Sep 16

Episode 62 – Rope burns


With your hosts, Mike and Liz! This week we talk about pacing your games. How do you make an adventure not pass too quick, or too slow? How do you make sure you have enough material to keep you going? Chris Tregenza talks about Kickstarter and some plans he has, while Liz talks about Reality in fantasy games and why she gets a bit ranty about it! Mike talks about the latest Doctor Who series and tells us what HE thinks about it! Also: Mike and Liz disagree on stuff! Woohoo!



Geeky Week

  • L5R!
  • No Pathfinder this week 🙁 Liz is slowly going mad.
  • Mike has been playing Last Stand: Dead Zone.  It’s not ZombieVille at all…

Chris Tregenza’s Topic

Chris talks to us about awesome things!

Mike’s Topic

My thoughts on the new Doctor Who episodes thus far

Liz’s Topic

Getting hang up on reality in fantasy – why on earth do we get so excited about how realistic our fantasy games are?

Group topic

Pacing games – How much game in how much time? How much game can you fit in a session? How can I make sure my campaign finishes in the alloted time? How do I make sure

Looking For Group!



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  1. Jesse

    I’ve had the problem in the past of inserting too much realism into my games – Thinking about the math and physics way too much, to a point where they end up trumping the Cool Factor of the game.

    As a “for instance”, during a D&D game I had a player who was going toe-to-toe with an orc and wanted to do something pretty awesome: He wanted his stonechild to grab the orc’s throat and rip out his windpipe. We paused for a moment, and I did some quick research on how much force it would take to accomplish such an action and what the real-life effective strength of his 32 Strength stonechild would be. But then it hit me – I’m trying to use real life physics to explain a stonechild ripping out the throat of an orc. What was wrong with me?!? So I stopped, closed my laptop and said “Roll me a strength check.” He ended up getting something insane like a 28 and I began explaining the tearing sound and gushing blood, etc etc.

    In the next campaign, I had the party on the back of a giant eagle (the druid shapeshifted, of course) while fighting against a couple of avorials. The druid got knocked unconscious and they all began to fall nearly 300′ to their impending doom. However, the rogue braced herself and (using a couple of feats and some amazing Acrobatics) managed to leap off of the druid at just the right time. She took 12 damage from a 300′ fall. I steadied myself as I wanted to say “Now wait a minute”, but the room erupted and it was such an amazing outcome that didn’t really effect the game all that much, that I had to use the Cool Factor to trump physics.

    From that point on, I realized that reality has absolutely no place in my fantasy and that they do not make nearly as good of a snack food as Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups.

  2. Jesse

    For pacing, my players have a tendency to wander in their characters a bit. By that, I mean that they love RPing, but it doesn’t always accomplishing something. I know that we as GMs love to just be able to sit back and watch our players chat it up, because it means that it’s game time that we neither have to plan nor have to do anything to keep them interested. However, as a GM you also have to judge the point when it turns from fun RP to wasteful game time.

    There have been times in our campaigns where I’ve either thrown something at the players (such as a bar fight after 30 minutes of random in-character chatting) or a random encounter when they decide just to camp and wait.

    Also, I think Liz has it completely right with the “plan way too much for your campaign” strategy. If you look at my GM notes (which I keep right on the lappy-toppy in front of me) about 30% are highlighted red, while the slight majority are either blue or green. Red is material that I have planned for and the party has seen, while blue are things that I planned but they have either skipped or I have cut out due to time. Green, on the other hand, are things that the party just flipping made up and now I need to remember that last session they went wandering off into the woods.

    If you’re playing a campaign that is more than “You’re in a dungeon” and there are multiple pathways that the players can take to get to their destination (if they even chose to head in that direction), then you need to plan far more than you’re intending on playing in that campaign. But (just as Liz said again) there’s no reason that you can’t use the material that you skip over in your next campaign. In fact, I think that this idea harkens back to the previous discussion of world building and evolution of your game world – The two ideas go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. The more you plan in one campaign means that there is less to plan for in the next one.

  3. Scott

    I actually had to ask our writer Maverik how to say it after you brought that up.

    He pronounced it, “Dee-if-ic Best-tee-air-ee”

    I said it “Dee-if-ic Beast-tee-air-ee”

    I’d say his sounds more correct 😀

    1. Scott

      Also, am I crazy or did Chris Tregenza’s section get cut out?

      1. Jesse

        I figured he was just really quiet and didn’t have much to say. But, your idea makes much more sense.

        1. Liz

          Nope! We messed up! Hopefully we will either be able to fix the episode and NOBODY WILL NOTICE…

          Or, more likely – we will release his part seperately tonight!

          1. Jesse

            I didn’t notice. I swear.

          2. Scott

            Good to know I am not going THAT crazy

  4. Briarstomp

    I hate to say it, but I really must disagree with Liz on the whole realism argument. I think the argument that we should never argue physics with the GM in a magical world is weak GMing. Your world needs to have a consistent set of natural laws. They don’t necessarily have to match ours, but they do need to be consistent. If not they break my suspension of disbelief and make me feel like I’m being railroaded.

    Many of the times I’ve seen this become a problem in game has been when the GM needed a specific outcome or the module description block didn’t allow for alternatives. If in the example you gave you needed to get the players down that bottomless pit for plot reasons and failed because they came up with a smart and reasonable solution, that is weak design if you cannot “Yes, and…” that outcome. And if you were just dropping them to their death as a punishment that is even worse.

    Which brings me to my second topic….. Liz was your argument really that it is the way it is because the GM says so, so to bad if you don’t like it? I really hope that was just you having a bad day. Because as a player I have some very simple fixes for that problem. Most of them lead me to playing in a different game really quickly. The contract between GM and player is a very loosely held one. Break my roleplay out of your game and make me feel like I’m being railroaded down a hole and you might find yourself wondering why nobody is showing up for your game.

    From most of what I’ve heard on the podcast I don’t think that is how you roll, but that argument really felt like you venting after a bad session.

    Just my $0.02. I really love the podcast.

    1. Liz

      Hey Briarstomp! Thanks for the comments!

      Listening back – I really wasn’t very coherent was I? I must admit this was one of my devil advocate topics where I chose something that I had the complete opposite view on and try to argue in favour of the opposiding side! Instead I just made some kind of awful ranting noise and made it sound like the GM will railroad you to oblivion and you BETTER like it!

      I must admit – realism in games really does have a place – as Mike said at the beginning, we need rules to ground ourselves on! However it would be pretty rubbish if you couldn’t be guaranteed that things had mass, and acceleration, and lizards eat bugs!

      I also think any GOOD GM would listen to a viewpoint and either be able to explain why what you want doesn’t work (probably using the famous phrases “It is a good idea but… ” or “I like it, sadly…”) or will probably agree and run with it! A BAD GM would just go “because I say so”.

      In my games – if the players can explain it to me without using phrases “A wizard did it and ran away” then I allow it and usually I award players for genius ideas/plans/loopholes to my plot that I never spotted to get them out of this situation in a good way! I also encourage players who have TERRIBLE ideas and look forward to the carnage.

      The angle I was trying to push for was the idea that sometimes players interrupting the GM to go ahead and explain why their idea was terrible and why it was never work in real life. The idea that players purposedly bend the rules of the game with science to try and get an advantage. I haven’t had a lot of experiences with this – and it probably bleed through into my topic as I attempted to reverse my thinking a little!

      Hope this clears up what I was trying to say!

      1. Briarstomp

        Yes it does. My faith in humanity and good GMs is restored.

    2. Jesse

      I have to chime in (well, don’t have to, but want to). While I think that – to a certain extent – you need to keep a base of realism in your fantasy game, else it get completely out of control crazy with fantastical acts, you don’t have to bring the minutia of the real world into the gaming environment. When a character is falling, there is no need to adjust for acceleration and wind direction and all of the other varying environmental effects. Nor are several minutes worth the mathematics necessary for such a procedure.

      Often times, having the GM make a brash off the cuff decision about the general environment rules can be the best thing, as it keeps things simple and allows the game to keep moving without having to stop every 10 minutes to adjust for the wind speed velocity.

      You shouldn’t need a physics or engineers degree to play the game, nor should something like that help you out. The leg up should be in your creativity and ability to explain your situation and your intended actions. Of course there’s gravity and air. Of course the sun is hot and cows eat grass. Of course you bleed when cut and it’s hard to see in the dark. The basics are fine – it’s the minutia that kills the game.

Talk to us!

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