On the Virtue of Actual Plays

What's the appeal of Actual Play podcasts and streams?
June 20, 2019 — Aabria Iyengar
2019 Pride Charity

2019 Pride Charity

June is LGBT Pride month. I've been asked by a few customers and fans if we are going to do a special of some sort. I know it is the month to do it. Major corporations are throwing rainbows on everything in hope of cashing in on your LGBT pride. I even saw a Budweiser bottle this month that was colored like the Trans flag. 

We're not going to monetize your identity. Your sexuality is not a cash grab for us. We're going to lose money to prove it. Use promo code PRIDE at check out to get 0% off. 

When you do 20% of your sale is going to go to My Friends Place. A local non-profit in Los Angeles that helps homeless youth, 40% of which are LGBT. Could we find a place that is 100% LGBT youth? Maybe. But My Friends Place has a long track record of being an amazing and trustworthy resource for LGBT teens and we want to see them grow and thrive. 

 

Update: We raised $132 for My Friend's Place! Funds have been distributed. Thanks everyone. 

 

June 04, 2019 — Refersion Collaborator

May Box Printing Error

We were made aware today of a printing error on the d4s of our Cyclone dice. The face sides do not match so that they are effectively unusable. Here is what we are doing to correct the situation.

1. All Original Box subscribers will get a replacement in the next month's shipment. 

2. One in seven of our Sampler and Basic box members received a bad d4. Please email us a photo of your d4 to hello@diceenvy.com and we will ship you out a new one. 

3. If you have cancelled your subscription see #2. 

 

 UPDATE : All original boxes for June are mailed and include a correct replacement  d4.

June 03, 2019 — Aabria Iyengar

Reconsidering Limited Edition Dice

Last week it finally happened. A set of our out-of-stock dice went up on eBay at the speculative price of $100. I'll admit it, at first I was flattered that someone thought they might be worth that price. I'll also admit that when Dice Envy started I thought a limited edition collectors economy would be cool. Now I’ve seen that though the rush to get a limited set can be fun for a time, it eventually turns frustrating. It can eventually discourage people from collecting all together. 

We are a company for dice enthusiasts by dice enthusiasts. I don't like my dice on eBay for ten times the price. I don't like seeing people who want our dice not get them. Our primary goal as a company is to get you cool dice with as little hassle as possible. We want to get you those sweet goblin click-clacks.  

With that in mind, we are distancing ourselves from a FOMO economy of limited releases and promises (or threats) of a single run of our most popular dice sets. Instead, we are committed to getting you the dice you want in a timely and friendly manner. 

 

So how will this change how we do business?

Most things will not change. Here’s a reminder of a few systems in place that work well for releasing new dice sets:

1. We use Kickstarter for a lot of our new product lines. This gives everyone a chance to get what they want on a flexible timeline, and allows us to accurately gauge interest in innovative materials and structural designs. 

2. For some of the new designs we’re most excited by, we put out a pre-order to make sure we have enough product to cover the initial wave of interest. In most cases, these pre-orders ship within a month, and we always restock them on the site. 

3. Our subscription box is accessible to everyone at prices ranging from $5 to $22 dollars. Most of our new product is available to all through that service. 

 

What is new? 

1. Customers now have the option to sign up for updates on out of stock products. If any particular set has 400+ people interested in a revival we will start a new print run.

2. I believe in our product. They are great dice! It doesn't matter if there are 5 or 5,000 of them out in the world. So we are eliminating limited editions. I'm aware some people bought dice in the past from us and we have labeled them limited edition. Maybe that was even a selling point for you. So I am opening up a buyback. For the month of June, if you bought a set of dice because we marketed them to you in the past as "limited" or "exclusive" you can mail it back to us and we will exchange it or return your money. It doesn't matter if you bought them yesterday or two years ago. 

We hope this will help you trust us as a company, give you less anxiety, and help you love collecting dice. 

 

David,

Founder and CEO of Dice Envy

May 31, 2019 — David Derus

Dice and the Trade Wars

Dice Envy is a US based dice company. Much like nearly all of your favorite dice companies we have our goods made in China. President Trump is fighting a trade war with China presently and both governments are imposing tariffs on the goods of the other. This June the tariffs will begin to include gaming components such as dice. 

We've heard a lot about how much this will impact the cost of our goods. It may be anywhere between 4% to 25% increase. A lot of people in the dice community are asking what will happen to the cost of dice? So we wanted to address to you how Dice Envy will respond.

Metal Dice

We have no plans on increasing our prices. We are going to simply eat the increased cost of any metal dice we sell. This will keep our prices competitive. The industry standard for metal dice is usually between $20 and $40. We will continue to offer our metal dice at around $30. More complex styles such as our new Trifecta line are already priced around $40 but that is simply because they cost a lot more to produce. 

Plastics

For our resin and acrylic dice, in most cases we will continue to offer many of our dice at no change of cost to you. We will simply take on the decreased profit margin. However, some dice sets will increase in price by $1. This will be on a case by case basis and is expected to impact no more than 1 in 10 dice sets.

 

Our mission stays the same, to get you dice that you love with as little hassle as possible. We are grateful for your support and hope that as this trade war continues you will buy lots of dice from us! :)

 

David Derus

Dice Envy, Owner

May 14, 2019 — Aabria Iyengar
Learning to Draw With Pub Draw

Learning to Draw With Pub Draw

Want to draw your beloved Dragonborn cleric but feel like you lack the skills to do so? Since you’re telling me you have no prior training, we’ll have to start from square one. Or should we say, “circle” one? *Draws terrible circle.* But, if you’re not as artistically inclined as Spongebob, checking out the Arts category on Twitch. You’ll find countless streams of artists working live and chatting away with the audience. This is good exposure to the writing process, but it still isn’t the best for easy step-by-step drawing for beginners. There’s a channel specifically for that purpose, though.

A Channel for Beginners

Created and hosted by the Kickstarter-breaking Critical Role team, Pub Draw is a mixture between a hang-out stream and TTRPG Bob Ross illustration class. If you’ve ever wanted The Joy of Painting, but for learning how to draw D&D characters, this is the channel for you. Each week, Batgirl artist Babs Tarr teaches cast member Marisha Ray and various guests how to draw using characters from Critical Role. They start at ground zero and lead the audience and guests through the absolute basics of drawing. Tarr encourages the audience to use what’s accessible and to practice as often as they can. When it comes to drawing, all of us are worthy.

Dragon drawing

 Positive Reassurance

Positive Reassurance is Pub Draw’s greatest strength as a show. During each hour to two-hour long stream, the audience is encouraged to follow along. That’s right, you get to be a part of the show. It’s like virtual reality, but better, because there’s no motion sickness. And, there’s no better way to easily learn drawing step by step as a beginner than to be guided along, while still being forced to participate. Wanna craft a sheet of skeleton heads and eyeballs? Great! Now you have them in your inventory! Does your drawing look wrong to you? That’s all right! As long as you keep trying, you’ll improve and be making art that you love in no time. Artists are overly critical of their own work, anyway.

Everything is Content

Pub Draw uses an “everything is content” philosophy that makes it ideal for learning how to draw D&D characters and being instantly accessible to all viewers. Tarr never uses her training and experience as a professional to have high expectations or look down on beginners. That’s right, she’s the anti-Karen. And she’s going to take care of you. Her show isn’t about her, it’s all about the audience. Week-by-week watching Marisha Ray continuously learn and improve alongside the audience is another wonderful point of accessibility. Put simply, this is a great and accessible community to be a part of.

Drawing materials

Drawbacks

Pub Draw is an amazingly helpful show, but it’s not without its drawbacks. These are mostly derivative of its Livestream format and will be inherent to any shows on the platform, though. Those looking for a more structured course may have issues following along as Tarr floats back and forth from serious instruction on how to draw D&D characters to helping her guests, to jumping ahead to more advanced techniques. If you don’t care about structure, or are as impatient as most internet users are, then that shouldn’t be an issue. The instruction may feel disjointed, but it keeps you on your toes. This is an online class you won’t fall asleep during.

Lack of Numbers

Pub Draw’s other major drawback is its lack of episode numbering. If you, like myself, find yourself too busy to watch the show live (seriously, how do people have time to do anything?), you have to rely on YouTube uploads later. However, it can be difficult to figure out which episodes go in what order. It took me 20 minutes wandering through videos to find a good starting point. Luckily, I’m not the first person to have this problem. There are ready-made playlists on YouTube so that you can enjoy and learn in order. Easy step-by-step drawing for beginners is easily findable thanks to playlists.

Drawing digitally

So Much to Learn

Want to learn how to easily draw amazing fantasy characters? Pub Draw is live on Twitch every Wednesday at 5 PM PST. Too busy to watch live? See the whole catalog of videos on YouTube. Become the artist you were always meant to be. There’s a Bob Ross inside all of us.

Brittany Lindstrom is a mixed media illustrator out of ye olde Boise, Idaho. Under the banner of Spice & Rose, Lindstrom is oftentimes left dreaming of deep dungeon dives while chained to her studio. On the rare occasion that she's let out, you can find her presenting panels on art and Artist Alley at conventions all around the Intermountain West. She has a deep love for playing randomized characters. 

April 09, 2019 — Aabria Iyengar
February Subscription Box Updates

February Subscription Box Updates

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4/5/2019

UPDATE: All sampler and basic boxes are shipped. We also received a second shipment today with roughly 60% of the dice needed to cover all the remaining boxes. Those will be shipped out tomorrow. You will know if you are one of those subscriptions because you will have already received an automatic shipping confirmation e-mail.

In total, 77% of all the missing boxes will be completed by 4/6/2019. The current estimate for the last of the missing boxes is April 25th.

The issue is with the d4s. The engraving on this set is particularly elaborate and for some reason the d4s are rejecting the inking.

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3/27/2019 UPDATE : All Sampler and Basic February boxes will be shipped 3/28/2019.  

 

We are still literally waiting for the ink to dry on the Quarterly and Original boxes. It should not be long for them as well. But they will not be shipped tomorrow. 

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We wanted to answer some frequently asked questions about the delayed February box shipment. Below are the most common questions we are asked. Also, come back here if you want the latest news. We will be updating this blog post as details on the February box develop.

 

Where is my February box?

February's subscription box is late. We had a production issue that caused us to not get the engravings done in time. February is Chinese new year and that is a BIG deal. Our workers get most of the month off and this only compounded the tardiness of the set. 

I'm being charged for March but I never got the February Box?

Yes, the good news is that the March boxes are right on track and we are going to ship those next week. The February boxes will be delayed until later this month. But please know it is our top priority as a company to get you the February dice as soon as we possibly can. 

Can you give me something for making us wait?

Yes, we sent out a $5 coupon last week to our mailing list as an apology, also, we ordered a new round of Healer Infinity dice in a special color. Once they are  complete they will go into a future subscription box as bonus content as an additional way to try to make this right.. 

 

Again, I'm truly sorry for the delay. 

 

David Derus

Dice Envy, Owner

 

UPDATE: Manufacture says they will Arrive on March 24th. We will ship the day we get them.

March 07, 2019 — David Derus
Featured Creators: Back Patio Network

Featured Creators: Back Patio Network

By Jairys Tak

 

The Called Shot Podcast, a Pathfinder Actual Play podcast helmed by GM Wes Smith, came to an end in 2018 after 52 episodes. Wes Smith and two of the Called Shot players, Adam Sims and Matt Brewer, have since founded the Back Patio Network along with Casey Davis and Hannah Sims. I had the opportunity to interview Wes to discuss the network and touch on their new actual play podcast Rocks & Runelords.

 

JT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Wes. Let’s start here: what motivated you to create a podcasting network?

WS: That's a really tough question. At this point it feels like I've always had a podcast with friends. So to be not working on a podcast would feel very odd. But why a network, though? We wanted to do more than just an Actual Play podcast from the very beginning. Branding is a huge commitment of time and resources, so to combine what we had at the time, a network made sense. We want our listeners to know us as the Back Patio Network, not "The New Path Podcast" people. We want to build the expectation that we provide more than just 1 podcast. But why work on a podcast at all?  It has been a terrific outlet for creativity. It combines my love for theatre with my favorite hobby of table-top RPGs, and I get to do it all with my best friends.

JT: Considering that an outlet for creativity is one of the things that drew you to podcasting, what made you decide on prewritten adventures over an original or homebrew story?

WS: The nice thing about Paizo's adventure paths is the hard work is done for you. Then I can tweak the story at key points to highlight the characters the players have invested in so heavily. I don't spend the time picking the feats and spells of a 12th level wizard to combat the party. I focus on the story elements of why the wizard is there, his motivations, how will he kill everyone, and what his cackle will sound like when he succeeds.

JT: It sounds like being behind the screen is something you enjoy. Do you find it to be a different experience being a GM of a podcast as opposed to an in-person game without an audience?

WS: Very much so. I react well to an audience, it's been that way since my high school and college days in theatre. I "up my game" a bit. The players do the same. They have more buy-in, concentration and focus. Their characters for an audience are top-notch with fun quirks and back stories. 20 years from now we will look on 2015 as the golden age of table top gaming.

JT: It's definitely a great time to be a consumer of table top entertainment: it's safe to say that there are more actual play podcasts out now than ever before. With that growing (friendly) competition, is there something that sets the Back Patio Network's content apart from the rest?

WS: I've really had to think about this one. I've also asked the group for their opinions. The thing that sets BPN apart is us. That is definitely hubris-speak, but we work to bring a quality podcast with the feeling that you are at the table with us. Lots of Actual Plays tell the story and act their characters quite well or have terrific audio cues, but we want you to feel comfortable listening to any BPN podcast as if you and I were hanging out in a bar or restaurant talking about hobbies. And we will cover a lot of hobbies by the time we're done. We are working to bring out a few more podcasts. The next one up is for anyone wanting to brush up on their Comic Book history. We have a sample already on our feed where we cover Sabrina. It is the Comic Book Cabinet Podcast up on all major platforms 

JT:  You mentioned that you want the listeners to feel like they're hanging out with all of you. What are some of the ways you interact with them currently?

 

WS: Mostly we do it by the way we talk when we're on mic. We want to be relaxed and not a 100% polished audio drama-style Podcast. We are also heavily invested in our Discord Community. We have a Play by Post RPG led by one of our community members and I'll occasionally run one to coincide with our Rise of the Runelords Actual Play. There are also quite a few folks on Twitter we keep up with and they are all a ton of fun and great community builders.

 

JT: Speaking of actual plays, what made you decide on Rise of the Runelords?

 

WS: We made the choice just when Return of the Runelords was being released by Paizo.  Our goal is to play the trilogy: Rise of the Runelords, Shattered Star, and Return of the Runelords.

 

JT: That's a lot of Pathfinder to look forward to! With that, the Comic Book Cabinet, and other hobbies you hinted coming on the horizon, it sounds like there'll be something for everybody. Thank you again, Wes, for taking the time to talk about the exciting things happening on the Patio.

 

WS: My pleasure! If anyone wants to contact me, I'm on Twitter: @WestheGM or find the whole crew: @backpationet.  Or join our discord, https://discord.gg/cykW3cK. We are all pretty active there. This has been a fun discussion, let's do it again real soon! Maybe over coffee and a board game next time?

 

JT: That would be my pleasure!


The Back Patio Network is Wes Smith, Hannah Sims, Matt Brewer, Adam Sims, and Casey Davis. Need something to listen to while waiting for your dice subscription box to arrive? Check out their podcasts and find more information at https://backpationetwork.com/. Back Patio Network logo used with permission.

Jairys Tak is a writer, IT professional, and all-around nerd. He is a Pathfinder player and GM, enjoys board games, and is probably drinking coffee right now.

February 22, 2019 — David Derus
Tags: podcasts

Embracing Character Death

I've been playing tabletop RPGs since before the creation of the dice subscription box: over five years of Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire: the Masquerade, and more. Up to this point I've avoided character death. This streak, however, came to an end with the death of a beloved Pathfinder character. Nathaniel “Ditto” Varima was murdered in his sleep by an assassin. One dice roll – a fortitude save – decided between an abrupt end or his continued existence. The metal dice made its choice: I rolled a natural 1…an automatic failure. I’d enjoyed my time with Ditto, an ostentatiously dressed young man who alternated between rebellious indifference and a nobleman’s perfect etiquette. He was taken from the world too soon, mechanically at only fourth level, and I immortalized his final moments here on Twitter. I felt responsible for dooming this young man, a character whose personality was unlike any other I’d played before. The temptation to right this terrible wrong was difficult to ignore, because the power of playing in a fantasy world means that a character’s death needs not be permanent.

In a world full of magical means of rebirth, as well as player options such as hero points, character death can be merely an obstacle which must be overcome. Especially at higher levels of dnd, the financial cost of spell components or spellcasting services is easily achievable. For this reason, and certainly for personal reasons, many players make the choice to resurrect or reincarnate their beloved character. This is a completely legitimate choice that is well-within the rules of every roleplaying game I’ve played to date. It’s a way to finish the journey your hero has started, and I recognize that such a desire is important. I could have spared Ditto with hero points, but I made the choice not to do that. I respectfully submit that a character's death should be meaningful, and here are a few ways we can embrace the narrative power of that death.

A Memorable Farewell

The Lord of the Rings is a masterful work of epic fantasy. It’s a story that begins with a fellowship, a group of adventurers marching towards a shared goal. Each person in the fellowship helped Frodo make it to Mt. Doom, either by accompanying him along his perilous journey or through defending Middle Earth against Sauron. While much attention is rightfully given to Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, and Gandalf, for example, the sacrifice of Boromir should not be overlooked. Wracked with self-loathing and regret over succumbing to the ring’s temptation, he uses every last ounce of his strength to stall the overwhelming enemies in order to provide Frodo with a means to escape. His death is redemptive, powerful, and brutal. To have him miraculously survive or be magically restored would not fully negate his death’s bravery nor its impact, but it would significantly minimize it. When our tabletop characters die valiantly, their death can similarly become a powerful legacy by which they can be remembered.

A Death to Avenge

Not every character will perish in epic fashion. Traps and random accidents are just as likely to take a character’s life as would a determined foe, and those are frustrating situations. But even these seemingly meaningless deaths can be powerful narrative moments for the other members of your party. It is understandable to regret losing the time with one’s own character, but a lost companion can give an adventurer something to fight for. These unexpected deaths can breathe life in to a campaign, energizing the rest of the party to complete their goals and avenge the unnecessary death of their compatriot. Whether that’s railing against the pantheon or seeking vengeance against the castle’s evil tyrant, your character’s loss can give the other adventurers a renewed sense of vigor and purpose.

Mysteries and Answers

Whether you start with a three-sentence backstory or an in-depth novella, a D&D character’s story and goals grows throughout the adventure. A chance loot drop can become a treasured weapon and an NPC can become a fast friend or love interest. Tabletop roleplaying games are wonderfully collaborative storytelling experiences, and that allows our character sheets to come alive and gives players an opportunity to see the world through their eyes. We can create lofty goals for our characters or they can be driven by wanderlust. Whatever their motivations, a character’s demise leaves some amount of business unfinished. This might excite the curiosity of the other players by presenting them with an opportunity to finally get to see what was in that locked chest, for instance. On the other hand, the death can create an anticipation and mystery about whether or not they’ll ever know the answers to a character’s secretive past. In both examples, you have the ability to excite the other players and shape the game’s world.

Last Words

Many GMs give a dying character an opportunity to describe their final scene and give final words. This is an incredible opportunity to set the tone for how your character is to be remembered, as well as to do many things: ask forgiveness, demand that your death be avenged, or profess your character’s love for another. Rarely does a player get such a powerful moment: such an opportunity should be taken seriously. For the GMs reading this, consider giving your player time to put thought in to this, perhaps allowing them to play out the scene next session.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with choosing to bring your character back to life! Their stories are important to us and every player has the right to decide for themselves what to do in this situation. Before you choose whether to let a character live or die, think about whether their passing can be inspiring to the other players and whether the chance to write their last moment is worthwhile to you. Whether the death is heroic or seemingly pointless, their death can be powerful, and their loss can energize a campaign in a unique and exciting way.

 

Jairys Tak is a writer, IT professional, and all-around nerd. He is a Pathfinder player and GM, enjoys board games, and is probably drinking coffee right now.

February 13, 2019 — David Derus
Roll for it: February Shops

Roll for it: February Shops

Love it or hate it, shopping is an essential part of every tabletop gaming experience. Not only do shops give players the opportunity to lighten their pouches in exchange for cool and unique items, but it’s also an often overlooked opportunity for characters to explore their interests. Unique shops are full of roleplaying possibilities for both you and your players. Besides, what else are players supposed to do with all those fantasy fun-bucks they just found on a hobgoblin? Save it for the party’s retirement fund? Of course not!


The ideas below can be inserted directly into your game or be used as a brainstorming spark to help you create some of your own. If you’d like to see more premade shops, websites like Dungeon Master’s Guild and DriveThru RPG are great places to look for all kinds of homebrewed content. Alternatively, if you’re the type who enjoys homebrewing as much as possible, you can use a site like World Anvil to keep all your content easily accessible and in one place.


Let’s get those dice rolling and start roleplaying!



Nary-a-Potter: Need pots, bowls, and ceramics imbued with minor magical properties? This is the place for you! Turn water into ale, snag a cup that keeps forgotten tea hot, or simply buy a bowl or two. The grizzled old Human wizard has a peculiar scar, but his snow-white owl seems friendly enough.


Snowpuff’s: Magical iced treats shaped to look like snowmen that melt in your mouth, but not in your pouch! Choose from a wide variety of flavors and colors. With Winter’s Embrace around the corner, Snowpuff’s offers heart-shaped treats to share with your special some-puff. The blue Tiefling lass who runs the shop is always giddy and full of puns!


Ol’ Boozy’s Alewerks: Ale and brewing supplies from around the world! Famous for seasonal tastings and unique flavors. New this season is a romantic ale aptly named Brew Love that features hints of chocolate and wine. While many customers swear they’ve met Ol’ Boozy himself, all eyewitness accounts conflict and no one knows what he actually looks like or how he’s able to obtain so much ale!


Bottom’s Button Bonnets: Hats made to protect delicate skin from the sun. Each Button Bonnet has a handcrafted button attached to it, which is said to bring the wearer luck. Love button charms are particularly popular during mid-winter. This shop is run by a crafty Halfling woman who is often seen chasing after her grandchildren.


Pinky’s Party Punch: Fizzy drinks galore sold in cute, heart-shaped vials. You never know what flavor you just purchased as each drink is the same hue of bubblegum pink. For a little extra, you may purchase a “Love Potion” that tastes like strawberries but removes the element of surprise. A female Gnome with bright pink hair bursts into giggle fits each time a customer gets a drink they didn’t like. No returns or exchanges!


Fur-Real?!: Luxurious leathers and furs for the home and the traveler who appreciates comfort. Owned and operated by a pair of Tabaxi twins. Just don’t ask how they source their materials.


Bombs Away!: Soaps, shampoos, and everything an adventurer needs to look and smell their best! Their namesake product, the Soaking Bomb, fizzes when added to water and fills your cleaning vessel with bright colors, lush fragrances, and soaks all those aches away. A soft-spoken Furbolg druid owns the shop and grows most of the ingredients himself.


Fortune’s Fool: Purchase Mystery Crates of equipment and see what’s inside! Each crate is guaranteed to contain at least one minor magical item. Those feeling lucky can spring for the Legendary Crate, guaranteed to hold at least one enchanted piece of equipment! A spunky Water Genasi woman runs the store alongside her quiet Half-Orc husband.


Build-a-Beast: Go home with a squishy, cuddly version of the world’s more ferocious beasts! Just in time for Winter’s Embrace, the Love Dryad plush is here to charm you. Don’t forget to sing her a little song as you make your purchase! The owner and creator of these plush creatures is a mystery, but the shop is always manned by a different, tired-looking adolescent.


Valtorina’s Secret: This exclusive cafe only serves female clientele. Clients are treated to an exquisite meal and refined conversation with their staff. Guests will feel as if they have been whisked off to a dreamland where they’re the Queen! The Elven proprietress’ attire suggests that this odd business is quite profitable. Make a reservation as soon as possible!

 

Brittany Lindstrom is a mixed media illustrator out of ye olde Boise, Idaho. Under the banner of Spice & Rose, Lindstrom is oftentimes left dreaming of deep dungeon dives while chained to her studio. On the rare occasion that she's let out, you can find her presenting panels on art and Artist Alley at conventions all around the Intermountain West. She has a deep love for playing randomized characters. 

February 09, 2019 — David Derus
Playing by Post: How to RPG at a distance

Playing by Post: How to RPG at a distance

You know what they say: “Time keeps on slippin’.” Between work, school, and other chores, it can be difficult to establish in-person gaming sessions, even for quick ones. Creating a flexible, consistent time block for expansive tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons will be even more difficult. Even if you can get everything set up, finding a time everyone can set aside to do it will be a challenge. There’s always that one player that can’t show up for whatever reason. Don’t deal with flakes, there’s a new solution in long-distance gaming.

The Internet Revolution

Virtual tabletops are here to make your session planning simpler than it’s ever been. Soon enough we’ll be floating through space in a fully automated cruise ship. Until then, we still have tools like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds to remove the obstacle of physical location from the equation. They’re your best friend for long-distance gaming, and especially D&D over Discord. I play online in a game and GM in another game, and I’m grateful for the capability to do so. All the physical barriers have been lifted. Still, time can be a challenge.

Twitch phone app

A Welcome Alternative

This is where Play-by-Post, or PBP, comes in. PBP is a way to play long-distance gaming entirely over text posts. You just have to type in what your character says and does. People all over the world can play in a game from their phone or computer, without needing to synchronize schedules. It doesn’t take being part of a hivemind to get a game going. There’s something really enjoyable about exploring dungeons at any time, even when you’re on the bus or waiting for your dice subscription box to come in. It makes the game feel more all-encompassing like you’re actually living in it.

Play-by-Post Continued

Depending on your GM/DM, players can agree to post at certain levels, even as infrequently as once every 48 hours. Your long-distance gaming mileage may vary, though. D&D players are snowflakes, after all. But, improvements in technology mean you can find a group of like-minded players, or, as Reddit likes to call it, an echo chamber. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into Pathfinder, D&D, Shadowrun, or any other game. You don’t have to rely on message boards for this either. Dedicated forums are alive and well, but are now one of three main categories for scratching the tabletop itch.

Discord

If you aren’t familiar, Discord is the biggest gaming hub out there right now. The D&D Discord community is thriving. You can text, voice, and video call, have access on pc and mobile, and it’s all free! Your wallet is safe with Discord long-distance gaming. The suite of features also makes for a great play-by-post platform. Many games and gaming groups grow from fandoms. That, plus the recent search in play podcasts, notably Matt Mercer, leads to servers full of fans starting looking4group channels. Hope on into one of those channels and you can easily find PBP and other virtual game opportunities.

Discord Logo

More Discord

You always have opportunities to make your own looking4group for long-distance gaming in a community. All you have to do is send the mod of the server a message and ask for one! As long as they’re not a mod on a power trip (seriously, look out for those guys) they’ll totally help you out. And, there are plenty of dedicated bots that can be invited to your server for dice rolling and character sheet management. This really is the future of gaming. I’m currently playing in two PBPs on Discord and it’s super fun, quick, and easy. I even end up fist-pumping in my cubicle without notice sometimes, usually when I roll, max damage.

Dedicated PBP Sites

I only learned about these sites recently when I saw a post mentioning a Play-by-Post was starting on Rolegate. I started tinkering with Rolegate afterward and it looks like a thoughtfully designed website that exists specifically for long-distance gaming. It’s the Chad PBP platform. Creating an account is simple and free, and public games can be read by anybody. In fact, one 5e game on their Good Reads tab shows over 2,000 people actively read the adventure these seven players are experiencing. They’ve practically gone viral in the D&D Discord community. And there are plenty of other PBP websites to look at, also. Ongoing Worlds, for example, has over 100 active games on it. If you’re looking for a PBP campaign, there are sites made just for you.

Typing on gaming keyboard

Forums/Message Boards

By some miracle, vinyl made a comeback and is cool again. Message boards are doing the same thing. I guess time really is cyclical. Forums or message boards once dominated the internet landscape, and long-distance gaming can trace its roots back to these sites. For Pathfinder and Starfinder players, the Paizo boards are both popular and active. As for D&D, there’s an active forum at DNDbeyond. The internet is huge. More huge than you can imagine. And that’s not even counting what lies beyond the Blackwall. Odds are, there’s a place out there for you to play whatever your game of choice is. Streamline your search using the PBP subreddit. They’ll be sure to point you in the right direction or lead you down an enticing rabbit hole in the process.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve participated in my fair share of Play-by-Post campaigns. Some of them have been successful, and some of them have gone the way of 3D television. That’s something that can happen whether you’re long-distance gaming or doing it in person. Most of the time, I’ve had an absolute blast. You’ll increase the chances of having a good time if you do two things: pick a method that fits your lifestyle and temper your expectations. If you rarely sit down in front of a mouse and keyboard, go for Discord or a mobile-friendly website. Rolling virtual dice is practically almost as fun as rolling your favorite set of metal dice. Regardless of what you choose, opting for PBP can be a great way to get your RPG fix on your time. Hopefully, you’ll have the same positive experience as me! Just steer clear of the dark web in your pursuit, they call it dark for a reason.

Jairys Tak is a writer, IT professional, and all-around nerd. He is a Pathfinder player and GM, enjoys board games, and is probably drinking coffee right now.

January 30, 2019 — David Derus
Dice Superstition

Dice Superstition

By: Maxwell Gawlick

Admit it: when you sit down to play D&D, Pathfinder, or any other tabletop RPG that uses dice, you rely on some kind of ritual to guaranty good dice luck. It’s okay, we all do it. We wouldn’t want to be responsible for creating the darkest timeline. D&D dice superstition paralysis is a very real thing — some people can’t start playing until they’ve completed their rituals. And that’s fine. D&D can be a high-pressure game. You wanna be the very best. The best that ever was. And with the right ritual, it can be a sure thing.

Common Rituals

Pre-rolling

The most common ritual for dice superstition that I’ve seen and do myself is pre-rolling. As the name implies, it’s about giving your dice a few test rolls. Whether I’ve just sat down for a game or I’m at a convention trying dice out, I have to give them several test rolls each. If the odds aren’t looking like they’ll be ever in my favor, I toss those dice. I go for dice that I can rely on. This is backed by science, by the way. With random odds, you’re more likely to consistently roll similar numbers over again rather than having an even distribution. It sounds crazy, but it works.

Dice in a bag

Dice Face-up

We know how that sounds, but this dice superstition isn’t what you think it is. Having dice face-up just means having the highest number facing you. Like the previous D&D dice superstition, there’s also science backing this method. Leaving dice in this position long enough trains them to roll the desired number. That’s right. There’s no need for dice luck when you can simply train them. Personally, I’ll have an array of all the dice I’ll be using for the session behind my DM screen. I’ll spend a couple of minutes organizing them so I see only 20s, 12s, 10s, 8s, 6s, and 4s, or whatever fancy symbol is printed in place of the highest number.

Dice Segregation

This is another common dice superstition that aims for optimum success. Some players insist on keeping one or several sets for combat encounters, and others for out-of-combat rolls. Others have a single, extra-lucky d20 specifically for rolling initiative, so they always get a head-start on the enemy. Unlike what Rick Sanchez will tell you, everything can have a purpose. Players at my table keep d20s just for death saves, and as DM I’ll give them a new d20 when they gain inspiration. I pull out the metal dice for tough spots. My players insist they’re weighted. They aren’t, but it’s still fun to feel like a vengeful god sometimes.

Handful of gaming dice

Dice is Srs Bsns

Some people take their dice superstitions a little more seriously. Sometimes, too seriously. I guess when the entire game depends on the whims of RNGesus you tend to get a little desperate. Sometimes, all it takes is the breath of an innocent, and a gamer will have their newborn niece, nephew, or child blow on them. Some will baptize these indispensable tools in certain liquids, symbolizing the three stages of gaming: soda, cheap beer, and coffee. When it comes to doing anything productive, we sleep. But D&D dice superstition is real shit.

Saline Solution

With this dice superstition, some gamers will always keep saline solution handy to test the weight of the dice. If you didn't know, you can fill a coup about ¾ of the way full of water and add salt until your dice float, and then roll them gently to test their weight. It gives you an accurate reading of your dice’s luck capability. Unfortunately, this test doesn’t work with metal dice, since they’re too heavy. There’s still plenty of other methods for those dice, though. Some gamers will do this only once, while others keep a cup of solution nearby to start testing at any time. You don’t mess around with saline solution.

Dice underwater

Retroactive Methods

Everything above was a dice superstition for preventing poor performance, and sometimes those fail. When that happens, people will employ retroactive D&D dice superstitions to improve their future rolls after certain dice have failed. Dice that consistently perform poorly are sent off to “dice jail” temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the offense. Slipping up at an opportune moment: jail. Failing to cast that important spell: jail. Rolling the same numbers so often it becomes suspicious? Believe it or not, jail. We have the best dice luck in the world because of jail.

Severe Punishment

Often, severe dice superstitions come into play for particularly bad performance. The dice are terrible and it should feel terrible. Gamers who are prepared to go this far will set one die apart from the others, but still let it watch as it destroys its siblings. The real ones will go for a blowtorch, but a microwave also works. The more creative you destroy the dice, the better. The other dice must be taught a lesson.

Our Relationship With Dice

We’ve gone over all the different dice superstitions at this point, but why do we do them? Do we want to please the dice gods or petition for the favor of the Demonlord of Fate? Maybe it’s all futile. Or, perhaps there’s some unknown node of possibility that causes our dice to improve our time with our D&D dice superstitions. Personally, I’m of a differing opinion: I think dice are sentient creatures, and these rituals improve our relationship with them, thereby increasing their likelihood of rolling in our favor. Whether that relationship is one of respect, fear, or both, is up to you. All in all, dice are complicated. Each dice master has their own rituals for keeping them in check. What’s your method of choice, and why?

 

January 29, 2019 — David Derus