RPG XRAY

RPG XRAY

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!

Episodes

July 8, 2024 67 mins

This episode’s topic is classes. Wizard, thief, fighter, rogue! We all know the tropes of classic fantasy RPGs but how have these evolved over time? What is the benefit of a class and how do classless RPG systems compare to a more traditional approach? What happens when you unbundle skills and abilities from the bounds of a class model?

HOSTS:

APPENDIX X:

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In this episode of RPG Ex-Ray, hosts Brendan Power, Jason Beaumont, and Erik Saltwell dive deep into the art and science of railroading in tabletop role-playing games.

Our main discussion in the episode is railroading—when and how it's appropriate, the balance between player agency and narrative structure, and how to avoid the pitfalls that can make players feel their choices are meaningless. 

Key Ideas Discussed include:

  • Rai...
Mark as Played
May 15, 2024 59 mins

This episode’s topic is props. From maps to sound effects, miniatures to background music, props evoke tone, immerse players, and clarify what is going on in your game’s fiction. Join us as we discuss what makes props work, and when they fail.

HOSTS:

Erik Saltwell Ethan Schoonover Jason Beaumont

APPENDIX X:

Godzilla Movies (Film, Jason) Alan Wake 2 (Video Game, Brendan) The Expanse (TV, Ethan)

GAMES MENTIONED:

Blade Runner RPG Thousand Y...

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May 1, 2024 50 mins

This episode’s topic is Creative Agendas.  Whether we aspire to overcome challenges, embody characters, or simply socialize with friends, our high-level goals determine many of our choices and define what we are proud about in our roleplaying sessions.


HOSTS:

Erik Saltwell

Brendan Power

Ethan Schoonover


APPENDIX X:

Marvel's What If  (TV, Erik) 

The Guns of August (Book, Ethan) 

Routledge Atlas of the First World War  (Book, ...

Mark as Played
April 15, 2024 55 mins

This episode’s topic is Rulings.  The use of at-the-table decision making is one of the defining features of tabletop roleplaying games that allows for unlimited player creativity.  Relying on other humans, though, can leave your table open to bad behavior and interpersonal conflict.  Join us as we discuss the differences between rules and rulings in RPG

HOSTS:


APPEND...

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April 1, 2024 53 mins

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:

APPENDIX X:

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March 23, 2024 54 mins

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:


APPENDIX X:

Mark as Played
February 9, 2024 65 mins

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:

  • J...
Mark as Played
January 14, 2024 51 mins

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:

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January 4, 2024 64 mins

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

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November 15, 2023 64 mins

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:

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October 27, 2023 59 mins

In this episode we talk FICTION. Specifically how do fiction and mechanics interact in role playing games. This is a broad topic and there’s a lot of ground to cover. From Clocks to Metacurrencies to Resolution systems, we’re diving deep but hopefully bringing it back to how these concepts can be applied at your own table.

Appendix X References:

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October 6, 2023 84 mins

In this episode, we discuss failure in role playing games. Unlike video or board games, tabletop RPG scenarios are rarely replayed, making failure more significant, final and problematic. Excessive failure can create an adversarial game, while too little tension can result in dull gameplay. Join us as we explore how to grab the tiger by the tail and use failure as a tool to enhance gameplay.

Appendix X References:

Mark as Played
September 11, 2023 85 mins

In our inaugural episode 1 we talk about the most critical factor at the RPG table: fun. What is it? How do we bring the most fun to every game we play? What is the relationship between fun and difficulty? Do different players experience fun differently? All this and more, coming up on RPG Xray.

Appendix X References:

Mark as Played

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