Lessons from the Indies: Raising the Stakes


Alternative Title: What Cowboy Templars Taught Me About Tough Choices

In Vincent Baker’s 2005 indie RPG Dogs in the Vineyard, the players are God’s Dogs–think Mormon gunslinger paladins in a fictionalized American west. Sent out to deliver mail, protect the Faithful, and levy judgment on the wicked, the Dogs are invested with a lot of authority, and the brunt of the game’s dramatic power comes from players navigating complicated, morally ambiguous situations. The game routinely expects–demands, even–that the Dogs play judge, jury, and executioner to the communities they serve, and it doesn’t pull punches when it comes to showing a wide spectrum of Faithful, from the legitimately devout to the maliciously corrupt.

It’s a remarkable game in a number of ways, but requires a group of players who are willing to invest in moral dilemmas while embracing the fact that the game just works better when the players disagree, sometimes even to the point of using the conflict resolution system against one another. That system is the game’s greatest strength and biggest stumbling block; the system plays a bit like blackjack, with players taking turns describing their intentions and anteing dice. The more dice you have to use to match an opponent’s, the worse your result–and the greater the damage you’ll suffer in the end.

Where the system shines, though, is in the way it builds a sense of dramatic tension by letting everyone know what’s at stake. Read more ›

Posted in GameMastery, General, System Neutral Tagged with: , , , ,

Season 1, Episode 9 – Combat, Part 2

The final episode of the first season is finally here. Episode 9. I remember thinking last year how monumentally difficult it all looked. And it was! Nearly a year’s worth of work went into creating this show. But words alone cannot express the gratitude the whole team feels towards you, our fans, and your constant support and encouragement. You made this possible! I still wake up and think how tremendous that concept is. Thanks for being awesome and sharing these videos with your friends and gaming contingents. Let us know in the comments which RPGs you’d like us to cover in future seasons! What was you favorite part of this season? What aspect do you wish we’d covered more?

Till next week when we release the first episode of our Pathfinder gameplay video supplements… THANKS! Now LET’S DUNGEON!


Posted in Videos Tagged with: , , ,

Falling With Style


Last week’s article dealt with playing a paladin. This week, we’re going to touch on the thorniest mechanic of paladinhood: falling.  A paladin who willingly commits an evil act falls, losing his divine goodies in the process. He can’t cast spells. He can’t smite evil. He can’t summon his magic horsie. He can’t lay on hands. In fact, he can’t even level up as a paladin until he finds a cleric willing to cast atonement on him.

Read more ›

Posted in Character Workshop Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Season 1, Episode 8 – Combat, Part I

Episode 8 is the first part of our season final that ends next week with Episode 9! Here we cover the very basics of combat in Pathfinder so you can get started playing the game. Tell us some of your favorite war stories? What scrapes did your character barely make it out of alive? What awesome move did you do to finish the Goblin King? What dump stat roll did you need to successfully roll in order to win? Tell us in the comments!

Posted in Videos Tagged with: , , ,

Paladins (Who Know How to Party)

yourmovemarOk maybe that’s a bit much on the face of it but I can’t help but try and break the mold when the mold is so old it’s… moldy. Lawful Good – we get it. But let’s reward some creativity ok, GMs? So with the limits put on Paladins in most RPGs, how do we make the Paladin fresh and interesting without going all “anti-paladin” and sucking up the place? Read more ›

Posted in Character Workshop Tagged with: , , , ,

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