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It Came From the Tabletop! - Betrayal Legacy, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magical Athlete

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It Came From the Tabletop! - Betrayal Legacy, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magical Athlete

Podcast Details

Description
Join Josh and Al as they talk about what games they just played, going beyond mere reviews and into mechanics, genres and where games fit in the hobby itself.
There Will Be Games

After a brief hiatus, Josh and Al are back and making up for lost time.  First up is some talk about Betrayal Legacy but it's more a setup for our adventures in Dungeons & Dragons.  We finish the night off with Magical Athlete and discuss why it's one of the most important games in our collections.  It's "A Very Special Episode" if there ever was one!

Thanks to the Minibosses!

There Will Be Games
Josh Look (He/Him)
Staff Podcaster

One night during the summer of 1997, Josh Look's cool uncle who owned a comic shop taught him how to play Magic the Gathering. The game set off his imagination in a way that he could not sleep that night, and he's been fascinated by games ever since. He spent many afternoons during his high school years skipping homework to play Dungeons & Dragons and paint Warhammer minatures, going on to discover hobby board games in his early 20s. He's been a writer for Fortress Ameritrash and is the creator and co-host of the geek culture podcast, The Wolfman's Lounge. He enjoys games that encourage a heavy amount of table talk and those that explore their themes beyond just their settings.

Articles and Podcasts by Josh

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Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #298541 18 Jun 2019 08:50
I loved this, especially the D&D and Magical Athlete segments. You nailed why those games are not only fun but important.

Magical Athlete is seriously fucking magic. That box is pure ridiculous fun every single time it hits the table. Definitely a personality test for me as well. If you can't laugh at the Troll body blocking everyone as he slowly plods to first place through sheer luck we probably aren't going to enjoy each other's company long-term.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #298545 18 Jun 2019 11:13
Thanks!

It’s crazy how there are so many other RPGs out there that not only do what D&D does but does it objectively better, but we all keep coming back to it. I wish I could put my finger on why that is.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #298546 18 Jun 2019 11:31
Blade Randall: Celestial Invention Agency operative. The Doctor may have had a scarf, but he had a black leather long rider. I still have the base books around her somewhere. (^when Al says something about the Doctor who role playing game and it sparks some memories)
quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #298547 18 Jun 2019 12:03

Josh Look wrote: It’s crazy how there are so many other RPGs out there that not only do what D&D does but does it objectively better, but we all keep coming back to it. I wish I could put my finger on why that is.


Ask 10 ten people what it is that D&D does. You'll get 10 different answers.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #298555 18 Jun 2019 13:26

WadeMonnig wrote: Blade Randall: Celestial Invention Agency operative. The Doctor may have had a scarf, but he had a black leather long rider. I still have the base books around her somewhere. (^when Al says something about the Doctor who role playing game and it sparks some memories)

Found it
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #298562 18 Jun 2019 14:32
Oh man, not you guys too? I did my time int he RPG mines and I had fun but I'm done and not going back. Seems like I'm the only one though, as everyone around me is doing D&D and other indie RPGs now.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #298574 18 Jun 2019 15:38
@Legomancer

They still play plenty of board games. Probably even more now that Al is finally off for the summer.
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #298577 18 Jun 2019 16:01

Legomancer wrote: Oh man, not you guys too?


Don't worry Dave, my board game time still FAR outweighs my RPG time. This may not be true for Josh, but it certainly is for me.
Jarvis's Avatar
Jarvis replied the topic: #298590 18 Jun 2019 22:19
Legomancer, I’m feeling that way too on this site. I could care less about RPGs and feel like every other post is about how they are better than board games recently.

I’m interested to hear what you guys think of Betrayal Legacy. My friends became obsessed over it and we played the full campaign. You’re right, a dedicated group will have more fun with it (we had 4 regulars, and one family that one of three people subbed in as). I think it’s the best designed Betrayal game yet though I’m sure there will be cases where it can be unbalanced (we never really encountered that though).
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #298597 18 Jun 2019 23:42
We only played the first scenario. What impressed me most was that the first scenario really is a learning game, so you can screw up some rules, but it doesn't really impact the legacy aspect of it. That is something that I always worry about with legacy games.

The scariest thing about Betrayal Legacy is the faceless minis. Also, the clips still suck.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #298685 20 Jun 2019 11:47
I can confirm that the D&D Art & Arcana book is fantastic. I am also reading the source book for Dungeon World right now and am looking forward to trying that one out.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #298692 20 Jun 2019 12:40
Dungeon World is really cool. It’s a bit of a challenge to run because you really need to go in with *nothing* planned. The way you formulate what’s going on (which should not be confused with what’s going to happen) is pure magic.

I’m sorry some of you were less into this episode. I’m not sorry for doing it though. I know the timing kind of puts it at what is fast becoming a saturation point on the site, but summer has always been my biggest D&D time. It deserves its moment on the show. Without it, I’m not here in this community, this show does not exist and I don’t have my extremely valued friendship with Al. Magic may have been the first hobby game I played, but D&D is where my love for what games can do was established.

I’m very much not in the “D&D killed board games” camp, however. After the clumsiness of 3.5 and the outright garbage of 4, D&D returning to a form that was more to my liking did make me realize that board games cannot tell stories like an RPG can. These moments in board games where we feel the need to stop gameplay and narrate our what just happened as a means of immersing ourselves in story never feels as good as having it play out in real-time like it does in an RPG. In a board game that has always felt like grasping at straws to me.

YET, at the same time, this gave board games a whole new lease on life for me. Instead of trying to find games that told satisfying stories, I was able to really focus on compelling mechanics and how those abstractions or familiar concepts can facilitate interactions with my friends that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Returning to D&D after a 10+ year hiatus really cemented how these two types of gaming are separate and, while I might not be quite as avid over “thematic” games, I think I actually like more types of games than I did before.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be into RPGs, but they’re the backbone of my place in the hobby and talking about them is inevitable.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #298701 20 Jun 2019 14:03
Board games and RPGs scratch entirely different itches for me. What D&D 5th did kill is the boxed dungeon crawl. There is no board game that beats it in that arena.

I think the wave of people around here being so satisfied with D&D is a direct result of playing lots and lots of mediocre simulacrums over the last 10+ years,
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #298704 20 Jun 2019 14:46
It killed the dungeon crawl as it was.. I’ve only played three dungeon crawls since the release of 5e and all three (Gloomhaven, Warhammer Quest and Hellboy) all feel like they’re thinking outside the box, but I think they’re all embracing more board game-y mechanics.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #298707 20 Jun 2019 15:12
I'm stumbling across "normals" picking up D&D far more frequently now than even as recently as five years ago. I've been kind of monitoring this informally since the 70s, and it isn't just being accepted as a reasonable hobby now but well-considered escape from stress. I don't know if it's version 5 or something else, but the game is clearly considered a normal use of free time now.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #298708 20 Jun 2019 15:24

Sagrilarus wrote: I'm stumbling across "normals" picking up D&D far more frequently now than even as recently as five years ago. I've been kind of monitoring this informally since the 70s, and it isn't just being accepted as a reasonable hobby now but well-considered escape from stress. I don't know if it's version 5 or something else, but the game is clearly considered a normal use of free time now.


Been experiencing this too. Glad D&D is good at this critical period.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #298709 20 Jun 2019 15:59
I think it's Critical Role honestly. That show is ridiculously huge.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #298713 20 Jun 2019 16:34
That and 80s nostalgia being at critical mass. Shows like Stranger Things basically screaming "HEY, REMEMBER D&D?" and making it "cool" again is printing money.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #298714 20 Jun 2019 17:43
I've done a vast amount of role-playing over the years. I've run one-shot games with a bunch of systems, and I have run lengthy campaigns in the following systems: Gamma World, AD&D, Villains & Vigilantes, Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, GURPS - Fantasy, GURPS - Horror, Legend of the Five Rings, and D&D 3.5. I've also played in several campaigns run by other people, including some of the above games plus Paranoia, Vampire: the Masquerade, Demon: the Fallen, and a couple of homebrew D&D-inspired games. I've run and played in larps and diceless games.

So it surprises me that the recent pro-RPG sentiment here has completely gloss over some of the inconvenient aspects of RPGs. If RPGs were completely and reliably better than boardgames, we would be fools to waste our time on boardgames. For the convenience of potential responses, I will number my points:

1. RPG campaigns are a lot of work for the DM. If the DM is good at improv, the individual sessions can be draining. Otherwise, the DM is probably doing a lot of prep work.
2. RPG campaigns require a significant time commitment from all the players. Scheduling becomes increasingly difficult as players get older and take on other major commitments like careers and families.
3. RPG groups can be fragile. It only takes one difficult player to ruin a session or even a campaign.
4. RPG sessions are an unreliable form of entertainment. Sometimes players can get very bogged down in the planning stage, and it's boring. Sometimes the division of loot becomes surprisingly complex and even contentious. Sometimes the group spends an excessive amount of time on chit chat before play can start, and sometimes the same tired Monty Python quote can derail a good scene. Sometimes the players go off on a random tangent and seem to take perverse delight in resisting DM attempts to get things back on track.
5. A boardgame dungeon crawl will never be as good as a great RPG session, but it can often be better than a below-average RPG session. The boardgame tends to offer a predictable amount of action at a predictable pace, much like a meal at McDonalds will offer a more predictable level of quality than an unfamiliar restaurant.
6. There can be a wide and somewhat incompatible range of expectations even within a small RPG group. Some people want a lot of action, and some people want long and fulfilling conversations with a variety of NPCs. Some people want to contribute more proactively and imaginatively to the narrative, especially in a diceless game, while other players are content to passively navigate the DM's intended storyline.
7. A certain kind of RPG player really enjoys an RPG that offers a complex and highly tactical combat system, which explains why D&D 3.X sought to emulate the GURPS combat system.
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #298779 23 Jun 2019 14:03

Shellhead wrote: So it surprises me that the recent pro-RPG sentiment here has completely gloss over some of the inconvenient aspects of RPGs.

I really am surprised at how this podcast became caught up in an argument that we never intended to be a part of. We are not saying that RPGs are better than board games or vise versa. We are simply saying that we enjoy both.


Shellhead wrote: 1. RPG campaigns are a lot of work for the DM. If the DM is good at improv, the individual sessions can be draining. Otherwise, the DM is probably doing a lot of prep work.

True, although some people really ENJOY doing this. Maybe everyone needs a Josh Look?


Shellhead wrote: 2. RPG campaigns require a significant time commitment from all the players. Scheduling becomes increasingly difficult as players get older and take on other major commitments like careers and families.

True, we discuss this in the podcast.


Shellhead wrote: 3. RPG groups can be fragile. It only takes one difficult player to ruin a session or even a campaign.

True for ANY game or activity.


Shellhead wrote: 4. RPG sessions are an unreliable form of entertainment. Sometimes players can get very bogged down in the planning stage, and it's boring. Sometimes the division of loot becomes surprisingly complex and even contentious. Sometimes the group spends an excessive amount of time on chit chat before play can start, and sometimes the same tired Monty Python quote can derail a good scene. Sometimes the players go off on a random tangent and seem to take perverse delight in resisting DM attempts to get things back on track.

True, but also true for board games. I can't even guess how many times I've sat at a game where someone says "take your turn already!" Also have seen people play a game with no intention other than trying to "break" it.


Shellhead wrote: 5. A boardgame dungeon crawl will never be as good as a great RPG session, but it can often be better than a below-average RPG session. The boardgame tends to offer a predictable amount of action at a predictable pace, much like a meal at McDonalds will offer a more predictable level of quality than an unfamiliar restaurant.

Not sure which is preferable here. Sure am glad I have options.


Shellhead wrote: 6. There can be a wide and somewhat incompatible range of expectations even within a small RPG group. Some people want a lot of action, and some people want long and fulfilling conversations with a variety of NPCs. Some people want to contribute more proactively and imaginatively to the narrative, especially in a diceless game, while other players are content to passively navigate the DM's intended storyline.

True, but also true of board games. This is why it's good to have a group of gamers who think alike.


Shellhead wrote: 7. A certain kind of RPG player really enjoys an RPG that offers a complex and highly tactical combat system, which explains why D&D 3.X sought to emulate the GURPS combat system.

Some people like Advanced Squad Leader, some people like the DC deckbuilding game.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #298780 23 Jun 2019 14:49
So what you are clearly saying is that RPG > board games. BURN THE HERETIC!
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #298782 23 Jun 2019 16:34

engineer Al wrote: Maybe everyone needs a Josh Look?


Heh.