Probably Bad Podcast Episode 1: It’s A Probably Bad Podcast! transcript

Pencil: Welcome to the Probably Bad Podcast, a podcast which is probably bad. I’m Pencil. Paper: I’m Paper! Today’s probably bad rpg idea is… dice rolling Paper: Describe all fights as uncharitably as possible Pencil: eg. when the party is battling the evil lich in his lair, “as your highly trained warriors continue to beat up an old man in his living room” Paper: See, I don’t think this idea is as bad as it first appears Pencil: I’m going to say it is, entirely to play devil’s advocate Paper: Well the thing is, there’s the option of if you have an evil party just occasionally reminding them that they’re bad guys would be quite fun Pencil: agreement noise There’s probably something about moral ambiguity there as well Paper: Maybe if you’re a Quaker and you wanted to pass on some pacifism to your group; just shame them Pencil: Every time someone kills anything just mention their grieving family and grieving children and how…just their mutilated body and soforth. And eventually everyone you game with will be a pacifist and support only peace and not orc mudering Paper: Ah, the Austin Powers method Pencil: There probably is something with reframing the you’re breaking into a dungeon and killing people and you’re just breaking into some people’s houses and stabbing them a lot Paper: I do think about that a lot with things like the Legend of Zelda where it’s like “ah the great hero come to save us all…why are you breaking all my pots? I need those. I know there’s rupees in that jar. I was saving them, and now I need to spend them because you broke all my stuff but I don’t have them anymore because you took my rupees. Pencil: It’s like the smashed window approach to economy except you’re also stealing the window-makers’ money. Yeah there’s a game called Violence – it came out in 1999 – and the premise of that is it’s a standard dungeon crawl but you just put it in a normal city and instead of orcs or whatever it’s just people who live there and you’re just stealing their TV and it’s meant to be kind of “this is actually a little fucked up if you think about it Paper: So what you’re saying is this particular bad RPG idea is already a literal RPG? Pencil: I feel like a lot of my bad RPG ideas are literal RPG’s Paper: True, but, this one specifically, that’s…I kind of want to play that, it’s beautiful Pencil: It is very from the 90s but… Paper: I mean so am I Pencil: I guess Paper: You haven’t seen me in a Smiggle. It gets messy Pencil: Sorry what the fuck is a Smiggle? Paper: It’s a shop which…it largely sells stationary and things like that but it’s basically like? Like if the 90s threw up? Pencil: Oh wait no shit I have seen a Smiggle Paper: They have like, scented notebooks and all that bullshit Pencil: But yes, so, other reasons to insult your players. Paper: I mean sometimes your players are just dicks and you want a new group Pencil: In terms of… Paper: Why tell them that you want to leave when that could be an awkward conversation, when you can just drive them away with moral complexity Pencil: This is a good RPG idea for if you want to passive-aggressively drive your players away because you hate them Paper: Yeah I mean sometimes you do just want rid of your group Pencil: There’s worse selling points I guess chuckles. Yeah I guess most of our RPG ideas are good if you count them by the standards of “will drive people away from playing with you”. So there’s an endorsement Paper: That is a market for RPG ideas I had never considered Pencil: laughing I do want to make an RPG specifically designed so you can say “hey who wants to play this” and you will never speak to any of those people again Paper: Of course there is also the option of being such a bad DM that you never have to run the games again and you can just play instead Pencil: The trouble is then you end up with someone…you end up with the entire group doing that and then it’s just… Paper: And then you’re just another group with no DM Pencil: Yeah and then people end up doing our ideas. And then there’s a death toll. And then we get sued. Paper: Speaking of doing our ideas, we have received an anonymous question from tumblr. “Can we hear hilarious tales of your own games where probably bad ideas got put into play?” So, I did actually run a one-shot based on a submission to the blog by chaosshephard which was “the party is all half-human half-other races looking for their shared human parent”. So technically I did cheat by making it that their father was an incubus pretending to be a human but it did lead to some very good moments, including the whole group being convinced that they were hunting down a reverse-manticore, whatever one of those would be. Pencil: Is it just like, lions head that goes…human body. Scorpion wings, I assume? Paper: laughing Scorpion wings? Pencil: Yeah, it’s reverse! It has scorpion wings and a bat stinger Paper: incredulous I’m trying to imagine what scorpion wings would be?! Just like…just like the shell from a beetle with no wings underneath. Just crispy. A crispy lion man Pencil: I was picturing just the stingers as wings but I feel crispy lion man is a much better route to go Paper: And also, free character concept Pencil: laughs Probably bad RPG idea, play a crispy lion man crosstalk Paper: What’s the worst idea you’ve ever played? Pencil: I made one of my characters into a probably bad rpg idea, so I went at this the other way around. I made Pete the Pathetic Paladin, whose concept was: he was evil, and he wanted to do evil things. But he was so wildly inept at it and every attempt he made at it just made the world a noticeably better place, until he was given paladin powers and sent forth to fight evil by paladins, simply by showing up next to it and trying to help it and fucking it all up. He eventually died flipping off typhoid kittens, which is the best. Paper: Ah yes, kittens with typhoid who had just been rescued from a burning hospital Pencil: Yes, which I set on fire, ineffectually, because it turns out people can put out fires, which is something I hadn’t considered Paper: Mmm. I feel like Craig got the best post-mortem…not Craig. Don’t know why I said Craig. I feel like Pete got the best post-mortem experience of any character I’ve ever encountered Pencil: I got to be a horse. Paper: You did spend some time as a nightmare aka demonic ghost horse Pencil: I came back Paper: You did also spend some time with your ghost and your skeleton fighting each other in the town square for all eternity Pencil: Yeah ‘cause zombies can’t hit ghosts, because all their attacks are physical. Ghosts can’t hit zombies, because zombies can’t do fortitude saves, and thus my zombie and my ghost were fighting each other for eternity just…with no capacity for either to actually hurt each other or leave or… Paper: It became a tourist attraction Pencil: Yeah we built a wall around it. I think we visited it in a later campaign where me and my corpse were still fighting Paper: What was fun about that was that half the party of the later campaign where also in the party for the first campaign, so would have known Pete personally Pencil: I think…yeah I feel like the corpse zombie ghost fighting ring is a better tourist attraction if you know the corpse zombie Paper: It adds stakes Pencil: Hmm. I did eventually come back as like…I can’t remember what it was…but having achieved redemption in the afterlife I came back as someone who was so wildly bad at doing good deeds I became a blackguard by the powers of evil Paper: I have not encountered this character Pencil: It was in your spouse’s final campaign in the Black Fen setting, which is something which won’t mean anything to anyone listening Paper: Oh yes! With the clowns! Pencil: Yes Paper: My spouse knows that I hate clowns, so one of the antagonists was just a group of zombie clowns Pencil: I think the zombie clowns eventually ended up inheriting the setting, and that’s how we made sure we weren’t going to do any more sessions in the clown world. Paper: Yeah Pencil: It’s all clowns now. So there we go, another way to drive off your players, if you want to do that, which seems to be the theme of this first episode, is to fill the game with clowns Paper: You say that but, as referring to them as my spouse implies, I did later marry this person Pencil: Ok you may end up marrying your gaming group but like, 50/50 I guess? Paper: I like those odds! Shall we have another question? Pencil: Yes! Paper: It’s kind of related Pencil: Yes, this question is from mrmentat. “What was your worst RPG experience?” Paper, what was your worst RPG experience. Paper: Well Pencil, it was probably when you guys – I should mention Pencil is in one of my regular groups – so there was an assassin in a public place. So what Pencil did was cast gaseous form, go inside the assassin, and resolidify. I don’t know whether technically that’s allowed, but I felt like I had to rule of cool it because that was a very innovative way to kill someone. It was also horrific for me describe as well as turning the whole town against the group Pencil: You can release the spell at any time, and gaseous form does explicitly say that your gaseous form can go through small holes, which I assume include nostrils. So rules-wise I am totally allowed to explode Paper: Not in the rules because you’d be squashed. But instead I was like, sure, explode the assassin Pencil: Yeah the blog did later point out I would have probably been crushed under the bones but I think Paper was just too horrified to remember anatomy at that point, which meant it all went fine and I exploded out of someone like a xenomorph. But yes. The worst RPG experience I’ve had – luckily I’ve not had any really bad RPG experiences – the worst one in terms of “most fucked up the campaign and setting” was in a game called Alpha and Omega by Mindstorm studios which was the first RPG I ever made Paper: Or Alpha and Omega if you’re not referring to omega 3 Pencil: It was the first RPG I ever ran, I did not make the game. First RPG I’d ever run, and I came up with a basic plot involving this cult rising up and slowly taking over the area and people were trying to stop that. It was a very “my first RPG” plot thing. The players were going through the woods and were trying to find food and Paper’s player, a necromancer, decided that the best thing to do was raise a zombie, raise a skeleton Paper: It was a horse Pencil: A zombie horse. And the rules were, by the setting, that the undead would find the nearest living thing and kill it. So they sent it out into the woods and I rolled to see what it found. Now in this game system monsters are ranged from 1-10, 1 being tiny little weak things and 10 being massive apocalyptic setting destroying monsters. I, somewhat stupidly, rolled a D10 to see what the horse found and forgot to exclude the higher numbers. So this horse wandered slightly off the path, the first thing it bumped into was an apocalyptic primordial manifestation of nature’s wrath against humanity, kicked it in the face, woke it up, wiped out the entire setting basically. Both of the two main city states that the game was happening in were nearby and were just obliterated, the party very nearly died, everything was on fire. So yes, my worst RPG experience taught me to not have the end-game bosses included on random encounter tables, which I feel is probably something I should continue to do…or don’t. Paper: So I feel like what we’ve learned from answering this question is you either definitely do or definitely don’t want to play with Mod Pencil, depending on what kind of experience you’re wanting Pencil: Generally if you’re more pro people being exploded from the inside out, then I am a good player. Um…from Mattie Artemis “Dear Mod Paper, what is the best character concept you’ve ever seen in a game, and why is it Hercules Bugbear?” Paper: Ok so Hercules Bugbear is a character that this person played in a campaign that I was also in who basically killed a load of bugbears who were worshipping a somewhat wrathful nature goddess and as punishment was transformed into a bugbear and had to basically be her paladin until an unspecified point, which I do genuinely love as a character concept. You’ve got built in character tension, you’ve got bugbears which, you love a bugbear, and you’ve got the name Hercules, so it ticks all my boxes really. I am struggling to think of a better character concept I’ve come across. Pencil: I wasn’t asked but I’m going to answer anyway because I’m also on this podcast and no-one can stop me. The best character concept I’ve seen in a game I’ve had was from my housemate, who created an alchemist and the premise was the alchemist wasn’t an alchemist. What they had done was mugged an alchemist, stolen their bags of equipment, and were now just flinging them wildly in the hopes of doing something. So what we did was we made a random table and every time they would use an alchemist power what would happen was we rolled and whatever random event, random spell showed up on there was what would happen, which is not necessarily as good in the deep character building thing but is good in terms of accidentally setting the campaign on fire Paper: I mean if there’s one I love in D&D it is pure destructive chaos Pencil: Yeah it was a character who at no point knew what anything they attempted would accomplish. They did eventually succeed but that was after accidentally turning themselves to stone for a bit. I feel we should possibly discuss a bit more about the question because I feel that that was sort of a bit glossed over? If you have any particular ideas? Paper:What question? Pencil: Sorry not the question, the original probably bad rpg idea. Because I think that it’s also helpful in that trails off Paper: So one thing that I do quite like is the example you gave was describing the lich as an old man, and I mean a classic trope in fantasy, not just in RPGs – I mean RPGs are just a load of tropes in a trenchcoat – is just the idea of incredibly powerful characters being described incredibly uncharitably to start with. When Galdalf in introduced in Lord of the Rings it’s like “oh he’s got a big grey beard and a walking stick…oh and also he’s a powerful wizard Pencil: So what you’re saying is we should just mercilessly roast every powerful NPC as soon as they show up Paper: What I’m saying is Gary Gygax ripped of JRR Tolkein so why can’t we rip off…George RR Martin or Paul Stewart Pencil: I feel like the reason we shouldn’t rip off George RR Martin is I want the RPG to be finished in my lifetime. Paper: Ok, yeah, bad example Pencil: rimshot Paper: giggles But you get what I mean, right? Pencil: Yeah Paper: It’s not as out there as it initially sounds, but at the same time I also like the idea of kind of reversing it? Which would probably end up very sarcastic but I am very sarcastic. Just when…low level “there’s rats in the basement” kind of encounters…just get very dramatic. “And so, you raise your sword, and strike down the final vile rodent. For 1 hit point.” So that’s about all we’ve got for today, if you want to support the show for hosting fees, or just because you like us, you know some people are masochists, you can go to where you can donate in increments of £3, it’s like buying us a fancy coffee I guess even though neither of us drinks coffee. Buy us a hot chocolate or a nice tea. Both: Remember to have a probably bad day

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