9 episodes

A look inside what makes RPGs tick. We discuss the "moving parts" of what makes table top role playing games fun and successful. What creates those moments of "great play?" Join us for our deep dives into the rules, systems, and settings of TTRPGs!

RPG XRAY The RPG XRAY Team

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

A look inside what makes RPGs tick. We discuss the "moving parts" of what makes table top role playing games fun and successful. What creates those moments of "great play?" Join us for our deep dives into the rules, systems, and settings of TTRPGs!

    009 Licensed IP

    009 Licensed IP

    This episode’s topic is Licensed IP, which provides RPG gamers the promise of being a hero in stories they already love, while utilizing their knowledge of a property’s setting and tropes to improve the tabletop role playing experience.  Join us, to learn how licensed IP can enhance, or break, your gameplay.
    HOSTS:
    Erik SaltwellEthan SchoonoverBrendan PowerAPPENDIX X:
    A Murder at the End of the World (TV, Brendan) Warlock (Book, Ethan) Blood Meridian (Book, Ethan) GAMES MENTIONED:
    GhostbustersStar Trek AdventuresBlade Runner RPGTerminator RPGDune RPGAlien RPGSUMMARY:

    In Episode 9 we delve into the topic of licensed intellectual properties (IPs) in role-playing games.

    We discuss the advantages and challenges of using licensed IPs in RPGs including how licensed IPs can facilitate play by providing familiar settings and narratives, lowering the barrier to entry for new players. We also consider how these IPs can constrain creativity due to their predefined worlds and stories. Our conversation touches on various examples, including "Alien," "Blade Runner," and "Terminator," exploring how these IPs have been adapted into RPGs and their impact on game design and player experience.

    We compare licensed IPs with original content, discussing the impact of world-building versus story-building in games and the mechanics used by different games to capture the essence of their respective IPs. We reflect on our experiences playing RPGs based on licensed IPs and original content, sharing insights on what makes these games compelling and challenging.

    • 53 min
    008 Authorities

    008 Authorities

    This episode’s topic is Authorities. Who can say what, and when can they say it, in an RPG? Authorities determine this, and have, since the foundation of tabletop role playing.
    Small changes to the authorities in your game can have huge, sometimes unexpected impact on the gameplay experience.

    HOSTS:
    Erik SaltwellEthan SchoonoverJason Beaumont
    APPENDIX X:
    City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City (Book, Ethan) Old Army Firearm Training Films (Video, Erik) SCP (Website, Erik) Alan Wake 2 (Video Game, Jason) The Night House (Film, Ethan) 
    GAMES MENTIONED:
    Psi*RunInspectresDungeons & DragonsCall of CthulhuSpelljammerMasks of NyarlathotepThe Pool
    SUMMARY:
    Episode 8 of the “RPG XRAY” podcast, titled ""Authorities,"" dives into the concept of authorities in role-playing games (RPGs), a topic discussed by hosts Jason Beaumont, Ethan Schoonover, and Eric Saltwell, along with their experiences and insights on how authority distribution affects gameplay. 
    The episode begins with the hosts sharing their recent media consumption and its relevance to gaming. Ethan discusses the book ""City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City,"" reflecting on its implications for world-building in RPGs, particularly in creating dense, lawless environments. Eric shares his exploration of World War II training videos and SCP (Secure, Contain, Protect) Foundation content, highlighting their potential for storytelling in games. Jason talks about playing ""Alan Wake 2,"" emphasizing the game's use of sensory experiences and subjective reality to enhance horror elements.
    The main discussion centers on the concept of authorities in RPGs, referring to the rules that dictate who can say what within a game's narrative and mechanics. The hosts outline three primary roles with potential authority in RPGs: the player, the game master (GM), and the rule system. Traditional games typically grant players authority over their characters, the GM authority over the game world and narrative, and the rule system authority over the outcomes of actions.
    The conversation explores various distributions of authority and their impact on gameplay. Examples include traditional games, where the GM has significant control, and non-traditional or story games, where players may have more narrative authority. The hosts discuss how shifting authority can create different play experiences, from collaborative world-building to games where players have significant control over the story's direction.
    The episode concludes with the hosts reflecting on their personal preferences and the potential for experimenting with authority distribution in their games. They express interest in exploring how changing who has authority in specific situations can lead to innovative and engaging gameplay experiences.

    • 54 min
    007 Systems

    007 Systems

    This episode’s topic is Systems. Unlike video games, role playing games separate game engine, game concept and game level into distinct pieces.  We dig into the various ways that RPGs split authority for the design of each piece between designers, game masters and players. What effect do these choices have on the experience of the game, and how can you use them to foster great play at your table.

    This episode’s hosts:
    Jason BeaumontErik SaltwellEthan Schoonover
    This episode’s Appendix X
    Hitman (Video Game) - ErikControl (Video Game) - JasonThe Lost Room (TV) - Ethan, JasonSCP (Website) - Ethan, JasonHistory of Beauty (Book) - Ethan
    Games discussed in this episode
    GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System)PendragonTop SecretPsi*RunLasers and FeelingsAshen StarsStar Trek AdventuresYellow King RPG
    Games mentioned In passing
    Trail of CthulhuCall of CthulhuDelta GreenFall of Delta GreenRiftsTrophyBlades in the DarkDungeons & DragonsBlade Runner RPGDune RPG
    The podcast episode delves into the nuances of role-playing game (RPG) Systems, emphasizing the contrast between universal and specialized systems. We compare the experiences provided by generic systems like GURPS with those crafted by more setting & scenario focused games including many indies. We discuss the trend in video games of moving from proprietary to universal engines and relate this to RPG development, pondering whether a generic RPG system can capture the distinct feel of different genres.

    We cover the appeal of one-shot games versus long-term campaigns, the enjoyment of learning new mechanics in one-shot games (which often have bespoke systems that enhance the thematic experience). Why is it that once played, the interest in revisiting these games tends to diminish? We chat about whether playing a variety of self-contained indie games or engaging in a traditional extended campaign would be more enjoyable.

    The final part of the discussion addresses the design intentions behind RPG systems, particularly concerning homebrew settings and the adaptability of systems for such purposes. We tackle the importance of setting expectations when introducing a new system, emphasizing the need for clear communication abou

    • 1 hr 5 min
    006 Progression

    006 Progression

    This episode’s topic is PROGRESSION. Whether it’s levels, experience points, that scar your character has with an epic backstory, or some other measure of character development, PROGRESSION is a mechanic that stretches back to the earliest days of RPGs. We will dig into the layers of what and how games offer progression to players in this episode of RPG Xray.

    Appendix X:
    The RookMt. Baker-Snoqualmie National ForestGuns on YoutubeStarfieldTraveller RPGThe X-FilesVeronica Marsa|state RPGChat GPT

    • 51 min
    005 Horror

    005 Horror

    This episode’s topic is HORROR. Horror is one of the oldest RPG genres and has wrapped its tentacles around much of modern tabletop game play, but what is it? What makes an RPG horror in tone, mechanics, or gameplay? Are horror games scary? Should they be? Can they be? All this and more on this episode of RPG XRAY.

    Appendix X Links
    Dave the DiverGods TeethGravity FallsRoad TripThe Laundry FilesThe RookEspresso Chalet

    • 1 hr 4 min
    004 Mysteries

    004 Mysteries

    This episode’s topic is MYSTERIES. What does investigative gaming look like in table top RPGS? Are all RPGs mystery games at their heart? Are there games which appear to be detective and mystery oriented that aren’t mystery games at all? What is great play when it comes to mystery games?  Hopefully you come out of this episode with clues that you can use in your own mystery gaming.

    Appendix X for this episode:
    ChatGPTRedfallFar Cry 5Invisible CitiesNotes on Blood MeridianBlood Meridian

    • 1 hr 4 min

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