Abraham Lincoln

Episode 495: More of an Octagon

May 6th, 2022 | Robin

The Gaming Hut investigates the difference between problems that rules sets should set out to solve and mere conceptual issues that never come up in play.

The History Hut gets hairy as we reveal the secrets of the Chester Cat Hoax.

Umbrage is entertained in the Narrative Hut as beloved Patreon backer Benjamin Rawls seeks our support on the misuse of the term “allegory.”

And much mystery is found within three points as we enter the Eliptony Hut, at the urging of estimable backer Ed (Speaker in Digressions), for a look at the Bridgewater Triangle.

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Snag Ken and Robin merchandise at TeePublic.

Human problems are out of hand, so thank goodness, and Atlas Games, for Magical Kitties Save the Day, a fresh, fun roleplaying game for players of all ages, and for GMs from age 6 and up!

Score a blood-drenched special bonus from Pelgrane Press when you order the print edition Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook or any of its associated bundles. A new 50-page Cuttings PDF of deleted scenes and horrors that didn’t fit is now available for a limited time with the voucher code VAMP2021.

The treasures of Askfageln can be found at DriveThruRPG. Get all issues of FENIX since 2013 available in special English editions. Score metric oodles of Ken Hite gaming goodness, along with equally stellar pieces by Graeme Davis and Pete Nash. Warning: in English, not in Swedish. In English, not Swedish. While you’re at it, grab DICE and Freeway Warrior!

Delta Green: Black Sites collects terrifying Delta Green operations previously published only in PDF or in standalone paperback modules.  They lock bystanders and Agents alike in unlit rooms with the cosmic terrors of the unnatural. A 208 page hardback by masters of top secret mythos horror Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Shane Ivey, and Caleb Stokes.

3 Responses to “Episode 495: More of an Octagon”

  1. Michael Cule says:

    Listening to you talk about the unimportance of probabilities makes me say:
    ‘Yeah but….’

    Rolling the dice and reading the result are part of the game bit of the experience
    and mucking up the sense of fairness and verisimilitude causes players to stop thinking about the story and start looking through the tissue thin scenery and think about what’s going on behind it.

    The difficulties I’ve had with dice systems come in two flavours: where the designer didn’t think through the odds of something happening to crash the sysem. Both of the worst examples were economic systems: the manor system in PENDRAGON and the GURPS version of TRAVELLER starship economics both of which had a tendency to spiral into debt and misery.

    The other was with people not being able to grasp the way the odds worked in a game system. For my players it was Greg Stolze’s REIGN/ONE ROLL ENGINE which was just too unlike the simple roll under systems of GURPS and RUNEQUEST. Which is a pity because I dearly love the system and setting. For me it was GENESYS which has peculiar specially made dice and which I just can’t grab hold of.

    If the players can’t look at their character sheet and then at the dice and figure out what their rough chances of survival are then they can’t plan and all encounters become a matter of reckless courage and shouting “Never tell me the odds!” Which is fun in its way but not the sum total of gaming. Or it can lead to deciding that the GM is being unfair and sulking.

    As to allegories, I can only remember that one RQ game involved and encounter with a black dragon which lived in (or actually was) a black tower. I was told afterwards by the GM that this was an allegory. Both I and my character protested against this. I do not want to live in much less play in a world where my blood and sweat are merely symbols of some higher truth and I am just a background character in someone else’s tale.

    • Phil Masters says:

      Agreed on the dice part; the Game part of role-playing game requires a certain amount of respect for the odds.
      Regarding allegory – I largely agree with the point, but might Runequest heroquests provide one partial exception? They are, as I understand the Staffordian metaphysics, meant to be more or less explicitly metaphorical, though questers may manipulate or oppose the allegory on occasion.

    • Tim Ellis says:

      Isn’t an economic system which inevitably spirals into debt and misery a feature rather than a bug, in that it forces the pc’s to go out and have adventures in order to maintain their lifestyle, rather than just sit at home and count the proceeds of their otherwise “off screen” activities?

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