RPG Circus Season 2 Episode 3 - Everything You Need Is In The Box

Welcome to Season 2 Episode 3 of RPG Circus

Episode Topics

  • We Talk about Box Set with James Raggi
  • Using Skill Challenges in Other Games
  • When to Roll Things Out and When to Roleplay Thing Out

Show Links

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)
greywulf's picture

You have guys really knocked


You have guys really knocked it out the park again with a great podcast! Thanks for the kind words about Microlite20 too - I'm still accepting offers and should have come to a decision that everyone will be happy with by the end of February. You heard it here first!

I'm a huge fan of the Skill Challenges system in 4e as it helps put the skill system back into the centre of the game. They're no longer That Thing Which Rogues Do, but something that all of the players can take a part in. Use them as hooks to encourage role-playing, and they're pure gold.

Looking forward to the next podcast already!

Jeff's picture


Glad you enjoyed the show. It will be interesting to see what happens then at the end of February. Next Podcast in Two Weeks.

Jeff's last blog post... Useless Poll: Are you going to GenCon 2010?

Spacemouse's picture

Star Wars, Cyberpunk, etc.


I do play Star Wars! But then, all the rules I use to play come from the very first SWRPG book, by WEG, released 1988, so I guess I fit in the group of "complete starter kit & DIY from there on." ^_^

It was funny that you should address both the 1kM1kT CP setting contest and the Skill Challenges rules, because I'm writing an entry for the former, and thinking of basing its entire rules system around a mechanic not unlike the latter. Personally I don't like D&D 4e at all, but if there's one thing that was done right there, it's Skill Challenges. (Actually, it was Mr Greywulf whose bloggings opened my eyes to that truth.) What I found myself crying was "Why on Earth couldn't they do everything like that?" To which, of course, the game designer in me replied, "Well, why don't you?" So I did.

V2 of Spycraft (which you also brought up) actually did something very much like this in its Dramatic Conflicts rules, which in turn were an expansion of the chase rules in SC v1. So yeah, it's not a new idea. Also, a clever little bit of interactive online marketing by WotC, a FB app called D&D Tiny Adventures, caught my attention some time ago and wouldn't let go, and is in implementation not unlike Skill Challenges: for every encounter you make an ability roll (and proceed, win or lose, unless the consequences make you run out of HP) until you get to the final one and either complete or fail the quest. Failure won't kill you (or even leave you without a reward, generally), but success may come at a cost (albeit never as stiff a one as failing).

Thanks for the fresh perspective(s) on that one, and keep up the good work!

Jeff's picture


@Spacemouse - Thanks for the kind words. We do plan to keep things going and hope you tune into our next episode.

Jeff's last blog post... When You Get Thrown Under the Gaming Bus By Life What Next!

Misterecho's picture

The podcast


Hi guys

Thanks for mentioning our Cyberpunk design contest! I hope you'll have a read of the Work in progress threads in the 1km1kt forums.
I love Star wars d6, although the massive volume of canon makes it a little intimidating. @Spacemouse - I too run the 1e SW d6 :)

Good luck to greywulf, i hope M20 does well. Although its sad to see it pass on to someone else.

I hope the cottage industry RPG box set goes well; sounds like a major challange!

All the best guys, great podcast

Misterecho's last blog post... [Review] CthulhuTech ?Dark Passions?

Lumin's picture

Is Role-Playing truly "ROLE"-playing?

I had to touch on this since you guys didn't really bring it up.

You talk about the differences between "roll"-playing vs "role"-playing. You define "roll"-playing as using the dice to determine the outcome of encounters and "role"-playing as using the players at the table to try to solve problems on their own. My problem with this, however, is how can you call "letting the players (non-characters) figure things out on their own", role-playing when the players at your table are stepping -outside- of the roles of their characters to adjudicate these encounters?

In other words, by not using the dice and the recorded scores of your generated characters to solve encounters, you are NOT role-playing at all. By definition, to play a "role" you must use the talents and abilities of someone else.

So the irony in your statement, that we must "role-play" rather than "roll-play", is that you are actually not role-playing at all! "Roll"ing the dice is actual taking the true stats and abilities of the -character-, rather than the stats and abilities of the -player-.

I've heard it been said many times that you are having a more authentic "role-play" experience in the old-school game because it relied less on dice and more on story and player wit. Call it what you want, but this is NOT role-playing.

So let's get our definitions straight here, dice rolling is far closer to true role-playing than players sitting around the table telling stories with the dice out of site.

I've said it many times before, but table-top RPGs will never be able to simulate a -true- role-playing experience because players will always bring their own Out-Of-Character preconceptions and abilities to the table. Is it story-telling? Yes. Is it fun? Sure. Is it the closest we can get to the purest Role-Playing experience? No way!

I think we can do much better, but we must throw away these age-old definitions of "roll" vs "role" fallacies before we're going to get there.

Thunhus's picture

Great show


Thanks for a great show. I liked James Raggi interview and definetly going to buy his new box set. I'm also very intrested in new Red Box Set. I started with Mentzer Red Box in the mid 80's and still playing D&D (currently 4 and 3.5 editions).
Skill challenges are great way to keep everyone in action.

Tampere, Finland

Jeff's picture


@Lumin - You touch an interesting question of what exactly is "Role-playing"? To be honest, I think we each have our own opinion on that matter. If you want to call it Story telling, then by all means do so. The point of the segment was ask the question, when should we be using the dice and we should we not be using the dice? To which of course, the reply is "it depends".

@Thunhus - Glad you enjoyed the interview. Of course James is closer to where your at than he is us. Heck, personally, I'm almost 1/2 around the world from him. I had the Moldvay/Mentzer set myself. I think WotC is trying in some ways build on the nostalgia of that set by having a this starter set come in a 'red' box. Slick marketing if you ask me.

Again everyone, thanks for the comments. I hope you all look forward to the next show as much as we look forward to creating it.

Jeff's last blog post... Flexible Templates for Classes?

Reno Savage's picture

D&D ban in prison

I heard this mentioned on another podcast and had to throw in my 2 cents.

I wanted to comment on the issue of banning D&D from prison. I think perhaps I can give a unique view on the matter.
I am currently a deputy in northern Nevada working on the streets. Before getting a chance to work the streets I had to do 5 years as a jail deputy in a facility that houses 1200 inmates. Prior to that I worked as a correctional officer in the prison system. I have also been roleplaying since I was around 10, when my older brother allowed me to be a torch bearer and all around lackey for the party. That was in 1981.

I do not want to give any views about what should constitute punishment for those in prison. That is a whole discussion in and of itself. The only point I would make about it is this; those who say give them nothing but an empty cell have never had to walk a yard full of violent criminals. If they had, they might think giving them something constructive to do is a damn fine idea.

Now, the D&D ban. This is typical upper-management bullshit. The reasons that they give are completely ridiculous on many levels. You already know that D&D does not create monsters so I will skip that point. Here are some views from an insider on the other points;
"Prison officials enacted the ban in 2004 after an inmate sent an anonymous letter expressing concern about Singer and three other inmates forming a "gang" focused around playing the game." - Rubbish, complete and utter rubbish. Gangs exist in prisons. Examples include the Mexican Mafia, La Familia, Border Brothers, Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Warriors, Crips, Bloods and hundreds of other equally dangerous and violent gangs. These gangs exist in the open. They tat themselves to show affiliation in said gangs. It is not a secret society. The prison gang unit tries to segregate the leaders but the rest of the "minions" hang out together. These gangs have hundreds if not thousands of hard-core violent members. The idea that a prison system would be concerned about 4 people forming a gang around Dungeons and Dragons is ridiculous. I cannot believe they really think this, nor do they have the time. Correctional officers have all they can handle trying (unsuccessfully) to stop drugs coming in and people getting killed. Let alone the prison officials and officers, what would the other gangs think of a D&D crew?

Dungeons & Dragons "promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling," Holy crap where to begin with this one. "Promotes fantasy role playing" - I don't really even understand what they are talking about, "competitive hostility" - hmmmm...guess weight lifting, softball, handball, basketball etc don't? "addictive escape behaviors" - pure Blackleaf psycho-babble. The inmates have music, TV, books, book clubs, church, card games, school etc to keep them occupied as a WAY TO COPE with being in prison. These activities are designed to keep the inmates from dwelling on where they are. "Possible gambling" I thought this was a joke until I read the article. The criminal gangs run sporting books inside the walls. Inmates gamble on and with everything! Gambling! Pah! complete BS on this one. Not even the hacks up top believe this.

"After all, punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations," the court said. - this gets very close to the discussion on what constitutes punishment. Even as a cop I feel this could be interpreted as a spiteful policy. I do not believe prisons have the right to arbitrarily ban activities without reason and just cause. If the prison knows an inmate likes going to church can they decide to stop him just because they want to? the answer is NO. Another example is reading. Every inmate is allowed to read books. From minimum security to death row. If the inmate is segregated for rule violations the prison may prevent him from getting reading material as a punishment. Prison officials cannot just decide that because a guy likes to read he shouldn't be allowed to. Of course this applies to activities that are not dangerous, destructive or go against other policies. Common sense should prevail. The court failed to address the fact that in this case it was not a matter punishment but preventative policy that was put into place.

There is more to this story than meets the eye. Maybe the prison got caught up taking away the guys stuff for personal reasons and then when called on it made up some total b.s. to cover their asses. Wouldn't be the first time.
I would love to hear if any of your listeners game in prison. I would like to hear about their games and what systems they use. What Do the other inmates think about them playing?

Thanks for your podcast. I always enjoy it,

Reno Savage

captain rick's picture

Roll/role playing

I'm going to have to agree with Lumin on this one.
Keep up the great podcasting!

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