The rpg game group, dynamics can make or break your game – be it one shot or long-term campaign. Casual conversation on game groups.

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Random Encounter

Beerleaguer comments on Beyond Your Table

Sean and Brett: First off, big thanks for the Podcast and the community you’ve built, and the rigor and hard work that goes into keeping a regular cadence of shows and fresh topics. It’s helped many of us stay connected to others who share common interests during a challenging year in isolation. The show has become my go-to Sunday soundtrack during a long walk or run, and Sean’s Saturday morning forum feels a lot like Saturday morning cartoons used to feel. I always look forward to both, and I believe I speak for many BSers in sharing our gratitude for these channels and for cultivating such an engaged and interesting community.


All this dovetails into your “Beyond Your Table” topic from your most recent Podcast. Everyone knows virtual role playing has been rising, growing leaps and bounds this last year especially, with platforms such as Roll20 and Foundry and others … along with Wizards of the Coast putting their full marketing weight behind online tools like D&D Beyond and Twitch, etc. Everyone knows all this and yada yada.

My question for you: Have either of you experienced anything beyond an apples to apples recreation of the live role playing experience virtually in this last year, as in, one GM and a table full of players, with the GM largely doing all they’re tasked with doing in a live setting?

I’m not necessarily talking about moving tokens around a virtual tabletop or those types of innovations (fog of war, sound effects, interactive character sheets, etc.). I’m talking about a wholesale reinvention of role playing experience, taking full advantage of the remote nature of things.

For example, what if there were two GMs, one to handle the physical setting and NPCs, and a second to handle how characters may interpret their surroundings (perception and all those tricky or problematic areas), or all that my come into a PC’s mind, then left to the players to decide whether to share it or not, based on their PC’s personality traits.

As an example, it could play out like this: A second GM, working independently of the main GM, sends a direct message to a player that would say, for example, “For a brief moment, you caught a glimpse of your travel companion’s eyes, and they were as black as onyx.” That information is that player’s alone, and they may act on it or not, but it’s solely theirs and free of any larger agenda the main GM may have in place.

I’ve never seen or experienced this type of dynamic, where the physical setting is managed independently from the mental one, but would be curious whether you have, or any other situations where the virtual game experience deconstructed the role playing game experience to such a degree. I’m sure there are many rulesets that do just that, but wondering if you’ve seen or experienced such a thing in your long and distinguished journey through the hobby.

Cheers and Beers – Beerleaguer

Todd Crapper comments on Beyond Your Table

Hmm, oh, gee, what could possibly have me eager to listen to this episode? Could it be… Satan? (Well, according to the 80s, yes, but that’s a different topic).

There comes a point in a game’s design where it has to function without its creator(s) and that’s when you learn if the game’s solid. Not because it worked exactly as you wanted it to as if you were there holding everyone’s hand, but it worked despite you not being there. Grammatical interpretation alone is one of the key reasons, but it mainly comes down to people doing whatever the fuck they want with your game and still feel like your game. It’s why Pathfinder 1st Edition was also known as D&D 3.75 because it still tasted like D&D 3.5 but with hot sauce. Or like a day-old doughnut, depending on who you ask.

No one runs the same game in the same way. Hell, I don’t even run my own games as written because I adapt to suit any number of reasons. But those adaptations are based on the core principles built into the game and that’s where games, adventures, supplements, and other products aim. Not dead centre, just anywhere on the target. The more precise it needs to be in order to function at a basic level, the harder it is to implement.

See what I did there? I basically said the same thing @Fafhrd and @sean did on this episode, but in my own words. Same thing. Except mine was done with a lot more fucking class, ya shitheads. Crapper out. :sunglasses:

Jon Cawards emails us on Mooks

Hi Guy I love your show as always!

Unless I am mistaken no one mentioned “brute squads” from the 7th Sea in your mook discussion. Take this with a grain of salt, because I have not run 2nd edition or 1st for that matter, but brute squads are integral to the system. They are a group of NPC treated like a single character. With their damage based on how many people in the squad as well as it is their hit points.

On top of that they come in a variety of flavors, guards, assassins, duelist, pirates and thieves. Each variety has a different power which can be activated by the GM spending a danger point. Danger points are kinda like Fate points, but just for the GM. Guards are basically ablative armor for villains, assassins go before the heroes, duelist get a second attack, pirates can abduct an NPC and thieves can steal an item from the heroes.


My home group has flirted with running the 2nd edition a couple of times, but it was too narratively driven for them. Many of them loved 1st edition that was a more a tactical game.

I don’t really know how well it works, but it sounds like fun.

The sad story here is that I backed the Kickstarter for 2nd edition which gave me all the digital versions of the 1st editions books. That and most of the new books too. Now that is some digital clutter! By far I have more 7th books than any other game. I think it’s time is coming for my home group. Any year now. Sigh.

Keep up the good work!

-jon caward

John H. sends in some feedback on some recent episodes

Hey gents,

A few random thoughts inspired by your last few episodes:

  1. World of Darkness was MY JAM back in the day. Loved it. Played so much Werewolf: the Apocalypse in high school, and it was awesome. Classic WoD was pretty rough around the edges, mechanically, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to break the game (and we had a few players who enjoyed doing just that) but the setting was rich, interesting, and well-supported. When new WoD came out, I was pleased to see that they’d mostly fixed the game system, but quickly realized that they’d taken all the fun – the mystery, the wonder, and above all the HOPE – out of the setting: Werewolves went from warriors for Gaia to self-serving, territorial thugs. Mages went from pioneers at the edge of reality, fighting the forces of stagnation, madness, and malice… to… well, to self-serving, territorial thugs. And changelings went from creatures of the Dreaming, walking the line between banality and schizophrenia by bringing dreams to life and inspiring artists… to cowering victims of abuse. All the meaning was ripped out, and what was left was no fun to play anymore. Even with a better game system. It’s still good for playing mortal horror games, but the splatbooks are just taking up space on my game shelf.
  2. One thing WoD got right was the structure of a character: attributes (ranked 1-5), skills (ranked 1-5), and special abilities. Bam, perfect recipe for a character, and all these years later, nobody’s improved on it. That’s how characters are built in everything from WoD to Star Wars to 7th Sea, to Cortex.
  3. Speaking of Cortex, Cam Banks and the crew at Fandom are about to revolutionize how RPGs are made and marketed. Check out what they’re doing with the Cortex Prime system: They’re positioned to start cranking out fun, balanced games connected to existing licensed IPs, and to do so very quickly. (They’re already mostly done with a Masters of the Universe game and a Dragon Prince game.) And as the creators of D&D Beyond, they’re building some online tools for designing your own Cortex hacks quickly and easily, selling them on their marketplace, and playing them on their platform. Watch what they’re doing, because I think they just might overtake D&D as the best-known TTRPG. You know, like World of Darkness almost did twenty years ago.
  4. These days, Genesys is my jam. I’ve had more fun with homebrewed Genesys games in the past couple of years than with any other game in my life. Their custom settings are good (especially Shadow of the Beanstalk) but where the game shines is in homebrewed settings. It took me a couple of sessions to get the hang of it (and to trust things like the magic system) but once I did, it was awesome. I admit, the game seemed incomplete when I first looked at it, and I kept worrying that I wasn’t prepped enough. But the system works, and it’s way more thorough and complete than it seems to be (especially with the Expanded Players’ Guide.) On paper, it looks a little odd, but at the table, it creates amazing adventures.

Thanks for the terrific podcast!


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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.