Episode 1 – when player abilities eclipse character abilities

After a conversation about why roleplaying game stories are so terrible to listen to, we move on to the types of gaming groups and a debate about resolving situations where players have a social wit their characters lack (and vice versa).

Hosts: Chad, Dan, Kevin

Comments (7)

RobertJuly 4th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Just started listening to your show. I’ll try to leave thoughts on each episode.

My thoughts on this episode is that you guys come across as arrogant, full of yourselves, and above your gaming peers. You don’t seem to have much respect for gamers in general, portraying them as annoying, awkward, and foolish. I think that it is somewhat interesting that you all obviously enjoy gaming as you have been doing it for years and have created (and not maintained for a long time) a podcast about gaming, and yet you seem to disdain and look down on everyone else who does it.

Joel MJuly 24th, 2012 at 10:15 am

I solve (or rather, avoid) this problem in my homebrew by not having stats for charisma/personality, intelligence, wisdom, willpower, etc. I also keep perks and pains (you know, the flavor stuff you add to a character) mostly away from things like “pacifist” or “greedy” that the player is probably either going to ignore or play anyway without putting it on their character sheet. This has worked pretty well for my players and has the added bonus of allowing for viable genius Trolls and idiot fireball lobbers. And those can be a lot of fun.

matzieqAugust 21st, 2018 at 3:50 am

This is an old episode, but I’ll go ahead and comment anyway. You are approaching the problem from the wrong angle. It’s not the question of what is right or wrong, but rather depends on what game you are playing, what is your preferred style and what you agree on beforehand. Personally I am strongly opposed to pre-scripted events, things happening just because and ignoring the rules because role playing. The first two take the agency from players, because no matter what they do, a thing will happen. It’s like an annoying quick time event in a video game. The ignoring the rules part just destroys the game for me. If you agree to play a game with rules and then you ignore these rules, then you might as well throw them all out of the window, because it’s impossible to predict what rule you ignore next and when. But there is a very simple solution – there are games out there that support every play style you can ever imagine. Games that eliminate the problem of Joe being dumb, and Fangorn being brilliant – because they focus their mechanics on different things, perhaps better suited to the given play style.
The worst thing you can do is take a random game and try to play it completely against the style it was intended for, while complaining that it’s dumb and trying to fix it. Which is why so many people complain about old-school D&D being a disjointed unplayable mess of unrelated mechanics. If you just clear your mind and play using these mechanics, crawling through dungeons, looting treasure and having grand adventures, it suddenly “clicks”, everything makes sense and it’s glorious. But if you are trying to bring “modern” sensibilities to the game, it falls apart.
Long rant, nobody’s going to read it, but there, I got it out of my system.

DanAugust 21st, 2018 at 10:36 am

Actually, I do see these comments!

Typing this on my phone, but the short version of my response is that I mostly agree with you. Rules create boundaries to the game and an implied setting / play experience.

I don’t think I would ever feel fully beholden to rules over player experience, but if they need constant veto, it’d be better to find a different system. To paraphrase what you said, right took for the right job.

If that’s wildly different than what was in the episode, it’s because we’ve had 12.5 years for our opinions (and the way we communicate them) to evolve. I shudder a bit whenever people go back this far in our archive. ;)

VikshadeNovember 29th, 2018 at 5:04 pm

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who is listening to these 10+ year old episodes. I got a new job and I have the luxury of listening to podcasts all day at work, but I have them sorted to play chronologically. Since most of the the podcasts of ten years ago have faded into obscurity, I am left listening to Fear The Boot exclusively unless I interrupt the playlist with a more recent episode of another show. In three weeks I have made it through the first hundred episodes or so, with bonus episodes and interviews.

The show is great, but some of the negativity wears on me a bit. Especially when you state that something sucks because X is true, and X is just not true. For instance, there is a ton of world and setting information in the original Rifts core book, even though the mechanics and organization are terrible. But you guys specifically crapped all over it for a lack of setting. As Dan said though, the years have gone by and the show is still around, and I am sure the opinions have matured a bit. I think I originally started listening to it back in 2015 with episodes that were current at the time. I’m looking forward to slogging through another week of episodes. Keep making them, and I will be current eventually.

HildySeptember 28th, 2019 at 4:51 pm

“Role playing games are not a spectator sport.” Heh, that opinion hasn’t aged well.

LainJanuary 18th, 2022 at 10:43 am

People seem to have an issue with the earlier episodes of this show because you come across as ‘arrogant’, but when I listened to this podcast a few years ago, it was a breath of fresh air. Too much of the ‘gaming culture’ these days has a kind of saccharine, falsely positive feeling around it. Hearing a bunch of guys just shoot the shit about tendencies that they dislike is great fun. I love these older episodes, and the new ones too.

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