112 episodes

**Feburary 2021:** Dwarves! We're prolonging our hiatus until 2022. We hope to be able to return earlier, but things haven't changed in our lives and until the corona epidemic is over it's unlikely we'll be able to go back to any routine. We're interested in doing at least something weekly or semi-weekly, even if not a podcast - if you have any ideas, please send us! To [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net)

**September 2020:** Recently, we've been unable to dig into new seams of RPGitium, and forge new episodes. Too occupied were we, with the feeble matters of life: new jobs, maintaining households, having a kid, surviving a global pandemic.

This trend is not expected to change in the foreseeable future, and so we put our mountain hold into a magical slumber. Our gates shall remain sealed until 2021, at which point we'll look again upon our lands and re-examine the ritual.

Have fun storming your castles!

Uri, Eran and Aviv

(We still read and post in our group, [On the Shoulders of Dwarves](http://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast))

On the Shoulders of Dwarves Eran Aviram

    • Leisure
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

**Feburary 2021:** Dwarves! We're prolonging our hiatus until 2022. We hope to be able to return earlier, but things haven't changed in our lives and until the corona epidemic is over it's unlikely we'll be able to go back to any routine. We're interested in doing at least something weekly or semi-weekly, even if not a podcast - if you have any ideas, please send us! To [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net)

**September 2020:** Recently, we've been unable to dig into new seams of RPGitium, and forge new episodes. Too occupied were we, with the feeble matters of life: new jobs, maintaining households, having a kid, surviving a global pandemic.

This trend is not expected to change in the foreseeable future, and so we put our mountain hold into a magical slumber. Our gates shall remain sealed until 2021, at which point we'll look again upon our lands and re-examine the ritual.

Have fun storming your castles!

Uri, Eran and Aviv

(We still read and post in our group, [On the Shoulders of Dwarves](http://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast))

    Rewards Beyond Loot (Episode 105)

    Rewards Beyond Loot (Episode 105)

    What do we mean when we say rewards beyond loot? Not just money, treasure or magic items. Let’s give a few examples and it’ll be clear.



    ## Non loot rewards (01:24)

    Some examples:

    - Land 

    - Titles

    - Association (part of a guild/group/etc)

    - House / Place to live

    - Renown 

    - Something personal

    - Narrative power




    ## GMs - What can we do with non treasure rewards (09:33)

    Why should we use Rewards in our game?

    - Used for character development

    - Flash out the setting

    - Connect the characters to the setting

    - Give players a chance to expand on what interest them in the setting

    - Allow a sense of accomplishment without shifting game balance




    ## For players (13:04)

    Important tips:

    - **Use the reward**: Otherwise it is meaningless - you have a title? Use it. You have land, define it and do something with it. You are part of the stonecutters guild? Send them rock samples, keep a journal of interesting rocks you encounter, read on wikipedia about different rocks 

    - **Signal what interest you**: signal the GM what is the reward you might enjoy getting. How? Establish it as one of your character’s goals.

    - **Leveraging personal items**

    - **Using story items:** e.g. taking a defeated enemy’s weapon




    ## Summary (20:12)

    Non loot rewards are a great way to create engagement, character development, enhance the setting and discover what is interesting for the GM and players.

    Consider listening to [episode 27](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/slaps-and-bennies-episode-27-364a24326f571a/) and [episode 19](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/customising-the-campaign-to-the-players-episode-19-36082ec3b14f62/) to rethink some ideas.




    * * *

    ## Taking the load off (22:51)

    **Uri**: New 5th edition game, Playtesting for “The Makabim game”

    **Eran**: Sentinel Comics RPG Starter Kit 



    * * *



    Email us at [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net) with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast).



    We have a [Patreon page](https://www.patreon.com/dwarfcast), in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](http://drivethrurpg.com/?affiliate_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.



    Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).



    * * *

    • 28 min
    Information Dumps (Episode 104)

    Information Dumps (Episode 104)

    What is an information dump? When a large amount of information is dumped upon the players. Mostly tedious information.

    Here are some ways to make dumping information more interesting:



    ## Show, don’t tell (00:26)

    This is the most basic and fundamental principal. Don’t just tell things. 

    - Effects: Think what will be the result of the information you want to say and present the results. Don’t say “there is a dragon up north”. Let the party discover burned bodies and abandoned villages”.

    - Expectations and glasses 

    - personalizing boxed text

    - True for character as well — express a feature, instead of telling about it (see [episode 11 - be a better player](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/11-ways-to-be-a-better-roleplayer-episode-11-35dc2e1458f9c0/))




    ## Information as entertainment (07:40)

    Sometimes the delivery of the information can be entertaining by itself.  

    - Jokes  

    - Common phrases 

    - Old motivational Posters, newspapers headlines, bards tales - all over the top about something.


    ## Information as background details (09:28)

    Deliver the important information as minor details of something more important.

    - As background details: If we want to talk about the ruling system of the kingdom, we could provide that as minor details of our heist plot. “So, the best time to break into the vault would be during the queen's birthday celebrations”. 

    - Pick the top 3 things you *need* your players to know, and put them into the first few scenes.




    ## Information as reward (12:22)

    - Asking for a roll


    - Deciphering puzzles & riddles


    - Don’t hoard information, share it. ( remember our Mystery plots ([https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/mystery-plots-episode-37-368b71569c7f92/](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/mystery-plots-episode-37-368b71569c7f92/) episode)




    ## Real world comparisons and agreed upon markers (15:38)

    - Providing a real world comparison: “This town is ruled much like ancient rome”

    - TIAPP-FAA: ”This Is A Perfect Place For An Ambush”




    ## Connect information dumps to the characters themselves (18:40)

    - One of the characters know something because they are special or different. 


    ## In summary - What’s important? (25:04)

    Email from an anonymous bee



    *I have a big problem with the delivery of information. I'm great with giving the details of the city, the sights and smells and NPCs, but I just don't know how to explain how the government works, and why it works like this. When I do this as a conversation with NPCs, the players are bored. *



    Are the players expected to interact with this bit of the world? Either the government matters in the game, or it doesn't. 

    If it doesn't, no need to expand more than the players are interested in hearing. Confront them with the governance in action, and give them an opportunity to ask. 

    In front of the inn there's an auction of items "confiscated according to the Law of Foreigners", with people shouting numbers. The party can ask about it or participate.

    When they buy equipment, the seller hands them a piece of paper with an official prayer, or says "not including hog tax, of course". the players can then ask about it.

    This might make the government interesting to the players, and therefore, it might start to matter.



    If it already mattered to the game, then do the same, but as part of the narrative - the characters get into a situation created as a direct result of the way things are handled in town.



    * * *

    # Taking the load off (25:36)

    **Uri**: Even more playtesting. Why is it SO F*****G HARD to finish something?!?!?!

    Star Crossed Curses, The one night stand RPG.

    **Eran**: Starting Adventures in Middle Earth



    * * *



    Email us at [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net) with questions, t

    • 28 min
    Obfuscating Game Mechanics (Episode 103)

    Obfuscating Game Mechanics (Episode 103)

    In today's episode we talk about two very different aspects of information management.


    I have good news and bad news: the bad news is that most game systems have some really iffy bits that somehow managed to get past the playtest phase or just not suited to your game and that sucks, the good news is that you don’t have to use them.

    Sometimes a part of the game mechanics does not suit your game.



    **There are several ways to deal with this issue, you can:**

    - Remove a mechanic from the system

    - The GM can obfuscate mechanic from the players


    - e.g. do all the calculations on their own, like grapple

    - Saves, to avoid a break in the pacing


    - Use a simplified version of the rules


    - Passive perception in D&D

    - A set amount of damage.


    - Homebrew your own mechanic for this issue





    Convention games: intro to system vs running a story-oriented.



    # Eran’s take (10:45)

    **Obscuring for clarity**

    - For reducing cognitive overload

    - Rules for sailing in 50 Fathoms

    **Obscuring for tension**

    - Hit points and other indicators of status

    - AC, DC of traps




    City of Mist - statuses are open, custom moves and spectrums are to be revealed



    What a lovely afternoon



    # Summary (28:33)



    One of the best parenting advice I got was to listen to everyone's advice about parenting but remember that 24 hours after your kids have been born you know them better than anyone.

    I mean that you know your gaming group better them the people that wrote the system or module and if one thing is really problematic - adjust accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you should alter game systems lightly. Game designers work hard on these.




    * * *

    # Taking the load off (30:07)

    **Uri**: My Warpriest is now a cleric, playtesting a new adventure. Getting ready for a new D&D 5e campaign.

    **Eran**: working on a new version of Menagerie of the Void



    * * *



    Email us at [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net) with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast).



    We have a [Patreon page](https://www.patreon.com/dwarfcast), in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](http://drivethrurpg.com/?affiliate_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.



    Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

    • 35 min
    Compelling Characters (Episode 102)

    Compelling Characters (Episode 102)

    What makes a player character compelling?

    # Uri’s take (01:04)

    What makes a player character compelling?



    - They don’t snugly fit into a stereotype.


    We’ve talked about avoiding stereotypes and cliches in the past ([Episode 2 - avoid character cliche](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/avoiding-character-cliches-episode-2-35aab600eb0406/)). And it’s fine to build on a stereotype, actually many RPGs railroad us to fit into some stereotype in order to conform with the trope of the genres that they are aiming at. In D&D it’s difficult to create a smart fighter because your class often pigeonholes you to a role. But i’m talking about more than that. If you find that one trope can mostly define your character (“the strong silent type”,”the dumb fighter”), add more.



    - They have evolved and they will evolve.


    They have a history behind them and a future in front of them. A character that doesn't have a development is the child-turning into a hero story but they are usually not very interesting. They focus on the second part. Of the current development.



    - They want something


    Goals. Goals let us understand what the characters want, so we can estimate how well they do and where they compromise. Some great ways to create goals for your character is having short term goals and long term goals. Another approach is having something that you run toward and something that you run from. 



    - Values and morality.


    Internal struggles are what truly reveal a character's character. And these are always the results of values and morality. Choosing between finishing off the goblin king or healing your wounded friend is a question of morals.



    - They win some and they lose some.


    Heroes that never lose are not interesting. They may not lose in the quest or combat but they do lose something, their innocence, their goals, their friends. There must be sacrifice. 




    # Eran’s take (10:38)

    - I’m interested in their upcoming journey. Where will this lead them? What decisions are waiting for them, and how will they make their choices? 




    - Their colorful past makes them mostly predictable. I can imagine X interacting with Y, because I know them well thanks to their well-defined mannerisms and preferences.  (Uri: the [*La Ronde*](http://improvencyclopedia.org/games/La_Ronde.html), play style is an exercise in creating well defined characters)




    - You might also like to read Uri’s article: [How Uri Plays Consistent Characters](https://dwarves.podiant.co/How-Uri-Plays-Consistent-Chars/)




    - They stand for themselves. They’re kinda badass, in whatever field they specialise in. Even the small, sickly boy is not a caricature of mumbling, he’s *conquering* his situation, or at least shows signs he’s capable of it.




    # Summary (21:26)

    Make your characters compelling 

    * * *

    # Taking the load off (22:50)

    **Uri**: Have been playing an actual tabletop session on top of an actual table. An also talked with his GM about his character romantic interests. 

    **Eran**: Check out my bundle! 

    [https://www.dmsguild.com/product/311947/Adventures-Three-BUNDLE?affiliate\_id=29668](https://www.dmsguild.com/product/311947/Adventures-Three-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=29668)



    * * *



    Email us at [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net) with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast).



    We have a [Patreon page](https://www.patreon.com/dwarfcast), in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](http://drivethrurpg.com/?affiliate_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.



    Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo.

    • 27 min
    Lessons from XCOM (Episode 101)

    Lessons from XCOM (Episode 101)

    Both Eran and I have been playing a lot of the video game XCOM lately. Even though it is NOT a roleplaying game. Still, even though it is not a roleplaying game - there is a lot we can learn from it.

    What is XCOM?
    -------------

    A series of computer games. Started in 1994 with X-COM enemy unknown and many sequels. Rebooted in 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    Would you like to know more?

    What's interesting about XCOM?
    ------------------------------

    - XCOM knows what it is and what it's trying to do, and goes about it in a direct mannar.

    - It has a strategic layer and a tactical layer

    - You always know the odds but need to make hard choices.

    - Your actions and decisions have harsh repercussions ("[That's XCOM baby](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuP3lQl9HMQ)")

    Why does XCOM matter to us roleplayers?
    ---------------------------------------

    - In XCOM 2 The game continued to surprise you: new enemies, new abilities, new things to worry about. Creating a mounting tension.

    - Decisions in the strategic layer affect missions in the tactical layer (which I always found lacking in roleplaying mechanisms. It is always "now I manage an empire" and "now I'm delving in a dungeon".

    - You care about your characters beyond their tactical value. How? Customization, names, details, variety of abilities. Downtime due to injury.

    - Common objective for all your missions.

    - The new XCOM does something very interesting with initiative that changes the genre of the game. The old init system vs the new (we've mentioned the effects of init in [episode 81 - initiative mechanics](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/initiative-mechanics-episode-81-37f1f4549b8f9e/))

    Adding a strategic layer to an RPG (21:20)

    Most games don't have it, some games must have it.

    Blades in the Dark

    Pathfinder Adventure paths - running a kingdom, a rebellion, an army, a circus. Ultimate Campaign

    Reign

    Exalted 2nd ed, Mandate of Heaven

    Ars Magica, Adventurer Conqueror King

    One Ring, Adventures in Middle Earth

    Clear roles, clear actions

    Add randomised events/resolutions - for everyone, for every role/action

    Maintenance - paying just to keep afloat

    Have clear effects on the tactical level

    Summary (33:07)
    ===============

    Don't be afraid to fish ideas from games. Both in terms of crunch and fluff.

    * * * * *

    Taking the load off (33:46)
    ===========================

    Our published adventures:

    Eran: All three adventures now available

    .

    Uri: Want more review for [Rolling with Laughter](https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/306078/Rolling-With-Laughter?affiliate_id=29668), currently working on a Romeo and Juliet version for 5e.

    * * * * *

    Email us at with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast).

    We have a [Patreon page](https://www.patreon.com/dwarfcast), in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](http://drivethrurpg.com/?affiliate_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.

    Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

    * * * * *

    • 37 min
    The 100th Episode (Episode 100)

    The 100th Episode (Episode 100)

    Disclaimer: this is a comedy episode, any and all advice must be treated as such

    We are joined with our technical dwarf Aviv Icel Manoch!

    ## Aviv Or

    - How do you handle a monster strike? I had a session once where a young black dragon simply refused to fight, just handed us a leaflet about the challenge rating struggle and encouraged us to support some new Random Encounter Union.

    ## Di

    - How many kobolds do you think a single adult red dragon could eat in one sitting before it gets indigestion?

    ## Aviad Tal

    - What genre we don't see enough of in TTRPGs?

    - What is the best way to get rid of a mind flayer infestation?

    - What do you call a really tall dwarf?

    - Describe the hobby in the worst possible way.

    ## Paul Hawkins 

    - What would be the worst lineup for an adventuring party in a campaign in D&D?

    - Follow-up question: What do you think is the worst race you could pick for each of the core classes?

    ## Avshalom Guissin 

    - Tide Brillrock, surfer, sometimes nature cleric and fellow dwarf wants to know what's the best place to catch some waves in Avernus. Also has anyone seen a wise crab recently? He's been missing sometime we're a bit concerned. Many thanks.


    ## Roee AinHorn

    - Hello dwarves! At these difficult times I confront a very complicated problem: how can I throw things on my players when they're miles away?

    - I already broke my computer trying to throw my metal die on them through zoom, so what are your recommendations for buying a new one?
    [https://thesecretcatshop.co.uk/](https://thesecretcatshop.co.uk/)


    ## Roy Kahet

    - How can an elf become an honorary dwarf?



    # Summary
    You, fellow dwarves, are awesome.

    * * *

    Email us at [show@dwarfcast.net](mailto:show@dwarfcast.net) with questions, topic suggestions, and comments, and check out [our Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast).



    We have a [Patreon page](https://www.patreon.com/dwarfcast), in case you'd like to support us in a monetary fashion. Also, most links to [DriveThruRPG are affiliate](http://drivethrurpg.com/?affiliate_id=29668), which means we get a bit of money if you buy through them, with no added cost to you.



    Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).



    Frogs Legs Rag by Kevin MacLeod

    Link: [https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/5761-frogs-legs-rag](https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/5761-frogs-legs-rag)

    License: [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)



    * * *

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

mumphry999 ,

Wonderful RPG advice presented well

This show is of great length( about 45 minutes) for podcasting and they cover a pretty tight subject per episode. Handling with care and grace they manage to present their topic and finish each episode with a little of whats going on in their life. Great fellows, always cheerful and fun.

johnackley ,

Funny and uber-useful - did I say Funny?

Thoughtful suggestions for better role-playing laced with humor. My new favorite podcast!

lazorwulf ,

Best RPG advice

There's a lot of RPG advice floating around on the internet, but On the Shoulders of Dwarves is right up at the top of it. Eran and Uri have tons of experience and their advice is always interesting. The podcast is fun & really accessible, and they give lots of creative examples to illustrate their points. Nothing has improved my GMing faster & more consistently than this podcast.

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