Throne, [food album here]( ----- Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode, and check out [our Facebook group]( [We have a Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](\_id=29668), w
Dec 30, 201928:13
A Mysterious World (episode 84)

A Mysterious World (episode 84)

## On the nature of Mysteries The “Known Unknowns” (00:50) The nature of mystery explained by United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld concept of the “[known unknowns](”. The known Unknowns are what creates a sense of Mystery. For example the monsters in the dungeons. We know there are monsters & traps but their nature is unknown to us. ## In world building: **Open spaces** (02:10) Creating a sense of mystery gives the GM room to add things later, keep something up her sleeve or to postpone important decisions. Because it gives players something to explore, a known unknown. **Slow reveal** - In order to create a sense of mystery - take something unknown and shine a light on it. For running mystery plots, see also [Episode 37 - mystery plots]( **What will be our obstacles?** (04:40) What lies behind the next door, how to open this portal, what will sprint this trap. **Separate [Ontology]( from [Epistemology](** (05:39) **Present sensory information** - not “facts”, so everything is filtered through perception (06:40) **Perception** - Show that no one has absolute knowledge, including NPCs. Everyone can be wrong (08:23) **The speed of slow** - Keep in-world information moving at the speed of slow (09:50) **Magical information** - Keep magical information and communication vague (11:30) (unlike what the [Sending]( spell does) Eran forgetting how the “[Augury](” spell is called ;-) (13:50) **Allow different, mutually conflicting, possibilities** (14:10) - Allow for different interpretations, different causes, because if there’s more than one answer, it’s possible that none of the current explanations are true **Absolute truths** (17:03) - In fiction we can have absolute truths, so It is very tempting to have one single absolute truth. Because in the confines of a game we can have such a thing. And in reality most people will agree that you cannot have such a thing. Differentiate between what is true in the game world and what you’re presenting to the players. ## Some useful mechanic ideas **Variable modifiers** - Consider adding variables to obfuscate the actual mechanical modifiers (17:40) **Rolls don’t provide answers** - they provide clues (20:34) Again, you might want to check out [our episode on Mystery Plots (37)]( **Obfuscate the mechanics** - Use alternate descriptions, additional details, unique monsters or adding templates (22:00) ## Summary (24:40) Remember, the GM is the conduit through which the player understand how their characters perceive the world around them. You can tell them what they perceive not what is true. ## Taking the load off (25:20) **Eran** - Asked what sort of cool scenes you see in movies and TV shows but not in games. **Uri** - Ran a test play for a new adventure “a short standard classical adventure”. Looking for a new adventure? Try Uri’s [Escaping Thalamus’s Lab](! \----- Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode, and check out \[our Facebook group\]( \[We have a Patreon page\](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to \[DriveThruRPG are affiliate\](\_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the
Dec 23, 201931:08
Empowering Fellow Players (Episode 83)

Empowering Fellow Players (Episode 83)

### Why?

As the name of the episode suggests “Empowering Fellow players” means that you empower other players and they will empower you. But, on a more pragmatic note, empowering other players makes the game more fun for all participants, it makes events more memorable, increases immersion, and let players feel the impact of their actions.

The improv game “15 minutes of fame”.

### The Seven Secret Techniques for Empowering Fellow Players (as handed down by the Dragon Bard):

1 : **Be attentive** (04:10)

(listen to what other players at the table are saying)

2 : **React to your fellow PLAYERS ideas and actions** (05:45)

(react to the ideas and descriptions of your fellow players)

3 : **React to your fellow CHARACTERS ideas and actions** (06:45)

(e.g. Have your character Make strong emotional choices regarding the actions of other characters (I loved it, I hated it, It made me uncomfortable, I envy that ability, etc..) refer to Robert Plutchik wheel of emotions)

4 : **Be a fan of other characters** (08:40)

(Much like the GM saying).

5 : **Ask other players provocative questions about their agreed-upon sphere of creative power** (09:36)

(ask other players about the lore in the world that their character is immersed in)

6 : **Insert the previous exploits into the shared history of the party** (12:10)

(mention it in recaps, mentioned them when referring to past events or when suggesting new courses of action)

7 : **Be suggestive when appropriate** (12:45)

(suggest an addition to someone's idea, “you know what would add to that?”; also, “when appropriate” mean you don’t steal the spotlight from the other players and don’t dismiss other players ideas).

### GMs, how can you enable this at your table? (11:10)

- Use co-op rules where possible (14:38)
- Create obstacles that require co-op (16:20)
- Leave room for players, and be attentive (17:30)

The storytelling game [Intrepid](

### Summary (21:15)

In the words of the great philosophers Bill and Ted, as written in Bill and Teds’ excellent adventure “Be excellent to each other”.

### Taking the load off ()

Eran - Is writing a district for [City of Mist](, spending my time watching movies and reading Wikipedia entries

Uri - Ran his first [Masks: A New Generation]( session. Hurray!


Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode, and check out [our Facebook group](

[We have a Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Dec 16, 201927:12
Streaming RPGs (episode 82)

Streaming RPGs (episode 82)

**Definitions** (01:45) There are 2 types of RPG streamings - Around the table vs virtual conferencing. **Technical Prerequisite** (03:15) Streaming platforms: Twitch, youtube, facebook, etc. Consider [OBS]( What are the needed components to create a stream? * Streaming software * Conferencing software * Overlays (see an example in our game “[Folk vs. Medicine](” using [The Ward RPG]( For a few nice examples of setup check out happy jacks []( **What cool things can you do when streaming** (07:30) * Audience involvement * Interactivity (the audience can influence the game) * Integration with social media **Issue: Role Players (GM/players) as entertainer.** (09:20) **Minding your audience** (12:50) **Channel vs group: Franchises vs Critical Role** (12:35) **The attraction of Personas vs narrative** (15:3) **Pre-prep vs organic: Dimension 20 vs RollPlay** (18:20) **Some effects of streaming on the community** (21:05) * Expanding the roleplay community * Lots of new GMs * Fanart * Custom art (the creation of a market) **Summary** (27:55) In short: contact Aviv on twitter ([@icel]( **Taking the load off** (29:20) Re-download the last episode Uri - Have started editing episodes. Visited Dragonmeet 2019 in the UK. Eran - Publishing Exotic Ingredients Aviv – The Burn ([]( & Aces in Mechs ([]( ----- Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments on this episode, and check out [our Facebook group]( [We have a Patreon page](, in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](, which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you. Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](
Dec 09, 201935:50
Initiative Mechanics (episode 81)

Initiative Mechanics (episode 81)

Why is it important? (01:00) Who tracks the initiative? (03:50) Tracking init was considered one of the holy duties of the GM. But does it have to be? See our episode on Sharing GM Responsibilities. Different initiative mechanics D&D (2E-5E) & Pathfinder (06:20): You roll a d20 for Initiative. (skip to 07:00 to hear us digress to D&D 1E). Pathfinder 2nd (08:14): The skill used for Initiative is determined by the circumstances. Shadowrun (09:08): Initiative score, a number of d6 determined by the type of thing you’re doing, the space in which you act. Then initiative passes, reducing 10 after each pass.  Exalted (10:53): Ticks ticking by. Phoenix Dawn Command (13:40): The players move the Torch around, every player gets one action in a cycle. Challenges act between turns, on their speed. Star Wars and Genesis (15:30): Two init skills, cool or vigilance. Results become slots, into which each PC or NPC can be inserted once per round. Conan D20 (17:20): You all act before NPCs unless an NPC has an ability or GM spends Doom. One Roll Engine (ORE) (19:15): Declaring at the same time, or by order of Sense stat from low to high. Widest first, Height is the tiebreaker. Getting hit means you’re losing a die from a set. Savage Worlds (21:45): Everyone draws cards, some special abilities allow you to re-draw better. Mouse Guard (22:45): Acting in three rounds, choose from 4 options in secret. Apocalypse World (24:54): No such thing as structured gameplay, only different paces. Mistborn Adventure Game (26:52): During Conflicts, you declare actions by order of Wits, high to low, then act in the opposite order, low to high. Changing your declared action invokes a penalty on your roll, which can be quite harsh. (Eran did a whole review on the system, check it out. - Fate Core (28:40): based on skills, usually Notice in combat and Empathy in mental. Fate Accelerated (29:16): roll approach based on physical or mental combat. Dramatic Initiative (30:04): The person whose turn just ended decide who goes next. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track the person who first wrote about this. If you know who this is - tell me. Additional thoughts on Initiative Eran’s new system (31:28) - some thoughts about the new system that Eran is working on. Duels (33:00) - how to resolve duels (“high noon” style) - example: Undeadwood card duel Castle Falkenstein (35:10) has an interesting system as well. You might want to listen to our episode on Opposed PC Rolls. Summary (36:10) Taking the load off (37:10) Eran - Finishing up Hell’s Rebels, how happy they are that the fight was easier than first perceived Uri - played a session 0 for my new Masks campaign. Also, Escaping Thalamus’s Lab is available on DriveThruRpg.
Nov 26, 201941:12
Interesting Dice Mechanics (episode 80)

Interesting Dice Mechanics (episode 80)

Different types of Dice Mechanic - Exploding dice - What are they? And the effects they generate? (01:05) - The Wild Die ([Savage Worlds RPG]( (03:50) - Min-max-mid die ([Sentinel comics the RPG]( (06:30) - Escalation Die ([13th age RPG]( (09:08) - Depletion Die (General OSR games) (12:34) - Hero point tracker die (We use it to track and add in pf2 and D&D 5e bardic inspiration ) (16:45) - Monument die ([Icarus RPG]( (19:05) - Specialty dice : Crit die, sex position die, alignment die, chores dice (20:54) #### Summary (23:10) Clever use of dice mechanic influences the way we, the players, experience the game. #### Taking the load off (25:00) Uri - Uri’s adventure “[Escaping Thalamus’s Lab](” is actually already available! [Click here to buy it]( Eran - [Aces in Mechs]( by our Technical dwarf Aviv “Icel” Manoach
Nov 18, 201927:44
Offplay Decision Making (episode 79)

Offplay Decision Making (episode 79)

### What do we mean when we say Offplay discussions? (00:30) When we say offplay discussions in this episode we mean instances where the players are discussing the events that happened in-play and what to do next but as players and not necessarily as their characters. There are two prevalent approaches to offplay discussions: In some gaming parties it totally OK to stop the action and go over everyone's equipment, spells list and abilities to decide on the best strategy and coordinate. In others, it is frowned upon because the party does not have the time to consult with each other and prepare the tactic. ### Reasons in favor of including offplay discussions (04:10) - Player motivation; some people just like to plan (see [Eran's post on players motivation]( - Use "You can't talk amongst yourselves now. You! What do you do? Act!"; to create confusion, doubt, and anxiety. - Help to remove some of the out of character time that passed in the real world. - Simulating experience: the players are portraying an experienced team. Part of the players' discussion makes up the knowledge gap between the players and the characters. - Allow players more space to collaborate. ### Reasons against including offplay discussions (09:10) - It can take ages (See our [episode on Analysis paralysis]( - Pushing out of SOD - talking strategy with your friends is necessarily an OOC activity, pushing you out of your character's mindset and the immersion. - Might be a bit too helpful - the GM is only one person, can't cope with the strategic capability of a whole table. ### Finding a balance (14:35) Accept that In a party where there's an actor, they'll infuriate the strategist, and vice versa. Perhaps Introduce spells/cybertech which allow quick communication. Make (most) enemies 'regular', so that the cost of a non-optimal solution isn't high. How to do both: add mechanic, Roll for innuendo, Number of words, or discuss and you only hear every other word. ### Summary (19:55) Know thyself - All of you know what your party enjoys and the GM knows what kind of mood and atmosphere she is trying to set up. offplay discussions are a tool to create that magical balance point between the two. ### Taking the load off (21:30) Eran - finishing adventure 1 of Hell's Rebels Uri - Running an introduction to D&D 5e to a bunch of new players ("a million dragons") + Writing his own adventure "Escaping Thalamus's Lab"
Nov 11, 201925:28
Girl Underground (episode 78)

Girl Underground (episode 78)

Thank you Lauren and Jesse for this interview!

### Previous experience (2:10)

[The Final Girl](

[Hot Guys Making Out](

[Lauren's hacks](

[Codex Lies](

[The Gauntlet](

### Inspiration and genre emulation (5:30)
What is this genre?

[]( by Kate Winter

### Why a PbtA hack? (11:20)

### Switching protagonists (14:00)
[Bluebird’s Bride](

### Very easy to run (18:35)
[Girl Underground on Oneshot RPG](