(TL/DR: I wrote my own tabletop RPG. It’s terrible, but I love it. The files are at the bottom.)
I’ve been mulling over an idea for a new blog post. It’s about the idea of “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and how it’s negatively affecting discourse, opinion, and results. It’s a heavy one, and I know it’ll probably piss off a few liberal and conservative friends, or possibly everyone. However, it’s so heavy that I haven’t mustered the energy to produce it. So this post has nothing to do with it. I don’t even really know why this is the introduction to this post, which is about role-playing games. I guess it’s because I treat my blog like a conversation between the two of us, and if you’ve ever talked to me in person you’ll know that I ramble a bit and go on tangents, especially when I’ve had a couple drinks and I’m my Authentic Self. So here we go on the blog post that is about as opposite as a heavy politically-motivated discourse as can be without being just a post of pictures of otters being the representation of everything that is good in the universe.
I love role-playing games of all sorts. LARPs. Video games. Hell, Choose Your Own Adventure books. But my ultimate love of the form is one of the first ones I discovered: the tabletop RPG. I read my first DnD rulebook when I was 10 and fell in love. My imagination soared with the never-ending story potential, and the side of me that later became an accountant loved the idea of rules providing a framework on which I could hang my imaginings. It was like playing Guns (that venerable game wherein two or more people take sticks and pretend to shoot each other, followed by the volleys of “Nuh-Uh” and “Ya-huh” to determine if someone was hit) but with a way to prove who had shot whom and what would happen. I loved it.
A while back I came across some old stories I’d written and mostly forgotten about. I remembered them immediately, like old friends you’d thought long lost. In the world of nostalgia and memory, they were beautiful. Then you look at them and you realize how ugly they are, and misshapen, and your very soul cringes and hopes no one ever sees them.
Then you do like I do, say fuck it, and throw them up on your blog.
That’s right! It’s podcast time. Since almost 5 years have passed since the last one, it seemed like a new one was due. This time, a former Shovelcast guest is back to review Mass Effect: Andromeda with me, the inimitable Allie Gebhart. Join two of the biggest Mass Effect fans in the Milky Way as we spend almost TWO AND A HALF HOURS half-drunkenly talking all things Mass Effect, occasionally breaking away from our lovefest over the original trilogy to discuss the new game. Honestly, we could have probably kept on going for 6 or 7 hours. Our takeaway: it’s a flawed game, but definitely worth playing, and we’re more than happy to tell you why.
At E3 this year, EA dropped a new trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda. It doesn’t explain anything, doesn’t show gameplay, and isn’t everything that I’d hoped would be released (by which I mean I want to know everything RIGHT NOW like the impatient petulant child that I am). There were, however, some clues and hints about what’s to come. I need to talk about it, just to keep myself sane, so this is just going to be a scattershot of thoughts and speculation about what’s to come.
This is Chapter 5 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:
Either the bed was deceptively comfortable, or a day that included dealing with my sister, traveling millions of miles, and ending in a police station made me a lot less picky. My head was aching from my high-speed introduction to yesterday’s wall, but some painkillers, scotch, and a shower improved my outlook. I didn’t normally drink this early, but, to be fair, I wasn’t often up this early either. I suited up, wishing I was wearing some heavy assault armor instead. The message I got saying “Congratulations! Almost twelve hours before you got picked up by the cops – M” certainly didn’t improve my mood. I had a bad feeling about the day. That wasn’t unusual, because the days I woke feeling like life was great always ended up terrible. A bad feeling was almost encouraging.
I hit the streets and made my way back to Tranquility. The streets were busier than yesterday, the respectable folks and their opposites going about their business at the tail end of the Ward. I got propositioned twice for action, one that called for a bed and another that called for k nuckles, and passed on both. I figured I had enough problems already.
Last night, I finally got around to watching the Season 2 episode of Community where the group plays Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (I know, I’m way behind the times, see this post for why). It was great, of course, presenting it in a funny way that still showed a love for the whole concept of table-top role-playing underneath (similar to how the movie Role Models approached LARPing – an endeavor silly and ridiculous like the movie shows, but worthwhile and a kick-ass time anyway). Ever since I watched it I’ve been thinking about tabletopping, something I haven’t done in a few years now, and growing up surrounded by the very books that were in the episode (and that still take up several boxes in the back room). I remember the Satanic backlash and having to explain to my mother that I was aware of the fact that magic wasn’t real and that raising an army of the dead wasn’t something I could actually do – a fun conversation, lemme tell you – and all that Jack Chick nonsense. Growing up with that stuff had a huge impact on my life. Without it, my two books don’t exist, I never would have written my own multi-volume system, and I never would have gotten so interested in rules systems that I probably never would have ended up an accountant.
You know, maybe Jack was right. That shit has ruined my life.
OK, Shovelbuddies, the long-awaited and highly-anticipated Female Gamer Perspective podcast is here! Listen as we talk gaming from tabletop to console to computer to LARP, hear my words begin to slur and giggles get drunker. Drink along at home with the Me and My Shovelcast Drinking Game listed below!
Special thanks go out first and foremost to the participants, who were kind and generous and especially indulgent to their host, who was so nervous before the recording began that I was asked if I needed a paper bag to breathe into for a bit. Seriously. Allie, Lisa, and Lori are amazingly cool human beings who also happen to be really good at gaming – like me except for the whole “amazingly cool” part! – and I really can’t thank them enough. I would happily do another 4 or 5 of these with them.
Also, I want to thank the people who came up with questions to ask. I tried to mention the people who asked by name to give credit where credit is due. In fact, I got so many questions I couldn’t get to all of them in an hour and a half. Yes, it’s over 90 minutes long. I would have gone for 3 hours if I was allowed to. Anyway, thanks to those who submitted questions for my guests. They were much appreciated and meant that I had to do almost no work and could kick back and be lazy, which is all of the win.
Oh, and unbeknownst to me, there were two hidden cameras set up that I didn’t spot. That’s right: the women are smarter.
Click here for the downloadable mp3—> Shovelcast 2 – Ladies Night and listen as you run or ride the bus or your bike or use some other form of hippie transport.
Or you can play it in the browser right here. Up to you.
The Me and My Shovelcast Drinking Game
Take 1 drink when:
- I say something stupid
- I use the word “awesome”
- I use a 25-cent word when a 10-cent word will do
- I giggle mousily
Take 1 shot when:
- We tell Trey to do so
- I slur a word
- Whenever “immersion” is brought up
Good luck and please drink responsibly.
I warned you. And here it is. An hour and thirty-seven minutes of pure nerdery.
It’s the first-ever podcast, excuse me, SHOVELCAST, from Me and My Shovel, so it’s just like the typical post: long, rambling, full of curse words, unedited, and probably awful. I aim to please! Seriously, though, I had a lot of fun doing this interview with one hell of a great dude. We talk about LARPing in general, being nerds, and Realm of LARP stuff for a good long time. Christian was a hell of a good sport, considering that his first post-show interview was with an amateurish half-drunk boob (that’s me) who had no idea what he was doing.
Fun fact: as nerds, we were of course sitting at a gaming table in someone’s basement as we did this. Totally appropriate.
So anyway, if you want to hear Barrington’s side of the story from the infamous Episode 5 Debacle, you’re in luck! If you want to hear my words get a little more slurry as time goes on, now’s your chance! If you think I remember half of what’s on here, you’re out of your mind!
I need to figure out how to make this a drinking game.
So, here is the last bit of ado: thank you to John and Lori for the use of the basement, and to Kyle for the use of the voice recorder. And also thanks to Christian’s wife and mine for letting us get all bromancy for a couple of hours unsupervised.
Here it is. God help us all.
Oh and I should probably add: NSFW (occasional potty mouths, constant levels of man-crushing).
“Nerd Culture” is taking over. Face it, Brosef, with your “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” tank top and oversized shades and flip-flops. The Tyranny of the Bully Era has ended, and popular culture has embraced everything that used to get some poor skinny kid wedgied and stuffed into a locker. Comic books? Only the highest grossing movies at the box office. Computers? Yeah, I think they’ve gone a little mainstream. Video games? You get the point, Mr. Straw Man, so suck it. Even things like tabletop role-playing games are no longer an automatic ticket to Nerd Hell, thanks to offshoots like World of Warcraft making the concept approachable, and having someone like Vin Diesel come out and say they’re cool also helps, because you go ahead and call Vin Diesel lame, then let me know when you finish fishing your forearm out of your own throat.
Now, not everything that geek culture embraces is mainstream yet. Cosplay? Slowly but surely getting more accepted, thanks to the exploding popularity of Comic-Con and the other hugantic cons (that’s “conventions” for those unfamiliar with the term) out there. Anime fanatics? Well, some things still deserves wedgies. (I kid, I kid. However, Dragonball Z and a lot of popular anime is some of the worst dreck I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, Princess Mononoke and Akira and Ghost in the Shell are incredibly beautiful and moving pieces of art, but most of the big-eyed panty-flashing’ tentacle-rapin’ underage-girls-who-are-“eighteen” kung-fu superpowerfulragefestin’ anime shit is purely awful in every way. But that’s neither here nor there.) There’s another geek staple that still isn’t embraced, and it’s near and dear to my heart, as I’ve said before.