Non-combat Encounters in RPG’s

Non-combat encounters in RPG’s… Don’t make encounters about “combat”. What are our thoughts on that? Asks Sky. Create an encounter, it’s up to the players if they make it combat-based…but not always. We also touch on resolving the encounter, typically social in nature.


Survey to gauge interest in playing online with Brett, Sean and other BS’ers is up! Last week to complete. Will close it down at end of March 2020.

Random Encounter

Charlie emails us about his ideal game group

My ideal gaming group is six Jeffs that are completely wired on caffeine and fired up about politics.  What could possibly go wrong?

—Charlie Benson

Frank writes in about innovations in RPG’s

I loved the episode about games catching up with technology. I’ve been very interested in how to use technology to make gaming at the table top easier and more exciting. Way back in 2015 I was experimenting with the multimedia and interactive capabilities of Adobe Acrobat. V programming is actually very easy, anyone who publishes PDFs with layers should know how to quickly and easily create an interactive PDF. I find it a little surprising still that not too many publishers and designers take advantage of this media, but then again maybe it’s not so shocking since many publishers still don’t include digital bookmarks in their PDFs. Attached is a proof of concept that I created in 2015. It’s only a small 3 room one page dungeon and it only shows a fraction of what is possible, but I think it still shows where we can go with this medium. I think you may have inspired me to look into this idea once again.



Edwin Nagy who does some work for Frog God Games emails us about innovation in RPG’s


I suspect this episode was just a ploy to get all the publishers to send you free copies of the cool shit we’re doing.  This (link below) is Death & Taxes from 2016 with a clickable map AND back buttons. It was a pain in the ass, time-consuming, and probably only the right answer for a small percentage of a small market.  RPGs have so many varieties that making a chassis for general use is gonna be a tough one. Even trying to do relatively simple seeming innovation like selling an adventure through Roll20 is a challenge once you step outside the narrow confines of a traditionally-presented dungeon delve.  Think about the DCC maps and how they work on a VTT— we have the same issue. For fancy PDFs, as you know, there are so many platforms and the market is so small that we’d really be looking at is making a custom book for each customer. Even just selling digital maps for VTTs, we get lots of customers asking if we can just change this one thing so it fits their particular play style (and we tend to do it.)  It’ll happen. Video game companies have figured out how to release games on seventeen different platforms. Eventually we may gain access to those tools.

Side note—I just finished the episode and heard the die roll for the Midderlands.  We’ve revamped the KS page and Glynn created a free “Midderlands Taster”. Link here:



Cory ManOWar Winn emails us about about Innovations in RPG’s

Greetings gents of gesticulating BS!  Just listened to the episode numbered 284 and thought I’d offer some feedback, the email way!  First of all, sorry to not see you both soon due to the malignant pestilence affecting what we do based on its spread: stay healthy!

First of all, part two: addressing Brett’s Monster Manual multiple book thingy.  I’d recommend getting some of the Gale Force Nine monster cards for 5E so you can just pull out the cards you’ll use so you don’t need to have the books open.  While the cards aren’t perfect, they do an excellent job and they do cover all CR ratings now as well as spilling over to additional books like Volo’s Guide and I think some even feature the adventure books.  The cards are helpful for me since I don’t run 5E regularly but they do speed up what I’m looking for. Not much prep, just grab cards and go. I like that rather than flipping from book or electronic device, etc.  The cards are there and I just vary up the monsters’ stats on the fly if needed to make them feel more individualistic if multiples of the same monster are used.

Second of all, part one: addressing Sean’s issues.  I’m not a licensed professional so I can’t, oh wait, wrong issues… Kidding aside, Sean are you looking for a strictly digitally enhanced type of gameplay?  If it’s just that, I can’t help you. I think you are describing a cutting edge type of thing that not many designers have incorporated into game books/adventure modules yet due to costs or perhaps time involved to make said product.  Time is money and I suspect some game designers have jobs and do this as a secondary income. However, that innovation you described is probably on the way.

Second of all, part two: You both brought up tactile experience too (as in Nylarlathotep suitcase or whatever).  Having said that, there is a game I’ve backed Kickstarters for and received products from for maybe 8-9 years now with one more with rewards coming soon before the next KS launches.  That game is Shadows of Esteren. It’s kinda unique in it’s presentation. I went all out for the KS’ they’ve done. I have books, art file handouts, tiles, music/soundscapes in both CD and MP3 and other audio formats, the coinage, and even a cookbook to use real life ingredients to replicate meals in the setting.  You can get minis, props, etc. It all depends on what level you wish to back it. If you just got the core book, Universe, it begins in a way unlike any other RPG book I’ve seen in that it is about detailing setting, mood, anecdotes, etc. THEN in the later portion of the book when you know what you’re getting into it goes into character generation.  If you only bought the book or pdf, I can see how this would be more of the same as you described, but with food options, maps, tiles, props, sounds, coins, minis and more (a graphic novel as well as orchestra concert is coming soon) alongside various other things it’s quite the immersive setting. In the end, it’s what you pay for. I paid more for the higher level of stuff with Esteren, but wow, there is A LOT of stuff.  They’ve been doing this since 2011 or 2012 so if someone strips out an individual element of what I’ve described one could say that element is done already and not an innovation, but as a comprehensive whole I haven’t seen anything like this. They even have themed boxes and blank journals ready for that note taker/artist of the PC group who wants to use that stuff. Best part, all maps, tiles, room sheets, game aids, tactile elements not only are in their own physical folder separate from the main book, they are also available as electronic pdf’s, etc. so you don’t even have to use the physical rewards if you don’t want to, just use the digital ones or print off what you want and cue up the MP3’s or whatever you wish.  The game is described as “Game of Thrones meets Chthulu meets Ravenloft”. It will be a while before I can run a game of Shadows of Esteren due to my existing Hyperborea campaign, but I sure would like to play in one right away and run one in the future. Oh, and the art is fantastic and evokes a great mood.

Just throwing that game out there in case you never heard of it.

Hail and Kill,

Mr. Manowar


Dirtilus aka Dan emails us about sound AND innovation in RPG’s

Hey BS,

Lets talk about Audio in RPG’s. This will flow over a bit into innovations.

“Alexa tell Tabletop Audio play Dungeon 1”

Sean, you don’t even have to push a button.

“Alexa, play Star Wars sound track”

Everyone starts to sit around the table. Da da da da da…. Da da da da

And to F with the party.

“Alexa play big bad monsters kills the PCs playlist”

I like background audio. I think it helps set the mood. I don’t even have to get up or push a button to get it started. 

Fantasy Grounds!.. Just about everything you said about maps. On line it works great, click the peg on the map and share with the party and they see the trap. I have seen some videos of people using a TV to reveal the FG map to the party, haven’t tried it, but I will be looking into it. I use a Samsung tablet for adventures, but like to have a map out for the players to look at and use. I like maps.


Blake Ryan emails us about gaming online

Gooday fellas

Interesting times eh?

Regarding online gaming, most of my games these days are online, which just like face to face gaming, has its ups and downs.

Some of the ups are you don’t have to worry about weather or traffic, you just sit at a table with your pc and go for it.

You don’t have to invest in a ton of software, google hangouts is free and skype is part of microsoft office. You can even use a small whiteboard, draw stuff and hold it up to the camera if you want.

Yes sometimes the audio or production is not perfect but meh, you do what you can. For those worried about tech glitches, you do a test run with each player first, once done you shouldn’t have to do it again, and if you do then its easier because you’ve already done it.

I play and run games through gauntlet rpg group, had a few sessions with folks in germany, england, israel and myself in australia, which is pretty fuckin amazing.

in short, its not as hard as some people make out, and definitely worth the effort.

take care of yourselves fellas.


Blake Ryan

Die Roll

  • Tabletop Tango, youtube channel headed up by Carl aka ASaveageWorldsGM on our forums, and Eric. Dedicated to deep-dives on tabletop RPG topics. They’ve got about a dozen vids up for your viewing pleasure.
  • Top Secret /New World Order by TSR, free pdf on DrivethruRPG while we’re all confined. Video on how to get started.
  • Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game, article on Nerdist, successfully funded on Kickstarter
  • Chris Perkins reads the DMG and people are taking to it on Twitter. #DnDRnR #wotcstaff Hashtag DnDRnR
  • Esteren rpg on drivethru or in print at Noble Knight

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About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.