Sean is the producer and host of Gaming and BS as well as Talent Jockey podcasts. He is the founder of Podcast Engineering House and Litter Box Studio. He resides in Wisconsin with his wife, 3 cats, and dog.
I’ve been thinking about PCs relying too much on NPCs. In a couple games I’ve been running/playing in, it seems like almost every time a question gets asked or a decision has to be made, the PCs say, “What does the NPC think? Does the NPC know the solution?”Basically, the PCs want to follow around the NPC. In a game I’m in, the GM had been requiring PCs to spend a Fortune Point for relying on the NPCs. How do you all handle it?The above is from Gabe D. on our forums. Thanks Gabe for the topic!! Random Encounter Voicemail from Chris Schorb Voicemail from Chris Schorb PATRON Harrigan writes in PATRON Harrigan writes inSean and Brett,THREE HUNDRED! THREE! HUNDRED! 300!THIS – IS – SPARTA!Er, I mean, GAMING AND BS!Congrats, fellas. Serious milestone.I’ve really enjoyed the last few episodes. Lots of overlapping themes, kind of culminating in the “GM Style” episode, #299. Fun listens.I have gobs of thoughts on the subject, but I’ll be brief. I promise.POINT ONE: A final thought on both resource management and tension.In addition to rolling the Die of Fate to see if Bad Things Happen, you can also drop specific entries into random tables. Encounters, weather tables, random events, wandering monsters, whatever you’re rolling on, include entries for:-Running short on food if the party is exploring the wilderness-Running short on air if the party is exploring a derelict space ship-Running short on torches and ten foot poles if the party is delving into a dungeon.-Advancing the big bad’s armies if the party is wasting time at any activity you don’t like. (This one is for tension… advance that doomsday clock)Little Custom-built tables are awesome for this sort of thing, and they are easy to make. And remember, if it’s random, it’s not your fault!POINT TWO: GM StyleI’m 100% with Brett. The way I describe my own preference is that I need to be able to ‘internalize’ a game. I -hate- HATE hate looking things up at the table. Breaking the flow, pausing the action — yuck.This is why these days I prefer lighter games — they are easier to internalize. It’s also one of the reasons I’ve come to appreciate roll-under or standard test-for-success systems… the GM isn’t setting a difficulty most of the time, so it’s even more streamlined. Can’t say enough good things about The Black Hack, Tiny Dungeon, and Shadow of the Demon Lord for this kind of speedy play.Where I differ with you two is that I enjoy both games where the story emerges from and is centered on the PCs, and games where the characters need to ‘plug into’ a setting — where they are just part of a wider world that cares little about their pathetic lives. Both have advantages, and you don’t need to play one vs. the other exclusively.That’s all I’ve got. I’ll crack a beer for you tonight. Again, nice work running a podcast of this quality for this long. All us BSers will listen along happily until Sean puts himself in the hospital on his one wheel, and Brett finally admits he’s a card-carrying story gamer and disappears into that scene.Cheers!-Harrigan PATRON OldSchoolDM comments on spell components email from ep 299 PATRON OldSchoolDM comments on spell components email from ep 299Here’s the obligatory RTFM post. You knew it was coming.In response to a listener comment on episode 299, about D&D 3.5 spell component pouches. Again, Brett and Sean don’t know the 5.0 current rules, and it bothers them not a whit. :slight_smile: :rofl:For the record, the D&D rules for component pouches is dirt simple:A component pouch is a small, watertight leather belt pouch that has compartments to hold all the material components and other special items you need to cast your spells, except for those components that have a specific cost (as indicated in a spell’s description).The vast majority (by count) of lower level spells do not have component requirements or have component requirements without a cost. Here’s a list of those that have costs. With the exception of Gentile Repose (narratively requires one copper for each eye), all components listed below are 10gp or higher – so the 5e pouch is functionally identical with the 3.5 version – so “YES Brett, 5e works basically the same way.”Every single spell my players have used regularly either have no material component, or would be covered by the pouch or an arcane focus. So – no fuss, no muss. No special accounting for normal stuff. The few things they use once-in-awhile (Identify) do not consume the component.Honestly, it seems that the costs below are all about keeping some sense of checks and balances into the game. As a DM I’d don’t think I’d ever wave the costs listed.It ain’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixed.OldSchoolDM/Randy Email from Abomb Email from Abomb Brett and Sean,     I am a long time listener first time caller.  I want to congratulate both of you on making it to 300 episodes.  Not many podcasts can say that.  I have been following you guys since episode 50 (no I did not go back and listen to 1 through 49).  I have been wanting to write to both of you for a long time now.  I thought your 300th is the best time.     Over the past 250 episodes I have gone through a lot of life changes: moves, kids (now 1 and 3), lost of jobs (Outsourced), and personal growth.  One thing that has been a constant is your podcast.  Thank you for being there not just for me but for the community also.     On to the main topic, hehehe.  I would like to say that your podcast has my creativity flowing.  I have only ran 1 game for about 3 sessions then it went off the rails so I never did it again.  Your advice has given me new ideas and I am thinking of doing a 1 shot to see how it goes.     Brett, I know this is late, well really late, but congratulations on your kickstarter.  When it first started I backed just the PDF version.  But after I heard the Actual Play (AP) of your setting I got the printed version.  Because of life in general, aka a 1 and 3 year old, I have not gotten my copy yet.  I am looking forward to getting it and reading it.     Sean, as a producer of the podcast all I can say masterful job.  The quality, editing, and now streaming is top notch.  Thank you for your hard work to keep the show going.  Also thank you for staying alive :-p.  You should buy a train, they look safer to drive.     There are many more comments, gratitude, and banter I would like to add but I am trying to keep this reasonable.  Also I have a short break to finally write this.  Thank you again guy keep up the great work here is to the first 300 and here is the next 300 episodes!!!May all your rolls end up natural 20sAaron “Abomb” Die Roll How 2 RPG: Sean goes over the Spell Duel in DCCCongrats to 2020 Ennie nomineesInteractive Eberron map. Thanks John Arcadian!All the BS’ers and patrons of the show over the years! Without some $ and interaction…our show would be a lot worse. Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode when we start season 2! The post Relying on NPC’s appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
Game Master’s style, it’s not about whether a game master is good or bad. It’s about the things they do. One GM may be strict rules-as-written, another may go with the flow at the table. We all have our own style. Random Encounter Mike Watkins sends in voicemail about spell components and resources Mike Watkins sends in voicemail about spell components and resources Mike Hess comments on All About the Resources Mike Hess comments on All About the ResourcesI did not see a new thread for the “All About Resources Part 2” so I will share my comments here.Brett’s comment after reading Edwin’s remarks in Random Encounter on both of you helping new GM’s and Players was dead on with me. Going back almost a year ago when I first contacted the podcast, and in the last year I have gone through A LOT of the past episodes and all of the current ones. One of the recommendations that has been given many times in your podcast is to keep it simple. Like Edwin said KISS, as well its best to focus on one thing at a time and improve than have a crappy game because you overdid it on things you did not know how to do. I have been taking your advice from an episode many moons ago about playing in games to learn what you like and how to play will help you GM. I have found this to be wise council. To everyone listening thank you for your comments and ideas, there are plenty of us out there that just want to start and getting to hear from you all makes this easier. Also @sean enjoy that Onewheel they are a lot of fun. After you get your “One good Crash” out of the way it’s smooth sailing. Just don’t look up on YouTube Onewheel crashes, it’s not healthy. Thanks again to both of you and looking forward to the future!-Mike Hess Roger B comments on tension in rpg’s Roger B comments on tension in rpg’sI think you mentioned such things, at least in the next episode, but Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition (of all things) has a tension tracker that I’m thinking about using in my 1e game. Even if nothing is said about mounting tension, watching the tracker tick up and not necessarily knowing why can cause a little anxiety.A good link on how to use trackers: in mind you could use anything as simple as a d10. As long as the players see it, see you rolling it up or down in accordance with their actions or the amount of time they take to do something, and see something big happen when you reach either end of the count. Phil comments on tension and his Mothership game Phil comments on tension and his Mothership gameLast night I ramped up the pressure in my Mothership campaign. Threw the kitchen sink at them as they battled transgenic reptilian humanoids, and crazed androids devoted to their A.I. computer god which had locked them into the derelict colony ship they’re exploring for salvage. And that’s not even the half of it.Everyone is stressed right out, they’re hitting stim packs trying to bring themselves down. One of the players experienced a panic check and failed. Lead to a psychotic episode where they attacked another PC with the vibechete. Things are spiraling out of control for the group.The best part is the tension created by the game mechanics is causing them to make hasty choices in game that will lead to further consequences down the road.It is glorious. I haven’t had this much fun running an rpg in a long time and the best part is the players are loving every minute of it. The level of excitement they express after every session is awesome. Die Roll Sean’s Youtube channel is up: How 2 RPGPlanned vs Emergent Backgrounds, article by Phil Vecchione on Gnome StewIsaac Asmimov’s Foundation is coming to Apple TV in 2021 Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode Thanks for joining us! Next week when we talk about PC and NPC The post Game Master Style appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
Episode 296 it was all about the resources in tabletop rpg’s. We talked about the idea of tracking gear and food and such as a possible way to help make certain adventures/stories fun.  Now let’s see if we can come up with some methods for tracking this stuff so it’s not too much work. Random Encounter Chris Schorb calls in Chris Schorb calls in Michael Dinos writes in as he yells at his podcatcher Michael Dinos writes in as he yells at his podcatcherFREE LEAGUE!!!!!! Alien, Mutant Year Zero, Tales From the Loop, Forbidden Lands, and several others are published by Swedish publisher FREE LEAGUE, not Modiphius, although Modiphius does do retail distribution. I’ve been a huge fan of FL products for many years now, since Mutant Year Zero was translated to English. Their products are absolutely fantastic, and everyone should have a couple of FL products on their bookshelves (and no I do not work for them) It was annoying me all episode in 297, that’s all! Overall ya’ll do a great job, but it’s Free League Congrats on hitting 298 episodes before the world ends! Gameable moment: After the new age starts are you starting at episode 1 or episode 299? Edwin writes in about focus - back to Old School DM and DM Cojo Edwin writes in about focus – back to Old School DM and DM CojoI teach engineering.  Over the past few years, I have had the great fortune to co-teach with an excellent English professor.  One of the more important ideas he brought to me is that at any one time a student can either focus on how s/he is writing or what s/he is writing.  If we want students to write about difficult subjects, the students need an opportunity to think about the subject deeply without worrying about writing.  Bullet points, outlines, thought diagrams etc. all serve this purpose.  Conversely, when we want students to write well, it is most effective if they can write about something they know well.  This brings about the old assignment about how to construct a sandwich.  Only after a student has done both separately should we ask the student do them at the same time.Recently I had the revelation that I’ve come to think of myself as a teacher rather than an engineer.  I spend more time thinking about how to teach than how to engineer.  Most of the topics I teach I know inside and out (although I too occasionally have to reread the rules).  This allows me to focus on how best to present them.A game master has to think simultaneously about how to present the game (narrative, beats, pulling focus, etc.) and the game itself (mechanics).  We can’t learn both at the same time any more than a student can learn to write while learning about deconstructionist theology. Brett was prepping for a CoC game with his kids and focused on the rules.  Brett doesn’t have to think about timing, voices, etc., for a game with his kids, at least not for THIS game with his kids.  He’s focused on the rules and will use his existing narrative abilities without trying to improve them. Sean has been talking about his Mothership game.  His focus has been on applying pressure—how, when, how much.  He’s focusing on how to present the game and not on increasing his mastery of the game. The takeaway is that I believe we need to go back and forth if we want to improve, and that we probably need to spend more time on the one we don’t like because we’re probably already pretty good at the one we do.  Sometimes we focus on running a game using the chase mechanics and don’t worry about whether the pacing is good.  Other sessions we focus on cranking up the tension and let the rules slide.  After doing each separately enough times, we can run a high-tension chase using the rules.Kisses (Keep it simple, stupid),Edwin Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games writes in on applying pressure Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games writes in on applying pressure How do, lads? Just finished listening to the 2-parter on Applying Pressure and a thought occurred during the second episode. A successful staple of horror films has been hinting at a possible source of danger, tension, or heightened drama and then moving on with the story until BAM!! It hits at the worst possible time. For example, while exploring a spooky old house, one of the characters steps on a creaking stair or it cracks. Nothing bad happens at that moment and we move on… until that same person runs back down the stairs to escape the serial killer and BAM!! Their foot falls right through and they’re stuck. One of the issues with relying on dice and mechanics for tension is that it’s almost always instantaneous in the game and expected the minute that d20 rolls a 1. Whereas turning some of those failed rolls into Bad Stuff Happens points that are piled at the GM’s side may help offer up more timely tension when you want it rather than when you’re told it must happen now. Plus it takes away from some of the “swing and miss” bullshit that can actually steal tension. Now a failed roll becomes a wait and see moment that could blow up in the PCs’ faces at any moment. Like now. No, wait….. nnnnnnnow! Maybe something handy for your Mothership game, Sean, though it’s not something I’ve yet to try myself. Anywho, insert standard compliments to your work on the show here and star wipe. Me out. (P.S. If the person who reads this doesn’t actually shout BAM!!, may you feel my persistent consternation at such a missed opportunity. Now cue the train sound effect to play me out and remember… drinking while you send a message to one of your favourite podcasts is how you make friends. Or enemies. Either way, Todd out.) Charlie emails us Charlie emails usBack in November 2019, I wrote an email to the show asking for tips for helping friends get into RPGs and I’ve been meaning to provide a follow-up email.  I have a friend who likes gaming, but he had some apprehension about playing a tabletop RPG like 5th edition.  I ran a one-shot for him and some other friends, which ended up lasting two sessions.  The first session was a little rough, but he got into his character by the second session.  By the end of the second session, he was having enough fun to commit to having me run a longer campaign for the group.  I’ve been running a campaign based upon the Ghosts of Saltmarsh book and everybody is really enjoying it.Strangely enough, my friend is very comfortable using Roll20 (even more so than I am).  I think he likes the ease of just clicking a button and having the dice roll for him and add the appropriate modifiers.  He’s an IT guy by profession and he can program macros and do all sorts of things that I can’t.  This got me thinking how the pandemic could possibly usher in a wave of new players to the hobby via playing on virtual tabletops.  While I prefer playing in-person, I have no objections to any arrangement that gets new players into gaming and enjoying themselves.  Listening to your podcast helps me become a better game master and I am very grateful for that.Now to address the elephant in the room……the status of Jeff’s Paladin.  I’m one of Jeff’s co-workers and Jeff texts me after gaming sessions to report his Paladin is still alive.  This leads me to two obvious conclusions.  Either A.) Jeff is too talented of a role player and Sean is unable to kill him due to Jeff’s superior skills or B.) Sean has grown so attached to Jeff’s Paladin that he is unwilling to kill something he loves.–Charlie John writes in about skill piling John writes in about skill pilingHey fellers, Regarding skill piling, it’s not an issue in the game systems I tend to use (Genesys and Cortex, some PbtA) because every time players pick up the dice, there’s a chance Something Bad could happen. If the players want to risk Something Bad, they’re always free to pick up the dice and roll. And if there’s no real chance of Something Bad, I don’t make them roll; I just give them what they’re trying to get. Pax, John Angela writes in about one campaign being different from another Angela writes in about one campaign being different from anotherHey Brett and Sean!I’m back! Getting myself caught up on episodes and I wanted to comment on running the same campaign for different groups. I do agree that running a con game or one shot for multiple groups is different, but it’s good practice for GMs to do. It teaches you which hooks work the way you expect and the way they don’t along with how different players handle different things. As you said, though, with a Campaign, the further you get into it the more it’s going to diverge from what happened with the previous group. Your prepared material is going to become less and less useful if you don’t have a way to account for group B going in a completely different direction than group A.I recently revived a short campaign in exactly this way. Was a Night’s Black Agents campaign I did for some online friends a few years ago. When the pandemic hit and we had to switch to gaming online, my friend that had been GMing had to bow out because he worked for the county Health Department and wasn’t going to have the bandwidth to prep for his game anymore. So, I dug this game out of the archive and offered to run it. First couple of sessions went about the same between the groups. Sent in to check on a group of agents that failed to check in, both groups sussed out clues, reacted about the same to the video footage of a monster murdering people, and tracked down a kidnapped agent to a warehouse. Warehouse fight was aaaalmost the same, but things started to diverge. By the time they got to the third session, both groups were at the same location (Vienna State Opera House) but things went wildly different. Fourth session wasn’t even recognizable between the two games. It was a good gap filler for my gaming group, but I’m not sure I will try and revive a campaign like that again.-Ang Die Roll Dissident Whispers ( The Immaterial Plane a game design studio specializing in supplements for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game. Our products focus on elegant designs that inspire fantastic roleplaying experiences.Malleus Monstrorum Cthulhu Mythos Bestiary pdf is out now (drivethrurpg). Black Hack (drivethrurpg) Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next The post All About Resources Part 2 appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
This episode is full of good feedback on previous topics. It proves BS’ers are smarter than BS. Announcements Sean’s Youtube channel is coming! Random Encounter Call in by Old School DM Call in by Old School DM PATRON Dirtilus writes in to address DM Cojo’s dilemma PATRON Dirtilus writes in to address DM Cojo’s dilemmaHey BS Kids and games: I have 3 boys and they have been playing in person tabletop games (D&D 5e) for a bit now. All of them handled the pandemic differently. My oldest (High School graduate now)) was in a short lived IRL group  and now is in a regular weekly Roll20 game. Gaming for him has been easier because he really enjoys the on-line format. My second son (now a Sophomore) has been running a 5e group for over a year before things changed. After a few weeks at home he tried running a Discord game. It didn’t go as expected, too many distractions. Some of them still had a good time on Xbox or PC with each other, but not all of them can get on-line like that. IRL after an hour of BS with each other, they collect phones to help with the distractions. Even with that sometimes they will only play for a half hour or so before “squirrel” shows up. They all seem to have a good time just hanging out. For them it’s more about socializing with each other. My youngest (Middle School) had a biweekly group come over where they would hang out for an hour or so and then I would run a game for them for the next 2 hours or so. None of them were interested in playing online. They all enjoy the game for different reasons and as long as they are enjoying it I am good with that. I am running a weekly game with the family, which keeps us all at the table together for one night a week anyways. In that game I asked if they want to keep track of arrows or rations. They all agreed “NO”. I let them know that that’s not a problem but if something happens like the get stuck in a dungeon that I would let them know when they needed to start worrying. And guess what…. When I run a Call of Cthulhu game, I always encourage the investigators to use luck. I like it when their luck gets low and then someone asks if they remember the name or if they have an item and then I ask for a luck roll. As far as equipment goes, I like to use the does it makes sense approach. For example, I do backpack and generally know what you bring with you. So if the player says I go through the bag and pull out a tent stake. Sure it takes a bit but you have it. I also know when you are crossing a stream or river you unclip your bag. Wait, was that a failed Dex roll? There goes just about everything you had out in the middle of the woods. I don’t know about scuba diving, but if a player says they have that thing that divers do and it makes sense then they have it. I can always take it away later.Helping my son look into Roll20 brought up a question. What do you think of pay to play games? There seems to be a lot of them listed on Roll20 in looking for games. Dan aka Dirtilus or now maybe DIRT 1 PATRON Jared Rascher comments on All About the Resources PATRON Jared Rascher comments on All About the ResourcesI still think the best explanation, at least early on, for Skill Challenges wasn’t in any of the 4th edition D&D books, it was in the Star Wars Saga d20 book Galaxy of Intrigue. The 1st-20th level range meant that math was a little less strained than the 1st-30th range for D&D, and it had lots of optional rules for different types of skill challenges, like complications on a failure, timed challenges, exceptional successes, and catastrophic failures. I used it a few times when I was running my Saga game and they worked well.There are so many forgotten bits in D&D 5e, not to mention things you think are there but aren’t. There aren’t surprise rounds, there are no spell research rules, but there are rules for mapping and group skill challenges.For example, if someone in the group is mapping, you can’t get lost if you backtrack your way out of an area you have visited. That’s in the core rules. The player character just needs to be assigned to map, and that character can’t use passive perception while they are doing so.Group skill challenges are right in the ability checks section. If the DM thinks you could do something as a group, everyone makes the check, and if 50% or more makes the check, its a success. Great for making a good impression on someone or compensating for your plate armored paladin when sneaking past a bandit camp. Ghosts of Saltmarsh also introduces more granular results for group challenges, with Total Success/Success/Failure/Total Failure as results.When it comes to tracking resources, I think it can work, but I do think you need some rules to add to the stakes when using those rules for meaningful tension. For example, I really think there should have been more long term exploration rules introduced in Tomb of Annihilation for things like provisions going bad, etc. WOTC had an Unearthed Arcana for exploration, but the example they gave was very specific to exploring a constrained area, and I would have rather seen it used for a more expansive general terrain.I think there have been some games that have done a great job of looking at what exploration looks like, and designing rules based on that, like Forbidden Lands (which I have only spend a little time looking at, but it’s built to include exploration checks and attrition) or The One Ring as well as the snap on version of The One Ring rules for 5e found in Adventures in Middle Earth. That said, those are universal fixes, they are meant to evoke a very specific feeling. For example, Adventures in Middle-earth’s Journey rules don’t feel quite right for traveling in settled regions of the Sword Coast in Faerun, or the super harsh conditions of Athas, for example.I’m a big fan of just having casters invest X amount of gold in material components, that they can declare for a spell as they cast it, so it still costs them gold, but is more flexible long term. I am even okay with declaring what YOUR version of material components for that spell is. If you attempt to sell back your spell components, you only get 50% of the cost, because not everyone wants your bits and bobs of broken, powdered stuff for anything else when you sell it back to someone. Matt V. comments on All About the Resources Matt V. comments on All About the ResourcesHello Gentlemen.Good episode, though I think you missed a few points:First, I often hear people subscribe to is resource management at low level that fades away. I think there’s a lot of validity to this point, though its not something I do personally. Managing a few rations and resources has some serious cost at levels 1 – 3. Maybe even 4. After that not so much. Obviously different games may have different ranges. It’s easy to transition the game away from there if that’s your goal.Second, resource management really works best IMO, baked into the system. Having ran Dark Sun games, even without create food and water spells, around level 5-6, resource management really hit the point where they aren’t really an issue. At least that’s always been my issue, and I’ve ran more than my fair share of DS. Even when I ran fallout, it wasn’t baked into the system to make resource management a big deal after the early part of the game. Of course, as GM, I COULD have made it work, but it really would’ve just been a dick move and made the game less fun for everyone, including myself, IMO.My personal general rule is it’s not a part of the game, unless its baked in mechanically. In which case it’s always part of the game. I don’t think its a fun aspect in a heroic fantasy type game. However, in the right games, its fantastic. Not only is it fun to balance resources for survival, it creates a very real tension, meta and in game.That being said, there are three games that I can think of off hand that really get resource management right: Red Market, Mutant Year Zero and Torchbearer (the former two of which are excellent games while the later I don’t personally care for overall).MYZ & Torchbearer are pretty similar in how they handle resources. You have inventory slots versus encumbrance. Do you drop that 4 food to carry that artifact home?In red market your gear has upkeep cost instead, encumbrance isn’t necessarily tracked. However, upkeep is a REAL cost. And you only have a couple refreshes in game, if any.All three games resources have a strong meta-property. For instance, food in MYZ is used to recover health, while in red market it is needed to push speed or strength checks.It’s a very interesting thing, where the Meta game plays well into the in game play to create a real tension. While I could see some GMs or players scoffing at such an idea, I highly recommend you check it out first to see how beautifully they interact together. The meta aspect increases the in game tension, in much the same way the doom mechanic from Conan does.My players in MYZ are pretty far, and have created a real functioning society. Food is pretty cheap now and they have a steady supply of water, at their base. However, they are still pushing resources on almost every expedition. Do I bring my flamethrower that takes 2 slots, even though 1 or 2 other players are bringing them? Those swarms sure are brutal, but I only have 8 slots total…. Do I eat this rot-food which decays me?Anyway, that’s my two cents on the subject.On Conan, or 2d20 in general, its a genius system mechanically, although they don’t have a setting I’m in love with. I do however agree with Gabe, it’s super cutting edge on many levels. Modiphius (who did 2d20) also did MYZ, which is one of the most brilliant systems I’ve ever played. Highly recommend you check them out. And its cool, because MYZ and 2d20 are two totally different systems mechanically, yet both are cutting edge, IMO. I put their systems up there with Genesys on breakthrough mechanics. Lots of fun and just great games, pretty close to the gold standard of game design.See you guys next time. Thanks. PATRON Harrigan writes in PATRON Harrigan writes inLast week I wrote in on weapon damage — the whole light / medium / heavy weapon categorization thing, modified by class ability and the like.Brett asked where that came from, and I mentioned The Black Hack and Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells in the Twitch chat. Just a couple of additional details here:The Black Hack basically assigns a damage die to a class. Conjurers deal d4 damage in combat, clerics and thieves d6, warriors d8, that kind of thing. (That’s for the first edition. The second edition changes things up a little.)Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells builds on The Black Hack in a number of ways, and it changes up how weapon damage is handled. This is the system I described last week — light weapons deal d4, medium deal d6. heavy deal d8. Warriors step up the damage die for any weapon in their hands; thieves… well, it looks like I made that part up. I thought thieves dealt more damage with light weapons, but that’s not in the rules. Evidently I pulled it out of my, er… hat. Hey, it’s OSR. House rules rule.T13here are other things you can do with this simple model as well — if you’re not proficient in a weapon, roll with Disadvantage and step down its damage die. If you’re a weapon master in one specific weapon type, roll with Advantage and step up its damage die.Since I’ve got your ear, about your last episode on Resources…Loved it, and you’re both spot-on. Basically, only track ammo, food, torches and whatnot if resource management is important for the game, and if it’s fun for everyone. It’s awesome for hex crawls, games about exploration, commandos operating behind enemies lines, establishing an outpost in a wilderness, adventures which are about replacing resources — all the stuff you talked about.Just two bits to add:Bit 1: Check out Forbidden Lands — it’s all about exploration and resource management. A deadly demon mist covered the land for generations, making travel between settlements impossible… now it’s lifted, and the brave are striking out, reconnecting, exploration ruins, etc. Bit 2: Have you guys seen the “usage die,” popularized in The Black Hack? It’s a mechanic that specifically models dwindling resources, without having to count them. Arrows, rations, torches, oil, those delicious ham sandwiches, that excellent Elven wine — whatever is important enough to track, assign it a die. After using that resource in a scene, roll that die. If a 1-2 comes up the die shrinks to the next size down. If you’re throwing a d4, a 1-2 means you’re totally out of the resource. So d10 shrinks to d8, d8 shrinks to d6, d6 shrinks to d4. It’s a nice way to track things in a non-fiddly way. Check it out — it’s in use now across a bunch of different games, including the aforementioned Forbidden Lands.-Harrigan Edwin Nagy writes in about passive stealth checks Mr Schorb proposed Edwin Nagy writes in about passive stealth checks Mr Schorb proposedGreetings B & S,A couple thoughts on passive skills in 5e (in response to Random Encounters about skills piling from Applying Pressure I).Thought the first: One of the things I like about 5e is it has a lot of subtle systems either stated or hinted at.  One of them is the passive skill piece.  Not only does it have passive Perception, but it talks about how you could interpret passive Athletics or passive Nature.  Which brings me to my more important point.You use passive skills all the time, whether you realize it or not.  When you decide that the desk is visible, you are (passively, most likely) using passive Perception.  You have decided that a reasonable adventurer would see the desk quickly enough that there is nothing interesting to be gained by rolling dice to see if they find or how long it takes to find it.  I think the place where our passive GMing skill breaks down is in the grey area.  I think of a DC of 12-14 as something difficult and therefore worth rolling for.  In a party of 5 or 6 PCs, it is very likely that somebody has an appropriate skill at a level high enough that that PC could overcome that obstacle without rolling.  I often forget that one of the goals of 5e is to portray the PCs as awesome.  Things that I think would be challenging are things they can do routinely.  That’s why their passive skills are so high.  You, Brett, should not berate yourself for not using passive skills, because you do.  You have even used passive Aggression—this is when you decide that the PCs mop up the last three kobolds without rolling dice.  Their combat skills are high enough that there is nothing interesting to be gained from rolling dice, so the combat is over.Back to point number one.  The part I struggle with on the passive skills is why do published adventures bother including obstacles with such low DCs.  Well, it’s because sometimes the PCs are distracted, under pressure, in challenging circs.  Now they have disadvantage and their passive skills are at –5.  This time, the PC walks into the desk.  There’s a little more in there too, and I think it’s one place where the rules back up the type of play that I think you enjoy. Cheers,Edwin PATRON David F. Balog writes in PATRON David F. Balog writes in Greetings BSers!First, I wish to congratulate you on approaching three hundred episodes! This is an amazing milestone, and you should be as proud of yourselves as all of your listeners are. A few comments on the last few episodes:I was intrigued enough by the Mothership episode to download a copy for the recommended $7, and I am pleased by what I have seen in a short perusal. It reminds me of old classic sci-fi movies such as “Angry Red Planet” and “Journey to the Seventh Planet”, as well as the better episodes of “Lost In Space”. I know that it is more centered on the “Aliens” franchise, but there is a lot of promise there.I have dealt with skill piling as has practically every other GM out there. When I see the situation rearing its ugly head, I quickly go around the table asking each player what actions they are taking before any dice are picked up. As a player, I will defer to a specialist character and trust their roll. If they fail, I just assume that there is no information or nothing to be found. If my skills are equivalent, I will either aid or make my own roll at the same time, at the GM’s discretion.Keeping up the pressure on the players has led to some of the best gaming sessions that I have run. I have set them up in a three-way battle where all sides are opposed to each other, followed by a shoot-and-run escape from a shadow construct. They caught their breath on the way home only to find their home district under siege, and ran a street-to-street battle to stop the carnage while trying to save the citizens. The pressure forced them to conserve their resources and think on their feet, as they never knew what to expect next.It is always a pleasure to listen to your thoughtful analysis on various topics in gaming, and you often remind me to do things that I have gotten lazy about. For example, I will try to focus more on the narrative before picking up dice, and then let the fates determine the outcome.Thank you for your time and effort that you put into each episode! You both manage to make each week entertaining and educational (even for grognards like me!), and I look forward to the next 300! David F. Balog BigScaryPrawn comments on skill piling BigScaryPrawn comments on skill pilingI think that calling for a roll is really only best done when failing will lead to something cool. If everyone wants to pick the lock, as GM, you look them dead in the eye and say, “No. Because that would be lame. Take an ‘L’ and roll for initiative because all of a sudden there is a zombie T-Rex bounding down that corridor.”Basically, a party will pile on a skill check unless the GM says no. You can say there is a rule in the book that mitigates that, but rest assured, players will try to slime into a second roll. You need to look them in the eye, oh, I already did that bit. Basically, the GM just needs to put their foot down. But, that means you can’t just let a failed roll lie, you have to make the failure memorable. That’s why I like T-Rexes.Conversely, if you know that the group is prone to skill piling, just add a bunch to the difficulty. If they get persnickity about a DC 30 ladder climbing check, just remind them that you are also not a fan of extra super double advantage on rolls, and they should also roll initiative because there is a T-Rex sauntering across the promenade.Also, I may not be a very good GM. Die Roll D&D Realm Guide: Greyhawk, by JR Zambrano article on Bell of SoulsHeist on Miracle IV, Cypher System adventure from Monte Cook Games and written by Dominique Dickey. Proceeds for month of June go towards Black Lives MatterBundle for Racial Justice and Equality, donate $5 and get 740+ works by 560+ creators – tabletop rpg’s include Blades in the Dark, For the Honor and The Steadfast and the Rebellious Black Lives Matter 2 [Bundle] featuring Brett’s The Streets of Avalon Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next The post BS’ers Are Smarter Than BS appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
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Creator Details

Nov 28th, 1990
Madison, WI, USA
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
4 weeks, 11 hours